L'Chaim Theatre of USC goes about reshaping Shylock this week with "The Merchant." The modern retelling of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" takes place in 1932's post-Weimar Republic Germany. Alan Blumenfeld (who played Shylock in the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum's production) directs and Joel Polis stars in this socially relevant tweaking of the Bard's classic. 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. (Saturdays), 8 p.m. (Fridays), 2:30 p.m. (Sunday). Runs April 11-19. $10 (students), $15 (general). Santa Monica Playhouse, The Other Space, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (213) 764-6538.
Is there mention of the spotted owl in the Bible? You'll have to tune in to PBS tonight to find out. The station airs the latest episode of "Nature," titled "Lost World of the Holy Land." It focuses on the efforts of Israeli and Arab conservationists to save the endangered animals of the Torah. 8-9 p.m. KCET. Cantor Wally and the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles deliver you into freedom today -- at least temporarily. Their Fixin' the World Passover Celebration should keep the kids entertained and engaged for a good hour, as they learn about tikkun olam and our upcoming feast without yeast. 3-4 p.m. For children ages 5-11. Free. 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8648.
You may have missed acclaimed Israeli composer Misha Segal's latest show in Los Angeles -- he performed for cancer patients at Cedars-Sinai. While it may seem an unusual choice of venue, Segal's new album, "Female," was inspired by the memory of his mother, who recently died after a long battle with cancer. Featuring original piano music, the album is available for purchase through Segal's Web site. www.mishasegal.com
Rebbetzin by day, actress by night, Michelle Azar (wife of Rabbi Jonathan Aaron of Temple Emanuel) performs with the Neurotic Young Urbanites ensemble cast in "Private Eyes" this evening. The play is a dark comedy, all about jealousy, love and betrayal. Basically, all the juicy stuff the rabbi's sermon usually warns about. 8 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday). Runs through April 19. $20. The Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica. (310) 572-6748.
Noon on the day of Passover eve means seder-prepping procrastinators are feeling the panic. Thankfully, the Food Network has thought ahead for you. This afternoon, "Calling All Cooks" features Passover recipes for Meginah (a Sephardic meat and eggplant lasagna) and a dessert fruit crisp. Also, tune in for tips on kosher food buying. Noon. Food Network. www.foodtv.com
So you fancy yourself an artiste, do ya? Time to prove it. The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring's A Shener Velt Gallery is putting a call out to all artists to participate in a juried exhibition titled "War Stories." Slides of your wall-hung works in any media -- except ceramics and jewelry -- should be submitted by Sept. 8. For a show prospectus, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: A Shenere Velt Gallery, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 552-2007.
If the words Russian culture bring to mind Stoli and fur hats, you've got a lot to learn. And since you've learned everything else you know from movies, why not this? Starting today, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation presents the L.A. Exhibition of Russian Cinema. More than 30 features, including the 1925 Azarkh Granovsky film "Jewish Luck," will screen at the Arclight over the next week. Some documentaries and early examples of Russian animation will also be shown. $15 (opening and closing night screenings and receptions), $11 (regular screenings), $9 (reduced screening rate). 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. For more information, call (323) 848-9488 or visit www.arclightcinemas.com
; for tickets, call (323) 464-4226.