If you’ve ever felt as though you didn’t get enough out of your high school experience, you might get a second chance this week with the Alys Stephens Center’s “Awesome ‘80s Prom.” Originally an Off-Broadway performance at Webster Hall in Manhattan, the production has since been performed in Chicago, Baltimore and Boston, among others. Alys Stephens describes it as an “Interactive Dance Party,” because it plays out as if you really were back in high school in 1989. Several local actors have been commissioned to attend the event and act the part of the most recognizable high school tropes—the head cheerleader, the football team captain, the class president, the nerd, the Swedish exchange student, the principal—you get the idea. All of the student actors will be vying for the coveted Prom King and Queen at the end of the night, and attendees are encouraged to play along as much as possible. (Anyone unwilling to wear ‘80s attire would do well not to come at all.) Perhaps best of all, your prom experience doesn’t have to be limited to one night. In addition to 7 p.m. performances on Thursday and Friday, there will be two Saturday events, one at 7 p.m. and one at 10 p.m. Tickets for each night are $38 for adults and $20 for students. There are also two special pricing packages: the prince/princess deal, which comes with one free drink, a photo and ‘80s party favors for $58; and the king/queen package, with reserved seats, four free drinks, a photo and favors for $88. For more information, call (205) 975-2787 or visit www.alysstephens.uab.edu.
Freedom to Thrive (FTT), a local volunteer coalition of law enforcement, social service providers and individuals, has declared April 25 through April 29 “Human Trafficking Awareness Week.” They have chosen the theme of “InVisibility” to correspond with the release of a new study, InVisibility: A Study of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Jefferson County, Alabama, commissioned by the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. The organization has planned a number of events for the occasion, designed to help raise public awareness of the need to eliminate human trafficking. The first is a documentary film, entitled Demand. The film will be screened this Friday at 7 p.m., at the Alumni Auditorium in the Hill Center at UAB. Admission is free. The film details the entire trafficking process, from the personal stories of the victims to an overall glimpse of the market and those continuing to let it prosper. The screening will run in conjunction with another event, the “InVisibility” photography exhibition made up of contest winners chosen by FTT. The reception for the exhibition takes place at ArchitectureWorks, 130 19th St. South, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when the Women’s Fund study will be available to the public on the FTT web site. For more information, visit www.freedomtothrive.org or www.thewomensfundbham.org.
The Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil has been around now since 1986. Of course, it hasn’t always had that exact name, but the festival itself has is nearing its third decade and has evolved appropriately. I guess I just haven’t been paying attention—it seems like yesterday I journeyed to Lakeview to catch The Presidents of the United States of America play. In actuality, that was probably five or six years ago. The event has now moved to the BJCC, and the lineup appears to get bigger each year. While the festival used to schedule what seemed like an exclusively 1990s alternative lineup (some of the mainstays: Sister Hazel, Collective Soul, Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, Better Than Ezra), they’ve since expanded their taste to include a number of other genres, particularly R&B and hip-hop. In addition, the turnout continues to grow, hence the move to the BJCC, I imagine. In 2009 they added the Coca-Cola Ferris Wheel, something I never would have imagined seeing in the old Lakeview location, but that surely draws more crowds. This year’s lineup may be the most mainstream yet—while there are still holdovers like Stone Temple Pilots and Buckcherry, the other headliners are Cee Lo Green, Nelly, Weezer and Sublime’s new Bradley Nowell-less incarnation Sublime with Rome. The festival begins Friday, April 29, and continues through Saturday. Weekends passes are $45. General admission tickets are $25. For more information, call (205) 458-8400 or visit www.schaeffercrawfishboil.com.
