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The Blue Man Group leads this week's event picks

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6

Blue Man Group Invade Town

If you know only one thing about Blue Man Group, it should be this: They are a group of men who are blue. If you know two things, it should be that despite the fact they've become something of a performance art cliché over the years, they are also an absolute blast to witness live. Formed in 1988, the trio has appeared just about everywhere in the world, but is just now getting around to its first nationwide theatrical tour. The action lands in Cleveland for shows tonight through Sunday, October 17, at the Palace Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave. downtown). Show time is 7:30 nightly, with additional matinees tossed in each Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $30 to $75, but smart shoppers will ask about the limited number of "Smart Seats" available for just 10 bucks. Call 216-241-6000 or go to playhousesquare.org to learn more. — Erich Burnett

SWING MUSIC DOWNTOWN

Tough Old Pros Play Trinity

Most of the guys in Cleveland's Tough Old Pros — that's TOPS — Swing Band are about the same age as the music they play. Assistant music director Jim Wonnacott says the repertoire for their upcoming program includes some of the greatest hits of the swing era, like "In the Mood" and "String of Pearls." The band, which has been together for five years, draws members from Cleveland's ranks of retired professional players. They pay the rent for their rehearsal hall by gigging downtown at Trinity Cathedral. The series, which opens this week, offers free lunchtime concerts of chamber music, recitals, and jazz each Wednesday at lunch time. TOPS opens the fall series at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday at Trinity Cathedral (2230 Euclid Ave., 216-771-3630, trinitycleveland.org). Bring your brown bag lunch or buy lunch there for $5. — Michael Gill

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7

COOKING IN THE METROPARKS

ECO-KITCHEN THEATER

Every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m., the Cleveland Metroparks' Rocky River Nature Center hosts "Eco-Kitchen Theater," a series of film and chef demonstations. At tonight's installment, "Inviting the Planet to Dinner," author, TV host, and local food advocate Marilou Suszko gets in the spirit of the season by featuring pumpkins — for eating, not carving. She'll talk about the different kinds of pumpkins you can find locally, whip up some pumpkin recipes, and serve you the yummy results. There's a $5 fee, and reservations are required. The Nature Center is at 24000 Valley Parkway in North Olmsted; call 440-734-6660. — Anastasia Pantsios

WINE PARTY

L'Amour du Vin in Avon

You probably already knew that wine, consumed in moderate quantities, is actually a health food of sorts. As if you needed any additional motivation to attend tonight's L'Amour du Vin — that's "Love of Wine" for those befuddled by French — party, take heart that the soiree benefits the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. It's all about celebrating food from area restaurants paired with fine wines from around the world. It takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Avon Oaks Country Club (32300 Detroit Rd. in Avon). Regular tickets are $60 in advance, $75 the night of the event; VIP tickets are $90. Access to the VIP lounge gets you up close with AMP 150's vaunted chef Ellis Cooley. Reservations are recommended. Call 800-245-2275 ext. 100 or go to lamourduvin.eventbrite.com. — Pantsios

CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA

Bychkov on Brahms

Brahms' music "is always intimate, no matter how loudly it's talking," says Russian born American conductor Semyon Bychkov. "For me, this is the great paradox: The monumentality of Brahms is in its intimacy." Bychkov, who conducted the Cleveland Orchestra for the first time last spring, returns to Severance Hall this week for a four-night stand that features Brahms' Symphony No. 3 — which might challenge Bychkov to find that intimacy, since it opens with a loud, intense blast and swings wildly between calm and stormy. After intermission, pianist Kirill Gerstein joins Bychkov and the orchestra to perform Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The concert closes with Maurice Ravel's La Valse. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave. in University Circle). Tickets are $40 to $136; call 216-231-1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com. — Gill

