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Event picks for the week, because it's not as scary out there as you think

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11

BEHIND THE LENS

A Rock Photog Shoots and Tells

Even if you don't know Bob Gruen's name, you probably know his work; in fact, one of his posters may be hanging on your wall. Gruen is the man behind many of rock & roll's iconic images, photographing an all-star lineup of rock gods including Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Elvis, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. Need more name-dropping? During John Lennon's New York years, Gruen became his personal photographer and had almost unlimited access to the man and his family. All this has put him in a position that few can match, and tonight at the Akron Art Museum the photo guru will pass on a fragment of his vast knowledge. His appearance coincides with the exhibition Who Shot Rock & Roll, and attendees can look forward to well-focused insights into what it means to be a member of rock photog royalty, and probably some insider tidbits on Lennon et al, as well. The Akron Art Museum is at 1 South High St. in Akron. The free event runs 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium. Get there early — seating will be limited. For more information call 330-376-9185 or go to akronartmuseum.org.— Reed Hazen

STAGE

Foolin' With the Phantom

Terry Pratchett may be the U.K.'s second-most-read author, trailing only J.K. Rowling. Like Rowling, he's built a loyal following with a series of fantasy novels — in his case, laden with comic and parodic twists. Called Discworld, the series contains 38 books to date; 1995's Maskerade, the 18th in the series, spoofs the theatrical staple Phantom of the Opera, adding witches and an extra ghost for a case of mistaken identity. So naturally, it translates well to the stage. Pratchett-phile Stephen Briggs wrote a theatrical adaptation in 1998, which is now being performed at Lake Erie College's C.K. Rickel Theatre (391 West Washington St. in Painesville) with a cast of more than 30 students, alumni, and community residents. LEC assistant professor Jerry Jaffe, who directs, says, "I'm a Pratchett fan, and I discovered that a number of his novels had been adapted into stage plays. I thought this one had a very theatrical premise and would be best for college students because it has a large cast with both men and women." He also believes it may be the play's first production in Ohio. It opens at 7:30 this evening and runs through November 20. Tickets are $5. Call 440-375-7455 or go to lec.edu for tickets and information.— Anastasia Pantsios

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12

FABULOUS FOOD SHOW

Garden of Eatin' at the IX Center

We don't know how fabulous the Fabulous Food Show at the IX Center (6200 Riverside Dr.) will be. But it will certainly be big, with more than 250 exhibitors rep'ing everything from Alaskan seafood to locally grown apples. Some of the food samples sound a little lame — beer nuts, anyone? — but options also include respected local purveyors like Gray House Pies, Miceli Bakery, Bubba's Bar-B-Q, and the Debonne and Ferrante wineries. A main stage will feature presentations by celeb chefs including Giada Di Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, and Cleveland's own Michael Symon. The Taste of the Neighborhood stage gets local with area chefs and restaurateurs like Umami's Matthew Anderson, Blue Canyon's Brandt Evans, and Zack Bruell and Andy Dombrowski of L'Albatros, Chinato, Parallax, and Table 45. For dessert, schedule a stroll down Sweet Street, where you'll find delicious demonstrations of baking and candy making. It all happens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. One-day admission is $25 in advance, $30 at the door; two-day admission is $45; three-day admission is $65. Call 877-772-5425 for tickets. You can also check out the free Cleveland By Hand art show, same hours under the same roof, featuring the work of 150 artisans from around the country. Go to fabulousfoodshows.com and byhandevents.com for more information. — Pantsios

NEW MUSIC

Wiyos of Oz at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Possibly the most entertaining American troubadours you’ve never heard of, The Wiyos formed in New York City in 2002, taking their name from one of the toughest gangs to prowl the streets of old New York. Students of traditional American music from the early 1900s, the trio spent the past eight years touring to great acclaim in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and putting out a passel of well-received CDs. This spring, the ever-exuberant folksters collaborated with Wichita State University’s dance department to create an original theatrical production titled The Wiyos of Oz, based on the 1939 classic film. Their original music helps meld contemporary concepts with a wild interpretation of the original storyline, leading those in the know to call the show “funny, intense, and musically spectacular.” Find out for yourself at 8 p.m., at Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. General seating tix are $17 for adults, $12 for CVNPA members, and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Snag ’em by 3 p.m. today by calling 330-657-2909, ext. 100. Happy Days Lodge is at 500 West Streetsboro Rd. (Rt. 303), Peninsula. — Elaine T. Cicora

