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Wonder-Bred

Cleveland dancer taps to the R&B tunes she heard as a kid.

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In her mother's dance studio 12 years ago, Sarah Savelli became entranced with the messages of peace and love in Stevie Wonder's music and lyrics. So when Playhouse Square's arts-education department gave the 30-year-old dancer the chance to create tonight's production of Wonderland: A Tap Tribute to Stevie Wonder, she set out to fashion a theatrical memorial far different than homages like the ABBA-inspired Mamma Mia! "His music has a message to it already," says Savelli. "We didn't want to impose a story over it, but we wanted the music to shape the show into something that had a purpose."Performing the show on a smaller scale during its debut last year, Savelli has since revamped it, adding dancers, a live band, and spoken-word artist Shihan. She's also managed to whittle down 75 Wonder songs into a coherent flow of music to tell a story. "When you see the word peace, it's on a shirt or a bumper sticker, and it doesn't mean much," says Savelli. "We examine peace through relationships, and Wonder's music is all about peace." The tribute starts at 7:30 tonight at the Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $10 to $35. Call 216-241-6000 or visit www.playhousesquare.org.
Fri., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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