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Family Matters 

A girl and her brood collide in Kimberly Akimbo.

A wacky and surreal take on dysfunctional families.
  • A wacky and surreal take on dysfunctional families.
9/5-9/28

Walter-Eugene Grodzik's "real job" is teaching acting and directing at a small college in Washington. But he's returning home to Cleveland to direct the Ohio premiere of Kimberly Akimbo -- a dark comedy, laced with shrewd satire, about a teenage girl who's the sanest member of her family -- at Dobama Theatre.

The show was written by David Lindsay-Abaire, who was named Best Playwright by the L.A. Drama Critics Circle in 2001, after the two-acter debuted on the West Coast. Earlier this year, New York critics called the play "the best comedy of the year," after it opened off Broadway. "It's wacky and sort of surreal," says Grodzik, who has also directed shows at Cleveland Public and the old Working theaters.

Set in the wilds of suburban New Jersey, the play stars the 50-something actress Paula Deusing as Kimberly, a 16-year-old born with a rare aging disease called progeria. But that's the least of her worries. Her father is a professional drunk; her pregnant mother records messages about how unfair life is to her unborn baby; and her scam-artist aunt has just been released from prison for forging checks. At school, Kimberly falls in love with the geekiest kid in the class. "All she wants to say is 'Can't we just be normal for a minute?'" Grodzik says.

But that's the whole point. When you stand akimbo with your hands on your hips, your body tilts, Grodzik explains. "It's all at right angles, and everything's funny and peculiar." And salty. In a couple scenes, the dialogue can make a truck driver sound angelic. "We hear the big F-word," Grodzik warns. "But it's not constant, and it's not something the [audience hasn't] heard in a PG movie." Kimberly Akimbo runs at Dobama Theatre (1846 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights) September 5 through 28. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $11 to $20. Call 216-932-3396 for more information. -- Cris Glaser

Folk Music
Mystery Man

THU 9/4

Native Clevelander David Wilcox has made 10 albums of soft-hitting, introspective folk music. His 11th, Into the Mystery, is more of the same. But there's a growing confidence in his songwriting and singing, and there's more detail in the corners (tape loops run through several tracks). Mystery's 13 songs are among Wilcox's best, and their hushed, almost revelatory tone should serve him well in concert, where he consistently shines. Expect a bunch of songs from his catalog -- which goes back 15 years -- expertly handled and delivered. Wilcox is at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $15 and $17, available by calling 216-383-1124. -- Michael Gallucci

All That Jazz

9/4-9/14

After Chicago's big-screen blowout last year, is there any doubt why the high-steppin' musical is such a hit onstage? The story of chorus-girl-turned-boyfriend-killer Roxie Hart is really a meditation on the media -- which Roxie uses to both free herself of a murder charge and promote her stage career. But all the heady stuff pales next to the razzle-dazzle of the songs, costumes, and sets. Chicago is at Huntington Playhouse (28601 Lake Road in Bay Village) through September 14. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. closing-day performance. Tickets are $15. Call 440-871-8333 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci

Unchained

SAT 9/6

David Lee Roth (right) uses his sixth solo album, Diamond Dave, as a vessel for his, um, unique interpretations of Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9," the Doors' "Soul Kitchen," and the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." And if you've always thought Brit blues rockers Savoy Brown never got enough respect, Roth feels your pain and helpfully covers three of their songs. He's doing many of the CD's tunes on his summer tour, which also spans his entire solo career and some songs from the Van Halen catalog. Roth is at Scene Pavilion (2014 Sycamore Street) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets range from $22 to $39.50. For more information, call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci

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