The Mikado, Rocket 88, NESkimos, The Cocktail Hour and more

Friday • 11

LOVE CROSSING Hey, did you happen to save your Orlando Broadway Dinner Theater tickets when the venerable home of buffets and belting it out went belly-up at the end of 2004? Probably not; odds are, you tossed the now-worthless ducats into a homemade bonfire when you realized you had bought entry to a joint that didn't exist anymore. If you held onto them – or even if your patronage was obvious in other ways – a group of similarly inconvenienced performers wants to reward your undying devotion to drama with a song in its heart. The new Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble, a production company founded by three OBDT veterans who found themselves out of work when the ax fell, has commandeered the Studio Theatre to present Love Crossing, a Celebration of Love in Song, Dance and Stories. Ghostlight co-founder Karla Schultz says the show is a specially compiled and choreographed evening of material that ranges from traditional musical theater to Sinatra and Nat King Cole to more contemporary stage selections. There's even a narrative "through line" for the five-person cast to follow as they bounce from one romantic melody to another. Love Crossing runs for one weekend only, but Schultz promises that anyone who shows up within that time frame bearing an unused ticket to an OBDT show will receive the group rate ($8). She'll even extend the courtesy to patrons whose faces she recognizes from her tenure as an actor and server at the once-indomitable Edgewater Drive establishment. Just don't expect peach cobbler; we're not in PoliGrip Land any more, Toto. (8 p.m. at Studio Theatre; also 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; 407-862-8218; $10; group rate $8)

THE MIKADO Originally dismissed by critics – who sniffed things like "unfunny" and "nonsense" – when Gilbert and Sullivan debuted it 120 years ago, The Mikado was nonetheless an instant hit, thick with cynical humor, visual gags and a relentless pace that audiences adored. It's gone on to become one of G&S' most famous and perennially popular works, which, to our frustrated discontent, tells you a little bit about what a critic's opinion is really worth. Although many of the laughs are somewhat dated, with their caustic representation of Victorian notions of cultural superiority, what's striking is how much of it still holds up. (After all, empire-building superpowers with self-important attitudes about how the world should look are forever, right?) The Mikado is intentionally corny and overblown in spots and fairly ceaseless in its cultural insensitivities, so it'll be interesting to see what conductor Hal France and stage director Dorothy Danner come up with for this presentation. (8 p.m. at Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre; also 2 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; 407-426-1700; $20-$77)

ROCKET 88 Five years since the release of their last album – and 10 since their last disc with all the original members – the Rocket 88 lineup that shook up Orlando's rockabilly scene in the early '90s is back with a new disc, Alien Attack, which blasts back to the band's original hip-shakin', rug-cuttin' rockabilly. The group's energetic live shows, which usually involved flaming pianos, are the stuff of legend around town – and, accordingly, R88 soon found themselves performing with Jerry Lee Lewis, The Cramps, Southern Culture on the Skids and Dick Dale. Inevitably, lineup changes and "maturity" kicked in, and by the late '90s, Rocket 88 had transformed into a swing band, breaking up soon after. Yet last February, the original five Rocket 88 members reunited and recorded Alien Attack, 10 spaced-out songs that mark a sonic return to the era of Mission to Mars, the band's first EP. The songs thrive on '50s sci-fi B-movies and space creatures with tunes like "Mission Control," "Return of the 50-Foot Woman" and "Rock-a-Billy Hair," an homage to the perfect pompadour. The 2004 reunion brought back Rocket 88's illustrious spectacle, from the frighteningly tight leopard-print pants to the flying UFO balloons; these guys perform like Martians are clawing at the doors, and lead singer Michael Bales promises an even bigger spectacle for this CD release party. We can hardly wait. (with The Hindu Cowboys; 8 p.m. at The Social; 407-246-1419; $10; first 25 people through the door get a free CD)

STUNTWARS This three-day event is part of the Tampa/Orlando-based Team X-treem's mission to raise awareness of motorcycle stunt-riding, while attempting to give the activity a greater level of respect among fans of "real" motorsports. Of course, Team X-treem – featuring Todd Colbert (of Tampa) and Adam Chumita and Chris Nichols (both from Orlando) – will be there, but they're also inviting area stunt riders to strut their stuff, and nearly 50 teams are expected to show up. In the spirit of making the sport accessible, the practice sessions and the qualifying rounds on Friday and Saturday will be open to the public, but if you've only got one day to spare, check out the finals on Sunday, because that's when the riders are gonna be pulling out all the stops. We don't know if events like this will "legitimize" stunt-riding, but we do know that they've gotta be a hell of a lot of fun. (at Lakeland Dragstrip; practice session, 9 a.m. Friday, $5; qualifiers, 9 a.m. Saturday, $15; main event, 9 a.m. Sunday, $15;

Saturday • 12

NEGRO SPIRITUAL SCHOLAR-SHIP FOUNDATION'S VOCAL COMPETITION Definitely not American Idol, this is a humble showdown between some gospel-filled teens who're working their blessed talents. There are five Orlando voices that have made it to the final round of the nonprofit Negro Spiritual Foundation's annual event, and they'll sing their little hearts out along with nine other talents from around the state. There are prizes ($300 cash and a $3,000 scholarship) but these kids are about hope and praise. Pure entertainment. (12:30 p.m. at Florida Southern College, Lakeland; 407-426-1717, ext. 105; free, reservation required)

WELDING SCULPTURE WORKSHOP Well-respected artists and he-men Frank Gady and David Cumbie break out the pulleys, transoms and torches for their two-day crash course in designing and creating a substantially sized steel sculpture. (Cumbie's the curator for the school's sculpture garden, so the project will live there for eternity.) This is a popular weekend course, so sign up ASAP. (9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Crealdé School of Art, Winter Park; 407-671-1886; $200, $220)

Sunday • 13

NESKIMOS The concept for this band arouses in us the same curiosity as when we receive a clutch of releases from the Vitamin Records label. You see, the NESkimos only play covers of songs from games like Double Dragon or Zelda for the old Nintendo and Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems (get it: NES-kimos?); and Vitamin puts out these strange tribute albums, on which a string quartet covers an album's worth of hits by craptastic artists such as Creed, Nickelback and Clay Aiken. It's novel for about two songs, but gets old quick. And then you realize that someone somewhere will actually buy a copy of this, content to listen to music that isn't necessarily good – just familiar. Maybe these two musical monoliths should join forces and really cash in. They could perform string quartet renditions of the "Intel Inside" sound, the "By Mennen" jingle, or even the Premier Adult Factory Outlet theme. (with Voodoo Organist; 10 p.m. at Will's Pub; 407-898-5070; $5)

Monday • 14

COCKTAIL HOUR Fans of dyed-in-the-wool drama queen Tammy Kopko and her hooch-fueled monthly variety show know to expect zero conventionality out of either. February's foray will feature "Broken Hearts Club," various swoony festivities highlighted by Kopko's take on the bachelor auction. The action will be typically atypical, with excitable contestants bidding on six highly available fellas – three gay, two straight and one who's, um, up for anything. (We know who that last one is, but we're not telling. Do we look like a Sotheby's catalog to you?) Loving couples can even bid for a willing third party, though the "date" they go on will be restricted to the premises, as will the more traditional pairings. And what of the funds to be raised, Tammy? Will they be funneled to a charity of some sort? "No, booze!" she burbles. She means the money will be spent on bar tabs for the winning bidders – we think. (10 p.m. at The Peacock Room; 407-228-0048; free)


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