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Event picks for the week include something for everyone... literally, no lie



Give Thanks for Seitan

Melody Caraballo, a former music journalist turned vegan chef and holistic health counselor, is the meat-free force behind Foodgazi, a vegan catering company that specializes in culinary instruction. Together with best friend and business partner Kim Esper, Caraballo launched the biz last year after ruling out the notion of simply opening a vegan café. "We don't just want to feed people," she says. "We want to teach them how to do it really well themselves!" To that end, Caraballo will be hosting a "traditional with a twist" Thanksgiving feast tonight, including a three-course dinner and detailed cooking demonstration. On the menu: made-from-scratch tofurkey, vegan sides, and fresh-from-the-oven apple pie, utilizing mostly local, organic products. The dinner/cooking class runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 2592 West 14th St. in Tremont. Tix are $65, and advance registration is required; learn more at foodgazi.com or by calling 216-539-4645. — Cicora



Billy Elliot at Playhouse Square

The 2000 film< Billy Elliot got good reviews and three Oscar nominations for its deft handling of the standard Rocky/Flashdance underdog-makes-good plot. In it, 11-year-old Billy, son of a widowed coal miner in northern England, finds boxing less to his liking than dancing and aspires to be a ballet dancer. Of course, he encounters family resistance, but in the end ... well, you know. The plot made it a natural for stage treatment, so now we have Billy Elliot the Musical, with music by Elton John. The piece has been running in London since 2005. And while it's only in its third year on Broadway, a touring company has already hit the road, making its Cleveland stop at PlayhouseSquare's State Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave.) at 8 tonight and continuing through December 12. It may not be the Nutcracker, but the warm and fuzzy ending will put you in a holiday mood. Tickets are $10 to $130. Call 216-241-6000 or go to playhousesquare.org. — Anastasia Pantsios

Cleveland Comedy Festival

Regional Jokesters Run Amok

One of Cleveland's cultural gems is its comedy scene, with many of its members going on to make names for themselves on the national stage. Now in its third year, the Cleveland Comedy Festival aims to spotlight some of those performers in a six-day series of events at venues throughout the city. The festival kicks off tonight with 12 regional comedians competing in two Funny on Demand contests at 8 and 10:15 p.m. at the Hermit Club (1629 Dodge Ct.), hosted by Clevelander Al Jackson of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Another 12 will compete tomorrow night, at 8 and 10:15 p.m., hosted by Comedy Central's Brad Trackman. This year, the festival is also spotlighting women comics, who traditionally have had a hard time gaining admission to the boys' club. So tomorrow at 8 p.m. at the Powerhouse Pub (2000 Sycamore St.), Second City vet and Chicago's Annoyance Theatre mainstay Susan Messing will perform with Cleveland natives Colleen Doyle and Dana Quercioli. The festival continues through November 24 with panels, workshops, and shows. "We want to make this festival a destination for people to come to from out of town," says organizer Joe Hannum. Go to clecomedyfestival.com for full schedule and ticket information. — Pantsios

Big Ideas

Pecha Kucha Night at Old Arcade

Like ideas on steroids, pecha kucha — Japanese for "chitchat" — is an inventive approach to public presentation. The format, devised in Tokyo in 2003, challenges presenters to communicate their topics by means of 20 images thrown up on a screen for 20 seconds each, resulting in concise, 400-second communiques that can range from exhilarating to exhausting. Tonight, you can listen up as more than a dozen local creative types take the stage with high-speed presentations on everything from fashion to food and furniture. It's happening at the Old Arcade (401 Euclid Ave.) beginning at 8:20 p.m. It's free, but space is limited, so plan to arrive early. For more info, go to pecha-kucha.org/night/cleveland/10. — Cicora

Seasonal Shopping

Make Like Santa at Galleries Near You

It's that time of year when local art galleries throw open their doors to seasonal shoppers, hosting artsy-craftsy gift shows intended to help whittle down your shopping list. Among this weekend's possibilities, explore the Meet Your Makers indie craft show at Wall Eye Gallery in the Gordon Square Arts District (5304 Detroit Ave., 216-640-7769). Artists and designers from throughout the region will be selling giftables ranging from handmade resin knitting needles to dichroic glass jewelry; the free show runs today from 6 to 11 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Meantime, on the other side of town, MOCA hosts its annual Artscape, featuring works by more than 45 local and national artists who will be on hand with fine art, jewelry, and other cool stuff. Tonight's preview reception and sale runs from 4:30 to 9 p.m.; it's free to MOCA members and $5 for the public. Saturday's show hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free to all. MOCA is at 8501 Carnegie Ave.; call 216-421-8671. — Cicora


Burning River Roller Girls

Roller Derby!

