“Soho Cinders,” from Mercury Theatre Co., is a modern spin on Cinderella. It opens this weekend.
HE WROTE THE SONGS
• Take in a remarkable transformation at “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin,” a Cleveland Play House production at the Allen Theatre. Felder has a knack for his, having starred in shows including “George Gershwin Alone” and “Maestro: Leonard Bernstein.” Here, he brings to life the remarkable story of Berlin, the man responsible for “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “White Christmas,” among many other memorable songs. A special sing-along performance closes the show’s run on June 24. (Thursday, June 7, through Sunday, June 24)
• Hear from writers and thinkers including New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, basketball star/best-selling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff, and activist/actor/author Hill Harper at the 2018 AHA! Festival, a celebration of arts and the humanities hosted by Cleveland State University and Playhouse Square. (Thursday, July 7, through Friday, July 9)
• Watch one of the most acclaimed independent films of 2018 as “First Reformed,” from director Paul Schrader, opens at the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights. Here’s the description: “Rev. Ernst Toller is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner asks Rev. Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence.” Ethan Hawke is getting lots of Oscar buzz for his lead performance. (Opens Friday, June 8, then Friday, June 15, at Cleveland Cinemas’ Chagrin Cinemas and Capitol Theatre)
INCH BY INCH
• Inch your way over to the near West Side for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at Blank Canvas Theatre. This musical from John Cameron Mitchell, with a score by Stephen Trask, has developed quite a following (cult and otherwise) over the years. Never seen it? Here’s what you’ll find: ” ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ tells the tale of how a ‘slip of a girlyboy’ from communist East Berlin, Hanschel, becomes the ‘internationally ignored song stylist’ known as Hedwig after a botched sex change operation. The show daringly breaks the fourth wall, as Hedwig directly tells the audience of her past tribulations and heartbreak in the form of an extended monologue paired with rock songs. With a little help from her band and her back-up singer Yitzhak, Hedwig examines her quest for her other half, for love, and ultimately for her identity.” Blank Canvas says this of-the-moment show is “hilarious, harrowing, and essentially uplifting for anyone who’s ever felt different.” (Friday, June 8, through Saturday, June 23)
• Find some new rhythms at “Tarantella: Rhythms of the Old Mediterranean,” a series of performances from baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire. The orchestra says last summer’s “Mediterranean Roots” program “raised the rafters, and now it returns in a fresh, new version. Soulful singers Amanda Powell and Brian Kay celebrate the common ties of Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Arabic cultures, along with a colorful ensemble of plucked instruments, recorder, strings, hammered dulcimer, and exotic percussion.” The Lautenwerck, a lute-like keyboard instrument, makes its Apollo’s Fire debut in the hands of Jeannette Sorrell. (Friday, June 8, through Tuesday, June 12)
BRINGING SOHO TO NEO
• Get down, and just a tiny bit dirty, at “Soho Cinders,” a Mercury Theatre Co. production at Regina Hall at Notre Dame College in South Euclid.
The musical from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, creators of “Mary Poppins” and “HONK!,” is a twist on the Cinderella story: “When impoverished student Robbie becomes romantically involved with engaged Mayoral candidate James Prince, his lap-dancing step-sisters become the least of his problems. James and Robbie’s worlds collide forcing them to fight for their own fairy-tale ending,” Mercury says.
Here’s something else that’s a little twisted: “It’s hysterical, it’s dirty, it’s sexy,” says Pierre-Jacques Brault, artistic director at Mercury, which is in its 20th season and is known for family-friendly fare. Mercury still does lots of that, including a production of “Disney’s My Son Pinocchio” that’s running in repertory this month with “Soho Cinders.” But with previous shows including “Ragtime” and last summer’s production of “La Cage aux Folles,” Brault said, it’s edging into some more adult material, too.
Brault, a Baldwin Wallace theater grad who co-founded Mercury 20 years ago and is director of the Notre Dame College Theatre Department, said “Soho Cinders” is Mercury’s fifth production of a Stiles & Drewe show. He said he connects with their witty lyrics, lush scores and clever scripts.
“In all their shows, the heart is present. … You leave with an abundant sense of joy and happiness,” he said. Since seeing “Soho Cinders” in 2012, Brault said he has been “looking for the right time to produce it” and finds it “very topical and a great love story.” (Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9, then June 16-17, 20 and 23)
LIVE, FROM THE LAUREL CAMPUS
• Have a transformative sound experience at “Ligature,” a performance at MOCA Cleveland inside “Inside,” an exhibition that explores vibration and form through the sculptures, painting and video of artist Tauba Auerbach and the sounds of composer Éliane Radigue. Auerbach and visual artist/projectionist Laura Paris join experimental band Zs for this in-gallery performance.(Friday, June 8, at 8 p.m.)
