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click to enlarge Jeff Bailey as Elwood P. Dowd
  • Jeff Bailey as Elwood P. Dowd

THROUGH 12/31

'HARVEY'
7:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 12:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Sun. Murry's Dinner Playhouse. $15-$37.

Murry's Dinner Playhouse has been in business for 50 years, and if that doesn't convince you that dinner theater is still alive and kicking, perhaps a performance of Mary Chase's 1944 one-hit-wonder "Harvey" will prove it. Chase, apparently introduced by an uncle to the idea of "pookas," an early precursor to that proliferator of memes the "spirit animal," penned the Pulitzer winner about a 6-foot, 3-and-one-half-inch tall invisible rabbit named Harvey who, at turns, assists, charms and bedevils our very real hero Elwood P. Dowd. Dowd, whose well-being and mental aptitude forms the core of the play's conceit, is played here by Jeff Bailey, an Arkansas actor who's appeared in big-budget flicks like "Walk the Line," "Biloxi Blues" and in Daniel Campbell and Graham Gordy's forthcoming film "Antiquities. The play, and specifically Dowd's eventual willingness to accept a medical injection that will "make him normal," is bound to touch on issues weightier than those we expect to ponder at the dinner theater: the narrowness of social normativity, the danger in deeming someone "crazy" and the nature of reality itself. Curtain is 7:30 p.m., and dinner begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday curtain times are 12:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., with dinner at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Murry's also performs special matinees on the first few Wednesdays of each new production — in this case, Dec. 6 and 13 — with a curtain time of 12:45 p.m. and dinner at 11 a.m. SS

click to enlarge African Kente handbag by Desirene Afrik
  • African Kente handbag by Desirene Afrik

FRIDAY 12/1

'BLACK CRAFTED' FASHION AND TRUNK SHOW
6 p.m., Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Ninth and Broadway. Free.

Artisans of Arkansas Made Black Crafted, whose work is available in the gift shop of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, will join fashion designers Korto Momolu of Project Runway fame; Jerald Mitchell, founder of 1297 Kustoms; and Desirene-Afrik for a fashion and craft show. Jewelry maker Phoenix will also have work at the show, and there will be clothing for purchase. Mitchell will be showing new formalwear. Light refreshments will be served; RSVP at 683-3593. Mosaic Templars is a museum of African-American history and entrepreneurship and is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. LNP

click to enlarge dsc_0032_web2.jpg

SATURDAY 12/2

BIG JINGLE JUBILEE HOLIDAY PARADE
3 p.m. Downtown Little Rock. Free.

Brought to you by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, the 28th annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade will kick off at Broadway and Second streets. This community tradition features more than 100 entries, including marching bands, floats, cars, animals and much more. Kids will be scrambling after all the goodies thrown by participants, the best parade entry will receive a cash prize and the best high school marching band will be awarded $1,000. Be sure to follow the parade along its trek down Broadway onto Capitol Avenue, where the festivities culminate at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the state Capitol and launching of fireworks. You'll find Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudy the Reindeer leading the party, filled with music and children's activities. HS

click to enlarge 'LIFE AND DEATH': Guy Choate performs at this week's "Potluck & Poison Ivy" storytelling event, with live music from Charlotte Taylor and 
Matt Stone. - JOSHUA ASANTE
  • Joshua Asante
  • 'LIFE AND DEATH': Guy Choate performs at this week's "Potluck & Poison Ivy" storytelling event, with live music from Charlotte Taylor and Matt Stone.

THURSDAY 11/30

'POTLUCK & POISON IVY: LIFE AND DEATH'
7 p.m. The Joint Theatre & Coffeehouse. $35.

Brought to you by Paula Martin, creator and producer of the internationally syndicated "Tales from the South" radio show (which aired for 10 years on National Public Radio, the Public Radio Exchange, Stitcher and other stations, garnering multiple regional, national and international awards), "Potluck & Poison Ivy" is a new live dinner and storytelling event at The Joint, a cabaret theater and coffeehouse in North Little Rock's Argenta. Inviting folks to bring their story to the table "by sharing a meal and some good ole Southern storytelling," "Potluck and Poison Ivy" is staging its seventh show of the year: "Life and Death," featuring performances by Vic Fleming, Bill Scott and Guy Choate and music by Charlotte Taylor and Matt Stone. For just $35, you'll get the entertainment plus a dinner directed by Drue Patton, an Argenta luminary who has overseen the Argenta Friends of the Arts program and Argenta Art Walk and coordinated food and music for Arkansas Downtown Council and Argenta Arts Foundation events. Cash bar. HS

SATURDAY 12/2

click to enlarge LITTLE STONE, OPEN HOME: For Good Weather's final solo show, muralist Mariel Capanna of Philadelphia will reveal the permanent fresco she's created in the garage over the past month. - HAYNES RILEY
  • Haynes Riley
  • LITTLE STONE, OPEN HOME: For Good Weather's final solo show, muralist Mariel Capanna of Philadelphia will reveal the permanent fresco she's created in the garage over the past month.

