CHILDREN OF UGANDA
Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.
When you discover that the 22 singing, dancing ensemble members of the Children of Uganda range in age from 6 to 20, you're likely to be impressed. When you consider that the ensemble is composed entirely of youths orphaned by the African AIDS epidemic, you're likely to be astonished. Despite the tragedies they've endured, the Children of Uganda's message - performed in Luganda, Swahili, and English - is one of hope and joy, as audiences will see and hear at the University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium on March 26. The group's 2006 tour - called "first-rate" and "inspiring" by the New York Times - has been dubbed "The Tour of Light," as a response to many people's perceived notions of the ensemble's homeland. "Africa gets pinned as a dark continent," says Ugandan Children's Charity Foundation founder Alexis Hefley, "but it is a continent of life. There is hope; there is a way to make a difference and change the world." Audiences can do their small part by reserving tickets to this exhilirating spectacle through the Hancher box office - (800)426-2437 - or by visiting (http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu). - Mike Schulz
THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE
Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.
I'll be honest. I don't care for Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue. (I don't care for a lot of Neil Simon.) But it's clear that a lot of people do like this wisecracking comedy of love, unemployment, and gradual nervous collapse; the show earned Simon a Tony Award nomination for Best Play, and its early-'70s Broadway run lasted nearly two years. Now, Simon's work - playing at Davenport's RiverCenter at 2 p.m. on March 26 - is being graced by Sharon Gless and Richard Masur, and for theatre fans, this presents a conundrum: Even if you'd consider missing the production, who'd want to miss out on seeing them? Gless, who plays Michael's saucy-waitress mom on Showtime's Queer as Folk, won a host of awards for her work on the detective series Cagney & Lacey, and as for Masur, anyone whose filmography includes roles (and terrific performances) in Six Degrees of Separation, And the Band Played On, and John Carpenter's The Thing is all right in my book. Because of the actors, I'm actually kind of psyched about this Prisoner of Second Avenue. Damn it. Tickets are available at select Ticketmaster outlets or charge-by-phone at (563) 326-1111. - Mike Schulz
Penguin's Comedy Club
Thursday, March 23, through Saturday, March 25
Comedienne Lisa Lampanelli - a Comedy Central veteran best known for her hour-long Take It Like a Man stand-up special, available on CD and DVD - will perform at the Penguin's Comedy Club in Bettendorf March 23 through 25, and if you want to know what her act is like, it might help to know who she's like. Biographer Ronald Collins called Lampanelli "a comedian with an independent and irreverent streak akin to that of Lenny Bruce." From the New York Friars Club newsletter: "If Don Rickles had breasts and PMS, this is the woman he'd be." The Toronto Star dubbed her "Howard Stern on estrogen," while Newsday referred to Lampanelli as "Stern as a dominatrix." (Stern, for his part, has said of the comic, "Lisa's a real funny broad.") But if you really want to know what to expect at Penguin's this weekend, catch Lampenelli's contribution to the comedy doc The Aristocrats. It's been a few weeks since I've seen the film, but I'm pretty sure she's the one who delivers the dirty version of the joke. For more information, visit the Penguin's Web site at (http://www.penguinscomedyclub.com). - Mike Schulz
THE QCCA LAWN & GARDEN SHOW
QCCA Expo Center
Friday, March 24, through Sunday, March 26
Has the chill of winter left you a little numb? Do you find yourself lingering by the window and your once-beautiful garden, which nature ravages every year? Well, my friends, there's no need to wait until May to begin tending your yard and garden, because the QCCA Lawn & Garden Show is just around the corner. From March 24 through 26 at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, garden enthusiasts will gather together to enjoy 21 separate feature gardens, including some with giant ponds and waterfalls, some heavily planted with shrubs, bushes, and flowers, some encased within brick patio designs, and many more. The show's main attraction is a 35-ton sandscape rendering - featuring sand sculptures or pictures - of endangered species (retro species, if you will) making a comeback. The show will also feature nearly 200 booths of retailers, so you can stock up now for the spring and summer ahead. The fun and games start at 11:30 a.m. on Friday; admission is $6 for adults and $1 for kids, with children 5 and under admitted free. Discounted adult advance tickets are available at all Quad Cities Hy-Vee food stores or Burke Cleaners, and more information is available at (309) 794-0991. - Jesse Virgil