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Converge at COCA

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SAT 11/15

Want to be the star of the show? The stage at U. City's Center of Contemporary Arts will feature the nationally recognized dance of choreographer Robert Battle, the acclaimed vocals of Philip Hamilton and more. But the audience will shine brightest at the annual fall Convergence fundraiser (6 p.m., 524 Trinity Avenue). That's because tonight's event is all about the big-money COCA benefactors.

Battle graduated from Juilliard, performed with the David Parsons Company and then formed Battleworks with his "quirky and idiosyncratic" style. He has choreographed for Hubbard Street Dance, the Parsons Company and Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theatre. Philip Hamilton's songs merge elements of "new jazz and acoustic soul" with worldbeat rhythms. He worked with Gilberto Gil, Spyro Gyra and Steely Dan. Joining the pros will be a West African dance and drum troupe of COCA youngsters called Yele, along with gifted musical-theater students from the arts center.

Convergence tickets -- remember now, you're a benefactor -- start at $200 for the show and dinner afterward; $350 secures the pre-show VIP cocktail party in COCA's Anheuser-Busch Gallery, your name in the program and preferred seating; and $500 includes what's behind Doors #1 and #2, along with the very best seats in the house. And the proceeds go to the Urban Arts and Scholarship Programs. Call 314-725-1834, ext. 109, for tickets. -- Regina Popper

Shakespeare in Flux
Two tragedies tweaked

Ann-Marie MacDonald's Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a smart comedy with a fiendishly clever ending. The plot concerns a bizarre theory that both Othello and Romeo and Juliet originally had happy endings. Some guy named Shakespeare came along, argues our grad-student heroine, and removed a certain "fool" character from both plays. The student manages to "enter" the action of each play, becoming this fool and futzing with the storylines. Shakespeare lovers will get a kick out of Desdemona scheming with Iago, a bisexual Ro-meo and a very morbid Juliet. Have coffee with your fellow theatergoers after this one and talk about it (performed by Hydeware Theatre at the Soulard Theatre, 1921 South Ninth Street; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, November 13-22; $10-$12; 314-368-7306, -- Byron Kerman

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