Athletic, provocative, and undeniably campy, roller derby has enjoyed a fast-paced revival across the country in the past decade. Tonight, Cleveland's own roller girls glide into the Wolstein Center with a bill that promises plenty of thrills, spills, and sinewy quads, as the teams compete for the benefit of the Cleveland Animal Protective League. On the bill: a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage for the junior skaters, a halftime battle of the new recruits in a you've-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it "full-contact musical chairs on skates," and a main event that pits the Black Alley Cats against the Blue Blood Hounds. The Wolstein Center is at 2000 Prospect Ave., and doors open at 5 p.m. Information and tickets ($15 for adults, and $6 for kids under 12) can be found at burningriverrollergirls.com or by calling 877-469-4946. — Elaine T. Cicora

Holiday Fun

WinterShow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

The holiday department-store windows that used to draw Clevelanders downtown are long shuttered. But the Cleveland Botanical Garden restores some of that old-fashioned magic with its annual indoor WinterShow. Lavish decorations include a giant tree and banks of poinsettia and amaryllis, along with a yummy array of gingerbread houses created by amateurs and professionals. There'll be some new things this year too, including a group of oversized animal topiaries and a giant menorah installation by local artist Kevin Maury. And if you think it just isn't a holiday outing without freezing off your tootsies, your admission is also good for the skating rink on nearby Wade Oval. The WinterShow runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through January 2 at 11030 East Blvd. It's free with regular admission: $8.50 adults, $3 kids 3 to 12. Call 216-721-1600 or go to cbgarden.org for more information. — Pantsios

Midnight Movie

Road Warrior Roars into Capitol Theater

There's no Dude, no alien transvestites, and no zombies, but the recently rebooted Capitol Theater in the Gordon Square Arts District now has its very own cult movie in the Road Warrior, showing tonight at midnight. Judged by at least a few movie geeks as the top cult action flick of all time, the 1981 car movie is fuel-injected with chase scenes, psycho gangs, pirates, thieves, and more than a few campy chuckles. Better yet, it introduces a delightfully virile, young Mel Gibson, acting more believably as an apocalyptic hero than he recently has in real life. Tixs are five bucks. The Capitol Theater is at 1390 West 65th St.; for more info, call 440-528-0355 or go to clevelandcinemas.com.— Cicora

Celeb Chef Sightings

Factory Sale at Vitamix

Serious home cooks won't want to miss today's Vitamix factory sale. It promises not only a chance to snag a top-of-the-line blender at a bargain price, but also quality time with a quartet of the city's top chefs as they take these kitchen workhorses through their paces. "Vitamix is the premier blending machine in any kitchen," attests chef Steve Schimoler, who uses his pro model to create everything from soup to sausage at Crop Bistro & Bar. Plus, he says, it's a great tool for home cooks tackling those fancy Food Network recipes. Learn all the tricks of the trade, beginning at 11 a.m. with a demonstration from chef Jonathan Sawyer (Greenhouse Tavern). Chef Christopher Di Lisi (Flour) follows at noon, then it's Schimoler at 1 p.m. and Chinato's Andy Dombrowski at 2 p.m. Sale hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Vitamix factory, 8615 Usher Rd. in Olmsted Township. Parking and admission are free. — Cicora


Local Author

Sarah Willis Visits Mac's Backs

Cleveland Heights is home to a lively and successful tribe of writers, not the least of whom is Sara Willis, author of the well-received novel Some Things That Stay. It's been 10 years now since the publication of 15-year-old Tamara's coming-of-age tale, and in that time the tome was named the 2000 New York Times Notable Book of the Year and made into a movie. But the bigger news is that people are still reading it. Now in its 14th printing, the novel forms the basis for a book party, hosted by members of Cleveland's literary center, The Lit, starting at 4 p.m. today at Mac's Backs Paperbacks on Coventry (1820 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-2665, macsbacks.com). The Lit's Local Perspectives Book Club will discuss the book from 4 to 5 and will be joined by Willis for questions and a reception afterward. — Michael Gill

