Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:
Todd Hancock is no stranger to professional theater.
He's been getting paid to direct and star in the shows he does with Easy Street Productions for 24 years. But tonight Hancock makes his Actors' Equity debut in Cain Park's production of ''Avenue Q.''
''At the young age of 48, I'm going after my Equity card,'' Hancock said.
When he lived in Los Angeles, Hancock was a member of AFTRA and made some soap opera appearances, but he never had an opportunity to join the stage actors' union. When he and Maureen Collins returned to the Mahoning Valley in the late '80s and started Easy Street Productions, Hancock said, ''We toyed with the idea of becoming an Equity house, but with the limited number of Equity people in town, it didn't make sense.''
Once Easy Street was up and running, he worried that Equity membership would restrict what he was able to do with his own theater company.
That attitude changed after a mini stroke in late 2009, followed by surgery to unblock a clogged artery.
''Since what I call my brush with death, I rethought some things and thought, 'Why not?''' Hancock said. ''I auditioned for Pittsburgh CLO and Cain Park and got called back for both, which I thought was a good sign. I chose 'Avenue Q' because I've always wanted to do it.''
''Avenue Q'' is a musical featuring Muppet-like puppets who live in a poor New York neighborhood. It won the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score in 2004, beating a little show known as ''Wicked.''
''For me it's like going full circle,'' Hancock said. ''I started doing puppet shows in the cellar and would charge kids to get in ... I used to use Sesame Street puppets and would spoof Sesame Street.''
No one will mistake ''Avenue Q'' for Sesame Street, though, not with characters like Lucy the Slut and songs like ''The Internet Is for Porn'' and ''I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today.''
''It's not for kids,'' he said. ''One of the reasons we never did it at Easy Street is we have such a family-oriented base.''
Doing ''Avenue Q'' puts Hancock in the Equity program, and if he gets cast in a couple more Equity shows, he will be able to join the union.
''Then I could audition for shows on Broadway,'' he said. ''I'm not kidding myself that I could get cast in a Broadway show, but I'd like to try.''
''Avenue Q'' will run Thursdays through Sundays through July 1 at the Alma Theater at Cain Park, located at Lee and Superior roads in Cleveland Heights. For show times and ticket information, call 216-371-3000.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is celebrating Paul McCartney's 70th birthday on Monday with a ''Magical Mystery Weekend.''
Visitors will be able to sign a birthday card for the Beatle on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Rock Hall curators will talk about the museum's Beatles collections in special programs each day.
The Beatles' animated film ''Yellow Submarine'' will be shown continuously in the hall's Foster Theater on Saturday and Sunday.
The Beatles tribute band 1964 will perform on the main stage at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and students from the School of Rock will perform at noon on Sunday.
Admission to the special events is included with admission to the Rock Hall.
Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at grayareas@ tribtoday.com