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John Cain

John Cain

The Towle Theater presents the Chicagoland premier of “Pageant Play,” a comedy that provides a hilarious and terrifying glimpse into the surreal world of child beauty pageants. Pinky Corningfield will do anything to make sure that her little angel, Chevrolet, wins the title of Supreme Queen. When Marge, a newcomer to the circuit, shows up and starts grabbing all the glory, Pinky and her minions employ unorthodox methods to ensure that her darling is victorious. While you’re at the show, be sure to check out photographer Joel DeGrand’s “Window Dressing” exhibit in the lobby. Feb. 23 through March 11. 219/937-8780 or www.towletheater.org

'Hunchback of Notre Dame' comes to Valpo

Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso opens its 125th anniversary season with Victor Hugo's epic story of love, acceptance and what it means to be a hero. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer, observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. Audiences will be swept away by the magic of the unforgettable music by Alan Menken with lyrics by Steven Schwartz. 219/548-9137 or www.memorialoperahouse.com

Make way for the geeks! Comic Con is almost here

The NWI Comic Con is a daylong convention that focuses firmly on comics, their creators and fans. On Feb. 24, this unique event will be lighting up the Halls of St. George in Schererville with cheeky chat and geeky fun. If you’re keen to speak to the brains behind books and comics, this is the place for you! Local and national creators, publishers, illustrators and writers will be on hand to display their talents and wares with opportunities to pick up comic books and toys. A cosplay corner and contest are among the attractions, and all are invited to geek out in their nerdiest garb and strut their stuff. Check out the details at www.nwi-comic-con.com.

'Steel Magnolias' to bloom at TATC in Munster

This hilarious, heartwarming play set in a Louisiana beauty shop follows the hopes, dreams, triumphs and tragedies of six colorful characters, which inspired the 1989 film starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Dolly Parton. It’s a story that explores the bond between a mother and daughter, along with the friendship of those who feel like family. This Munster's Theatre at the Center production runs Feb. 22 through March 25. 219/836-3255 or www.theatreatthecenter.com

Singer Vance Gilbert visits Front Porch Music

Considered by many to be an integral part of the national folk scene, Gilbert's approach to the acoustic singer/songwriter idiom is significant. His compositions, while frequently employing sophisticated melodies and harmonies, attest to his jazz roots in Philadelphia, where he was born and started out as a jazz singer. Known for his improvisational rapport with audiences during his shows, Gilbert speaks like he sings, with sincerity and depth. See him at Front Porch Music in Valparaiso at 8 p.m. Feb. 24. 219/464-4700 or www.frontporchmusic.com

John Cain is the executive director of South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. He can be reached at (219) 836-1839, ext. 102. The opinions are the writer’s.

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