Best Bets: Fri 9/18 : 8 pm: Theater

The Laguna Playhouse kicks off its 1998-99 season this weekend with the West Coast premiere of the off-Broadway musical hit "The Last Session," with music and lyrics by Steve Schalchlin and book by Jim Brochu, about a singer who gathers his friends for the recording of what he plans to be his final album.

* "The Last Session," Laguna Playhouse at Moulton Theatre, 606 Laguna Canyon Blvd., Laguna Beach. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends Oct. 11. $31-$38. (949) 497-2787.

8 pm: Dance

Mexican and Mexican American dance blooms across the Southland all this weekend--starting with Amalia Hernandez's original Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, offering splashy regional suites on its latest visit. Founded by Carlos Moreno-Samaniego, the Oakland-based Ballet Folklorico Mexicano presents its own guided tour, while the locally based Danza Floricanto/USA restages its tribute to activist Cesar Chavez, "Si Se Puede--Yes You Can," choreographed by company artistic director Gema Sandoval and guest Loretta Livingston.

* Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez, Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m., and Sunday, 3 p.m., Universal Amphitheatre, 100 University Plaza, Universal City. $23-$48. (818) 980-9421. Also Thursday at Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Ave. $15-25. (909) 788-3944.

* "Si Se Puede--Yes You Can," Danza Floricanto/USA, Friday, 8 p.m., Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive. $15-$25. (562) 695-3546.

* Ballet Folklorico Mexicano, Saturday, 8 p.m., Robert B. Moore Theatre, Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa. $14-$26. (714) 432-5880.

8:30 pm: Music/Movies

For their annual Night at the Movies, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and conductor John Mauceri mount a tribute to Warner Bros., excerpting music from films such as "Casablanca," "Now, Voyager," "Superman," "The Right Stuff," "A Star Is Born," "Batman," "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "L.A. Confidential."

* Hollywood Bowl's annual Night at the Movies, 2301 N. Highland Ave. $3-$70. (323) 850-2000.

8 pm: Theater

Jack Klugman headlines as Willy Loman in the Arthur Miller classic "Death of a Salesman." Falcon Theatre President Garry Marshall chose the play as the theater's first in-house production. Klugman and Marshall go way back--they worked together when Marshall was executive producer of Klugman's TV series "The Odd Couple."

* "Death of a Salesman," Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends Oct. 25. $25. (818) 955-8101.

8 pm: Pop Music

The Hammer of the Gods might not strike with the force of the old Led Zeppelin days, but at least rock warriors Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have managed to turn their reunion into an occasion for new and sometimes evocative music rather than a whole lotta luggage from the past.

* Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, 8800 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. $25-$38. (714) 855-4515. Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., 8 p.m. $8-28. (323) 850-2000.

8 pm: Pop Music

You can file away the image of Tori Amos alone onstage communing sensually with her piano. The alt-pop alchemist has added rock to her elixir, recording her latest album, "From the Choirgirl Hotel," with a rock band and touring with a group for the first time.

Tori Amos, Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave. $30. (714) 704-2500. Also Tuesday and Wednesday at the Greek Theatre, 2700 Vermont Canyon Road, Griffith Park. 7:30 p.m. $22.75-$32.75. (323) 480-3232.


FREEBIE: Jazz by the Ernie Watts Quartet, L.A. County Museum of Art, 5:30 p.m. (323) 857-6000.

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