Get Out! 

Event picks for the week, because you can't stay in the house anymore

Thursday | 06

Funny Stuff

Cortney Gee Drops In at the Improv

The awesomely honest, incredibly candid Cortney Gee returns to his hometown tonight with a performance at the Improv. Count on the Def Comedy Jam star to spout off about everything from politics and parenting to the amorous life of zoo animals. While he has traveled extensively with his routine, he still has a soft spot for his city. "All of my shows in town always include my homage to growing up in Cleveland and my love for the city, no matter the flaws people like to point out." Tonight's show is at 8 p.m.; additional performances continue through Sunday. Tickets are $12 to $17. To order, call 216-696-IMPROV or go to clevelandimprov.com. The Cleveland Improv is at 2000 Sycamore St. in the Powerhouse, on the west bank of the Flats. — Chrissy Niehaus

Classical Music

Dohnányi Does Tchaikovsky

Christoph von Dohnányi's relationship with Cleveland began nearly 30 years ago, when he took the reins of the Cleveland Orchestra. The 1984 move catapulted Dohnányi from a relatively obscure German conductor to director of one of the world's finest orchestras. He maintained that lofty legacy until 2002, when he assumed the title of music director laureate. History aside, here's the point: The legendary Dohnányi returns to Severance Hall tonight to conduct Peter Tchaikovsky's passionate Symphony No. 6 in B minor. Popularly known as the Pathétique, it was the composer's final completed symphony before his 1893 demise. The visiting maestro's engagement lasts through Saturday, with tonight's concert slated for 8 p.m. Also on the bill tonight and Saturday: Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2, with the orchestra's principal horn, Richard King, as soloist. Tickets range from $31 to $126. Severance Hall is at 11001 Euclid Ave. For more information, call 216-231-1111 or visit clevelandorchestra.com. — Bill Delaney

Friday | 07

Family Fun

Toys on Ice at the Q

Heard the buzz? The toys are back in town! Catch up with Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the rest of the gang tonight at 7 p.m. at Quickens Loan Arena, as the Disney on Ice tour glides to a stop in Cleveland. Based on this summer's popular Toy Story 3 — along with memorable scenes from the first two Toy Story flicks — the action begins at Sunnyside Daycare, where the day-to-day happenings are not as "sunny" as you might expect. Adventure, excitement, and some pretty fancy skating ensue. Performances continue through January 17, with tickets priced from $15 to $70. To purchase yours, call 888-894-9424, check out theqarena.com, or visit the box office in person. Quicken Loans Arena is at 1 Center Ct., off Ontario Street. — Lamparyk

World Music

Watoto Children's Choir Plays Lakewood

Founded in 1994, Watoto (Swahili for children) has established itself as a holistic social-service program for Ugandan children affected by HIV, AIDS, and war. Its ministries are far-reaching, but most visible among them are the Children's Choirs: traveling performance troupes that have performed internationally at venues ranging from Buckingham Palace to the Minnesota zoo. Tonight you can catch these globe-trotting ambassadors at the Liberation United Church of Christ in Lakewood, as part of the church's World AIDS Day 2011 events. The choir — 22 children and 10 adults — will perform a lively mix of African rhythms and contemporary gospel music in an effort to raise awareness of war, poverty, and AIDS. Admission is free, though a free-will offering will be accepted. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Liberation United Church of Christ is at 13714 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. For more information, call 216-521-5556 or visit liberationucc.org. — Delaney


Teen Night at Streetsboro's Arena

If it's Friday, it must be Teen Night at Streetsboro's Arena Sports & Entertainment Complex. The 27,000-square-foot party palace in a suburban shopping plaza welcomes the under-age crowd every Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. with a huge dance floor, a DJ, pool tables, arcade games, and a snack bar. There's also free parking, so you don't have to worry about a pocketful of change cramping your style. A $10 cover will get you in the door. You won't be able to sip a drink, but the party promises to be awesome nonetheless. (Teens with musical chops, take note: Arena is looking for high school bands to perform. Those who know their stuff should contact arenaevents@yahoo.com.) Arena is at 1543 Streetsboro Plaza Dr. in Streetsboro. For more information, call 330-626-2300 or visit arenaohio.com. — Rebecca McKinsey

