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Event picks for this brilliant week in Cleveland

Thursday | 23

When Institutes Collide

The Planetarium Project Takes Off

The impetus behind tonight's Planetarium Project at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History came nearly two years ago. That's when Keith Fitch of the Cleveland Institute of Music approached his colleagues at the Cleveland Institute of Art with a suggestion: How about a collaboration between his composition students and the CIA's young filmmakers — all designed to take advantage of the museum's state-of-the-art planetarium? "The result is truly wonderful," says Fitch about tonight's debut of five original short films on the planetarium's domed screen. "Each one has been made by a CIA student filmmaker, and each is set to an electronic score by one of our young composers." Fitch says the films range from traditional narratives to the dreamily abstract, while the scores include everything from hard-driving rock to moody ambient sounds. "There's really a very wide variety — and because they have all been designed for the 360-degree screen, it has given the students a really unique learning experience." The five films will be shown tonight at 8:15 and again at 9:15 p.m.; then, they'll become part of the planetarium's regular program rotation. Fitch hopes the pieces will go on to find a national audience as part of upcoming "dome fests," featuring similar 360-degree films. Admission is $10. Seating is limited and advanced reservations are required at the number below. — Cicora

1 Wade Oval Dr., 216-231-4600, cmnh.org or cim.edu.

The Classy Glass

A Bordeaux Dinner at Moxie

While we firmly believe that the best wine is whatever we have sitting on the kitchen counter, sometimes it's fun to get a little chichi. Sommelier Cyrus Davarpanah makes that easy with tonight's five-course wine dinner at Moxie. Beginning at 6 p.m., Davarpanah will be pouring a host of true French beauties: fine Bordeaux from Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, a hilltop estate in the Saint-Julien appellation of the Haut-Medoc. How chichi is it? Just last year, an 18-liter bottle of their 2009 Croix de Beaucaillou sold for more than $13K! You won't be chugging from that jug tonight, but rest assured that whatever Davarpanah pours will be primo. To go with, executive chef Jonathan Bennett has crafted an equally upscale menu: oysters on the half shell, duck confit, a foie gras terrine, butter-poached langoustine and braised short ribs, and for dessert, a bittersweet chocolate pot de crème. The dinner bell chimes at 7 p.m. Cost is $99 per person, plus tax and tip. Reservations are required at the number below. — Cicora

3355 Richmond Road. Beachwood, 216-831-5599, moxietherestaurant.com.

Friday | 24

Keep on Truckin'

Monster Jam Roaaaaars Into the Q

Former Clevelander Bari Musawwir is living the dream, roaring through arenas behind the wheel of Spider-Man, his 10,000-pound, 1,500-horsepower monster truck. Discovered by Monster Jam producers in North Carolina back in 2006, Musawwir admits the ginormous machines are a mighty change from the radio-controlled trucks he'd been racing up till then. But after four years of training, he finally earned a spot on the Monster Jam tour in 2010. "I haven't yet found a word to describe it," says the 1998 Cleveland Heights High School grad. "It's amazing, powerful ... like a dream come true." Plus, it helps him score with chicks, right? "I'm a happily married man!" Musawwir protests. "But yes, the chicks do dig a monster truck." The 2011 Monster Jam Rookie of the Year will make his Cleveland debut at the Q today through Sunday, where he'll be joined by the drivers of Grave Digger, Samson, War Wizard, and others. Tonight's show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $55 at the Quicken Loans Arena box office, online, and at all Northeast Ohio Discount Drug Marts. Check out the website for additional showtimes and other details. — Elaine T. Cicora

1 Center Court, 888-894-9424, theqarena.com.

Classic Albums Live

Thinking Pink at Playhouse Square

Break out the LSD: Dark Side of the Moon is going down live tonight at the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. No, Pink Floyd will not be in attendance. Instead, the phantasmagorical fun is brought to you by Classic Albums Live, a vast cadre of Toronto-based musicians who roam the universe playing legendary albums — "note for note, cut for cut" — without what founder Craig Martin calls "the gimmickry and cheesy impersonations" of other classic-rock cover bands. You can see (and hear) what that's all about tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $35 by phone, online, or at the box office. If tonight's show leaves you hungry for more, check out the Monday, February 27 appearance by Brit Floyd at the Akron Civic Theatre. Read on for more information. — Cicora

1511 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Dining on a Dime

Mardi Gras Continues in Euclid

Fat Tuesday is over and we're well into Lent. But for those still jonesing for jambalaya and King Cake, chef Robin Blair is happy to hit rewind. The personal chef and educator is dishing up a traditional Mardi Gras dinner tonight at the Shore Cultural Centre; it's also the launch of a series of monthly cultural dinners at the Euclid nonprofit. "We wanted to create a time for community and fellowship," says Chef Robin, a Shaker Heights High School grad who honed her culinary chops at Tri C. Also on the menu: music, activities for the kids, and a cooking demonstration. But best of all, it's really inexpensive: "Only $10 for adults or $25 for a family of four." Other dishes on tonight's table include vegan black beans and rice, Cajun-style collard greens, gumbo, and beignets. Pay at the door, although Blair asks that you preregister by emailing robin@cookingwithcareonline.com. It all begins at 6:30 p.m. — Cicora

