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The 5: Soup, phantoms and Mess Fest

While many eyes will be glued to the TV this weekend as March Madness unfolds, it's not like the rest of Buffalo is coming to a standstill.

From a solid touring theater production to a local brewery's quirky celebration, there's no shortage of events to witness and new places to check out during the first weekend of spring.

Here's a half version of The 10:

1) Buffalo Soup-Fest, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). It's $5 to get in, and then "soup bucks" run for $1. See the individual vendors for sampling prices.

Commentary: The temperature will plummet this weekend, and we're actually not that upset about it. According to Weather.com, the predicted high for Sunday is 31 degrees -- not far from the ideal soup-slurping temperature, which sources say is 25 degrees. While the deep freeze in mid-February forced this reschedule, we're glad Mother Nature kept it cool once again.

2) "Phantom of the Opera," 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday in Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.) Tickets range from $38 to $133 and can be purchased here. The touring production runs through March 29.

Commentary: Colin Dabkowski's review of "Phantom" presented the show as a mixed bag, but one worthy of evaluating for yourself. The critic was encouraged by the tweaks made to the stage design, but troubled by the over-the-top neurosis of the title character.

Katie Travis and Storm Lineberger play key roles in "The Phantom of the Opera." (Matthew Murphy)

Katie Travis and Storm Lineberger play key roles in "The Phantom of the Opera." (Matthew Murphy)

3) MessFest!, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Buffalo Museum of Science (1020 Humboldt Pkwy.) Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for kids/adolescents between 2-17, and $9 for seniors. Museum of Science members may attend for free.

Commentary: Safe explosions! If they were conducted in the typical household, many of the Museum of Science's planned activities for Sunday would lead to an extended timeout for kids. Among the activities: a "Slime" run, Diet Coke and Mentos explosions, "Shaving Cream Chaos" and much more. It probably goes without saying, but bring a change of clothes.

4) Lesionread's album release party, 7 p.m. Friday in Dreamland (387 Franklin St.). Tickets are $8 and include a copy of Lesionread's release party.

Commentary: The focus of Mac McGuire's Buffalo Music Spotlight this week, Lesionread embraces difference and raises questions about identity. The project of Shawn Lewis produces an unpredictable live performance -- past shows have included a silly-string fight and a 15-foot robot pinata, McGuire's post notes. We'd hope for a Left Shark appearance, but there's no way Lewis will be that cliche.

You never know what you're going to get at a Lesionread (left) show.

You never know what you're going to get at a Lesionread (left) show.

5) Check out Squeaky Wheel Media's new digs: "You Are in Nearly Every Future," a dance-poetry-new media performance at 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, in Market Arcade Building (617 Main Street, No. 2), and more events can be found here.

Commentary: Versatile media center Squeaky Wheel, known for its value as a resource to the local film and tech communities, as well as its annual holiday DysFUNction Party, has moved only a block away from its previous basement location, but there's more space to relish the organization's talent and quest to test the boundaries of contemporary media. Read more in Dabkowski's weekly series, A Closer Look.

The outside of Squeaky Wheel's new home inside the Market Arcade.

The outside of Squeaky Wheel's new home inside the Market Arcade.

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