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Short List: February 27 - March 5 

Spotlight: March 1-3: Opera

While The Little Sweep was billed by composer Benjamin Britten as "an entertainment for young people," this 1949 children's opera starts darkly: The title character is sold into servitude in 19th-century England, then bullied by his new masters. But things lighten up with the lad's rescue by the children of a wealthy family. And Microscopic Opera's Andres Cladera believes the rarely performed one-hour chamber work is an ideal way for kids to meet opera. (His own nieces, for instance, loved it.) Following the successful 2011 staging of the Fantastic Mr. Fox opera, Cladera and fellow artistic director Erica Olden decided to honor the centennial of the great Britten's birth; the production is partly funded by a Britten-Pears Foundation award. Little Sweep, libretto by Eric Crozier, was originally paired with Let's Make an Opera!, a short educational piece. Instead, Microscopic includes a five-minute prelude in which the audience becomes part of a class of kids learning to sing three songs. The cast features six singers from CAPA High School and 10 Microscopic company singers, including Daphne Alderson and Jenifer Weber. "Britten is not easy to sing or perform," says Cladera. The five performances at CAPA High School Theater will be accompanied, unusually, by a string quartet, percussion and four-hand piano — one piano piece for two players at once. Bill O'Driscoll Fri., March 1-Sun., March 3. 111 Ninth St., Downtown. $8-15. www.microscopicopera.org

Thu., Feb. 28 - Words

Tonight, Community College of Allegheny County kicks off a month-long series of outreach efforts with a community event called The Big Read in Pittsburgh, part of CCAC's One College ... One Community initiative. Throughout March, students in several high schools and CCAC students alike will be studying and participating in essay, poetry and art contests centered around Carson McCullers' classic novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Tonight's event, at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, features monologue performances by students from partner schools, music and food. Jeff Ihaza 6 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave, Downtown. Free. 412-469-6301

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Thu., Feb. 28 – Film

Back in 2002, director Don Coscarelli delivered Bubba Ho-Tep, a quirky comedy-slash-horror-flick that offered a fresh take on two enduring myths: the fake death of Elvis Presley and killer mummies. His latest film, John Dies at the End, is in a similar vein, taking a bemused look at a couple of college losers trying to prevent the Earth from being overrun by freakish mutations. The film, which opens tonight for a four-night run at the Hollywood Theater, features that master of dry drollery, Paul Giamatti. Al Hoff 7:30 p.m. Also, 7 p.m. Fri., March 1; 7 p.m. Sun., March 3; and 7:30 p.m. Thu., March 7. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $7. 412-563-0368

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Thu., Feb. 28 — Stage 

Actor and writer Wali Jamal is making sure no one forgets Martin R. Delany. In 19th-century Pittsburgh, the remarkable Mr. Delany distinguished himself as a physician, journalist and abolitionist; this son of a slave later became the first black major in the U.S. Army. Jamal's latest one-man show about Delany, An Evening With Martin Delany, covers his later years, including his relationship with Frederick Douglass — with whom he disagreed about Uncle Tom's Cabin and much else. Though this show has a fictive premise — Delany returning to speak in Pittsburgh at age 72 — most of it is drawn verbatim from Delany's own copious writings. The first of five performances at the Hill House is tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Continues through Sat., March 2. 1825 Centre Ave., Hill District. $5-15. 412-867-9213

Thu., Feb. 28 — Stage

If last year's Luna Park Project was any indication, Zach Dorn and Murphi Cook of the Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa know just the right blend of whimsy, grit and weirdness. Expect more of the same (plus extra popcorn) in Tonight A Clown Will Travel Time. Instead of a half-forgotten amusement park, this time their multimedia show is about "clown, archivist and amateur scientist Albert Billows," who invites the audience on the maiden voyage of his time machine. Adventures ensue. Tonight's is the first of four performances at Fe Gallery. BO 8 p.m. Continues through Sat., March 2. 4102 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $8-10. www.miniaturecuriosa.com

