He's known as B.B., but he was born Riley King in 1925. And although his name suggests otherwise, he's probably more of an "ambassador" of the blues than its "king." B.B. King has gotten a lot of flak for recording with everyone from rockers U2 to rapper Heavy D. Critics and purists see such pairings as watered-down versions of the blues. But for King, reaching the masses is more important than satisfying critics. Whatever his motivations are, there's no denying that, on stage, King is a sight to behold. His bent notes and vibrato flourishes make his guitar, Lucille, cry out in joy and pain, while his gruff-voiced vocals bring the performance back to earth. And, having recorded more than 50 albums since the '50s, he has plenty of material to choose from. King performs today at Coral Springs City Center Theatre, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Local guitarist Josh Smith opens the 7 p.m. show. Tickets range in price from $27.50 to $37.50. Call 954-344-5990.
Carol Burnett's recurring role as the wacky mom of Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt) on the NBC sitcom Mad About You earned her an Emmy for "Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series" last season. But winning awards for being funny on TV is nothing new to the comedienne, who has six Emmys and many other trophies on her mantel -- or wherever she keeps them. Even before the debut of her own TV show in 1967, Burnett was recognized as a gifted singer and stage actress. In her new stage show, Laughter and Reflection With Carol Burnett, she combines stagecraft with the spirit of The Carol Burnett Show, which aired from 1967 to 1978. She spent the opening minutes of that weekly program taking questions and bantering with fans as if hanging out with them in her living room. In Laughter she provides the audience with an entire evening of intimate, humorous chat. The 8 p.m. show takes place at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Ticket prices range from $25 to $47. Call 954-462-0222.
In ancient China members of the Han dynasty's imperial court, like anyone else, needed to be entertained. Little did they know that the answer to their prayers was out in the countryside. Farm families there, who had very little to do during the winter months, amused themselves with acrobatics and juggling, using ceramic cups, saucers, buckets, even bicycles. As the years passed and their talents were brought to the court, they added dance and theatrics to their routines, which included the formation of a human pyramid. So the bored Chinese imperials were bored no more. But it wasn't until a couple of decades ago, when China opened its cultural doors, that its people's athletic prowess was shared with the world. The premier purveyors of China's ancient art, Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats, bring their show to the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 1770 Monroe St., Hollywood. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range in cost from $15 to $25. Call 954-924-8175.
When you think "religious" art, you think of something like Leonardo da Vinci's famous The Last Supper. But the Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall (18871985) wasn't as literal in his work. Raised an Orthodox Jew, he was a modernist who played around with the concepts of time and space to make a point. In The Crossing of the Red Sea, for example, a silhouetted Moses parts the waters as an image of Christ on the cross hovers overhead, foreshadowing the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust. Chagall was in the United States for much of World War II, but the horrors of that period changed the way he viewed the world. Once whimsical and bright, his work was now darker, more somber, as illustrated in "Chagall and the Bible: Paintings and Lithographs." Produced between 1950 and 1976, the seven oil-on-canvas paintings and 43 lithographs make up a traveling exhibition that began its journey in France and goes on display today at the Museum of Art, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The show runs through April 5. Admission is $3 to $6. Call 954-525-5500.
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It's too bad that James Franklin Sistrunk, the first black physician in Broward County, isn't around to run the country's ailing health-care system. In the book Black History in Broward County: A Legacy Revealed, he's remembered as an easygoing fellow who "was very good at forgetting about a bill if he knew the patient had no money." When he was around, Sistrunk did a lot for Fort Lauderdale. He was instrumental in getting Provident Hospital started in 1938. (One of its wings was named in his honor.) He died in 1966, and the hospital has since been razed, but Sistrunk's legacy lives on. In Fort Lauderdale both a bridge and a street bear his name, as does the annual Sistrunk Historical Festival. It starts with a parade at 9 a.m. at Golden Heights Church (NW 24th Street and 31st Avenue), then moves on to the festival site at Rev. Samuel Delevoe Park (2520 Sistrunk Blvd.). Four stages offer Caribbean, African, South American, and jazz music, including concerts by Evelyn Champagne King and the Hush Brothers. Children's activities, an art show, and ethnic foods are also part of the festival, open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Admission is $1 to $3. Call 954-357-8283.
Florida has the highest bicycle-accident rate in the nation, but don't let that stop you from pedaling for pleasure. Organizers of the Tour of Boca have got you covered, so to speak. Boca Raton police officers run interference in their squad cars (one ahead and one behind the pack) during the sixteen-mile trek, and support vans tag along with parts, tools, and medical supplies in case of breakdowns -- mechanical or human. A twelve-mile-per-hour pace makes for a leisurely, noncompetitive day of cycling. The group departs from Patch Reef Park and stops at the halfway point, Rutherford Park, for a rest and refreshments before returning to the road. Nearly 200 cyclists turn out for the tour, sponsored monthly by the Boca Raton Bicycle Club. You must be at least ten years of age to participate, and kids under age fourteen must be accompanied by an adult. Helmets are required. Cost is $2. Riders gather at 12:30 p.m. and depart at 1 p.m. Patch Reef Park is located on Yamato Road west of Military Trail in Boca Raton. Call 561-360-0030.
In magician David Copperfield's latest show, Dreams and Nightmares, audiences see him get "cut in half" by a laser beam and walk through the whirling blades of an industrial-sized fan. He also performs some slight-of-hand tricks, just to prove that not everything is done with mirrors. Of course, with the big stunts, there's lots of potential for bloodshed. But let's be honest here: Would the perfectly coifed magician ever risk ruining that trademark white shirt of his? Judge for yourself when the quintessential illusionist brings his latest spectacular to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale) for four performances. Tonight's shows begin at 6 and 9 p.m.; showtimes Tuesday are 2 and 5 p.m. Ticket prices range from $31.75 to $47.75. Call 954-523-6116.
Leave the opera glasses at home and break out the Groucho glasses. Hilarious soprano B.J. Ward takes the stuffiness out of opera with her one-woman show, Stand Up Opera. An actress and singer with a four-octave range, she performs an aria, then uses clever observations and comic timing to lampoon the plots. Ward came up with the idea for the show several years ago, when she was hanging out with her husband-to-be, Gordon Hunt (Helen's dad), in his house. While Hunt was cooking up eggs in the kitchen, Ward spontaneously performed an opera spoof in the living room. Soon Opera and Omelets was born, and Ward took the show to cabarets and small theaters, then on to larger venues. The renamed show will offer Ward's take on Puccini, Verdi, and other famous librettists today at 2 p.m. at Bailey Concert Hall, Broward Community College, 3501 SW Davie Rd., Davie. Tickets cost $15. Call 954-474-6884.