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Thursday | 14

At the Improv

Pablo Francisco Makes an Impression

Celebrity impressionist Pablo Francisco lands at the Improv this weekend with an arsenal of characters ranging from the Governator to Keanu Reeves. The comedian launched his career in Arizona in the early '90s, but you might recognize him from appearances on The Tonight Show, Mind of Mencia, or several Comedy Central specials. On his international stand-up tours, he's earned a reputation for being animated, energetic, and off the wall, crafting performances that resemble improvised jazz riffs more than scripted shows. Maybe that's why he sold more than 26,000 tickets on a recent 16-city tour of Sweden. You can judge for yourself tonight through Sunday when Francisco takes over the Improv, 1148 Main Ave. in the Sugar Warehouse Entertainment Complex in the Flats. Tonight's show is at 8 p.m.; tickets are $20 at clevelandimprov.com. Call 216-696-IMPROV (4677) for more information. — Chrissy Niehaus

Family Fun

Sesame Street Live!

Elmo, Ernie, Big Bird, and the fully costumed gang (you were expecting nudity?) from Sesame Street fly into Playhouse Square this weekend for eight performances of 1-2-3 Imagine!: a typically sweet journey to far-away places fueled by song, dance, and the power of imagination. The 90-minute show is aimed at small fry ages 1 to 6, but 'rents in attendance will likely appreciate the Broadway-quality stage craft, polished production values, and cleverly written script — not to mention the chance to renew acquaintanceships with their own childhood friends from "the Street." Today's performance is at 7 p.m., and shows continue through Sunday; tickets start at $10 and top out at $55 — which snags you a special Sunny Seat package with front-row seating and a celebrity puppet meet-and-greet. Purchase them by phone at 216-241-6000 or online at playhousesquare.org. The State Theatre is at 1519 Euclid Ave. in Playhouse Square. — Niehaus

New Music

Ethel Returns to Akron

It isn't easy being Ethel. Since its 1998 inception, the peripatetic, post-classical string quartet from New York City has been tackling projects that range from collaborations with Todd Rundgren to teaching string-quartet composition to native American kids. When they aren't roaming the reservation seeking indigenous music makers, they're touring the world with their unique repertoire of adventurous modern music. Yet somehow, Ethel's four Juilliard-trained members have found time to return to the Akron Art Museum, where you can catch them tonight at 6:30. They'll be bringing with them Robert Mirabal, a Grammy-winning native American flutist, for a program that blends ancient musical traditions with the quartet's post-modern sensibilities. Joining the strings, flutes, and native drums in the intimate confines of the museum's Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium will be the ethereal voices of the Kenmore High School choir. General admission is $30 and includes a post-concert reception with the musicians. Snag your tix at akronartmuseum.org or by calling 330-376-9186. The museum is at One South High St. in Akron. — Cicora

Smart Talk

The Art of Architecture

Hear a panel of experts discuss the art of architecture tonight at 6 p.m. at the Cleveland Artists' Foundation inside Lakewood's Beck Center. Panelists include PD critic Steven Litt, Cleveland Public Art executive director Greg Peckham, and Douglas Steidl, dean of the College of Architecture at Kent State University. Their talk coincides with the exhibition Don Hisaka: The Cleveland Years, which explores the works of one of the Midwest's leading practitioners of mid-century Modernism. A California native, Hisaka came to Cleveland in 1960 and quickly established his own firm; among his buildings are local landmarks like the Thwing Student Center at Case Western Reserve, Cleveland's Giddings Elementary School, and Pepper Pike's B'nai Jeshurun Temple. The accompanying exhibition features Hisaka's austere structures of whitewashed wood and steel, cataloged on wall-sized photographs and accompanied by written commentary, blueprints, and occasional digital video models; they remain on view through May 21. The CAF gallery and tonight's free talk are at 17801 Detroit Ave. inside the Beck Center. For more information, call 216-227-9507 or go to clevelandartists.org. — Joseph Clark

Friday | 15

Spaced-Out Celebration:

Cosmic Cocktail Party!

This week marks the 50th anniversary of U.S.S.R. cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's inaugural space flight and the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first space shuttle. Since 2004, an international community of scientists, researchers, and self-styled geeks has been celebrating these dual milestones with Yuri's Night, a festive commemoration of where we've been and where we yet may go. Tonight at the Museum of Natural History, Cleveland joins the Yuri's Night federation. Organized by NASA Glenn's Developing Professionals Club and the museum's Nature League, the cosmic cocktail party launches at 8 p.m. with hors d'oeuvres, dancing, DJs, a cash bar, space-related exhibits, planetarium showings, and ongoing screenings of the NASA documentary Ascent — Commemorating Shuttle. Attendees — who are urged to dress in their sci-fi finest; we told you geekiness was involved — will go home with space-related souvenirs and their own copy of Ascent. In addition to the $10 admission, organizer Mac Zborowski suggests bringing a light saber and a sense of humor: "I called [Darth] Vader's agent, and we're on his schedule," he says via e-mail, "although with the Empire in such rough shape these days, you never know." For more info, check out the Facebook page Yuri's Night World Space Party @ Cleveland. The Museum of Natural History is at 1 Wade Oval Dr. in University Circle; see cmnh.org for directions and more. — Elaine T. Cicora

