Fri., Sept. 12
"A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People." Angelenos can explore the legacy of one of the Catholic Church's most beloved popes in a new Skirball Cultural Center exhibition. Through artifacts, photographs and audiovisual recordings that first appeared at Cincinnati's Xavier University only weeks after the pope's death in 2005, visitors can explore the life of Pope John Paul II and the historical and personal circumstances that led him to aggressively reach out to Jews worldwide. Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to enter a synagogue, recognize the State of Israel and formally apologize for the Catholic Church's past treatment of the Jewish people. The Skirball will also offer several public programs related to the exhibition: an adult-education course on "Jesus and Judaism" and film adaptations of biblical epics, among others. Through Jan. 4. $10 (general admission), free to all on Thursdays. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. http://www.skirball.org.
Fri., Sept. 12
Face of the World Festival. An emphasis on world music, dance, poetry and spoken-word performance characterize this four-month celebration of international artistry. With a primary focus on under-represented artists from around the globe, Face of the World brings innovation and entertainment, such as "K-War Stories," a mix of 16 millimeter footage, photography, haiku and ethnic dance; "Le Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin," the story of an Indian peasant whose vision of the virgin story plays yearly at L.A.'s Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral; and the New York-based Jose Limon Dance Company, which integrates literary sources -- from Shakespeare to Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca -- into their choreography. Show times and prices vary. Through Dec. 14. The New LATC, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. (213) 489-0994. http://www.thenewlatc.com.
Sat., Sept. 13
"Speech & Debate." The town is Salem, Ore., and, as in countless other American cities, teenagers are on the prowl for like-minded adolescents via the Internet. However, the three teenagers who find one another in "Speech & Debate" don't just bond over music, books and movies, but are linked through a sex scandal that has rocked their community. The three adolescent misfits do what anyone else would to get to the bottom of the scandal: form their school's first speech and debate team. Check out the West Coast premiere of the play, which critics are calling "flat-out funny." 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Through Oct. 26. $22-$28. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 661-9827. http://www.theblank.com.
Sat., Sept. 13
"Ragtime: The Musical." Tonight is opening night for the Musical Theatre of Los Angeles' presentation of "Ragtime: The Musical," directed by Zeke Rettman. The story, based on the novel by E.L Doctorow, explores America through the eyes of three distinct ethnic groups as the country deals with the ever-present tension between wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair and love and hate. 8 p.m. Through Oct. 5. $34.99. Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood. (323) 960-1055. http://www.plays411.com/ragtime.
Sat., Sept. 13
Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival. Camarillo is offering visitors a one-day extravaganza filled with music, artists and gourmet food, all culminating in an evening concert under the stars. The 2008 Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival will include gospel and bluegrass music, a farmers' market and more than 50 artists showcasing their work. By evening, retro-band Royal Crown Revue will warm the stage for a secret, Grammy-nominated headliner. 8 a.m. (farmers' market), 10 a.m. (music and art walk). $20-$60. 2400 Ventura Blvd., Old Town Camarillo. (805) 484-4383. http://www.camarilloartandjazz.com.
Sun., Sept. 14
Sunset Strips. If you thought raising money for the fight against AIDS was something of a formal affair, think again. Formalities will be removed, as will articles of clothing, during tonight's burlesque-style dance production. With Bruce Vilanch, Leslie Jordan, Jai Rodriquez, Wilson Cruz and hundreds of professional dancers showing the world what they're made of, all proceeds will go toward AIDS Project Los Angeles and The Actors Fund, a human services organization helping a hefty number of Angelenos: the entertainers. Come see the work of award-winning and renowned directors and choreographers, and make a difference. 8 p.m. $40-$160. BOULEVARD3, 6523 W. Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. (866) 679-0958. http://www.apla.org.