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13

Dance

Belly Dancers Shake Up the Hanna

The Bellydance Superstars have been touted as doing for belly dancing what Riverdance did for Irish folk dance, which could be good or bad, depending on your POV. Like Riverdance, the troupe has taken an ethnic dance form and made it the basis of a theatrical spectacle. The eight-year-old group's latest production is called Bombay Bellywood, and it's a cultural mongrel, mixing belly dance with traditional Indian dance forms for a sort of "Cairo meets Bombay in San Francisco and New York, with a touch of Buenos Aires and Chicago!" The group was founded by Miles Copeland, former I.R.S. Records head and manager of the Police, which isn't as bizarre as it sounds: Copeland spent much of his childhood in the Middle East, thanks to his father's work with the C.I.A. The Bellydance Superstars are at the Hanna Theatre (2067 East 14th St.) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $33.50 to $66.50. To order, call 216-241-6000 or go to playhousesquare.com. Go to bellydancesuperstars.com for more information. — Pantsios

BENEFIT BALL

Eat, Drink, and Support Beck Center

One of Ed FitzGerald's final acts as mayor of Lakewood, before he takes the helm of the entire county in January as its first county executive, is to host the Third Annual Mayor's Charity Ball, a benefit for Lakewood's Beck Center for the Arts (17801 Detroit Ave.). Lakewood's cultural and culinary wealth means the organizers can put on a top-flight event without going outside city limits. The many outstanding performers who work, teach, or study at the Beck Center will provide the entertainment. Lakewood microbrewery Buckeye Beer Engine will be heading over with a special supply of Mayor's Ball brewskis, while an assortment of local chefs and caterers supply the finger foods and cocktails. Also in store: a raffle, an art auction, and a VIP pre-party from 6 to 7 p.m. with a demonstration from Pier W chef Regan Reik. The ball runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $75; VIP tickets are $125. For information or tickets, call Holly Lauch at 216-529-6602 or e-mail holly.lauch@lakewoodoh.net. — Pantsios

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 14

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Bach & Brews at Prosperity

Maybe you've heard that classical music is dying, as its audience shuffles off to that concert hall in the sky. Yet there's a lot more Bach and Beethoven in bars these days, and it's being played primarily by people who are not yet 30. A local group called Classical Revolution Cleveland, made up mainly of recent grads of area conservatories, has been quietly booking gigs in Cleveland watering holes since 2009, and this year has lined up enough concerts to call it a "season." Organized by Shuai Wang, they've been bringing violins, violas, cellos, and flutes to bars throughout town. This week, they're at Prosperity Social Club for the second time in three months. Scheduling at the bars' quiet times makes it easy to hear the music above the din of conversation and the clack of billiards in the back room. The group performs Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Prosperity Social Club (1109 Starkweather, 216-937-1938, prosperitysocialclub.com). Free admission, but the beer's on you. — Michael Gill

Book SIGNING

Author Ted McClelland visits Visible Voice

In 2005, Chicago writer Ted McClelland published Horseplayers: A Life at the Track, about the rough-and-tumble world of horse racing. His new book, Young Mr. Obama, takes on a grittier world still: Chicago politics. McClelland first interviewed Obama back in 2000, when the young politician made a misguided stab at the congressional seat held by former Black Panther Bobby Rush, thereby antagonizing the city's party establishment. (Rush famously said during that primary, "Barack Obama went to Harvard and became an educated fool.") The book recounts how Obama rebuilt his cred from that initial misstep, polishing his political savvy and eventually winning the highest office in the land. McClelland will be at Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave.) at 4 p.m. to sign his book. It's free. Call 216-961-0084 or go to visiblevoicebooks.com for more information. — Pantsios

