Thursday | 29
Putting the Fun in Dysfunction
Read the glowing reviews and you have to ask: Is Kambri Crews' new memoir — about growing up poor in an abusive household — heartbreaking or funny? "I think it's both," says the New York writer, producer, publicist, speaker, and comedian. "I guess I had forgotten how awful some of it was, so it always surprises me when a reviewer calls it 'harrowing'; but I do think it's a little of both." The memoir in question is Burn Down the Ground, an unflinching tale of Crews' childhood living with deaf parents in a tin shed in rural Texas. While the newly published book resonates on many frequencies — domestic abuse, deafness, and the criminal justice system — Crews, now 40, also credits her childhood with shaping her sense of humor. "The deaf community is very much a storytelling community, and like everyone, they love to laugh. I think growing up in that community naturally led me to performing and to comedy. And of course humor is always a great way to deal with the pain." Crews, who lived in Akron for seven years during the 1990s, is bringing her humor and her pain to the Coventry Road branch of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library this evening for a free talk and book signing. (Fun fact: Crews' husband, comedian Christian Finnegan, is also in town this weekend, performing at the Improv.) "It won't be some deep, dark discussion," she promises. "I'll share some funny stories about being a hearing child growing up with deaf parents. I may read a little. Then I'll open it up to questions. I'm always eager to talk about domestic violence and prison, but I'll let the audience take the lead." The program begins at 7 p.m. An interpreter for the deaf and hearing impaired will be standing by. — Cicora
1925 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-3400, heightslibrary.org.
The Martial Art of Drumming at Playhouse Square
If you think a performance by Tao, the Japanese taiko drum troupe, is just a whole bunch of bare-chested dudes and colorfully draped babes banging the hell out of ginormous painted drums while swords flash, banners swirl, dancers soar, and lights flash ... yeah, that's about the size of it. The spectacle makes for great entertainment, falling somewhere between hand-to-hand conflict and Cirque du Soleil (which, as it happens, is also in town this week; keep reading for details). In any case, the gang is bringing the bang to Playhouse Square tonight for one 7:30 performance in the Palace Theatre. Tickets are $10, $29, and $39; snag yours by phone, online, or at the Playhouse Square box office. — Cicora
1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.
Annual Dance Concert in Kent
The 14 members of Kent State University's pre-professional dance company get their time in the spotlight this weekend as the School of Theatre and Dance presents Break Out, its annual main-stage concert. On the very full dance card: everything from Inner Drum, a trio choreographed by Jennifer Sandoval Eccher, founder of the Cleveland-based Marquez Dance Project, to Southern and Baseline, a concert jazz piece for eight women inspired by clarinetist Don Byron. Tonight's curtain is set for 8 p.m. Encore presentations happen at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 31, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 1, at the E. Turner Stump Theatre in the Music and Speech Building on KSU's main campus. Tickets are $16 for adults, and less for students and seniors. Reserve yours by phone or online. — Cicora
1325 Theatre Dr., 330-672-2497, dance.kent.edu.
Hell on Wheels!
The Burning River Roller Girls Are Back
After six years of hurtling around the flat track, Lindsay Parker (a.k.a. The Killustrator) has just one wish: that more folks recognized roller derby as a real sport. "It's definitely getting better," says Parker, who has skated with Cleveland's Burning River Roller Girls since 2008. "But a lot of people still recall the theatricality of the old-style leagues. Modern roller derby is legit: We retain the fun names, but it's a sport." The league launched its sixth season of fast-paced fun earlier this month at the Wolstein Center. Like all Saturday-night home games, tonight's is a double-header. The 6 p.m. bout features the Cleveland Steamers against the Rolling Pin-Ups; at 7:30, it's the Hard Knockers versus the Hellbombers. Even though the days of banked-track skating are pretty much over, Parker says the pace is just as fast as ever. "Plus fans find that there's a level of interaction with the players that you just don't get anywhere else." That includes a beginners' league for girls ages 7 to 17, and an autograph-signing session down on the floor after every game. "Where else can you get that close to you favorite athlete?" Doors open at 5 p.m. General admission is $12 in advance and $17 at the door; kids, students, and military pay less. Get tickets by phone, online, or at the Wolstein Center box office. — Cicora
2000 Prospect Ave., 877-468-4946, burningriverrollergirls.com.
A Chaplin classic at Severance Hall
Sounds of Silent
Turns out Charlie Chaplin was way more than just The Little Tramp. The writer, actor, and director also composed the scores for his silent movies, including his 1931 masterpiece City Lights. "It's wonderful music," says conductor Bill Eddins of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. "It's very evocative of the times, and it's always fun to bring it to life." Eddins will be doing just that tonight at Severance Hall, where City Lights will be shown in its entirety. Providing the live, 88-minute soundtrack: the Cleveland Orchestra, under Eddins' baton. This isn't the first time the conductor, pianist, and "damn good cook" has put an orchestra through its paces with a Chaplin program. To date, he's tackled the scores of four Chaplin films and has conducted City Lights more times than he can easily recall. "It's such a wonderful communal experience for the audience," Eddins says. "It's a great story, a sweet ending, and just a wonderful piece of entertainment." The wonders begin at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $41 to $82 (and box seats are $108) by phone or online. Members of the Cleveland Cinematheque save 50 percent at the Severance Hall box office. — Elaine T. Cicora
11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.
