The Week of Sept. 10

World-class riders compete in the 17th annual Columbia Classic Grand Prix Sept. 11 at Howard Community College in Columbia. Call 410-772-4450. {diam} F. Murray Abraham stars in a staged reading of "Nathan the Wise," Theater of the First Amendment's portrait of Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities living together in Jerusalem under Saladin's rule during the Crusades, Sept. 11 at George Mason University's Center of the Arts. Tickets cost $25 from Tickets.com. To order, call 703-218-6500; for information, call 703-993-8888. {diam} More than 150 artists and artisans show sculptures, paintings, photography and other works at the Alexandria Festival of the Arts Sept. 11-12 along King Street in Old Town. Call 703-838-4200. {diam} The National Council of Negro Women hosts the 19th annual Black Family Reunion, the annual celebration of the African American family, Sept. 11-12 on the Mall, with entertainment, exhibits, an arts and crafts marketplace and food vendors. Call 202-737-0120. {diam} The Washington National Opera opens its 49th season with "Andrea Chenier," Umberto Giordano's tale of love and vengeance during the French Revolution, from Sept. 11 through Oct. 2 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets cost $45 to $290; call 202-295-2400 or 202-467-4600. {diam} The Kennedy Center celebrates the arts at its annual Open House Sept. 12, with free entertainment on multiple indoor and outdoor stages. Call 202-467-4600 (TDD: 202-416-8524). {diam} Entertainers, food vendors, artisans and others converge on Washington's Adams Morgan neighborhood Sept. 12 for Adams Morgan Day. Call 202-232-1978. {diam} Cirque du Soleil stages its latest extravaganza, "Varekai," from Sept. 16 through Oct. 24 in its blue and gold tent at a new location: the grounds of RFK Stadium. Tickets cost $55 to $75, with student and senior discounts, from Admission Network; call 800-678-5440.

The Week of Sept. 17

The Washington National Opera sings "Billy Budd," Benjamin Britten's adaptation of the Herman Melville classic, from Sept. 18 through Oct. 3 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets cost $45 to $290; call 202-295-2400 or 202-467-4600. {diam} The Washington Performing Arts Society begins its 2004-05 season with a recital by star soprano Kathleen Battle, singing folk songs, spirituals, Latin American jazz and other traditional music, Sept. 20 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets cost $35 to $90; call 202-467-4600.

{diam} The Smithsonian's newest institution, the National Museum of the American Indian, opens with a ceremony Sept. 21 at noon. Call 202-633-1000. {diam}The Big Apple Circus pitches its little big top at Dulles Town Center from Sept. 23 through Oct. 11 for "Picturesque," its 27th season show. Tickets cost $15 to $44 from Ticketmaster. Call 202-397-7328.

The Week of Sept. 24

Hundreds of vendors of remodeling, redecorating and landscaping goods and services appear at the Capital Home Show Sept. 24-26 at Dulles Expo Center. Call 703-378-0910. {diam} The Washington National Cathedral hosts its annual Open House Sept. 25, with guided tours, tower climbs and entertainment. Call 202-537-3129.


Tickets are on sale now from Tickets.com for the entire 2004-05 season at George Mason University's Center for the Arts. Highlights among scores of performances include dance by Bale Folclorico da Bahia, Momix, the Moiseyev Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, the St. Petersburg Ballet and Rennie Harris; classical music by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Boys Choir of Harlem, Opera Verdi Europa and the Kirov Orchestra; pop concerts by the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra and Dr. John; plays by Theater of the First Amendment, the Acting Company and the National Black Light Theatre of Prague; and four productions by the Virginia Opera. To order, call 703-218-6500; for information, call 703-993-8888 or visit www.gmu.edu/cfa.



African Continuum Theatre Company stages "Lesson Before Dying," the classic drama based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines in which a teacher helps an innocent young man face unjust execution with dignity in Louisiana in 1948, at H Street Playhouse from Sept. 16 through Oct. 10. Tickets cost $20 to $30. Call 202-529-5763.