Fresh Air

Full-Moon Hike at North Chagrin Nature Center

Outdoor types will be hoping for clear skies and mild temperatures in advance of tonight's full-moon hike, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. in the Cleveland Metroparks' North Chagrin Reservation. With any luck, the leafless trees and clear conditions will result in a spectacular moonlit trek through 2.5 miles of hilly, potentially muddy terrain; would-be trail-blazers are cautioned to dress appropriately and keep their senses tuned to detect the presence of nocturnal denizens, including owls, coyotes, and maybe even a Pepe LePew or two. Trekkers should report by 6 p.m. to the Nature Center, which is located on Sunset Lane, off Rt. 91; go to clemetparks.com for maps and directions. Free.— Cicora


Classical Music

Heights Chamber Orchestra at First Unitarian Church

Now in its 28th season, the Heights Chamber Orchestra is composed of nearly four dozen professional and amateur musicians residing in the eastern suburbs. Drawn together by a love of classical music, these volunteers share their passion with audiences during their annual series of free concerts, including tonight's 7:30 chamber music recital at Shaker Heights' First Unitarian Church. Featured among the evening's lineup: two intimate pieces for strings, including Handel's Concerto Grosso in D Minor; and two pieces for double wind quintets, including Jean Francaix's Sept Danses. The church is at 21600 Shaker Blvd.; free-will donations are accepted. — Cicora



Twisted Visions at Anatomica Aesthetica

Art and medical research collide in images taken by contemporary photographers of artifacts from Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum. The place is home to a quirky collection of physical oddities, deformities, and diseases, and its late director, Gretchen Worden, made numerous appearances on David Letterman’s show, building the medical museum into a bona fide tourist attraction that has since become the subject of books and even a song by Seattle’s Murder City Devils. Antatomica Aesthetica, an exhibit now on display at the Cleveland Institute of Art, includes images by Joel-Peter Witkin, whose work is revered and emulated by every art student with a morbid goth bent. You’ll also find drawings, prints, and other images from the H.F. Aitken collection of biomedical art from Case’s Dittrick Medical History Center, in addition to monitors showing works by students in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s biomedical art program. The exhibit is now on display at the institute’s Reinberger Galleries (11141 East Blvd.). The galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 9 p.m. Friday. The show is free and runs through December 18. Call 216-421-7407 or go to cia.edu for more information. — Pantsios


Holiday Fun

Tree Festival Lights

Up the Play House

Taking in a Christmas-lights display in this town typically requires coats, boots, and a heaping helpin' of zero (degree) tolerance. That's one reason to love the annual Festival of Trees, the indoor extravaganza of gussied-up greenery that has graced the Cleveland Play House each November for the past 14 years. Kick off the festivities tonight with the opening Light Up the Night ceremonies, when staffers flip the switch on more than 65 uniquely decorated trees and holiday displays inside the building's promenade, lobby, and rotunda. The free event includes light refreshments, a cash bar, and holiday entertainment, including an appearance from James Leaming, the star of This Wonderful Life, a one-man adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life that runs at the Play House November 26 through December 19. Incidentally, this is the last year the Festival takes place in the landmark Cleveland Play House; the circa-1927 property has been sold to the Cleveland Clinic, and both troupe and trees move downtown to the Allen Theatre for the 2011 season. The Tree Festival continues nightly (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) through December 30. Visit clevelandplayhouse.com for more info. — Cicora


So Long, Space Shuttle

If pre-Thanksgiving stress has you yearning for a personal time-out, a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's planetarium may be just what you need. Beyond the peaceful darkness, turns out they have educational programs there as well, suitable for the whole family. Today, it's a fond farewell to the space shuttle, which is being retired next year after 134 launches. Join planetarium staffers as they highlight the shuttle program's remarkable accomplishments, all beneath the calming canopy of the night sky. Shows are at 2:30 and 8 p.m. It's free for museum members and $4 for the public with general admission. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is at 1 Wade Oval Dr. in University Circle. For more info, go to cmnh.org or call 216-231-4600. — Cicora


Hubble Film Finale at Great Lakes

It's not too late to catch the final showing of Hubble, one of three IMAX films currently playing at the state-of-the-art Omnimax Theater at the Great Lakes Science Center. Filled with multi-story images of the universe and narrated by famous astronomer, er, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the 45-minute flick lets you travel along with the astronauts as they launch and service the most iconic scientific instrument of our time, the Hubble Space Telescope. The final showing is at noon today. Tickets are $9.95 for adults and $7.95 for kids; members pay reduced prices. Snag them at the museum box office (601 Erieside Ave.; 216-694-2000) or online at greatlakesscience.com. — Cicora

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