Looking for some good theater this weekend? There’s plenty to choose from on Cincinnati stages.
Last evening I was at the Cincinnati Playhouse for the opening performance of To Kill a Mockingbird. If you’ve read Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel or seen the classic film starring Gregory Peck, you know the story. But I bet you’ve never seen it quite the way Playhouse Associate Artist Eric Ting has staged this one. Reminiscent of Our Town, it’s played out on an all-but-bare stage — no scenery, minimal props — just great storytelling acting, including a lot of local professionals: Dale Hodges, Annie Fitzpatrick, Torie Wiggins, Ken Early, Barry Mulholland, Jared Joplin, Randy Bailey and three sensational kids. The set is deceptively simple, but used very effectively with Ting choreographing the action using two concentric “revolves,” atmospheric lighting and sound effects. The Playhouse clearly has a winner with this production. It just opened and the demand for tickets is already so strong that it’s been extended to April 10, a week beyond the initially announced closing. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
When you put together a songwriting team like Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (the guys behind Fiddler on the Roof) and a writer like Joe Masteroff (he also wrote the script for Cabaret), the results ought to be good. And they were in 1963 when She Loves Me debuted on Broadway. Set in a 1930s perfumery, it’s about two shop clerks, Amalia and Georg, who don’t see eye to eye; both lonely and yearning for love, they unwittingly end up as pen-pals — and a warm-hearted comic romance ensues. (Sound familiar? It’s also the story of the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan hit film from 1998, You’ve Got Mail.) She Loves Me was revived on Broadway in 1993, and there’s a current production of it w by Roundabout Theatre Company. But you don’t have to travel to New York City to enjoy this charming show, since it’s onstage at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts through April 3. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
There are numerous whiffs of Fringe shows in the air this weekend. Beertown continues at Know Theatre through March 19, a concept brought to town by dog & pony dc, a group that’s performed more than once at Cincinnati Fringe Festivals. This one is an exercise in civics that happens to be highly entertaining, as a small town decides which items to keep or replace in a time capsule that’s reviewed every five years. Audiences get to join the conversation — and they do. With a cast featuring a lot of local improv and acting talent, Beertown is a thoroughly entertaining production, and it can go in different directions every time it’s performed. Know is also presenting a double bill of two past Fringe award winners — Petunia and Chicken from Animal Engine and Edgar Allan from the Coldharts. The former is a story of love and loss inspired by the works of Midwestern Prairie author Willa Cather; two actors play all the parts piece. Edgar Allan was inspired by imagining the boyhood of Edgar Allan Poe. If you missed these shows during the 2013 and 2015 festivals, you can see them at Know’s Jackson Street theater on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tickets, for one or both shows, which are both presented each evening: 513-300-5669 or at the door.
If you’re still pining for Fringe-styled shows, try Transmigration 2016 at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, featuring student-created works presented tonight and Saturday evening at 7 p.m. This annual event by CCM’s drama program features teams of actors who write, promote, stage and perform a handful of 30-minute shows. For 2016 the titles are “Elliot Popkin: The Best Friends I Never Had,” “The Elephant in the Room,” “The Family,” “Colony Collapse Disorder,” “Vices” and “A Brief Eternity.” Show up for an evening and dash around the CCM complex to see four of these unpredictable but wildly creative pieces. Admission is free, but reservations are required: 513-556-4183.
Also at CCM: The thrashing, pulsating production of American Idiot continues through Sunday at Patricia Corbett Theater on the UC campus. If you’re a fan of Punk Rock (the show is a stage version of Green Day’s 2004 recording), this is the show for you … Prefer something more sedate? Head downtown for Cincinnati Shakespeare’s stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, which continues through March 26. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
John Kasich (Republican)
Donald Trump is not the only person in the race with a background in TV. Ohio Gov. John Kasich used to host Fox News show Heartland with John Kasich. It was a similar format to The O’Reilly Factor, a show Kasich often served as a substitute host. Heartland with Kasich aired from 2001-2007.
What’s up with the campaign?
Kasich has failed to secure any states or a lead in the polls. The Ohio governor treated his second-place finish in New Hampshire as a moral victory. He also placed second in Massachusetts and Vermont.
Trump has successfully pulled Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio into the mud with him — all three slinging insults at each other.
“A guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup. Donald Trump likes to sue people — he should sue whoever did that to his face,” Sen. Rubio said at a Georgia rally.
In the first 10 minutes of the eleventh Republican debate, Trump defended the size of his genitalia, saying, “there’s no problem.” The real estate tycoon went on to refer to Sen. Rubio as “Little Marco” for most of the debate.
Kasich has successfully kept his head above water, making it to all the primetime debates. With the GOP Civil War erupting and the Trump train being virtually unstoppable, Kasich appears to be playing the long game, biding his time for the New England states and Ohio.
His best-case scenario is to emerge from the rubble, after months hiding in the corner, at a brokered GOP convention after Cruz and Rubio are bloodied up from their year-long war against Trump.
Voters might like:
● Never wrestle with a pig, because you get dirty and the pig likes it. That has been Kasich’s strategy from day one. He has stayed away from personal attacks and has not directly engaged any candidate. Kasich has secured his position as “the adult” on the stage.
● In February, Kasich signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. The bill doesn’t explicitly mention Planned Parenthood, instead redirects $1.3 million of government money away from organizations that performs or promotes elective abortions and into other health organizations. This affects Ohio’s 28 Planned Parenthood locations — three clinics provide abortions.
● Kasich has governed a swing state, meaning he can talk to both sides of the aisle. He expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, expanding health coverage for 275,000 Ohioans.
...but watch out for
● Gov. Kasich might suffer from name recognition as the primaries move forward. Without a clear victory and by not engaging in the GOP slugfest, Kasich risks not getting his message out. Google analytics support this concern, saying Kasich is the least searched presidential candidate.
● Kasich’s acceptance of a Medicaid expansion is a double-edge sword. His support of subsidized health care and support of immigration reform could make him look like a liberal to rightwing voters.
● By staying in the race so long with little hope of actually capturing the nomination, Kasich has gotten on the bad side of some of the Republican establishment due to hogging some delegates over more likely winners like Ted Cruz.
Biggest policy proposal:
Kasich’s tax plan would cut the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 28 percent. The tax cuts aren’t as deep as GOP front runner Donald Trump, nor are they a flat tax like Sen. Ted Cruz’s — and they still maintain a level of progressive tax. The Kasich tax plan calls for reducing the tax brackets from seven to three — but does not specify tax rates for the lower two.
At a stop in Michigan in August, Kasich made it clear he is not supportive of nation building. “I don't think it ought to be a priority of the United States to get everybody on the globe to operate exactly the way we do. I mean there are people that we look at and they may do things that we don't like, but we have similar goals. We don't need to spend our resources trying to get them to become like us,” Kasich said.
However, in a February interview with CNN, Kasich said boots on the ground will be required to defeat the Islamic State.
"Mark my words ... at some point it will require boots on the ground from the world to be able to deal with this problem," Kasich told CNN’s Gloria Borger.
