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Event picks for this sunshiny week in Cleveland

Thursday | 08

Fur a-Flyin'

Elmo on the Square

It's not easy being a singin', dancin' Muppet — especially if you're wearing Ernie's size-15 shoes. Take it from Jerry Du Mars, the Orlando-based director and dance captain for Elmo's Super Heroes, the current offering from Sesame Street Live opening tonight at Playhouse Square. How, exactly, does one snag the role? "Number one, we look for strong, strong dancers. It's a 90-minute show, with as many as three shows each day, all done from inside a custom-tailored costume. Obviously, we need actors who are physically fit." Next on Du Mars' list: an equally strong personality that can capture the iconic characters. "It's vital that what the kids see onstage is the same as what they see on television." And finally, it doesn't hurt to have a yen to serve as a role model. "That's what makes Sesame Street so timeless: It addresses real issues that parents and kids have to deal with, and does it in a way that is reliably entertaining." This time around, Elmo, Grover, and the gang are tackling the topic of healthy living, including nutrition, exercise, and sleep. The State Theatre curtain rises on the touring show tonight at 7 p.m.; all tickets are $14. Performances continue through Sunday, with tickets for those shows ranging from $10 to $21. Get yours at the box office, by phone, or online. — Elaine T. Cicora

1519 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Goes Great With Wine

Corks & Cupcakes at Shaheen Gallery

When you think of classic pairings — champagne and caviar, Chablis and oysters — prosecco and a cupcake seldom springs to mind. "And yet they work so well together," sighs Michael DeAloia, the mastermind behind the culinary-events creator Emerging Chefs. He should know, having spent the past few weeks developing tonight's six-course Corks & Cupcakes menu in concert with baker Lilia Lipps, owner of Indulgence Cakes, and the wine experts of Tuscany Distributors. The lineup is uniquely tempting. Think cannoli cupcakes (ricotta, bittersweet chocolate, and candied orange peel) partnered with a red Italian bubbly, or cheddar cupcakes (with candied pecans and blue-cheese frosting) paired with a luscious Lugana white. For Lipps, a Cleveland native and self-taught baker, tonight's festivities have been a chance to broaden both her fan base and her palate. "I'm not really a drinker, but I have to say: Cannoli cupcakes go awfully well with wine!" We'll drink to that. Discover your own surprise favorite tonight beginning at 6 p.m. at downtown's stunning Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery. Tickets are $40; get them online at the website below. — Cicora

740 West Superior Ave., emergingchefs 2012-1.eventbrite.com.

Friday | 09

Arty Party

Two Writers Read in Tremont

Author Mike DeCapite is a Clevelander now living in New York. Author Karen Lillis is a New Yorker now living in Pittsburgh. And their latest books are meditations on love, time, death, and geography that together straddle Cleveland, Paris, San Francisco, New York, and the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. Somehow, both writers have ended up in Tremont tonight, where they will be reading from their newest tomes. "Mike and I wanted to read together because we admire each other's work," says Lillis, who will be sharing pages from her novella Watch the Doors as They Close. That, plus DeCapite — a well-known talent among the Literary Café crowd who will be reading from his chapbook Creamsicle Blue — has apparently let out the fact that events at the Tremont staple are whole bunches of fun. According to Linda Baldizzi, who co-founded the Literary Café with her husband more than 20 years ago, that's fine by her. "We started out with the vague idea of having a place where artists could hang out, sell their works, and maybe throw us a few dollars for booze," she says breezily. Today, the spot has evolved into a habitat for creatives of all types, with a monthly poetry open-mic night, an internet talk show, and a drawing group that Baldizzi affectionately refers to as The Pretentious Tremont Artists' Club. Tonight's reading happens from 7 to 9 p.m. Bring a few bucks for the cash bar; otherwise, it's free. Find out more about the Café's programs at the website below. — Cicora

1031 Literary Rd., literarycafe.net.

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra

Plugged In at MOCA

Brace for a power surge tonight at MOCA: The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra's Electric Band will take to the stage, led by trumpet virtuoso and artistic director Sean Jones. The quintet plans to focus on eclectic compositions by jazzy greats like Marcus Miller and Chick Corea; also expect to hear tunes by Beyonce and CJO's own Jones and Robert Hubbard. Combine the cool jazz with the intimate MOCA space, and what you get is an artful, clubby vibe that goes groovy with the museum's current exhibitions: the monumental sculptures of Ursula von Rydingsvard and 8501 to 11400: On Moving. The concert happens from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 on the CJO website. — Cicora

8501 Euclid Ave., 216-421-8671, clevelandjazz.org.

At the Fairgrounds

A Gem Dandy Show and Sale

You can paw through sparkly stuff galore this weekend at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, as nearly two dozen local artists and international dealers set up shop for the annual GemStreet USA show. Based in Lakewood, GemStreet USA brings together all sorts of mineral magic: Among the wares, you'll find tabletop specimens of fossils, crystals, and geodes, DYI-ready beads, supplies, and faceted gemstones, and completed pieces of artisanal jewelry in an assortment of precious metals. (Custom work is also an option.) Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday; on Sunday, hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for kids under 12. Hang on to your ticket, because it's good for all three days. Free parking too. Find details on the website. — Cicora

