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SETTLING THE SCORE. One of the most gratifying themes in literature is revenge. To see the falsely accused avenge themselves makes you want to put your fist in the air and shout with satisfaction--in the privacy of your home, that is.

One of the truly great tales of betrayal and revenge is Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Falsely accused by his enemies, Edmund Dantes is imprisoned for 14 years. He finally escapes into the sea and is saved by Italian smugglers.

Dantes becomes a smuggler for a while, but finds treasure on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes, you guessed it, the Count of Monte Cristo. He returns home as a man of wealth and slowly plots revenge on his enemies. Yep, pay back time.

Find out how the classic story unfolds as The Gaslight Theatre presents The Count of Monte Cristo on Thursday, March 27, at 8 p.m. The show runs through May 31 at 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Ticket prices are $14.95 for adults; $12.94 for seniors, students and active military; $6.95 for children 12 and under. Call 886-9428 for reservations.

ANTI-VIOLENCE MARCH. In 1963, writer Betty Friedan published her groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique. The theme of the book--that all people, including women, have a natural right to develop their potential--resonated with millions. In 1966, she founded the National Organization for Women and envisioned women as equal partners in society. Today, after years of steady progress, women have equal access to job opportunities. While tremendous advancement has been made on the work front, another area lags--violence against women.

The University of Arizona Women's Resource Center sponsor Take Back the Night--a protest of violence against women and children--on Thursday, March 27, on the UA campus. Here's the lineup of activities: At 5 p.m., an informational fair will be held for campus and community organizations that support women, children and health and safety issues. The fair will be accompanied by live music from local celebrity Amber Jade. At 6 p.m., Lilliana de Santiago, Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault's volunteer coordinator, will give testimony about her experience with sexual violence. At 6:15 p.m., singer/songwriter Christine Moussa performs. At 6:30 p.m., the OASIS Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence's Peer Theater Group present a performance of A Word With My Rapist, followed by excerpts from the Vagina Monologues. At 7 p.m., the march begins on the mall. After traveling through the campus, a candlelight vigil will take place at the mall. Call the Women's Resource Center at 621-3919 for more information.

NEIGHBORHOOD DREAMS. Tucson playwright Elaine Romero was inspired while visiting Tania's Restaurant in the Barrio. "I saw the faded sign, 'Hollywood Boxing Gym,' and I started imaging the drams of Chicano boxers from that barrio and a family resting their hope on the shoulders of their boxer son. I imagined the worst happening to him and the family's efforts to help him that would force them to enter new worlds. His sister might go to a doctor for information and unexpectedly fall in love. I wanted to explore the many facets of love and how love ultimately conquers death."

Barrio Hollywood was born.

In the play, Graciela, a successful folklorico dancer, faces a crisis involving her brother Alex, a promising young boxer. As she and her mother struggle to cope with the consequences of a heartbreaking decision, Graciela falls more deeply for her new novio ... from Michigan. They discover the love that keeps their family together.

Borderlands Theater offers a preview of Barrio Hollywood on Thursday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. as a pay-what-you-can performance at Zuzi's Little Theater, 738 N. Fifth Ave. The grand opening is on Friday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m., costs $18 and includes a post-performance reception. Regular performances through April 13 are on Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Tickets range from $10 for students to $15 general admission. Call 882-7406 for reservations.

PUCCINI PLEASURE. OK. Here's part of the synopsis of the opera Tosca (courtesy of Opera News): In Act I: Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, rushes into the church of Sant' Andrea della Valle to hide in the Attavanti chapel. In Act II: In the Farnese Palace, Scarpia anticipates the sadistic pleasure of bending Tosca to his will. In Act III: ... awaits execution at the Castel Sant'Angelo.

You didn't think I would give it away, did you?

Get the answer to this cliffhanger at Arizona Opera's performance of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca on Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the TCC Music Hall. Tosca stars sopranos Amy Johnson and Victoria Litherland alternating in the title role. The opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles projected above the stage. Tickets prices are $25 to $90, available at Ticketmaster (321-1000), Arizona Opera (293-4336) or online at www.azopera.org.