• Take another go-around at Parade the Circle in University Circle. This free event, a Cleveland staple for nearly 30 years, brings the circle to vibrant life with bright costumes, puppets, music, art, stilt dancers, handmade masks, colorful floats and more. (Saturday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
• Spend the weekend in the company of some big-name musical artists — Foster the People, Brandi Carlile, Fitz & The Tantrums, Cold War Kids and X Ambassadors, among others — at LaureLive on Laurel School’s 140-acre Butler Campus in Russell and Chester townships. This year will mark the third year for LaureLive, which in the past has drawn more than 15,000 people per year and looks set to exceed that this weekend. (Saturday, June 9, and Sunday, June 10, opening at 11:30 a.m. both days)
•See the hit Hugh Jackman musical “The Greatest Showman” in a perfectly appropriate setting: outside Playhouse Square, projected on a screen at U.S. Bank Plaza. (Saturday, June 9, at 8:30 p.m.)
• Bring your appetite (and maybe some loose-fitting pants) to the Taste of Lakewood, a day-long festival on Sunday, June 10, celebrating the booming restaurant scene in the western suburb.
It takes place in at Madison Park from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. About 30 Lakewood restaurants — El Carnicero, Forage Public House, Georgetown, Salt, Thai Thai and Woodstock BBQ among them — will sell food at the event. New restaurants in the lineup this year are Addicted Coffee & Ice Cream, Sweet Amelia’s, SmoQued (a new caterer in Lakewood) and Goodkind Coffee.
There’s no charge for admission. There is, though, a $50 VIP area that includes guaranteed tent seating, parking, two drink tokens, food brought to your table by servers and a raffle to win a complete dinner for 10 at Pier W.
There’s also music from FireSide Band and JellzNJamz, a Good Food Kids garden tent, a dog cafe (on leashes, please) and an appearance by members of the Cleveland Monsters.
Patty Ryan, president and CEO of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, said the outdoor event draws 15,000 to 20,000 people each year. Taste of Lakewood has grown over the years, she said, moving from its original Clifton Club site to the Screw Factory and now Madison Park to accommodate larger crowds.
“We like where we’re at now. It works for us,” Ryan said, noting that Taste of Lakewood has become “a signature event for Birdtown,” a neighborhood on the eastern side of Lakewood.
It’s a huge undertaking. In total, she said, more than 250 provide volunteer efforts to pull off the Taste of Lakewood, including 150 or so on the day of the event. The event evolves, too, based on feedback from prior years. For instance, she said, the new dog cafe was the suggestion of some patrons last year.
She said the event continues to provide “a great opportunity for Lakewood restaurants and vendors to get to know new customers, and for potential customers to get to know them.”
A portion of the proceeds of the event is directed to the chamber’s high school scholarship program to assist college-bound students at Lakewood High School and St. Edward High School. (Sunday, June 10, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Explore the space of the Beachland Ballroom to check out a performance by Brooklyn (though formerly Ridgewood, N.J.) rock band Real Estate. (Wednedsday, June 13, at 8:30 p.m.)
