- Our Town is a very, very, very fine town.
Ron Newell visualized the scene as he waited for the cameras to roll. He would storm into the hall, knock on the apartment door, and tell the rock band inside to knock it off. In the next shot, one of the rockers raps on Newell's door with a peace offering: a bag of Big Macs.
"In the last scene, you see these flashing whoopee lights and me, the old codger, playing the accordion in the band," laughs the 74-year-old Newell about his role in a McDonald's commercial taped in Cleveland last year.
When he's not shooting ads or bit TV parts, Newell roots himself in local theater. His latest gig is playing the Stage Manager in Ensemble Theatre's production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. "I'm back on the stage where I got my equity card from [director Richard Oberlin], who worked with Wilder, who was working on Our Town as the Stage Manager [at the College of Wooster]," he laughs. "That's the joy of theater." It opens Saturday and runs through September 26 at the Cleveland Play House's Brooks Theatre, 8500 Euclid Avenue. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $22 and $24; call 216-795-7000. -- Cris Glaser
Local bands explore the many shades of rage.
"Punk rock, to me, is really just rock boiled down to its essence," says Paul Hooper, guitarist for Akron's Dropgun, which prefers a sped-up version of blues-based rock to pure chaos. "To me, punk was always about the beat." On the other hand, the Science Fiction Idols have their roots in Trash Vegas, a glam-tinged band that self-destructed in the mid-'90s. Wrapped in a boa, singer Bobby LaMonde is the skipper of a stylish crew that plays '70s-style angry glam with titles like "Ballad of the New Young Creeps" and "I Love Your Mouth." "If you dig trashy, ass-shakin' rock and roll, come out to see us," says guitarist Gary Strutt. "I'm not talking about ultra-dull, pretentious egghead rock. You'll have fun at our shows." Dropgun, the Science Fiction Idols, and the Skipped play the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 p.m. Friday. Admission is $6; call 216-383-1124. -- D.X. Ferris
Artist branches out for new exhibit.
Susie Frazier Mueller's Intuition told her she would find the makings of an art exhibit on the forest floor. The "eco-artist" spent two years collecting leaves, branches, and bark to create the "Zen-like" pieces. "It's unusual to see driftwood meander across a wall," she says. "But it's meditative to bring the earth's patterns into our personal space." No need to tell Joan Perch, owner of ArtMetro. "I think Susie's art reaches that part in each of us that longs to bring our external experience of nature indoors." Intuition runs September 10 through October 8 at ArtMetro, 530 Euclid Avenue. It's open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free; call 216-696-1942 for more information. -- Cris Glaser
Arizona roots-rockers Calexico toss in a mariachi version of Love's "Alone Again Or" on their latest EP, Convict Pool. There's also a cover of the Minutemen's "Corona" and the French "Si Tu Disais" assembled among a handful of Joey Burns originals. Calexico is at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 day of show, available by calling 216-383-1124. -- Michael Gallucci