A quarter million miles is a long way to come just to luxuriate by the banks of the Mobile River. At least this guest won’t be lacking for company.

That’s because the visitor is a lunar rock on loan from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Its vigilant companion? The ever-present security on hand to make sure this Very Important Breccia stays in place throughout its short stay at Mobile’s museum devoted to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) pursuits.

The lunar sample was brought back to terra firma during 1971’s Apollo 15 mission. With its age calculated at 3.9 billion years, the composite stone is older than 99.9 percent of all earth rock.

The lunar specimen is joined in the upstairs gallery by other space minerals, mainly a smattering of asteroids and their pieces from Russia, Namibia, China and Texas. Alongside these minerals are other rare, historic collectibles such as an Apollo 11 medallion minted with metal from the Columbia spacecraft, a Saturn rocket data book, a commemorative button honoring astronaut Gordon Cooper and a 1952 book on Mars missions authored by Wernher von Braun, the father of the U.S. space program.

The majority of the exhibit is located on the ground floor and contains a wealth of models, artifacts and varied interactive computer exhibits orbiting both our history of exploration and a future aimed at Mars. A pair of 3-D stations detail what life aboard the International Space Station entails and lets visitors see some of the myriad ways our everyday life has been enhanced by the space program technology and research, not the least of which is medical in nature.

Pieces of the space shuttle program are in place, including tires, astronaut gear, insulating foam and heat-dispersing ceramic tiles. Coincidentally, there is one model of a space shuttle atop a 747 air transport like the tandem that landed at Brookley Aeroplex in 1984.

While the lunar sample leaves Mobile after June 10, the rest of the exhibit remains in place until Sept. 7. It is is made possible from sponsorship by steel fabricator AM/NS Calvert.

Summer hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 251-208-6893 or visit www.exploreum.com.

Fiddler climbs Carlen Street roof
It’s 1905 in a Russian hamlet on the Pale of Settlement, an area where Jews are allowed permanent residency and Tevye the Dairyman is worried about his five daughters. The three eldest kids are looking for romantic marriages but their pursuits are diverging from their father’s traditional customs and beliefs.

Inspired by Sholem Aleichem’s late 19th century stories of a harried and perilous existence for Jews in Imperial Russia, the story had been considered for dramatic presentation for decades before Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein brought “Fiddler on the Roof” to Broadway in 1964. It not only became the first American musical to surpass 3,000 performances but won nine of its 10 Tony Award nominations, became a hit 1971 film and has had four Broadway revivals.
Now the Joe Jefferson Players bring this tale of cultural touchstones and changing times to life, with nearly 40 cast members. The run in their 11 S. Carlen St. playhouse lasts June 5 through 21.

Friday and Saturday curtain times are 8 p.m. Sunday matinee is at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and military, and $10 for students.
For more information, call 251-471-1534 or go to joejeffersonplayers.com.

Saenger puts ‘change of life’ to song
As four female shoppers rifle through lingerie at Bloomingdale’s, common ground emerges. They begin to joke about wrinkles and weight gain, mood swings and hot flashes, nocturnal sweats and memory loss. Inevitably, song and dance erupts as they resolve to dissolve the “silent passage.”

These are the unmistakable ingredients of “Menopause the Musical.” Penned by Jeannie Linders, its natural appeal to female Baby Boomers of a certain age launched it to off-Broadway success beginning in 2001. One of the longest-running scripted productions in Las Vegas, it has played 450 U.S. cities, nearly 300 international cities and a total of 15 countries.

Now after entertaining audiences across oceans, GFour Productions brings the show to Mobile’s Saenger Theatre (6 S. Joachim St.) on June 11 at 8 p.m. The 90-minute production is constructed around parodied pop songs of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Tickets are $45 and $39; additional fees may apply.

For more info, call the Saenger Box Office at 251-208-5600 or go to mobilesaenger.com.

GCEHJF unveils poster, holds auditions
The 17th annual Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Festival (GCEHJF) will unveil its poster at noon, June 6, at the Mobile Arts Council (318 Dauphin St.) in downtown Mobile. The work by noted Mobile artist Mateo also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

GCEHJF also sponsors an annual week-long Summer Youth Jazz Camp for aspiring jazz musicians, held this year from July 27-31. Auditions for the program will be held after the unveiling, from 1-4 p.m. Interested campers will be asked their level of musical knowledge and to possibly perform a piece for instructors in order to place them in the skill-appropriate class. 

The Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Jazz Festival is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to further the preservation and growth of jazz music as America’s only original music art form. Founded in 1999, the organization’s vision is to provide music lovers throughout Mobile and the Gulf Coast area with a vibrant mix of professional jazz entertainment and music education. The GCEHJF is sponsored by grants from The Alabama Council on the Arts, The Mobile Arts Council and the Mobile County Commission.

For more information please call Yvette Chestang, Jazz Festival Marketing Director at 703-595-7427 or email at yvettechestang@gcehjazzfest.com. Also visit www.gcehjazzfest.com.