Kasich has never been clear on whether or not he intends to deploy conventional troops to combat ISIS in his presidency — nor has he specified which country boots on the ground would be required in.
Surrounded by books, pamphlets and zine titles such as Noodle Doodle Coloring Book, never date dudes from the internet and How to Talk to Your Cat about Gun Control, Luke Kindle looks up from his nook in Wave Pool art gallery to cars whizzing past the window through the Camp Washington neighborhood.One half of the husband-and-wife team that founded the gallery, Cal Cullen, enters the gallery with a mug of coffee for Kindle. Her 18-month-old daughter Alice toddles not far behind, ready to run around the gallery. The furry pink rug underneath the swinging pink monkey sculpture is calling her name.
Skip Cullen joins his family in the gallery and tells me that Alice is obsessed with the furry pink monkey piece, otherwise known as “Not My Circus” by Pam Kravetz. Watching Alice run and dance around the gallery, it seems to be the most whimsical playground a toddler could ask for. It is also the site of Wave Pool’s current exhibit, Cincinnati 5: Artists Impacting the Community.
The exhibit complements the newly released book of the same title by Emily Moores, which explores the practice of five local visual artists and highlights their connections to the city. The gallery features new works from each of the artists, not only as a glimpse into their studios, but also as a celebration of the local visual arts community.
Skip says the goal of Wave Pool is to elevate the arts scene in Cincinnati. The contemporary art fulfillment center hosts eight exhibits per year, which pair local artists with national and internationally recognized artists. The center consists of art studios, a woodshop and other spaces community spaces that can be rented out for private events.
Wave Pool is also the site of a small shop of quirky reading material. In addition to art books that complement the exhibitions, there is an array of humorous titles to choose from. “We also wanted to be a weird, indie book place,” Skip says.
Kindle, a fine arts student at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, tells me he plans to reads all of them over the summer when he isn’t busy with school.
After meeting as graduate students at DAAP, the Cullens say they always had the dream to open a gallery together. While they lived in San Francisco for five years, they came back to Cincinnati to start the gallery. The couple agrees that there are not enough opportunities for local artists in Cincinnati, and they started Wave Pool to create more.
Despite being located in an old firehouse, Cal and Skip say what makes Wave Pool unique is the artist in residency program, which pays two artists per year to engage with the community in a unique way. The residency application is open to everyone, and the committee chooses artists based on how they will engage the community.
This year’s artists in residence are Sam Ihrig and Anna Riley from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Valerie Molnar and Matt Spahr from Richmond, Va.
Ihrig and Riley will bring their RIAS Studio (Research Institute of Analog Sampling), a project based on the origins and production of glass, to Wave Pool in May. RIAS Studio will explore the intimacy between maker and material and material and place through creating glass pieces specifically for Wave Pool from regionally and locally harvested materials.
The studio will also host a community workshop in which participants can join a
geological expedition to identify and collect materials to create glass. They
can then create their own formula in the studio and keep their unique Ohio
Cal says Wave Pools looks for experimental art, such as interactive pieces. The gallery looks for work that pushes the envelope of what people believe is art. “Because we are a nonprofit, we’re all about education through art,” she says. While other galleries may look to feature artwork that sells, Wave Pool is dedicated to facilitating the interaction between artists and the local community. She adds that although Cincinnati has many disparate arts communities, Wave Pool is a space where any artist can feel supported.
Hey all. Here’s your morning updates real quick-like.
A Hamilton County Courts judge yesterday acquitted two Cincinnati police officers on charges they covered up a fellow officer’s drunk driving crash. Officer Jason Cotterman and Sgt. Richard Sulfsted were charged with obstructing justice and dereliction of duty for their alleged involvement in hiding a car accident by fellow CPD officer Sgt. Andrew Mitchell. A witness to that accident who called 911 claimed Mitchell seemed “drunk as hell” when he ran two stop signs on West McMicken Avenue and crashed into a utility pole in the early morning hours. However, Cotterman ignored that witness even after another officer told him about those statements. Subsequently, Sulfsted helped Cotterman get Mitchell back to a police station. Mitchell was never given a sobriety test. He eventually pled guilty to two traffic violations and paid $315 in fines. Hamilton County Courts Judge Josh Berkowitz, who decided the verdict in the bench trial against the two officers, said when handing down the acquittal that the case amounted to “a lot of second guessing of their judgment." Any penalties for the officers for failing to follow police procedures should come internally within the department, Berkowitz said.
• How safe is the city’s Central Parkway Bikeway? We’ll find out. The city of Cincinnati will undertake a safety study of the controversial lane. Cincinnati Police say 62 accidents happened on the stretch of the thoroughfare containing the bike lane in 2015, though no baseline number has been given for years before the lane was introduced. Councilman Christopher Smitherman has called for removal of part of the lane, though community councils in Clifton and Over-the-Rhine have called for it to be expanded, not removed.
• City administration has worked out a new plan that would shore up projected deficits in the streetcar’s operating budget, but that plan is likely to cause controversy. City Manager Harry Black negotiated a deal with philanthropic group the Haile Foundation, which has pledged $900,000 toward the streetcar’s operating budget, to ensure that the money is available to the city when it needs it to fill gaps in the transit project’s finances. However, Cincinnati City Council may also have to pull money from the general fund under the plan in order to fully fund the streetcar’s operations. The general fund money would come from increased parking revenues from longer hours and higher rates downtown and in OTR, increases which were passed to help fund the project.
That’s likely going to stir the ire of anti-streetcar members of Council as well as Mayor John Cranley, who campaigned against the transit project. One option for Council under the plan would be to reduce the frequency of streetcar service should other revenue sources — fares, advertising and the like — fall short. That’s been unpopular with pro-streetcar council members, however, who say it may violate the terms of a federal grant given to the city to set up the project.
• A local preservation advocacy organization is looking at how it could get a fund running to save some of Cincinnati’s historic architecture. The Cincinnati Preservation Association recently won a $15,000 grant to work on ways it could manage a larger fund for loans or grants related to historic preservation. That could help the CPA save buildings like the one at 313 W. Fifth St. downtown and others that have been subject to recent struggles around the difficulties in making historic preservation financially viable.
• As Ohio Gov. John Kasich runs for president, courting GOP primary voters across the country, grassroots conservatives here in Ohio aren’t necessarily lining up behind him or the state Republican party. The state GOP is struggling with the same populist fire that has swept across the nation, and now a number of contested primaries are popping up in Ohio’s GOP-dominated state legislative districts. Many hardline conservative candidates are gaining ground in these districts, running against what they call Kasich’s lack of conservative values. Those unhappy with the Republican governor cite his decision to expand Medicaid in the state, his support for Common Core educational standards and other heresies against conservative orthodoxy. Ohio GOP party leaders acknowledge this grass roots, tea party-fueled rebellion, but have said only a handful of the primary races tea party challengers have entered are actually competitive.
• If you just can’t get enough of the GOP presidential primary, well, you’re in luck. Both Republican front runner Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be visiting the Cincinnati area over the weekend. Trump will be at the Duke Energy Convention Center Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m., while Kasich will make an appearance Saturday at the Sharonville Convention Center. The visits are part of a large blitz by both candidates in Ohio ahead of our March 15 primary. Kasich needs to win Ohio to stay in the race, though it's unclear what he'll do after that even if he does win.