Back in 2006, I had the privilege of going to see Modest Mouse at the BJCC. In all honesty, I was fairly disappointed with the show. The massive stage in the venue wasn’t appropriate for the band’s sound, and for some reason they had dueling drummers that always kept the same beat. But by the time the band got up to stage, I didn’t care how much I might enjoy their set, because I had just been exposed to opener Man Man for the first time. The funny thing was, Man Man wasn’t even listed in most of the advertisements for the show. I came in expecting one opening group, but when my friend and I came in the double doors to find our seats, we were treated to music that, as we still like to say, “Blew our pants off.” It was a seven-piece band— on the left side facing in was the lead singer on piano, on the right was the drummer and bassist, and the entire back area of the stage, behind the extra keyboards, were three or four guys with a pile of instruments at their feet. One second they’d all be playing kazoos, the next they’d be pulling out what looked like nitrous tanks and car mufflers and banging the shit out of them. I’d never seen something quite like it before—the lead singer sounded like a manic Tom Waits running from an apocalyptic circus. To this day they’re still one of my favorite bands, and one of the best live shows I’ve seen. Praise don’t get much higher than that, folks. They’ll be playing at Bottletree this Sunday following opener Shilpa Ray. Doors open at 8 p.m.; the show starts at 9 p.m. Ages 18 and up. Tickets are $12 in advance and $16 the day of the show. For more information, call (205) 705-3775 or visit www.thebottletree.com.
The Museum of Urban Art has taken up a noble and lofty goal—to “align itself with the seven major museums and halls of fame in the Birmingham museum market” and “join forces with local communities to win the war on literacy, drugs, gangs and violence.” I admire what they’re doing, but also understand the extra difficulty that comes with a project like this as opposed to, say, the McWane Science Center. While most would probably agree that science is essential knowledge, I don’t know that most would say the same regarding art. Many simply don’t realize the profound effect it can have on everyone, especially youth. Perhaps that can be remedied a little further with the help of MUA. But before MUA can help the populace at large, you’ve got to help them. One great way would be to attend the Fifth Annual Art Show and Awards Gala this weekend. MUA has labeled it as a “3G” event, meaning it will be separated into a meet and greet on Saturday, an awards gala Sunday and a golf tournament Monday. The Sunday gala, entitled “Rhapsody in Red,” will also include an art show with select pieces from the museum. It starts at 3 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go towards the Museum’s Capital Fundraising Campaign. To learn more about times and prices, or to register for one of the events, call (205) 542-1135 or visit www.themuseumofurbanart.org.
We could always use more carnivals. Hell, everywhere could use more carnivals. Unless someone is agoraphobic or a misanthrope, how can they straight-up dislike the atmosphere of a carnival? Maybe I have more of a fondness for them than most, but it’s always good to see one come around, especially with some sense of consistency. Like the BJCC’s fourth annual “Spring Carnival Extravaganza.” It starts this Tuesday and goes all the way until May 8. The carnival begins each day at 4 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m. Admission is $3 a person; tickets are $1, $22 for 20 or $20 an armband. For more information, call (205) 458-8400 or visit www.bjcc.org.
Space One Eleven on Second Avenue North is one of my favorite galleries because they encourage experimentation. What’s even cooler, though, is their commitment to the fundamentals with their “ARTfix!” figure-drawing classes. A golden rule I’ve always followed is that you have to learn the rules before you can break them. With Rachael Rausch’s weekly Wednesday class, you get a chance to learn some guidelines before establishing your own. Plus you’ll get a glass of wine or two out of the deal. Each class goes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Space is limited, and each class is $20. For more information call (205) 328-0553 or visit www.spaceoneeleven.org.
I like to include film events in here when I can, but what I usually end up suggesting are full-length movies and documentaries. This week, I’d like to recommend some short films, because they offer a different kind of satisfaction. UAB’s “Digital City Film Screening” is a collection of nine short films from students in the UAB Ethnographic Filmmaking class. The screenings start at 6:30 p.m. in the McWane Science Center’s Imax Theatre, and go until 8:30 p.m. For more information, call (205) 714-8300 or visit www.mcwane.org.