'LITTLE STONE, OPEN HOME'
Noon-6 p.m., Good Weather, 4400 Edgemere St., NLR, Afterparty 9 p.m.-2 a.m., South on Main.

For the past five years, Haynes Riley has been hosting art shows in an unconventional space: his brother's garage in Lakewood. He's brought in dozens of artists from across the country, thanks to his connections in the art world (he's a graduate of the prestigious Cranbook Arts Academy in Bloomfield, Mich.), to the 8-foot-by-11-foot gallery; dinners with the Riley family have been part of the artists' experience. For Good Weather's final hurrah, muralist Mariel Capanna of Philadelphia will reveal the permanent fresco she's created in the garage over the past month. Capanna and Riley kicked off this last project Nov. 2 with a talk about the show, funded in part by a Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant, at the Clinton School of Public Policy. After Saturday's gallery event, a New York bar, Beverly's, is hosting a party celebrating Good Weather's five-year run from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at South on Main, 1304 Main St. An installation piece by Brooklyn artists Rose Nestler and Colin Tom and music by Judson Spillyards and the Funkanites are part of the festivities. Riley has plans to open another gallery, but nothing firm. LNP

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SATURDAY 12/2

BIG SILVER
10 p.m. Four Quarter Bar. $7.

Of all the projects to which Isaac Alexander's lent a touch — The Easys, Greers Ferry, The Boondogs, Screaming Mimes — I'll admit to a bias toward his solo records, maybe only because the crystal clear intonations on "Like a Sinking Stone" are fresh in mind, as it's the songsmith's latest. Also, let's be real: "Antivenin Suite" has a way of sticking to the aural neurotransmitters. Big Silver's "The Afterlife," though, is still locked away in memory, too, and that outfit — Alexander, Bart Angel, Brad Williams, Mike Nelson and Shelby Smith — is a dream of an ensemble, channeling Elvis Costello's raucous delivery (as on "Poison the Wishing Well") and Paul McCartney's mellifluous piano lines. Someone handed me the album on CD not long after I moved to Little Rock and, along with stumbling onto a set from Charlotte Taylor at the extant Easy Street piano bar (check out Charlotte's work in this week's cover story), it was a vital sign to me that the city had a spry, many-faceted music scene. It was unfathomable then that the guys who created and recorded melancholy diamonds like "Pass Away" and "Amazing Grace & I'll Fly Away" lived in the same town as I did. Actually, it still is. SS

click to enlarge Members of Gloryland Pastor's Choir in an appearance on "America's Got Talent"
  • Members of Gloryland Pastor's Choir in an appearance on "America's Got Talent"

SUNDAY 12/3

HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
Various times, museums and the Governor's Mansion.

The Historic Arkansas Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Old State House Museum and the Governor's Mansion usher in the holidays this weekend. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., HAM, 200 E. Third St., will have hot cider and ginger cake at its 50th annual Christmas Frolic, along with living history characters, blacksmith demonstrations, pioneer games and dancing. From 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Old State House Museum will have caroling and hands-on activities for children. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mosaic Templars, 900 Broadway, will judge its sixth annual "Say It Ain't Says" Sweet Potato Pie Baking Contest for professional and amateur cooks, and visitors can sample pie and listen to holiday music by the terrific Gloryland Pastor's Choir and others; a donation of a toy for Say McIntosh's Toy Drive is welcome. The Governor's Mansion will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and has been decorated with a Nutcracker Ballet theme. LNP

click to enlarge Sturgis Music Academy Director Tze-ying Wu
  • Sturgis Music Academy Director Tze-ying Wu

TUESDAY 12/5

STURGIS FACULTY & FRIENDS CHAMBER CONCERT
7:30 p.m. New Deal Gallery, 2003 S. Louisiana St. Donations.