An Ohio win for Trump could put him one step closer to clinching the Republican nomination outright. If he also wins Florida, which votes the same day, it would be a crushing blow for other candidates still in the race. Hilariously, Trump will end his Ohio fling with a campaign stop Monday night in Westerville, the suburb outside Columbus where Kasich lives. Troll level epic.
Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines.
A new poll found the majority of Hamilton County voters say they would vote against an increase in sales tax to extend the city's bus service. Well, that is, until they were told what extended bus service would actually look like. Most people were cool with it then. In the poll commissioned by the Southwest Regional Transit Authority, Hamilton County voters were first asked about the sales tax increase to fund bus services without giving any information about it. The majority opposed a 0.25 percent increase (50.6 percent) or a 0.5 percent increase (54.4 percent). But when they were told extended bus service would mean more morning, evening and weekend service and expanded crosstown routes, more hopped on board with it. SORTA found that 51.7 percent favored the 0.25 percent tax increase and 57.6 percent favored the 0.5 percent increase. Extended public transportation appears to be sorely needed in the greater Cincinnati area. A study of Metro last year commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber found that only 23 percent of the city's jobs are easily accessible by public transit. It found 40 percent weren't reachable via public transit at all.
• January is already one of the most depressing months with the plummet into cold weather surrounded by massive post-holiday hangovers. But to make it worse, it seems more Cincinnatians were also without a job that month. New numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show Greater Cincinnati's unemployment rate spiked in January to 5.2 percent, an increase from 4.3 percent in December. The hardest hit area was professional and business service jobs, which lost 8,000 positions.
• Here's your primary election updates for the week: Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, won three more states' primary elections held yesterday in Hawaii, Michigan and Mississippi. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who currently is running hard to catch up to Trump managed to score a win in Idaho. Ohio Gov. John Kasich failed to get the second place victory he was hoping for in Michigan, just barely losing it to Cruz, who got 25 percent of the vote compared to Kasich's 24 percent.
Democratic nominee Vermont Sen. Bernie upset competitor Hillary Clinton, just barely squeaking out a victory in Michigan, while Clinton won by a landslide in Mississippi, winning 83 percent of the vote. Candidates are focusing now on the upcoming Ohio primary, which will take place next week on March 15. Sanders opened up a campaign office in downtown Cincy yesterday. Kasich is hoping an Ohio victory can put him back in the GOP race. But polls so far are showing that Clinton and Trump are leading in Ohio.
The presidential candidates continue to bicker over the hot-button topic of immigration angering Democrats and Republicans over whether or not the U.S. be providing paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants or forcing Mexico to pay for an pretty-much-impossible-to-build wall on the border. Some of Trump's anti-immigration messages have stirred up Latinos so much that the New York Times is reporting that some are seeking out citizenship just to vote against him.
Hey all. Happy International Women’s Day! Here are some links to info about rad pioneering ladies you should probably know about if you don’t already. Anyway, here’s the news today.
Is Mayor John Cranley stacking the deck in the local Democratic Party ahead of 2017 in hopes of gaining the party’s endorsement for his reelection and running allies for Cincinnati City Council elections? Some think so. A political action committee that has backed the mayor has been mailing out ads supporting Cranley allies running for Democrat precinct executives. Those positions in the Hamilton County Democratic Party help determine endorsements, the party’s City Council slate and other important partisan choices.
Meanwhile, Democratic opponents of the mayor who favor the streetcar and other policies Cranley has opposed are running for those spots. The mailers associated with the Cincinnatus PAC use President Barack Obama’s image and name candidates for the precinct positions that the PAC says will best “protect his legacy.” That PAC shares an address with Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke’s law firm, though Burke says he’s not involved in the group. Cranley’s opponents say the PAC’s mailings are a kind of cronyism, while Cranley says they’re about building a stronger party. The spat is part of a larger divide within the local Democratic party between established and moderate politicians like Cranley and a more progressive cadre of Democrats. Look for this schism within the local Democratic Party to widen as we get closer to 2017.
• A man who recorded a video he says shows Cincinnati police harassing him in Over-the-Rhine will appear in Hamilton County courts today on contempt of court charges. Charles Harrell spent the weekend in jail without bond after an attorney filed an affidavit that he took photos of police officers outside a Hamilton County courtroom, a violation of security policy there. Harrell was in court at the time facing jaywalking and drug possession charges in relation to the incident he captured on video last month. In that video, officer Baron Osterman follows Harrell on a bicycle, confronting him over an alleged pedestrian violation. That encounter escalated into a verbal argument, at which time Harrell was arrested. Harrell pled guilty to the drug charge but not guilty to resisting arrest and the pedestrian violation.
• Breaking news: U.S. urban policy makers don’t look to Cincinnati, land of years-long battles over a small stretch of bike lane, for its urban policy expertise. That’s one takeaway from a new survey of 89 mayors by Boston University. Less than five percent of respondents to that survey mentioned Cincinnati as a place they look to for policy inspiration. Ouch.
• Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld has a new endorsement, and it’s, uh, out of this world (preemptive apologies for that one). Yes, Mark Hamill, of Star Wars fame, has come out in support for Sittenfeld based on his advocacy for tighter gun laws. Hamill played Luke Skywalker, in case you were somehow unaware of that. My birthplace of Hamilton, Ohio is also named in his honor. (This is completely untrue, but I told my Minnesota-born coworker Natalie Krebs this and now she’s very, very confused).
Meanwhile, Sittenfeld’s opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is leading by a large margin ahead of Ohio’s March 15 primary, has announced some powerful endorsements of his own, including former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Giffords has become a vocal proponent for gun control since surviving an assassination attempt in 2011. Strickland has taken much criticism from Sittenfeld for his mixed record when it comes to gun control and has in the past voted against tighter gun control laws. He now says he supports some gun control measures, however.
• Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote on prospective presidential candidates in Ohio’s primary elections if they’ll be 18 for the general election in November? Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says no, but advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are pushing back against that. Husted issued a directive recently that says because delegates are elected for the primary instead of a presidential candidate simply being nominated, 17-year-olds can’t vote for them. That’s caused charges that Husted is trying to curtail young peoples’ rights to decide who will end up running in the general presidential election. Meanwhile, there are other points of confusion about Ohio’s primary voting systems heading into the March 15 election. Read about those here.
• Finally, four states will vote for GOP presidential primary candidates today and two will vote for Democratic presidential hopefuls. What’s gonna happen? It’s high drama as Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi weigh in on the GOP candidates and Michigan and Mississippi decide on Democrats. Michigan, with its big delegate count, is the big deal for both sides, and it’s a state where Ohio Gov. John Kasich is fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant ahead of Ohio’s primary next week. Should Kasich pull out a win here, as at least one poll suggests he could, it would help change the math around Donald Trump’s path to a clean, uncontested nomination. Meanwhile, fellow anti-establishment candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is creeping up on Trump. You can read all about the drama in our primary edition out tomorrow.
