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Those of you who fell in love with hill-country heroine Ivy Rowe long ago when she first appeared in Lee Smith's novel Fair and Tender Ladies are in for a brief but special treat. On Oct. 18 and 19, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival brings its folk-musical version of Smith's story to N.C. State's Stewart Theatre. This is the only North Carolina stop for the musical, which got raves in Alabama after it premiered during the 1998-99 season, when Greta Lambert (pictured) played the starring role. How will it stack up against Good Ol' Girls, our local paragon of literary hoedowns? Find out for $21 ($25 for reserved seating); discounts are available to students, seniors, groups and N.C. State faculty/staff. Call 515-1100.


Practically a brand name around these parts, Lee Smith will also be emceeing a benefit reading/performance at Hillsborough's Orange High School Auditorium on Oct 24 at 7:30 p.m. Her podium compatriots include Jaki Shelton Green, Bland Simpson and Annie Dillard, whose clarion prose and capacity for off-the-cuff anecdotes make her a hit whenever she reads. Mel Melton and Cyril Lance of The Wicked Mojos and United in Praise, Duke University's gospel choir, also have slots in this nightlong lollapalooza. Tickets are $5 for students under 18; $10 for adults. Proceeds go towards grants and scholarships for the Orange County schools. Call 732-6133, ext. 3316.

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