WALK FOR MS. Imagine you are a 30-year-old in the prime of your life. Everything is going along well, but some physical problems have developed. Your eyesight in one eye is blurred. Your leg feels weak and shakes. The strength in your arm has lessened. You can't seem to control your bladder. And you are incredibly tired. You go to the doctor, and exhaustive tests reveal: You have multiple sclerosis. The doctor tells you these symptoms will worsen. If that isn't bad enough, you learn there is no cure ... yet.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease. MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis and blindness. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50--now approximately 400,000 in the United States. Medicine exists to lessen the symptoms of the disease, but what works well for one person may not work well enough for another.

Those with more severe conditions can't do the simple things the rest of us take for granted. Running, dancing, bending down without losing balance and walking with ease are often memories of the past. Their future is filled with uncertainty.

Help raise money to support research and local programs for people with MS at the 2003 MS Walk/Run on Saturday, March 29, at Rillito River Park. Registration begins at 6 a.m. at 4502 N. First Ave. The run starts at 7 a.m.; the walk starts at 8. A $25 minimum pledge is due at registration. For more information, visit www.dsw.nmss.org.

DELICIOUS DATING. Years before he penned the anthem "Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen had it right when he sang, "everybody's got a hungry heart." For some, the quest to fill one's heart with love takes a while. But these days, there are many ways to find Mr. and Ms. Right. How do I count the ways? There are personals, dating Web sites, dating services, singles clubs, chat rooms, telephone dating lines and more.

Enter a new contender: chocolate speed dating.

The folks at Choc-A lot help you satisfy your heart and hunger in one evening. On Saturday, March 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., men and women from 35 to 45 are invited to experience this new dating technique. Here's how it works: You will have up to 17 three-minute conversations/dates and will discreetly circle a "yes" or "no" on your scorecard. Afterwards, the Choc-A lot staff match up your yes cards with your hopeful suitors. A few days later, you'll receive their contact information. Voila. It's that easy. And in addition to meeting Prince or Princess Charming, you'll be able to sample free delicious chocolate.

Take a chance on meeting the man or woman of your dreams at 6350 E. Broadway Blvd. Lay down your money ($35 for men, $25 for women) and fill your heart. RSVP at 748-8889. Space limited to 30 people.

NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE. What would Gandhi say about the state of our world today? Just look at what he said were three possible responses to oppression and injustice. One was described as the coward's way: to accept the wrong or run away from it. The second choice: stand and fight by force of arms. The third way requires the most courage: to stand and fight only by nonviolent means.

The man born Mohandas K. Gandhi lived a spiritual existence eschewing all vices. One could say he did not have to go to the mountain for enlightenment; he carried the mountain within him. As a social reformer, he taught millions the importance of resisting without violence. Some may mistake this for passivity, but it was far from that. Great strength existed in the man who was ultimately assassinated in 1948.

Ben Kingsley won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ghandi in the 1982 film. Enjoy this classic on Sunday, March 30, at 5:30 p.m. at Saint Francis in the Foothills, 4625 E. River Road. A potluck dinner will be served between the first and second half of the movie. Go in peace.

SAVE THE MANATEE. Even though we get more sunshine than Florida, Florida is still called the Sunshine State. Maybe it has to do with the sunny feeling you get when visiting. Who can resist the beautiful beaches, Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center, the Keys and a chance to meet Mickey? But alongside all of the fun and adventure, a serious problem exists. As of January 2003, surveys estimated that only 3,113 manatees remain in Florida.

What exactly is a manatee? Manatees are large, gray-brown aquatic mammals with two flippers, a paddle-shaped tale and a wrinkled face with whiskers. Adults are about 10 feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds. They are gentle, slow-moving animals with no natural predators. Since manatees only move 3-5 mph, they can be injured or killed by any boat traveling too fast. Another enemy is the threatened loss of their habit.

To learn more about these gentle animals, join the Marine Awareness and Conservation Society on Thursday, April 3, at 7 p.m. The fourth in a monthly series of marine lectures, "The Manatee: On the Brink of Disaster" takes place at Borders, 4235 N. Oracle Road. Take a closer look at the ecology, biology and conservation of the manatee and how humans have affected the way of life for this animal. Learn what you can do to support our oceans and the beautiful creatures that inhabit them.

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