See Classical music through a new lens at THE CONSTELLA FESTIVAL
An ambitious initiative, Constella was conceived as an arts showcase featuring the best in international and local performers. This year’s festival is no less ambitious, but it’s considerably scaled back from the sprawling array of choices that in the past have potentially overwhelmed potential audiences. Originally scheduled throughout October and November, performances are now within a 12-day period in April. It’s still a packed schedule with five events each week, featuring violinist Hilary Hahn, pianist Simon Trpceski, other established European performers making Cincinnati debuts, Cincinnati performers and artists, and a film premiere. Performances are at downtown locations accessible by public transportation and tickets can be purchased from one source. Get more information and buy tickets here.
Get sloppy at ZINES, SCREENS & SCREAMS DIY music fest
The Zines, Screens & Screams Fest, a celebration of DIY music and culture, comes to Main Street in Over-the-Rhine this weekend for the first edition of what organizers hope to make an annual event. The festival starts Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at noon and will be centered around two main locations: Maudie’s (maudieslive.com) and Cincy By the Slice (cincybytheslice.com), which are both located at 1207 Main St. in OTR; and The Drinkery (1150 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, drinkeryotr.com). The Drinkery (which will only be participating in the music portion of the fest Friday night) is open to those 21-and-up only; all other events are open to all ages. The festival features a slew of local bands as well as some national touring acts that play Rock, Punk, Post Punk, Experimental, Metal and other Indie-oriented genres. It’s a great chance to catch some local musicians that don’t often get a ton of attention outside the DIY scene. Read more here.
Hang out at the Southgate House Revival with CHUCK PROPHET & THE MISSION EXPRESS
San Francisco singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet’s illustrious career began in earnest when he joined the influential and critically acclaimed Roots Rock band Green on Red right after high school. Since then, similar acclaim for his solo work has never slowed; he has released more than a dozen albums since 1990 that have carried the torch of Green on Red’s slanted Alt Roots Rock, taking it even further. Also a prolific collaborator, Prophet has worked with everyone from Warren Zevon and Solomon Burke to Alejandro Escovedo and Cake. Prophet is currently touring with his band The Mission Express behind his most recent full-length, Night Surfer, which came out last year on Yep Roc and features contributions from R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and others. (Visit the music page at citybeat.com to read our feature story on Prophet.) 8:30 p.m. Friday. $15; $18 day of show. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.
Brings your leftover yarn to the BRAZEE STREET STUDIOS ART SUPPLY SWAP
If one artist’s junk is another artist’s treasure, then Friday’s art supply swap at Brazee Street Studios might be a gold mine of fodder for artistic creation. An informal exchange of materials, guests are asked to bring any two items to donate — paint, markers, pencils, rhinestones, charcoal, paper, canvas, yarn, sequins, etc. — and they can take as much as they like home. Drop-off begins at 9:30 a.m. and leftover items will be donated to Crayons2Computers, a local organization that gives school and art supplies to children in need. 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Free. Brazee Street Studios’ parking lot, 4426 Brazee St., Oakley, brazeestreetstudios.com. If you can actually knit and want to keep the yarn (or take someone else's home), Hospice of Southwest Ohio is currently accepting slipper donations for patients.
Take your time at SLOW ART DAY
Slow Art Day is one of the best ideas to reach art museums ever — a break from the rush-rush hubbub of trying to see everything. Visitors concentrate on just looking, really looking, at a few pieces and then discuss them with others. Saturday, the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum and Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum are participating in the international event. At the Taft starting at 11:15 a.m., docents will help visitors look slowly at five pieces of art. Participants then have a separately-sold lunch at the Taft cafe. (RSVP to 513-684-4515.) At the art museum at noon, an hour-long guided tour starts; participants will visit works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Bernardino Mei, John Francis and Donald Judd. Afterward, there will be a discussion. (Reserve space at cincinnatiartmuseum.org.) Also at the Cincinnati Art Museum is the new Andy Warhol exhibit, Up at Bat: Warhol and Baseball, featuring the CAM's classic Pop Art Pete Rose and more from America's favorite pastime. And at Hamilton’s Pyramid Hill, visitors meet to begin looking at five pieces of art at 10 a.m., followed by discussion. They can bring a brown-bag lunch. Admission to Pyramid hill is $8 for adults; $3 for 12 and younger. (RSVP to 513-868-8336.)