Good morning all. I hope your weekend was grand. Mine involved an Elvis impersonator, sneaking onto an iconic roof with an insane view of downtown and brunch at the Comet. Not all at the same time, of course. Pretty good, though. Anyway, here’s the important stuff you need to know today.
A man who filmed a viral video of himself being stopped by Cincinnati police has been charged with contempt of court. Chris Harrell was walking down Elder Street in Over-the-Rhine last month when he filmed two CPD officers following him and eventually confronting him over what they said was a jaywalking violation. That led to a verbal confrontation between officer Baron Osterman, who is white, and Harrell, who is black. Osterman eventually arrested Harrell, who was subsequently charged with resisting arrest, a pedestrian violation and a minor drug charge for possession of marijuana.
While appearing in Hamilton County court earlier this month, attorney Bernadette Longano, who has in the past represented the city in legal matters, reported that Harrell took photos with his phone in the courthouse, a violation of court rules. A warrant was issued late last week for Harrell’s arrest on those charges. Harrell has said his video shows he was harassed by officer Osterman, and the city’s Citizens Complaint Authority and police have investigations into the incidents. In the video, Harrell is walking with a cup of coffee and a cellphone as Osterman trails him on a bicycle. At one point, the officer says Harrell crossed against a traffic light, though Harrell says the light had already turned and the walk signal had come on. The exchange devolves into a verbal argument, during which Harrell was arrested.
• A Cincinnati street will be named for one of the city’s most prominent and long-working civil rights activists. Pending Cincinnati City Council approval, the 100 block of Walnut Street downtown will be named for longtime activist Marian Spencer, who was the first African-American woman to serve on Council.
• The contracting company involved in last year’s fatal Hopple Street overpass collapse still owes more than $1 million in cleanup fees to the state. Kokosing Construction company, which the state contracted to demolish the unused overpass, was found responsible for an accidental collapse that killed a 35-year-old worker Brandon Carl in January last year. The company says the fees owed to the state, which mostly stem from a highway closure immediately following the collapse, will be deducted from future work. However, the state’s contract with the company says that any fees are due immediately and aren’t negotiable.
• A new effort to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in Ohio has passed its first hurdle as supporters of the group submitted more than 2,000 signatures in support of its proposal to the state legislature last week. The Marijuana Policy Project is pushing for 15 large grow sites around the state as well as unlimited small grow sites that would supply marijuana for sufferers of diseases like cancer and AIDS. If the Ohio Ballot Board approves the group’s ballot language, the MPP has until July to collect about 300,000 signatures, after which its proposal could appear on the November ballot. An effort by ResponsibleOhio to legalize marijuana growth and sale, but to limit that growth to 10 sites around the state, was soundly defeated by voters last November.
• Primary update time. As you may have heard, Hurricane Trump got closer to hitting Ohio over the weekend as the state of Kentucky held its GOP caucus. Donald Trump walked away the winner in that contest, though U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wasn’t far behind him. Trump also took Louisiana, though Cruz scored convincing victories in Maine and Kansas. That’s starting to persuade some establishment GOP types terrified of a Trump nomination that Cruz might be their best hope for toppling the controversial and divisive outsider candidate.
Not that Cruz is especially beloved by the GOP either, but the six primary states he’s won easily best more traditional candidates like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who hasn’t won any states outright just yet. There has been talk of a coalition between Kasich and Rubio, with Ohio’s guv taking the sidecar as VP nominee, but it’s unclear even that could stop insurgent candidates like Trump and Cruz. Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders won Kansas and Nebraska, though former secretary of state Hillary Clinton won Louisiana, which has more delegates, effectively keeping the status of the Democratic primary contest the same: Clinton with a large, but not insurmountable, lead.
Clinton: 1,123, including super delegates who may change
• Meanwhile, Kasich has some explaining to do. One of his campaign staffers, it turns out, was arrested for punching and choking a woman in Washington, D.C. back in November. Kasich’s campaign says it was unaware that Blake Waggoner, who had served as a deputy digital director for the campaign, had been arrested and enrolled in a diversion program around the domestic violence charges. He was fired Saturday, according to the campaign.
Take your pick from four wildly different shows on Cincinnati stages this weekend.
For something completely different, check out Beertown at Know Theatre (through March 19). It’s a national touring project by dog & pony dc, a company that was here for several recent Cincinnati Fringes. The show is set in an imagined American town that opens a time capsule every five years to review its “eternal” and “ephemeral” contents. With the exception of dog & pony dc actor Wyckham Avery as the town’s patronizing mayor, the performers are all Cincinnati actors, a majority with significant improv experience. They solemnly execute the “20th quinquennial” ceremony to revise what’s saved and removed, relying on voluntary input from the audience as to what’s most important for the community. The show includes interspersed scenes (injected as “antecedents”) that reveal details of the century-long tradition. Beertown starts out feeling like an amusing Fringe show — artifacts range from serious items such as antique photos and a family bible to trivia such as pink slips and a “jar of smoke” — but by the time it’s over, with some cleverly planted messages from the ably played “townspeople,” you realize you’ve been part of a civic exercise that has depth as it explores just what’s important to a community. Know’s artistic director Andrew Hungerford says, “There’s nothing newer than a show that is created in partnership with the audience each night.” I’m not a fan of theatrical audience participation, but I was surprised and gratified by how Beertown unfolded and landed its messages. By the way, you’re invited to bring desserts to share for the potluck before ceremony begins. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
The Disney musical Newsies, based the 1992 film, is in town through March 13 at the Aronoff Center. The true story is unsubtle and predictable: Downtrodden newsboys in 1899 New York City get fed up with the high-handed ways of arrogant publisher Joseph Pulitzer and go on strike. Their “children’s crusade” wins out and improves conditions for kids who hawked papers on street corners. There’s no question from the outset that these spunky young fellows are going to succeed; Pulitzer is an unadulterated greedy villain, and Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro), the Peter Pan-like leader of the boys is played as the hero from the get-go. Nevertheless, Newsies indeed showcases athletic dancing — about 15 high-energy young men who high-kick, cartwheel and back-flip around the stage for more than two hours to imaginative choreography by Christopher Gattelli. The production’s design, big pieces of Erector Set-like structures that double as fire escapes and more, roll into various configurations and provide surfaces for video projections that set the scene. Not profound, but fun to watch. Tickets: 513-621-2787. An additional note: The show’s “newsboys” will present a special evening of song and dance on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater with the proceeds to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Tickets start at $25: cincinnatiarts.org/newsboys.