MOVIES

Film Fest at the Canton Palace

The first-ever Film Festival at the historic Canton Palace Theater is slated to begin tonight with a screening of Marjorie's Diary. Filmmaker Richard Myers used his mother's Depression-era diaries to chronicle a compelling historical narrative and to discuss the ways in which films of the era affected people's perspective. References to Cleveland/Akron/Canton of the 1930s and 1940s abound. The screening follows an opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and a talk about experimental filmmaking by Richard Myers from 7:30 to 8. The Canton Palace is dedicated to screening innovative films of every genre and format, and organizers hope to make the film fest an annual happening. Tickets for Marjorie's Diary are $6. The theater is at 605 Market Ave. North in Canton. Call 330-253-5637 to learn more. — Allard

GLOBAL CELEBRATION

Fiesta! at Trinity Commons

The mission of the Ten Thousand Villages stores is to offer unusual gift-type items — jewelry, home decor, musical instruments, cards — handmade by craftspeople from around the world, who are paid a fair price for their work directly by the group. So the Cleveland branch's annual Fiesta! fund-raiser, described as a "multicultural networking" event, is, appropriately, a celebration of creativity from all over the globe. That includes international food, world music, and the chance to shop from the Ten Thousand Villages fall collection. A silent auction and raffles will feature fair-trade and local items as prizes. Fiesta! takes place at Trinity Commons (2230 Euclid Ave.) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $40 at the door. Call 216-575-1058 or go to ttvcleveland.com. — Pantsios

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8

COMEDY

Sheryl Underwood Plays the Improv

They say beer makes everybody funnier, but Sheryl Underwood has a stronger claim than most of us. The veteran comic got her start by becoming the first-ever female finalist in the 1989 Miller Lite Comedy Search. She continued down the alcohol-fueled comedy circuit by taking home top honors in a Johnny Walker Red competition. These days, you'll see the political specialist plastered across the spectrum of fabulous basic cable: She's a veteran of BET's ComicView and Holla, HBO's All-Star Def Comedy Jam, Showtime's Full Frontal Comedy, and she's probably due for a cameo on Billy the Exterminator. But tonight and tomorrow, she's all yours: Underwood is locked in for twin gigs at the Cleveland Improv. Show times are 8 and 10 p.m. tonight and Saturday; tickets for all shows are $22. The Improv is at 2000 Sycamore St. in the Flats; call 216-696-IMPROV or go to clevelandimprov.com to learn more. — Burnett

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9

LAKE FARMPARK

Corn and Pumpkin Harvest Weekend

Lake Metroparks Farmpark celebrates our seasonal jackpot with its annual Corn and Pumpkin Harvest Weekend, which takes place today and Sunday. Included in the action are walks through the giant pumpkin patch, a three-acre corn maze, a kid-sized hay maze, and tons of food churned out in honor of the harvest season — everything from golden corn to ruby-red apples, plus the cider, apple butter, and other delicacies made from them, all of which are made on the spot. Also on the agenda: Swifty's Balloon Farm, which is curiously billed as "Ohio's largest indoor balloon art exhibit," a tribute to farming in the 1800s made up of more than 20,000 balloons. It's all included with your admission: $6 for adults and $4 for kids age 2 to 11. Lake Farmpark is at 8800 Euclid Chardon Rd. in Kirtland; hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. Call 440-256-2122 or go to lakemetroparks.com for more information.

BREWS

Drink in nature at the Holden Arboretum

A $45 ticket to Saturday afternoon's Nature's Brews celebration at the Holden Arboretum gets you ten — count them, 10 — beer-tasting tickets, 1 food ticket, and 3 tickets to a Chinese Auction that will feature neon signs and other beer memorabilia. And that's not counting the many charms of the Arboretum itself. Live music by the Fez Monkeys will make the festivities appreciably more wacky, given that they describe themselves as a "sort of ragtime-cartoon-Vaudeville-circus-hobo-gypsy-jazz thing." The Holden folks are setting up a Goblins in the Garden Trail, so it'll be like Trick-or-Treating for beer. It all takes place from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and designated drivers pay only $15. The Holden Arboretum is at 9500 Sperry Rd. in Kirtland. Call 440-946-4400 or check them out at holdenarb.org. — Sam Allard

