Fit for Kings On Jan. 6, Mexico celebrated Dia de los Santos Reyes (or Day of Kings) with festivities and the exchange of gifts, commemorating the three Wise Men's fabled offerings of frankincense and myrrh. Here in the north, the party continues with the 12th annual Dia de los Reyes Celebration, a concert series honoring the Nativity with choral works and African chants performed by Coro Hispano and Conjunto Nuevo Mundo. Program highlights include a performance of the 17th-century Mexican composer Juan Gutierrez de Padilla's nine-part villancico cycle, performed publicly for the first time in over 300 years. Folkloric elements, dance rhythms, and Spanish slang make their way into the form, which was specifically used for liturgical feast days. Accompanied by harpsichord, strings, cornet, and percussion, the singers also offer new villancico arrangements from Cuba and Venezuela, Peruvian pastorelas sung in Latin, and African-based works honoring an American King: Martin Luther. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison, Berkeley, and on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Mission Dolores Basilica, Dolores & 16th streets, S.F. Admission is free-$12 for both shows; call 431-4234.
The Queen & I Broadway took a beating with the tongue-twisting operetta selection "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Homosexual" and a rousing chorus of the utterly tasteless ditty "How Do You Solve Your Problem Gonorrhea?" but by the time Dirty Little Showtunes! was over, most viewers were too helplessly giggly to really protest. With that repeatedly extended show, performer/lyricist Tom Orr put a gay spin on musical warhorses and Julie Andrews' mostly snow-white reputation, and now he's doing it again with Sweet Parody! This time, though, Orr sticks it to bad performance art, spoofing gratuitous nudity, interpretive dance, confessional poetry, and other unpleasantries (for additional points of reference, see Matt Groening's cartoon about Annoying Performance Artist Magazine). Accompanied by pianist Birdie-Bob Watt, Orr will be joined by a different set of guests each week (including Showtunes! alumni), beginning opening night with cabaret artists Connie Champagne and Trauma Flintstone doing "Orr-iginal" material. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 1) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-12 (proceeds will be donated to local charities); call 289-2000.
Come Into Her House She isn't even 30 yet, but Queen Latifah has seen enough ups and downs in her short career to make the title of her memoir, Ladies First: Revelations From a Strong Woman, seem like an understatement. The New Jersey native regally announced herself with All Hail the Queen, a landmark hip-hop album with heavy club rotation and backup by De La Soul, only to be dropped an album later by her label Tommy Boy due to disappointing sales, then be signed by Motown, where she went gold with Black Reign. She started her own management/record company, Flavor Unit, having learned from that experience the value of a second career, then embarked on her third, starring as an urban career woman in the sitcom Living Single. She broke into movies as the lesbian bank robber Cleo in Set It Off, a performance so inspiring that a group of women from Olympia modeled their own bank robbery on the film, a copy of which officers found in a suspect's home. And that brings us to her latest film, Living Out Loud, which saw a short run despite Latifah's own critically acclaimed turn. Latifah will sign copies of her book beginning at noon at the Alexander Book Company, 50 Second St. (at Market), S.F. Admission is free; call 495-2992.
Schuur as the Sun Will Shine Like the shy singer Jane Horrocks plays in Little Voice -- the one with a jaw-dropping ability to imitate the voices of famous divas -- jazz singer Diane Schuur has said she used to isolate herself in her room to avoid the other kids, who teased her for singing like an adult. Once her mother dragged her out and made her practice with a microphone to jazz recordings, though, there was no turning back for the vocalist, whose phrasing critics have favorably compared to that of her idols, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. (Audiences look forward to Schuur's rendition of Washington's "What a Difference a Day Makes.") Blind since birth, the former Seattle-ite -- nicknamed "Deedles" -- graduated from a state school for the blind and went on to build a repertoire of originals and jazz classics, which she's performed with the Count Basie Orchestra and at White House engagements. A pre-CD release party for her first record on Atlantic begins at 8 p.m. (additional performances through Jan. 24) at Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakland. Admission is $5-22; call (510) 238-9200.
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