- Puppets annoy the perplexed hero of Forest Song (Friday).
Porthouse Theatre kicks off its 2004 season tonight with Godspell, Stephen Schwartz's 33-year-old musical about peace, love, and understanding. Schwartz -- recently nominated for a bunch of Tonys for Wicked -- threw together contemporary rock-opera conventions (longhairs get all anxious over the state of the world), biblical imagery (the book of Matthew is quoted extensively), and songs that teeter between 1970s-era AM radio and Broadway bombast. Godspell is at Blossom Music Center's Porthouse Theatre (1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls) through June 26. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $17 to $23, available by calling 330-929-4416.
Friday, June 11
The four mostly futuristic tales that make up Robot Stories have one thing in common: a sense that life will pretty much be the same 20 years from now -- except for the mechanical babies, programmed temp workers, and memory-saving machines. Writer-director Greg Pak doesn't let the sci-fi scenarios dictate his work as much as he does the indie aesthetic. Of the quartet, "The Robot Fixer," in which a mother completes her estranged, comatose son's toy collection, is the most moving; "Machine Love," where two robotic office workers find comfort in each other's fused and wired arms, is the silliest. Ultimately, Robot Stories is a journey through life: It begins at an adoption center and ends with the death of an old man. It screens at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 7:30 tonight and 9:20 p.m. tomorrow. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450.
Forest Song, an original dance-theater piece premiering tonight, is about a woods-dwelling nymph who trades her immortality to be with a local boy. "People fall in love and do all kinds of silly things and sacrifice bits of who they are to become what that other person wants," explains director Michael D. Flohr. "And often what that other person wanted was who they were before they tried to change. It happens all the time." The tale is told via Ukrainian folk songs, traditional dances . . . and puppets! "The character of Death is 13 feet tall," Flohr says. "He really spreads out." Forest Song is at Cleveland Public Theatre's Old Parish Hall (6209 Detroit Avenue) at 8 tonight and tomorrow and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 and $15, available by calling 216-832-4225.
Saturday, June 12
Akron's weekly Homegrown Saturday Mornin' offers the usual assortment of garden goodies (bushels of tomatoes, carrots, and corn) as well as freshly baked pies and bread, homemade ice cream, and chunks of cheese. Crafty folks will bring along artwork, jewelry, ceramics, and pottery to unload, and demonstrations on everything from gardening to cooking will take place. All this, plus strolling entertainment! It happens 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through September 25 at Lock 3 Live! (next to the Civic Theatre on Main Street in Akron). Admission is free; call 330-535-3179.
Sunday, June 13
The sixth-annual Art on the Village Green, happening today, doesn't want your crafts. It doesn't want anything that's not two-dimensional either. So don't even think of entering that ceramic fishin' monkey you made last week. This is a "fine art show and sale." Cash prizes go to Best of Show and People's Choice. There'll be food there too, just in case you get hungry looking at all those paintings, prints, and drawings. It takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Westfield Center (on Park Circle). Admission is free. For more information, call 330-336-3651.
Monday, June 14
No surprise that some Cleveland Museum of Art employees spend their free time painting, photographing, and sculpting. They're around the stuff all day, so inspiration is bound to rub off. Nearly three dozen museum workers contribute to the Staff Invitational at the Cleveland Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Branch (1962 Stokes Boulevard) through July 22. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. Admission is free; call 216-421-7340.
Tuesday, June 15
On their fifth album, It's All Around You, the post-rockers of Chicago's Tortoise add some vocals to the mostly instrumental mix. The result is both encouraging (all that guitar-propelled droning can get monotonous) and invigorating (neo-torch singer Kelly Hogan just coos, but she stirs the band just the same). It's also Tortoise's most cohesive CD, which should adapt well live when the band plays the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9:30 tonight. Tickets are $15 and $17. They are available by calling 216-383-1124.
Wednesday, June 16
Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant met more than 20 years ago, when they were plus-size models competing for the same New York jobs. "We were rivals," Grant says. "We were the only two black models at the agency, and casting is very specific. We had great potential not to like each other." Instead they've just completed their third novel together, Better Than I Know Myself, a breezy bit of chick lit that traces three decades in the lives of three African American pals. "There's this myth that women in general, and black women in particular, can't work together and that we're always at each other," Grant says. "That's not how it really is. There are more of us in these sustaining friendships than what's shown in the media." And, yes, Better truly is a collaborative effort. "We both do everything," Grant explains. "We talk about things, then we sit down at a computer together. The keyboard goes back and forth at random." DeBerry and Grant sign copies of Better Than I Know Myself at 7 tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (13217 Shaker Square). Admission is free. For more information, call 216-751-3300.