THEATRE | Let her entertain you

Gypsy is the quintessential musical. New York Times critic Frank Rich has even gone so far as to call it American musical theatre’s answer to King Lear. Loosely based on the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical features one of theatre’s most memorable characters, Mama Rose, a role that can make an actress’ career. Memorable performances have been turned in by the likes of Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, and Bernadette Peters. The season finds not one but two versions coming to stages in the Charleston region. The first is a co-production between the Company Company and Village Repertory Company with the same team that produced an excellent rendition of Urinetown last season. It features direction by Maida Libkin and choreography by Johanna Schlitt. The Company/Playhouse is sure to present this larger-than-life musical in a way that makes the audience feel they’re part of the show. We dare you not to walk away whistling “Everything is Coming Up Roses.” —William Bryan OPENS THURSDAY Oct. 18-20, 25-27, Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 8 p.m. Oct. 28, Nov. 4, 5 p.m. $22-$24. Village Playhouse, 730 Coleman Blvd. (843) 856-1579.


COMEDY | These guys are a little sketchy

Chucktown’s comedy scene just keeps growing. Improv is pretty much covered, with the Have Nots! and their crew playing several shows weekly at Theatre 99. The Comedy Zone at Tonik hosts national stand-up comics every weekend. And now Maximum Brain Squad, a fresh team of young comedians at Theatre 99, is seeking to bring sketch comedy (think Saturday Night Live) to town. The Squad started out with Henry Riggs, Matt Perry, and Chris Drake brainstorming ideas for short vignettes that would bring sketch comedy to the Lowcountry. The group picked up new members along the way (there are now five people in the cast), and they continue to write sketches based on improv sessions, using inspiration from contemporary cultural and political issues. A Day that Will Live in Industry, their premiere show, is a satirical look at American culture, focusing on themes like consumerism, communication, and corporate power. —Erica Jackson SATURDAY Oct. 20, 10 p.m. Wed. Oct. 31, 8 p.m. $5. Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. 843) 853-6687.

RECREATION | A-maizing October outings

The Lowcountry stays pretty much the same color year-round, but you can get that dose of fall you’ve been craving at several farms and plantations around the area throughout the month of October. On Johns Island, get lost in Legare Farm’s seven-acre corn maze (especially challenging/spooky at night) and pick out that perfect jack-o-lantern in their pumpkin patch (free/children under 2, $3/ages 3-11, $6/ages 12 and up). They’ve got plenty more family- and fall-oriented activities, like hayrides and the chance to make your own scarecrow. In Moncks Corner, West Farm has an elaborate 6-acre corn maze designed, mapped, and cut by MazePlay of Firth, Idaho, using the latest GPS technology (free/children 2 and under, $4/ages 3-11, $8/ages 12 and up). The maze features over three miles of trails with an eye on football. They’ve also got a pumpkin patch with pumpkins of all sizes, and paint and decorations are included in the price of the pumpkins. They’ve also got a hay bale maze for the kids, a farm zoo, Scarecrow Alley, a snack bar, and more. East of the Cooper, Boone Hall Plantation’s Happy Jack Pumpkin Patch is open daily ($3 admission), featuring the Pirate’s Mountain play area, a castle mini-maze, Happy Jack’s Spooky Hayride, and the Happy Jack Theater. —Erica Jackson Boone Hall Plantation (843) 849-7173 Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. West Farm (843) 688-5453 Fri. 5-10 p.m., Sat. 12-10 p.m., Sun. 2-10 p.m. Legare Farms (843) 559-0788 Fri. 3-10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 1-6 p.m.

