A Christmas Story holds a special place in Clevelanders' hearts. After all, the 1983 movie -- about Ralphie Parker and the Red Ryder 200 Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle he hopes to find under the tree -- was mostly filmed in town. With the exception of The Drew Carey Show, it offers more spot-the-location fun for locals than any other movie or TV show.
The Cleveland Play House's stage adaptation (opening Friday) of writer Jean Shepherd's holiday memories is one of the first professional stagings of the play, says director Seth Gordon, who admits he's treading sacred ground. "We studied the movie very carefully," he says. "And we're doing what's best for the production."
Which means most of the familiar set pieces -- a visit with a harried department-store Santa, a ruined holiday dinner, and Ralphie's fateful first encounter with the BB gun -- are retained. Says Gordon: "It makes you think about your childhood and the power of family." A Christmas Story is at the Cleveland Play House's Bolton Theatre (8500 Euclid Avenue) through December 18. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $49.50; call 216-795-7000. . -- Michael Gallucci
Akron band looks for girls, finds a bass player instead.
For some bands, finding that special someone to round out the group is a matter of fate. For other bands, it's just a matter of hanging outside a music store, hoping to bump into a future bandmate. That's how singer Scott Sanders and drummer Dan Dimick of Akron-based 4starRADAR snagged bassist April Vawn. "She also makes vocal sounds when she feels like it," adds Sanders. The self-described power trio grabs its guitar-heavy sound from the early-1990s modern-rock bands they listen to. Sanders refers to it as "raw-ternative" music. "It's nothing that you've never seen before," says Sanders. "So just let us do our thing our way, and if you like it, great. And if you don't like it, that's okay too. This is what we do." 4starRADAR plays Jillian's (363 South Main Street in Akron) at 10 p.m. Friday. Admission is $5. Call 330-252-0085 for more information. . -- Katherine Fulton
Sweet Baby Ben
Famous rock offspring opens for Mom.
Carly Simon's latest CD, Moonlight Serenade, covers the same batch of oldies Rod Stewart now favors. But where Stewart stumbles over the material, Simon approaches it with grace and style. She headlines a concert Wednesday at Playhouse Square. Be sure to get there early to see opener Ben Taylor -- who also happens to be Simon's son (light-rockin' singer-songwriter James Taylor is his dad). On his new album, Another Run Around the Sun, Taylor invokes his old man in both tone (slightly nasal) and style (mellow acoustic pop), but there's one difference: Dad hasn't made an album this good in almost 30 years. Show time is 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $55 and $69.50; call 216-241-6000. . -- Michael Gallucci
Comedian Barry Weintraub admits that he's "all about politics. I try to spread [my jokes] around, but I can't hide it." Yet, he won't preach onstage when he can just focus on the absurdity of current events. "[Recent] developments," he says, "have vindicated my comedy positions." Hear Weintraub stick it to the man at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre (2035 East Fourth Street) at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets are $10 and $13; call 216-241-7425. -- P.F. Wilson