291 East 222nd St., Euclid, 216-577-6981, cookingwithcareonline.com.

Saturday| 25

Vroom Vroom

Auto Show Opens at I-X Center

Kick the tires, pop the hood, and maybe even slide behind the wheel of your dream car at the Cleveland Auto Show. Happening now through March 4 at the I-X Center, the annual automotive roundup is all about you, Mr. or Ms. Consumer: That means free parking, free admission for kids 15 and under on Family Day (February 27), and even a promise of no sales talk from the dealers. With more than 1,000 new vehicles on hand, including concept, pre-production, and production cars, the show claims to be one of the top five car extravaganzas in the nation. Gear heads will also dig the Classic Car Show, historically one of the best-attended parts of the event. This year's entries include everything from a 1936 Buick Opera Coupe to a 1984 Corvette. Plus check out four cars on display from the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection: a 1905 Franklin Model F, the 1909 Hupmobile Model 20 Runabout, the 1920 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout, and the 1922 Templar A-445 Roadster which was built right here in Cleveland. Today's hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tix are $10.50 to $12.50 at the I-X Center box office or online at the website below, where you'll also find a complete rundown of hours and activities. — Cicora

1 I-X Center Dr., 216-265-7100, clevelandautoshow.com.

Pedal Pushers

National Bike Guy Spins into Cleveland

Hey, bicyclists. Tired of the Towpath? Bored with the Hike & Bike? Check out tonight's free public gathering at the Ohio City Bicycle Coop for a tantalizing alternative. Jim Sayer, avid cyclist and executive director of Adventure Cycling Association, will be on hand to tell you all about the new 518-mile Detroit Alternate — a spur to the original 2,000-mile Underground Railroad bike route stretching from Mobile, Alabama to Owen Sound, Ontario. The new spur begins in Oberlin, an important hub in the 1800s' escape route, and passes through Sandusky, Toledo, and Detroit before heading into Canada. The route goes along established roadways, with an eye toward safety, accessibility, and historic import. Adventure Cycling's contribution comes in researching and mapping the routes, as a way to inspire folks of all ages to travel by bike. The nonprofit also sells maps, biking guides, and memberships to support the mission; so far, they claim more than 43,500 members nationwide. "The boom in bike travel has been huge," Sayer says. "It cuts across all demographics." He'll tell you more at 8:30 p.m. It's free, although attendees are urged to bring a dish or a cash donation for the potluck. — Cicora

1840 Columbus Rd., 216-830-2667, adventurecycling.org.

The Art of Fashion

Project MOCA Hits the Runway

It's a couture throwdown tonight at MOCA, as nine student designers from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Kent State University, and Virginia Marti College show off original fashions inspired by the concept of "monumentality." Staffers got the idea from MOCA's current exhibition of monumentally sized sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard. "But we kept the definition intentionally general and rather vague," says organizer Pita Brooks. Judging the pieces will a fashion-savvy panel that includes design pros Sean Bilovecky and Dana Sobota of Dredger's Union. DJ Travelogue will provide the music, and attendees can enjoy snacks, a donation bar, and take home swag bags filled with beauty product samples and discounts. It's all happening from 7 to 10 p.m. Cost is $5 for students and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited, so snag your tix asap. — Cicora

8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671, mocacleveland.org.

Kickoff to St. Paddy's Day

A Beer & A Band in Euclid

"It's a party vibe, for sure," says Dave Clemens about tonight's Kick Off to St. Patrick's Day at the Irish American Club, East Side. As proof, he points to the $2 well drinks, the $3 Guinness, the ample dance floor, and the kick-ass band: the Detroit-based Kreellers performing their signature blend of Irish rock, funk, and punk. (You want food? Feel free to BYO beer-friendly snacks.) Better yet, you don't have to be Irish, an East Sider, or even a member of the club to get in to the 8 p.m. concert. Non-members pay $10 at the door, members pay $8, and college students get in for $5 with ID. "It's the kickoff to the season," Clemens enthuses. "It's a real fun time of the year!" — Cicora

22770 Lakeshore Blvd. Euclid, 216-731-4003, irishamericanclubeastside.org.

Sunday | 26

Lakeland Jazz Fest

Big Bands of Kirtland

This weekend's 40th Annual Lakeland Jazz Festival wraps up today in Kirtland with a Big Band Matinee, featuring two swinging jazz ensembles. First up: the Lakeland Civic Jazz Orchestra, performing under the baton of director Dave Sterner. Sterner, one of the festival's coordinators and a teacher at Lakeland and Tri C, is widely considered one of the top sax players in Northeast Ohio. He'll be guiding the orchestra through Adventures in D-Flat, The Music of Count Basie. Sharing the bill is the Dave Banks Big Band, a 17-piece powerhouse out of Akron. Their vast playlist includes everything from Sinatra to Buble, as well as compositions by several arrangers who are associated with the band, including Paul Ferguson and Roland Paolucci. In all, it's a fitting finale to a festival founded in 1972 with the mission of instilling a passion for jazz education in younger generations. It all goes down in the Lakeland Performing Arts Center. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students; get tickets by phone at the number below. Find maps, directions, and a full schedule on the website. — Cicora

