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Arts Beat: Eagles and Elvis stand-ins stand out, Peter Asher and new theater

Much of the area is taking the coming weekend off, but things will be rockin' out at the Lancaster Opera House (21 Central Ave., Lancaster).

The Eagles tribute band Hotel California takes off at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 3, playing the hits made famous by Henley, Frey & Co. Expect a polished performance. These guys have been playing as Eagles offspring since the mid-1980s, when the original band members were on hiatus, and they kept going even after the original Eagles began touring again in tribute to themselves.

On its website, the band lists its hallmarks as "incredible lead vocal similarity, intensely accurate instrumental work (and) soaring harmonies." In other words, the take-it-to-the-limit qualities fans want in any Eagles show to make it more than just one of these nights.

After that "Heartache Tonight," the clock turns back to "Heartbreak Hotel," when Elvis impersonator Matt Cage appears in the "King Creole Birthday Show" at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4. Cage does a credible job recreating the look of young Elvis Presley, but it is clear that what fills the seats is his uncanny sound-alike voice. When I was playing his music online (and you can, too, at mattcage.com), a listener in the next room was sure that it was Elvis singing.

On Jan. 8, it will be 85 years since the King of Rock 'n' Roll was born. Since Elvis isn't here for the party, his fans will have to put on their blue suede shoes and celebrate for him.

Tickets for each show are $25 (lancasteropera.org). Call the box office at 683-1776 for help and wait-list information. The Lancaster Opera House theater is on the second floor of the old Town Hall building, 21 Central Ave., with parking behind the building off Clark Street.

Musical interval

Tuesdays are a special time at the Sportsmens Tavern (326 Amherst St.), because that is when the venue slides back in time to the big band era, with music by Joe Baudo's 17-piece ensemble. The group performs every Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m., making a long lunch all the more memorable by the memories it inspires. Admission is free; the beer is not.

The nostalgia nudges forward a couple of decades when Peter Asher (the "Peter" of Peter & Gordon) performs a "Musical Memoir of the '60s & Beyond" at 6 p.m. Jan. 8. Let's assume that will include "A World Without Love," the P&G hit written by Asher's friend Paul McCartney. Tickets are $30 (sportsmensbuffalo.com).

The calm before the (second) season

Local theatrical stages are pretty much dark for now, with the wonderful holiday shows now a sparkling memory and audiences relaxing before the second half of the theater season begins. While audiences relax, performers are busy rehearsing and putting finishing touches on a bouquet of productions that are set to open in about a week. If you like to get tickets ahead of the crowd, here is some of what's coming:

• MusicalFare doesn't have a show in its theater until February, but Ryan Kaminski and Jaclyn Brown will be on stage in the venue's cozy Cabaret at the Daemen College campus at 8 p.m. Jan. 10, celebrating the North and South in "Nashville 2 New York." Tickets are $22 at musicalfare.com.

• The Kavinoky Theatre is following a play based on a great book ("To Kill a Mockingbird") with one based on a best-selling tearjerker, "The Bridges of Madison County," by Robert James Waller. The story of a farm wife who has lost track of herself and the photographer who helps rediscover her has been turned into a musical. It opens Jan. 10 in the theater on the D'Youville College. Tickets are $40-$45 (kavinokytheatre.com).

• There is a unique chance to get a preview of Road Less Traveled Productions' play, "The Antipodes," which opens Jan. 16. Peter Palmisano brings his radio interview show to the Road Less Traveled Theater (456 Main St.) at 1 p.m. Jan. 12  for a live broadcast interview with the show's star, Buffalo native Sean Cullen. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended (roadlesstraveledproductions.org).

• Also coming Jan. 16 is the world premiere of Scott McCrea's thriller "Factory for Murderers," set in London during the period when Jack the Ripper was terrorizing the population. Tickets are $38, $20 for students, with "pay what it's worth" nights on Thursdays (alleyway.com).

• Looking further ahead, expect something spectacular when the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Irish Classical Theatre join their talents in three midwinter performances of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle. Shows are Jan. 17, 18 and 19; tickets start at $39 (bpo.org).

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