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Main Event: 'A Christmas Carol' leads parade of holiday productions

By Staff · December 6th, 2007 · To Do List

'Tis the Season
Holiday shows are the bread and butter of most theater companies -- put on something good and it will support a lot of other kinds of work throughout the year. There are some excellent choices this year, ranging from traditional to edgy.

The nice thing about A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Thursday-Dec. 30) at the Cincinnati Playhouse is that it's good in its own right. It's been a joyous and immensely popular holiday present for 17 seasons. Bruce Cromer, who played Bob Cratchitt for many years, is now an animated Scrooge, and the magical set has more bells, whistles and glittering turntables than ever before. And don't think if you've seen A Christmas Carol once you can check it off your list as a "been there, done that." Each season's production offers a few new surprises: Last year Marley's Ghost (played with histrionic panache by Greg Procaccino) made an arrival that startled everyone. Who knows what new twists director Michael Evan Haney will provide for 2007? (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)

Scrooge is haunting several other stages. Falcon Theatre looks at his story from a comical perspective in THE TRIAL OF EBENEZER SCROOGE (Friday-Dec. 16) as the old miser brings a lawsuit for pain and suffering against the ghosts who tried to show him the way to happiness on Christmas Eve. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)

At Know Theatre in Over-the-Rhine, there's CHRISTMAS.TO.COME (Thursday-Dec. 30) with a very contemporary version of Dickens' story, focused on "Ben" Scrooge with a soundtrack by Ryan Adams, John Mayer, Great White and Diana Ross. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)

If you've had the Dickens scared out of you, you can plenty of choices. There's STRIKING 12 at New Stage Collective (through Dec. 31), reviewed in this issue here. Or how about New Edgecliff Theatre's presentation of David Sedaris' hysterically funny THE SANTALAND DIARIES (at Columbia Performance Space Wednesday-Dec. 22), about working as a Macy's elf? Cincinnati Shakespeare is offering EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (at Arnold's Bar & Grill, Sunday-Tuesday through Dec. 18), which runs the gamut of secular holiday legends, from the Grinch to Rudolph. There's no excuse to miss out on some holiday theatrical entertainment. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants for The Santaland Diaries here and for Every Christmas Story Ever Told here.) -- RICK PENDER

Up until the sexual revolution of the late 1960s, menstruation wasn't considered an acceptable topic for conversation in polite society. As a result, grown women often talked in hushed tones about receiving a visit from their "Aunt Flo" and many were kept unaware about some basic information regarding women's health and the options available to them. That's not the case anymore, as evidenced by a get-together planned this week at PARK + VINE, an environmentally conscious store in Over-the-Rhine. A workshop entitled, "Party in my Pants," will be held to discuss the benefits of reusable menstrual pads. Its purpose is to show women how they can lessen their impact on the environment by stopping their use of disposable pads and provide a safe and open environment to ask questions about their options. The workshop will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. and hosted by Lydia Daum, who will facilitate the discussion, answer questions and talk about the selection of reusable pads for sale at Park + Vine.

Participants are encouraged to bring a vegetarian appetizer to share along with their own cup, plate and utensils. Anyone interested can seek more information or RSVP at info@parkandvine.com or call 513-721-7275. -- KEVIN OSBORNE

Comedian JUSTON MCKINNEY comes from a blue-collar background, literally: He used to be a cop. But a funny thing happened on the way to a career in law enforcement. Actually, a lot of funny things happened, like the time he was asked to instruct the "Just Say No" program in his native Maine. "That program started in L.A.," he says, "and I had to teach the exact same lesson plan up in the woods in Maine. One of the lesson plans was to try and deter the kids from joining a gang. They didn't even know what a gang was until I went in and told them. The next day they're all forming gangs!" Crime and criminals are still topics in his act. "I'm happy (gas is) $3.45 a gallon," he says. "It saved my life. A couple of weeks ago I was driving in L.A., and a guy tried to car-jack me. He saw I was on 'E' and he let me go." McKinney performs Thursday-Sunday at The Funny Bone on the Levee. $15. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- P.F. WILSON

Mount Adams goes to the dogs on Saturday for the 17th annual MOUNT ADAMS REINDOG PARADE. The holiday hounds will take to the streets in their favorite reindeer costumes for an afternoon of parading and judgment because what's the point of having a pet you can't seasonally dress up and show off to your friends? Even the Grinch does it. Registration begins at noon at the Monastery on Saint Paul Street and the parade starts at 2 p.m. WGRR's "Married with Microphones" Chris O'Brien and Janeen Coyle will be on hand as the Grand Marshalls of the parade, emceeing the events and announcing the winners of the raffle and the costume contest. Celebrity judges will decide who will receive reindog fame and glory in five different categories such as best small dog costume. Raffle tickets are $5, or 6 for $20, and can win you a "Night in Mount Adams" package worth $250-$300. All proceeds benefit the SPCA. And if one reindog event just isn't enough for you, make it a reindog weekend with the MASON'S CHRISTMAS PARADE on Friday. For a $5 registration fee, Rover can take those antlers for a test drive. Mason's parade beings at 6:15 p.m. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants for Mount Adams here and for Mason here.) -- MAIJA ZUMMO

