Enough with the April snow and February temps, already.
Herewith, a half-dozen heart/body/soul-warming prospects for the delayed-spring days ahead on the area's always heated A&E front:
1. Hello, he must be going. He's glad he came. But just the same. He really must be going.
If the preceding sentences triggered not a blip on your pop-ometer, you're hereby excused and asked to proceed to item No. 2 on this list.
If those sentences did conjure something vaguely Marxist in your imagination, then welcome to the must-be-gone world of Frank Ferrante, where the monkey business never ends ... where comedy's as easy as duck soup ... and where, if he wasn't doing "An Evening with Groucho" next Saturday (April 14) at the BCPA, he'd doubtless be spending a night at the opera.
We can hardly wait, to be frank.
Or, more accurately, for Frank to be.
2. Jazz fans get a big riffs-fix next weekend, too: ISU's annual Jazz Festival returns for two days and nights (April 13-14) of cool, cooler and coolest sounds from area junior high and high school bands, all topped by two ticketed evening concerts at fest ground zero: ISU's Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall (8 p.m., $10-$15 each).
Every year, the fest hosts a VIP jazz great, with 2018 no exception: Welcome Dennis Mackrell, child prodigy turned jazz drummer/composer par excellence.
He turned pro at 10, and was arranging for no less than jazz-singing great Joe Williams by his teens!. At 19, he was in the Broadway pit orchestra for "A Chorus Line," filed by hitches with (among others) the Count Basie Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.
Le jazz hot at ISU, for sure.
3. A reminder that the Castle Theatre-orchestrated Monarch Music Hall in Peoria (site of the late Limelight Eventplex) is up and rocking. One of the early jewels in the Monarch crown: Brit lads Bush, with Gavin Rossdale still up front, in a first area appearance since their mid-’90s heyday, at 7:30 p.m. April 17.
Complete this lyric and name that tune for free tickets (kidding!... we haven't even got our own yet, let alone freebies; the answer's at column's end)."
"We live in a wheel, where everyone steals, but when we rise it's like ___ __."
Hint: It peaked on Billboard's Hot 100 chart at No. 28 around 22 years go this time, then went all the way to No. 1 on the more discerning Alternative Songs chart.
4. Best ... Rosalind ... Russell ... movie ... ever ("His Girl Friday" and "Gypsy" notwithstanding): "Auntie Mame," from the Class of 1958, and just as knock-down, drag-out funny 60 years later, trust us.
Catch it at 7 p.m. Tuesday or 1 p.m. April 15 (take that, Tax Day!) at the Normal Theater and don't say we didn't warn you about laughing so hard you'll ... well, wear plenty of padding.
Back in the day, middlebrow critics carped about director Morton ("The Music Man") Da Costa's stagy direction. But, seriously, who's even noticing when a force of nature like the great RR has shanghaied the screen, and us along with her.
It's a brilliant, still-vital performance that has never — in its own life-is-a-banquet-and-most-poor-suckers-are-starving-to-death way — been bettered.
And fancy this: a comedy from the buttoned-down Eisenhower era that celebrates diversity/tolerance and mocks bigotry/racism in all their all-American non-glory.
What goes around has come around, we guess ... so bring it on Mame: We need you now more than ever!
5. For a freebie, you won't be able to do much better in the week ahead than a beat-filled session with ISU's African Music and Dance Ensemble, back on stage at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Kemp Recital Hall
It's their first major concert in 13 years (2005 was the last to date).
All this, and atenteben flutes, adenkum gourds, Ugandan storytelling and audience participation, too.
6. Bloomington Reads ... and look what happens: the acclaimed, best-selling author shows up in person!
Welcome Jamie Ford, this year's literary genie, materializing on the heels of the Bloomington Public Library's monthlong series of 14 programs focusing on themes found in Ford's "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet."
Ford will make free two appearances on Thursday: at noon at the library for a discussion; and at 7 p.m. in the Bloomington High School Auditorium for a presentation, Q&A and book signing.
Blooomington Reads, by the way, is the annual program in which the library staff chooses a book to highlight, then purchases more than 50 copies in multiple formats. Area residents are encouraged to read the book and participate in the programs.
Past authors/books have included, last year, Erik Larson ("The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America"); and, two years ago, the writer behind the current No. 1 movie in the land, Ernest Cline, whose "Ready Player One" was what we were reading, en masse, two springs ago.
You just never know who you'll be reading-and-meeting next at the BPL.
(Answer to No. 3: the missing words are "strawberry fields"; the song is, of course, "Glycerine.")