FusionFest

Painting Pollock

Art, jazz, and the troubled mind of a creative genius come together in Pollock, part of FusionFest at the Cleveland Play House. Created by Big Apple director Moni Yakim and playwright David D'Agostino, the one-man play debuted in Albuquerque in 2010 and leads the audience on a suitably nonlinear journey through the heart and mind of Jackson Pollock, the mid-century painter who became the leading practitioner of Abstract Expressionism. L.A. actor Joe Peracchio will be reprising his critically acclaimed performance in the title role. "I came to it not really knowing much about Pollock except for his drunken outbursts," he says. "The wonderful thing is that this play doesn't attempt to define him. Instead, it beautifully and poetically explores how the cards might have been shuffled to make such a man." Aiding the exploration is a score by jazz legend Ornette Coleman, who was a personal friend of Pollock's. By matching Coleman's compositions to select scenes, the team has created what Peracchio calls a living work of "theatrical jazz." Catch it tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at 8500 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $25; get them online at playhousesquare.com or by phone at 216-795-7000. — Cicora

Saturday | 16

Civil War Remembrances

Tour the Soldiers & Sailors Monument

Join members of the Shaker Historical Society this morning for a private tour of the circa-1894 Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Public Square. The behind-the-scenes journey provides a tip-to-toe peek at the recently renovated landmark, including the interior Memorial Room, the bigger-than-life bronze sculptures on the outdoor esplanade, and the 125-foot column topped by a statue of the Goddess of Freedom. Tim Daly, executive director of the monument commission, will do the explaining. The structure, incidentally, was designed by architect and sculptor Levi T. Scofield, and commemorates Cuyahoga County's Civil War veterans. The tour is free, but participants are asked to reserve in advance at 216-921-1201 or by e-mailing shakerhistory@shakerhistory.org. The tour steps off promptly at 11 a.m. from the base of the monument on the southeast quadrant of Public Square. — Cicora

Good Sports

Learn to Row at Rivergate Park

If you've ever been entranced by the sight of rowing teams gliding down the river, dream no more: You too can learn to tackle the mighty Cuyahoga with nothing more than your muscles, oars, and seven sturdy teammates. The Western Reserve Rowing Association is offering five intensive one-day training sessions this spring for novice rowers. Today's lesson runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., costs $30, and is a mandatory first step for joining the summer and fall rowing leagues. The day's focus is getting you out on the water. "People's eyes just light up!" raves organizer Jim Ridge. "Just to see them push away from the dock — it's like they just got baptized." As for the risk of an actual baptism — or, for that matter, of a close encounter with the occasional ginormous ore boat — Ridge says don't worry: "Our experienced instructors are highly sensitive to safety. Believe me, it's our top priority." Additional training sessions are slated for April 17, 23, 30, and May 1. To register or to learn more, go to westernreserverowing.com or call Mark Silverstein at 440-463-4487. The boathouse is at 1785 Merwin Ave. — Cicora

True Crime

Cleveland's Creepiest Author Delivers Again

John Stark Bellamy will pay a visit to the Coventry branch of the Cleveland Heights/University Heights Library today at 3 p.m., bringing true tales of crime, scandal, mystery, and the macabre — and all of it drawn from the region's past. The creator of such memorably named tomes as They Died Crawling, The Maniac in the Bushes, and The Corpse in the Cellar, Bellamy has been mining the vein of local murders, misdeeds, and misanthropy for 16 years in a series of six books and two anthologies published by Gray & Company. A former history specialist for the Cuyahoga County Library system, the master of disaster will be telling tales today from his newest text, The Last Days of Cleveland. Among other stories, expect to hear about the Rowenites, a cultish crew whose members spent the night of February 6, 1925, on their Garfield Heights rooftops, waiting for the apocalypse. And you thought your neighbors were weird. Bellamy's talk is free and open to the public; register at heightslibrary.org. The library is at 1925 Coventry Rd. in Cleveland Heights; call 216-321-3400 or visit heightslibrary.org to learn more. — Cicora

Sunday | 17

EarthFest 2011

Party for the Planet at the Metroparks Zoo

Charge up the Prius or pump up the bike tires and head out today for the 22nd annual EarthFest at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Sponsored by the Earth Day Coalition, the all-day celebration is the longest-running annual Earth Day festival in the nation and Ohio's largest environmental education event. This year's edition features more than 175 green exhibits focused on eco-friendly home improvements, local and organic food, clean transportation, renewable energy, and more. You'll find main-stage bands, roving musicians, art displays, and fitness activities too. If you want to get the party started early — and snag free admission in the process — take part in the six-mile, 9 a.m. Walk for the Earth in the nearby Brookside Park Reservation; register at earthdaycoalition.org or by calling 216-281-6468. It all goes down from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3900 Wildlife Way. Regular adult admission is $11, less for children and members. For more information, call 216-661-6500 or visit clemetzoo.comTerry Jozwiak