Some teach, and some do. Some do both. For this concert, the instructors at the Sturgis Academy — an education branch of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra — take on two favorite viola quintets: Mozart's "String Quintet No. 4 in G Minor" and Brahms' "String Quintet No. 2 in G Major." Geoffrey Robson and Charlotte Crosmer play violin, Sturgis Academy Director Tze-Ying Wu plays viola and Ethan Young plays cello, and they are joined by violist Yoni Gertner, an accomplished chamber player with the Israel Philharmonic. SS

WEDNESDAY 12/6

click to enlarge BULLY: Lands at Stickyz Wednesday with Alicia Bognanno, the center of the band's second full-length album "Losing." - ALYSSE GAFKJEN
  • Alysse Gafkjen
  • BULLY: Lands at Stickyz Wednesday with Alicia Bognanno, the center of the band's second full-length album "Losing."

BULLY
9 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $10-$13.

A little more explosive than Veruca Salt and a little less deadpan than Courtney Barnett (but a perfect match for fans of either), Bully's Alicia Bognanno is at the center of the band's second full-length album, "Losing," in pretty much every way — psychologically, musically, mechanically. Bognanno recorded, sang, mixed and engineered the record at Chicago's Electrical Audio where she once interned under owner Steve Albini, the guy who engineered the Pixies' "Surfer Rosa" and Nirvana's "In Utero." Borrowing from that era's dead-eyed self-examination, the malaise on "Losing" gets a sonic treatment that sounds less like disenchantment and more like rage when funneled through Bognanno's howl, and there's a poetic sort of schizophrenia in play when her blistering lead vocal tracks are countered with her own, markedly sweeter, backup vocals. Smut opens the show. SS

click to enlarge "MANGER THINGS": Red Octopus Theater's annual "Pagans on Bobsleds" comedy sketch show takes on all things "Upside Down" at The Public Theatre this weekend. - SARENA KAYE
  • Sarena Kaye
  • "MANGER THINGS": Red Octopus Theater's annual "Pagans on Bobsleds" comedy sketch show takes on all things "Upside Down" at The Public Theatre this weekend.

WEDNESDAY 12/6-SATURDAY 12/9

'PAGANS ON BOBSLEDS XXVI: MANGER THINGS'
7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Public Theater, 616 Center St. $8-$10.

The Red Octopus Theater Company, a group of volunteer writers and performers, has been regularly cranking out sketch comedy since 1991, making it one of the oldest continuously performing sketch comedy troupes in America. Its current home is the 49-seat black-box Public Theater in downtown Little Rock, where the company will perform — for the 26th year! — its noted holiday-themed sketch comedy show, "Pagans on Bobsleds." It's been around longer than some of the actors have been alive. This year's theme is "Manger Things," with publicity photos referencing the unbelievably popular Christmas-light-heavy Netflix series of similar name. With fan favorites like Santa-man, Fruitcake, Frosty, the Choirs and the Pagans on Bobsleds song, "Pagans on Bobsleds XXVI: Manger Things" will keep returning audience members rolling in the aisles while initiating new folks with fresh material from the Hip-Hop Greats, "Law & Order," and your '90s favorites. Fill a flask with some peppermint schnapps (it is BYOB, after all), and head to the Public for a night of bowl-full-of-jelly laughs. The show is recommended for adults, though, so leave the elves at home. HS

click to enlarge Grant Fletcher Prewitt as Crumpet Photo - JOHN DAVID PITTMAN
  • John David Pittman
  • Grant Fletcher Prewitt as Crumpet Photo

WEDNESDAY 12/6-SUNDAY 12/24

'SANTALAND DIARIES'
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre Annex, 518 Main St. Various times. $40.

I must say, I have always, always identified more with Ebenezer Scrooge than with Bob Cratchit. Sure, Bob's got a lovely wife and six beautiful children who love him more than the sun and the moon and the stars, but does he have to be so dag-blamed happy all the time? Even when Tiny Tim is sick and there's no food on the Christmas table? Take it from Scrooge, life isn't all lollipops and rainbows. And Christmas, especially, is a most satisfying time of the year to let your inner curmudgeon loose on the world. You won't believe how appalled all the shoppers at Walmart will be. Apparently, award-winning American author and humorist David Sedaris shares some of my nihilistic sentiments. He was first recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast him reading "Santaland Diaries," a humorous account of his stint working as a Christmas elf at Macy's "Santaland." Four years later, the essay was adapted for the stage as a one-man, one-act play, featuring Crumpet, a foul-mouthed department store Christmas elf who chain smokes, drinks martinis and, well, denies the existence of Santa. Now The Rep brings this ingenious adaptation to its Black Box Theatre for your viewing pleasure. If you enjoy a bit of schadenfreude during the holidays, please give me a call, and we'll go see this hilarious show. HS


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