Wizarding Weekend returns to planetarium

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l Wizards will fill Ward Beecher Planetarium on Friday and Saturday for the its third Wizarding Weekend.

The planetarium shows that tap into the love for J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books and the films they inspired have become one of the most popular attractions at the planetarium, located on the campus of Youngstown State University.

Planetarium lecturer and tour scheduler Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht said the idea for Wizarding Weekend came to her when she worked at another planetarium. A group of homeschooled kids who were learning about the Harry Potter books came to the planetarium on a field trip dressed as characters from the stories.

“Being a Harry Potter fan, I did a star talk and told them our moon has a name and it’s Luna, which is also the name of a character in Harry Potter,” she said. “I did a couple connections like that and the kids went wild, they loved it. If I could do something on the fly like that and have it go over so well, what could we do with more organizing?”

The planetarium shows will cover some of those same connections between the Harry Potter characters and the stars and constellations, and audience members will compete on their knowledge of the night sky in a house cup quiz. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume, and there will be two classrooms set up with games, a photo booth, coloring sheets and trivia.

Wizard Weekend shows are scheduled at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday and 1, 2:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, but Wolbrecht stressed the event draws large crowds and seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.

l I got a chance Sunday to see Warren native Austin Pendleton in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Glengarry Glen Ross” at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood.

Pendleton plays Shelly Levene, an older salesmen on a cold streak working in an office where a group of men peddle swampland of questionable value to unsuspecting buyers.

The production directed by William Roudebush captures the overlapping rhythms of Mamet’s dialogue, and Pendleton is stunning in the first act as a desperate man trying to hold onto his job and in the second act as Shelly re-earns his nickname “The Machine” and recounts every detail of a major sale. He also aids a fellow salesman struggling to keep a hooked buyer on the line.

The remaining performances are at 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave. It definitely is worth making an effort to see it before it closes. Tickets are available at www.beckcenter.org.

l Youngstown Playhouse announced a change this week to its 2019-20 season.

The Michael Frayn farce “Noises Off” will replace “Shakespeare in Love” in the winter slot, opening Feb. 14, 2020, and running for two weekends.

The Playhouse board made the change for budgetary reasons. “Noises Off” is less costly to stage and the show has been popular with audiences. The Playhouse previously staged it in 1988 and 2008.

Auditions will be held Oct. 13 and 14, with Youngstown State University’s Matthew Mazuroski directing.

l The summer concert season just wrapped, but country fans already have some decisions to make for 2020.

Kenny Chesney will headline the 2020 Buckeye Country Superfest at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on June 20, and he’ll be joined by a couple of acts that have drawn big crowds in the Mahoning Valley in the past — Florida Georgia Line, which sold out Penguin Stadium for the 2018 Y Live concert; and Kane Brown, who headlined the Covelli Centre in 2018.

Also on the bill will be Brett Young, Gabby Barrett and Tyler Rich. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster.

Chesney also will play Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field on May 30 with Florida Georgia Line, Old Dominion and — in a one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other addition — Michael Franti & Spearhead. Tickets for that show also go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster.

And the headliners have been announced for the 2020 Country Fest at Clay’s Park Resort in North Lawrence.

Brett Eldredge will perform June 18, Dierks Bentley is scheduled for June 19 and Luke Combs will close out the weekend on June 20.

More information is available at clayspark.com.

Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at agray@tribtoday. com.


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