James Dean

The fascinating life and grisly death of screen icon James Dean is rich material for writers and actors alike. Most recently, James Franco’s uncanny performance as Dean in a 2001 TNT biopic brought him a Golden Globe and an upgrade of his status as just another pretty-boy actor. This week, a home-brewed version of the Dean story premieres at the Westport Coffee House (4010 Pennsylvania), where writer and actor Ry Kincaid tackles Dean’s charisma in his new Little Bastard. The play marks the debut of J3 Productions, a troupe of young thespians with the wherewithal to create gigs for themselves.

Kincaid sets Little Bastard around the time Dean is completing Giant, one of three movies the actor crammed into his short but stratospheric career. “He seemed moody and assured as an actor yet unassured at the same time,” Kincaid says of Dean. “He always worried about what people thought of him.” Viewers can make up their own minds Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. — Steve Walker

Royal Family


He plays the King of Queens‘ cousin on television, but he’s really his brother. Confused? Gary Valentine plays cousin to the show’s star, Kevin James, but in real life, they’re brothers with “professional names.” Valentine’s three-day engagement at Stanford and Son’s (10635 Floyd in Overland Park; 913-385-3866) starts Thursday. — Michael Vennard

X-Men Cometh

MON 6/14

The X-Ecutioners started out as contest DJs, but they’ve successfully parlayed their technical battle chops into the studio for noncompetitive performances. This means that when the three-man team plays The Granada (1020 Massachusetts in Lawrence, 785-842-1390) with C-Rayz Walz on Monday, the crowd should stay hyped with big beats and tricky scratches. — Vennard

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