[image-2] COMEDY | Master of Puppets

“These guys are my secret weapon,” says stand-up comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, of his collection of puppet characters. “There’s some sort of unspoken rule that allows them to say things and make observations that no mere human could ever get away with, and it’s all under the guise of comedy.” Dunham recently enjoyed successful appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, The Best Damn Sports Show Ever, Blue Collar TV, and CMT’s Fast Living. He makes a stop at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center this Friday during his four-month Sparks of Insanity tour. His latest presentation — a follow-up to his popular previous gig, Arguing with Myself — originally aired on Comedy Central last September and was released on DVD shortly after. Comedy Central calls Dunham’s gang of characters a “fast-talking, socially reckless Suitcase Posse.” Walter, the sour-faced, pissed-off old man in a sweater and red bow-tie, is the longest-running sidekick. Peanut is a giggly, purple-skinned, wide-eyed weirdo who claims origin from an uncharted island in Micronesia. José Jalapeño survived an accident in his home country of Mexico, which permanently placed him “on a steek.” Two fairly new characters include Achmed the Dead Terrorist, the worried-looking terrorist skeleton with a thin beard and habit of blurting out, “I Kill You!” and Melvin, a long-nosed, whiney-voiced superhero-wannabe who wants to save our country from evil. The shiny-suited pimp Sweet Daddy Dee might even make a special appearance. While Walter’s bitter wisecracks and groaning zingers aren’t quite as eloquent and gracious as famous comedic ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s favorite figure, Charlie McCarthy, the rapid-fire exchanges between Dunham, Peanut, and José Jalapeño resemble the multi-tone hilarity between early-century ventriloquist Señor Wences and Johnny (a childlike face drawn on Wences’s hand) and the gruff-voiced Pedro (a disembodied head in a box). Clean, but slightly naughty and politically-charged, this evening’s set should get laughs from all angles. —T. Ballard Lesemann FRIDAY Oct. 19, 8 p.m. $36. North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Dr. (843) 529-5050.,

[image-3]PETS | Party doggy-style

Hampton Park gets furry this weekend with the 15th annual Paws in the Park event. Charleston’s self-proclaimed premier party for dogs, hosted by the John Ancrum SPCA, is expected to draw over 1,000 pups and their families. This “friendraiser” encourages people to interact positively with their pets, reinforcing the philosophy that pets are a part of the family. There are all kinds of events going on, like agility courses, obedience classes, doggy putt-putt, education booths, and pet supply vendors. You can also enter contests for best-dressed pet, pet/owner look-alike, best tail-wagger, and a crowd favorite, best kisser. Petsmart is the event’s major sponsor, and their vet partner Banfield will be giving away 100 free microchips on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well as coupons for other services and products. Cisco’s Restaurant will provide chow for pet owners, and there’ll be food for Fido as well. —Erica Jackson SUNDAY, Oct. 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Hampton Park. (843) 747-4849, x210.

FESTIVAL | Garden fest gets greener

The majestic Spanish moss-draped live oaks lining the Ashley riverfront provide the backdrop for one of the South’s biggest garden festivals at Middleton Place Plantation. This year the festival focuses on environmentally-sound gardening methods, designs, and tools. The schedule includes a rare plant auction, expert lectures and workshops, and demonstrations on topics like composting, orchids, and garden photography. Landscape designers interpret the green theme with innovative installations, and kids can try out small-scale gardening or make craft projects in the Children’s Area. Lime and the Coconuts will play swing tunes, local artists will be painting around the grounds, and horticulturally minded vendors will hawk their wares. Keep in mind that several of the more exclusive events on the agenda require a hefty additional fee. True garden devotees (and individuals without budget restrictions) get a rare sunset tour of the finest gardens in the downtown historic district complemented by wine and hors d’ouevres for an extra $100. Another 100 bucks buys a ticket to the opening “Barefoot on the Green Party” at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the stable yards. Local chefs in line with the slow food movement prepare the fine menu, setting the tone for this year’s earth-friendly theme. —Rachel Ward FRIDAY-SUNDAY Oct. 19-21. $10-$35, free/children 5 and under. Middleton Place 46 Windermere Blvd. (843) 723-9293

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