A master of murder and mayhem, Ira Levin has written some of the scariest page-turners ever to fly off a grocery-store rack, including Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives. Levin, whom Stephen King reportedly called "the Swiss watchmaker of suspense," is no slouch in the theater department, either. In 1978, he won a Tony Award for Deathtrap, a perfect little murder mystery about -- what else? -- a writer of perfect little murder mysteries. At the center of the story is celebrated playwright Sidney Bruhl, whose days of wine and roses seem to be winding down since he hasn't written a hit show in years. When a creative-writing student shows Bruhl a killer script, Bruhl comes up with a devilish plan to kick his career back into gear. Of course, nothing is as it seems -- Bruhl's talented student, Clifford Anderson, clearly knows just as much about the dark side as his mentor. What follows is the sort of fabulously nasty business that Levin's so famous for, and it all opens this week at the Alley Theatre as the first of the Summer Chills series at 8 p.m. Friday, June 24. Show runs through July 10. 615 Texas. For tickets, showtimes and information, call 713-228-8421 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $19. -- Lee Williams
Take That, L.A.
Dance Houston 2005 spotlights our city's movers and shakers
Andrea Maskos thinks Houston's dance scene is as hip and risqué as L.A.'s, as intellectually sophisticated as New York City's and as diverse as Chicago's. Which is why the award-winning dancer and choreographer founded Dance Houston, an annual performance spotlighting Houston dance companies. Fifteen groups take the stage for Dance Houston 2005, including crowd-pleasers Uptown Street Dance Company, whose "X Dancing" features urban, jazz, ballet and hip-hop moves in a Survivor-style, reality-TV-themed show. Also watch for the Easy Credit Dance Theater, who'll perform with Two Star Symphony in a carnivalesque marionette show, replete with baton twirlers, a rock band and disgruntled puppet performers who really let loose when their strings are cut. 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 24; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 25. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For tickets and information, call 713-623-0434 or visit www.dancehouston.org. $20 to $35. -- Steven Devadanam
One Bad Moodafaruka
Much like their hometown -- and their name -- world music mavens Moodafaruka are a hodgepodge of cultures: Middle Eastern, Spanish and Western. The Houston combo's grooves, centered around chameleonlike guitarist Rom Ryan and featuring the fiery violin of Maryann Willis, provide music that's equally ambient and danceable (the band's name is a mongrel of the English "mood" and the flamenco variant "farruca"). Whether gigging at one of their numerous national festival appearances or at the local hot spot Mi Luna, the band delivers solid, flamenco-tinged hooks that are sure to put you in the right, well, mood. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood. For tickets, call 713-729-3200 or visit www.moodafaruka.com. $20. -- Scott Faingold
What Up, Homie?
Raise those two snaps way up, girl: Damon Wayans is back on the comedy circuit. The onetime In Living Color star, fresh off his just-canceled ABC sitcom My Wife and Kids, is working on a Homie the Clown movie (lucky us). He brings his overgrown-class-clown routine to the Improv at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. from Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26. 7620 Katy Freeway, suite 3621. For tickets and information, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improv.com. $40. -- Scott Faingold