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Event picks for this busy, busy week

Thursday | 07

A Retooled Classic Returns:

Les Miserables Storms the Palace

Producer Cameron Mackintosh's ginormous 25th anniversary rendition of Les Miserables returns to the Palace Theatre, with 15 performances scheduled between now and April 17. Featuring new staging, new orchestrations, and reimagined scenery — including projection designs based on the paintings of Victor Hugo, who authored the original 1862 novel — the tour has been winning raves across the country. One of the pats is for the storytelling, which has been called "clearer ... and ... more honest" than the original. This is good news for any of us who sat through earlier versions of Jean Valjean's 17-year struggle for redemption: The production values made for stirring theater, but the plot was as inscrutable as a map of the Parisian sewer system. Still, such things have never dampened fans' enthusiasm: Les Miz remains the third-longest-running Broadway production of all time, and has been seen by nearly 60 million people worldwide. You can be one of them. Tonight's show is at 7:30. Get your tix ($10 to $100) online at playhousesquare.org or by calling 216-241-6000. The Palace is at 1615 Euclid Ave. in Playhouse Square. — Elaine T. Cicora

Fit for Foodies

Wine Dinner at Moxie

You don't need Napa to experience Wine Country: Just head to Moxie for tonight's five-course dinner featuring selections from Darioush winery. A Napa Valley fave, Darioush Khaledi's winery is noted for its Bordeaux-style estate wines, along with its Old World vineyard management and its jaw-dropping Persian architecture. Moxie, on the other hand, is noted for its stylish vibe, polished service, and the jaw-dropping cuisine created by top toque Jonathan Bennett. Get those elements together in one room, and corks are bound to pop. On the menu, you'll find dishes like seared tuna paired with Darioush Signature Chardonnay, Maryland jumbo lump crab served with Signature Viognier, and prime beef deckle paired with Signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Compared with airfare to Napa, it's a bargain at $99 per person. Dinner is served at 7 p.m.; call 216-831-5599 for reservations. Moxie is at 3355 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood; learn more at moxietherestaurant.com. — Cicora

Funny Stuff

DeRay Davis Does the Improv

You might know DeRay Davis from his role as Ray-Ray the Hustle Guy in the flick Barbershop. Or maybe it was his stint in HBO's Entourage. Or maybe it's his comedy-club tours, which have taken him from L.A. to Montreal and back again. In any case, the born hustler from Chicago's South Side uses his life as inspiration for much of his humor. In his stand-up shows, that means mostly finding the funny in growing up poor. At the same time, it doesn't hurt that DeRay is easy on the eyes: It just adds a little oomph to his stories about trouble with the ladies. Catch him tonight through Sunday at the Improv. Tickets are $20. Snag them by phone at 216-696-IMPROV 4677 or get them online at clevelandimprov.com. The Improv is on the West Banks of the Flats, in new digs at 1148 Main St. in the Sugar Warehouse Entertainment Complex. — Chrissy Niehaus

Friday | 08

Green Gala

Philippe Cousteau Sails Into Town

The Tremont-based environmental group EcoWatch hosts its third-annual Green Gala fundraiser tonight in Mayfield Heights. Headlining the party will be Philippe Cousteau, hunky grandson of Jacques Cousteau and a similarly passionate advocate for protecting the world's water. Cousteau, who is coming straight to Cleveland from a research station in the Arctic, is in good company: Previous Green Gala keynoters have included Ed Begley Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. One-hundred bucks gets you in the door, where you can enjoy hors d'oeuvres, dinner, drinks, live jazz, and Cousteau's presentation. Who knows? Maybe it will get your grandkids a cleaner ocean too. Snag your tickets online at ecowatch.org or by calling 216-387-1609. It's happening at 7 p.m. at Executive Caterers, 6111 Landerhaven Dr. in Mayfield Heights. — Cicora