— Pantsios

HISTORIC HARVEST FESTIVAL

Hale Farm Brings in the Sheaves

Back in the mid-1800s, when your supermarket didn't offer fresh produce from around the world year-round, or even Spaghetti-Os, harvest time loomed even larger than it does in this era of long-distance shipping and long-term preservation. So the Harvest Festival at Hale Farm & Village (2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath) — which re-creates Ohio life in that era, with costumed historical interpreters and craftspeople spinning wool, weaving baskets, dipping candles, and blowing glass — takes on a unique aura compared to other such festivals. Its haywagon rides, pumpkin carving and painting, and apple-butter making take place in the setting of a reconstructed village and working farm of 150 years ago, which spotlights how hard-won the bounty of that era was. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 3 to 12. Go to wrhs.org or call 800-589-9703 to learn more. — Pantsios

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10

FAMILY FUN

Goblins in the Garden

Even the most impressionable kids won't be terrified by what they find at Goblins in the Garden, a day-time Halloween celebration for families with children ages 2-12. Kids can give their costumes a trial run, bring the family dog (in costume or not, but definitely on a leash), and take part in pumpkin carving, crafts, a straw pyramid climb, hiking, a cornstalk maze, and wagon rides. There's a trick-or-treat trail that's way heavier on the treats than tricks, plus free apples and cider, and a folk-rock-style performance by Chip and the Munks. It happens from noon to 4:30 p.m. at the Holden Arboretum, at 9500 Sperry Rd. in Kirtland. Cost is $6 for adults, $3 for kids — but no more than $10 for a carload. Call 440-946-4400 or go to holdenarb.org for information. — Pantsios

CYCLING THE METROPARKS

The Final Tour de Necklace Ride

Throughout the summer, the Cleveland Metroparks leads bicyclists on long and leisurely rides to drink in the beauty of Northeast Ohio’s bounty — its “Emerald Necklace.” Come this time of year, the final Tour de Necklace of the season promises to be its most breathtaking, no matter how hard you pedal. Meet up at Look About Lodge (37374 Miles Rd. in Bentleyville) at 9:30 a.m. to begin the cruise along Chagrin River Road, with several stops along the way, including a lunch break in the North Chagrin Reservation (bring a bag lunch). Riders will return to Look About Lodge around 3 p.m. The ride is open to anyone 14 and over (though ages 14-17 must be with an adult), and reservations are required. Call 216-206-1000. Go to clevelandmetroparks.com for more information. — Pantsios

MONDAY, OCTOBER 11

MUSIC

Natalie Merchant

If you're not a Natalie Merchant idolater, don't write this event off completely. Opening the evening's performance will be none other than the Playhouse Square Youth Poetry Slam Team. (Who knew Playhouse Square had a house squad?) And though Ms. Merchant's music is typically a poetry all its own, the 28 songs from her new double album, Leave Your Sleep — which she'll be performing selections from this evening — are adapted from the poetry of well-known and obscure authors. It just promises to be an incredibly poetic evening in all sorts of ways. If you are a Natalie idolater, you know that she stunned the music industry when the self-produced Tigerlilly (1995) ignited her solo career and sold four million copies. Tonight's performance benefits the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation; it kicks off at 7 p.m. and will set you back $35. Check out playhousesquare.org for event details, and call 216-241-6000 for ticket information. — Allard

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12

FREE BEER FOR PLAYWRIGHTS!

The Dark Room at CPT

If you've been letting the next Our Town gather dust in the bottom righthand drawer of your office desk — this is famously where unrealized masterpieces gather dust — then for God's sake pick your favorite 10 consecutive pages and bring them on down for a reading tonight. That's right: Playwrights take center stage at The Dark Room, a monthly series of open-mic gatherings sponsored by Cleveland Public Theatre and the Cleveland Theater Collective. Writers and actors alike are most welcome, and should arrive early in anticiption of the 7:30 start. Not a writer or an actor? You should come for the free Magic Hat beer. Hm? Say whaaaa? Free Magic Hat beer! Cleveland Public Theatre is at 6415 Detroit Ave. Call them at 216-631-2727, ask for the cheerful intern named Mike, and tell him he looks really boyish and vulnerable without his beard and don't let on that you know about the beer. — Allard

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