Staffpicks for 4-16-08

April 16-20
‘The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God’

    There’s more to the University of Louisville than basketball, despite what March Madness tells us. Its African American Theatre Program, founded in 1993, was the first theater department in the United States to offer a concentration in African-American theater.
    After a busy year that included student trips to New York and the university’s first theater tour of China, the department concludes its season with a production of Djanet Sears’ “The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.”
    Grieving the loss of a young daughter, the imminent failure of her marriage and an ailing father, heroine Rainey is in the midst of a crisis of faith. While that may sound like a call for the Kleenex, director Deana Thomas says audiences will be surprised how this fast-paced drama may make them laugh and cry almost in the same moments. —Rebecca Haithcoat
U of L Playhouse
Third & Cardinal Blvd.
$8-$12; 8 p.m. (Wed.-Sun.), 3 p.m. (Sun.)

April 16-June 29
‘Werner Reiterer: Raw Loop’

    Have you ever walked under 21c Museum Hotel’s outdoor chandelier at Seventh and Main and heard it groan? The sculpture by Werner Reiterer, his first public work, reacts when a button is pushed inside of Proof on Main restaurant.
    Louisville’s love affair with Reiterer continues with his first solo show in America, “Raw Loop,” at the Speed Art Museum. Bring your sense of humor and wonder for the show that opens on April 22. Some of the sculptural installations are interactive and collaborative, just like the chandelier. It’s all about your perception and reaction.
    There are two programs associated with “Raw Loop.” On Wednesday, April 16, Reiterer will give a free public talk at 21c at 6 p.m. A $125 benefit dinner for the 21c Museum Foundation follows the discussion (call 217-6374 for reservations). Julien Robson is the Speed’s curator of contemporary art and the person largely responsible for Reiterer’s presence in Louisville. He will present a free lecture on the exhibit on Thursday, April 24, at 6 p.m. in the Speed’s auditorium. —Jo Anne Triplett
Speed Art Museum
2035 S. Third St.

Thursday, April 17
36th Annual Running of the Rodents

    Cue bugle. This Thursday, for the 36th year, Spalding University plays host to the Running of the Rodents, a derby for rats trained by Spalding staff, faculty and students. The event, which takes place on a .024-furlong course and ends with the winner being draped in the coveted garland of fruit loops, has become quite the Derby-time staple. This year, Barry Bernson of Fox-41 and Dawne Gee of WAVE-TV will emcee, and Steve Buttleman, official bugler of Churchill Downs, will announce each race with the traditional call to the post. There will be plenty for humans, as well: a “Rat Hat” contest, a public parade and a Chinese buffet — it is the Year of the Rat, per the Chinese zodiac — offer even more reason to join in the fun. And before you ask, no, cats will NOT be admitted to the event. Smart aleck. —Kevin Gibson
Spalding University Center Ballroom
824 S. Fourth St.
Free; 11:15 a.m.

Friday, April 18
Comedian Eddie Izzard

    You probably won’t recognize him unless you’ve kept up with Izzard’s recent career, which includes a hit television show on FX, “The Riches.” Once parading the comedy stage in drag, Izzard is “stripped” now (an off-duty transvestite, he jokes), and his comic brilliance shines even without the makeup. Striving to get more serious roles in Hollywood as he tries to appease American executives that he can keep his dress in his closet; Izzard appears later this year with Tom Cruise in a WWII film title “Valkyrie,” dealing with the failed assassination of Hitler. Dramatist, historian, comic genius and actor, the two-time Emmy winner (for writing and performing) and Tony-nominated Izzard appears in Louisville just before his worldwide “Stripped” tour begins. To see a hilarious optimistic view of a quite troubled world, this is a comedic night of art you can’t miss. —Jason Sitzes
Brown Theatre?
315 W. Broadway
$30-$60; 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 19
Megadeth & Gigantour!

    Gigantour, Dave Mustaine’s traveling thrash-metal free-for-all, is back. Headliner Megadeth (who are now several decades into their dynamic career) will be joined this year by In Flames, Children of Bodom, Job For A Cowboy and High on Fire. The hard-hitting package tour will assault 29 cities throughout the United States and Canada, including a stop in the River City on Saturday.
    We talked to Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover during tour rehearsals in Denver, and he told us to definitely “expect some surprises” from the set-lists. And, though he apparently found God, frontman Mustaine is still ready to “kick everybody’s ass.”
    If you still love it loud, head over to Louisville Gardens for this all-ages general admission show. For more information, visit —Kevin M. Wilson
Louisville Gardens
525 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.
$30; 5:30 p.m.

Monday, April 21
Mark Olson returns

    Jayhawks founder Mark Olson swoops through town Monday and will stop off long enough to play an acoustic show at St. Francis of Assisi. Olson is touring to promote his latest album, The Salvation Blues, which has been garnering good reviews from the L.A. Times, Dallas Observer and others. The subject matter on the album reportedly is intensely personal — laying bare his breakup with wife and musical collaborator Victoriam Williams, the loss of his home in the California desert and more, and the album also marks the first time Olson has actually recorded demos of the songs prior to recording them in the studio. Former Jayhawks bandmate Gary Louris also appears on the album, as he co-wrote three of the songs. In any case, expect an intimate and engaging show. —Kevin Gibson
St. Francis of Assisi
1938 Alfresco Place
$10; 9 p.m.
All ages

April 22-27
PNC Broadway in Louisville’s ‘Avenue Q’

Starring puppets, “Avenue Q” won three Tony awards, including Best Musical, beating out the wildly popular “Wicked” in 2004. But this is no ordinary puppet show. There is full puppet nudity and simulated puppet intercourse. Princeton, a recent college grad, moves to New York and searches for his life’s purpose. He lives with a bunch of other lost souls in an apartment building managed by Gary Coleman. Cuddly “Bad Idea Bears” lead Princeton astray from his goals.
“Avenue Q” denizens may act more like those on “Crank Yankers” than “Sesame Street,” but the show is clearly an homage to that beloved children’s show. The bears eventually find Scientology, and Princeton’s fellow tenants find fulfillment. Along the way, they deal with intolerance, pornography and homosexuality. Princeton may never find his purpose, but he’ll keep looking. Popular songs in this funny musical are “The Internet is for Porn” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” Music and lyrics are by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, with book by Jeff Whitty. —Sherry Deatrick
Louisville Palace
625 S. Fourth St.
Times and prices vary

Through June 30
‘Tangled Up in You’

    21c Museum Hotel is filled with cutting-edge art that doesn’t stop at the reservation desk and hotel rooms. Exhibitions with works by some of the world’s best contemporary artists fill the galleries, with “Tangled Up in You” as their latest creative adventure. William Morrow, director of 21c Museum Foundation, has put together a show full of top-drawer talent.
    The theme of the exhibition is family, friends and the emotions that bind them. Some of the artists featured are Kenneth Feingold, Bill Henson and Guerra de la Paz, plus two well-respected pioneers, Bill Viola and Louise Bourgeois.
    Viola is a grand-old-master of video art, one of the first to venture into the medium. Bourgeois’s abstracted anthropomorphic forms brought her fame, resulting in her being the first woman to have a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
    Proof on Main, 21c’s restaurant, is also full of international contemporary art. Now featured is the nature photography of South Korean artist Bae Bien-U, on view through April 2009. —Jo Anne Triplett
21c Museum Hotel
700 W. Main St.