At the Art Museum

Fun with Fetishes: The Pillow Book

We aren't entirely sure what this 1996 British flick is really about, but what we've seen so far looks pretty hot. Phrases like "Japanese fashion model," "fetish for calligraphy," and "sexual odyssey" keep cropping up in the online synopses; and the DVD cover art features a dreamy-looking Ewan McGregor snuggling in a bathtub with actress Vivian Wu, who plays the aforementioned model Nagiko. The film's title apparently refers to a famous 10th-century Japanese diary; we gather that the diary — and some creepiness with her father — figure prominently in Nagiko's obsessions. Wikipedia calls the film "an artistic melding of dark modern drama with idealized Chinese and Japanese cultural themes," and its screening at the Museum of Art coincides with the new exhibition of Japanese and Korean pieces, The Lure of Painted Poetry. But if you want to know more than that, you'll just have to go see the film, which is showing tonight at 6:45 p.m. in the Morley Lecture Hall. Tickets are $9, less for students, seniors, and members. For more info, check out clevelandart.org or call 216-707-2465. The museum is at 11150 East Blvd. in University Circle. And oh yeah: No one under 17 will be admitted. — Cicora

Big Ideas

Zen and the Art of Cooking

Not to get all Zen on you, but Edward Espe Brown will be in town this weekend, sharing his take on the connection between cooking and spirituality. A chef and Zen priest, Brown is the author of the 1970 vegetarian mainstay The Tassajara Bread Book, an international best-seller that has been in continuous publication for 31 years. He later went on to help found Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, an eatery that has been credited with bringing meat-free cooking out of the culinary closet and into the ranks of true cuisine. This evening Brown will be sharing his thoughts on the mind-body-kitchen connection at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in a public lecture titled How to Cook Your Life. The talk runs from 7 to 9 p.m. and includes a book-signing and light refreshments; admission at the door is $20. (Brown's Saturday cooking workshop is sold out, by the way, but some seats remain for Sunday's meditation workshop at the Cleveland Buddhist Temple; see facebook.com/dharmaheart for more information.) Tonight's talk is at 20401 Hilliard Blvd. in Rocky River; call 216-521-4239 for details. — Cicora

Saturday | 09

Foodie Fun

The Farmers Return to Shaker Square

There's no shortage of reasons to celebrate spring. But one of the best happens today on Shaker Square, with the annual re-boot of the North Union Farmers Market. Now in its 17th year, the weekly market brings together scores of farmers and artisanal producers for what has become one of the region's best resources for fresh, seasonal, locally grown foods. Today's festivities begin at 8 a.m. with the annual blessing; that's followed by sheep shearing, a spinning demonstration, a visit from live alpacas, and music by the Burning River Jazz Quartet. Also on hand will be chef Matthew Anderson of Chagrin Falls' Umami Asian Kitchen, who will be cooking up inspiration in the guise of yummy breakfast samples. The market operates outdoors from 8 to noon each Saturday, rain or shine, through December 17. For more info, including opening dates for other NUFM markets, check out northunionfarmersmarket.org. — Cicora

Mixed Martial Arts

Ultimate Cage Battle Goes Down in Parma

Burly dudes descend on Parma tonight as an evening of mixed martial arts slams down at the Ohio Nets Sports Complex. Headlining tonight's Ultimate Cage Battles: Stars and Stripes are two particularly gnarly characters — Brazilian Muay Thai striker Eduardo Pamplona and up-and-coming H.I.T. Squad product Joe Bunch — meeting in a 178-pound catchweight bout. Mixed martial arts has a rapidly growing fan base in NEO, and nobody knows that better than UCB founder and former mixed-martial-arts world champeen Dan "The Bull" Bobish. "We promised that we were going to bring the best fighters in the world to Northeast Ohio," he says. "Having a talent like Pamplona in the Midwest, I don't think anybody can match what we are doing." Doors open at 5 p.m. at 12665 Corporate Dr. in Parma; general admission starts at $23. Snag your tix, get more information, and hum along to the UCB theme song at ultimatecagebattles.com. — Cicora

Art Up Close

Spaces Holds Monster Drawing Rally

Ever see an artist at work? How about 100 of them? Tonight, the crew at Spaces seek to demystify the creative process by having scores of artists drawing pictures in hour-long shifts in public view, so spectators can watch art's evolution from first stroke to final flourish. If you fall in love with one of the pieces, lucky you: As the drawings are completed, they'll be put up for sale at $65 each. (The proceeds go to support Spaces exhibitions and residency programs.) A Li'l Monster Drawing Rally will also be set up where families can make their own creations. Admission to the Monster Drawing Rally is $5 for the general public and free for members. The art happens from 7 to 11 p.m. at 2220 Superior Viaduct. For more information, call 216-621-2314 or go to spacesgallery.org. — Joseph Clark

ExtrABBAganza!

