APRIL 14 THURSDAY
A ROCKIN' EDUCATION If we were taught songs like "I'm Just a Bill" and "Three Ring Government" while learning about the establishment in school, there's a good chance I would have retained the information. However, I must admit I'm pleased that my childhood memories of School House Rock haven't been tainted by clamoring bells and the smell of putrid disinfectant. If you have similar nostalgia toward the 1970s cartoon, you may enjoy the University of Tampa's School House Rock Live!. This high-energy musical tells the story of a young teacher who becomes creatively inspired by School House Rock. UT's Speech, Theater and Dance department chair Marguerite B. Folger directs the production, in which an all- student cast performs favorites that include: "Zero, My Hero," "Unpack Your Adjectives" and "Conjunction Junction." 8 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 2 and 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun., April 14-17. $10 general/$5 students and seniors (UT students and staff admitted for free). Falk Theatre, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, 813-253-6243.
APRIL 15 FRIDAY
EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD TO PALLADIUM It's always fun watching variations of beloved classics. The Wizard of Oz spawned some real gems, including Broadway's The Wiz, which was later reworked for the big screen. While you won't find Diana Ross or (thankfully) Michael Jackson starring in the local production of The Wiz, you will find some amazing local talents from the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe. The actors star in a vibrant retelling of the modern fable, about a small-town girl whose dreams transport her to a magical world where the battle between good and evil gives her a sense of perspective about the real world. Written for an African-American cast, The Wiz presents a more urban landscape and attitude to go with composer Charlie Smalls' contemporary lyrics and funky, rockin' soundtrack. WBTT founder Nate Jacobs directs and stars. 8 p.m. Fri., 3 and 8 p.m. Sat., April 15-16. $15 general/$12 seniors/$10 ages 3-22. Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 727-822-3590.
SONGS FOR THE BEASTS Husband and wife team Carol Sparrow and Randolph Locke are world-renowned opera singers with a passion for the protection and care of animals. After a journey to the largest no-kill shelter in the country, the two came up with the idea for Opera for Animals: Singing Is Saving (OASIS), a nonprofit organization that produces, organizes and/or presents special events to help raise funds benefiting animal welfare groups. The two host a fundraiser tonight titled, "A Civilized Evening with Animals." The event features a private exhibit and silent auction of works by Bryan Moon, who's primarily recognized for his whimsical paintings of cats and dogs, in addition to the works he created while residing with the late George Adamson and observing the Born Free lions in Kenya. Other amusements include a concert of popular and classical favorites by Sparrow and Locke, a full-service dinner and tasty hors d'oeuvres, prize drawings and dancing. For more information, please call 941-358-1767. 6 p.m. $60. Palm-Aire Country Club, 5601 Country Club Way, Sarasota, 877-779-2473.
APRIL 16 SATURDAY
EXPAND YOUR FAM No More Homeless Pets, a group of animal welfare orgs and individuals working to end premature deaths of adoptable pets, hosts its Spring Adoption Expo. The event aims to find homes for the area's displaced pet population, and features one of the largest gatherings of dog and cat rescue groups in Hillsborough County. More than 30 are in attendance to offer info and introduce the public to eligible adoptees. Other highlights include a pet photographer, contests, vendors of pet-related merchandise and gifts, and educational demonstrations. Also, United Animal Nations sponsors a low-cost microchip ID offer, allowing the public to purchase permanent animal identification and registration for only $20 (less than half the cost at most veterinary offices). 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $5 suggested donation for ages 12 and up. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa, 813-622-7275.
WILD, WILD WEST Collectors from all over the country gather in St. Petersburg for Wildlife and Western Visions. The annual event celebrates the best in wildlife and Western art with an exhibit of works by internationally acclaimed artists of the genre. This year's lineup consists of 16 award-winning talents and two members from the esteemed Cowboy Artists of America Association (John Coleman and Oreland Joe). Works on display include original paintings, bronze sculptures, miniatures and prints. The exhibit opens to the public for a very limited viewing this weekend. Tours of the Tom and Mary James/Raymond James Financial Art Collection and the new Sculpture Garden are also available on both days. For more information, call The Plainsmen Gallery at 727-726-5100 or visit www.wildlifeartshow.com. 1-5 p.m. Sat., and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun., April 16-17. Free. Raymond James Financial Center, 880 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg.
APRIL 18 MONDAY
REFLECTIONS ON MODERN MEDIA According to the Media Research Center, 30 million Americans rely on television for their news. These folks form opinions based on what they see and hear, and they can't cast informed votes or make educated decisions in matters of public policy if the knowledge on which they depend is distorted. Is media bias keeping us from getting the whole story? If so, who's responsible? Is it the liberals, who, by all conservative accounts, are running the newsrooms, television and radio stations of this country, duping an unsuspecting public into mistaking Democratic party policies for news? Or is it the conservatives, the most obvious culprit being Fox News and its most strident, inflammatory mouthpiece, Bill O'Reilly? Tonight, Todd Gitlin, an author, activist and professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, gives his informed opinion on the matter in a lecture titled, "Are the Media Liberal, Conservative, or Something Else." 7 p.m. Free. Special Events Center, USF Tampa, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, 813-974-7595.
APRIL 20 WEDNESDAY
MOVES INSPIRED BY THE EMERALD ISLE The Trinity Irish Dance Company jigs through town this evening, returning to Ruth Eckerd Hall to perform a program that fuses traditional Irish choreography with jazz, tap, ballet and modern dance. Trinity Academy founder and artistic director Mark Howard formed the company in 1990 to provide professional career opportunities for students who formerly had no outlet for their dance training beyond competition. These dancers star in a show inspired by ancient Celtic myths and stories, and create a world of fairies, pirate queens and ethereal mists, punctuated with an energetic display of fancy footwork, high-kicking jigs, live music and Celtic pride. Rumor has it that the company set the stage for shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, and if you're a fan of either of those touring productions, the Trinity Dance Company is sure to please. 8 p.m. $27 and $32. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, 727-791-7400.