This Week's Day-By-Day Picks

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The Black Squirrel Pub 7289 State Route 43, Kent 330-676-1618. Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Bar remains open later.
Big hats, big grins, and a big ol' barnful of fun await at - Oklahoma! (Thursday).
Big hats, big grins, and a big ol' barnful of fun await at Oklahoma! (Thursday).
Thursday, July 31

Who knew there was a contemporary political angle to Oklahoma!? "It focuses on the American dream," says Terri Kent, director of Porthouse Theatre's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical comedy. "Being American [today] means something completely different than it did 50 years ago. It was about owning a piece of land and making a contribution to your country. [Now] it's about being behind the government's decisions." The 1943 stage classic won a Pulitzer Prize for its then-groundbreaking approach to musicals (foremost, its music served the story, not the other way around). Oklahoma! is at Blossom Music Center's Porthouse Theatre (1145 Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls) through August 10. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 to $22; call 800-304-2363.

Friday, August 1

The food choices at this weekend's Shish-Ka-Bob Festival set this summer fest apart from the others. In place of the usual funnelcake/ lemonade/sausage-sandwich offerings, there's gyros, kafta, falafel, and tabouli. Then there's the shish kebabs -- available as a dinner with kafta, rice, hummus, and bread. Sure beats greasy fries in supersized paper cups. There's also plenty of live ethnic music, children's activities, and crafts. The Shish-Ka-Bob Festival takes place from 6 to 11 p.m. today, 4 p.m. to midnight tomorrow, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church (2587 West 14th Street). Admission is free. Call 216-781-9020 for more information.

While the owls, lemurs, and other nocturnal critters will have a ball at tonight's Twilight at the Zoo, some of the crankier residents -- like the lions, tigers, and bears -- may not enjoy being kept up past their bedtimes. The 10th annual night party includes food, drinks, and more than 15 bands. Twilight at the Zoo takes place from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way, off Fulton Road). Admission is $55 and $65. Call 216-661-6500 for more information.

Saturday, August 2

Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, photographer William Klein's 1974 film of the boxing legend, is basically split into two parts: Ali's 1964 title bout against heavyweight champ Sonny Liston (when Ali was still known as Cassius Clay) and his comeback a decade later, in a highly publicized fight against George Foreman in Zaire. The early scenes work the best, in their rendering of the era, main subject, and floating characters (including Malcolm X and a quartet of familiar-looking, mop-topped Liverpudlians). It's not as expertly handled as the 1996 Rumble in the Jungle doc When We Were Kings, but it is a fitting companion piece. Muhammad Ali, the Greatest is at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 9:45 tonight and 7 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are $7, $4 for members. Call 216-421-7450 for more information.

Sunday, August 3

Mariah Carey's latest album, Charmbracelet, isn't the career-halting catastrophe that 2001's Glitter was. It may not have returned her to her mid-'90s peak, but "Through the Rain" got major airplay, and a new single (a cover of Def Leppard's "Bringing on the Heartbreak") is being aggressively worked on radio, seven months after the album's release. And after all the record-company musical chairs, the public breakdowns, and the resounding thud that met her vanity film project (Glitter again), Carey has sort of rebounded. And she still sings the hell out of the many hit songs in her catalog. She's at Scene Pavilion (2014 Sycamore Street) at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $75, available by calling 216-241-5555.

Monday, August 4

The last time Mars was this close to Earth was 100,000 years ago. Even Feagler missed it. Which makes the Shafran Planetarium's two new programs -- Red Alert -- Don't Miss This! and Red Rover, Red Rover, Let Mars Come Over -- that more special. Not only do visitors get all the background info they'll ever need about the angry Red Planet that will someday conquer Earth; they also get a peek as it zooms across the solar system. Red Alert (recommended for ages 5 and up) and Red Rover (all ages) play at the Shafran Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Drive) through the end of the month. Admission to each is an additional $3 on top of the museum's $4 to $7 fee. Call 216-231-1177 for times, reservations, and more information.

Tuesday, August 5

On his sixth album, No Other Love, former Green on Red guitarist Chuck Prophet stirs the rootsy Americana and swamp-rock gumbo he's been simmering for more than a decade. He's exploring some new sounds -- funk, Middle Eastern rhythms, even white-guy hip-hop -- that give his songs even more sonic depth. Live, he pares them down to their rock and roll foundation. Prophet and his Mission Express band are at the Beachland (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 tonight. Tickets are $10 and $12. Call 216-383-1124 for more info.

Wednesday, August 6

The Cleveland Repertory Project presents a pair of revivals tonight. The fact that Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring and Ian Horvath's Laura's Women have little in common is the point, says artistic director Hernando Cortez. "They tie together because of their contrast. [Other artistic directors] tie in pieces because of their similarities. I like programming the differences in pieces to show the eclectic [nature] of dance." Also on the bill is Cortez's Planet Soup, a globe-trotting mélange of Indian, Irish, and African dances. "It fuses ethnic dances from around the world to this athletic global groove," he says. The Cleveland Repertory Project performs at 8 p.m. at Cain Park (Superior Avenue and Lee Road in Cleveland Heights). Tickets range from $11 to $18, available by calling 216-371-3000.

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