Gay Times at Waetjen Auditorium

Yo, Fernando! Take a chance on the North Coast Men's Chorus concerts this weekend at Cleveland State's Waetjen Auditorium, as the region's favorite singing-and-dancing queens serve up ABBA-inspired evenings of entertainment. Also known as ExtrABBAganza, the concerts are part of the group's 22nd season of bringing musical antics to area venues. In that time, the chorus has grown to more than 100 members drawn from all walks of life, making it the region's largest gay chorus and, under the direction of Richard Cole, a best bet for out-of-the-box entertainment. Tonight's concert is at 8 p.m.; an encore performance happens Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $40 online at ncmchorus.org, or $15 to $45 at the door. For more information, call 216-556-0590. Waetjen Auditorium is at 2001 Euclid Avenue on the Cleveland State University campus. — Cicora

Sunday | 10

A Woman Like That

Documentary Paints an Iconic Life

Making a living as an artist is tough. But as a 17th-century female artist, Artemesia Gentileschi had it tougher than most. Yet she persevered, gained a measure of success, and went on to become a feminist icon in her groundbreaking career choice. Fast-forward to modern N.Y.C., and real-life filmmaker Ellen Weissbrod is having artistic crises of her own, which resolve only when she decides to pursue her dream of making a documentary on Artemesia's life. The resulting film, A Woman Like That, intercuts Weissbrod's consciousness-raising with intriguing tidbits about Artemesia and her work — reminding us that, regardless of time frame, artistic expression never comes cheap. The Cleveland Museum of Art is screening the flick today at 1:30 p.m. in the Gardner Auditorium. Jon Seydl, CMA's curator of European painting and sculpture, will be on hand to introduce Weissbrod and producer Melissa Powell. Afterward, the three will discuss the film and Artemesia's art. Admission is $10, with discounts for members, students, and seniors; get tickets at the door or online at clevelandart.org. The museum is at 11150 East Blvd.; call 216-421-7350 for more info. — Cicora

Oldies but Goodies

Back to the Sixties at Kent Stage

You can catch up with some of the best voices of yesteryear tonight at the Kent Stage, as Cleveland singer Sonny Geraci leads the charge Back to the Sixties. As frontman for the Outsiders, Geraci helped the band secure four Top 40 hits, including "Time Won't Let Me," a rockin' little anthem that sold more than a million copies. He repeated the magic with "Precious and Few," which he recorded with his second band, Climax. Opening for Geraci at tonight's show will be Dennis Tufano, formerly of the Buckinghams ("Kind of a Drag," "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song"), and the Vogues, a Pennsylvania group known for their rich harmonies and the hit song "You're the One." Tonight's two shows are at 5 and 7:30 p.m., and are fundraisers for Streetsboro Family Days. Tickets are $25, available online at kentstage.org or at the door. The Kent Stage is at 175 East Main St.; call 330-677-5005 for more information. — Cicora

Monday | 11

Theater Ninjas

The Excavation Digs Into the Past

"The best way to describe the show is as a play inside a fun house," says Theater Ninjas founder Jeremy Paul of The Excavation, the troupe's interactive romp now roaming the galleries of the 78th Street Studios. Blending live action, music, and visual art, the 80-minute experience aims at examining the way people reveal themselves in the process of digging into the past, here represented by that mother of all digs, Pompeii. Just don't go with the idea of occupying a seat: Attendees get up, move around, and "choose their own adventure," Paul says, for an experience that takes advantage of the natural restlessness of your average audience. Paul, incidentally, founded the troupe with the goal of performing original works for new and young audiences, and nurturing local talent; they've been doing just that for five years now. Excavation tickets are $15 to $18 at theaterninjas.com or by phone at 216-245-3514. Performances continue through April 23 at 1300 West 78th St. — Niehaus

