When Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991, it seemed like the end of one of rock's most theatrical ensembles.
But the band's record company has released 3,786 compilations since then. The surviving members just put out a CD with Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers. And a tribute show, Queen -- It's a Kinda Magic!, is almost as good as the real thing.
Craig Pesco, who plays Mercury, "is Freddie," says Peter Freestone, who was Mercury's personal assistant during the last dozen years of his life. "He takes me back to the first Queen shows I did."
The show -- which comes to Playhouse Square's State Theatre on Thursday, one of only two U.S. dates on a world tour -- plays like a mid-'80s Queen concert. In other words, it's virtually a greatest-hits retrospective. "It has all the things people want to hear," says Freestone, who first saw the production in Singapore earlier this year. "Most of the audience never had the chance to see Freddie live."
And the late singer would approve of the tribute concert, says Freestone: "He'd be very flattered and probably a little shocked." Show time is 8 p.m. at the State Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $39.50 to 59.50; call 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci
Wild and Crazy Guys
Fine Arts stages Steve Martin's Picasso comedy.
Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein never met in real life. But that didn't stop Steve Martin from pitting the painter and genius in a battle of wits in his 1997 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The fantasy encounter takes place in 1904 in a Parisian bar, where a 25-year-old Einstein debates a 23-year-old Picasso about art, science, and the fast-changing world around them. "It's a year before Einstein published his theory of relativity, and a year after Picasso burst out of his Blue Period and shook the entire art world with his cubism," says Ann Hedger, who's directing the Fine Arts Association's production. "It's a commentary on the 20th century, the change of industrialism into culturalism, and the impact that the art world and the science world had on the 20th century." Picasso comes to the Fine Arts Association (38660 Mentor Avenue in Willoughby) Friday through October 22. Curtain time is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets range from $19 to $46; call 440-951-6637. -- Cris Glaser
Corpulent comedian prepares for a life in Vegas.
Louie Anderson helped pioneer the concept of family dysfunction as stand-up fodder in the '80s. Since then, he's hosted Family Feud, penned three memoirs, and overseen a cartoon based on his childhood. At the end of this month, he starts a new chapter in Las Vegas, where he'll perform daily at the Excalibur. He promises a new show, which he'll test this weekend at Hilarities. Still, expect plenty of jokes about his massive size. "My first words were 'seconds, please,'" he quips. Anderson performs at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre (2035 East Fourth Street) Thursday through Sunday. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, and 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $20 to $30; call 216-736-4242. -- P.F. Wilson
Drifters co-founder Bill Pinkney will sing his swan song at Saturday's Ultimate Doo-Wop Show. But before the 80-year-old retires from performing classics like "On Broadway" and "This Magic Moment," supporting acts like the Del Vikings ("Come Go With Me") and Gene Chandler ("Duke of Earl") take the stage. It starts at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $35 and $55, available by calling 216-241-6000. -- Cris Glaser