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Verb Ballet Leads This Week's Arts Picks 

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OHIO'S BALLETS

Verb brings Dayton and Cincinnati companies to PlayhouseSquare, Friday, October 24

Any part of Verb Ballets' program at the Ohio Theatre on Friday night could serve as its centerpiece. But the company that Scene recognized as Northeast Ohio's "Most Collaborative Dance Company" seems also to be trying to tell us that too much is never enough. Verb will perform with not just one other Ohio dance company, but two: The Cincinnati Ballet will present George Balanchine's neoclassical pas de deux, "Rubies," and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will perform Shonna Hickman-Matlock's "Unresolved." And if sharing the stage with two of the state's other major dance companies isn't enough, Verb Ballets will also show off a new acquisition - Ulysses Dove's "Vespers," which was first performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1987. There's also a world premiere: Verb dancers will collaborate with members of DCDC on Hernando Cortez's new work, "Afterimage," a tribute to the late Paul Taylor Company dancer Jeff Wadlington, who died from complications of AIDS in 1994. It says something about the strength of this program that this piece ranks third. Rounding it all out is Cortez's 2003 piece, set to music of the same title by Leonard Bernstein, "Chichester Psalms" (pictured). There's one performance, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Ohio Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. Tickets: $18-$25. Call 216.241.6000 or visit playhousesquare.com.

CPT LITTLE BOX

Cleveland Public Theatre gives the annual gift of space and production support to local playwrights and directors looking to try out their material, which can serve as a launching pad for larger works. If you want to see what's new in local theater before it premieres, Little Box has your ticket. The festival opens Thursday with Andrew Kramer's Bridge, a tale of two strangers meeting on a bridge, both of whom are there to commit suicide. It's directed by Josh Brown. On Friday, Steve Maistros' Bon Voyage, Nate, a story of workplace grief counseling, gets a hearing under the direction of Margi Herwald Zitelli. Tara Broeckel-Ooten examines the real story of a family affected by the 1917 Bisbee Deportation, which forced more than 1,000 striking copper miners to leave their homes. Rose Leininger directs. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at 6415 Detroit Ave. Tickets: $7-$10. Call 216.631.2727 or go to cptonline.org.

CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA

In the '70s, Nicholas McGegan was one of the first musicians to be recorded in "period performance." McGegan played baroque flute. Since then, he's developed as a conductor specializing in baroque performance. But rather than merely leading a period-instrument ensemble, he's best known for bringing baroque sensibilities to the top modern orchestras in the world. That calls for adapting the sound of larger orchestras with much more expressive tendencies to music written for more limited instrumentation. As he has said, "I try not to come as a prophet of early music, saying, 'No vibrato this week, and I'm going to preach to you for a half hour because you don't know how to play this stuff and I do.'" This week he'll be leading (not preaching to) the Cleveland Orchestra in a program featuring a collection of baroque goodies: Jean Phillipe Rameau's Suite from Nais, J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Sinfonia concertante in C major, and Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. Friday (without the Rameau), 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25-$110. Severance Hall is at 11001 Euclid Ave. Call 216.231.1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com.

SHAPING THE SPIRIT

Richard Hunt is certainly one of the nation's busiest sculptors shaping our public spaces, with scores of public commissions adorning cities from coast to coast, including 25 in Chicago. Even if Cleveland's connections to the artist are strong - with artist and Cleveland Sculpture Center trustee Ron Dewey's foundry having cast a multitude of his pieces - our city is home to just one of his works. Dewey, along with Al Bright and Cavana Faithwalker, will talk about Hunt's influence in Cleveland and the U.S., as well as their personal relationship with him, in a panel discussion at 6 p.m. at the Sculpture Center (1834 E. 123rd St.). Free. For information, call 216.229.6527 or go to sculpturecenter.org.

NIXON'S NIXON

The people are real, and there are some facts, but the story at Actors' Summit Theater is completely fictional. Artistic Director Neil Thackaberry plays Richard M. Nixon and George Roth portrays Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Nixon's Nixon, which opens today and continues through November 9. In an imagined dialogue that takes place the night before Nixon resigned, he and his close advisor take turns portraying Leonid Brezhnev, Golda Meir and Mao Zedung, as they look at the administration's failures and accomplishments. Actors' Summit is at 86 Owen Brown St., Hudson. Tickets: $25-$28. Call 330.342.0800 or go to actorssummit.org.

PEOPLE'S ART SHOW

Cleveland State University Art Gallery curator Robert Thurmer calls the annual People's Art Show an "exercise in aesthetic democracy." This is an uncurated, uncensored show that anyone can enter. "It has served as a battleground for First Amendment issues, as a forum for the role of art in contemporary society and as an outlet for creativity at the grassroots level," says Thurmer. The 18th installment opens with a reception from 5-8 p.m. The show continues through December 4. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. The CSU Art Gallery is at 2307 Chester Ave. For information, call 216.687.2103 or go to csuohio.edu/artgallery.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

All you need to know about the CSU Factory Theater production of Night of the Living Dead is that it's an entirely student-generated stage adaptation of the cult movie, and that co-directors John Paul Soto and James Kosmatka are "pulling out all the stops with a provocative, in-your-face, multi-media production." (The Village Voice called the 1968 film "the first-ever subversive horror movie," in which "the resourceful black hero survives the zombies only to be killed by a redneck posse." If you went to the McCain rally in Strongsville the other day, you can be forgiven for wondering if the story was set there. Night of the Living Dead will have performances at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with additional shows - including one at midnight (or 11:59 p.m.) on Halloween - through November 2. Tickets: $5 and $10. Factory Theater is at 1833 E. 24th St. Call 216.687.2109 or go to csuohio.edu/theater.

OBSCENE

Grove Press' story is largely one about fighting obscenity charges on behalf of several of the 20th century's major literary figures, including Allen Ginsberg (Howl), William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch) and Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer). Grove publisher Barney Rosset also was the first U.S. publisher of Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard, Che Guevara and Malcolm X. Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Blvd. at Cleveland Institute of Art) screens Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:45 p.m. Sunday. Directors Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor use interviews with Amiri Baraka, John Sayles, Erica Jong and others to tell the story. Tickets: $6-$8. Call 800.223.4700 or go to cia.edu.

TRENCH CUISINE

Craig Matis' band Uzizi has always included visual elements to its performances, using slides of original art to accompany the music. This week at Baldwin-Wallace College's Fawick Gallery, Matis opens a show that sounds a little like This Is Spinal Tap. Trench Cuisine: A Rock Band's Recipe for Semi-Success, is, says Matis, "a series of 24 panels which engages the viewer in a surreal story about a rock band's journey, from its inception to its tour through the United Kingdom. While the story is fictional, there are definitely elements of it that are true." The show opens Monday. A meet-the-artist reception is 5-8 p.m. Friday, November 7. It continues through November 28. Free. Fawick Gallery is in B-W's Kleist Center for Art and Drama at 95 E. Bagley Rd., Berea. Call 440.826.2152 or go to bw.edu.

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