ESTA Capitol Theatre Saturday, March 18, 7 p.m. From struggling Israeli musicians to guests of President Bill Clinton in less than 15 years - now that 's working your way to the top.
In the area through Quad City Arts' participation in the 2005-7 Arts Midwest World Fest, the Israel-based rock and world-music group Esta - who performed for the president in 1998 - blends Mediterranean, Balkan, African, Asian, Celtic, and Western influences to create a one-of-a-kind sound, and since their formation in 1983, have wowed audiences from the Cité de la Music in Paris to L.A.'s House of Blues. In addition to being embraced by music fans, Esta is a darling of musiccritics; the New York Press praised their "very hot and smart rock format," and the Village Voice said that the group, "with its chopsapoppin' technique, articulate melodies, and blatant disregard for generic distinctions, suggests Zappa on the Orient Express." I'm not quite sure what that means, but hey, President Clinton climbed aboard ... . Esta will perform for the public at Davenport's Capitol Theatre on March 18, and tickets are available by calling the Augustana College ticket office at (309)794-7306.
PHILIP WILLIAM MCKINLEY
Galvin Fine Arts Center
Friday, March 17, 2 p.m.
For theatre fans who would enjoy Inside the Actor's Studio a whole lot more if James Lipton didn't get in the way, Davenport's St. Ambrose University has a live alternative: Inside the Galvin Fine Arts Center. Actually, that's not what they're calling the event, but that's where Circa '21 owner/producer Dennis Hitchcock will speak with Broadway director Philip William McKinley on March 17, in a two-hour interview that will be done - the press release states - "Actor's Studio"-style. McKinley, who once studied theatre at Rock Island's Augustana College, has directed such diverse productions as The Glass Menagerie, A Little Night Music (starring legendary Cats performer Betty Buckley), and a zany off-Broadway show called Zombie Prom, but is probably best known for his Broadway staging of the hit The Boy from Oz, which earned star Hugh Jackman a Tony Award. I imagine that, during the event, questions will be taken from the audience, but I implore attendees to resist asking McKinley, "So what's Hugh Jackman really like?" That one's mine. For more information, contact SAU theatre professor Corrine Johnson at (563)333-6427.
ECO FILM FEST
Universalist Unitarian Church
Saturday, March 20, 2 p.m.
The success of March of the Penguins makes two things abundantly clear: (1) Stuffed versions of the birds make incredibly classy Oscar-night dates, and (2) there is a huge audience out there for well-crafted, environmentally conscious documentaries. A host of works of this sort will be presented at this year's Eco Film Fest - sponsored by the Eagle View Group of the Sierra Club and Davenport's Universalist Unitarian Church - which will be held at the church on Saturday, March 18. From 2 to 6:30 p.m., a series of informative and inspiring short films will play throughout four screening rooms, among them the enjoyable nature documentary Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (which played at the Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre in autumn), Kilowatt Ours (for those who want to learn how to drastically reduce their energy bills), and the amusingly titled Scoop on the Poop (which details the devastating environmental effects of contained animal-feed operations). Can't imagine what that film's creators would bring with them to the Oscars ... . Descriptions and showtimes for all of the Eco Film Festival's movies are available at (http://illinois.sierraclub.org/eagleview).
ALFRED & SEYMOUR
Galvin Fine Arts Center
Saturday, March 18, 7:30 p.m.
According to their management's Web site (http://www.everythingbutthemime.com), hip-hop comedians - and cousins - Alfred & Seymour are "the most unique comedy concept to grace the stage since vaudeville." And vaudevillians never did commercials for American Express! If you think you've seen this singing, dancing, joking duo before, you probably have - in addition to numerous 30-second spots (including one for a certain credit card), Alfred & Seymour's TV résumé includes appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Friday Night Videos, and they're no strangers to live performance, either, having toured China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. They've also been honored by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities as "Comedy Act of the Year" in 2004 and 2005, and have compared themselves to "the Olsen twins without the money," but audiences can begin rectifying that situation by attending Alfred & Seymour's March 18 concert at the Galvin Fine Arts Center. Wait a minute ... I just learned the concert is free ... . Well, how are they gonna make Olsen-twin dough that way?! For more information, call (563)333-6395.
Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre
Starting Friday, March 17
The Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre's newest live-action, 3D extravaganza is entitled Bugs!, but in case you were curious, no, it's not about Watergate. Beginning on Friday, March 17, Putnam audiences will get a close-up view (a very close-up view) of two of the world's miniature wonders - the praying mantis and the butterfly - as Bugs! explores the metamorphosis of one of each, from birth through death, in the rainforests of their native Borneo. If this sounds a little dry, though, know that Mike Slee's 40-minute movie - which employs cutting-edge IMAX technology - has already proven itself a big audience-grabber; in the New York Times, Elvis Mitchell wrote about the kids in the audience who "loved every minute" of what he called a "vivid and visually stunning" film. As she does in the current animated feature Doogal, recent Oscar nominee Judi Dench narrates the tale. And although I haven't yet seen Bugs!, I will make one guarantee: It'll be far better than Doogal. More information on the film, and on all of the Putnam/IMAX's current offerings, is available by visiting (http://www.putnam.org).