Stop by one of Covington's best-kept secrets, THE PASSIONATE ARTS CENTER, from 6-10 p.m. Friday for their Holiday Art Market. The sale will offer one-of-a-kind holiday gifts made by 25 local artists, featuring everything from artwork, pottery, handcrafted jewelry and glass sculpture to handmade cards, soaps, lotions and bath salts. Sip complimentary wine, nibble on holiday snacks and listen to live music by Mark and Teresa Turpin as you browse, and then continue your evening at COVINGTON'S FIRST FRIDAY GALLERY HOP in MainStrasse Village. Participating venues include Bar Monet, Bean Haus, Chez Nora, Christian's Kinder Laden, Focus Gallery, Julie's Inspiration, Kaleidoscope Stained Glass, Leapin' Lizard Gallery, Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast, Ottoman Imports, Swayne on Main, The Christmas Shoppe, Tickets Sports Bar, The MarX Gallery, Relaxing Moments in The Wedding Mall, Nordheim Gallery, Cher Chique Boutique & Beauty Bar, Encore Design Gallery … and more! Carriage Rides and the Magic Bus will shuttle guests throughout the Gallery Hop area. Parking is available on street or in the city garage at Seventh Street below Madison Avenue. The Passionate Arts Center is located at 31-33 W. Pike St. between Washington and Madison avenues in downtown Covington. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- LIZ WU

Friday 12/7
Young, crafty Northside gallery FERALMADE closes its first year in operation (Cincinnati Art Gallery Rookie of the Year, perhaps?) with Slice of Life, an exhibition of works by Chris Semer and Jeremy Nichols. Located amid the "Comet Strip Mall" area on Hamilton Avenue -- it shares the block with The Comet, Avant Garage and Northside Chop Shop -- Feralmade has come alive via exhibitions marked by colorfully illustrated, graphically adventurous works from (mostly) emerging artists, which is fitting -- the gallery started as (and continues to be) a print shop. Expect a similar aesthetic from Semer and Nichols. Opening reception: 7:23 p.m.-12:08 a.m. Friday. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- JASON GARGANO

A perfect reason to head to Walnut Hills this Friday: ESSEX STUDIO ART WALK. Like a smaller, more intimate Pendleton, the Essex Studio includes more than 100 practicing artists. Studio doors are open on Friday, and the Essex Guild has invited art lovers of all kinds to participate in the dialogue there. The studio complex is also open Saturday. Several blocks away, MANIFEST GALLERY promotes its incredible Drawing Center with the drawing sale; Friday also marks the last day of the exhibition in the main gallery, Resistance to Vision. According to Jason Franz, "We sought work that makes visible an active process of seeing and making as necessary to its aesthetic." Manifest chose 16 works of various media from a pool of more than 350 entries, each of which takes a different approach to probe this idea. The Essex walk is 6-11 p.m., Manifest closes at 7 p.m. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants for Essex Studios here and for Manifest here.) -- LAURA JAMES

Sounding like a narcotic cabaret or a lysergic chamber orchestra, Dark Stars, the latest EP from New York City's WHITE MAGIC, mixes lullaby piano figures with often erratic, jazzy drum beats (mostly courtesy of esoteric Roots artist Jim White), creating the kind of music that could be used to lull a child to sleep -- if said child happened to listen to a lot of Captain Beefheart while floating peacefully in the womb. Singer/pianist Mira Billotte remains the focal point -- with her spectral soulfulness, her vocals fall into a realm that stretches from Nina Simone to Cat Power, possessing a voice that couldn't be conjured from anywhere but the darkest depths of the soul. Multi-instrumentalist Doug Shaw adds some vocals/spoken words that play up the Velvet Underground/Nico element of the music. The dichotomy of the soft/serene instrumentation (light piano trickles, mostly) brushing up against progressive song structures and other more unpredictable elements also can also be traced to VU. But White Magic doesn't specifically sound like anyone else, instead following the singular, almost surrealistic vision of Billotte with a dream-like, stream-of-consciousness flow that is equal parts provocative and entrancing. The group comes to the Southgate House's upstairs Parlour stage this Saturday, joined by local duo The Dandybeards. $8. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- MIKE BREEN

Clock in some caroling without trudging around outside in the cold at CAROLFEST. Even if your vocal performances are strictly limited to the shower, you're bound to sound decent singing along with Cincinnati's world-renowned May Festival Chorus, under the direction of Robert Porco. Also performing is the May Festival Youth Chorus, the Allen Temple A.M.E. Church Combined Choir, Fairview German Language School Choir, Studio for Dance and Chancel Ringers from Greenhills Community Presbyterian Church. An hour before the show, handbell ringers entertain with Santa, Rudolph and Frosty. Carolfest has two shows, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday at Music Hall. $10, $5 for children 12 and under. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- SUSIE SHUTTS



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