164 Eastland Rd., Berea, gemstreetusa.com.

The Art of Ale

A Sudsy Showing at the Akron Art Museum

John Trainor of the Akron Art Museum wants you to know you're in for a good time tonight at Art of Ale, the museum's annual fund-raiser for art education. "We had just shy of 250 guests here last year in our grand lobby, and it was just a lot of fun." But the important point, dear reader, is this: There is beer — lots and lots of beer — from Ohio brewers like Hoppin' Frog, Thirsty Dog, Indigo Imp, Rockmill Brewery, and the Ohio Brewing Company, to name a few. As for the beer ballast, Trainor says the museum sticks with the local, artisanal theme by focusing directly on small producers and purveyors, including Lucky Penny Farm Creamery from Kent. "Her goat cheese is amazing," Trainor says. The ceremonial keg pinging happens at 6 p.m., and experts on beer and home brewing will be on hand throughout the night. Giveaways and prizes include home-brewing kits and a chance to win a beer-making session at the Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse in Strongsville. General admission is $50; reserve your suds space by phone or online. — Cicora

1 South Main St., Akron, 330-376-9186 ext. 222, akronartmuseum.org/ale.

Saturday| 10

Work It Out

Take an African Dance Class

Maybe you've been inspired by a recent performance of the local dance troupe African Soul International. Maybe you dig that tribal drumming. Or maybe you just need to get off your seat and use your feet. Either way, you're welcome to attend today's traditional West African dance class, part of a series of 90-minute lessons happening every Saturday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Calvary Presbyterian Church. "The kids will learn history, culture, and movement while improving their counting, focus, and self-confidence," says troupe member Victoria Putnam. "And adults get a great workout to live drumming — all ages and experience levels welcome!" Leading the lessons are African Soul International dancers, who have performed for audiences at Playhouse Square, the Akron Civic Theatre, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Kent State University, among other venues. Cost is $5. — Cicora

2020 East 79th, 216-451-7685, africansoulinternational.org.

Tri-C Presents ...

A Salute to Joni Mitchell

For Cliffie Jones, putting together tonight's tribute to music icon Joni Mitchell has been a labor of love. "I've always had a lot of admiration for Joni," says the Tri-C JazzFest staffer. "As a singer-songwriter in the 1960s, she launched herself into a field dominated by men, and then went on to give so much to the world through her music, poetry, and paintings." So when the opportunity arose to produce a concert for Tri-C Performing Arts, Jones was ready to rumble. On her to-do list: everything from researching Mitchell's sometimes oblique lyrics to partnering with the Rock Hall, where Mitchell was inducted in 1997. For tonight's tribute, Jones divided the featured material into three genres — jazz, rock, and folk — and then recruited some of the best voices in Cleveland to perform them: New Folk finalist Vicki Chew, veteran jazz singer Evelyn Wright, and Scene's own 2009 pick for Best Vocalist, Robin Stone. Backing the gals will be an eight-piece band under the direction of lead guitarist Christina Dupré. Besides the 12 songs, Jones promises some multimedia surprises — "but if you want to know more, you have to buy a ticket!" Those cost $20 by phone or online. Curtain is at 8 p.m. at Tri-C Metro Campus' Main Stage Theater. Free, secure underground parking is available nearby in Lot 5. — Cicora

2809 Woodland Ave., 216-987-4444, tricpresents.com.

Family Fun

Flying, Fashion & Free Admission

Possibly, you have never heard of Cleveland's International Women's Air & Space Museum. Probably, you have never heard of Harriet Quimby. Today, you can remedy both shortcomings once and for all — and it won't cost you a dime. Occupying the terminal building at Burke Lakefront Airport, the Air & Space Museum is celebrating the lovely Miss Quimby today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Turns out, the early-1900s fashion plate was also the first American woman to earn a pilot's license, the first woman to fly across the English Channel, and tragically enough, the first woman to die while performing in a Boston airshow. Special exhibits and activities during today's free family open house include a pilot's license photo booth, a "design your own fashion" station, and visits from a Harriet Quimby reenactor. Check out the website for details. — Cicora

1501 North Marginal Rd., 216-632-1111, iwasm.org.

Free Flicks

Saddle Up in Lakewood

Film buff Terry Meehan is debuting a new series of free movies at the Lakewood Public Library tonight. Western Movies: The Early Years kicks off at 6 p.m. with two of the earliest — 1903's The Great Train Robbery (an 11-minute masterpiece based on the real-life exploits of Butch Cassidy and his gang), and William S. Hart's 1925 offering Tumbleweeds, about the 1893 Oklahoma land rush. Both flicks make a fitting jumping-off point for a study of the classic American-film form. The first, by Edwin S. Porter, is generally considered to mark the birth of the genre. And while Tumbleweeds is credited with inspiring 1931's Oscar-winning Cimarron, Meehan claims "no other movie captured the infamous land rush better than this one." As usual, the show begins with a short introduction and viewing suggestions from Meehan. Afterward, stick around for friendly discussion. The monthly series continues through August. Tonight's screening starts at 6 p.m. in the library auditorium. — Cicora

15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-8275, lkwdpl.org.

