Best Bets Orange County HERE AND NEAR

TODAY

11am

For Children

A teacher shakes his first-day jitters by watching TV and gets a rock 'n' roll lesson in reaching his kids in "Schoolhouse Rock Live!" a musical inspired by, and incorporating tunes of, the 1970s cartoon series "Schoolhouse Rock." Recommended for ages 3 to 11 and anyone old enough to recall this small-screen blast from the past.

* "Schoolhouse Rock Live!" at the Outdoor Children's Theatre at Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo. Shows are today through Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Continues through Aug. 1. $6. (949) 582-4656.

TODAY

8pm

Last Chance

A gay nightclub owner agrees to hide his sexual orientation from the ultraconservative parents of the girl his son plans to marry in Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman's Tony Award-winning musical comedy, "La Cage aux Folles," which closes Sunday at Saddleback College's McKinney Theatre. Writing for The Times, T.H. McCulloh lauded Beth Hansen's robust and honest direction and called the Saddleback Civic Light Opera production "an entertaining, by-the-book staging, with three leads who give this giddy costume parade enough honesty and sincerity to make it work nicely."

* "La Cage aux Folles" at McKinney Theatre, Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo. Today-Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. $20-$22. (949) 582-4656.

all day

Movies

"Eyes Wide Shut," the hotly anticipated final film from director Stanley Kubrick, who died at his London home earlier this year (but after the film was completed), finally hits theaters Friday. The movie, which has been called a tale of jealousy and sexual obsession, stars husband-and-wife team Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (their third film together) as a sexy and successful Manhattan couple. Warner Bros., which is distributing the film, has been handling the project with kid gloves, and details about the plot have been scarce, but according to early reports, the film is just as steamy as has been rumored and very much in line with Kubrick's distinguished but quirky body of work.

* "Eyes Wide Shut," rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug-related material, opens Friday in general release.

FRIDAY

all day

Movies

FRIDAY

6:30pm

Pop Music

The Offspring may have helped make punk-rock safe for the mainstream with its 1994 breakthrough release, "Ixnay on the Hombre." But what the Garden Grove quartet proved with last year's long-awaited "Americana" is that commercial success hasn't softened its bite, either thematically or sonically. Trouble is indeed brewing in the nooks and crannies of suburbia, a point delivered by Dexter Holland's wailing vocals, "Noodles" a ringing guitar and a propulsive rhythm section. Come out and watch them play a homecoming gig that promises to be one of the summer's finest.

* The Offspring, Lit and the Dickies, Irvine Meadows Ampitheatre, 8800 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. Also Saturday at 6:30 p.m. $22. (714) 740-2000.

FRIDAY

8pm

Pop Music

The long-running Cowboy Junkies recently added a more confident, sexier and playful stage presence to their evocative blend of country, folk, blues and pop. Led by the warm, whispery-voiced Margo Timmins, the Toronto quartet's atmospheric soundscape is richly textured and dreamily seductive. Sharing this attractive double bill is highly influential finger-picker Leo Kottke, a master folk-blues guitarist from Minneapolis with a wickedly droll sense of humor. He'll surely play some tunes--perhaps "Snorkel"--from his excellent new CD, the fittingly titled "One Guitar, No Vocals."

* The Cowboy Junkies and Leo Kottke, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive. 8 p.m. $35-$45. (562) 916-8500.

FRIDAY

8pm

Theater

Sudden romance shatters a lifetime of boredom for "The Heiress" but results in bitter retribution for both her and the young man who thought he loved her only for her money. Ruth and Augustus Goetz's 1947 drama was filmed in 1949 (with Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift), and has been a theatrical staple ever since, frequently revived and cherished anew. This adaptation of the Henry James novel "Washington Square" opens at the Theatre District, in a new production directed by Mario Lescot and featuring Loriann Hill and Christian Holiday as the star-crossed lovers.

* "The Heiress," Theatre District, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Aug. 14. $15-$20. (714) 435-4043.

SATURDAY

11am-9pm

For Children

It may not have a three-story vertical plunge or sweep you though a triple, upside-down barrel roll, but if you're 4 feet tall and still think piggyback rides are a kick, Adventure City's new Treetop Racers roller coaster is going to rock your world. The Stanton amusement park, which bills itself as the "little theme park just for kids," unveils the new coaster this weekend. It's a classic "wild mouse"-style ride built in the 1950s by the Miller Coaster Co. and lovingly restored with a soapbox derby theme. Unlike modern roller coasters in which riders sit in a long train of linked cars, Treetop Racers features six two-passenger cars that sweep riders through nearly 2 1/2 minutes of switchbacks, dips, drops and hairpin curves.

* Treetop Racers at Adventure City, 10120 S. Beach Blvd., Stanton. Also Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. $10.95 for unlimited use, or $4.95 with additional charges for rides. (714) 236-9300.

SATURDAY

6:30pm

Swing Music

Is there a more attractive spot for a dance concert than a bandstand shaded by jacaranda trees facing a garden courtyard and fountain, all enclosed by the historic walls of an old mission? Saxophonist-vocalist Tex Beneke, a veteran of the Glenn Miller Band (that's him singing with the Modernaires on the recording of "Chattanooga Choo Choo"), leads his orchestra in hits from the '40s and '50s for this sunset event at Old Mission San Juan Capistrano.

* Tex Beneke & His Orchestra, Old Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. 6:30 p.m. $10; seniors and children, $9. (949) 248-2048.

SATURDAY

7:30pm

Music

Thanks in part to a new grant from Edison International, the Pacific Symphony, led by Carl St.Clair, will offer a free John Philip Sousa-style concert with fireworks at Centennial Park in Santa Ana. The program of music by Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov, Leonard Bernstein and other composers starts at 7:30 p.m. Preconcert activities begin at 6 p.m., with games and activities for children. Under the terms of the grant, the concert is the first of three to be performed over consecutive summers by the Santa Ana-based orchestra.

* Carl St.Clair will conduct the Pacific Symphony at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Park, 3000 W. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana. Free. (714) 755-5799.

SUNDAY

6pm

Jazz

Before his death in 1979, bandleader Stan Kenton defined the shape of jazz to come with various ensembles, small and large, that gave starts to the careers of everyone from Stan Getz and Maynard Ferguson to Anita O'Day and June Christy. Producer Kenny Allan's 12th annual Tribute to Stan Kenton brings together a number of Kenton veterans in the 18-piece Alumni Orchestra, with vocalist Tierney Sutton, under the direction of Alan Yankee to play for listeners and dancers. "Artistry in Rhythm" is sure to be heard here.

* Tribute to Stan Kenton, Irvine Marriott Hotel Rendezvous Ballroom, 18000 Von Karman Ave., Irvine. 6 p.m. $25. (949) 553-9449.

SUNDAY

2-4pm

Books

Rare books donated to Chapman University by the Chapman family, including the newly restored oldest book in the Charles C. Chapman collection, will be on public display. The featured book, "Agustinus de Civitate Dei" ("St. Augustine of the City of God"), was printed in 1505. Speaker Consuela Metzger, project conservator of the Huntington Library, will present a slide show explaining how the 494-year-old religious book was painstakingly restored.

The books will be displayed in Athalie and Thurmond Clarke Memorial Library on campus, 333 N. Glassell St., Orange. 2-4 p.m. Free. (714) 997-6656.

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