As the birthplace of the first professional baseball team, as well as the creation of the World Series and the location of the National League and American League merger, Cincinnati has a long history of incredible on- and off-field moments. American Legacy Tours digs deeper into the city’s baseball past with The 1919 Tour. In conjunction with the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, the tour focuses on events and activities surrounding the controversial 1919 World Series, which pitted the Reds against the Chicago White Sox and is associated with the “Black Sox” gambling scandal. The walking tour visits locations where the scandal unfolded and examines the cast of characters involved in the infamous event. 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. Through October. $20. Leaves from Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, americanlegacytours.com.
Eat a whole bunch of haggis at TARTAN DAY SPRING CEILIDH
The Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes & Drums, a local nonprofit that aims to preserve and promote Scottish heritage, hosts their annual spring party. The Celtic bash will feature music from the likes of the Blue Rock Boys, Ceol Mhor and Riley Gaelic Singers, and performances from the McGing Irish Dancers and Cincinnati Highland Dancers. Themed food will be provided by Brazenhead Pub, with a scotch tasting, Scottish beer sampling, haggis-eating contest, tea room and more. 6-10 p.m. Saturday. $15; food and drink sold separately. The Center, 115 E. Fifth St., Mercantile Building, Downtown, cincypipesanddrums.org.
Dance all night at BALLET A GO GO
Inspired by the world famous Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles and New York’s Peppermint Lounge discotheque, Ballet A Go Go is one hot dance party. Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the ballet’s Club B, each room of the Cincinnati Ballet Center will transform into a trendy ’60s nightclub for an evening of Mod fashion, music and, of course, go-go dancing. Cocktails and dinner precede era-inspired music and dessert; tickets include an open bar. The dress code is funky Mod attire. 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $150. 1555 Central Parkway, Downtown, cballet.org/events.
Get metaphysical at the VICTORY OF LIGHT EXPO
Established in 1992, the Victory of Light Expo showcases the world of the intuitive arts and psychic sciences. The festival provides a venue for spiritual teachers, readers, healers and vendors from around the country to share their philosophies and teach free seminars on topics including the shamanic anatomy of the soul, manifesting your desires and how to communicate with your guides, angels and loved ones who have passed over. After the seminars, enjoy shopping, featured artists and music from award winning Native American flute player Douglas Blue Feather, Lighthawk and crystal and Tibetan singing bowl artist Ron Esposito. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $15 single day; $25 weekend. Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road, Sharonville, victoryoflight.com.
Celebrate the semi-return of Magnolia Mountain with MARK UTLEY's solo release show
Prolific singer/songwriter Mark Utley has released a single album’s worth of songs. And that’s all. Bulletville, Utley’s excellent sophomore solo album, is not a double-set on a single CD or accompanied by a new release from his band Magnolia Mountain or another musical vessel for the songs that pour endlessly from his head, heart and hands. Is this Utley’s version of writer’s block? Last year, Magnolia Mountain, Utley’s Blues/Roots Rock vehicle, was collapsing while Bulletville, Utley’s traditional Country side project with Magnolia Mountain’s Renee Frye and Jeff Vanover, was thriving. With Magnolia Mountain sidelined, Utley’s creative vacuum was quickly filled by Bulletville. His Country project’s profile rose exponentially with each new gig, naturally leading to more songs and ultimately the recording of Bulletville, produced, like every Magnolia Mountain album to date, by Afghan Whigs bassist John Curley. The difference this time is that Bulletville was largely recorded live in the studio. Mark Utley and Bulletville celebrate their new album release Saturday at MOTR Pub. More info: motrpub.com. Click here for details on Bulletville and all of Utley's projects.
See baby lion cubs at ZOO BLOOMS
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s annual floral exhibit, Zoo Blooms, features daffodils, hyacinths, flowering trees and one of the largest displays of tulips in the Midwest. Also on view, the zoo's three new lion cubs. Follow them on twitter @cincyzoolion. $18 adults; $12 children; $9 parking. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
Enjoy a matinee of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
If you’ve ever seen The Taming of the Shrew, you might remember it as the tale of an ill-tempered woman brought into line by an abusive, gold-digging suitor. In that simple summary, Shakespeare’s early comedy understandably doesn’t sit well with most modern audiences. But contemporary presenters of the show have a variety options to make it more palatable. In its current staging at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, guest director Kevin Hammond has utilized more than one of them. Read a full review here. 2 p.m. Sunday. $22-$32.Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, cincyshakes.com.
