ONSTAGE: DOUBT, the most produced play on regional stages across the U.S., continues at the Playhouse in the Park. See Rick Pender's review here.
ART: COUNTRY CLUB's Charley Harper: Works on Paper 1961-1970 exhibition continues through May 3. See Selena Reder's feature story here.
ART: MANIFEST CREATIVE RESEARCH GALLERY Nine artists from across the country descend on Cincinnati at Manifest Gallery to present Projections, an exhibition themed around "clearly sculptural" works that are mounted on the walls of the gallery or the ceiling, rather than being displayed upon more traditional pedestals or the floor. Not that this concept is revolutionary or ground breaking, but it is a good enough reason to gather the work of several really remarkable artists that are continuing to stretch inquiries about the identity, function and appearance of sculpture into venturesome territory. With the inclusion of artists Kristina Arnold, Kevin Ewing and Adrienne Outlaw, viewers can expect an interesting dialogue of delicate materials used to express barbed, imposing ideas. For fans of Manifest's International Drawing Annuals, selections from the imminent 2007 publication will be on display in the adjoining room. While Manifest has regular hours 2-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday, my success at finding the gallery manned has been a little spotty. I recommend calling ahead if you plan a visit. 513-861-3638. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Matt Morris
EVENTS: IKEA OPENING Aesthetes and spend thrifts alike can finally rejoice over the grand opening of IKEA West Chester! This Mecca of stylish, affordable, do-it-yourself heavy home furnishings will host its grand opening from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday (although their Web site invited shoppers to camp out starting two days prior). Prepare to be overwhelmed by the 48 different room settings and three fully furnished home interiors that the new store boasts to better show off its offerings in the context of conceivable spaces. A walk through IKEA's showrooms can be both enriching and inspiring, with all kinds of semiotic food for thought. Treasures abound that embody modernist integrations of form and function. IKEA tacks on "affordability" as the third in a holy trinity of ideals for the company. The Cincinnati area's own IKEA has been long-awaited, and its grand opening should be fun and insightful. Regular store hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. 513-779-7100. -- Matt Morris
ONSTAGE: PASSION When Stephen Sondheim's Passion debuted in 1994, some theatergoers were confused at first: A musical about powerful emotions from the composer and lyricist who is believed by many to be dispassionate and aloof? The story opens with Giorgio, a handsome soldier, in bed with Clara, his beautiful lover. Ah, some said, Sondheim's gone soft. But the completely sung show takes a dark turn when Giorgio is stalked by Fosca, his commander's unattractive niece who has become obsessed with him. We learn about the evolution of emotion through letters written between the characters. Although Passion won 1994 Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Music and Lyrics and Best Musical (Sondheim's collaborator was writer James Lapine, with whom he also created Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods), it's rarely produced. UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) staged it in 1996 in Patricia Corbett Theater, but this week you can see this intimate, one-act tale with an unexpected outcome in CCM's 200-seat Cohen Family Studio Theater. It will surely be a powerful experience of serious musical theater. Performances Thursday-Saturday are free, but you need to call CCM in advance for a reservation. 513-556-4183. Check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Rick Pender
ATTRACTIONS: FREEDOM'S SISTERS Harriet Tubman, Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks are iconic names in the history of the civil rights movement, but what about Fanny Lou Hamer, Ella Baker and Septima Poinsette Clark? The exhibition Freedom's Sisters presents the lives and accomplishments of 20 African-American women, from activists Hamer, Baker and Clark to contemporary figures including the poet Sonya Sanchez, the late congressional representative Barbara Jordan and NPR journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
This interactive presentation is a collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution. "The Cincinnati Museum Center is honored to create this extraordinary exhibit," says Cincinnati Museum Center president and CEO Douglass McDonald. "And we can only hope that we can provide an extension to the legacies of these strong, courageous and trailblazing women." The exhibition runs through Sept. 14. Admission is included with a ticket to the Cincinnati History Museum. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Anne Arenstein
EVENTS: MILLENNICON 22 For anyone who's ever rolled a 12-sided die -- and even for those of you who haven't -- it seems only appropriate to put Millennicon, the Tristate's finest sci-fi convention, on your weekend radar, if only to salute the late Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons. For 22 years Millennicon's been bringing the best in science fiction, space and science fact programming to Cincinnati with anything and everything your little fannish heart could want from writing and art costuming to collecting and gaming. The Friday-Sunday event features a dealer's room, a masquerade contest and some mighty fine filking (fantasy-themed Folk music). This year's guests of honor are Steven Barnes, fantasy author/screenwriter/marital arts instructor, and featured author Tananarive Due. And, hey, if you're too embarrassed someone might see you, you can always go incognito. A sci-fi convention can never have too many dudes in warlock costumes. $35 at the door; $15-$25 memberships available; $10 children 6-11. Holiday Inn Sharonville. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Maija Zummo
MUSIC: RUMBLE CLUB At the recent "Psychofest" at the Southgate House, featuring high-energy, Punk-sparked Rockabilly bands from all over the country, Cincinnati's Rumble Club stood out. Not by jumping off speakers or sporting the wildest retro-Rockabilly costume; not by simply inhibiting the Rockabilly music stereotypes like a worn leather jacket; and not by having the biggest stage backdrop or craziest schtick. While the other bands on the bill were sharp and wildly entertaining, Rumble Club was clearly offering something different and novelty-free, as they've developed their own, rich signature style through loads of touring and a few full-length albums. With basso vocals that recall Johnny Cash and song arrangements that veer from the expected, Rumble Club has proven that memorable Rockabilly can be made without relying exclusively on old Gene Vincent riffs. The 'Billy world has taken note -- Rockabilly and hot rod magazines the world over have written about the group. To capitalize on their rising profile in the community, the band is launching a Midwestern tour 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Poison Room, supported by incredible Cleveland-based Roots Punk rabble-rousers Whiskey Daredevils (formerly known as The Cowslingers). Ready to rumble? Buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Mike Breen
MUSIC: EMERSON DRIVE rocks, pops and twangs at the Madison Theater. See Sound Advice preview here.
