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Weekend! Life: Your guide to the next 72 hours

Love and rumble
by: ©2006 OWEN CAREY, The Gerding Theater at the Armory debuts with a classic, as Maria (Carey Brown) and Tony (Anderson Davis) take on love in Portland Center Stage’s production of “West Side Story.”

Musical Theater

'West Side Story'

The celebrated conversion of the historic Armory Building into a monument to cutting-edge engineering has almost overshadowed the fact that the new Gerding Theater at the Armory is just that: a theater.

Until now.

The biggest event of the cultural year takes place tonight on the Gerding's plush, 599-seat main stage, where Portland Center Stage inaugurates a landmark season with the classic 'West Side Story.'

Some have wondered if Artistic Director Chris Coleman should have christened the new venue with a dramatic play. But in 'West Side Story,' which took Broadway by storm in 1957, he chose a work in which lyrical brilliance and dazzling music and dance are only half the story.

Underneath is a notion that changed American theater, that a musical can take on the most challenging social issues of the day.

- Eric Bartels

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, noon and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, through Nov. 5 (some showtimes vary), Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave., 503-445-3700, www.pcs.org, $17-$60

FRIDAY

Blues: North Mississippi Allstars

The North Mississippi Allstars may have an outstanding pedigree (brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson are sons of legendary musician-producer Jim Dickinson), but they've gained their success the good old-fashioned way - by earning it.

Three of the six albums they've released over the past decade have been nominated for Grammys for best contemporary blues album, and the band's electrifying update on Mississippi blues also has garnered a following in the jam-band community.

With an appearance as the house band in the recent animated film 'Barnyard' and this all-ages show, they might be opening themselves to a whole new audience.

- Barbara Mitchell

8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St., 503-284-8686, $15, all ages

SATURDAY

Museum: Five Friends From Japan

Portland Children's Museum was selected from hundreds of museums as one of 10 to host the nationally touring, highly anticipated Five Friends From Japan, which makes its Northwest debut this weekend.

Ideal for kids ages 5 to 12, the exhibit helps children understand Asian culture by allowing them a glimpse of a day in the life of five Japanese children using true stories and real objects.

The idea is to dispel stereotypes and help American children discover similarities between our two cultures.

The 1,800-square-foot exhibit begins in a typical Japanese classroom, where we learn that Japanese children clean their schools themselves and eat lunch as a class at their desks.

Follow the children home - via video - and inside each child's 'home' are more videos and hands-on activities.

Try on clothes in Sakiko's bedroom, check out calligraphy and architecture in Ken's tatami room, learn about Japanese cuisine in Aisa's kitchen and tofu shop, witness aikido demonstrations and other athletics in Yusuke's yard and listen to and create music in Shoko's living room.

- Suzie Ridgway

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, through

Jan. 15, Portland Children's Museum, 4015 S.W. Canyon Road, 503-223-6500, www.portlandchildrensmuseum.org, $6-$7, free for museum members and children under 1

SUNDAY

Music: Pointer Sisters

The siblings from Oakland, Calif., already were stars when they shot into the stratosphere in the '80s, notching a half-dozen top-10 hits in the first half of the decade.

They pack three shows into their first visit to Portland in 12 years, backed by the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

As a warm-up, the orchestra will perform theme music from television and movies, including 'The Simpsons' and 'Star Wars.'

- EB

3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, 503-228-1353, www.orsymphony.org, $29-$80

Movies: H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival

It's time once again to creep from the inky darkness where you lurk and pay tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, whose tales of mystery and terror have mesmerized generations of fans.

Three days of screenings will include collections of short films, new feature-lengths and guest speakers including author Ramsey Campbell and actress Barbara Crampton ('Re-Animator,' 'From Beyond').

In this 13th annual event, dread not the grim omen of the numeral, which portends only that this year's festival will be as dire, doomy and preternatural as ever.

- Anne Marie DiStefano

6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-8, Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd., 503-281-4215, $12-$15, tickets and information at www.hplfilmfestival.com