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50 Cent

The SPAC stage will be adorned with more Kevlar than the Space Shuttle this Sunday, when Queens native Curtis Jackson—better known by his nom de rhyme, 50 Cent—headlines a star-studded hiphop bill that also features Ludacris, Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz, Mike Jones, and Ciara.

50 Cent has one of the most well-documented success stories of the last several years. A quick recap: He was born in 1975 to an absent, crack-addicted father and a drug-dealing mother (who died when Jackson was 8 years old); became a drug dealer himself at an early age; met Jam Master Jay and cut some demos; got signed to Columbia Records; got shot a bunch of times and dropped by Columbia the same summer; met Eminem; signed to the Shady/Aftermath label; released the fastest-selling debut album ever (Get Rich or Die Tryin’); and rose to the elite level of marginally talented superstars. In case you didn’t follow all that, Fitty’s hard at work on a movie based on his story (also called Get Rich or Die Tryin’), due out in November. If nothing else, the revenue from the film should ensure that crack-rock peddling is excised from the Jackson-family resume for generations to come.

The big guns (some real, some not) of hiphop will roll into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs) this Sunday night (Aug. 21), beginning at 7 PM. Tickets are $49.50 for inside seating, $25 for lawn, and are available through Ticketmaster (476-1000).

The Congregation

To listen to political commentators, you might get the impression that physical barriers were erected cordoning off whole sections of Middle America after the 2004 presidential election. The Red State-Blue State metaphor has become a convenient, reductive means of glossing over issues of American class, culture and political motivation: Here, we’re good; over there, they’re bad. But in the documentary The Congregation, filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond tackle some of these same issues at a much more nuanced level by examining the conflict within a single church congregation.

The First United Methodist Church of Germantown, Pa., is a “racially mixed urban church with a commitment to a ministry of social justice.” It’s a representative church of the politically progressive mainline Protestant tradition. However, in recent years, such churches have suffered significant losses in membership in an increasingly conservative culture. This challenge to the faith’s historical liberalism is highlighted at First United when their progressive minister steps down after 37 years, and is replaced by a traditionalist pastor. The documentary presents a “microcosm” of the struggle within Protestantism, but also offers provocative insight into the general plight of American political progressivism.

The Congregation will be screened at Time & Space Limited on Saturday (Aug. 20) at 7:30 PM. Directors Alan and Susan Raymond will be in attendance. The film will be shown again on Aug. 28 at 5 PM. Tickets for the screenings are $4-$10. For more information, call 822-8322.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

All summer long, Mac-Haydn Theatre has been staging productions for the youthful drama enthusiast on Friday and Saturday mornings. Plays such as Wilbur the Not-So-Big, Not-So-Bad Wolf, Alice in Wonderland and Rodney, the Reluctant Dragon have been welcome alternatives to the usual weekend-morning fare of animated destruction and sugar-cereal commercials. Starting tomorrow (Friday), Mac-Haydn will present its final children’s theater production of the season, The Emperor’s New Clothes.

This classic fable boasts fun, kid-friendly political intrigue and romance, and a healthy message of ethical independence and skepticism. Now, tell me that junior is gonna get that from Dragonball-Z.

Mac-Haydn Theatre presents The Emperor’s New Clothes beginning tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 19), running through Aug. 27. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 11 AM. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 392-9292.

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