New on Stage

* F. Murray Abraham stars in a concert reading of "Nathan the Wise," Theater of the First Amendment's portrait of Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities who lived together peaceably in Jerusalem under Saladin's rule during the Crusades, Saturday at 8 in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall at George Mason University, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax. Tickets cost $25 from To order, call 703-218-6500 (service charges added); for information, call 703-993-8888.

* Comic star Floyd King is a quirky Russian widower who writes letters to himself purportedly from Lenin, Stalin, Queen Elizabeth II and other folks he doesn't really know in Oleg Bogaev's "The Russian National Postal Service" in its American premiere through Oct. 24 at Studio Theatre, 1333 P St. NW. The show Saturday at 2 is a "pay-what-you-can" matinee; the bargain seats go on sale at the box office Saturday at noon. Regular prices are $25 to $48; call 202-332-3300.

A Party for the Arts

The Kennedy Center celebrates the performing arts at its 20th annual Open House Arts Festival Sunday from noon to 6, with more than 30 free shows on indoor and outdoor stages, a musical instrument "petting zoo," hands-on exhibits by the Capital Children's Museum and food vendors. The National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, Lakota Sioux Indian Dance Theater, the Medicine Dream Native American ensemble and the Radio King Orchestra are among the headliners. An opening ceremony begins at 11:45 on the new North Plaza, and the day concludes with a concert at 6 in the Concert Hall by Puerto Rican pop star Olga Tanon. Free tickets are required for some indoor performances and will be distributed 30 minutes before each show. Call 202-467-4600 (TDD: 202-416-8524). See schedule on Page 28.

Circus of the Sun Rises

The Montreal-based theatrical circus producer Cirque du Soleil opens its latest touring extravaganza, "Varekai," set among the colorful creatures in a magical forest, Thursday at 8 in its blue and gold Grand Chapiteau on the grounds of RFK Stadium, 22nd and East Capitol streets. Shows continue through Oct. 24. Tickets cost $55 to $75, seniors and ages 13 through 17 $49.50 to $67.60, ages 2 through 12 $38.50 to $52.50 (service charges added). Parking on the RFK lots costs $15. Call Admission Network, 800-678-5440. See story on Page 26.

Celebration of Black Families

The National Council of Negro Women hosts the 19th annual Black Family Reunion Celebration, a tribute to the African American family, Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 8 on the Mall between Seventh and 14th streets (Metro: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle). The weekend includes appearances by Yolanda Adams, Floetry, Monica, Lissen and Hezekiah Walker & the Love Fellowship Choir; educational pavilions devoted to health, children, sports, economic empowerment and other themes; an arts and crafts marketplace; and food vendors. Admission is free. Call 202-737-0120.

Festival Weekend

* Entertainers on three outdoor stages; an arts and crafts show; a kids' fair with moon bounces, games and interactive exhibits; and international foods are part of the 26th annual Adams Morgan Day Festival, a celebration of Washington's cultural diversity, Sunday from 11 to 6 throughout the Adams Morgan neighborhood around 18th Street and Columbia Road NW (Metro: Woodley Park-Zoo-Adams Morgan). Admission is free. Call 202-232-1978 or visit

* Scores of musicians, dancers and storytellers on eight stages, a juried crafts fair, international food vendors and information tables by community organizations make up the 27th annual Takoma Park Folk Festival Sunday from 11 to 6:30 at Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Rd., Takoma Park. Local and regional stars include Oscar Brand, Joe Glazer, Arte Flamenco, Lisa Moscatiello, Beth Allison & the Well-Strung Boys, Squeeze Bayou and Mary Sue Twohy. Admission is free. Free shuttles will operate from the Takoma Metro station and the Montgomery College parking lot at Fenton and King streets. Call 301-589-0202 or visit

* Nearly 200 artists and artisans show their paintings, sculpture, photography and other works at the Alexandria Festival of the Arts Saturday from 10 to 7 and Sunday from 10 to 5 along King Street between Washington and Union streets in Old Town. There will also be entertainment and a juried exhibition at the waterfront. Admission is free. Call 703-838-5005 or visit

Jazz Around Town

* Herbie Hancock and Billy Dee Williams are the hosts and Quincy Jones is a special guest at the 17th annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Thirteen young vocalists will compete for scholarships and prizes in a semifinal session Sunday at 1 at Baird Auditorium in the National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW (Metro: Federal Triangle). Free tickets will be distributed Sunday starting at 11:30; for information, call 202-357-3030. Monday at 7:30 in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, a panel of star judges will select a winner from three finalists, and Al Jarreau, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter and other artists will perform. Those tickets cost $30 and $50; call 202-467-4600.

* Montgomery County hosts the first Silver Spring Jazz Festival Saturday from 4 to 10 at the new Silver Plaza, in downtown Silver Spring at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street (Metro: Silver Spring). Keter Betts, the Marcus Johnson Project, Alyson Williams and Reuben Jackson are featured. Admission is free. Call 301-565-5864.

-- Compiled by Barry Barriere

"The Flight of Icarus" is portrayed in Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai," opening Thursday on the RFK Stadium grounds.Zany "visual comedian" Pete Geist appears Sunday at the Kennedy Center's Open House.