Fri., March 1 — Stage

Nonprofit theater company Prime Stage Theatre continues its 16th season with the premiere of The Great Gatsby at the New Hazlett Theater starting tonight and continuing through March 10. The production, adapted by Simon Levy from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, is the only stage version authorized by the Fitzgerald estate since 1926. The show stars Sean Patrick Sears as Jay Gatsby, Andrew Swackhamer as Nick Caraway and Julia Warner as Daisy Buchanan. The preview is tonight; opening reception is Sat., March 2. JI 8 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $10-25. www.newhazletttheater.org

Sat., March 2 — Nature

The best part of pancakes is the maple syrup, and here's your chance to learn where that delicious topping comes from. (Hint: maple trees.) Today, Fern Hollow Nature Center hosts its annual, family-oriented Pancake Breakfast and Maple Sugaring Celebration. There will be pancakes (traditional or hearty buckwheat), kids' activities and a raffle. The traditions and techniques of maple sugaring will be explained, and there will be a tree-tapping. Imagine — a tree that oozes sugary goodness! Sweet. AH 8:30 a.m.-noon. 1901 Glen Mitchell Road, Sewickley. Outside activities are free; breakfast $9 adults/$7 children. 412-741-6136 or www.fhnc.org

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Sat., March 2 — Jazz

Widely regarded as one of jazz music's premier drummers, Jack DeJohnette has received accolades from the likes of Miles Davis, who noted that DeJohnette's drumming was instrumental to his genre-defining record Bitches Brew. Grammy-award-winner DeJohnette performs tonight at MCG Jazz in the North Side, bringing some of his many friends including: Tim Ries on saxophone, Lionel Loueke on guitar, George Colligan on keyboards and piano, and long-time associate Jerome Harris on electric and acoustic bass guitars. JI 9:30 p.m. 1815 Metropolitan St., North Side. $45. 412-323-4000 or www.mcgjazz.org

Sat., March 2 — Music

Christeene doesn't really fit into one category: Her performances include rap and other music, but stretch beyond that, and her creator, Paul Soileau, once told Denver Westword that he considers her to be "more of a punk thing" than a drag artist. Tonight marks her first appearance in Pittsburgh, at 6119, in a show co-sponsored by VIA, Haus of Haunt (the drag family that includes Sharon Needles) and Pgh Bro Club. Haus of Haunt's Alaska Thvnderfvck performs as well, and DJs Dad Time and Edgar Um spin tunes. Andy Mulkerin 10 p.m. 6119 Penn Ave. (second floor), East Liberty. $12-15. Ages 18 and over. www.facebook.com/6119Penn

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Tue., March 5 — Stage

The 1994 arthouse hit The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is getting its second act. Never mind that Super Bowl Coke commercial that replaced the drag queens in the big pink bus with showgirls. Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical — everyone's favorite tale of transvestites in the outbackdebuted in Australia in 2006 and hit Broadway in 2011. People liked it, especially the 500 costumes, not to mention "It's Raining Men." The first U.S. tour of Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott's show hits the Benedum Center courtesy of PNC Broadway Across America, with eight performances starting tonight. BO 7:30 p.m. Continues through March 10. 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20. 412-456-4800 or www.trustarts.org

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Tue., March 5 — Music

Tonight The Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society presents Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, Noah Bendix-Balgley, with Pittsburgh pianist David Allen Wehr at Carnegie Music Hall.  Last year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named Bendix-Balgley's 2012 recital as the "Best Classical Concert." The two will perform Tartini's Sonata in G minor ("The Devil's Trill"), Corigliano's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor, and Schubert's Fantasie in C major, D. 934. JI 7:30 pm. 4400 Forbes Ave. Oakland. $35 (adults) and $15 (students). 412-624-4129 or www.pittsburghchambermusic.org

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