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Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir performs at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

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Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir performs at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday

Thursday, July 28

From award-winning science fiction to conservative commentary to plays, Greensboro author Orson Scott Card has a full plate. He's in town at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at 7pm to read from and sign copies of his new novel Magic Street. Event tickets are required and are free when you buy the novel. For more info, call 704-602-9820. (Grooms)

Ever fall so deeply in love with your pet that you were willing to sacrifice your marriage and livelihood? Didn't think so. Very likely, you're just not as theatrical -- or maladjusted -- as the protagonist in A.R. Gurney's cuddlesome comedy, Sylvia. Off-Tryon Theatre Company revives its 2­003 hit production for the City Stage Fringe Theatre Festival at Spirit Square through August 7. Most of the original perpetrators return, led by irrepressible Meghan Lowther as the titular pooch, Lee Thomas as her idolatrous master, and Donna Scott as his steely, unsympathetic wife. Under the direction of Glenn Griffin, you do get the feeling that Gurney plumbs down to the core of this man-beast thing. Performances Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8pm, Sunday matinees at 2pm, with tickets priced at $19.99. LivePulse post-performance discussion led by Perry Tannenbaum, featuring free eats, on July 29. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

Friday, July 29

Martha Connerton's Kinetic Works has become a cultural oasis in Charlotte's parched summertime landscape. This year, KW surfaces for two evenings at Theatre Charlotte with a SummerDance Project 2005 titled "Pulse... Action." Three intriguing new works will be performed at these concert performances by Kinetic Works and its pre-professional training company. "Sticky Buns, Oh Balls and Hoopla!" will likely supply the most eye-candy, with the entire ensemble wielding hula hoops, velcro and bouncy balls. "Mozart Tapestry (1st Movement)" is the latest installment -- the "Allegro spiritoso," y'all! -- in Connerton's ongoing setting of Wolfgang's Concertone in C for two violins and orchestra. Connerton herself solos in "If Anyone Asks, Tell Them I'm Out Standing in the Field," with an Aphex Twin soundscape. Oldies by Connerton on the bill are choreographed to music by Egberto Gismonti and Elliott Carter. Performances Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with tickets priced at $17 in advance and $20 at the door. Call 704-334-9128. (Tannenbaum)

Saturday, July 30

Where can you find works from The Wiz, Roots, Porgy and Bess and The Color Purple mixed in with major works of sacred music and Ray Charles' America the Beautiful? Why, at the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir's performance of The African in American Music, of course! Catch all this plus loads more for free tonight at 7pm at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. For more information call 704-392-0392 or visit www.csogospel.com. (Lauren MacLeod)

The Afro-American Cultural Center hosts its Family & Community 13th Annual Cultural Appreciation Day. In addition to local retailers and food vendors, expect youth arts and crafts, storytellers, clowns and games, all of which go into full-swing at noon, with a parade beginning at 11:30am at the United House of Prayer. Parents, meanwhile, can enjoy the gospel choir, saxophone quartet and a shotgun house tour. When the clock strikes 8pm, the day turns to NightSounds, a concert showcasing jazz, R&B and Latin tunes that will run you $15 (unless you're an AACC member who may receive a discount). For more information, visit www.aacc-charlotte.org. (William Fonvielle)

"Singer/songwriter" is a description made famous by folks like Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell -- and James Taylor. A North Carolina native whose "Carolina in My Mind" and "Fire and Rain" are soft-rock classics, appears with his band for an "under the stars" show at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. This year the gentle hitmaker is supporting "Keep the Beat," a campaign to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). You can find more info about that on keepthebeat.org. Tickets for the show are $20-$53; the nostalgia begins at 8pm. For more details call 704-522-6500 or to to www.cellardoor.com. (Shukla)

Monday, August 01

The self-proclaimed monarch of all things marv-tastic, Larry Leon Hamlin, does it every two years in Winston-Salem. He puts together the National Black Theatre Festival, turning the old town into the center of Afro-American culture for six rich and glamorous days. This ninth edition features 40 theater and music productions, and more than 120 performances around town. Plus a fortified spoken-word component featuring Jamaal Malcolm Warner (from The Cosby Show and that new Jason Alexander thing). Other celebs include Kim Fields, Vernell Lillie, Bill Cobbs, André De Shields and -- fresh from his Broadway triumph in Gem of the Ocean -- Anthony Chisholm. An opening night gala at the downtown Marriott kicks things off, with a 6:30pm celebrity procession and 9pm performance of The Jackie Wilson Story capping festivities. Continues through August 6 at sites all over town, from 9:30am to 10:30pm, with tickets ranging from $10-$40. The gala, including celebrity reception, goes for $250. Check it out at nbtf.org. (Tannenbaum)

Tuesday, August 02

They've got the beat! Come see NightBeat 2005 at Memorial Stadium and treat yourself to an evening of heart-pounding musical performances by eight drum corps including Fort Mill's Carolina Crown. Show your support for the Crown team as it gears up to compete in the World Championships. The show starts at 7pm. Proceeds go to support Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps. Call NightBEAT office at 803-546-2665 or go to www.carolinacrown.org for tickets and more information. (Lauren MacLeod)

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