Trilling like a songbird caught in a storm, Canada's Jonatha Brooke created her own mini-monsoon with the 1995 album Plumb. Though she'd been around since the dawn of the decade, Brooke broke through stateside -- well, sorta -- with her fine third disc. Because of the ongoing sterilization of the once-freeform U.S. airwaves, Jonatha was mostly playing to a crowd of wowed critics and barely registering on the American public. Here's what most of us missed: the rare confluence of an artist with a voice, songwriting skill, a conscience and something significant to say about the politics of the heart and the ballot box (not surprisingly, Brooke asked her fellow outspoken Canadian Bruce Cockburn to duet on the song "War," and Jonatha lists great white northerner Joni Mitchell as a prime influence). Despite the album's interior monologue of lament, Plumb is extremely accessible, from the melancholic pop of "West Point" and "Full Fledged Strangers" to the hard-edged, acoustic funk/rock of "Nothing Sacred" and "No Better" to the nearly torchy tour de force "Inconsolable." Brooke and her band, the Story, return for a show tonight. Troy Campbell opens. The Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, 869-COOL. Tix at Ticketmaster (629-3700).
Cindy Sherman's Office Killer begins as a farce noir about corporate politics and devolves into a brutal, horrific portrait of a serial killer. Pixy-faced Carol Kane (Annie Hall, Addams Family Values) plays a frumpy copy editor at a shabby magazine named Constant Consumer who refuses to take her would-be downsizing -- or the disdain of her co-workers -- lying down. Instead, she gets even for a lifetime of abuse, trundling the remains of her former superiors back to the house she shares with her bleating cripple of a mother (Alice Drummond) to create a macabre home-office environment in the basement, with herself as avenging angel and CEO. A bitter film for a bitter time, Office Killer is ultimately disappointing; this story's been told, though never -- even by Hitchcock -- with such a vicious, gleeful twist. Still, it has moments of stinging invention and social commentary. Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Barbara Sukowa co-star; Sukowa's portrayal of a chain-smoking, backbiting, European-accented, hard bitch of an editor is dead-on -- no pun intended -- and director Sherman obviously relished condemning the she-beast to death. Houston-premiere screenings are scheduled at 7:30 tonight and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. Info: 639-7515. $5; $4 for the matinee.
New York contemporary troupe Tere O'Connor Dance salutes hearth and home -- stopping just short of extolling the virtues of apple pie -- in a three-piece, two-weekend stand. Actually, there's more irony to the program than that; male choreographer O'Connor, who's worked with and created works for Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Project, exposes "the American myth of Mom" in Mother and comments on the foibles of contemporary culture in the "danced play" The World Is a Missing Girl. His House, created for Holland's De Rotterdamse Dansgroep, "contemplates the capacity of architectural space to store our memories." Mother and Missing Girl are performed at 8 tonight and Saturday, House and Missing Girl at the same time May 15 and 16. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. More info: 228-0914. $12; $10 for students and seniors.
Shuck crustaceans and jive to world-class zydeco at the Houston Crawfish Festival. Headliners include Clifton Chenier acolyte Buckwheat Zydeco (real name: Stanley Dural Jr.), "Cajun Springsteen" Wayne Toups, Beau Jocque and His Zydeco Hi-Rollers and Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws. Noon to 11 p.m. today; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan. Info: 615-4624, (281) 551-2514. $10 in advance; $12 at the gate; $5 for kids ages six to 12; free for those younger (proceeds: the Hope Ward Foundation).
While the Acadian culture of Louisiana is feted across town, the Celts get their due at the Houston Highland Games and Scottish Festival. The 27th annual fest includes the usual array of archaic sporting events, bagpipe and pipe-band competitions, heritage workshops and Highland hoofing. The Houston Farm and Ranch Club, 1 Abercrombie Road. Info: 871-0061.
It's curtains for the venerable warhorse called the Music Hall following Theatre Under the Stars' Victor/Victoria; the building's scheduled to be razed in early June, following the final performance of this Blake Edwards/Henry Mancini collaboration. Julie Andrews was originally slated to croon Mancini's tunes "Le Jazz Hot" and "Paris by Night" in the TUTS production, reprising her role as the title singer/Polish count from the '82 movie and the '96 Broadway production, but bowed out because of recent throat surgery. Andrews's Broadway stand-in, Anne Runolfsson, assumes the lead role; Anthony Newley plays Toddy and Michael Nouri portrays King Marchan. Opening performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. today and 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; the show continues through May 30. 810 Bagby, (800) 678-5440. $22.50 to $69.50.
Love, exciting and new? Actually, the title of UPN's recently unveiled series Love Boat: The Next Wave is a lift from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the show's shtick remains the same: a hot tub full of babes and horn dogs on the make. Robert Urich plays head horn dog and cruise-ship Captain Jim Kennedy III; on looks alone, Urich's a vast improvement over Gavin MacLeod -- a real stretch as a desirable, seafaring hunk in the original Love Boat, which aired from 1977 to '86. (MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing required the same suspension of disbelief as that paunchy dwarf Dick Van Patten as a virile patriarch in the same era's Eight Is Enough.) But will this Boat float without now-Congressman Fred "Gopher" Grandy, Lauren "Julie" Tewes, Ted "Isaac" Lange and Bernie "Doc" Kopell? (Speaking of Star Trek lifts, the new crew members look like rejects from UPN's Voyager.) And whom do we sue regarding the revamped theme song? The Paul Williams/Charles Fox ditty, originally crooned with smarmy, toothy style by Jack Jones and Dionne Warwick, is now a synthed-up calypso. But, on whole, if one approaches the new Boat as refried camp -- in the manner of its dry-docked predecessor, itself a blatant ripoff of Love, American Style -- The Next Wave makes for a nontoxic, mildly amusing way to waste an hour on Monday night. 8 p.m. KTXH-TV, Channel 20.
While we wish no one ill -- not even the fatuous Michael Flatley -- we're gratified to report that the Riverdance offshoot Lord of the Dance still doesn't include its creator, Flatley, who pulled a muscle in his massive ego and ceded the stage to his understudy, John Carey. World-champ dancer Carey has acquitted himself well in the title role -- especially given the production's limitations. Let's just say that the press-release assertion that "Lord of the Dance stretches the definition of Irish dance" is laughably mild, and akin to comparing a mosquito to an elephant. While Riverdance can be irritating in anything above a mild dose, at least it's true to its roots -- and tastefully done. The garish, Vegas-trashy Lord stomps all over its purported Celtic heritage on its artistically flatfooted way to the big-bucks watering hole. It's back for another snout full of cash following a sold-out February run. Opening performances are at 8 tonight and Wednesday. Lord continues through May 17. The Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas, 230-1600. $30 to $65 (Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
You can hear broadcasts by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra each Saturday on KUHF-FM 88.7, and you can experience the excellent ensemble live tonight. James Levine wields the baton; the special guest for this performance is Siberian violinist Maxim Vengerov. The program includes Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, Suite no. 2. 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-3974. $15 to $55 (Houston Ticket Center: 227-ARTS; Ticketmaster: 629-3700).