Feel a little hazy and lo-fi with COLLEEN GREEN and Leggy at the Woodward
Colleen Green’s third full-length (and first album recorded in an actual recording studio) is titled I Want to Grow Up, which is no coincidence. Well, that is if you equate a glossier sound and trying to kick coffee and weed as growing up. For I Want to Grow Up, Green hooked up with friends Jake Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood) and Casey Weissbuch (Diarrhea Planet) in a Nashville, Tenn., studio to crank out 10 songs with titles like “TV” and “Pay Attention,” deceptively simple tunes that recall a cross between early Donnas and the bummed-out laments of Juliana Hatfield. Colleen Green plays Woodward Theater on Sunday. Tickets/more info here.
Grab a drink and an underground tour at TOAST TO THE TUNNELS
Back by popular demand, Toast to the Tunnels takes you on a tour to explore the Christian Moerlein Malt House’s underground barrel vault tunnels, once home to the pre-Prohibition Kauffman Brewing malt house. A quick taste of history will be accompanied by a $10 flight of Moerlein beers in the taproom. Proceeds benefit the Betts House, currently exhibiting Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer: The Architectural History of Cincinnati Breweries. 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Christian Moerlein Malt House, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/thebettshouse.
Watch GAME OF THRONES
As many know, Game of Thrones (Season Premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday, HBO) is based on author George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. But what happens when the show’s progression surpasses that of the source material? Debuting this week, Season Five will cover the series’ fourth and fifth novels; by the time the finale airs, the show will be “off the books.” This means those who watch will have a leg up on those who read (nerds!). If you ever had a friend threaten to spoil the show with their literary knowledge, the tables have finally turned. Martin met with the show’s creators to guide them through the future of Game of Thrones — both versions will end with the same basic pieces in place — but fans can expect future seasons to diverge from the forthcoming novels. In Sunday’s premiere, Cersei and Jaime mourn their father’s death and adapt to life without his direction. At least they have each oth… Ew, nevermind. Tyrion is in hiding in Pentos with Varys, Jon’s loyalty is pulled between Night’s Watch and Stannis, and, after locking up two of her babies and banishing Jorah, Daenerys faces more setbacks in Meereen. Two of the most anticipated storylines come with new territory — Dorne and Braavos. Following Oberyn’s crushing defeat, we head to his home turf of Dorne to meet his daughters, the Sand Snakes. Also exciting is the prospect of Arya traveling to Braavos to find Jaqen H’ghar. Valar Morghulis, y’all!
What happens when a guy who grew up in an inner-city neighborhood returns as a successful attorney, back because it’s now the trendy place to live? That’s Jackson’s story: He’s upwardly mobile and black, moving in with Suzy, his white schoolteacher girlfriend. But she’s not so comfortable with their arrangement. Add to the mix Don, Jackson’s privileged boyhood white friend who’s had drug issues and now needs a place to crash. The apartment’s buzzer is a reminder that their world isn’t so simple. Tracey Scott Wilson’s new play isn’t set in Over-the-Rhine, but it could be. Through April 19. $30-$85. Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com.
It’s hard to stand out in the crowded Blues/Roots Rock field but Dallas-based Somebody’s Darling is a stacked deck of secret weapons. The visceral ’70s-to-today guitar pyrotechnics of David Ponder, the massive keyboard groove of Michael Talley, the velvet jackhammer rhythm section of bassist Wade Cofer and drummer Nate Wedan, and the smoke-and-whiskey-cured vocals of Amber Farris combine to create a blistering Blues sound that is reassuringly familiar and yet fascinatingly singular. Although Farris, who also plays electric and acoustic guitars, generates plenty of fair comparisons to Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi and Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom (and maybe even a little Natalie Merchant in a rare quiet moment), she and Somebody’s Darling may align closest to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals by virtue of the slinky dynamism and mesmerizing power they both effortlessly exhibit. Somebody’s Darling plays Southgate House Revival's Revival Room on Friday. Tickets/more info here.
Music! Plays! Events with alcohol! Acrobats and Classical music! Gorilla suits!
FRIDAY 27MUSIC: SEBADOH
ONSTAGE: CIRQUE MECHANICSThe Cincinnati Pops presents Cirque Mechanics, an innovative show featuring aerialists, trapeze artists and contortionists performing alongside orchestral favorites from composers like Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, Ravel and more. In a press release, conductor John Morris Russell describes it as a mix between Cirque du Soleil and the steampunk scene, with a huge titanium infrastructure placed before the orchestra that serves as the canvas for the entertainment. Additional fire performers, jugglers and magicians will also be at the event. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $25-$99; $10 children. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.
