“Major Barbara” play reading at Society of the Four Arts, 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach; 5:30 p.m.; free; 561/655-2766 or www.fourarts.org
I don’t think anyone would question that George Bernard Shaw is one of the greatest playwrights to walk the Earth; suggesting otherwise would be akin to saying that Neil Armstrong was just an “OK” astronaut. But Shaw’s plays are rarely produced by South Florida theaters, leaving us scrambling to the occasional play reading to hear his beautiful words spoken by live actors. You’ll get the opportunity to do so this evening, at no cost. “Major Barbara,” written in 1905, is a three-act play about a major in the Salvation Army who suffers a crisis of conscious at the possibility of accepting significant donations from a weapons manufacturer and a whisky distiller. With the provenance of certain political donations continuing to originate from dubious sources, this timeless play explores a moral quandary that resonates today.
Dirty Projectors at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 7:30 p.m.; $20; 954/564-1074 or www.cultureroom.net
A band that doesn’t sound like any other band is certainly a rare commodity these days, and it makes Dirty Projectors stand out among the growing list of peers to emerge in the American indie rock scene since the new millennium. Unpredictable, jaunty, hard to dance to and awash in odd time signatures, Dirty Projectors’ music feels like an art project perpetually in progress, with each album completing another wall in an unending sonic mural. Comparisons to Talking Heads and Yes have accompanied the band in its past, but neither sounds appropriate to my ears; that said, the group’s music should apply to fans of Bjork, another singularly inspiring artist who exists, and creates, outside of musical trends. It’s no surprise that Bjork collaborated with Dirty Projects on a well-received EP in 2010. Pop Etc. will open tonight’s show.
David Twigg at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 8 p.m.; free; 305/442-4408 or www.booksandbooks.com
For many South Floridians, the mere mention of the name “Andrew” conjures up sad memories of August 1992, when was then the costliest hurricane in United States history battered the tri-county area, severely damaging or destroying some 117,000 houses. It’s not a subject many of us would like to revisit, but Florida International University professor David Twigg has found a way to broach the topic with fresh eyes and universal insight. His new book The Politics of Disaster, which he will speak about tonight, catalogs the impact Andrew had on local and state political incumbents, with data and analysis culled from newspaper articles, scholarly reports and first-person interviews. His discovery of incumbent poll “bumps” in the wake of the tragedy applies not just to Andrew but to past and future disaster events as well.
Thursday and Friday
Tastemakers of Delray Beach in downtown Delray Beach; 5 to 10 p.m.; $30; 561/243-1077 or www.downtowndelraybeach.com
As any avid traveler knows, there are few things worse to lose than your passport. As any avid South Florida foodie knows, the same can be said for a passport of a different kind: the official passport to Tastemakers of Delray Beach 2012. For $30, you can receive this foldout document, which grants passport-holders access to food and wine pairings from 21 restaurants along Atlantic Avenue. The offerings range from a U.S.D.A. Prime Bone-in Filet with a 2009 Cabaret from Salt Seven to pear and goat cheese bruschetta with Warsteiner from Atlantique Café to scallop and shrimp ceviche and a 2008 Chardonnay from Sundy House. It’s a great deal for the money, and the savings continue well after the event; keep your passport handy for discounts at the participating restaurants through the end of September.
Juliana Polanskaya at Arts Garage, 180 N.E. First St., Delray Beach; 7:30 p.m.; $15 to $25; 561/450-6357 or www.artsgarage.org
If you’ve finished dining on appetizers at Friday’s Tastemakers event – or you would like a respite from the madding crowd – why not pop into the Arts Garage and witness an international superstar? Part of the venue’s Global Invasion series, Juliana Polanskaya is a renowned Russian singer and actress, currently residing in Miami, who has already recorded in Finland, Australia and Latvia. As familiar crooning symphonically-based operettas as she is acting in a Broadway musical, Polanskaya’s breadth of talent is as exotic as her name. Her forthcoming album “Contemplation” is said to feature classical vocals lain atop ancient folk instruments, multi-ethnic rhythms and electronic samples. For tonight’s concert, she’ll be joined by a four-piece band of musicians hailing from Cuba, Colombia, the U.S. and Azerbaijan.
Chris Tucker at Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood; 8 p.m.; $49 to $79; 800/745-3000 or www.hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com
Chris Tucker can best be described as a walking contradiction. He’s a born-again Christian who curses like a sailor in a Scorsese film, and he has counted among his personal friends public figures as disparate as Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson. He made an unprecedented $25 million to star in “Rush Hour 3” in 2006, making him, at the time, the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, but he’s a humble millionaire, spreading his wealth to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa through his Chris Tucker Foundation. Oh, and he’s also pretty funny, when given the right material. And considering his standup show is all his material, this event should be a winner.
“Real Men” Theater/Pub Crawl Package at Actors Playhouse, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 8 p.m.; $60; 305/444-9293 or www.actorsplayhouse.org
Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of straight men who enjoy going to the theater – especially when the play in question features large-breasted puppets and songs about Hooters, urinal etiquette and sports talk. And it certainly helps when the end result is as funny and inspired as “Real Men Sing Show Tunes and Play with Puppets,” Actors Playhouse’s hit world premiere. The production includes all of the aforementioned straight-man niceties and more, performed by three talented singers with flairs for comedy. The show closes Sunday, but Friday is the night to go. Following the performance, there will be a post-show guided tour and pub crawl through downtown Coral Gables, and the ticket price includes all drinks, taxes and tips.
Opening night of “Twentieth-Century Way” at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 8 p.m.; $30; 954/678-1496 or www.smarttix.com
Continuing its role as an incubator for handfuls of local theater companies, the durable hole-in-the-wall that is Empire Stage welcomes a new client this weekend: Island City Stage, formerly known as Rising Action Theatre. The gay-centric company will present “The Twentieth-Century Way,” a scabrous 2010 play by Tom Jacobson about two out-of-work actors who market a scoop to law enforcement that leads to the entrapment of more than 30 homosexuals in public restrooms for “social vagrancy” in 1914. This bizarre story is stranger than fiction, so it’s no surprise that it’s based on real events. Gifted comic actors Clay Cartland and Mike Westrich will star in this dark comedy with provocative undertones. It runs through Sept. 9.