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Say It With Swastikas 

A daring community theater takes on Nazi Germany.

Nazis get Bent out of shape at the Players - Guild Theatre.
  • Nazis get Bent out of shape at the Players Guild Theatre.

Bent, the story of the Nazis' persecution of homosexuals, is at the Players Guild Theater this weekend. Tough and controversial, the show is miles away from the let's-put-on-a-musical fluff typical of community-theater stages. "It's an ambitious project for us," admits director Carla Derr. "We haven't attempted anything of this subject matter before. It's a great opportunity for theatergoers to explore issues they normally don't get with The Music Man and The Sound of Music."

Martin Sherman's harrowing play depicts the treatment of World War II-era European gays, who were the first to be arrested and hauled off to concentration camps, and who remained imprisoned even after the fall of the Third Reich. The focus is on Paragraph 175, an old German law that made homosexuality a criminal offense. "It's still a timely piece," Derr says of the 24-year-old play. "I hope people get that, no matter what your bent is, love exists in many forms and transcends any boundaries." The Players Guild Theater is at 1001 Market Avenue in Canton. Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10. Call 330-453-7617 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci

Monkey Islanders
The Put-in-Bay vibe hits the mainland when the Naked Monkeys play.

SAT 11/15

The Naked Monkeys are all about the island vibe -- the Erie islands, that is, where partying starts at the break of dawn and lasts till the final ferry leaves. "Once we experienced the carefree, anything-goes atmosphere of Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island, we decided to try and bring that vibe into our live show," says bassist Ken Glaser. And it's working. With its trademark original tune "Funky Monkey," the Buffettesque quartet won a recent Quaker Steak & Lube Battle of the Bands and plans to release a CD called Chasing the Sun next month. That's good news for those who want to "get in touch with their tribal side," as Glaser puts it. "We guarantee we'll keep your hips swiveling and your feet moving. So dance like nobody's watching." The Naked Monkeys play from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Red Clay on the River, 5150 Liberty Avenue in Vermilion. Admission is free; call 440-967-0313. -- Cris Glaser

Not-Wailin' Jennings
Folksinger takes it nice 'n' easy.

WED 11/19

Mason Jennings is an old-fashioned guy, who sings about love and life while picking out pretty melodies on an acoustic guitar. He's also an earnest young man. "I'm tired of the overuse of irony in pop culture today," he says. "I believe in honesty and beauty." He's been on the road for the past year, working his third album, Century Spring, and picking up quite a fan base along the way. Think Jack Johnson (who chose Jennings to open for him last year) at the grassroots level. Jennings plays the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $12, available by calling 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci

Earth to Sweden

SAT 11/15

You'd think Sweden's leading dance company, K. Kvarnström & Co., would be all detached and icy, in an Ingmar Bergman kinda way. But the 15-year-old troupe is actually among the world's most intimate. Its latest show, Fragile, is a moving and stylized tribute to Scandinavian design and dance. The company performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at Tri-C's Performing Arts Center (4250 Richmond Road in Highland Hills). Tickets are $22, available by calling 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci

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