Walnut Creek's Lesher Center kicks off its 2014 jazz series on July 12 with four-time Grammy nominated singer/pianist Karrin Allyson. Performing at 5 and 8 p.m., Allyson will sing her way through the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and other classics.

Vocalist and jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli follows on Aug. 9, with the Clayton Brothers Quintet slated for Aug. 16 and trumpet virtuoso Roy Hargrove on Aug. 23.

Produced by Diablo Regional Arts Association, the jazz series began in 2012 and has been selling out. For tickets, call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

  • n n

    Also at the Lesher Center, though not part of the jazz series, pianist Gregory Taboloff will give a solo recital on July 13 at 4 p.m. His program includes works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Chopin. For tickets, call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

  • n n

    David Mamet's 1975 play "American Buffalo," which solidified his reputation as a writer, receives a spot-on production at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre through July 20. Tony-nominated director Barbara Damashek says she prepared for Mamet's play, about three small-time crooks in a junk shop planning to steal a coin collection, by watching the HBO series "The Wire." Although the dramas are 30 years a part, both deal with the underbelly of life and the need to make a buck, and include dialogue spiced with lots of four-letter words. Mamet, however, plays the English language like a musical instrument, with lots of repetitions, staccato notes and thrilling runs as his fast-paced drama unfolds.

    James Carpenter brings a nervous, desperate energy to Teach, whose arrogance dooms the enterprise, while Paul O'Connor adds a grounding influence as the junk store owner Donny, and Rafael Jordan as the more naive Bobbie conveys a the need to please and be part of a family to the mix.

    Eric Sinkkonen turns the Aurora's intimate space into a realistic junk/pawn shop complete with bicycle tires, snowshoes and old tools hanging from the ceiling and a toilet bowl filled with umbrellas in the corner. Costume designer Cassandra Carpenter captures 1970s fashions right down to the cheap leisure suit worn by Teach.

    For tickets, call 510-843-4822 or go to www.auroratheatre.org.

  • n n

    Monty Python fans can get their fix at El Cerrito's Contra Costa Civic Theatre, where "Spamalot" plays through July 13. Michael Ross directs this crazy retelling of the King Arthur legend that includes killer rabbits, flying cows and so much more. For tickets, call 510-524-9132 or go to www.ccct.org.

    The company also plans a reunion for anyone who has attended its drama camp since its inception 25 years ago. Staff, campers, family and friends are invited to a day of fun, memories, games, improv and videos of past camps on Aug. 2 from 1 to 5 p.m. Call the theater for information.

  • n n

    Congratulations to Miramonte High student Elijah Stavena,who recently released his new song "Kids Will Be Kids," which deals with bullying and a lot more. The young talent starred in a locally produced film "Too Perfect" several years ago that debuted at the Orinda Theatre before he turned his attention to music.

  • n n

    People who loved the television series "The Addams Family" now have an opportunity to become one of their beloved, yet bazaar favorite characters when two companies audition for the musical. First up, Bay Area Stage Productions holds auditions July 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Martinez Campbell Theatre. Jeff Lowe directs with Justin Pyne as musical director. Prepare 32 bars of music and bring sheet music in your key. The large cast includes 10 men (ages 18-65), one 12-year-old boy, and 10 women (ages 18-65). The show performs Oct. 17-Nov. 2 at the Campbell Theatre and Nov. 7-9 at the Empress Theatre in Vallejo. For information, call 707-649-1053 or email director@bayareastage.org.

  • n n

    Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito holds auditions for the show on July 24 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and July 26 from noon to 5 p,m. It performs Sept. 19- Oct. 19.

    For an audition appointment, email auditions@ccct.org and put Addams Auditions in the subject line. Character descriptions are available at www.ccct.org.

    Contact Sally Hogarty at sallyhogarty@gmail.com