The Monti StorySlam
Alivia's Bistro—In this day and age of Facebook frenzy and Twitter tweets, The Monti continues the art of spinning a good yarn, all unscripted, in-person, and not limited to 140-characters. "Our events provide people with the clarity to tell a story as well as listen to a story," says The Monti founder, producer, artistic director, executive director and all-around handyman Jeff Polish. The storytelling organization hosts its monthly StorySlam at Alivia's Bistro. Like a hybrid of karaoke and a poetry reading, the StorySlam is an open competition where audience members have five minutes to tell a story before a panel of judges. This month's theme: animal instincts. Guest host is Sara Barron. Admission is $7, $5 for students. Showtime is 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30. Visit www.themonti.org. —Jessica Fuller
Happy Days: The Musical
Memorial Auditorium, Progress Energy Center—Richie Cunningham and the gang jump from re-run status to Broadway stardom in this musical version of the '70s-era show that made a name for itself by cashing in on a late-'50s lifestyle in the land of TV. Penned by original screenwriter Garry Marshall, the stage version is as wholesome and sweet as a home-baked apple pie from Marion Cunningham's kitchen, with a spectacular showcase of awkward teenage love, victory in the high school hallways, and the snap-fingered antics of loveable greaser The Fonz. If you've been missing the clean-scrubbed world of malted shakes, sockhops and 45s, then the super-sunny pop songs and schmaltzy smiles of this production should fit the bill. Catch tonight's premiere at 8 p.m. for $16-$48. The show runs through April 19. Visit broadwayseriessouth.com for more info. —Kathy Justice
Haydn On The Hill
Memorial Hall—Franz Joseph Haydn remains one of the best-known and most frequently performed composers of the Classical period, 200 years after his death. Often credited with formalizing the way composers wrote for symphonies, Haydn also made several large-form vocal pieces, including his late-life "The Creation" and "The Seasons" oratorios.
In recognition of the strides Haydn made in vocal music, the 80-member Carolina Choir and the 25-person UNC Chamber Singers team up with student soloists and university instrumentalists for a celebration of the composer's greatest choral works. The concert is part of the William S. Newman Artists Series and Music on the Hill. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $15 for the public and $10 for UNC students, faculty and staff. —Margaret Hair
Cat's Cradle—These foreign hipsters you'd love to call your friends are witty and urbane, with peerless thrift-store style and a lighthearted sensibility sharp enough to cut glass. French-German duo Stereo Total mock cultural peccadilloes such as our obsession with beauty and surgery ("Plastic") and play with iconic mainstays ("Holiday Inn," "Patty Hearst"). The music veers widely, encompassing New Wave, synth pop, garage, disco and '60s pop, all delivered with playfulness and punky atavism reminiscent of The Ramones. Their new 7-inch record, Anti Love Songs, features a crocheted Courtney Love on the cover, next to a dollar sign and syringe. Nothing's lost in translation. With Leslie and the LY's at 9:30 p.m. for $12-$15. —Chris Parker
Nasher Museum of Art Auditorium—Poets aren't used to being controversial. Not since Nikki Giovanni's "The True Import of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro," in which she exhorted in 1971 that "true" black men in America rise up and take action, has an African-American female poet been the object of such scrutiny. Let's put it this way: Most people think Elizabeth Alexander's poem, written for the occasion of Barack Obama's historical inauguration, fell in a wide spectrum of awfulness. On one end, Adam Kirsch wrote in The New Republic that it was "inauthentic, bureaucratic, rhetorical." On the other, Jack Foley wrote in Contemporary Poetry Review that it was "a dead thing." Others have said Alexander's reputation (the Pulitzer Prize finalist teaches at Yale) will never recover.
I'm not as sure. While I agree she had a chance to spread the gospel—to show poetry is not, as Foley wrote, "dull, genteel, a form of little interest"—I don't think the outcome could have differed had the poem sparkled with life. The problem is she played second fiddle. While John Williams, the composer, and Rick Warren, the evangelical preacher, strutted their stuff prior to Obama's speech, Alexander spoke afterward, in the dazed space where everyone was too busy marveling that the historic inauguration had occurred.
Expect to see the real Elizabeth Alexander in the Nasher Museum of Art auditorium when she reads at 5:30 p.m., in this event sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. —John Stoehr