Thursday, November 17, 2005 | Upcoming theater, music and visual arts events:

THEATER

Southern family strikes again. Family greed and Southern mores make for an old story that the Cygnet Theatre keeps getting better at telling. They were just warming up in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and were so hot in “The Curse of the Starving Class” that the stage went up in flames – literally. Now, “The Little Foxes” will feature yet another cadence of that infectious Southern drawl as a villainous heroine, Regina, cloaks selfish desperation in all the trappings of a gentle Victorian lady.

The turn-of-the-century tale of family dysfunction reaches epic proportions as a family business deal pits one clever sibling against another. But even her brothers’ most elaborate schemes are no match for Regina, whose intellect, charm and malevolence make for a chilling adversary. It has also made her one of the most sought-after roles in theater history, played by famous femme-fatales like Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis.

“The Little Foxes” plays at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays, through Nov.18, at the Cygnet Theatre, located at 6663 El Cajon Blvd., College Area. Info: (619) 337-1525 or www.cygnettheatre.com.

Also playing:

-Everybody’s favorite holiday grump is at it again in the Old Globe’s production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Runs Nov.19-Dec.31 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. Times vary. Info: (619) 234-5623 or www.theoldglobetheatre.org.

– George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man” may predate World War I, but a little military satire never grows old. Runs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, 7 p.m. on Thursdays and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, Nov. 17-26, at the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre on the University of California, San Diego campus. Info: (858) 534-4574 or http://theatre.ucsd.edu.

– “Imagining Brad” and “The Valerie of Now” are a double act exploring themes of friendship, healing and tough choices. Runs at 8 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Nov. 20, at the Studio Theatre, Sacred Heart Hall at the University of San Diego campus. Info: (619) 260-2727 or www.sandiego.edu/theatre. (JH)

MUSIC

They just can’t get enough. Proving yet again that old artists never die (they just get new haircuts, record familiar-sounding “new releases” and continue touring), synth-pop pioneers Depeche Mode will perform this Saturday at the Venue Formerly Known as the Sports Arena. But unlike so many of their now-prosthetic peers, Depeche Mode isn’t struggling to fill hour-long sets until they get to the big-hit encore. Their latest album – “Playing the Angel,” released just last month – is widely regarded as actually one of their best, mentionable in the same sentence as “Violator,” the darkly digital masterpiece that shot them to international fame.

The band’s strength comes in their ability to write and produce hip-shaking séances with creative details that hold up to repeated listening. Everyone remembers the superproduced blues riff that drove “Personal Jesus” to radio ubiquity; but go back and soak it up in headphones to appreciate all the textures you missed on the way to the prom. Or better yet, catch the first band to prove that electronics weren’t boring live as they continue to throw down, two decades later.

Depeche Mode with the Raveonettes. 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at the ipayOne Center @ The Sports Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. $35-70.

More noodle-bangers for November unpredictability:

– On the other end of the still-here spectrum are ’90s electro-goths Nine Inch Nails – really just Trent Reznor, the man who brought grating industrial rock to MTV fame. Reznor’s one-man, wrist-slitting outfit raised quite a fury back in the day – “Closer” still has the dirtiest chorus on rock radio – but recent efforts see him dogged by his ever-increasing distance from the adolescent fury that fueled the good gore. Newest long-player “With Teeth” has Reznor committing the ultimate fogie crime: copying the gimmicks of younger, hotter, happier rockers. Nine Inch Nails. 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20 at Cox Arena, SDSU campus. $35.

– San Diegans have the Belly Up to thank sincerely for keeping some quality old roots music in the house: Jamaican rocksteady kings the Melodians will be here this weekend to rouse our collective rasta. Any group that gave “Rivers of Babylon” to the world deserves perpetual acclaim – now you can give it while they’re still alive. The Melodians. 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20 at The Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $14 advance/$16 day of show. www.ticketmaster.com.

– Take this midlife crisis test: hit up Google (web or image search) and type in “Gwar.” If you’re not completely mystified, thrilled, frightened or disgusted by what you see, you are officially already very old. Or you need to download one of their tracks. But the band whose acronym stands for God What an Awful Racket are the masters of death-metal satire. You could get freaked out – or realize that they’re just having a good time. GWAR, 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21 at House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave., downtown. $18-20. (IP)

VISUAL ARTS and FILM

Shhh, it’s a secret. For those who base the decision to see a particular film after diligently researching the latest reviews and weighing critics’ picks, this event may not be for you. However, if you enjoy being pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised at the movies, take a gamble at the “Secret Cinema Salon.”

For a little more than a year now, Shane Flores has hosted the bi-weekly “Secret Cinema” event inside the Media Arts Center San Diego’s cozy, hardwood-floor living room. Every other Sunday evening, Flores screens a new, secret film (mostly foreign features) followed by a discussion. He deliberately doesn’t disclose the film’s title (that’s the secret part) before the evening’s screening to prevent curious audience members from doing their homework beforehand, allowing people to view films that are often not shown anywhere with an open mind.

Secret Cinema Salon will take place Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Media Arts Center San Diego, 921 25th St., Golden Hill, (619) 230-1938. Doors open at 6:30 and the film begins at 7 p.m. Free. For more information on the event, visit www.secretcinema.blogspot.com.

More visual art and film:

– Take home a new piece of art and feel warm and fuzzy inside. Planet Rooth Gallery and Ray at Night will host a silent auction from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 to benefit the creation of a nonprofit international arts organization, The Scandinavian & California Artisan Exchange Program. A $10 ticket enables participants to bid on dozens of pieces – starting at $0 – created by more than 50 local, cutting-edge artists, including Tim McCormick, Monica Hoover, Joshua Krause and Scott Saw. Planet Rooth Gallery, 3811 Ray St., North Park, (619) 297-9663.

– Veteran San Diego artist Robin Bright will discuss his work, which blends aspects of painting and sculpture, on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch library. Bright’s intricate, colorful designs have been described as “kaleidoscopic abstractions.” His current exhibition of mixed-media pieces, “Robin Bright: Recent Works,” is on display at the Taylor library gallery now through Dec. 4 at 4275 Cass St., Pacific Beach, (858) 581-9934.

– Women are the directors, editors and stars in the “Future Femme” film festival, presented by the San Francisco and Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Cinefemme, 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Sherwood Auditorium. A batch of futuristic-themed short films will be on screen, exploring a wide range of modern day issues, including identity, technology and the body. 700 Prospect St., La Jolla, (858) 454-3541. Admission is $7 general and $5 for museum members, students and seniors. (CC)

– VOICE STAFF

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