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AIDS for Laughs 

The deadly disease gets a comic touch in Beck Center's Jeffrey.

Jeffrey explores gay sex and more at the Beck Center.
  • Jeffrey explores gay sex and more at the Beck Center.

In gay New York, sex isn't something you swear off for the rest of your life. But don't tell that to wannabe actor Jeffrey. The title character in Paul Rudnick's comedy (onstage at the Beck Center) makes that bold decision in the early '90s, when AIDS became known as more than just a gay disease. Terrified of dying from AIDS, Jeffrey gives up sex -- then meets the man of his dreams moments later. "If you sum this play up, it's about love, death, and wisecracks," says director Brian Zoldessy.

And the zingers do fly, as in the scene where a prominent society maven stages an AIDS hoedown at the Waldorf-Astoria. "You have this upper-class, Connecticut, nose-up-in-the-air socialite, who looks like Annie Oakley on acid," says Zoldessy.

That's the kind of humor Rudnick sprinkled throughout the play, to give the serious subject some levity. "Let's laugh at it," Zoldessy says. "It's a great way to combat and understand it, rather than to make it a heavy-duty subject to be maudlin about." Jeffrey is at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through December 14 in the Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Tickets are $15 to $22; call 216-521-2540. -- Cris Glaser

Fake Roots
Brooklyn-based Clem Snide plays like real hillbillies.

THU 11/20

The moody twang at the center of Clem Snide's music sounds genuine. But the rootsy quartet was formed in Boston and is now based in Brooklyn -- hardly twang country. No matter. Clem Snide (the name comes from a character in William S. Burroughs's Cities of the Red Night) makes late-evening, woozy Americana music centered on leader Eef Barzelay's elliptical lyrics. On the band's fourth album, Soft Spot, he writes songs that seem to be about love and other worldly stuff, but closer listens reveal a man who prefers his romantic adventures chased with a shot of pain. He plays the role tentatively, which makes his frontman spot onstage sometimes shaky, sometimes without confidence. But Clem Snide plays pretty music, and its shows usually rock a little bit harder than its habitually sedate albums. Clem Snide, the Mosquitos, and Mike Uva & Hookboy are at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $10 and $12. Call 216-383-1124 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci

Friend of Em
Obie Trice got some teeth on his debut CD.

SAT 11/22"

Obie Trice -- real name, no gimmicks," goes the familiar intro to Eminem's "Without Me," where Slim Shady's Detroit homeboy name-checks himself. Prior to the September release of his debut album, Cheers, Trice busted rhymes on Em's last CD, on his crew D12's disc, and in his movie, 8 Mile. Cheers -- which features production by both Eminem and his mentor, Dr. Dre -- sounds kinda familiar: "Got Some Teeth," the first single, bounces along a club groove and is played strictly for laughs; "Shit Hits the Fan" gives Ja Rule a lyrical beatdown. Trice's teachers are undoubtedly proud. He's at the Phantasy Theatre (11802 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood) at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $23.50; call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci

Freedom of Choice

SAT 11/22

Hasidic New Wave evokes images of guys in yarmulkes playing Devo songs. But the New York-based quintet by that name performs something it calls "traditional-experimental Jewish jazz," which can be just as fun. Yakar Rhythms, a Senegalese Sabar drum ensemble, joins Hasidic New Wave onstage -- a collaboration that's sure to leave audiences verklempt. They're at the Performing Arts Center at Tri-C's Eastern Campus (4250 Richmond Road in Highland Hills) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $22; call 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci

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