Saturday | 08

Maltz Museum

Jesse Owens and the Nazi Olympics

In 1936, the world's attention was riveted by the Olympic Games being held in Hitler's Germany. Among the most promising American athletes in attendance was track-star Jesse Owens, a graduate of Cleveland's East Tech High School and student at Ohio State University. As an African American in the midst of Berlin, Jesse had a lot more to overcome than just the competition. The current exhibit at the Maltz Museum, The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936, fills in the picture of those difficult and disturbing times. "As a museum of diversity and tolerance, we are always looking for special exhibits that appeal to both the head and the heart," says executive director Judi Feniger. "The Nazi Olympics, with its stories of politics and racism, propaganda and intrigue, physical prowess and mental pressure, offers a compelling experience for visitors of all ages." Co-sponsored by the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the exhibit continues through January 23. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for kids. The museum is at 2929 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood. For more information, visit maltzjewishmuseum.org or call 216-593-0575. — Nathaniel Maund

Gallery Sale

The 50 Dollar Show Returns to the Pop Shop Gallery

Take those snowflake jammies back to Kohl's and get something you really want at tonight's 50 Dollar Show at the Pop Shop Gallery. The one-night sale will spotlight almost 200 pieces of work from nearly 50 artists — all priced at $50. The contemporary art gallery always has a stellar turnout of art-minded individuals for this value-packed event. "This is our best show of the year," says Rich Cihlar, gallery owner. "We have a smorgasbord of media: everything from ceramics and pottery to acrylics, oils, and linoleum prints. The unifying factor is it's all contemporary." Cihlar estimates that 95 percent of the work is wall art, and the remainder is for tabletop display. So take down the Christmas wreaths and start shopping! The free show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Afterward, adults can head next door to Mullen's for a low-key party and drinks. For more information, call 216-227-8440 or visit popshopgallery.com. The Pop Shop is at 17020 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. — Niehaus

On Screen

Out of the Past at Lakewood Library

Part of an ongoing series at the Lakewood Public Library, the film-noir classic Out of the Past screens tonight at 6 p.m. in the library's main auditorium. The 1947 film is directed by Jacques Tourneur and stars Robert Mitchum, Virginia Huston, Kirk Douglas, and Rhonda Fleming. The tagline — "A man trying to run away from his past; a woman trying to escape her future!" — only hints at the complex plot, filled with enough flashbacks, double crosses, and treachery to pave a dark, deserted alley in a seedy part of town. Must be what made critic Roger Ebert call it "one of the greatest of all film noirs." Afterward, a short documentary on the filmmaker will be shown; then, local film buff and educator Terry Meehan will lead a discussion of the film and the genre. It's all free, and registration is not required. You'll find the library at 15425 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood; call 216-226-8275 ext. 127 for more information. Cicora

Sunday | 09

Hail to the King at the State Theatre

Was it a blue Christmas? Don't get stuck in heartbreak hotel: Don your bejeweled jumpsuit, dust off your Elvis wig, and head down to the State Theatre tonight at 7 p.m. to celebrate the King of Rock and Roll's 76th birthday. For two hours, you can croon along to live performances by the nation's top Elvis impersonators as they move through the King's many eras: all the way from the military years to the dazzling Vegas performances. According to Trish McKeon, Playhouse Square's marketing and public relations manager, "If you're an Elvis fan, it's spectacular!" Elvis' original drummer, D.J. Fontana, also will be on hand, sharing personal stories and answering some questions. "It's as authentic as you're going to get in 2011," promises McKeon. Tickets are $10 and $45; to purchase yours, call 216-241-6000 or visit PlayhouseSquare.org. The State Theatre is at 1501 Euclid Ave. — Alyse Lamparyk

Fresh Air

Feed a Chickadee at the Nature Center

Rangers work all year to "teach" the park's wild chickadees to eat from visitors' hands — all so you and the kids can enjoy the whir of wings near your face and the feeling of tiny birdie feet flitting across your palms. Yes, it is time again to hand-feed the chickadees: those inquisitive, bold, and perpetually hungry visitors to most backyard bird feeders. Rangers' efforts aside, the birds often require a little coaxing before landing in your hand. But assuming you stand very, very still, you are just about guaranteed an eventual close encounter. The event is free, with sunflower seeds provided by the rangers. Just remember to bundle up! The hand-feeding continues from 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday and Sunday during January, at the Brecksville Metroparks Nature Center off Chippewa Creek Drive; enter the park from Route 82 in Brecksville. For more information, call 440-526-1012. Cicora

Monday | 10

Family Fun

Polar Bear Days!

