The Cleveland Shakespeare Festival's two shows, Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night, are being stretched out to last the entire summer. "We used to produce both shows over six weeks and alternate nights with the shows," explains artistic director Larry Nehring. This year the plays run consecutively, each for five weeks. All performances are free and outdoors. "I like it so much better than being in a darkened theater," Nehring says. "Because it happens during daylight hours, the audience is a part of the show. The actors can see them. It becomes a community." Julius Caesar plays at 7 tonight through Sunday at Tri-C Metro (2900 Community College Avenue downtown); Twelfth Night opens in July. Visit www.cleveshakes.org for more info.
Friday, June 20
Amen. , Costa-Gavras's latest deliberately paced political dissertation, tells the truth-based story of a Nazi chemist who tried to warn the Vatican of the impending Holocaust. And like the director's best films (Z, Missing), Amen. paints its villains (Nazis, the Catholic Church) broadly, while coloring its protagonist a hazy shade of gray. Kurt Gerstein, the real-life German officer who developed the deadly Zyklon B, is morally repulsed by how his work is being used. He teams up with a Jesuit priest -- not a real-life character, but a composite of the clergy who took action during World War II -- to get word to Pope Pius XII about Hitler's death camps. The church's resulting indifference becomes a form of complicity in this indicting, thoughtful film. Amen. is at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 9:25 tonight, 7 p.m. tomorrow, and 3:45 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $7, $4 for members. Call 216-421-7450 for more information.
Saturday, June 21
Today's the first day of summer, and what better way to start it than with a 5:15 a.m. wake-up call for the 16th annual Summer Solstice Sunrise at Huntington Reservation? Basically, it's a groggy hour spent with a naturalist, watching the sun come up. But there will be "solstice muffins," so at least you won't go hungry. Many, many sunlit hours later, you can end your day with South Chagrin Reservation's Long Day -- Short Hike, a one-mile stroll to Squaw Rock, which starts at 7. Alas, there are no sunset muffins baking at Squaw Rock. Summer Solstice Sunrise is at the Lake Picnic Area Shelterhouse at Huntington Reservation (on Lake Road in Bay Village); Long Day -- Short Hike is at Squaw Rock Picnic Area at South Chagrin Reservation (off Hawthorn Parkway, east of SOM Center Road/Route 91 in Bentleyville). Call 440-247-7075 for more information.
The Sissy Show was conceived to share "what it's like to be a transgendered person," says playwright K.D. Harvey. "Nobody's ever done a musical about this. It's a ridiculous thing to have to go through, and we thought it would be pretty funny." The original production features 26 songs -- all penned by Harvey and collaborator Christine Howey -- that attempt to get a grip on the very definition of "transgender" (cross-dressing men, drag queens, and transsexuals are all included in the wide-reaching umbrella). It's sort of a mix of The Vagina Monologues and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. "It's a very heart-wrenching thing," Harvey says. "But we wanted this to be instructive and entertaining." The Sissy Show plays at 8 p.m. at Venuu Off-Coventry (2728 Lancashire Road in Cleveland Heights). Tickets are $8; call 216-321-1119.
Sunday, June 22
It's your last chance to see Silent Witnesses: Artifacts From the Collection of the Museum at the Western Reserve Historical Society. The exhibit, on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., includes a dress worn by a child who spent eight months hiding in a dug-out hole, as well as photographs and a display documenting the museum's first 10 years. (Cleveland is the first stop on a nationwide artifact tour celebrating the museum's 10th anniversary.) Silent Witnesses is at the Western Reserve Historical Society (10825 East Boulevard) from noon to 5 p.m. today. Admission ranges from $5 to $7.50. Call 216-721-5722 for more information.
Monday, June 23
The Cleveland Public Library's Summer Used Book Sale is always cause for celebration: Thousands of previously read tomes are up for grabs over the next five days. If you can hold out till Friday, a bag of books goes for three bucks. The sale takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, June 24-26, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the Cleveland Public Library, 525 Superior Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-623-2821 for more information.
Tuesday, June 24
The Great Lakes Science Center's new Port Polymer is an outdoor (and very wet) extension of the venue's popular Polymer Funhouse exhibit. It consists of 38 hands-on activities, including a bubble maze, a water wheel, air cannon, balancing buckets, and a fog gong. Best, though, is the Polymer II, a paddlewheel steamship made entirely from recycled polymer-based materials. (Shhh . . . don't tell the young'uns, but while they're getting all wet and stuff, they'll also be learning about balance, buoyancy, and air and water pressure.) Port Polymer is at the Great Lakes Science Center (601 Erieside Avenue), open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission ranges from $5.95 to $7.95. Call 216-694-2000 for more information.
Wednesday, June 25
It's been almost 20 years since the Crusaders played together in a lineup resembling the original; the past decade was rife with "Crusaders" projects that were missing one or more crucial members. On the new Rural Renewal, the veteran jazz combo has most of its core (Joe Sample, Stix Hooper, and Wilton Felder) back. While the album itself occasionally drifts into smooth jazz territory, the Crusaders still cook onstage. See for yourself when they play Scene Pavilion (2014 Sycamore Street) at 8 tonight, with David Sanborn and Randy Crawford. Tickets range from $10.50 to $29.50; call 216-241-5555.
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