Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, March 02, 2001

The prince of Denmark, the king of Siam and five Irish sisters are eager to entertain you this weekend. In addition to the royalty, a Native American poet, three artists, a half-dozen skilled weavers and a dozen accomplished musicians will also be sharing their considerable talents.

Strategic planning will be required to fit in even half of the opportunities available in the next few days. I'd put "Hamlet" at the top. Theatre in the Rough is presenting the final staging of Shakespeare's classic tragedy Saturday night. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more accessible version of this story. If your inertia factor is high for Shakespeare, make an exception for this show. You'll be glad you did. "Hamlet" runs tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at McPhetres Hall. If swordfighting makes you nervous don't sit in the front row.

"The King and I" also closes this weekend. It runs at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, with a matinee at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Juneau-Douglas High School drama and music departments have given 100 percent on this.

"Dancing at Lughnasa," the tale of the five Irish sisters in 1936 in County Donegal opens tonight at the Palace. It runs through March 17.

The best bet for music this weekend is the Symphony Showcase at 8 p.m. Saturday at Northern Light United Church. This annual event is invariably a great concert. These musicians play together in the symphony, and the showcase is a chance for them to put together duos, quartets and small ensembles to perform music of special interest. Northern Light Church is a more intimate setting to hear these players than the high school auditorium.

The musicians have put together eight different ensembles. They range from traditional combinations (violins and piano, oboe and piano) to unconventional (trombone and tuba duets, tuba and piano) and all should prove entertaining.

For folkier music check out the Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band. Crabgrass presents an upbeat assortment of old-time, bluegrass and folk, with no shortage of style. The band plays 9 to 1 tonight and Saturday night at the Hangar on the Wharf. Next Wednesday Crabgrass plays a live-on-the-air benefit for KTOO-FM, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Back Room at the Silverbow, and this will be more of a showcase. Admission is $5.

Poet Joy Harjo has published eight books of poetry dating back to her first in 1975. A member of the Creek Tribe, much of her work has Native American themes. She's won many fellowships and awards, including the American Book Award and the William Carlos Williams Award.

The better-known Native American writer Sherman Alexie acknowledges her as an influence. A friend of mine who is a big fan of both Alexie and Harjo said it's clear she's been a major inspiration on his work. I trust his enthusiastic recommendation and plan to check out her poetry reading and presentation, from 7 to 9 tonight at the Egan Library on the University of Alaska Southeast Campus.

Before Harjo's reading, you should check out the Marcella Stutte, Wendy Swedell and Mary Stroeing group show opening at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery. They have artwork in a variety of media on display, and it promises to be a nice show.

It's fine to drop by the gallery in the quiet of a mid-week afternoon to enjoy the artwork in peace at your leisure. But the opening is a fun party and a chance to talk to the artists, and others, about the artwork. And if you buy art, you don't miss the first chance to pick it up. The opening reception is 4:30 to 6:30 tonight.

On Saturday afternoon, members of the Juneau Ravenstail Weaving Guild will show their work and demonstrate their craft at the JuneauDouglas City Museum. These folks put on a similar show in December at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and it was a success. They are really open and knowledgeable. They will teach beginners the basics and kids are welcome. Admission is free to the museum and free to the event.

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