Fri., Sept. 19
"Back Back Back" at The Old Globe. There's nothing poignant about professional athletes using steroids. Or is there? Old Globe playwright-in-residence Itamar Moses delves into the controversial topic and takes the audience beyond the newspaper headlines and congressional hearings to the sanctuary of sports -- the locker room. With humor and insight, Moses unfolds the stories of three major league baseball players who struggle to compete in the unforgiving world of professional sports, as well as balance their personal lives and professional images. The up-and-coming playwright has "clearly demonstrated tremendous talent along with a willingness to tackle complex ideas in his plays," said The Globe's Executive Producer Lou Spisto. Moses' other works include "The Four of Us," which won the San Diego Critics' Circle Best New Play Award last year and "Bach at Leipzig." 8 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Oct. 26. $42-$59. Old Globe Arena Theatre, James S. Copley Auditorium, San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 234-5623. http://www.theoldglobe.org.
Sun., Sept. 21
"Tom Sawyer" at the Egyptian Theatre. Maybe Mark Twain can't make it to this special screening, but his loss doesn't have to be yours. The Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and American Cinematheque are honoring William Menzies, Lyle Wheeler and James Howe for their work on Norman Taurog's "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1938). A panel of industry experts will partake in a Q-and-A that will explore the legacy of these three phenomenal film fellas. Join Tom Walsh, moderator of the evening for the classic Twain adventure. 5:30 p.m. $7-$10. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 466-3456.
Sun., Sept. 21
Spider Pavilion. Arachnophobes beware: This enclosed landscape is home to hundreds of free-roaming spiders. But not to worry, they're all non-venomous. If you seek the more dangerous sort, like scorpions and tarantulas, you'll have to look at them through glass. The lushly landscaped garden house is the only public spider-viewing center of its kind in the country and allows guests to get up close and personal with the web-weavers as they crawl, play and prey. Home to a variety of arachnids, from golden silk spiders to the banded garden spider, this brings "Charlotte's Web" to a whole new level. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., daily. $1-$3. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 763-3466. http://www.nhm.org.
Sun., Sept. 21
KCRW'S World Festival. A remarkable, eclectic lineup marks the last week of KCRW's World Music Festival. Ozomatli toured the world, engaging audiences with its blend of Latin-, rock- and hip-hop-infused music, as well as its anti-war and human rights advocacy. The multiethnic group headlines this special night at the Hollywood Bowl, along with Michael Franti, a former member of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and his latest band Spearhead. Mexican singer Lila Downs as well as Tijuana's premiere electronic band, Nortec Collective and its members Bostich and Fussible, will make it impossible for anyone not to get something out of the mix. If you haven't had the chance to catch this spectacular summer concert series, don't miss this last opportunity. 7 p.m. $10-$96. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000. http://hollywoodbowl.com.
Tue., Sept. 23
Barton Gellman at ALOUD. Every reporter has his beat and Barton Gellman's is Vice President Dick Cheney, which has earned the special-projects reporter at The Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize this year and a George Polk Award last year. He had so much good material on the vice president that it was enough to write an entire book, "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency," thus his appearance at the ALOUD series opposite Los Angeles Times op-ed editor Nick Goldberg. Gellman, having spent a significant amount of time investigating Cheney and his activities, is able to draw back the curtain of secrecy to discuss the man and the administration in a candid reflection on the legacy of the Bush-Cheney pairing. 7 p.m. Free. Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, corner of Fifth and Flower streets, downtown Los Angeles. R.S.V.P. (213) 228-7025. http://www.lfla.org/aloud.
Wed., Sept. 24
Brad Meltzer signs "Book of Lies." The New York Times best-selling mystery writer is back with a riveting new thriller that links the Cain and Abel story with the creation of Superman. Young Jerry Siegel dreamed up a bulletproof super man in 1932 when his father was shot to death. It may sound like a strange plotline, but trust Meltzer, who has written six other acclaimed page-turners as well as comic books and television shows, to produce a great read. The novel is already receiving major buzz and you can get in on the action in a variety of ways: By watching the trailer on Brad Meltzer's Web site (yes, the book has a movie trailer), listening to the book's soundtrack (yes, the book has a soundtrack) and by coming to a reading and book signing by the author. 7:30-9 p.m. Free. Barnes & Noble, 16461 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 380-1636. http://www.bradmeltzer.com.