EVENT: ART AFTER DARK AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSUEM
The theme of this art-meets-cocktail-party event is “Cherry Blossom Bash.” Check out the museum’s Japanese art collection with hourly docent-led tours, and enjoy live music from The Happy Maladies (6:30 p.m.) in the Great Hall. Sushi and drinks available for purchase. 5-9 p.m. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
ONSTAGE: PETER AND THE STARCATCHERIn Rick Elice’s loopy script (based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s novel about Peter Pan’s backstory), wordplay abounds, sometimes blowing by faster than the typhoon that comes upon ships on the way to Rundoon with three orphan boys to be sold into slavery. But this ensemble cast can manage wind speed as they narrate and perform the hilarious show — sometimes individually, sometimes together — but even more so as they race through delirious reinvention of the fairytale. Everything is performed both obviously and imaginatively, from levitating (at the close end of a seesaw plank) to a storm at sea to flying (with just the suggestion of motion, no wires — no “real” taking flight). Amusing costumes, a star field of 200 incandescent light bulbs and buckets of stage magic make it possible. Peter and the Starcatcher continues through April 4. $30-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com.
Streets don’t get much meaner than those of Belfast back in 1971 as the British army all but occupied the territory, caught up in what amounted to terroristic street fights between Catholics and Protestants with few truly innocent bystanders in the middle. Everyone took sides, no matter how reluctantly. Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell), an anonymous soldier in the British army, trains hard but is no standout. Hook looks for all intents and purposes like a young Liam Neeson or a baby-faced soldier-boy of few words (think Clint Eastwood) who is simply waiting for the opportunity to prove himself in the theater of battle. And he certainly gets his chance when his unit, under the command of a rather green lieutenant (Sam Reid), receives orders to back up local police in a neighborhood search for weapons. Opens Friday. Read full review here.
SATURDAY 28EVENT: OVER THE MOON VINTAGE MARKET Rustic vases, crocheted tops, paint-chipped mirror frames and more will flood the Over the Moon Vintage Market this weekend. Shop a variety of vendors as you peruse various booth displays for vintage and urban goods, including primitives, furniture, garden items, artisan jewelry and unique feminine and bohemian style clothing. 4-9 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. Agner Hall at Lawrenceburg Fairgrounds, U.S. 50 and Hollywood Blvd., Lawrenceburg, Ind., facebook.com/overthemoonvintagemarket.
MUSIC: ELLIOTT BROOD WITH YOUNG HEIRLOOMS
When a band’s sound gets tagged as “Death Country,” you know something special is afoot. And Canadian trio Elliott Brood lives up to its advance billing in every conceivable way. Utilizing guitar, banjo, ukulele, bass pedals, kazoo, harmonica, keyboards, percussion and a sampler in acoustic and electric contexts, Elliott Brood has reimagined rootsy Country, Bluegrass and Folk in a twangy and bracing manner that suggests Old 97’s and legitimately deserves the designation of Canadiana.The trio’s latest triumph is Work and Love, released late last year to rapturous reviews, many of which cited it as the trio’s best album to date. No need to plan a long trip to see Elliott Brood; the best of the Great White North is coming your way. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.
EVENT: POP-UP CINCY CONCEPT CAMP
POP-UP CINCY, a monthly pop-up organization founded by local artist and designer Catherine Richards, invites creative thinkers and makers to participate in the second Concept Camp at an unused storefront in Corryville. Participants will brainstorm with peers from various sectors about effective ways to take their ideas from concept to completion in this one-day event. The space will feature an “idea wall” to pin project outlines and receive feedback from participants, as well as the opportunity to connect with those whose skillsets might help accelerate your plan. Work session: 1-4:30 p.m. (sign-up required); celebration: 5-7 p.m. Free. 3501 Burnet Ave., Corryville, facebook.com/popup.cincy.
CLASS: HOW TO BUILD A RAIN BARREL
Spring is slowly showing itself as the winter and its accursed snow melt away. As you plan to plant petunias, sunflowers, vegetables and more, consider the task of watering and the best practices to save money, go green and store water for a hot summer so your plants (and your wallet) won’t suffer. The Civic Garden Center hosts a DIY class on how to build and use your own rain barrel to collect free rain water to use for the garden. 1:30-3 p.m. Saturday. $10; free for Civic Garden Center volunteers. 2715 Reading Road, Avondale, civicgardencenter.org.
