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“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Celebrating the Songs of John Mercer”

The book was all about moonlight and magnolias and murky goings-on, a rogue’s gallery of rascals, eccentrics, society matrons, and con artists parading past the endlessly enchanting backdrop of sleepy, sultry Savannah. The producers of the new, jazz-inflected stage version of the wildly successful publishing phenomenon have left behind the voodoo priestess and the quietly crazed inventor, with his bottle of insanely lethal poison, but they’ve brought along nearly everyone else. In attendance tonight at the Kennedy Center, to kick off an eight-city tour: author and narrator John Berendt, musical prodigy Emma Kelly (the Lady of Six Thousand Songs) and that saucy, sexy drag phenomenon, the Lady Chablis (pictured), who has since published her own life story. Also contributing: actress Carrie Nye, singer Julius LaRosa, New York cabaret sensation John Pizzarelli, and Johnny Mercer protegee Margaret Whiting. Backed by a jazz ensemble, they’ll thread songs by Savannah songwriting legend Mercer through excerpts from Berendt’s true-to-life chronicle of murder under the mossy oaks. At 8:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $22-40. (202) 467-4600. (Trey Graham)