For another musical populated by disaffected youth dancing, check out American Idiot at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Onstage at Patricia Corbett Theater, like Newsies, this show is rooted in real events — it opens with ominous video recollections of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s based on Green Day’s 2004 Punk Rock album, full of anger and angst. The show is more impressionistic than narrative following three young men yearning to escape the deadening humdrum of suburbia to do something, be somewhere, where they will feel more real. But crushing reality — ranging from parental responsibility to military service and drug addiction — bears down in depressing ways on them. After pain and searching, they find their way to stasis if not happiness. Along the way, the production, staged by Aubrey Berg with music direction by Steve Goers, pounds out Green Day’s mostly anxious songs; of singular note is CCM senior Samantha Pollino’s thrashing, hair-whipping, fist-punching choreography. One word of caution: This show is no-holds-barred in terms of drug use, sexual content and profanity. But frankly (and I do mean frankly), that’s a big part of what it’s about. It’s onstage through March 13. Tickets: 513-556-4183.
veteran company member Kelly Mengelkoch, Emma (through March 26) lives up to Cincy Shakes previous productions
of stage adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels — romances, first and foremost,
navigating the ins and outs of love and relationships in the early 19th
century. Austen’s central characters are usually feisty but moral women,
strong-minded and judgmental, and they match up well with the versatile female
talent in Cincy Shakes’ acting company. First and foremost is Courtney Lucien
as Emma Woodhouse, whose confidence in her matchmaking skills puts her in
several pickles with friends and acquaintances as well as personally. The
object of Emma’s plans is the modest Harriet Smith, played by Caitlin McWethy,
who often says as much with demeanor and facial expression as with the words
provided by Jon Jory’s adaptation of the 1813 novel. Despite some derailments
along the way, Emma is awash in wit and good humor. I gave this production a
Critic’s Pick. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
If you’ve noticed a fierce glow on the northern horizon recently, it’s not the atmospheric shimmer from the aurora borealis. That flickering sky light is the incendiary firestorm emanating from Pet Sun, a Hamilton, Ontario quartet with a penchant for Garage riffs, Pop melodicism and Stoner Rock rumble, all played through amps with volume knobs that seemingly spiral into an infinity of astrally projected psychedelic distortion. Pet Sun is the squalling sound of the Gallagher brothers if they’d been as intoxicated by Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer as they were The Beatles. Read more about the band in this week's Sound Advice. Pet Sun plays Northside Yacht Club Sunday with Leggy and The Harlequins. More info: northsideyachtclub.com.
Pretty much all you need to do to sell theater tickets these days is attach Jane Austen’s name to a show. No zombies in Emma à la the current film adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but Cincinnati Shakespeare is on the bandwagon with another stage adaptation by Jon Jory, the longtime leader of Actors Theatre of Louisville; his renditions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility have been bestsellers for the classic theater company. This production is all about girls — directed by 12-year ensemble member Kelly Mengelkoch and featuring second-year ensemble member Courtney Lucien as Emma Wodehouse, the amateur matchmaker whose efforts don’t unfold quite as planned. Through March 26. $14-$36. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.
Hey all. It’s never a good news day when you start out a morning news update with the phrase “vocal white nationalist and Cincinnati resident…” but here we are.
Vocal white nationalist and Cincinnati resident Matthew Heimbach has identified himself as one of the participants in a heated altercation at a recent rally for GOP presidential primary candidate Donald Trump in Louisville, Ky. between black activists and members of Heimbach’s group the Traditionalist Youth Network. A 17-year-old protester has filed a police complaint against another member of that group, a woman he says assaulted him and other protesters. Videos of the event show Heimbach and others pushing and insulting a black female protester at the event. Heimbach has made statements on his social media accounts admitting he took part in the incidents, but also claims that anti-Trump protesters started the physical altercations. Heimbach has been profiled as a white-power extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has expressed anti-Semitic views via the Traditionalist Youth Network. Trump rallies have drawn attention recently due to racial tensions and forced removal of anti-Trump protesters.
• Cincinnati State Technical and Community College has won a state grant to teach more students about cutting-edge technologies like 3D printing. That move comes as the technology continues to expand, with large companies in the region like General Electric embracing so-called additive manufacturing as the “next chapter in the industrial revolution,” as GE puts it. Meanwhile, as the technology becomes more widespread, companies are having a hard time finding qualified workers to operate the complex equipment involved, making Cincinnati State’s move to offer more courses in the industry very timely.
• Here’s another high-tech learning opportunity for Cincinnatians. A new coding school called The Iron Yard is opening up a campus here in the city, its first in Ohio. The school, which currently runs 22 locations across the country, offers intensive 12-week classes designed to get students ready to take on entry-level coding jobs for backend and frontend development. The school hasn’t settled on a location yet, but is aiming to start classes in May.
• Cincinnati is one of the top cities in the country for craft brewing, according to a new ranking by Fortune Magazine. The magazine recently praised the city’s under-the-radar brewing scene, highlighting big names like Rhinegeist and MadTree.
• As you may have been able to predict, Cincinnati is becoming a hotbed of political yammering these days. MSNBC has been filming presidential primary political commentary from Over-the-Rhine's Coffee Emporium (I know this because one of their anchors accidentally pushed me into another patron while I was waiting for my coffee). Last month none other than former POTUS Bill Clinton was in town stumping for Hillary. And now, the Queen City will get a visit from Vice President Joe Biden, who will appear at a fundraiser for U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Strickland. Strickland still has to make it through the Democratic Primary, where he’s facing two Cincinnatians — Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and Kelli Prather — but you wouldn’t know it from the timing of the fundraiser Biden is planning to appear at. It’s scheduled for March 22, a week after Ohio’s March 15 primary. If you’ve got $500, you can meet Biden at a breakfast reception. That better be an all-you-can-eat breakfast, and there better be some bacon and mimosas.
• Data shows that the Brent Spence Bridge has seen less traffic in recent years, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be replaced, a story in the Cincinnati Business Courier says. The traffic reduction has resulted from drivers taking alternate routes to avoid construction on I75, according to the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Regional Council of Governments. But engineers say the bridge is still antiquated and over capacity and will need to be replaced. That’s a $2.6 billion project that has been slow in gaining traction.
• Let's cross that dangerously-antiquated bridge for a minute and get down to the Bluegrass State for some dangerously antiquated thinking, shall we? It seems Kentucky lawmakers are still trying to fight same-sex marriage. One of 83 bills recently filed in the Kentucky House ahead of the term's filing deadline would cause the state's constitution to stipulate that matrimony is between one man and one woman. That bill was filed by State Rep. Joe Fischer of Fort Thomas. Fischer also filed a 454-page bill designed to redefine the parameters of marriage, presumably in a way that would block same-sex marriages as being recognized as equal to "traditional" marriage. This dead-horse beating seems like a great use of a lawmaker's time.
• You've heard about how bad Flint, Mich.'s lead poisoning situation is. A new article in The New York Times brings up a provocative reality — that Cleveland's is worse. At its peak last year, 7 percent of children in Flint had over-concentrations of lead in their blood, the article reports. In Cleveland, that number is more than 14 percent. Keep an eye on this.
• Speaking of Cleveland, the city has filed plans to purchase 2,000 sets of riot gear for the coming Republican National Convention. The funds for the gear come from a federal grant specifically for security around the RNC. Seems... ominous.
• Finally, the last four remaining GOP presidential primary candidates debated last night in Detroit. The D in Detroit scares me more than anything, but the D doesn’t stand for Donald. It doesn’t stand for Debate. It stands for… uh, a particular slang term for male anatomy, the relative sizes of which the candidates discussed last night. No, really. That’s a pretty good indication of the tenor of the night, during which very few substantive policy points were debated. Ohio Gov. John Kasich tried to act like the dad at his teenage son’s first keg party, while frontrunner Donald Trump stumbled over even the most basic answers to questions and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz kicked at his ankles the whole night. Good stuff. Despite the complete fiasco and brutal sniping between the candidates, all agreed afterward that they would support whoever wins the nomination, even if it's Donald Trump.
