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APRIL

18 FRIDAY

The movie musical West Side Story beat out Fanny, The Hustler, The Guns of Navarone, and Judgment at Nuremburg to win the 1961 Academy Award for best picture--one of ten Oscars it took. Now it's the latest film to be flogged on a sing-along tour that coincides with its release on DVD. Sing-a-Long West Side Story starts tonight at 7 and runs through Thursday, April 24, at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport, Chicago. Tickets are $18 and include a costume parade and a goody bag of props. For tickets visit the box office or call 312-902-1500.

Writer and performer Laurie Larson and director Jessica Thebus originally wanted to get 100 women dressed in yellow to act out their adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1892 short story "The Yellow Wallpaper"--a classic feminist parable of alienation in which the already depressed heroine is driven mad by the yellow wallpaper in her room. At press time they'd only managed to round up 40 performers, but the piece will still be presented tonight as part of Female Identity 2: Flexible Hold, the second installment in the performance series "Estrogen Fest 2003: Female Identity--It's Not Just About the Hair." Performances are tonight and tomorrow, April 19, and next Thursday through Saturday, at 7:30 at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph, Chicago. Tickets are $12; call 312-742-8497 or see the sidebar in Section Two for more information.

"The results will be amazing, strange, weird, confusing, abstract, and definitely something you've never seen before," says Dexter Bullard, artistic director of the Plasticene theater company, of tonight's improvisational jam, in which a dozen performers will create a piece using objects sprung on them at the start of the show. In the past Bullard's used beanbag chairs, giant rolls of paper, PVC pipes, aquarium gravel, and plastic drop cloths for inspiration in creating the group's physical performance pieces. But this is the first time the creative process will happen in front of a live audience. Tonight's performance is part of the PAC/edge Performance Festival and will feature improvised lighting and video projections by Nikki Lint, "sonic improvisations" by Eric Leonardson, and performers from Plasticene and other companies in the festival. It starts at 10 in the Athenaeum Theatre's Studio 3, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago. Tickets are $5; call 773-722-5463 or see the sidebar in Section Two for more festival information.

19 SATURDAY

Three of the five members of the local roots-rock band Old No. 8 sport long, beautiful, down-to-there hair. But tonight they'll be cutting off their tresses and donating them to Locks of Love, a Florida-based organization that provides custom-made hairpieces for children who've lost their hair. The haircuts are part of this weekend's Funds for the Young'uns benefit for LoL and Children's Memorial Hospital. The newly shorn Old No. 8 will perform, as will the belly dance group Read My Hips, the improv comedy ensemble Dan Vegas, and acoustic blues musicians Eric Noden and Rick Sherry. There'll also be a bachelor auction, a raffle, and a ponytail drive, in which folks are invited to donate their own hair (ten inches or longer, please) to the cause. Tonight's installment starts at 8 at Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln, Chicago. A brunch tomorrow, April 20, starts at 1 and includes food as well as performances by Old No. 8 and the Outlaw Family Band. It's also at Wise Fools; tickets to each event are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 773-274-2159 for more information.

20 SUNDAY

"You get to watch everything being prepared and eat a full meal at the end," says chef-instructor Denise Norton about today's Easter brunch cooking class at the Chopping Block. Students can sip Creole cafe au lait and ask questions while Norton prepares crepes with bananas Foster, baked eggs with goat cheese and fresh herbs, and asparagus-and-prosciutto strudel. Norton describes the class, which is limited to 15 participants, as "sort of like cooking in your own house"--minus the mess. There'll be two sessions today, one from 10 to noon and one from 2 to 4, at the Chopping Block, 1324 W. Webster, Chicago. It's $50 per person and reservations are required; call 773-472-6700.

21 MONDAY

In its current form, the Chicago Area Transportation Study's Shared Path 2030 Regional Transportation Plan calls for $73 billion to improve local road and rail systems over the next three decades. That's about $12 billion more than they expect the government to be able to fund, which is partly why the seven-county metropolitan planning organization is looking for public input. "We would like some guidance as to how to pare it down--what they would like to see left in or left out," says a spokesperson. The first in a series of community meetings kicks off today at 4 at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. in Chicago. There's another Wednesday, April 23, from 4 to 8 at the Libertyville Sports Complex, 1950 N. Highway 45 in Libertyville, and one on Thursday, April 24, from 4 to 8 at the Wheaton Park District Community Center, 1777 S. Blanchard in Wheaton. For a complete schedule or more on the plan call 312-793-3466 or visit www.catsmpo.com.

22 TUESDAY

Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt, who grew up in west Texas, was a wife and mother by the time she turned 15. "I realize that my own story gives me empathy with the women, men, and young people who have told me in letters, E-mail, and face-to-face conversations about their most important choices," says Feldt, who hits town tonight to discuss and read from her new memoir and essay collection, Behind Every Choice Is a Story. By publicizing people's stories about sex, love, pregnancy, and families, she says, "we can create a more productive discussion about reproductive health and rights....There's still a culture of dangerous silence around sexuality, reproductive health, pregnancy, and abortion." She'll appear tonight at 7:30 at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Chicago. It's free; call 773-769-9299.

23 WEDNESDAY

The Barbie doll, that quintessential piece of Americana, was born as Bild Lilli, a German doll based on a cartoon character and first created as a novelty gift item in 1952. Ruth Handler, cofounder of Mattel and "mother" to Barbie, bought several Lilli dolls on a European trip, and Mattel acquired the rights before bringing out the American version in 1959. The ongoing Barbie Show at the Milano Model & Toy Museum includes a Lilli and the first edition of Barbie (in her striped one-piece swimsuit), plus about 100 other vintage Barbies, Kens, and Skippers, all from the collection of Chicagoan Sherry Baloun. It continues through April 30 at the museum, 116 Park in Elmhurst. Hours are 6 to 9 PM on weekdays, 11 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors 65 and over, and free for kids under 10. Call 630-279-4422.

24 THURSDAY

Raw food guru David Wolfe says eating uncooked stuff can remedy an "apparent disconnection" with nature that began when humans started cooking with fire. According to him, kitchens, restaurants, processing, and packaging "are all major contributing factors in humanity's fall from grace" and from good health. Wolfe, who owns a company that sells supplies--everything from bulk organic grains to juicers--for the raw-food life, will discuss his books, including Eating for Beauty and Nature's First Law, tonight at a dinner sponsored by Organic Food Network and Wild Oats Market. It starts at 6 at the Katherine Legge Memorial Lodge, 5901 S. County Line Rd. in Hinsdale. Tickets, which include a "gourmet uncooked Asian-themed" meal, are $50; check www.organicfoodnetwork.net or call 630-836-1864 for more information.

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