Two days after the national tour of Golda's Balcony opened in Fort Lauderdale a couple of months ago, Valerie Harper raced to Miami to escape Hurricane Wilma. Still, she couldn't find electricity, food, or fresh water. "At our hotel, we scooped water from the swimming pool to flush the toilet," says Harper, who stars in the one-woman show about late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. "I thought about how we take luxuries for granted."
Meir also crossed her mind as she hovered over the john. How would the Israeli leader have dealt with natural disasters? "She wasn't only a world figure, she was American," says Harper. "Not only American, but midwestern. She was no-nonsense, call-it-like-it-is."
The play chronicles Meir's life from her Milwaukee childhood to serving as Israel's first female leader in 1969 -- a year before Harper got her big break on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Rhoda Morgenstern. "Golda was a towering figure," says Harper. "She cared about the region and only wanted peace." Golda's Balcony is at the Palace Theatre (1615 Euclid Avenue) Wednesday through Sunday. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 to $44.50; call 216-241-6000. -- Cris Glaser
Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut
Cincy Ballet brings a Christmas classic to town.
The Pennsylvania Ballet is giving its feet a rest this year, as the Cincinnati Ballet takes over Playhouse Square's annual presentation of The Nutcracker. This newer version of the seasonal spectacle features choreography by Val Caniparoli -- whose work shouldn't strike anyone as traditional. "The movement he creates is more grounded," says principal dancer Kristi Capps. "He uses all these tricky things, like syncopation. He wants it to keep moving." If anything, Caniparoli's version should appear more realistic and human than what you're used to. "All the colors blend together really well, and it's almost 3-D," says Capps. "It makes the stage look humongous, so much larger than it really is." The Nutcracker is at the Allen Theatre (1501 Euclid Avenue) Wednesday through December 11. Tickets are $15 to $68; call 216-241-6000. -- Zachary Lewis
Comedian pisses off people of every race.
Mark Colella has lampooned just about every ethnic group in the seven years he's done stand-up comedy in Cleveland. "I go after the jugular," he says. "Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable." The 31-year-old North Royalton native is a regular at Hilarities' weekly Toga! party. But four times a month, he hits the road to play comedy clubs between New York and Las Vegas. "It's not as awesome as you might think," he says. "You show up one night, do your thing, stay at a crappy hotel, then go to another gig. It's not very glamorous." Colella performs at 8 p.m. Monday at Hilarities East 4th Street, 2035 East 14th Street. Tickets are $10 and $13; call 216-241-7425. -- Cris Glaser
Say Hi to Rudolph
Sunday's Holiday Circlefest offers many free seasonal activities: You can pet a reindeer at the Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Drive; 216-231-4600), make Tiffany-style lamps at the Botanical Garden (11030 East Boulevard; 216-721-1600), and tour the Play House's tree-lined lobbies (8500 Euclid Avenue; 216-795-7000). The day culminates in a parade. It all happens from 1 to 5:30 p.m. at 20 venues throughout University Circle. Call 216-707-5033 for a schedule. -- Cris Glaser