Family Fun

It's Peter v. Wolf at Severance Hall

The tradition of introducing munchkins to classical music via Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf continues today at Severance Hall, as the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of assistant conductor Sasha Mäkilä, reminds us again that Peter is the strings, Grandpa is the bassoon, and the mean ol' wolf is represented by the entire brass section. Then again, this is the Internet Age. So to ensure that the concert remains more than just another midday nap time, the Magic Circle Mime Company will be on hand to translate the tunes into action. Aimed at kids ages 7 and up, the one-hour concert begins at 2 p.m. Get there at 1, though, and your mini-me can make a wolf mask, hear a percussionist translate the characters into the language of drums, and try out various musical instruments with the help of students from Baldwin-Wallace College. Ticket prices are $15 and $22 at 216-231-1111 or online at clevelandorchestra.com. Severance Hall is at 11001 Euclid Ave. in University Circle. — Cicora

Naughty Nature

Dance of the Timberdoodle

Behold the timberdoodle — a.k.a. the American woodcock — as the male of the species performs one of birdland's most unlikely mating dances tonight in the light of the moon. Apparently, the busybodies at Middlefield's Swine Creek Reservation have scoped out the little dude's love nest and will lead a walk to his dancing grounds for some hubba-hubba action. No, the timberdoodle doesn't rip off his shirt, shake back his hair, and fling his lady love across the mattress. In fact, the bird's mating ritual is entirely G-rated, as he repeatedly lifts off, attains modest altitude, then flutters to the ground like a tumbling leaf — all in the hopes of shaking a tail feather with a female of the species. Interested parties are advised to dress for the weather and show up by 7:30 p.m. at the park's Lake Side Shelter, 16004 Hayes Rd. Like love, it's free and occurs without reservations. For details, call 440-286-9516 or check out geaugaparkdistrict.org. — Cicora

Monday | 18

Book Sale

Spring Cleaning at the Library

Whether you think of them as portals to another world, quaint artifacts of a vanishing culture, or something to help prop open the back door, books are good to have around. Should there still be space on your bookshelf for a tome or two, head over to the Cleveland Public Library today from noon to 6 p.m. for the annual spring sale of used books and CDs. All categories are represented — fiction, non-fiction, kids' lit, cookbooks, sci-fi, and books with pretty pictures — and the prices are a steal. The sale continues tomorrow and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and concludes on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when an entire bag of books will be going for just $5. The library is at 325 Superior Ave.; check out cpl.org or call 216-623-2800 for more information. — Cicora

Ghost Tour

Eerie Happenings in Fairport Harbor

Every month beneath the light of the full moon, a group gathers in Fairport Harbor with the mission of finding stray spirits. You can join them tonight on the Meet the Spirits Ghost Tour, organizer Elaine Fairchild's journey through the area's most notoriously haunted homes and graveyards. Be sure to bring your camera. "Some people receive some great pictures while on tour," says Fairchild. "And several have had personal experiences." No, we aren't talking about a full blown body-snatching. But many guests have reported the touch of an invisible hand or the presence of unseen companions. Tonight's 90-minute tour begins at the lighthouse on the corner of Second and High Streets at 8 p.m. sharp. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and leave the little ones at home: This ghost tour is for ages 21 and up. Tour price is $12 per person; go to meetthespirits.com to register. — Niehaus

Tuesday | 19

Nature & Nurture

Rain Barrel Workshop in Broadview Heights

Take it from us: When water rates double and global warming gets serious, you are going to wish you had a rain barrel. Why wait? You can learn how to harvest rainwater for all your lawn, garden, and car-washing needs tonight in Broadview Heights, as reps from the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District lead you through a barrel-making workshop. A $60 fee snags you a 55-gallon drum, a downspout diverter, and complete instructions and use of tools; 90 minutes later, you go home with a completed rain barrel and the sure knowledge that you are now positioned to divert storm-water runoff, nurture your landscape, and stick it to the Water Department in one fell swoop. It happens at 6:30 p.m. at the Broadview Center, 9543 Broadview Rd. To register (which is required), call Jared Bartley at 216-524-6580 ext. 14 or send an e-mail to jbartley@cuyahogaswcd.org. — Cicora

Wednesday | 20

On Screen

Vanishing Bees at Chagrin Cinemas

In case you haven't gotten the memos, honey bees are going belly up around the world. Why should you care? Only because these busy little guys perform an essential function in pollinating our food crops: No more bees in the fields equals no more apples, cherries, or zucchini on your table. Like all the best natural disasters, there are plenty of theories about the cause but few definitive answers. Also, there is a movie, narrated by Juno's Ellen Page ("Gee, she's getting so big!") and showing tonight at 7 p.m. at the Chagrin Cinemas. Presented by Cleveland Cinemas and Whole Foods Market, the flick kicks off the Do Something Reel film festival, which features six provocative films that focus on food systems, environmental challenges, and how we have likely screwed up the world. Chagrin Cinemas is at 8200 East Washington St. in Chagrin Falls. Tickets are $6 and can be snagged at the door or online at clevelandcinemas.com. For a full lineup of festival flicks, go to dosomethingreel.com. — Cicora

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