The possibility of going to a ballet is too often met with the expression also reserved for liver. Heads shake, noses wrinkle and lips concur: Ballet isn't fun and it's never cheap. The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago is neither of these things, particularly tonight when the corps de ballet headlines a free performance on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. Remember: This is the dynamic company that keeps "Billboards," a rock ballet set to the music of the bantam formerly known as Prince, in its repertoire. The Joffrey defies convention, shape-shifting from "Purple Rain" to American classics like Copeland's "Rodeo" with the spirit of sylphides. The company's artistic director Gerald Arpin will narrate the program of short standards. The dancers get to the pointe at 6 p.m.
After the show, toast your cleverness three blocks away at Foggy Bottom's best noodle house, Zuki Moon Noodles. The walls are the same cool green as the underside of a fern and the soup arrives nearly boiling. But you could handle a few contradictions, after all you've been to the ballet at the Kennedy Center at no expense.
Trips and Treats
From the (g)host of excellent Halloween activities, we've found one for small ones, one for brave hearts and one for party animals.
Post reviewer Lloyd Rose reports the Discovery Theatre will present "Haunted Washington," an "original play for families with children." The play is based on legends of the area, including the ghost of an actor who was supposedly murdered at the National Theatre and buried beneath the orchestra pit. The Discovery Theatre is located inside the Smithsonian Institution's Arts and Industries Building. Performances begin at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; admission is $10. Call 202/357-1500.
Calling all "Addams Family" buffs: Historic Riversdale Mansion hosts a reenactment of an early-19th-century funeral. Attend an authentic 1814 funeral service and a funeral feast; participate in a candlelight tour of the mansion and view the exhibit, "The Life of Death: Mourning and Funeral Customs in Early-19th-Century America." Guests are invited to dress in somber, spooky or period attire for the occasion. This is an adults only event and advance registration is required. Admission is $12; call 301/864-0420.
What better time to dance than at a ball to benefit a good cause? The fourth annual Thrive! Halloween Masquerade Ball, at the Canadian Embassy, features live music by a Canadian band, hors d'oeuvres, an open bar, live and silent auctions. Costumes are preferred; otherwise black-tie. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume and the most creative mask. Admission is $60, proceeds will be donated to the National Kidney Foundation. Call 202/244-7900 for more information.
The closer it gets to Halloween the longer the lines are that spill out of Backstage, Dupont Circle's theater-arts store. A fixture on P and 21st streets NW for the past 18 years, the shop, says manager Sandy Duraes, originally opened as a resource for area thespians, stocking theatrical makeup, scripts and books on acting and playwriting. Although the store still fills those needs, come All Hallow's Eve (New Year's Eve, too, this year) the emphasis turns to costumes, masks, wigs, glitter, all kinds of tights and the like that cram virtually every available corner to capacity. Backstage rents about 1,000 costumes (from Titanic coattails to Marie Antoinette), priced from $25 to $150, which are made by Duraes and her staff. This weekend is the perfect time to visit and plan next weekend's wickedness. The shop is open today from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and tomorrow from noon until 5 p.m. Call 202/775-1488.
Bengies, the only area drive-in theater, dims its lights for the last time this season with a marathon of creepy movies. "The Addams Family" screens at 6:30, but things get scary quickly when Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing expose "The Creeping Flesh." Bengies will host a costume contest during the intermission. When the movies continue at 10:15, it's Jane Fonda's turn to make flesh creep in "Barbarella." The fourth film and definitely the scariest is "The Last House on the Left," an early project by horrormeister Wes Craven. The film unfurls with the thirsty pace of an urban legend: Two girls head to the big city to see their favorite band, "BloodLust." They are kidnapped and killed in a house on a quiet street, not 100 feet away from their own home. And that's just the beginning. Only the brave (or sleep-deprived) will be around for the finale, "Stigmata."
Admission to the endless night is $7 for adults, $4 for children. The box office opens at 5:45; call 410/687-5627. For directions to Bengies Drive-In Theatre, located near Martin's Airport at 3417 Eastern Blvd., Md., call 410/686-4698. Food and drinks are available at the theater's concessions, or for $5 you may purchase a special permit at the door that entitles you to bring your own.
Four Heads are Better Than One?
Poor Hamlet is a fractured soul; a brooder, a medium, an artist formerly known as Prince. He is a quixotic character perhaps too large for one actor to contain. And so director Joe Banno and his cast have engaged a daring solution: When "Hamlet" debuts at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre, four actors will share the role.
Known for her Juliet, Holly Twyford acts as the central Hamlet, with varying aspects of his character played by Steve Carpenter, Cam McGee and Kate Norris. The three alter egos explored in the Folger's "Hamlet" demonstrate how the character splinters into "eye, tongue, sword," as observed by his ladylove Ophelia in Act III. Echoing the director's concept, the set is riddled with numerous mirrors. The Prince of Denmark, literally torn in four, is infinitely fractured.
Wondering to go or not to go is simply out of the question. On sale now, tickets are $24 and $27 for previews, $29 and $38 for performances. "Hamlet" continues until Dec. 5; call 202/544-7077.
Climb into the gumball machine that is "Sweettooth Recontextualized" at the DCAC. The gallery is open until 10 p.m. Call 202/462-7833.
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Work by Czech graphic designer and creator of RAUT magazine Ales Najbrt continues at the Embassy of the Czech Republic through Oct. 30.
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