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THEATER

'THE LUCKY CHANCE'The first woman to write plays professionally had to be even bawdier than her male colleagues, and display even more cynicism toward her female characters, but those restrictions, like most others, didn't stop the indomitable Aphra Behn: She stuck to her guns and turned out a good pile of mordant, funny, saucy comedies, including this 1686 romp, in which two old sharpies work up a scam to relieve period yuppies of their bank accounts and their main squeezes. A good working knowledge of Restoration comedy will tell you who outbluffs whom; the quality of Rebecca Patterson's production for Queen's Company is anybody's guess. OPENS FRIDAY, THROUGH MAY 18, Connelly Theatre, 220 East 4th Street, 212-868-4444. (Feingold)

'MY FAVORITE YEAR'It's 1954, the last-minute-replacement guest star on the live TV comedy show is a notorious drunk, and the nebbishy new kid on the writing staff gets to play watchdog. The complications that ensue got this first big-scale musical by Ahrens and Flaherty awfully bogged down when it premiered just over a decade ago; as a work by the now established writers of Ragtime, it deserves a second hearing. Mel Miller's Musicals Tonight! supplies the need with this concert staging, and who knows—maybe it'll make the show somebody's favorite. THROUGH MAY 4, 14th Street YMHA, 344 East 14th Street, 212-868-4444. (Feingold)

'RUTH DRAPER: THE ENTERPRISING COMIC'If Ruth Draper didn't invent the art of solo performance, she was certainly its most widely applauded practitioner; everyone who's tried it since, from Lily Tomlin to Karen Finley and onward, owes something to her. Susan Mulcahy, thanks to whose enterprise Draper's long-lost recordings are finally available on CD (drapermonologues.com), has now assembled this one-night-only tribute to the immortal monologuist. Diva eminenza Marian Seldes and playwright cum gender illusionist Charles Busch will be among those discussing Draper's art and how it affected their own. In addition, Mulcahy promises some rare audio clips of the notoriously uninterviewable artist herself. WEDNESDAY AT 6:30, New-York Historical Society, 2 West 77th Street, 212-873-3400. (Feingold)

'SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE'If the last Kandinsky canvas you looked at seemed to be dancing, chances are you've already seen Basil Twist's abstract underwater puppets strut their stuff to Berlioz's orchestral masterpiece. If you haven't, now's the time: Twist's work, which won an Obie and a blizzard of accolades when it premiered in 1998, is being brought back as the bonbon of Lincoln Center's current Berlioz celebration. And its fusion of pure visual form with musical pictorialism reverberates back to the very roots of modern art. You can bring the kids, too. OPENS THURSDAY, THROUGH MAY 4, Clark Studio Theater, Rose Building, Lincoln Center, 212-721-6500. (Feingold)

WORDS

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTIIn a surreal year of three-week wars and Patriot Acts, Ferlinghetti's vision of unfettered American expression is more vital than ever—and at greater risk. A commander of a sub chaser in Normandy and a witness to the horrors of Nagasaki, he offers cautions that are not the ramblings of a hemp-choked peacenik, but those of a man who confronted the obscene in both war and everyday life. At the 93rd annual Poetry Society of America Awards ceremony, the 84-year-old poet and publisher will receive the 2003 Frost Medal for his "distinguished lifetime service to American poetry" and deliver a lecture called "What Is Poetry?: A Non-Lecture." Drink and see the spider. TUESDAY AT 7, New School, 66 West 12th Street, 212-229-5353. (Reidy)

NIGELLA LAWSONWe think it was the arms that sold us—bodacious, carb-fortified, fertility-goddess arms, holding aloft a bowl of eats as if it were a torch, leading a band of fortunate picnickers across some pastoral glade. The photo graced Nigella Lawson's first Dining In column for the Times, one of the few things that must be read every week. She'll be on hand to talk about Forever Summer: Fresh Irresistible Cooking All Year Round. Nigella. Nigella. Nigella. Printer, repeat until page is full. FRIDAY AT 7, Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street, 212-253-0810. (De Krap)

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