- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Dame diva
She's the larger-than-life character from "Ally McBeal" and now she's bringing her stuff to somewhat stuffy Washington. "A Night with Dame Edna" will be this Australian performer's Washington debut. Come prepared to laugh the night away at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Starting Tuesday , she will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday through Feb. 2. Tickets are $35 to $67.50. 800/447-7400.

Visions of Vuillard
Art snobs who complain about the quality of local exhibits may have to shut their mouths. The most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to Parisian artist Edouard Vuillard will premiere on Sunday right here in Washington at the National Gallery of Art before jetting off to Montreal, Paris and London. The exhibit includes Vuillard's post-impressionist and decorative artwork paintings, folding screens, prints, photographs and drawings. The gallery is located at Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 202/737-4215.

The unknown Puccini
Giacomo Puccini is known for his masterful operas. However, his curriculum vitae includes a plethora of non-operatic songs that he composed to honor his friends and to celebrate certain events. Learn about Puccini's life through a recital of these little-known works by the Washington Opera's Young Artists of the Americas residents and commentary by musicologist Michael Kaye. The event takes place at 6:30 p.m. today at the Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center, 1300 New York Ave. NW. The event is free, but an ID is required to enter the building. 202/623-3929.

It's raining cats and dogs
If you're tired of coming home to an empty apartment or you're just an animal lover, don't miss the Humane Society of the United States' PetFest America from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Local animal shelters will have cats and dogs available for adoption and vendors will offer educational materials. Federal search and rescue dogs will make an appearance, and so will the Washington Mystics' Stacey Dales-Schuman. The lams superdogs will perform their amazing acrobatics at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Stop by the MCI Center, 601 F St. NW. Tickets are $12 to $19. 202/432-SEAT.

Hungarian chords
A relatively young orchestral phenomenon, founded in 1983, the Budapest Festival Orchestra currently performs regularly at prestigious music halls around the world. Pianist Denis Matsuev, gold medalist at the 1998 International Tchaikovsky Competition, joins them as they perform "Die Meistersinger von Nurenburg" and "A Faust Symphony" at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, F Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW. Tickets are $45 to $75. 202/467-4600.

Girl power
You just can't keep a good woman down, as the joint presentation of "The Hidden Half: Iranian Women Directors" by the Freer Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts proves. Over the next several weeks, both museums will have independent screenings of a variety of films from documentaries to dramas all directed by women. The festival kicks off with a free screening of "Daughters of the Sun," a drama about a girl disguised as a boy who is sent to work in a carpet-weaving shop. The showing is at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium, Jefferson Drive and 12th St. SW. 202/357-2700.

Dance all night
Relationship and community, physical boundaries and stylistic traditions are explored at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage's "Celebration of Blacks in Dance." Today, tomorrow and Saturday 16 different dance troupes, including the Creative Outlet Theater of Brooklyn, the Baltimore/Chicago Contemporary Dance Theater and the DC Showbiz Dancers, will perform. All performances are at 6 p.m. and are free. Embrace culture while challenging the status quo at F Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW. 202/467-4600.

Robert Hanssen and September 11 have brought the world of espionage much closer to home than James Bond ever could. Join David Kahn, a leading expert on codes and ciphers, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday as he discusses codes and code-breaking from World War II to September 11. It's part of the Corcoran Gallery of Art's "Spies, Codes, Disguises" series. Admission is $12 to $15. The Corcoran is at 500 17th St., NW. Pre-registration is required. 202/639-1822.

Testosterone rush
Carquest's World of Wheels brings men's favorite pastimes to one place during one weekend. Not only will the 200,000-square-foot Washington Convention Center be filled with automobiles, motorcycles and hot rods, but Verne "Mini-me" Troyer, Tony Pedregon, Ben "Cooter" Jones and wrestler Jerry Lawler will make appearances. The BMX Extreme Team will also perform. What more could a guy want? Stop by the center, 800 Mount Vernon Place NW, between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday, or 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $5 to $12. 202/371-1050.
Stephanie K. Taylor

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