Our choices for key events this week

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THEATRE | What happens in London...

London Suite
Feb. 23, 24; March 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 at 8 p.m.
Feb. 25 and March 4 at 3 p.m.
$25, $22/seniors, $15/students
Footlight Players Theatre
20 Queen St.

In the late 1940s, American playwright Neil Simon was working in the mail room at Warner Brothers when his writing first caught the attention of the media cognoscenti. Since then, he's been prolifically turning out musical comedies, more serious autobiographical works, and the farcical comedies of manners he is perhaps best known for, such as 1995's London Suite. The play chronicles the goings-on in four suites in a deluxe London hotel, zeroing in on a writer holding his business manager at gunpoint, an American widow and her daughter, a married couple in town for Wimbledon, and divorced couple Diana and Sidney, whom Simon fans may remember from his California Suite. The Footlight Players originally produced the four-scene comedy in 1997; the ensemble cast of the 2007 show includes a number of familiar faces, including JC Conway, Robert Ivey, Judy and Thomas Heath, Jan Moore, Andrea K. McGinn, and others. FRIDAY-SUNDAY

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EVENT | Happy birthday, Mr. Persistent

52.5 Records 10th Anniversary
Feb. 21-March 2
Art opening: Fri. Feb. 23, 7-9 p.m.
52.5 Records
561 King St.

When Clay Scales opened his independent record store 10 years ago, no one had any questions about where he got the name, since it was located in a tiny storefront at 52 1/2 Wentworth St. After a few years at 52.5, the store moved up Wentworth, holding the new space until they were abruptly bought out of the lease in early 2006. In one of the fastest turnaround times ever, Scales and his dedicated employees put together the store's new location at 561 King St., complete with a "stage" area perfect for in-store performances and more than enough room for rooting through the bins of new and used CDs and vinyl. This week and next, 52.5 celebrates 10 years of existence with 10 days of entertainment, including in-store performances every day at 7 p.m. featuring both local (Bill Carson, Lindsay Holler, Wake Up Snake) and national (Thank God, The One AM Radio) acts, sales on store merch, and an art opening on Friday night with works by locals Helen Rice, Paperdoll Design, Wes Fredsell, Jeff Corbett, and others, plus tunes by tuba master Clint4 and DJ SleepyHEAD. See the story on pg. 53 of this week's Music section for more; check out the 52.5 website for a detailed schedule of who's playing when. ALL WEEK

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FILM | Viva la France!

College of Charleston French Film Festival
Feb. 22-25
Various times
$5, free for CofC students w/valid ID
Sottile Theater
44 George St.

College of Charleston French professor Anna Ballinger hosted the first CofC French Film Festival in 1998, eventually being recognized by the French government with a Palmes Académiques for her promotions of her homeland's language and culture in other countries. This week, she gives Charlestonians the chance to catch movies that barely saw release here when they originally came out, if at all. Films will be shown each night at 7:30 p.m., with an additional movie on Sunday at 5 p.m. The fest kicks off with an opening reception on Thurs. night in the Sottile mezzanine from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Bon Voyage, complete with an introduction by CofC Art History professor and playwright Frank Cossa. Friday's showing will be Cédric Klapisch's Les Poupees Russes (Russian Dolls), the sequel to the French blockbuster L'Auberge Espagnole; Saturday's flick is Un Long Dimanche De Fiancailles (A Very Long Engagement), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou, who helped make his Amelie an international hit. The early Sunday showing is Ismaël Ferroukhi's Le Grand Voyage, documenting a son's travels across Europe with his father as they make a pilgrimage to Mecca, and the late show is Le Chignon d'Olga (Olga's Chignon), about a brother and sister coping with their mother's death. THURSDAY-SUNDAY

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CONCERT MUSIC | A classical sense of humor

P.D.Q. Bach
Mon. Feb. 26
8 p.m.
Gaillard Auditorium
77 Calhoun St.

P.D.Q. Bach, as you may have inferred from the initials, is not a real person. However, Iowa-born Professor Peter Schickele, who "discovered" the lost music of Johannes Sebastian Bach's fictional son in 1954, most definitely is. An internationally-renowned composer in his own right and the madman behind what began as a joke, Schickele has been spreading his hilarious and unique blend of classical music and slapstick comedy for over four decades now, with 11 CDs released on the Vanguard label, a book (The Definitive Biography of P.D.Q. Bach), a P.D.Q. Bach crossword puzzle (download it at, and countless appearances with orchestras across the globe. This Monday night, the Charleston Concert Association presents Schickele, accompanied by our own Charleston Symphony Orchestra, in his latest production, P.D.Q. Bach: 40 Years of Musical Mayhem. The professor recently returned to the road after taking time off to host his nationally syndicated radio show, Schickele Mix, so he's bound to be in high spirits for his rare visit to Charleston -- both the fanatics and the curious should hurry if they want to snap up tickets to what may be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. MONDAY

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THEATRE | No more flowers and chocolates

The Subject Was Roses
Feb. 23, 24; March 1, 2, 3, 9, 10 at 8 p.m.
March 4 at 5 p.m.
$20, $18/seniors and students
Village Playhouse
730 Coleman Blvd.

The Village Playhouse presents Frank D. Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1964 play The Subject Was Roses, a family drama centered on a young man's return from the World War II battlefield to the battlefield of his family's middle-class home. When Timmy Cleary gets back to America, he expects pats on the back and a warm reception from his family, who are wary of his new surly demeanor. Throughout the play, it slowly surfaces that Timmy's parents have been engaging in their own war at home for years, and Tim struggles with how to deal with problems he feels may be his fault. The Village Playhouse production is directed by Keely Enright and features Michael Easler, Lucille Keller, and Adam Miles. FRIDAY-SATURDAY

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FILM | Pumpkin comes to fruition

Song of Pumpkin Brown
Thurs. Feb. 22
$15, $12/students
American Theater
446 King St.

The Jenkins Orphanage, founded in 1891 by the Rev. Daniel Joseph Jenkins, was not just a safe haven for children, but a "jazz nursery," where Jenkins used music to teach life lessons to impressionable youth -- who repaid him by participating in the legendary Jenkins Orphanage bands, which were the foundation for jazz legends like Jabbo Smith, Cat Anderson, and Freddie Green. When Charleston filmmaker Brad Jayne was awarded a $100,000 grant from the S.C. Film Office's recently established Film Production Fund last year, he immediately began preproduction on Song of Pumpkin Brown, a short film that tells the fictional story of Pumpkin, a 10-year-old boy who comes to the orphanage after the death of his father, eventually picking up the trumpet and becoming a vital part of the orphanage's history. Jayne's reverent approach to the subject and dedication to community involvement are apparent in his collaborations with Charleston jazz historian Jack McCray, painter Jonathan Green, and Trident Tech students, who assisted in every step of production, and his pitch-perfect choice for Pumpkin's musical arranger, Quentin Baxter. With three showings on the short's "special advanced screening" night, there should be plenty of room for everyone to enjoy a contemporary piece of Charleston's history. THURSDAY


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