Best Bets January 2011

Your best bets for what to see and do this month.



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Billy Elliot

Harry Potter may be the world's British spell caster of choice, but no Hogwarts lesson could charm an audience like the energetic, spastic dance moves of Billy Elliot, whose touching, unlikely story took over international movie theaters before Daniel Radcliffe had even been fitted for glasses. This lively new show, with a score by Elton John, which earned Best Musical at the 2009 Tony Awards, will have you leaping down the aisles on your way out. January 12-20 at Ovens Auditorium. Details here.

Big Sam's Funky Nation

Music born and bred in the Big Easy does right by its heritage: it has a big, amp-busting sound that's easy and fun to follow. Big Sam's Funky Nation, which earned the Best Funk Group award at the 2009 Big Easy Music Awards, will bring that quintessential New Orleans vibe, complete with a slap-happy bassist, to Charlotte this month. Led by Sam Williams, one of today's premier jazz trombonists, BSFN does a high-energy performances that features some of the purest funk sound in the region. January 21 at the Double Door Inn. Details here.

Levine Museum of the New South

In 2004, Levine Museum launched an exhibit that brought the Charlotte region to the forefront of civil rights history. Courage: The Carolina Story that Changed America offers an intimate, detailed portrayal of the Clarendon County, S.C. families who sued for equal education, a legal action that set in motion the other lawsuits that led to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case. To celebrate the museum's twentieth anniversary, it's bringing back the exhibit; through February 2012, visitors can read historical documents from the Clarendon families' lawsuits, hear their stories, and even see a reproduction of a typical classroom for black students in the 1940s. Details here.

Celebrity Autobiography

Stories from the lives of the rich and the famous have always made for interesting fodder—People magazine hasn't stuck around this long because of its crossword puzzles, after all. With this in mind, co-creator Eugene Pack decided to gather comedians and actors to perform snippets from celebrities' actual memoirs—from Vanna White to Suzanne Somers to Elizabeth Taylor. The effect is what you'd expect—painfully true, and incredibly funny. January 25-30 at the Booth Playhouse. Details here.

Girl Talk

Girl Talk doesn't so much mash songs as he does purée them. The band is actually one guy armed with a computer and a huge database of other peoples' music. But with funky, synthesized tunes perfect for da club (or da Fillmore, as the case may be), his work has made him a central, controversial character in the electronic music scene. January 25 at The Fillmore. Details here.

The Graduate

Seductive moms had a place on the silver screen long before American Pie ever hit theaters. This month, Theatre Charlotte will present a production of the sultry, scandalous tale that inspired teenage fantasies throughout the 1960s. January 21-February 6 at Theatre Charlotte. Details here.

David Brooks

This soft-spoken, rationally conservative New York Times columnist is dropping in on the Charlotte Museum of History for a night. Brooks was correspondent for the Wall Street Journal before joining The Weekly Standard and contributing to the Times op-ed page; he's also the author of two books on American culture, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense. January 25 at the Charlotte Museum of History. Details here.

Barnum's FUNundrum

When it comes to setting the bar for high-flying, extravagant circuses, the Ringling Brothers are (and always have been) the ringleaders. Barnum & Bailey's FUNundrum is a special anniversary production celebrating P.T. Barnum's 200th birthday. It covers all the basics for a bona fide circus bonanza: trapeze artists, acrobats, contortionists, and colorful elephants. January 26-30 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Details here.

Charlotte Symphony: Gershwin

The real challenge at this concert will be fighting the urge to hum along with the Charlotte Symphony's program of all-Gershwin (and thus all-good-time) tunes. The CSO will play some of the composer's greatest hits, the early-twentieth-century tunes that defined American musicals. January 21-22 at Belk Theater. Details here.

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