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Carrie Underwood

We’re not going to get into a fight over which American Idol winner is the best; so let’s just say that Carrie Underwood is one of the best—and a genuine country music phenomenon.

Underwood comes to town Friday night on the massive strength of her third album, Play On. It was released in November 2009 and has already sold more than one million copies—not too shabby in a crap economic environment, and at a time when most acts are happy with much more meager sales.

The show isn’t completely sold out, but it’s close. So if you want to go, act immediately.

Carrie Underwood will perform tomorrow (Friday, March 12) at 7:30 PM at the Times Union Center (51 S. Pearl St., Albany). Also on the bill will be Craig Morgan, and the Sons of Sylvia. Tickets are $35-$55. For more info, call 487-2000.

Romeo and Juliet

The works of William Shakespeare have long endured, like any masterpiece, for their universality of theme. His iambs have resonated for centuries, rung again and again for audiences to interpret in the context of their times.

And, for centuries, theater companies have crafted productions to highlight those poignant parallels. The latest effort to set the spark of world affairs alight in the Bard’s work comes from the folks at the New York State Theater Institute.

Part of NYSTI’s decades-long mission is to draw relevant lessons from their production of new and classic works, and the latest effort does so with a contemporary interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

Without compromising the original, lyrical language, director Ron Holgate has set the star-crossed love story in modern-day Iraq. The Suni-Shiite struggle is represented in the embattled houses of Capulet and Montegue; the Prince is a military captain, the chorus a photojournalist trying to make sense of it all.

Romeo and Juliet opens at the New York State Theater Institute (Schacht Fine Arts Center, Russell Sage College, 5 Division St., Troy) at 8 PM tomorrow (Friday, March 12) and runs through March 21. Tickets are $20, $16 for students and seniors and $10 for children. For more info, or to purchase tickets, call 274-3256.

Band of the Irish Guards, Royal Regiment of Scotland

If you flip back two pages to the CD-review section, you’ll find a review of a new live recording by one kind of big band—Keith Pray’s awesome big jazz band. Tomorrow night (March 12) at Proctors, you have the opportunity to see a very different—and also spectacular—kind of “big band,” the Band of the Irish Guards.

This is a military band, of the kind the member nations of the British Empire once deployed all over the world, in war and peace. This particular band was chartered almost 110 years ago (in April 1900) by Queen Victoria herself, and specializes in demonstrating “the majestic splendor of . . . music and military precision.”

The Irish Guards will be joined by the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who will present their own “splendiferous” style of pageantry.

The Band of the Irish Guards and the Royal Regiment of Scotland will perform tomorrow (Friday, March 12) at 8 PM on the mainstage at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $20-$40. For reservations and info, call the box office at 346-6204.

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