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Night Howl
By Karen Reardanz and Mary Spicuzza

$3 Bill cast
Gunpointed Remarks: The cast of $3 Bill Productions' 'How to Catch a Virus Without Really Trying' takes a campy look at HIV and AIDS at the Actors' Theatre on Friday and Saturday nights.

Camptown Races:
Queer humor takes a political spin in smart new $3 Bill Productions' AIDS and HIV play

HIV AND AIDS MAY NOT SEEM the most likely subject for of comic relief, but in the latest play to come out of the Actors' Theatre/$3 Bill Productions' camp, it's the center of attention. How to Catch a Virus Without Really Trying is a play for the end of the '90s. Chock-full of campy humor, farcical situations and scenarios and characters that may seem stereotypical, the production explores the impact the devastating virus has had on all types of folks, but particularly the gay community.

The theatrical brainchild of Craig Fox and Oscar Davilla (you must remember these names from other Actors' Theatre productions, especially Northern Castle Theatre and its humorous adaptations of fairy tales for kids), How to Catch a Virus is not just entertaining commentary, but also acts as a catalyst to raise funds for the theater house and the newly-in-the-black SC AIDS Project.

Check out How to Catch a Virus for yourself, make a few educated decisions and put some money into the hands--and bank accounts--of worthy organizations. The show (co-sponsored by Metro Santa Cruz, by the way--a little self-promoting pat on the back) plays on Friday and Saturday nights (8pm) through Sept. 27 at the Actors' Theatre, 1001 Center St., SC. Tickets cost $7. For more info, call 423-8975.

Royal Taj

The venerable gatekeeper to African-American music, Taj Mahal, took on the Catalyst Sunday night, getting a nearly packed house on its feet and keeping it there with a smooth, professional set of the blues, soul, R&B, zydeco and more, including a song called "Queen Bee" dedicated to Surf City's very own Mary McCaslin.

But the Taj also invited a very talented band to do the main opening honors. Royal Fingerbowl opened the show with a relatively long set of soulful, swinging rockabilly. Armed with only a singer and his guitar, a stand-up bass and some drums, the band plowed through its songs with energy, confidence and talent, garnering the attention of the folks sitting along the sides and the hepcats--from this time around and last--swing dancing in the middle. Keep an eye on these three--they don't seem to be riding last year's swing craze.

So Say Soiree

The fully packed Santa Cruz Dance Gallery made Saturday night's Feast for the Muse benefit show an obvious success. It's difficult to tell whether it was the delicious food prepared by Chef David Jackman of So Say We, the locally made wines or the talented musicians and dancers that put a satisfied smile on every face in the full-to-the-brim studio.

Dresden's Nancy Levan and others set the stage with atmospheric melodies. Following a true feast, the dance pieces, ranging from a beautiful modern piece by Carol Fields to a comedic piece about the bed by Smith Grade Construction Co, proved the diversity of dance as an art form. After the desserts were inhaled in a chocoholic frenzy, the thirtysomethings were joined by young Dandaro groupies in pursuit of an intense rhythmic fix. The troupe's magical marimbas kept feasters sweating off their meals into the wee hours of the morning.

FutureThink

Moving & Storage Company/Crash, Burn & Die Dance Company unveil new choreography at MAH on Sept. ... Nuyorcian poet Edwin Torres performs his Nuyo-Latino spoken word poetry at Soquel's Ugly Mug on Sept. 22.

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From the Sept. 10-17, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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