Need suggestions for a good theater production to attend this weekend? Here are some good choices on Cincinnati stages.
Last night I attended the opening of Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing at the Cincinnati Playhouse. It’s an inventive recreation of the legendary African-American pitcher who found his fame eclipsed by Jackie Robinson. The changes wrought by events in 1947 affected both black and white Americans, and this play by Ricardo Khan and Trey Ellis explores them. They know their way around storytelling: Their play Fly, about the Tuskegee Airmen, was well received at the Playhouse in 2013. In this one, players from two teams of baseball all-stars, one black and one white, share a boarding house on a rainy night in Kansas City. We get to eavesdrop on what they might have talked about, their dreams, their grudges and their fates. Robert Karma Robinson wholly inhabits the role of Paige as an angular, grumpy philosopher of sports, race and life. It’s onstage through May 21. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Before they wrote My Fair Lady and Camelot, the lyricist-composer team of Lerner and Loewe had a 1949 hit with the musical Brigadoon. It’s about a pair of American tourists who happen upon a mysterious town in Scotland that appears just once every century. Of course, one of the guys falls in love with a resident of the town — and that gets complicated. When I was six years old, I went to see this show with my very British grandfather, my first experience of musical theater. I still love the show, and I’ll be seeing it this weekend at the Covedale Center, where it will be onstage through May 22. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
Don’t shy away from Cincinnati Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar because you read it in high school. Set in ancient Rome, there’s as much political intrigue — and perhaps more danger — that you’d find in your average episode of House of Cards. Several fine acting performances make this production especially watchable: Brent Vimtrup gives a textured performance of the principled but conflicted Brutus; Josh Katawick is the “lean and hungry” Cassius who recruits the assassins who bring down Caesar; and Nick Rose is the wily Mark Antony who finds a way to turn Caesar’s death to his own advantage. Once you’ve seen this production, you should make plans to return for a kind of sequel as Cincy Shakes stages Antony and Cleopatra with several of the actors from Julius Caesar reprising their roles. Through May 7. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson presented a quartet of badass women from 18th-century France in The Revolutionists at the Cincinnati Playhouse back in February. Some more strong females — Americans from the early 20th century — are the characters of Silent Sky, the current production at Know Theatre. The central character is Henrietta Leavitt, an aspiring astronomer who had to work doubly hard to earn recognition for her scientific insights. She’s bracketed by a devoted, conservative sister and a pair of “lunatic women” who are her scientific colleagues. Director Tamara Winters has an excellent cast of actors to tell this story — especially Maggie Lou Rader in a luminous portrait of the feisty, persistent Henrietta. Through May 14. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati seldom brings back a show it’s presented in the past, but when it staged Jeanine Tesori’s musical Violet back in 1998, that was long before Over-the-Rhine was a go-to neighborhood for entertainment. So there’s a good rationale for reviving this lovely, heartfelt story. Check out this video preview.
Big things happened at Wednesday's City Council meeting. Council finally voted to approve the streetcar's operating budget for the first year after spending the last month squabbling and kicking it back and forth between council and committee. The budget just barely passed in a vote of 5-3, with council members Kevin Flynn, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn voting against it. Councilwoman Amy Murray was absent from the meeting. Mayor John Cranley, who previously said he would veto any operating budget that didn't get at least six votes, appears to have had enough of this streetcar drama. The mayor decided recently not to veto the budget even if it passed with a mere five votes.
Council also voted to approve a wage hike for city government workers, passing a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for full-time workers and to $10.10 an hour for part-time and seasonal workers. The increase will affect about one out of every five city workers, or about 1,166 workers. Cranley, who introduced the ordinance last month, called council's decision "morally right" and hopes the state will follow suit.
• Students at Northern Kentucky University will see a slight increase in their tuition next year. The NKU Board of Regents voted to pass a 3 percent increase in undergraduate tuition on Wednesday to keep up with rising costs at the university and a decrease in funding from the state. Next year, Kentucky residents can expect to pay an average of $130 more per semester while Cincinnati residents will shell out an extra $200 per semester and nonresidents will pay an extra $260.
• State Rep. Denise Driehaus is upset with the closure of the Little Miami Incinerator. The incinerator was closed temporarily earlier this month after it was determined that it does not meet federal pollution standards. It served as one of two ways that Hamilton County disposes of human waste, and it's unclear when, or if, it will reopen. Driehaus, who is currently running for Hamilton County commissioner in the upcoming November election, released a statement Thursday morning condemning county for allowing the closure that she saw as avoidable and called for new leadership to better address the issue.
"This could have and should have been resolved." Driehaus says in the statement. "We need leadership on the County Commission that will roll up their sleeves and work to resolve challenging issues instead of being content to play the blame game when something goes wrong."
• Since former Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned from his post last October, it seems he feels more free to express his true feelings about the GOP presidential candidates. At an event at Stanford University on Wednesday, Boehner called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a "miserable son of a bitch." Boehner also disclosed that he and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump are "texting buddies" and that he is also friends with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is currently running way behind Trump and Cruz in the election. However, it seems he and Kasich aren't quite BFFs as he also said that their friendship "requires more effort."
The operating budget for the Cincinnati streetcar again looks likely to move forward in City Council today, barring any major surprises. Of course, that was also the case a couple weeks ago, when the budget stumbled over some last-minute objections by Councilman Kevin Flynn around contingency funding. Flynn’s course reversal left the budget with only five votes, which was not enough to overcome a veto promised by Mayor John Cranley. So back to committee it went, where it passed again yesterday. Cranley has indicated he won’t veto the revised budget, which would move about $550,000 in leftover construction funds into a contingency account, even if it only gets five votes. Flynn thinks leftover construction money should be used for startup costs.
• Hey, this is creepy, though not totally unexpected. Crews working to seal off some asbestos in Music Hall found human remains under the orchestra pit. No, they aren’t what’s left of some unfortunate clarinetists who were a little pitchy in their renditions of Rhapsody in Blue’s opening glissando or timpanists who missed a beat or two in a conductor's favorite Bach piece. The remains, which archeological consultants Gray and Pape say probably belonged to four people, seem to be holdovers from the pit’s 1928 construction. The historic hall, as well as the land around it in Washington Park, spent two decades starting around 1818 as a burial ground for indigent residents. Many of those grave sites were moved in the 1850s, but some lingered, and apparently still do. When Music Hall construction began in 1876, workers were faced with the task of removing the remaining bodies to places like Spring Grove Cemetery. Far be it for me to critique someone else’s work, especially when it’s work that I wouldn’t go anywhere near, but… seems like they missed a few spots. In addition to the remains under the orchestra pit, workers also found a number of grave shafts full of wooden coffins.