7700 Clocktower Dr., Kirtland, 440-525-7134, lakelandcc.edu/concerts.

Vanishing Act

There's Magic at the Civic

Stephen Knight wants you to know that his performance today at the Akron Civic will be family friendly. But that doesn't mean it's just for kids. "I get everyone involved," says the Columbus magician. "Sure, I bring kids onstage to act as my assistants. But when it comes time to do the straitjacket routine, I need a big, burly guy to help." In other words, there really is something for everyone, including a little bit of comedy, a little bit of sleight of hand, and some large-scale illusions, including classics like sawing a lady in half and the show-stopping grand finale, the Houdini Metamorphosis. (What? You think we're gonna spoil the surprise?) A professional entertainer for eight years, Knight says he got his start like many of his fellow magicians: by perfecting the illusions in a childhood magic kit. "I performed my first show for my third-grade classmates," he says. "Hopefully, today's show will be a little bit better." See for yourself at 2:30 p.m. Adults pay $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Kids 3 to 12 are $5; those 2 and younger are free. Get tickets at the box office, by phone, or online. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. — Cicora

182 South Main St., Akron, 330-253-2488, akroncivic.com.

Monday | 27

Which One's Pinker?

A Foot in the Door at the Civic

So you say you just can't get enough of those traveling Pink Floyd cover bands? Here comes a second helping, straight from Manchester, England. Brit Floyd, a year-old spin-off of the venerable Australian Pink Floyd show, is playing tonight at the Akron Civic Theatre. And unlike some of the competition, they don't get their panties in a bunch over the thought of a few gimmicks. "If you want the full Pink Floyd experience, you need all the visuals," says founder, guitarist, singer, and music director Damian Darlington. "You need the big light show, the inflatables, the spectacle — all the bells and whistles." That's just what you'll get tonight when the nine-piece band rips into a two-and-a-half-hour concert featuring every track off Pink Floyd's newly released "best of" album, A Foot in the Door. On the play list: "Hey You," "Have a Cigar," and a 23-minute rendition of "Echoes," off the 1971 album Meddle. What gets the biggest audience response? "Well, 'Wish You Were Here' is obviously always a favorite," muses Darlington. "And of course, 'Comfortably Numb' generally brings down the house. Then again, 'Another Brick in the Wall' is immensely popular ..." In other words, all of them? "Yeah, I think that's probably true." Pick your own fave tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.75 to $39.75 by phone, online, or at the Civic box office. — Cicora

182 South Main St., Akron, 330-253-2488, akroncivic.com.

Tuesday | 28

Free Food!

It's National Pancake Day at IHOP

We're not big fans of chain restaurants. On the other hand, we are very big fans of free pancakes. Hence, our suggestion that you get yourself over to IHOP today for National Pancake Day. On the menu: one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes, served up between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. at more than 1,500 IHOP locations nationwide. (Find a complete list at the website below.) Of course, there is a catch: In return for the flapjacks, management would really like it if you coughed up a voluntary donation to support the Children's Miracle Network and other local charities. (Last year's National Pancake Day netted more than $2.7 million in donations.) But bottom line: It's between your wallet, your belly, and your conscience. We are only the messenger. — Cicora

IHOPPancakeday.com.

Wednesday| 29

CIM Opera Theatre

Fairytales Can Come True

Talk about your fairytale season. Following a successful staging of Massenet's Cendrillon (Cinderella) last fall, the decision-makers at Cleveland Institute of Music's Opera Theatre decided to keep the magic going with Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, which opens today at Kulas Hall. That's a change from what was originally published in the season's concert calendar — Rossini's La Cambiale di Matrimonio — but artistic director David Bamberger promises it's all good. "First and foremost, we are a school, so our first priority is choosing works that will showcase the students well. And this is the better showcase." But more important, Bamberger says, Hansel and Gretel is just plain good theater. "It's just such a beautiful piece, and our production will be very traditional, sung in German with projected translations." Plus, he says, the costumes will be lovely, the score is dazzling, and the story is something that children love and adults can identify with. "It's a wonderful experience for everyone!" The CIM Orchestra, conducted by Harry Davidson, will accompany the Opera Theater. Performances continue through March 3. Tickets are $20 for adults and less for seniors, students, and groups. Buy them online or call the CIM box office. And also note: All patrons are invited to help support the Cleveland Foodbank by bringing a non-perishible food item to the show. A collection box will be waiting in the lobby. — Cicora

11021 East Blvd. 216-791-5000, cim.edu.

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