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Grand ‘Bete,’ Odd Swans, ‘Boheme,’ Erin McKeown: N.Y. Weekend

Mark Rylance on Broadway in
Mark Rylance on Broadway in "La Bete." The David Hirson comedy, staged by Matthew Warchus, is at the Music Box Theatre. Photographer: Joan Marcus/Hartman Group P.R. via Bloomberg

The Broadway revival of “La Bete” features the U.K.’s great clown Mark Rylance in a scenery-devouring, tour-de-force performance as a buffoonish actor foisted on David Hyde Pierce and his tony acting troupe.

Composed in rhyming couplets and set in Moliere’s 17th-century France, David Hirson’s breakneck farce is even timelier in the era of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party crowd than it was in 1991. “It’s dangerous to be governed by a fool,” Hyde Pierce’s beleaguered scribe rails, “but worse when fools bemoan the sad decline/Of standards which their efforts undermine!”

Four stars (****) for this unmissable jewel.

At the Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. Information: +1-212-239-6200;

Afterward, go to the Cafe Carlyle, where the highest standards of the American songbook are being upheld by crooner and guitarist John Pizzarelli and his swinging, singing wife, Jessica Molaskey, in a sensational, sophisticated show called “The Heart of a Saturday Night.”

At the Carlyle Hotel, Madison Avenue at 76th Street; +1-212-744-1600.

Saturday Afternoon

You thought (if at all) that “Swan Lake” was about Tchaikovsky’s music and the travails of ballerinas. It’s about men in feathers!

That’s what you get in Matthew Bourne’s notorious travesty (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) of the ballet, with its grand sets by Lez Brotherston and that dangerous-looking corps of befeathered, flexible hunks replacing damsels in tutus.

At City Center, 131 W. 55th St. Information: +1-212-581-1212;

When it’s over, head around the corner to the Russian Samovar for an icy horseradish vodka.

256 W. 52nd St.; +1-212-757-0168.

Saturday Night

The most beautiful sets at the Metropolitan Opera return to view as the curtain rises on “La Boheme” in the production by Franco Zeffirelli. You have to be a stone not to weep during the third act when Mimi and Rodolfo say goodbye as snow falls in mute sorrow. The spotlight is on Italian divo, Vittorio Grigolo, who has just released an album of tenor arias, and makes his Met debut as the high-singing poet.

At Lincoln Center, Broadway at W. 66th St. Information: +212-362-2000;

Get a late drink at Lincoln Center’s newest addition, the Italian-based Lincoln, right there on the plaza.

Lincoln, +1-212-359-6500.

Sunday Afternoon

Forget the movie. You really have no excuse to pass up an opportunity to see two of the era’s consummate actors, Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, in “Driving Miss Daisy.” They’re appearing in Alfred Uhry’s deftly-spun, nostalgic tale of a Southern Jewish doyenne (and what kind of a Jewish name is Daisy, anyway?) and her unshakeable black driver.

At the Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St. Information: +1-212-239-6200; ttp://

Stay in the mood with Southern fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes at Delta Grill, 700 Ninth Ave; +1-212-956-0934.

Sunday Night

Exuberant singer-songwriter Erin McKeown writes intimate folk-rock numbers and then pounds them out on her electric guitar, and she just rocks. Tonight she brings her tour celebrating the decade since the release of her outstanding “Distillation” to the Highline Ballroom.

At 431 W. 16th St. Information: +1-212-414-5994;

Afterward, head to Corsino for its excellent Italian wine list and inventive crostini.

637 Hudson St; +1-212-242-3093.

(With assistance from Manuela Hoelterhoff. Jeremy Gerard is an editor and critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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