COMEDY: DC BENNY
Like his peers Jimmy Shubert and Rocky LaPorte, D.C. Benny is a talented veteran comic who received a nice boost by competing on last season’s Last Comic Standing. Well-known in the New York and L.A. comedy scenes, Benny has also written and performed extensively for various TV projects. He also functions as the producer and head writer for Jim Breuer Unleashed on Sirius/XM satellite radio. On stage he mixes jokes with storytelling, peppering them with several original characters. Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $15-$17. Funny Bone on the Levee, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnyboneonthelevee.com.
ONSTAGE: DETROIT ’67
Detroit ’67, making its regional premiere at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati this month, is not something to smile about — but it might be possible to feel good about the “tryin’,” even though 48 years later the backdrop of this story feels eerily familiar, perhaps leading us to ask if America will ever rise above such racially driven conflicts. The details behind the story of Chelle (Zina Camblin) and Lank (Bryant Bentley), a sister and brother hoping to build a secure future, are this: In late July 1967, more than 10,000 citizens of Detroit rioted. Police had raided a blind pig — an unauthorized after-hours hangout very much like the one Chelle and Lank have established in their family’s basement — where more than 80 patrons, all African-American, had gathered to celebrate the return of a Vietnam veteran. Detroit '67 continues through April 5. $18-$44. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.org.
SUNDAY 29FILM: MOON DUST Detroit-based painter Scott Reeder’s new Moon Dust is a sci-fi feature film with a one-and-a-half-hour running time. Moon Dust is about the denizens of a run-down tourist resort on the moon (called Moon World) who struggle to maintain enthusiasm at a time when the hip, wealthier travelers have all gone to Mars. With its deadpan tone, frequently improvised dialogue from non-professional actors (including Reeder, himself) and eccentric production design featuring color-saturated, patterned or monochromatic sets and oddball costumes and hairstyles, it very much is the work of a visual artist. 2 p.m. Sunday. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum’s Mary R. Schiff Library & Archives, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
CHARITY: CINCINNATI GORILLA RUN
This Sunday don’t be surprised to find downtown resembling a scene from Planet of the Apes. Hundreds of runners dressed as our endangered primate relatives will be participating in the Cincinnati Gorilla Run 5K presented by The Gorilla Glue Company, which aims to raise money for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund. Gorillas found in the African mountains are close to extinction, and the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund is working to expand the program’s wildlife health and research center in Uganda. Registration closes at 5 p.m. March 28. Race opens at 9 a.m.; run starts at 11 a.m. $99.95 first-time gorillas; $40 and up for returning gorillas; $15 kid gorillas. Montgomery Inn Boathouse, 925 Riverside Drive, East End, cincinnatigorillarun.com.
ATTRACTIONS: MUMMIES OF THE WORLD
The Cincinnati Museum Center’s new once-in-a-lifetime exhibit, featuring real mummies and artifacts, some dating back as far as 4,500 years, is in its final weeks. Discover how mummies are created, where they come from and who they are in an immersive, multi-media display. Through April 26. Non-member exhibition-only tickets: $19.50, $17.50 senior, $12.50 child. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, mummies.cincymuseum.org.
Lots of booze-based, full-weekend events going on. Bockfest and the Cincinnati International Wine Festival Grand Tastings both kick off tonight — one with a goat and the other with a far classier couple, Gina Gallo of the Gallo wine family and her husband Jean-Charles Boisset, of France's Boisset Family Estates winery.
Cincinnatians not only love their beer, they also love to celebrate that they love their beer. They even love to celebrate the celebration of loving their beer. Bockfest, the oldest and largest German-style bock beer festival in the United States, is back to host a weekend of beer drinking, live music, German games, dancing, a 5k run and tons of sausage. The party kicks off 6 p.m. Friday with a parade led by a majestic bock — or to the non-German speaker, a goat — and a Sausage Queen, starting at Arnold’s Bar & Grill and ending with a ceremonial keg blessing at the festival hub, Bockfest Hall (1619 Moore St., OTR). The festivities continue in tents and overflow into surrounding participating venues, none of which will have an admission fee. A free shuttle will run a continuous loop among Bockfest sites all weekend long, taking you quickly from one keg tapping to another.