Sunday | 11

Myths & Allegories

A Concert at Tregoning & Co.

There's something to be said for hearing chamber music within the confines of an artful space: Like a Power Bar for the brain, the dual exposure is uniquely enriching. See for yourself this afternoon at 3 p.m. as Les Délices, Cleveland's French Baroque chamber ensemble, explores Myths & Allegories at the beautiful Tregoning & Co. gallery. Inspired by Greek mythology, the fantastical program features several cantatas from French baroque composers, along with selections from the 1703 opera Ulysse, by Jean-Féry Rebel. Clara Rottsolk is the featured soprano, performing under the direction of founder and award-winning oboist Debra Nagy. Tickets are $75, with all proceeds from this afternoon's performance going to support the concert's commercial recording. Stick around for the post-performance reception. Tickets are available on the website. — Cicora

1300 West 78th St., 216-281-8626, debranagy.com/Les_Delices1.

Monday | 12

Fit for Foodies

Dip Into the Melting Pot

Head over to Fire Food & Drink tonight for a multimedia celebration of Cleveland's culinary heritage. From appetizers to desserts, the seven-course dinner focuses on delightful dishes culled from the city's early immigrants: those noble forebears who dropped the German, Irish, Polish, Italian, Czech, English, and Russian-Jewish flavors into our burbling melting pot. "With the city's West Side Market marking its 100th anniversary this year, we thought this would be a great way to promote them and to connect what we do — the local, seasonal focus — to Cleveland's ethnic legacy," says chef-owner Doug Katz. The result is a travelogue of tastes like housemade veal bratwurst, pork cutlet with cabbage and pierogi, and crab cakes and baked beans. Personally, Katz says he's looking forward to the garlic soup. "Ian Thompson, my chef de cuisine, has made it before, and it's delicious: smooth, sweet, and not at all pungent." Each course is paired with a complementary beverage, including drinks like rum punch, Czech ale, and housemade limoncello. Serving as host will be Dr. Sean Martin of the Western Reserve Historical Society, who will lend historic insight to the festivities. Live music comes by way of Honeybucket, a three-member "neo-folkgrass" band headed up by Fire's bartender, Brendan O'Malley. The dinner bell chimes at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $79 per person, plus tax and tip. Make your reservations with staffer Hillary Lyon at the number below; check out the website for the details. — Cicora

13220 Shaker Square, 216-921-3473 ext. 148, firefoodanddrink.com.

Tuesday | 13

Rock the Library

A Local Author Goes Behind the Music

When local journalist Deanna Adams first got the notion to write a book about Cleveland's rock history, it seemed like a pretty straightforward project. "I asked myself, 'How hard can that be?'" she chuckles. Four years, 300 interviews, and 624 pages later, she had her answer: the massive Rock 'n' Roll and the Cleveland Connection, published in 2002 by Kent State University Press. Since then, Adams has gone on to become one of the leading historians of the Cleveland rock scene, with a focus on the formative years of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. She'll tell you all about it tonight at the Independence branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, in a one-hour audio-visual presentation. "We'll hear music selections and see a few fun videos," she says, including a classic interview with the Raspberries' Eric Carmen. But mainly, it's a trip down a musical memory lane, where audience members will have time to share their own favorite moments from the region's storied musical past — anything from Alan Freed and Casey Kasem to Devo and Chrissie Hynde. Tonight's free talk begins at 7 p.m. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required. Adams will be making stops at other libraries in the system over the coming weeks; check out the website for details. — Cicora

6361 Selig Dr., Independence, 216-447-0160, cuyahogalibrary.org.

Wednesday | 14

Ohio History

A Civil War Exhibit Lands in Peninsula

The historic burg of Peninsula in the Cuyahoga Valley remembers the Civil War with a new traveling exhibit from the Ohio Historical Society. Starting today, the town's circa-1850 G.A.R. Hall is host to Ohio & the Civil War: 150 Years Later, an examination of the state's participation in the conflict. Divided into three themes — Democracy, Transformation, and Memory — the exhibit connects the war's causes to current issues like civil rights, political dissent, and pacifism. Check it out, then take a peek at treasures from the Peninsula Valley Historic & Education Foundation's own Civil War collection, including diaries and letters from local soldiers. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through April 1. It's free. — Cicora

1785 Main St., Peninsula, 330-657-2528, peninsulahistory.org.

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