Opening next week: "Furniture in Maryland Life," opening Sept. 10 at the Maryland Historical Society, is a permanent exhibition looking at the production and use of furniture in Maryland from 1634 to 2000. Call 410-685-3750. {diam} "In the Artist's Studio: Works on Paper From the Collection," opening Sept. 15 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, features prints, drawings and photographs of artists at work. Call 410-396-7100. {diam} "From Lamps to Lunchboxes: Aladdin Industries Inc.," opening Sept. 15 at the National Museum of American History, displays products by the maker of thermoses and lunchboxes. Call 202-357-2700.


Opening Sept. 10: Milla Jovovich reprises her role as a zombie-fighter in "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," a sequel to the film based on a popular video game.

{diam} "Criminal" stars John C. Reilly and Diego Luna as con artists in an English-language version of the acclaimed Argentine film "Nine Queens." {diam} A man (Chris Evans) finds himself in intrigue when he receives a call on his mobile phone from a woman who says she has been abducted in "Cellular." {diam} Marlee Matlin stars in "What the #$*! Do We Know!?," a movie that posits another reality beyond the one we accept as real. {diam} "Bright Young Things" looks at a group of bold and beautiful young people in 1930s London.

{diam} A poor girl develops an infatuation on a rich boy in the drama "Evergreen." {diam} From writer-director-actor-producer-editor Vincent Gallo ("Buffalo '66") comes "The Brown Bunny," the movie that shocked and outraged audiences at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. {diam} "Bush's Brain" is a documentary about Republican adviser Karl Rove.

{diam} "Hijacking Catastrophe" takes yet another look at the politicization of the 9/11 tragedy.

{diam} A Japanese mobster is ordered to murder the man who once saved his life in "Gozu." {diam} A rerelease of George Lucas's first film, "THX 1138," comes to the AFI Silver Theatre. Opening dates may change.


Closing on stage this weekend: "The King and I," in the Filene Center at Wolf Trap Park (703-218-6500 or 703-255-1860); "The Tempest," by Washington Shakespeare Company at Clark Street Playhouse (800-494-8497 or 703-418-4808); "Mary's Wedding," by the Theater Alliance at H Street Playhouse (800-494-8497 or 202-396-2125); and "Man With Bags," by Longacre Lea Productions at Catholic University (202-460-2188). {diam} This weekend is your last chance to visit "Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms: Paintings That Inspired a Nation" and "Sally Mann: What Remains," at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (202-639-1700); "Something Old, Something New: Inventing the American Wedding," at the DAR Museum (202-879-3254); "Directions -- Gabriel Orozco: Extension of Reflection," at the Hirshhorn Museum (202-633-1000); "Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture," at the National Building Museum (202-272-2448); "Dogs: Wolf, Myth, Hero and Friend," at the National Geographic Society (202-857-7588); "Focus on the Soul: The Photographs of Lotte Jacobi," at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (202-783-5000); "August Sander: Photographs of the German Landscape," "Aaron Siskind: New Relationships in Photography" and "Revelation: Georges Rouault at Work," at the Phillips Collection (202-387-2151); and "By Hand in the Electronic Age: Contemporary Tapestry," at the Textile Museum (202-667-0441).


For years, the old downtown languished, while neighborhoods such as Bethesda and Clarendon lured the nightlife and restaurant patrons to the suburbs. But these days Penn Quarter, the area north of Pennsylvania Avenue between Fifth and 12th streets NW, is the hot place to live, work, shop, eat and party.


To check out Weekend online, go to www.washingtonpost.com/weekend.

The 19th annual Black Family Reunion festival is on the Mall Sept. 11-12. Kim Basinger is a kidnap victim in "Cellular," opening Sept. 10. "From Lamps to Lunchboxes: Aladdin Industries Inc." opens Sept. 15 at the National Museum of American History.