Jan. 30 2013 11:32 AM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

Lorene Chesley, Marshel Adams and Cashae Monya in The Bluest Eye
photo credit: Erin Bigley

1 Beauty is in the eye

Traditional notions of beauty have been repeatedly challenged by feminists, scholars and writers like Toni Morrison, whose acclaimed novel The Bluest Eye tells the heartbreaking story of a poor African-American girl in the Midwest who wants nothing more than to have beautiful blue eyes just like her white schoolmates.

To tell the story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove’s struggle with racism and self-image in 1940s Ohio, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company and Moxie Theatre joined forces and will stage Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of The Bluest Eye at Moxie Theater (6663 El Cajon Blvd., College Area).

Both theater companies are headed by women and are known for edgy, thought-provoking productions, so it’s no surprise that they took an interest in this play. Mo’olelo and Moxie took advantage of each other’s strengths to bring the show to life, says Jessica Bird, production manager for Mo’olelo.

“It’s definitely a story that fits both of our missions,” she says. “Moxie’s mission is to create more diverse images of women. Our mission is to tell stories of people traditionally underserved in America, which are both something Toni Morrison does in her story.”

For fans of Morrison, the stage version of The Bluest Eye will be a pretty straightforward version of the book—no experimental lighting or costuming necessary.

“We want to stay true to the story because it is so narrative,” Bird says. “I’m excited to be part of this production because it’s very beautiful and heart-wrenching.”

Preview performances of The Bluest Eye begin Saturday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. with tickets ranging from $12 to $20. The play officially opens Friday, Feb. 8, and runs through March 3. Go to moolelo.net or moxietheatre.com for show times and ticket information. And bring a box of tissues.

2 Behold, Amer(hic)a!

In the book Imbibe!, author David Wondrich argues that the cocktail is “the first uniquely American cultural product to catch the world’s imagination.” Given our nation’s proclivity to produce sophisticated drunks, it only makes sense that this month’s Culture & Cocktails, presented by the San Diego Museum of Art at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, commemorates the expansive, three-museum-spanning exhibit Behold, America! Although the exhibit presents a full spectrum of American art history, tonight’s event is focused on Americana from the ’50s and ’60s, so don your fanciest denim or polka-dot dress and throw back some spiked root beers or lemonade provided by Hot Dog on a Stick. Tickets are $15 for nonmembers. sdmart.org

3 Theloniously yours

The late Thelonious Monk was one of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived. Gilbert Castellanos, who’s easily the hardestworking jazz musician in San Diego, knows that as well as anyone. That’s why Castellanos will perform a tribute concert in Monk’s honor starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at 98 Bottles (2400 Kettner Blvd. in Middletown). It’s the second installment of Castellanos’ Trumpet Trilogy (a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie is up next in March). But wait, we hear you saying, Monk was a pianist—and Gilbert Castellanos a unique one at that—and Castellanos is a trumpeter. Well, Castellanos will have talented local pianist Joshua White on hand to help out. Can Castellanos, White and friends pull off Monk’s dissonant, offbeat brand of jazz? We bet they can. $12 online, $15 at the door. 98bottlessd.com

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email our events editor, Alex Zaragoza. You can also bug her on Twitter.