• If you’re a frequent flyer, you know the struggle: The Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, or CVG, used to be the last resort when you wanted to take a flight on the cheap. Places like Dayton and Louisville — or even Columbus — were cheaper enough to fly from that it made the drive worth it. But not any more, apparently. CVG’s fares are now lower than Dayton and Louisville’s airports, and the lowest they’ve been relative to other airports in more than 20 years. That’s in part due to the increase in airlines flying out of CVG, including low-cost carriers like Allegiant Air. CVG still trails Columbus and Indianapolis in terms of affordability, but not by as much as in the past, when our airport was the third-most expensive in the country. These days, it’s 22nd.
• As you might have guessed, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul Donald Trump came up big winners in yesterday’s GOP primaries. Trump swept every county in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, extending his delegate count to 949 of the 1,237 he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, Clinton won in all those states except Rhode Island, where her challenger, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, prevailed. Clinton’s victories put the Democratic nomination all but out of reach for Sanders, though he’s vowed to stay in the race. Meanwhile, Trump has also solidified his position as the GOP frontrunner — his second-place opponent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, has only 544 delegates. Third-place contender, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, has just 153 — fewer than U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race weeks ago.
• With an ever-clearer picture of who the nominees for each party are likely to be, the frontrunners’ eyes are turning to the general election. And there are signs it’s gonna be an ugly, ugly race. Perhaps feeling his oats after his decisive victories, Trump yesterday bashed Clinton, saying that she’s only winning primaries because she’s a woman. If you thought Trump might tone it down for the general election in a bid to get more mainstream swing voters, including, you know, women, well… don’t hold your breath for too long on that. Key quote from Trump:
“She is a woman, she is playing the woman card left and right,” Mr. Trump told CNN in a post-primary interview. “Frankly, if she didn’t, she would do very poorly. If she were a man and she was the way she is, she would get virtually no votes."
Good morning all. Hope your weekend was as perfect as mine. Let’s talk about news real quick.
Vice Mayor David Mann says the private foundation that raises money for Cincinnati Parks Board should open its books to public scrutiny. The Cincinnati Parks Foundation, a nonprofit group, came under scrutiny last year during a contentious bid for a property tax levy to fund parks improvements put forward by Mayor John Cranley. Voters passed on that proposal, but not before it was revealed that the park board spent money from the foundation on pro-levy campaigns. After the election, further revelations about board spending on travel and perks drew increased scrutiny to the parks board and triggered a city audit. Now, Mann says the foundation should undergo similar scrutiny.
• Speaking of investigations: Are the feds really looking into MSD? Last year, The Enquirer reported that Cincinnati’s metropolitan sewer district was under the microscope of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presumably over its implementation of a multi-billion-dollar federal order to revamp the city’s sewer system. However, the FBI hasn’t asked for any of the things you’d expect if it was indeed probing the large public department, the Businss Courier reports. No subpoenas have been filed, no hard drives have been seized and no documents have been requested. If there’s truly an investigation happening, it’s very low-key.
• The state of Kentucky could allocate $10 million to revamp a highway exit leading to the religiously-themed Ark Encounter theme park. Watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State has cried foul at that expenditure, saying it amounts to Kentucky using taxpayer dollars to benefit a religious group. The money for the ramp improvements on I-75 and KY 36 made its way into the state’s budget, which is currently in the process of being passed. AUSCS says it doesn’t have any plans as of yet to oppose the money, but says it is continuing to watch the situation. Ark park owners Answers in Genesis say an earlier ruling allowing Kentucky to give tax incentives to the site has answered questions about the legality of such expenditures.
• The mass shooting of eight people in Piketon, Ohio last week has left more questions than answers, and authorities say they’re preparing for a long investigation. All eight victims were related and the shootings happened at three sites close to each other. Authorities say the shootings were expertly planned and executed and noted that two of the three crime scenes contained significant marijuana growing operations. Investigators have not commented on any possible link between the operations and the killings.
• The city of Cleveland has settled a lawsuit with the family of Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed in November 2014 by a Cleveland police officer. The family will get $6 million from the city. A Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict officer Timothy Loehmann in that incident. Loehmann leapt from a police cruiser that had stopped feet away from Rice at a Cleveland playground and almost immediately shot him. Rice, 12, had been playing with a toy pistol on the playground when a neighbor called the police. The caller stipulated the gun was probably fake, but dispatchers did not relay that information to officers.
• Do you ever think, "jeez, more papers should be like The Cincinnati Enquirer?" You may be in luck. Gannett, the national corporation that owns the Enquirer as well as USA Today and a number of other publications, has made an offer to buy Tribune Publishing, another large national newspaper chain. Gannett has offered $815 million for the chain, which includes The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers.
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, both GOP presidential primary hopefuls, will collaborate in future primaries to try and trip up frontrunner Donald Trump as he charges toward the party’s nomination. The Kasich campaign has indicated it will focus efforts on New Mexico and Oregon while staying out of Indiana in a move to help Cruz best Trump in that state. In return, Cruz has agreed to stay out of the two western states in a bid to give Kasich the edge over Trump there. The move — which will present Trump with one focused opponent in upcoming contests, instead of the split field he’s faced up to this point — seems calculated toward denying him the 1,137 delegates needed to clinch the nomination outright. Kasich in particular is counting on a contested convention in July, since he badly trails in the delegate count in the current contest.
FRIDAY 22EATS: GREATER CINCINNATI RESTAURANT WEEK Be a culinary tourist in your own city with CityBeat’s inaugural Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week. Do you like eating? Do you want to try some multi-course meals for cheap? Restaurants throughout the Tristate will be offering $35 three-course meals to delight the palate and impress your date. Participating eateries include Harvest Bistro & Wine Bar, Pompilios, Kaze, The Palace, Parkers Blue Ash Tavern and more. Check out menus and more info online. Through April 24. $35 plus tax and gratuities. Find participating restaurants at greatercincinnatirestaurantweek.com.
Yesterday marked the passing of not only Prince, but another music legend — Lonnie Mack. Mack, who was born in Harrison, Ind., and cut his teeth in Greater Cincinnati’s nightclubs, died Thursday at his home in Tennessee from natural causes. The influential guitarist was 74.
Recording locally and releasing early material on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label, Mack’s guitar playing is said to have been a major influence on many Rock superstar players, including Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The pioneering guitarist was the second artist to receive the Michael W. Bany Lifetime Achievement Award from the Enquirer’s former awards program, the Cammys, accepting the award in 1998. Bootsy Collins, who won the award the year before, has said Mack was a giant influence on the development of his style.
Mack is considered one of Rock & Roll’s first “guitar heroes.” He’s in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the International Guitar Hall of Fame, and should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Here’s the press release sent out by Alligator Records (Mack’s final label) late last night:
You have more theater choices this weekend than time, I suspect, so choose carefully depending on the kind of show you most enjoy.
