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Will Going to the Theater Keep You Warm the Next Few Months? Let's Hope. 

Theater preview from now till spring

Sure, spring feels a long way off. Especially since we've had only one big snow so far and we know we're due for at least nine or 10 more. To take your mind off the icy fate that awaits us, here's a look at upcoming shows, from now until April 1, that may serve to warm the cockles of your heart. As for keeping your extremities frost free, you're on your own.

Cozy Up to Some Hot Music

Five Guys Named Moe, Cleveland Play House, opens Jan. 23. Yeah, the Moe guys are back, singing the "jump blues" hits of songwriter Louis Jordan. These include every grammarian's nightmare ditty, "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't Ma' Baby." Not to mention the unassailable logic of "What's the Use of Getting Sober (When You're Just Gonna Get Drunk Again)."

Pippin, Playhouse Square, opens Feb. 3. The touring production of the acclaimed Broadway revival, Pippin features a score by Stephen Schwartz (he wrote Godspell and Wicked) and lots of acrobatics, magic and tuneful songs such as "Corner of the Sky." Directed by multiple Tony-winner Diane Paulus.

Dogfight, Beck Center, opens Feb. 6. Starting with a nasty dating game played by Marines (they compete to find the ugliest girl to take out for a night, thus the title) and ending with sweet sentimentality, this musical is a co-production with the stars-to-be in the Baldwin Wallace Musical Theater program.

Dirty Dancing, Playhouse Square, opens March 3. Set in the 1960s, these hoofers will try to thaw your icicles as they tell the story from the ever-popular film of the same name. Teenage Baby meets resort dance instructor Johnny, and they pursue their passion to, you know, trip the light fantastic. Dip one-two; grind one-two. Feeling warmer?

Snuggle Into a Fiery Drama

Slowgirl, Dobama Theatre, opens Jan. 23. A teenage girl and her uncle meet in his jungle retreat, each running from different kinds of demons, in this thought-provoking show by Greg Pierce.

Thurgood, Ensemble Theatre, opens Jan. 30. Written by George Stevens Jr., directed by Sarah May, and performed by Greg White, this solo show tells the story of the revered Supreme Court justice, often in his own words.

The Lonesome West, None Too Fragile Theater, opens Feb. 6. No, this isn't the balmy West of Roy Rogers. It's western Ireland, where playwright Martin McDonagh launches two battling brothers into a darkly comical cycle of murder and mayhem.

Dial "M" For Murder, Great Lakes Theater, opens Feb. 27. There's no "call block" service available in this stage version of the thriller filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. It will be interesting to see how GLT presents this classic yarn drenched with betrayal and greed.

The Pianist of Willesden Lane, Cleveland Play House, opens Feb. 27. Renowned pianist Mona Golabek tells the harrowing story of her mother, also an accomplished pianist, who escaped from Nazi Germany at age 14. Golabek plays various selections on the piano in this solo play, adapted and directed by Hershey Felder.

Isaac's Eye, Convergence-Continuum, opens Mar. 20. Described by director Clyde Simon as a "quirky, funky send-up" of historical dramas, it's a play that deals with Isaac Newton — his passions involving gravity and other more personal stuff.

Laugh Until You Warm Up

Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, Cleveland Public Theatre, opens March 5. Back by popular demand, this collection of short, often humorous plays by various writers such as Paul Rudnick and Neil LaBute explores the ideas and ideals behind same-sex marriage. (Still not legal in Ohio. Still not funny.)

Twelfth Night, Ensemble Theatre, opens Mar. 26. A studio theater production of Shakespeare's "golden comedy" comprised of shipwrecked twins, crossdressing, holiday hijinks, Elizabethan songs and love.

Lend Me a Tenor, Beck Center, opens Mar. 27. This farcical romp by Ken Ludwig doubles down on mistaken identities as people dash into and out of multiple doors when an opera company's star tenor goes missing.

Toasty Treats of a Different Sort

Fire on the Water, Cleveland Public Theatre, opens Jan. 29. Inspired by the infamous conflagration of our Cuyahoga River, this collection of short pieces features original work by CPT and other local theaters such as Blank Canvas Theatre, Talespinner Childrens' Theatre, Ohio City Theater Project and Theater Ninjas.

The Never-ending Story, Ensemble Theatre, opens Jan. 8. Based on the novel, a small boy opens a book and enters a world of adventure and fascination.

If all those shows don't keep you warm till the flowers bloom, try shoving crumpled newspapers in your slippers and setting them afire.

Beck Center 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540, beckcenter.org.

Blank Canvas Theatre 1305 West 78th St., 440-941-0458, blankcanvastheatre.com.

Cleveland Play House 1407 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, clevelandplayhouse.com.

Cleveland Public Theatre 6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727, cptonline.org.

Convergence-Continuum 2438 Scranton Road, 216-687-0074, convergence-continuum.org.

Dobama Theatre 2340 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396, dobama.org.

Ensemble Theatre 2843 Washington Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216-321-2930, ensemble-theatre.com.

Great Lakes Theater 2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, greatlakestheater.org.

None Too Fragile Theater 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron, nonetoofragile.com.

Playhouse Square 1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

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