Wed., Sept. 24
An Evening With Garrison Keillor. American radio listeners are transported each week to Lake Wobegon and placed in the hands of one of America's most competent storytellers. Garrison Keillor entertains millions of Americans with charming, humorous tales about growing up in the heartland. The host of Minnesota Public Radio's most popular program, "A Prairie Home Companion," is coming to Malibu today as Pepperdine University is presenting "An Evening With Garrison Keillor," where audiences will have the opportunity to experience his one-of-a-kind wit first hand. 8 p.m. $65 (public), $10 (full-time Pepperdine students). Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4522 or (213) 365-3500. http://arts.pepperdine.edu.
Sat., Sept. 27
"Skinny Bitch: A Bun in the Oven." If there is one thing that doesn't ever get old, it's mocking our own culture. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin do just that in their newly released "Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven," a sequel of sorts to their best-selling cookbook "Skinny Bitch." The book is a guaranteed laugh riot and today's in-store reading and signing could offer a sassy twist as the two authors show up in the flesh to dish about expecting mothers. And don't be fooled, just because the subjects of this book are in a more fragile state of mind, Freedman and Barnouin refuse to make any exceptions to their insightful and illuminating critiques. 2 p.m. $14.95 (book price). Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. http://www.booksoup.com.
Sat., Sept. 27
"Tides of Emotion" at James Coleman Gallery. Mother and daughter duo Christa and Katina Zinner create entirely different kinds of art, but choose to display their creativity alongside one another in an exhibition that benefits Heal the Bay. Christa spent much of the '60s photographing such luminaries as Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly for the covers of fashion magazines and at age 70 started exploring her now-primary mode of expression: bronze sculpting. Her busts and nudes, like the "Standing Male Nude," are reminiscent of classic Roman sculptures and are an expression of the artist's lifelong fascination with the human form. Katina focuses her creative eye on her own passion -- nature. A film editor by trade and daughter of Oscar-winning film editor, Peter Zinner, Katina has been painting from a young age, first exhibiting her work in a solo show at the age of 11. Her giant multi-panel oil paintings are often described as "wild" and reflect her love of natural environments. 7-10 p.m. (artists reception). Through Oct. 16. Free. James Coleman Gallery, 1431 Ocean Ave., Suite A, Santa Monica. (310) 456-7151. http://www.jamescolemanfineart.com.
Sat., Sept. 27
"Jack's Third Show." Long hair, dramatic eye shadow and electric guitars return for an '80s afternoon. Billed as a benefit for autism education, radio station JACK-FM stages an edgy blend of retro and new wave rockers. Billy Idol joins Blondie, The Psychedelic Furs and Devo for a musical bash that will have you dancing all day long. 2 p.m. $29-$89. Verizon Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. (213) 480-3232. http://www.ticketmaster.com or http://www.931jackfm.com.
Sat., Sept. 27
Museum Day. Art and cultural institutions are hoping to attract folks from all walks of life by making them an offer that's hard to refuse: free admission to museums across Southern California. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, this event gives art lovers and art novices alike the opportunity to visit venues from the Getty Center to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, free of charge. Natural history and science museums, like the California Science Center are also participating in the event. Regular parking fees do apply and advance reservations are recommended for some exhibitions. For a complete list of participating museums, visit http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-search/?state=California. Also, Sat. Oct. 4 and Sun. Oct. 5, "Museums Free-For-All," sponsored by the Museum Marketing Roundtable, offers free admission to 24 museums across Southern California. For a complete list of museums, visit http://www.museumsla.org/news/asp.
Sat., Sept. 27
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's 40th Season Opening Gala. L.A. Chamber Orchestra's first musical director, Sir Neville Marriner, will conduct its current director, Jeffrey Kahane, in a piano solo to celebrate its 40th year. A symbolic bridge between the orchestra's past and its future, expect to hear classical masters Beethoven, Schumann and Stravinsky, followed by dinner, dancing and a live auction for patrons. 6 p.m. $35-$125 (concert only), $750 (full package). The Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. Saint John Ave., Pasadena. (213) 622-7001, ext. 215. http://www.laco.org.
-- Lilly Fowler contributed a lot to this article
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