Wesley United Methodist Church
Thursday, April 20, 7:30 p.m.
Described by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as "a pianist with striking emotional insight," Chu-Fang Huang's list of musical accomplishments would be intimidating for an artist of any age. But the Chinese virtuoso is only 23. That makes her downright terrifying. Performing at Muscatine's Wesley United Methodist Church on April 20, the classically trained Huang - currently pursuing her master's degree at the Juilliard School of Music - has played concert engagements throughout Holland, Germany, and the United States (including performances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center), and was awarded first prize at the 2005 Cleveland International Piano Competition. But for anyone who wonders if Huang has interests beyond the ivories, the Web site of the world-renowned Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (http://www.cliburn.org) reveals that Huang is also a passionate reader who enjoys "novels, comic books, CD inserts, and the dictionary," a reference guide I just used to correctly spell the last word in the sentence "Chu-Fang Huang sounds positively resplendent." For more information on Huang's Muscatine performance, call Wesley United at (563)263-1596 or visit (http://www.wesleymethodist.org). - Mike Schulz
Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 23, 2 p.m.
The story of Cinderella requires no explanation. And the news that Ballet Quad Cities is producing a lavish new production of Cinderella at Davenport's Capitol Theatre on April 22 and 23 shouldn't require much incentive to attend; Sergei Prokofiev's score has entranced audiences for generations, and, reviewing the organization's 2002 production, the Quad-City Times' Ruby Nancy wrote, "Ballet Quad Cities' version of Cinderella sparkles with light and energy." So, instead, let me explain why Ballet Quad Cities Artistic Director Johanne Jakhelln is uniquely qualified to direct this production. Jakhelln began ballet training in her native Norway, received a BFA from the National College of Dance in Sweden, and earned an MFA from the University of Iowa. Her choreography has received awards at the 1998 Midwest Dance Festival and the 2000 Regional Dance America Festival. In eight seasons with Ballet Quad Cities, she has directed and/or choreographed more than 40 (!) works. And Jakhelln currently lives in Rock Island with her daughter, Emma, and her own Prince Charming, husband Tim. Sounds like a fairy-tale life to me. For more information, visit (http://www.balletquadcities.com). - Mike Schulz
EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES
QCCA Expo Center and Credit Island Lodge
Saturday, April 22
On April 22, two local, Earth Day-themed events will prove that awareness of conservation and the environment isn't just important - it can be enormous fun. The QCCA Expo Center hosts its Third Annual Earth Week Fair, featuring more than 60 family-friendly booths offering interactive games, scavenger hunts, demonstrations, and crafts, and - a press release states - visitors can have their pictures taken with the "sewer cam" and aid in the building of a "junk sculpture." Imagine, kids! You'll have permission to play in crap! Competing for your ecological attention is River Action's Fourth Annual Earth Day Fish & Fire fundraiser at Davenport's Credit Island Lodge, the activities for which include the planting of native wildflowers, the presentation of the Seventh Annual Eddy Awards (given for environmentally responsible development), live music by the John O'Meara Group, and a savory fried-catfish dinner prepared by the Iowa Machine Shed. It's the perfect opportunity to commune with nature ... and then eat it. For details on the QCCA Expo Center's Earth Week Fair, visit (http://www.qcearthweek.org); for information on River Action's Fish & Fire event, call (563)322-2969. - Mike Schulz
Penguin's Comedy Club
Thursday, April 20, through Saturday, April 22
Comedienne Kira Soltanovich was born in the former Soviet Union but raised by her immigrant parents in San Francisco, and her Web site (http://www.kiracomedy.com) provides insight into Soltanovich's upbringing. "Like most kids, my parents took me to Disneyland," she says. "Not for the rides. For the lines. They assumed there'd be food at the end of them." A line like that is enough to make you fall in love with a comic, and her blend of wit and charming self-deprecation is sure to be on display at Bettendorf's Penguin's Comedy Club, where Soltanovich will perform April 20 through 22. Soltanovich has spent four seasons on the nationally syndicated comedy series Girls Behaving Badly, and her stand-up has made the émigrée a darling of the comedy circuit and, particularly, college crowds, with whom she has a lot in common. "I loved living in the dorms at college," she says, "because my father never let me have slumber parties as a kid. He said sleeping on the floor and eating from cardboard boxes was the reason we left Russia." I'm totally in love. For more information on Soltanovich's Penguin's gig, visit (http://www.penguinscomedyclub.com). - Mike Schulz