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O. C. LIVE | Best Bets

September 19, 1996

Pop

Jez Lowe, a folk singer from northern England, sings frequently about life in small coal-mining towns, a subject with which most Orange Countians probably aren't intimately familiar. Another prime topic is what it's like to be a committed liberal swamped by rampant conservatism, which may ring a bell with more than a few locals.

Lowe, part of the English folk scene since the 1970s, makes his O.C. debut with a reedy, gentle voice, a literate and nicely melodic songwriting touch and a versatile backing trio, the Bad Pennies.

* Who: Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies.

* When: 7 p.m. Sunday.

* Where: Shade Tree Stringed Instruments, 28062 Forbes Road, Suite D, Laguna Niguel.

* Whereabouts: Exit Interstate 5 Crown Valley Parkway and head west. Turn left at Forbes.

* Wherewithal: $15.

* Where to call: (714) 364-5270.

*

Comedy

He made his mark with the "Back to the Future" movies, but comedian Tom Wilson was a top stand-up well before antagonizing Michael J. Fox. "I studied classic acting . . . Shakespeare, Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw," he once told The Times. "Then I moved to California only to say, 'What are you looking at, butt head?' "

Wilson, who put his acting and comedy talents together in the one-man show "Cowboy Tommy's All-American Roundup," which he brought to the Brea Improv in 1994, also has the distinction of being the only comedian to make his "Tonight Show" debut playing a tuba.

* Who: Tom Wilson, doing stand-up.

* When: 8:30 tonight, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday.

* Where: The Improv, 4255 Campus Drive, Irvine.

* Whereabouts: Exit the San Diego (405) Freeway at Jamboree Road; go south. Turn left onto Campus Drive. The club is in the Irvine Marketplace.

* Wherewithal: $8-$10.

* Where to call: (714) 854-5455.

*

Music

Puccini's exciting final opera, "Turandot," tells the story of a beautiful Chinese princess who subjects any suitor to a trial of answering three riddles. He will win her hand if he answers all three correctly but lose his head if he gets one wrong. All the suitors fail until Calaf, the unknown prince, arrives. But he in turn gives Turandot an out on marrying him if she can guess his name before morning. . . .

Alessandra Marc will sing the role of Turandot, "the icy princess," at all performances presented by Opera Pacific. The cast also includes Craig Sirianni and Eduardo Villa (alternating in the role of Calaf) and Guiping Deng as Liu in all performances. John Mauceri will conduct.

* What: Puccini's "Turandot."

* When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Wednesday and Sept. 27 and 28; 2 p.m. Sunday and Sept. 29.

* Where: Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.

* Whereabouts: Exit the San Diego (405) Freeway at Bristol Street and go north. Turn right onto Town Center Drive.

* Wherewithal: $22-$89.

* Where to call: (714) 979-7000.

*

Family Affair

Pie charts are fine, but for a lesson in world commodities, "Earth 2U, Exploring Geography" prefers to use a chocolate-chip cookie; the chart illustrates how a handful of cities worldwide supplies all the chocolate on the planet.

The Smithsonian Institution touring show opens this weekend at Fullerton Museum Center, using kid-friendly displays, touchable exhibits, interactive games and a feathered tour guide named Seymour D. Earth to help museum-goers appreciate how countries are linked through trade, environment and other common concerns.

* What: "Earth 2U, Exploring Geography."

* When: Sunday through Nov. 10. Gallery hours: noon-4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday-Sunday, noon-8 p.m. Thursday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Free public reception Saturday, 8-10 p.m.

* Where: Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave.

* Whereabouts: Exit the Riverside (91) Freeway at Harbor Boulevard; go north. Turn right onto Wilshire Avenue. The museum is at Wilshire and Pomona.

* Wherewithal: $2-$3; free for children under 12.

* Where to call: (714) 738-6545.

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