If it’s a classic, I suggest you check out Julius Caesar at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. This tale of one of history’s most memorable political assassinations is one of Shakespeare’s shorter plays, about two hours and 15 minutes. But it’s action-packed with a lot of intrigue, soul-searching and emotions that ebb and flow. Cincy Shakes relies on its acting ensemble to fill these iconic roles, and they bring them to life more vividly than I’ve seen in a long time. Josh Katawick is especially engaging as the leader, “lean and hungry” Cassius, whose motives are not far below his ambitious surface; Brent Vimtrup is Brutus, caught up in the plot for reasons of principle rather than envy, and his subtle performance of this conflicted man is compelling. Veteran Nick Rose is the blustery soldier Marc Antony, who’s actually a subtle manipulator of opinion. (We’ll see more of him next month when Cincy Shakes move on to Shakespeare’s other Roman play, Antony and Cleopatra). Through May 7. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
An engaging new play, Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky, is onstage at Know Theatre, the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a woman of science from a century ago when women were not expected to have meaningful insights. But drawn to the mysteries of astronomy, she tirelessly made advances despite many barriers. Maggie Lou Rader plays the feisty woman, and her moral support from two older women, played by Annie Fitzpatrick and Regina Pugh, has elements of humor. This is a well-acted, well-staged play (direction by Know’s Tamara Winters), worth seeing. I gave it a Critic’s Pick with my CityBeat review. Through May 14. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
The 2014 movie of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods featured Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden and Johnny Depp. A production currently onstage at Northern Kentucky University doesn’t have that kind of star power, but the student cast does an admirable job with a show that places extraordinary vocal demands on singers. Director Jamey Strawn hit upon an imaginative framing device for the legendary fairy tale mash-up, setting it in a library where a young boy (played with a mischievously expressive demeanor by Charlie Klesa, a sixth-grader at Mercy Montessori), hides away for an overnight adventure of reading and fantasizing. As giants threaten the kingdom, books tumble from the library’s two-story-tall shelves. Into the Woods requires a big cast, and more than 20 NKU student actors plus a stylized wooden cow are clearly committed to giving their all to this production. Opening night on Thursday was an enthusiastic full house. Through May 1. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
Neil LaBute’s plays traffic in complex, often ironic,
manipulative situations, frequently brutal stories of abusive, selfish
behavior. The Shape of Things, presented by New
Edgecliff Theatre at Hoffner Lodge in Northside, is that kind of story —
about Evelyn, an ambitious young woman who makes an art project of
Adam, another student who thinks their relationship is a love affair.
Rebecca Whatley and Matthew Krieg handle these complicated roles
believably, but you’ll walk away wondering about their motives — she’s
cold, he’s clueless. It’s a compelling, disturbing story that makes for
an evening of edgy, psychological theater. Another Critic’s Pick with my
CityBeat review. Through April 30. Tickets here.
There’s a touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast onstage at the Aronoff Center through Sunday. It’s an entertaining, visually captivating production. There’s nothing new about it, to be sure, but the young cast carries off the sprightly songs and choreography with lots of energy. I wish there was a little more heart and a little less clowning, especially by Sam Hartley as the Beast, who’s meant to be a tragic hero. The chemistry between him and Brooke Quintana as Belle is in the script, but it only shows up intermittently onstage. Nevertheless, Wednesday night’s full house with lots of kids dressed for the evening clearly had a good time watching the story unfold. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
Quick Notes: True Theater is back for another quarterly evening of storytelling on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. Know Theatre. This time the theme is True Gay, so it will be enlightening to hear the personal reminiscences that get shared. … At UC’s College-Conservatory of Music this weekend, the drama program presents a staged reading of Grace Gardner’s new script, Very Dumb Kids, tonight 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. It’s the beginning of a new play commissioning initiative that will foster new works. … This is the final weekend for David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross at the Incline Theater in East Price Hill and for Jason Robert Brown’s musical, The Last Five Years, at The Carnegie in Covington.
Good morning all. Or, well, let's be honest with ourselves: This is a not good morning. Prince is dead. The Reds lost yesterday in what appears to be the highest-scoring no-hitter since the 1880s. There’s some rain in the forecast today. Ouch.
Anyway, here’s the rest of the news if you can bear it.
• Hey, here’s something positive. The population of Cincinnati’s urban core — Over-the-Rhine, downtown, Pendleton and the East End — has increased, according to a new report from Downtown Cincinnati Inc. The Business Courier has the details on that study, but the upshot is that about 400 more people lived in the city’s 45202 ZIP code last year than did in 2014, and the population there is now almost 16,000. There are certainly downsides to this growth, as we explore in this week’s news feature. But the uptick in population signals the continued reversal in a historic trend that saw people leaving the urban core for decades.
• Contenders in the upcoming Hamilton County Commissioners race — Democrat State Rep. Denise Driehaus and Republican incumbent Dennis Deters (that’s a lot of Ds) — just released their post-primary fundraising totals. Driehaus brought in $64,000 for the fundraising period, bringing her total take so far up to $308,000, according to her campaign. The campaign says that 65 percent of that take came from donors pledging $100 or less. Deters meanwhile, has raised about $92,000 so far, according to WCPO, but most of that has come since the new year. Many expect the race to be one of the most expensive ever, with Driehaus saying she hopes to raise $1 million before all is said and done. Control of the currently Republican-led county commission hangs in the balance with the unusually competitive race.
• Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine won’t be getting a rooftop deck bar, a city board ruled yesterday. The Lang Thang Group, which runs neighborhood restaurants Quan Hapa and Pho Lang Thang, wanted to build the deck as part of its planned Crown & Key bar at 1332 Republic St. Residents there didn’t oppose the bar, but did take issue with the deck, which they feared would cause unwelcome noise and other detriments to quality of life in the neighborhood. A residents group that pushed back against the deck also cited ways in which the plan violated historic conservation guidelines in the neighborhood. The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals agreed with residents. The Lang Thang Group can challenge that decision in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas if it chooses.
• Cincinnati Public Schools will remake seven of its neighborhood schools next year. The remakes are part one of a larger plan called Vision 2020 to make CPS more attractive by adding additional programs to schools. Next year, schools like Chase School in Northside will get expanded arts and culture offerings, while others like Rothenberg Academy in Over-the-Rhine will get student entrepreneurship classes.
• Finally, as the GOP presidential primary continues to get weirder and more chaotic, national media is looking more at Ohio Gov. John Kasich to… well, I guess try to figure out what he’s thinking. Kasich trails primary frontrunner Donald Trump and second-placer U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz badly in the race’s delegate count, and there's no mathematical way for him to win the nomination aside from a contested convention. Party leaders and pundits have been pushing for Kasich to leave the race for months. But he’s still going, and that’s newsworthy, I suppose. Earlier this week, Kasich met with the editorial board of the Washington Post for an extended interview, where he laid out his reasons for staying in the race. I’ll leave you with a key quote from Kasich.
“The last poll that we saw up there I was running five points behind Hillary. Five. Trump was getting slaughtered. I mean, you guys have been watching and girl- women here have been watching the national polls. I win in the fall every time, even in that electoral deal, and Trump gets slaughtered.”
Mark this as the moment you learned that girl-women will help Kasich win that electoral deal. Send your thoughts on that knowledge-nugget, or your news tips, via e-mail or Twitter. I'm out.
APRIL 21Zoo Blooms — The zoo transforms into an explosion of color with one of the largest tulip displays in the Midwest. Through April 30. Free with zoo admission. $18 adult; $13 child/senior. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.