Best bets
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The gin crowd

When is a martini glass not just a martini glass? When it's hoisted at the annual Martinis for Marcfirst fundraiser, celebrating its 16th anniversary from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington. Though entertainment, hors d'oeuvres buffet and other goodies are part of the festivities, the signature attraction is the auction of a stirring array of martini vessels creatively painted by local artists. New this year: other works of local art donated for auction. Tickets are $60 at the door.

Enchanted evenings

Just in time for encroaching winter, an escape to to the South Seas ... specifically, South Pacific, courtesy the Illinois Wesleyan School of Theatre Arts, who are reviving the tune-laden Rodgers & Hammerstein perennial in the Jerome Mirza Theatre on campus beginning at 8 p.m. Nov. 14. Performances continue, same time, Nov. 15 through 18, with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 19. Per its sadly still-relevant themes of "you've-got-to-be-carefully-taught-to-hate-and-fear," there's nothing corny-as-Kansas about this classic.

Around the world

Can't afford to globe-hopping at the moment? Don't worry, be happy that an array of area venues is offering some tempting musical opportunities to let the globe hop our way. Direct from Russia with love, not collusion, comes the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the U of I Krannert Center in Urbana. Greece is the word, the word, at 8 p.m. Saturday in the U of I at Springfield's Sangamon Auditorium, courtesy the country's premier folk ensemble, Rebetiki Istoria. Stick around: the very same venue is bringing in, from a southerly direction, the world-famous mariachi band, Mariachi Sol De Mexico de Jose Hernandez, at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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