Tuesday | 12

Speed Dating

Bring a Book to Light Bistro

It's a Tuesday night, and at this point you feel the dating scene has become something of a nuisance. Instead, you curl up with a great novel and a brewski or a glass of Chard. Yes, you are officially pathetic. But you don't have to stay that way. Put down the booze, grab your book, and get yourself to Light Bistro tonight for some scholarly speed dating. Aimed at singles 25 to 49, each date lasts about four minutes — or long enough to compare books and decide if your tastes are compatible. For $35, you get admission, a complimentary drink, and an excuse to get out of the house. At best, you'll connect with a charming bookworm; at worst, you'll go home with a new favorite book. Speed Dating begins at 7:30 p.m.; register online at kickstartlove.com. Light Bistro is at 2801 Bridge Ave. in Ohio City. — Niehaus

Wednesday | 13

Apollo's Fire

Bach, Telemann & the Bohemian Gypsies

From Bach to Gogol Bordello, there's something about gypsy music that lights up the soul. Apollo's Fire adds fuel to the gypsy conflagration this weekend in a series of five concerts, beginning with tonight's 7:30 performance in Chagrin Falls. Led by guest director, flutist, and student of early music Matthias Maute, the concerts juxtapose reconstructed gypsy pieces from the first half of the 18th century with the Bach and Telemann concertos that Maute believes they influenced. Passionate, exuberant, and intimate, the concerts feature Jeanette Sorrell as harpsichord soloist with Maute and Kathie Steward as flute and flauto traverso soloists. Tonight's concert is at the Federated Church, 76 Bell St. in Chagrin Falls; additional performances will be held in Akron, Cleveland Heights, and Rocky River. Ticket prices are $21 to $65; snag them by phone at 800-314-2535 or online at apollosfire.org., where you'll also find schedule and venue details. — Cicora

Free Medieval Music

Quire Cleveland at Cathedral of St. John

Founded in 2008, Quire Cleveland is a mighty group of singers that performs a cappella masterpieces from the late Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. (Don't be put off by the weird spelling: It's from ye olden days, along with their repertoire.) These aren't community-chorus dabblers: The members are musical professionals, including soloists and choral members from many of the city's major churches. Tonight, you can hear them — free! — at one of the city's most beautiful spaces: The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist at 1007 Superior Avenue. The 7:30 program, Lobet den Herrn, features German chorale music ranging from sacred songs and Renaissance polyphony to baroque works by Pachelbel and Bach; Scott Metcalf, musical director for Boston's ancient-music ensemble Blue Heron, is guest conductor. No tickets are required, no reservations are necessary, and parking is free in the Cathedral's garage at the southeast corner of Rockwell Avenue and East Ninth. For more information, visit quirecleveland.org or call 216-771-6666. — Terry Jozwiak

Spoken Word

Wanted: Poetry Haters

Prolific Cleveland poet Vladimir Swirynsky launches his book-signing tour at 7 p.m. tonight at Mac's Backs, where he will be reading from his newest book, Du Beau Hostel: Arizona and Other Poems. The self-described "last of the romantic poets" says he was normal until he turned 45 and was swept away by the music, sights, and energy of Mardi Gras. In the 18 years since, he's published 13 books of poetry, snagged numerous awards, and competed in local, regional, and national poetry slams. At this point, Swirynsky says his favorite audiences are people who hate poetry. "If you think you'll have a terrible time, please come. I deliver. I'm not a phony, and I won't leave a bad taste in your mouth." Tonight you'll find Swirynsky at 1820 Coventry Rd. in Cleveland Heights, where he'll be joined by fellow poet Brian Taylor and an open-mic session focused on the works of Daniel Thompson; for more info, call 216-321-BOOK or visit macsbacks.com. Should you then find you've developed a taste for Swirynsky, you can snag a second helping at the Lakewood Public Library on April 23, when he promises to demonstrate "once and for all" the meaning of metaphor. For more info on that event, check out the calender at lakewoodpubliclibrary.com. — Cicora

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