The Cleveland Pops Orchestra's annual New Year's Eve blowout at Severance Hall isn't just about the concert, conducted by Carl Topilow (pictured). The ninth annual gathering is also about special guests -- like singer Joe Bourne, who's worked with Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick, and Anne Marie Sivertson, a 15-year-old Shaker Heights vocalist who won a music scholarship competition held by the Pops last year. Following the two-hour concert of holiday and classical faves, the action moves to Severance's Grand Foyer and Smith Lobby, where dancing commences till midnight, when balloons are dropped, merriment is made, and everyone bids adieu to 2004. Festivities start at 9 p.m. Friday at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Avenue. Tickets range from $15 to $90, available by calling 216-231-1111. -- Michael Gallucci
Jazz and poetry mingle for a beatnik kinda night.
In a candlelit lounge scented with incense, Deyampert Giles and the Playscape All-Stars become a poet's back-up band for Lyrical Rhythm. The weekly open-mic session is for spoken-word enthusiasts who recite their poems while the trio performs jazz tunes behind them. "Most of the time, we'll just figure out what [the poets] want us to play," explains Giles, the band's bassist. "It comes with having a feel for what they're doing, because, for many of them, they have no experience working with bands. We have to make them feel comfortable."
It must work. Hosted by DJ Q Nice, the freestyle poetry jam has been the buzz among Cleveland's more prolific laureates since it started last spring. "When people come out once, we see them again and again," says Giles. "It's not normal for us to have a person come out once and not bother to show up anymore." Lyrical Rhythm starts at 10 p.m. Tuesday at B-Side Liquor Lounge, 2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights. Admission is $3; call 216-932-1966. -- Cris Glaser
Season of the Mitch
Play House stages Albom's Morrie story.
Charles Kartali has his own Tuesdays With Morrie story: The 37-year-old Cleveland native lived next door to a retiree named Jack in Chicago. Despite the age difference, the neighbors hit it off, discussing Jack's when-I-was-young memories. Portraying Mitch Albom in the writer's autobiographical book-turned-play, Kartali can relate to Albom's weekly visits, when 78-year-old Morrie Schwartz -- battling Lou Gehrig's disease -- gives the youngster some valuable life lessons. "If you live your life like Morrie did with people as the priority, then when you die, you're not really gone," says Kartali. "You live in the hearts of others." Tuesdays With Morrie is at Cleveland Play House's Drury Theatre (8500 Euclid Avenue) Tuesday through January 30. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $34 to $49.50; call 216-795-7000. -- Cris Glaser