A Final Fling at MOCA
The Museum of Contemporary Art will soon be moving to new facilities just outside University Circle, vacating its present Carnegie Avenue location. To mark the move, MOCA is hosting FINALE, a closing concert and art performance. The expansive musical experience For Philip Gusman, by late composer Morton Feldman, anchors tonight's so-long soirée. The piece will be performed in its four-hour entirety by Madeline Lucas, Shuai Wang Bertalan, and Brian Sweigart, three local musicians and graduates of the Cleveland Institute of Music. High and mournful, Philip Gusman's inclusion in the evening's festivities presumably offers catharsis for those with lingering sadness for the occasion. Meantime, exhibition artist Ben Kinsley's performance 8501 to 11400 will be more forward-looking. He and his merry band (and very likely select audience members) will expressively preview MOCA's forthcoming reincarnation, while also detailing what of its old life will be retained. Tonight's finale will also be the last chance to see the last two exhibitions in MOCA's Carnegie space: 8501 to 11400: On Moving, featuring work by local artists Corrie Slawson, Brandon Juhasz, and Ben Kinsley (yes, him again) and Ursula Rydingsvard's monumental exhibition Sculpture. Light refreshments will be served. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. It's free and open to the public. — Joseph Clark
8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671, mocacleveland.org.
The Moondog Coronation Ball
Don't be surprised if you spot Rock & Roll hanging around the lobby of your local Social Security office soon. After all, the old coot is well into his seventh decade. We were reminded of this by the fact that tonight is the 60th — 60th! — edition of the Moondog Coronation Ball. Generally acknowledged as the world's first rock concert, the Ball was the brainchild of Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, whose credits include coining the very term "rock & roll." Launched in 1952, the first ball came to a riotous end only moments after it began, shut down by fire authorities for overcrowding. While tonight's version at Quicken Loans Arena shouldn't include that kind of excitement, it still sounds pretty cool. On the list of attractions: Alan's son Lance Freed and a performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame). Plus, there'll be music from Creedence Clearwater Revisited, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. The crowd is usually pretty entertaining too, maybe as proof that rock & roll's attitude is still alive and kicking. Doors open at 5:30, and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $67.50, $52.50, and $37.50 by phone, online, at the Q Box office, and at all NEO Discount Drug Marts. Just consider it a kickoff to Induction Week, which culminates April 14 with the 27th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. — Cicora
1 Center Court, 888-894-9424, qarena.com.
Feed the Hungry, Feed the Soul
Wine, food, music, and an auction of original artwork — all crammed inside the art-filled confines of the Lake Erie Screw Building: You can be excused for thinking tonight's Soul Food shindig is a party, not a skirmish in the war against hunger. "It's been a collaborative effort," organizer Jason Weiner says simply. In fact, as vice chair of the Trinity Lakewood Community Outreach program (the outreach arm of Trinity Lutheran Church), Weiner's pretty much been floored by the help he's received. That extends from the 35 artists who have donated original pieces for the live auction, to chef Matt Somich, who is preparing tonight's spread of gourmet soups, fancy sandwiches, and assorted desserts. Also on the schedule: DJ Xe La spinning soul and R&B, and We the People funking it up at the official after party. Maybe best of all, admission is an all-inclusive $10 (cash only, at the door), leaving you with plenty of dough for bidding on silent-auction items like a weekend getaway to Kelleys Island and a Kindle Fire. Check out the TLCO page on Facebook for more information. — Cicora
13000 Athens Ave., Lakewood.
Sunday | 01
At the Lakewood Library
Hey Hey It's the Monkeys!
No joke: Today is April Fools' Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a visit from the Smokin' Fez Monkeys? The self-proclaimed "special ops unit in the war against seriousness" will be serving up their signature combination of silliness and style at Lakewood Public Library beginning at 1 p.m. Their performance is part of the library's free Sunday concert series, which has played host to the 21st-century jug band several times in the past. "Our audiences really pay attention to our musical guests: no musical wallpaper here," says programming and publicity staffer Leana Donofrio-Milovan. "For April Fools' Day, we wanted to have some fun without sacrificing the great musicianship. Who else but the Smokin' Fez Monkeys would fit the bill?" The concert is free and open to the public; no pre-registration is required. — Cicora
15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,
216-226-8275 x127, lkwdpl.org.
