The third-annual Lord of the Rings Marathon starts tonight with a lecture that asks, "The Lord of the Rings on the Screen: Does It Work?" Seeing that the first two films grossed more than $650 million, we're gonna say yes. (The final part of the trilogy, The Return of the King, hits screens next month.) The three-day Tolkien celebration includes workshops, a screening of The Two Towers' extended DVD version, a reception (with food, live music, and raffles), and talks. At the center of it all is a marathon reading of The Return of the King, which begins Friday night and ends sometime Saturday afternoon. It starts at 6 p.m. at Cleveland State University's Mather Mansion (2605 Euclid Avenue). Admission is free; visit www.csuohio.edu/lotr for info.
Friday, November 21
The Wizard of Oz, opening tonight at the Fine Arts Association, comes complete with flying monkeys -- and almost everything else that makes the 1939 movie a beloved classic. "We're doing the film script," says director Janet Shank. "There's the book, of course, but everyone knows the film. We try to emulate that onstage." So expect plenty of music, as Dorothy and her ragtag pals ease on down the yellow brick road. "It's just magical," Shank says. "It's a holiday show, without really being a holiday show.'" The Wizard of Oz runs through December 14 at the Fine Arts Association (38660 Mentor Avenue in Willoughby). Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $16 and $18. Call 440-951-7500 for more info.
Saturday, November 22
Janet Macoska, one of rock music's finest photographers, has been shooting pictures in and around Cleveland for more than 25 years. It's Always Rock and Roll, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, gathers more than 50 of her prints. "I became a rock and roll fanatic when the Beatles came to America in 1964," she says. "I was 10 years old, and everything changed for me." Included are onstage photos of Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, and the Ramones. "[I like] photographing theatrically trained performers, like [David] Bowie," Macoska says. "They make my life a lot easier than, say, a blues guitar player." It's Always Rock and Roll is at the Rock Hall (751 Erieside Avenue) through April 30. It's open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (except Wednesday, when it's open to 9 p.m.). Admission ranges from $11.50 to $15. Call 216-515-1930 for more information.
Face it. The holidays are almost here. And while Hokey Pokey Elmo and the Barbie Cook With Me Smart Kitchen make totally awesome gifts, some folks on your list would surely prefer something a little less mass-produced. That's where today's Artists' Holiday Season Sale comes in. Featuring gobs of locally crafted artwork -- everything from jewelry, stained glass, pottery, and sculpture to textiles, paintings, baskets, and handmade cards -- it's a good chance to pick up a one-of-a-kind present. There's also a bake sale -- though those purchases are best if dispensed before Christmas. The seasonal sale takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Art House (3119 Denison Avenue). Admission is free. For more information, call 216-398-8556.
Sunday, November 23
Nothing drives home the holidays like a big-ass tree. The Holiday Tree Festival has its symphonies, choirs, and the Northeast Ohio Flute Ensemble, but it's the pines that stand out. More than 400 lavishly decorated trees and wreaths are on display through November 30 at Quaker Station at the Crowne Plaza Quaker Square (135 South Broadway Street in Akron). It's open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. Call 330-543-8100 for more information.
Monday, November 24
Laurence Channing has spent much of the past decade drawing the streets, bridges, and buildings of Cleveland. "A city is a lot of things," he says. "It's sort of a theater for me when I walk around in it or drive through it. To me, it's a medium of reflection." Recently, Channing added bodies to his charcoal landscapes for the first time. "It's a bit of a departure for me," he admits. "I just found myself getting interested in people. I took lots of pictures of people, wondering what I was going to draw next. And, more and more, they just asked to be drawn." An exhibit featuring 18 new works by Channing runs through November 29 at the Bonfoey Gallery (1710 Euclid Avenue). It's open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 216-621-0178.
Tuesday, November 25
The Tom Turkey Tea Party, today's prelude to Thanksgiving festivities, doesn't feature Tom or any of his family or friends. Instead, cookies and tea are served along with holiday-themed stories. A short hike kicks off the whole thing, starting at
11 a.m. at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center (28728 Wolf Road in Bay Village). Admission is $9 per child with adult. Call 440-871-2900 for more information.
Wednesday, November 26
Sure feels like Riverdance has been around a lot longer than its eight years, doesn't it? Maybe it's because of the imitators out there, dancing their cut-rate jigs and blowing tin whistles. Or maybe it's because the self-styled "original international phenomenon" has been to town, like, two dozen times. It's back again with 41 svelte step-dancers, who bring their old-school Irish charm and new-school sex appeal to E.J. Thomas Hall (198 Hill Street in Akron) through Sunday, November 30. Show times are 7:30 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $30 to $60, available by calling 330-972-7570.