Mobilian Watt Key earned his undergraduate degree at Birmingham-Southern but returned home to receive his MBA at Spring Hill College. It was during his subsequent work as a computer programmer that he began submitting his literary efforts to publishers.

His debut novel, “Alabama Moon,” won the 2007 E.B. White Read Aloud Award and the 2006 Parents’ Choice Award, was listed by Time magazine as one of the Top 100 Young Adult Novels of All Time and has been translated into eight languages.

The companion work, “Dirt Road Home,” followed in 2010. His third book, “Fourmile,” hit shelves two years later to more high praise. His latest novels, “Among the Swamp People” and “Terror at Bottle Creek,” are due for release in September 2015 and January 2016, respectively.

Key will be the guest of honor for the History Museum of Mobile’s monthly Learning Lunch on Wednesday, May 13, at noon. Key will have his work for sale; copies of “Alabama Moon” will be $16.

The museum is at 111 S. Royal St. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to bring their own lunch. Complimentary beverages will be provided.

For more information about the Learning Lunch program, contact Howard McPhail, Curator of Minority History, at 251-208-7557 or howard.mcphail@cityofmobile.org.

Romantic Russian sounds close MSO season
As the mercury begins to climb, the Mobile Symphony Orchestra (MSO) closes its season with a sojourn to a land known for chilly winds. The Saenger Theatre (6 S. Joachim St.) will conjure cool Eastern tastes when Russian romance stirs to life on May 9 and 10.

The program features Mikhail Glink’s “Ruslan and Ludmila” Overture and Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony 1 in D Major, known as his Classical Symphony. Also on the bill is Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto 3.”

The last of those boasts a featured performer who is more than familiar with Russian flavorings. Pianist Olga Kern not only comes from a family with ties to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff but she studied at the Central Music School of Moscow.

At age 17, Kern won first prize at the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition. She followed that by winning the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001, then performed at the Kennedy Center and the White House.

The MSO May 9 show begins at 8 p.m. The May 10 concert starts at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 to $100. Students K through college can enter for $10.
For more information, call 251-432-2010 or go to mobilesymphony.org.

New wallscape emerges in downtown
If you’re driving by the new grocery store at the corner of Broad and Government and see someone marking up their walls, don’t call the police. And don’t assume Priest has returned to town.

It’s local favorite Devlin Wilson capturing the past in paint for Greer’s latest location. The new proprietor and longtime Mobile institution has employed the popular artist to slather his handiwork on the big wall facing Government Street United Methodist Church – aka the Bee Hive – across Broad.

One of the owners of Innova Arts on St. Louis St., some of Wilson’s previous alfresco handiwork can be seen not far from his current storefront. Two blocks down St. Louis, his greyscale renderings of historic scenes – a paddlewheeler, the old drydocks entrance and various vintage street scenes – festoon the side of a warehouse. He has also painted murals at Loop Ice, the Mobile Regional Airport and other locations.

This latest work, done with help from Innova Arts partner Shelley Ingersoll, features exteriors of historic Greer’s markets and a collection of antique vehicles. A portrait of the chain’s founder, Autry Greer, is also slated for depiction on another wall.

If you have some time to burn and want to watch Wilson in action, you’re more than welcome. Just bring the guy a cold drink, will ya’? Summer’s here.

Pig-tailed scamp alive at Playhouse in the Park
It’s been about 70 years since Swedish author Astrid Lindgren visualized a red-haired female counterpart to Peter Pan in an attempt to lighten her sick daughter’s mood. The result was a 9-year-old ball of mischief named Pippi Longstocking.

In 1949, Pippi was first brought to life on the silver screen and subsequent versions emerged in the decades afterward. She earned her own TV series in the ‘70s, an ABC Weekend Special in the ‘80s and an animated series in the ‘90s.

Now Pippi and her four best friends – a horse, a monkey and the neighbor kids Tommy and Annika – are bound for the stage at Mobile’s oldest children’s theater, Playhouse in the Park. The theatre at 4851 Museum Dr. in Langan Park will run “The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking” May 1 through 17.

School shows are Friday, May 1, at 9 and 10:30 a.m. Though these performances are geared to grades K through 6, anyone is welcome. Teachers may reserve tickets for school-day performances by calling 251-422-0079.

Friday shows are at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets for public performances are available via recommended reservation by calling the Playhouse at 251-602-0630. Guests with reservations must pick up their tickets no later than 10 minutes before showtime; otherwise they may not be held.

If seats are available once all reservations are claimed, tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis at the Playhouse box office prior to each show.

More information can be found at playhouseinthepark.org.