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"Murder in the Cathedral" was written in 1935 by the great 20th century poet T.S. Eliot. The subject is Thomas a Beckett, the 12th century British churchman who was appointed archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry II. Described is the conflict between church and state and the martyrdom of Beckett in 1170. Events around Beckett's appointment and death have the fascination of being singularly illustrative of the differences in the aims of the secular state and religious authorities, and this historical episode has been delivered in the form of novels, movies, and plays. Eliot's is a verse play. The first part outlines the problems and defines Beckett's temptation to surrender his religious ideals, using a variety of figures including Beckett and a chorus of women. There is a second part that explains reasons for the murder, but between the two is inserted a sermon by Beckett. It was Eliot's first completed play. It will be returned to a church setting by the Shakespeare in Delaware Park producers. Saul Elkin will direct performances in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 3107 Main St., starting 7:30 p.m. Thursday and continuing at 7:30 Thursdays through Saturdays and at 5 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 10. Phil Knoezer will play Beckett, and others include Neil Garvey, Richard Hummert, Roger Keicher, Meghan Rose Krank, Gerry Maher, John Profeta, Josh Vink, Guy Wagner and Sandra Walter.

-- Terry Doran


Fast developing an enviable international reputation, the Toronto company Opera Atelier has announced that it will stage the first "period" production of Mozart's comic opera masterpiece "Don Giovanni" ever presented in North America. The performances will be in the Royal Alexandra Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday, plus Oct. 26, 29, 30, Nov. 1 and 2, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Oct. 27. Among the advantages touted for this "period" performance are the fact that the string players among the 35 musicians of the famed Tafelmusik orchestra in the pit will be playing with gut strings, producing a softer sound and slightly lower pitch, allowing the singers on stage to sing at a lower, more manageable volume but with complete audibility. Opera Atelier's phone is (416) 925-3767.

-- Herman Trotter


Dakota Staton burst to prominence when, in 1954, she sang at a jam session at Harlem's Baby Grand jazz club, and proceeded to steal the show. That appearance landed her a contract with Capitol Records, and the resulting album, "The Late, Late Show," zoomed onto the best-seller lists. Small wonder that, in 1955, Down Beat magazine voted her Most Promising Female Vocalist. Staton has a big, bold voice. Her scatting and her rousing gospel style have led to comparisons with singer Sarah Vaughan, while her careful phrasing and polished articulation point to the influence of saxophone players. She takes a jazz approach to ballads and blues, and she especially likes rousing, boisterous numbers like "Broadway" -- a song that has become associated with her. Dakota Staton will rock the Calumet Arts Cafe on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

-- Mary Kunz


Linda Perry, former lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, will highlight a variety of musical acts this week at the Marquee at the Tralf, 100 Theater Place. She left that lucrative band to go solo. "The bottom line was musical differences," Perry said. "The choice was between being happy or unhappy. I chose happy." Perry performs tonight at 8. Veteran rocker Graham Parker brings his Acid Bubblegum Tour to the Tralf on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The tour is named after Parker's new album. The Figgs will open the show. Hiroshima brings a jazz/fusion sound to the Tralf on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

-- Anthony Violanti

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