Performance Picks

It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues

Voluminous beauty Jewel Tomkins (pictured) owns the one stunning moment in this otherwise delightfully lightweight revue. Mostly, it's a slick, upbeat quickie history of African-American music from slave-ship chants to electrified sweet-home Chicago, with a schoolmasterish slideshow of the down and/or downhearted. Musical director Dan Wheetman, a sideman for John Denver and R. Crumb, also honors whites infused with blackness (Jimmie Rodgers, Patsy Cline, Peggy Lee). But the showstopper is Tomkins' bitterly beautiful, harder-belted-than-Billie Holiday rendition of the lynching protest anthem "Strange Fruit," by Abel Meeropol (the activist who adopted Ethel Rosenberg's orphans). The eight singers make good times roll, souls catch fire, sidewinders shimmy and Irene go beddy-bye, but Meeropol's nightmare tune is the one you remember. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-443-2222. $10-$46. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun.; 2 p.m. matinees Sat.-Sun. and Wed. April 28. Ends with 6:30 p.m. curtain Sat. May 8. TIM APPELO

Pacific Northwest Ballet

The cool blue world of George Balanchine's "Serenade" is an odd introduction to "Carmina Burana," with its bawdy Orff score and gigantic, golden Wheel of Fortune set by Ming Cho Lee, though once Kent Stowell's ballet gets going the familiar music draws you into the piece. The contrast between Stowell's earthly and celestial lovers can seem broad at times, but when it resolves in a tender duet celebrating courtly love (with Patricia Barker and Olivier Wevers, pictured) it transcends the set-up. Stowell's ballet is popular in the same way as Orff's music—they are both unashamedly expressive. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 206-292-ARTS. $16-$125. 7:30 p.m. Fri. April 23-Sat. April 24. Also 2 p.m. Sat. April 24. SANDRA KURTZ

Organ Plus

Two manuals plus pedal, 17 ranks, 950 pipes: the Marion Camp Oliver organ in St. Mark's Cathedral's Thomsen Chapel was inaugurated last September, yet another top-notch instrument in a city blessed with several. Organist J. Melvin Butler has invited oboist M. Patrick Kane to join him for music from baroque and romantic Germany (Bach, Sweelinck, Telemann, Rheinberger), and has commissioned L'aurore épanouit la rose from Seattle composer Marcus Oldham. His recent work has been fascinatingly concerned with silence and the sculpturing of sound in time; he's written his new work especially for this space and this new Paul Fritts instrument. Thomsen Chapel, St. Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E., 206-323-0300. $10 suggested donation. 2 p.m. Sun. April 25. GAVIN BORCHERT

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