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VALLEY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

September 12, 1996

WEEKEND: Summer's Gone

Your chances to take in something this summer at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum now number four.

The rustic outdoor amphitheater in Topanga is offering the finale of its cabaret series on Friday and the three critically acclaimed productions of its summer season Saturday and Sunday. That's it until next year.

Singer-actress Ivy Jones will present her one-woman show, "Piaf, Patsy and Peggy Lee" on Friday evening. Jones performed a one-woman show about Edith Piaf at the American Renegade Theatre to good reviews back in 1992. Now, she's added her interpretations of singers Patsy Cline and Peggy Lee to the mix.

The Theatricum's three major productions--the Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill musical, "The Threepenny Opera," which closes Saturday, and Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which both close Sunday--all posted good reviews in The Times. The "Midsummer" production is geared specifically for family audiences.

They don't accept reservations at the Theatricum, so arrive early and have a picnic on the grounds. One more thing--for the sake of your sciatica, don't forget a pillow. Or two.

* Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Tickets to the all the plays are $15 general, $8.50 students and seniors, $4 children 6-12, children under six are free. Tickets to the cabaret series are $10. Call (310) 455-2322.

*

Border Art

Controversial performance-artist/writer Guillermo Gomez-Pena will perform at CSUN this weekend. Gomez-Pena has built an international reputation with his multilingual poetry, journalism, video, radio, installation art and theatrical productions exploring Mexican and Chicano cultural identity. His theatrical piece, "Borderama" was presented as part of the Mark Taper Forum's "Virtual Theatre" series in 1995.

Gomez-Pena was raised in Mexico City and first came to the United States in 1978. A collection of his writings was published under the title "Warrior for Gringostroika," in 1994. A new book, "New World Border," was published earlier this year by City Lights.

* Guillermo Gomez-Pena at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at CSUN's Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students. Call (818) 677-2817.

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SATURDAY: Strictly Ballroom

"Bring your dancing shoes," is the advice Bill Martz gives to those coming to watch the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Assn.'s Western States Amateur Ball competition Saturday.

Martz, the secretary of the USABDA's Greater Los Angeles chapter, says the 200 competitors will not be the only ones dancing Saturday night.

"There will be open social dancing in addition to the competition," Martz says. "Our event is unique because we do more spectator dancing. That's one of the reasons our event is so popular."

Competition categories include standard ballroom and Latin styles plus country-western and West Coast swing.

The L.A. chapter also promotes a Winter Ball in Glendale that has been going strong for 27 years. This fall event, which was started 14 years ago, is expected to draw about 800 spectators, as well as some other guests.

"We get a lot of top professional dancers who stop by," says Martz. "We're often puzzled ourselves, it has a life of its own."

* U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Assn.'s Western States Amateur Ball, 5 p.m.- midnight Saturday at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road. Admission ranges from $10-$20. Call (818) 905-0661.

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