‘Set in the East Village of New York City, ‘Rent’ is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today,” explains J.C. Conway, artistic director for the Flowertown Players.

We’ve all heard of “Rent” and what a huge part of Broadway it has been for the past 20 years.

Now, see it right here in Charleston at one of our local theaters, directed by South of Broadway Theatre Company artistic director Mark Gorman with musical direction by David McLaughlin.

Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side.

“How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this ground-breaking musical,” Conway says.

“Rent” starts its local run Friday, with performances through Feb. 2. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $22 for seniors and $20 for students. Tickets can be purchased by calling 875-9251, going to www.flowertownplayers.org or by visiting the box office at the James F. Dean Theatre, 133 S. Main St., in Summerville.

‘Arcadia’

“Math and literature. Literature and sex. Sex and chaos!”

When something starts off with those words, it will most likely cause intrigue. That’s how Keely Enright of the Village Repertory Company describes Tom Stoppard’s play “Arcadia.”

The play takes the audience on a back-and-forth ride between the 19th and 21st centuries, on a “whirl of romance, mystery and landscape gardening,” she says of the comedic show about two rival academics in a town called Arcadia that involves a scandal about the poet Lord Byron.

Expect to see the following local faces on stage: Becca Anderson, Brian Turner, Scott Cason, Ashley Genneralli, Zack Green, Bill Harris,Christina Leidel, Brad Leon, Kaitlin Lieck,Young Stowe, Robbie Thomas and Josh Wilhoit.

“Arcadia” will be performed at the Woolfe Street Playhouse, 34 Woolfe St., Friday-Feb. 8. Call 856-1579 or go to www.villagerep.com.

‘Shirley Valentine’

“Trapped in her row house kitchen with nothing to do but get her domineering hubby Joe’s dinner ready at the exact moment he walks in the door, Shirley’s overflowing need to communicate has led her to converse with the walls, fortified by generous swigs from her never-empty glass of Riesling,” Sheri Grace Wenger says of Midtown Production’s newest one-woman show, “Shirley Valentine.”

The play is about a middle-age woman realizing that all her life decisions have been made by someone else. She is unhappy as a housewife who spends all her time doing her husband’s bidding. Shirley emerges into her true self as she finally makes a decision to leave that life and start some new adventures.

“I think the theme of the show is as powerful today as it was in the ’80s,” says Wenger. “ ‘Shirley Valentine’ is a late-20th-century version of a pervasive modern theme: the romantic quest for liberation, fulfillment and self-affirmation, and the pursuit of rebirth through rebellion, or in today’s language, reinventing oneself.”

Actress Teralyn Tanner will be playing Shirley.

The show begins its run Friday at the Charleston Acting Studio, 915 Folly Road, on James Island. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and military, and $16 for students.

Call 795-2223 or go to www.midtownproductions.org.

MLK Jr. tribute show

On Saturday, join the CSO Gospel Choir and CSO Spiritual Ensemble, members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the Colour of Music Festival Orchestra, in collaboration with the city of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, for a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

The show, “Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now: A Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Performance,” brings the legendary civil rights leader’s legacy to life through music, imagery and narration, according to Allison Savicz, publicist for the CSO Spiritual Ensemble/CSO Gospel Choir.

Guest conductor Vincent L. Danner will direct the musical and visual performance while Dr. Karen Chandler of the College of Charleston provides a narration on King and the civil rights movement.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 7396 Rivers Ave., in North Charleston. The performance is free and open to the public. An entry ticket is required and is available at the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, North Charleston City Hall and the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

For more, contact Ann Simmons, arts coordinator for the city of North Charleston, at 740-5848 or asimmons@north charleston.org.

C of C piano series

World renowned pianist Roberto Plano of Italy will be performing at the Sottile Theatre on Tuesday as part of the College of Charleston’s International Piano Series.

He has been featured recitalist at the internationally acclaimed Chopin Festival, the Portland Piano Festival, says Evie Christou of the college’s Music Department.

Some of the highlights of his awards include Honens Prize Laureate, 2003; the Cleveland International Piano Competition (first prize winner), 2001; and the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (finalist), 2005, Christou says.

Tuesday’s show will feature music that has been studied in depth by Plano, namely Scarlatti and Liszt.

“The program also will include sonatas by Italian baroque and pre-classical period composers, notably Luchesi, a composer about whom Plano recently made a tantalizing discovery: a lost cadenza written by Mozart for Luchesi’s Concerto in F Minor,” says Christou.

The concert will take place at 8 p.m. at the Sottile Theatre, 44 George St.

Tickets are $20 and are free for College of Charleston students or those 18 or younger.

To order tickets, call 953-6575 or go to www.go.cofc.edu/ips.