My kid is better than yours -- and the preschool we finagled to get her into proves it! Such are the deep insights in Eric Coble's Bright Ideas, a contemporary comedy that depicts proponents of MacParenting as the ruthless hellspawn of Macbeth. Even murder is an approved tactic when you're competing for the bragging rights of setting your 3-year-old on the fast track to success. Artistic director Chip Decker mentors this new Actors Theatre of Charlotte production, running at 650 E. Stonewall Street through November 20. Donna Scott, Michael Nester, Greta Marie Zandstra, and Brett Gentile are among the notables in the wicked cast. Tickets are $17 on Wednesdays and Thursdays (and for the November 14 matinee), $22 on Fridays and Saturdays, and pay-what-you-can on November 9. Call 704-342-2251. (Tannenbaum)
NOVEMBER 4 - THURSDAY
He first came to prominence in the 1970s as the throwback crooner on Saturday Night Live, but Leon Redbone has made a career of retro. Attired in sharp suits, his ubiquitous fedora perched top his mustachioed mug, Redbone's gravelly baritone and ragtime guitar re-animated forgotten classics of jazz, pop, blues and country. An intensely private person, little is known about Redbone the man (dark shades are part of the costume), except that he's a veritable repository of American music history. His show tonight at the Neighborhood Theatre is $20; Charlotte poet Chuck Sullivan opens. The doors open at 8pm, with the festivities getting under way an hour later. For more information, go to www.neighborhoodtheatre.com or call 704-358-9298. (Schacht)
Multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, perhaps best known as the featured accompanist with Jackson Browne (he's the one you hear with the piercing falsetto on "Stay"), is a longtime champion of musical hybridism. An electric-acoustic set from Lindley might well include American folk, blues, and bluegrass, African, Arabic, Asian, Celtic and Turkish musical influences played on a variety of instruments (Kona and Weissenborn Hawaiian lap steel guitar, Turkish saz and chumbus, Middle Eastern oud, and Irish bouzouki, to name but a few). Oh, and he can rock like a fiend, too. Tickets for the 9pm show are $17, available at www.visulite.com or by calling 704-358-9200. (Davis)
The Charlotte Bobcats finished the preseason with a respectable 3-5 record, but we all know what a stellar preseason means when the regular season starts: diddly-squat. (For proof, check out this year's Carolina Panthers.) Tonight at 7pm at the Charlotte Coliseum, the Bobcats try to erase the ghosts of misters Shinn and Wooldridge altogether as the team takes on the Washington Wizards, who, we're sad to inform you, no longer have Michael Jordan on the roster. However, it should be a winnable game for the club, which will no doubt lean heavily on forward Gerald Wallace, center Primo Brezec, and overall number two draft pick Emeka Okafor to fill the scoring load. Tickets for the game are $10-$115, available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 704-522-6500. (Davis)
UNC-Charlotte's venerable Dance & Theatre Department will be kicking up its heels for the next two weeks as they open their new performing arts facility, Robinson Hall, with a lavish production of Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes. Fred Astaire turned up his nose at this vintage 1936 fluff about a vaudevillian hoofer pursuing a Russian ballerina. That left the stage door open for Ray Bolger to nab the lead -- in a lowbrow-meets-highbrow vehicle with enough staying power to capture the 1983 Tony Award for Best Revival. Through November 14 at the new Robinson, located at the university's main entrance off Highway 49. Tickets are $5 for students, $12 for faculty and staff, and $15 for the public. Call 704-687-2599. (Tannenbaum)
NOVEMBER 5 - FRIDAY
The Charlotte Film Society presents its Bonus Week starting this Friday at the Manor Theatre. The titles included are Italy's Facing Windows, in which a Holocaust survivor's longing for his long-ago boyfriend stirs emotions in an unhappily married woman; The Mother, a British import from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill), about an elderly widow (Anne Reid) and her daughter (Cathryn Bradshaw) who end up having affairs with the same married man (Daniel Craig); Canada's Touch of Pink, in which the spirit of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan) offers advice to a Muslim-Canadian gay man (Jimi Mistry) whose mother believes him to be straight; and the Czech Republic's Zelary, the recent Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee about a Czech nurse-cum-resistance fighter who hides out in a stifled mountain community during World War II. For information on prices and times, call 704-414-2355 or go online to http://charlottefilmsociety.com. (Brunson)
Classical music's most celebrated freedom fighter, Ludwig van Beethoven, wrote only one opera, Fidelio. Maestro Christof Perick and the Charlotte Symphony are bringing an opera-in-concert version to Belk Theater for two consecutive evenings. Susan B. Anthony stars as Leonora, the devoted wife who takes on the guise of a young man, Fidelio, in order to contrive the escape of Florestan, her wrongfully imprisoned husband. Opposite the soprano suffragette, tenor Michael Konig makes his US debut as Florestan. Five other soloists will be arrayed before the Symphony -- with the mighty Oratorio Singers of Charlotte at the rear of the stage. Tickets are $15-$73 for the two-act opera, performed with English supertitles for the umlaut-challenged. Call 704-972-2000. (Tannenbaum)
The Charlotte Checkers have a weekend at home as they host the Trenton Titans tonight and the South Carolina Stingrays tomorrow at Cricket Arena. Both games start at 7pm. Individual tickets start at just $9 and may be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 704-522-6500.
NOVEMBER 6 - SATURDAY
The Charlotte Art League hosts An Evening of Blues and Art, featuring local blues band The Midnight Blue with a special guest performance by Daryle Ryce. Tonight from 8-11pm, enjoy live entertainment while perusing the works of Charlotte's up-and-coming artists. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The price of admission includes hors d' oeuvres, beverages and door prizes. For advance tickets and details, call the man with the plan, "Cool Charlie," at 704-542-3044. Charlotte Art League is located at 1317 Camden Rd. in Historic South End.
NOVEMBER 7 - SUNDAY
In the midst of an injury-riddled season of failed expectations, the Carolina Panthers look to salvage some respect when they host pro football's famed Men in Black, the Oakland Raiders, today at 1pm at Bank of America stadium. Under new coach Norv Turner and QB Kerry Collins (remember him?) the Raiders haven't fared much better than our Cats recently, thanks to a questionable defensive unit and injury woes of their own. (Someone tell Carolina Medical Center to go ahead and reserve some rooms now!) Tickets for the game are said to be sold out, but it couldn't hurt to log on to www.ticketmaster.com to be sure. (Davis)
NOVEMBER 10 - WEDNESDAY
The West Coast hip-hop of Black Eyed Peas is thankfully more socially conscious than the violent bravado of their gangsta rap compatriots. Even when the core duo was signed to gangsta Easy E's Ruthless records in the early 90s as Atban Klann, they were forward thinking and puzzled the label's fans with evolved rhymes. Their monstrous funky beats are potent and some members began as a breakdancing crew, so their dance skills aren't shabby either. At 9pm, Belk Arena, Davidson College. Tickets are $29, further details at www.davidson.edu/tickets. (Shukla)