• Get the blood pumping at “In The Blood,” a convergence-continuum production at the Liminis Theater in Cleveland of the play by Suzan-Lori Parks. It’s a modern riff on “The Scarlet Letter” in which Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, “lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city,” the theater says. “Her kids, played by adult actors, double as five other people in her life: ex-boyfriend, social worker, doctor, best friend and minister. While Hester’s kids fill her life with joy (comical moments amid the harsh world of poverty), the adults only hold her back. Nothing can stop the play’s tragic end.” It’s directed by Cory Molner. (Now through Saturday, June 9)
• Become moored at “Adrift, A Dream,” a mixed-media exhibition at the Studio 215 Gallery in the 78th Street Studios on Cleveland’s West Side. It’s curated by artist Liz Maugans, presented by the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland and made possible by the support of the Community West Foundation. The exhibition “aims to raise the profile of the refugee crisis and also enable refugee groups to discuss and share their experiences,” according to promotional materials. It “embodies the work of artists responding to the full experiences of loss, chaos, migration, transition and integration. This is in an effort to break the isolation that refugees often feel when they arrive in a new community.” (Now through Friday, June 15)
• Alter your art perceptions at “Portals_Thresholds,” the spring exhibition at Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery. The show “will highlight the work of five contemporary artists operating both in and out of the realm of simulated reality,” CIA says, and represents “an imaginative, sometimes witty plunge into the fantastic” with works that “address themes relating to science fiction and artifice.” Mediums will include virtual reality, video, sound, animation, sculpture, painting, and more. Admission is free. (Now through Friday, June 15)
• Make space in your schedule for “20/20 Hindsight = 40 Years,” a show at SPACES in Cleveland that the gallery says celebrates “four decades of artistic exploration and experimentation.” The group show features 17 artists curated by four current and former executive directors, and it “tells the story of SPACES in Cleveland while looking toward the future.” (Now through Friday, June 15)
• Experience the lovely ride that is “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” as the popular show returns to Cleveland for a run at the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. It “tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history,” according to promotional material. “Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.” (Now through Sunday, June 17)
• Celebrate Mercury Theatre Co.’s 20th anniversary season with a production of “Disney’s My Son Pinocchio” at Regina Hall at Notre Dame College in South Euclid. This is the Ohio premiere of a new adaptation of the 1940 Walt Disney classic, featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, a book by David Stern and with songs from the Walt Disney film by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul J. Smith. (Now through Sunday, June 24)
• Immerse yourself in a wrenching, little-known moment of modern history at “Bent,” in the intimate Studio Theater at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. The acclaimed 1979 play by Martin Sherman is set in Nazi Germany and is about of group of gay men trying to survive persecution before and after the Night of the Long Knives. “Within the confines of a concentration camp a secret love affair illustrates how the selfless love of one person for another can overcome oppression, even under the most extreme circumstances,” Beck Center says of the play, which became famous after its original London production starring Ian McKellen and a subsequent Broadway production with Richard Gere. For the Beck Center production, director Matthew Wright, a professor of theater at Oberlin College, said he spent about a week with the cast grappling with the dense text of the play and doing historical research on the Nazis’ treatment of gay people. (Now through July 1)
• Provide the kids with some educational fun at a summer installation for younger audiences at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood. In lieu of a special exhibition, the museum says, an “Everyday Heroes Activity Center” will be in the open space, “inviting children to discover their own everyday superpowers, such as kindness, compassion, listening, and helping. From Painting Kindness Rocks to a Building a Better World Jumbo Lego Station, children and the big people who love them can explore themes of being an everyday hero.” (Now through Sunday, Aug. 12)
• Stick to it at “TapeScape-Sticky Science,” a new exhibition at the Great Lakes Science Center. The Science Center and designer/artist Eric Lennartson built a two-level, 1,300-square-foot playground entirely out of packing tape wrapped around a metal frame. Lennartson “harnesses the tensile strength of tape — or its ability to stretch under stress — to design unique, multisensory installations strong enough for kids and adults to climb on and explore,” the Science Center says. (Now through Monday, Sept. 3)
• Consider urban history at “Danny Lyon: The Destruction of Lower Manhattan,” an exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The exhibition features 52 photographs from the museum’s collection, all recent gifts from George Stephanopoulos. The museum says Lyon’s documentary series “became the model for visual work addressing the aging infrastructure of American cities, now sometimes called ruin porn, and the perils of the 1960s policy of urban renewal through demolition.” (Now through Sunday, Oct. 7)
• Confirm that you like to listen as much as you like to watch at “Stay Tuned: Rock on TV,” a new exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here’s the description: “As television sets became a household fixture, advertisers sought to reach the booming youth and teenage demographic and their expendable pocket money, cracking the door for rock and roll’s acceptance into the mainstream through shows like ‘American Bandstand,’ ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ and ‘The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.’ ” It’s a “multifloor, multisensory and multimedia” exhibition in which visitors “will also see the birth of the music video, how it reached its pinnacle with the launch and domination of MTV and its sub-brands and used its technology to push music and artistry to new heights.” (Ongoing)
• Go a little fashion crazy at “Mad for Plaid” at the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society. The exhibition “showcases Northeastern Ohio’s men, women, and children who wear plaid, highlighting recognizable brands, pop culture, and the heritage behind it all,” according to promotional materials. It highlights, among other things, Pride of Cleveland designed by the Kilted Bros., and iconic UK design houses including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Burberry. (Ongoing)
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