Monday | 02
Fit for Foodies
The Return of Cleveland Restaurant Week
If one Cleveland Restaurant Week is good — and it is — then two should be even better. Which brings us to this week's food-related festivities, brought to you by the 90-some members of Cleveland Independents. Starting today: three-course prix fixe dinners for $33. Some spots may be higher or lower, depending on their usual pricing, and some may offer value-priced lunches as well. "We're committed to promoting Cleveland as a dining destination," says C.I. prez Marlin Kaplan, executive chef at Dragonfly. "Nothing does that better than promoting our independent restaurants through a program like this." Restaurant Week continues through April 14, with time off for Easter Sunday. Find a complete list of participating restaurants and their menus on the website. — Cicora
Hanukah in April!
The LeeVees Get Funny at Kent State University
Some people check the weather report when they get up. Phil Torres checks the concert feeds. That's how the Kent State University senior communications major learned that Guster was coming to Kent for an early April performance. Fortunately, he already knew about the LeeVees, the comedic side project for Guster's Adam Gardner and Dave Schneider from the Zambonis. Together with a backup band, the two "nice Jewish boys" have been carving out a niche performing and recording what they call Hanukkah rock. With titles like "Applesauce vs. Sour Cream" and "Jewish Girls (At the Matzo Ball)," their tunes have not only attracted a campus following, but have made their way onto Grey's Anatomy and drawn attention from the NPR crowd. "We just got lucky," says Torres about snagging the band for tonight's 8 p.m. concert at the Rathskeller. The appearance is sponsored by Kent Hillel, where Torres serves as programming intern. Himself an up-and-coming stand-up comic, Torres will host tonight's show. Advance-order tickets via the website are $3 for students and $10 for non-students; at the door, students pay $5 and non-students pay $15. Eighteen and older, please. — Cicora
800 East Summit St. in the Kent State Student Center, kenthillel.org.
Tuesday | 03
The Poetry of Hart Crane
Poet Hart Crane was born in Garrettsville in 1899 and died by suicide in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere off the Florida coast in 1932. In between the extremes of his short and tortured life, he crafted some of the most linguistically profound poetry of his time, attempting, as one historian puts it, "to synthesize with accuracy unusually complex states of thought." Crane's works seem as good a place as any to launch Lakewood Public Library's celebration of National Poetry Month. Doing the honors today is Cleveland actor and producer Tim Tavcar, founder of WordStage. "Crane was a word painter," says Tavcar. "He was trying his best to absorb what he saw happening during the Jazz Age, and reinterpreting it in what he felt was the emerging American sensibility." Tavcar's presentation will focus on Crane's letters, allowing them to serve as an introduction to his poems. Each poem will be underscored with period music, including selections from Aaron Copland and pieces by Erik Satie as interpreted by a French jazz trio. A Q&A session will follow the readings. The 7 p.m. program is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required. — Cicora
15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-8275 x127, lkwdpl.org.
Playing With Food
Annual Chili Cook Off in Independence
You'll find lean ones, rich ones, hot ones, and mild ones today at the Holiday Inn in Independence. No, we're not talking about potential hookups. We're talking about big hot bowls o' red, otherwise known as chili. More than 30 area chefs, professional and otherwise, will be dishing up their favorite recipes from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Among the participating restaurants: Palookaville Chili, Yours Truly, Mavis Winkle's, Dante's, and Tinkers Creek Tavern. If past years are any measure, the variations on the theme of chili are likely to be staggering: vegan, vegetarian, lamb, beef, pork, and sausage are just a smattering of what you'll find. Local band Ace Molar will provide a soundtrack of energized rock and blues; when you need a breather from scarfing down the chili, check out the silent auction and the raffle prizes. Making the ultimate call on the best tasting brew will be roving members of the judges panel, including Nancy Alden, chef Eric Williams, and yours truly. This is the seventh year for the event, which benefits the Autism Society of Greater Cleveland. Tickets are $20 by phone, online, or at the door. — Cicora
Wednesday | 04
Cirque du Soleil
Dralion Roars Into Town
You can waste a lot of energy trying to figure out the plot to a Cirque du Soleil show. So don't bother. Just sit back and enjoy the fabulous visuals, the mind-blowing athleticism, and the stunning production values. Take the traveling production of Dralion landing tonight at the Wolstein Center. Sure, the program notes will ramble on about Eastern philosophy, the quest for harmony, and 3,000-year-old Chinese traditions. You'll learn that the costume colors represent the elements, and the show's name is a blend of "the dragon, representing the East" and "the lion, representing the West." But once the international cast of 50 lithe, young, beautifully costumed hardbodies starts with the handstands, hoop tricks, and aerial ballets, they could be whistling "Dixie" for all it matters. Seven performances are set for today through April 8. Tonight's curtain is at 7:30 p.m.; see the website for additional performance times. Tickets range from $43 to $153. Get yours by phone, online, or at the Wolstein Center box office. — Cicora
2000 Prospect Ave., 877-468-4946, wolsteincenter.com.