EVENTS: ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE In 1967, members of the St. Patrick Division I Order of the Hibernians decided to have a parade, according to the official Cincinnati Saint Patrick Parade Web site, which says that "Catholics of the city and others left work, stores and bars to join the procession." Despite this perpetuation of the drunken Irish stereotype (is it really offensive if it's true?), the 42nd installment of Cincy's favorite celebration of Ireland's best-known saint will take place Saturday. More than 150 entries will include high school bands, local Shriners in their little cars and many examples of Hamilton County's awesome crime-fighting vehicles. Grand Marshall Patrick Downing said Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. had 29 different entries in the parade last year. Unlike those snow-fearing wusses at Bockfest, our annual shamrock celebration has never been cancelled, so wake up before noon, pick your Irish friends up from their neighborhood bars and get to the 1 p.m. sendoff at Eighth and Broadway. 513-202-1715. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Danny Cross
EVENTS: HEALTH BY CHOCOLATE In a perfect world, there would be no death and disease, and chocolate and cigarettes would be good for you. At least one of those things is true, according to a New Jersey company involved with organic foods. Health by Chocolate will hold a tasting Saturday at the Red Tree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop in Oakley. The company offers organically cultivated Swiss chocolate that's enhanced with vitamins and minerals. Chocolate is known to be rich in antioxidants and, as with olive oil, its natural health benefits can either be preserved or destroyed by how it's grown and processed. Health by Chocolate offers the sweet foodstuff that's been made from organically shade-grown cocoa beans and is bought under fair-trade conditions. Each tasting event includes a presentation on the history of chocolate and six varieties to taste and rate. The tasting, held from 1-2:30 p.m., costs $25 per person at the door. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Kevin Osborne
MUSIC: THE DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS defy expectations at the Southgate House. See an interview here.
MUSIC: GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT brings modern Irish music to the Mad Hatter. See Sound Advice preview here.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY gets started as early as 5:30 a.m. on Mount Lookout Square. Check here for your kegs & eggs options around town.
LITERARY: DONALD RAY POLLOCK Knockemstiff, Ohio? I didn't know such a place existed. The hometown of Donald Ray Pollock plays a major role in his much-discussed debut collection of short stories, the aptly titled Knockemstiff. If the tales therein are any indication of what it's like to live in the place, count me out for more than anything than a brief pit stop. Depravity, hopelessness, abusive fathers, perverts, drug abuse, incest, neglect -- it's all here, as is an incisive dark humor and an unblinkingly genuine portrait of what it's like to live in a decaying Midwestern town. The 53-year-old Pollock could be a character in one of his stories: He dropped out of high school at 17 to work in a meatpacking plant, which was soon followed by 32 years at a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio. He starting writing eight years ago, and is currently a graduate student at Ohio State University. But unlike many a writing-program product, this guy has already lived a life worth conveying on the page. Pollock discusses his unconventional journey to published author 7 p.m. Tuesday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Jason Gargano
EVENT: EMPTY SHIRTS, LOST LIVES Commemorating the fifth anniversary of President Bush's invasion of Iraq, a pro-peace group will organize an unusual vigil to mark the nearly 4,000 U.S. deaths so far in the ongoing war. The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) is coordinating volunteers to participate in "Empty Shirts, Lost Lives," a combination protest/art display in University Heights. Organizers hope to highlight the human cost of Iraq War by tangibly representing the 4,000 individual U.S. military personnel that have been killed by displaying an empty T-shirt for every death on a clothesline. It's expected that the line of T-shirts will be more than two miles long. IJPC is seeking teams of four or more people to take part and bring T-shirts, a rope and clothes pins. Participants will stand along Clifton Avenue, near McMillan on the east side of the University of Cincinnati campus, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Also, a prayer service commemorating the anniversary will be held at 4:30 p.m. at St. Monica/ St.George Church, 328 W. McMillan. The interfaith service should finish about 15 minutes before the start of the vigil to allow participants to get to their assigned location. For more information or to volunteer, contact Kristen Barker at 513-579-8547 or via e-mail at Kristen@ijpc-cincinnati.org. Get more background here. -- Kevin Osborne
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