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15

CELEBRITY TALK

Michael J. Fox

Visits Akron

Actor Michael J. Fox was only 30 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991. Well-known at that time for his roles in the TV sitcom Family Ties and the Back to the Future movies, he also put in a memorable turn as a rocker in the 1987 film Light of Day, partly filmed in Cleveland. Since then, the progressive neurological disease has taken its toll on the actor, and Fox has focused professionally on voice-over work while devoting much of his time to advocating for Parkinson's patients, primarily through his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. He'll be at E.J. Thomas Hall at the University of Akron (198 Hill St.) at 7:30 p.m. to talk about his ordeal and his work to help ease the path for others. Tickets are $4-$8. Call 330-972-7570 or go to ejthomashall.com for information and tickets. — Pantsios

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Max Brod Trio play Rocky River

Max Brod was not a band leader. He was a Czech writer and composer whose life and work reflected a mix of German, Czech, and Jewish cultures. As a result, he made a decent namesake for two Germans (pianist Kerstin Strassburg and cellist Maximilian von Pfeil) and a Czech (violinist Petr Mateják) who got together as part of an intercultural concert series sponsored by the European Union in 2005. Now, with two CDs behind them, they're making the rounds on their first U.S. tour. This week, they stop in Rocky River, bringing music by Schubert, Debussy, and Shostakovich. It's at 8 p.m. Monday at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church (20401 Hilliard Blvd., 440-937-6167, rrcms.org). Free. — Gill

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16

FOOD & DRINK

Naked Sushi!

Nyotaimori is Japanese for "female body presentation," or in other words "eating sushi off of a naked woman." Why is this relevant? Because tonight the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club is teaming up with Crisp Catering to host an event that is bound to leave an interesting taste in your mouth. The YUM! Naked Sushi event at Mercury Lounge will feature sushi served on naked female and male "platters," along with a slew of other unique concoctions. DJ Kosher Kuts, whose name strikes us as surprisingly apropos to tonight's theme, will be on hand to set the mood and nudge attendees past the initial awkwardness of using a fellow human as a dish. It all takes place at Mercury Lounge (1392 West Sixth St), and there will be an entrance fee of $10 if you're a member of the 20/30 Club, $12 pre-sale, or $15 at the door. The festivities last from 7 to 11 p.m., with the nakedness starting at 9. For more info, call 216-566-8840 or go to http://www.cleveland2030.org/events/41. — Hazen

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16

HOLIDAY FUN

Party Like It's 1895!

Sure, just the mention of a Victorian Christmas raises all sorts of romantic notions of candlelight, feather trees, and beribboned garlands. On the other hand, the truth is far grimmer — and filled with enough tales of diseases, shortened lifespans, and stuffy social mores that you probably wouldn't want to go back there for real. Still, it doesn't hurt to pretend. At the Western Reserve Historical Society (10825 East Blvd.), guests can do just that, channeling some of that musty Christmas magic without the sadness in a program devoted to Victorian holiday celebrations. Medina-based Victorian expert Laura Loew, whose company, Lost in the Past, specializes in talks about the era, will host a program featuring clothing, artifacts, and photos that show how our forebears got down for the holiday. Better still, period-appropriate treats will be served, and guests will get a first look at the holiday decorations throughout the building. The celebration takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $25, which includes parking. For reservations, call 440-442-7340. — Pantsios

COMEDY

Laughing Skulls Fest

at the Improv

It's payback, of sorts, for anyone who's ever been the butt of some a-hole's jokes: The Laughing Skulls Comedy Festival grins its way into the Improv at the Powerhouse tonight. As an audience member, you have the power to vote on your favorite funny guy or gal. That's right: You can either take these novice comedians down a notch or help send them on their way to stardom. Laughing Skulls is a 25-city comedy festival that is now in its second year. This year, ten of the best in the Midwest will test their zest on Clevelanders. Those who impress the audience and judges enough to advance to the next round will be on their way to Atlanta. So it's "be funny or die" in tonight's competition, where the winner will score cash, a contract, and a boost towards his or her dreams. The Laughing Skulls Comedy Festival is at the Cleveland Improv in the Powerhouse, 2000 Sycamore St. The competition starts at 7:30 p.m., with a $10 admission fee. For more information go to www.clevelandimprov.com or call 216-696-4677. — Hazen

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