Even when it's cold outside, it's fun to watch the animals. To help you remember that, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has brought back Polar Bear Days, with half-price admission every day that the predicted temperature is 32 degrees or colder. Windchill aside, there's plenty to see. For instance, Aurora, the zoo's polar bear, loves the frosty weather. Then again, she comes equipped to handle temperatures as low as minus 50! Aurora's winter-loving companions include the zoo's wolves, reindeer, Amur tigers, Bactrian camels, and a burly grizzly bear. When the chill gets to be too much, hop on the heated shuttle for a trip to the Primate, Cat & Aquatic Building, where you can drop in on the gorillas, snow leopards, and sharks. Plus, there's always the RainForest, with more animals to see and a sultry 80-degree setting. Polar Bear Days admission is $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for children ages 2 to 11, and free for kids under 2. To find out if it's a Polar Bear Day, visit clemetzoo.com between 6 and 10 a.m. or call 216-661-6500. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's all happening at 3900 Wildlife Way in Cleveland. — McKinsey

Cleveland History

Know Your Eliot Ness

If everything you know about lawman Eliot Ness comes from Untouchables reruns, Rebecca McFarland has news for you. Did you know, for instance, that Ness was Cleveland's safety director from 1935 to 1941? That he led the ultimately unsuccessful search for Cleveland's Torso Killer? And that his final resting place is inside Lake View Cemetery? If not, be sure to catch McFarland's talk at 7 tonight at the Independence Library. An internationally recognized authority on Ness — the agent best known for bringing down notorious Chicago mobster Al Capone — the historian swears to tell nothing but the truth about Ness and his time in Cleveland. The event is free, but registration is required at 216-447-0160. The Independence Library is at 6361 Selig Dr. in the Civic Center Complex. For more information and directions, visit cuyahogalibrary.org. Cicora

Tuesday | 11

Spoken Word

Enter the Dark Room at CPT

If you're a writer with work to share (or an actor who wants to read new material), Cleveland Public Theatre invites you to take center stage during tonight's Dark Room. A co-production of CPT and the Cleveland Theatre Collective, the monthly program offers a venue for both emerging and veteran writers to workshop plays, novels, poems, or other works in a tell-it-like-it-is environment. Show up at 7:15 p.m. with up to 10 pages of new material, and listen while local actors bring your words to life. Plus, there's free Magic Hat beer! In return, Cleveland Public Theatre asks for a $5 donation at the door. Aspiring Tom Stoppards and Tony Kushners may send writing samples and questions to Mindy Herman (herman.mindy@gmail.com) or call 216-631-2727 ext. 206. For more information, visit cptonline.org. The Cleveland Public Theatre is at 6415 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland. — McKinsey

Wednesday | 12

Funny Stuff

Carl LaBove Hits Hilarities

"How do you find something funny in a funeral?" asks comedian Carl LaBove. He claims to have done it, and will share his discoveries about the comical side of death at 8 p.m. tonight at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre. He'll also touch on relationships and other funny stuff based on life experiences. That is, that's what he thinks he'll cover. He admits that many times he scripts his stuff and then, when he's "in the moment," goes in another direction entirely. The upside is that LaBove says he digs his shows as much as the audience, and that he's laughing harder now than ever before in his 20-year career. In that time, LaBove has learned forgiveness, and with that has come the ability to really let loose. "Whenever you don't care, that's when things happen." You can see what happens at performances through the 16th. Tix for tonight's appearance are $15 and can be purchased at pickwickandfrolic.com or by calling 216-736-4242. Hilarities is at 2035 East Fourth St. Lamparyk

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