Along the route will be a traditional fish fry at Old St. Mary’s in OTR and a “veenie” vegan sausage roast outside Park + Vine. The festivities continue into the outdoor tent venues, and overflow into surrounding participating venues, none of which will have an admission fee. A free shuttle bus will run a continuous loop among the Bockfest sites all weekend long, taking you quickly from one keg tapping to another. To get a taste of history to sample with your beer, there will be tours of the city’s historical breweries and underground tunnels, plus a Bockfest Heritage Series at the Woodward Theatre, with speakers, presentations, displays and stein collections. The third annual Bockfest 5k run takes off from Bockfest Hall 10 a.m. Saturday to benefit the Flying Pig Marathon charities — a great way to burn off all that beer. Grab a “Continental Bockfest” of Amish chicken, hot bacon sauerkraut slaw and plenty of German sausage noon-2 p.m. Sunday at Bockfest Hall, before dancing the night away at a traditional German folk dance … or at least until all the beer runs out. Friday-Sunday. Free. Full schedule of events at bockfest.com.
Event: Cincinnati International Wine Festival
If wine gets better with age, it makes sense that the Cincinnati International Wine Festival would too. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the three-day fest is made up of winery dinners at local restaurants and grand tastings, plus a Saturday charity auction and luncheon at the Hall of Mirrors. The fest, which is a nonprofit, has raised more than $4.2 million for local charities during its lifetime. And if you can do good while imbibing samples of more than 800 wines from around the world, what’s better than that? Most winery dinners are sold out, but tickets are still available for Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday, which allow expert and beginner oenophiles to taste rare, new and exciting wines while chatting with winemakers. Read our cheat-sheet for how to get your grape on here. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday; 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. $65-$125. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown. winefestival.com.
Film: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
For part two, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues along the same path, with a wistful, unfulfilled ache that lingers in each character, some moreso than others.
Douglas, having jettisoned Jean, pines for Evelyn. The two spend their days working through their retirement in Jaipur, and their evenings engaged in a most understated courtship. Norman, on the other hand, has settled down quite comfortably with Carol (Diana Hardcastle), a fellow pleasure-seeker, while Madge has a pair of eligible suitors hooked, but has an itch that neither is quite able to satisfactorily scratch for her.
Muriel and Sonny have the most obvious big-picture storyline, thanks to the burgeoning success of the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny wants to expand but needs an infusion of cash and support, so the pair heads to the U.S. to negotiate with a branded chain headed by Ty Burley (the exquisitely bearded David Strathairn) who agrees, in principle, but sends an anonymous scout to check on things before making a final decision.
Of course, the secret inspector is slated to arrive just as Sonny’s in the final stages of planning and executing his wedding to Sunaina, so there are the typical examples of mistaken identity and botched plans that must occur along the way before the happy ending, right? Check.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is all about the innumerable chances life offers, and the fierce fighting spirit that burns in us no matter the age or situation in which we find ourselves. Intriguingly, that spirit, this time out, replaces the exotic location, and with new beacons (in the form of Richard Gere and a much better used Lillete Dubey as Sonny’s mother) presents a worthy second stay that could open the door for even more — not at all unwelcome — visits down the road. Opens wide Friday.
Cincinnati beer festival Bockfest hosts the second of four preliminary rounds of a gender-neutral pageant to name the 2015 Sausage Queen, who will lead the Bockfest Parade with a symbolic tray of bockwurst sausage. Based on their personality, presence and talent, judges will move beer enthusiasts through a series of rounds of competition, leading up a final crowning and cash prize. Come out and support the candidates and have a couple of beers yourself. Future rounds Feb. 26 at Washington Platform and Feb. 28 at Crazy Fox Saloon. 9 p.m. Friday. Free. Milton’s, 301 Milton St., Prospect Hill, bockfest.com.
ONSTAGE: Little Women
The story of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel from the late 1860s, Little Women, has long been woven into the American consciousness. The March family lives in refined poverty, with a dutiful father away in the Civil War and a steadfast mother raising four headstrong daughters. Their story is one of hardship and heartbreak, with generous doses of situational humor, all of which are recaptured in Emma Reeves’ new adaptation for the stage being regionally premiered by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. CSC’s acting company is replete with fine actors, and local stage veteran Annie Fitzpatrick plays loving Marmee, who strives to keep her chicks in order. Through March 21. $14-$36. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.
Comedian Stewart Huff: Primarily a storyteller, he now focuses on stand-up. Huff started off wanting to be a writer of short stories. He wrote in secret, but after doing an open mic he became intrigued by what that art form had to offer. “I was obsessed with the idea of telling a story on stage and getting immediate feedback,” he says. After a time, Huff decided to focus solely on stand-up. Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.