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Viva Variety

Spotlight shines on talent

SAT 8/7 Performance poet Rebecca "Butterfly" Vaughns can certainly be soft-spoken. But that's not where her nickname comes from. It all started with a compliment a friend gave Vaughns on a dress she wore that was made with a butterfly-patterned fabric. Compliments soon turned to gifts: a refrigerator magnet in the shape of a butterfly. Then a crystal figurine. The nickname was more of a surprise, written on the box in which the crystal critter arrived. It stuck and "Butterfly" Vaughns has been flitting around town ever since, unleashing her powerful freestyle spoken-word stylings on anyone who will listen. Calling poetry "my calling, my passion," Vaughns is one of the few local wordsmiths who devotes all her time to her craft. But recently Vaughns took on another role: presenter and promoter. She has organized the variety show A Night of Impromptu and Other Treats to highlight overlooked local talent and a few out-of-towners. "The culture is here," Vaughns says emphatically. "There's more to South Florida than just Luke, and Trina, and Trick Daddy." Providing inspiration for others is a high priority for her as well. "For people that may have a desire but for some reason they don't have the push or the motivation or the support, this is something they can get," Vaughns says about the event.

Among the 15 exhilarating performers on the bill: eclectic vocalist Egheosa, tap dancer (and Gregory Hines protégé) Ico, gospel singer Sista Martha accompanied by steel guitarist Bro. Joshua Taylor, and 6-year-old spoken-word prodigy Autum Ashanté, a Connecticut 3rd-grader Vaughns guarantees is mind-blowingly wise beyond her years. Of course, not one to stand on the sidelines, "Butterfly" will do her "impromptu" too, completely confident a good time will be had by all. "When you walk out of that theater, you're going to say, öI should have paid more than 20 dollars,' Vaughns notes. "You're definitely going to get your money's worth -- and more."

A Night of Impromptu and Other Treats takes place at 8:00 p.m. at Charles Hadley Park, 1300 NW 50th St. Tickets cost $20, include refreshments, and must be purchased in advance. Call 305-836-3572. - Nina Korman


Funny Business

FRI 8/6 Can anything be more obnoxious than a stand-up comic reciting an old, stiff joke followed by some polite laughter? Sure! An improv group ... but they're funny. Over the past 50 years, improvisational theater (like Chicago's Second City) has become the place where funny people hone their comedy and acting skills. In a theater setting, the audience (here's where it can get to be obnoxious) feeds the comedians situations and they take it from there, working sketches out on the fly. South Florida's unique sense of humor gets the star treatment from the Laughing Gas Comedy Improv Theatre Company -- which grew out of the remnants of Coconut Grove's Mental Floss troupe 12 years ago. The revolving membership comes from the local talent pool, each adding his or her own humor to the mix of sketches, jokes, and musical comedy. Laughing Gas appears tonight at the Main Street Playhouse (6766 Main St., Miami Lakes) and Saturdays at New Theatre (4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables). Curtain time for both locations is 11:00 (box office opens at 10:30). Admission is $12 for all ages. Call 305-461-1161. -Margaret Griffis

Brazilian Expressions

Rio rockers plug in

FRI 8/6 It's the heart of summer in the steamiest city in the country. Don't fight the fire. Embrace it by joining Kid Abelha in a rare South Florida appearance for a night of hot rock from Brazil. One of that country's most important Latin rock groups, with an MTV: Unplugged album to prove it, Kid Abelha is a trio from Rio (Paula Toller, George Israel, and Bruno Fortunato) that got its start in the fertile early 1980s during the rock in Rio movement. The band has been perfecting its pop sound ever since, while experimenting with genres such as New Wave and disco along the way. No rehashed Roberto Carlos tunes here -- Kid Abelha sticks to its own hits, including "Nada Por Mim" and other songs from a prolific 23-year career. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $35 and $48. Call 305-673-7300. - John Anderson

Idol Pursuits

FRI 8/6 Three more shows remain in the county's 10-session Summer in the City Music Series, which kicked off Saturday, June 19, in Wynwood's Clemente Park and continues at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow in Overtown's Gibson Park (401 NW 12th St.). Held across the city, the events feature the ubiquitous arts and crafts, a kiddie play area sponsored by a Miami-based burger conglomerate, the usual arepas and gyros, and, of course, music by local and national acts. If you haven't made it to a park so far, you've missed timba artist Carlos Manuel, Cuban powerhouse vocalist Albita, and piano guy Arthur Hanlon, among many. You've also been deprived of watching local youngsters, ages 10 to 17, compete for the title of Miami Idol. You can still cast your vote, though. The winner and the dozen other would-be idols will perform during the grand finale show at 7:00 tonight at the Gusman Theater for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St. Admission is free. Call 305-795-2303. - Nina Korman


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