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by Rick Pender 05.20.2016 9 days ago
at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
stage door

Stage Door: Happy Days, Sad Romances, Bad Dates and a Little Sleaze

Since last week’s Stage Door I’ve seen several productions that are definitely worth checking out.

Diogenes Theatre Company is presenting Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days at the Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Bank Theater through Sunday. Don’t ask me to tell you what it’s about — it’s by Beckett, so it’s an absurdist piece that deals with existence, loneliness and happiness.

There are two characters: Winnie talks incessantly, while Willie barely speaks at all. They’re a couple, it seems, but they’re living minimal and seemingly diminishing lives, literally stuck in holes in a vast, arid landscape. Nevertheless, Winnie seems to remain relentlessly optimistic about the future, while Willie doesn’t have much to say but seems weary of it all. It’s one of those works (like Beckett’s Waiting for Godot) that can be interpreted in numerous ways, so I’ll leave that to you. But I will say that it’s a rare opportunity to see an impressive acting performance by Amy Warner, a professional who graced local stages for more than a decade. She now lives in Minnesota with her husband, former Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Michael Evan Haney, who staged this piece. In the show’s shorter second act, she is buried up to her neck — and still presents a compelling performance based almost solely on facial expressions. (Willie is played by Michael Sommers who teaches at the University of Minnesota.) This show won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a fascinating script that will keep you talking with anyone who joins you to a performance. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is presenting Antony & Cleopatra, the second installment in its staging of Shakespeare’s Roman plays. It uses many of the same actors in roles established in its recent staging of Julius Caesar (April 8-May 7), most particularly Nick Rose as the ebullient but besotted Roman general Marc Antony. Guest actress Chantal Jean-Pierre is Cleopatra, the object of his obsession. The role is an unusual one for Shakespeare — the Egyptian queen is strong-willed, impulsive and downright willful. Jean-Pierre’s performance put me in mind of Beyoncé, strong and sassy performer who knows how to manipulate her audience. I can’t say her performance struck me as historically accurate, but it has an emotional essence that distills her power over the aging warrior. It’s not the chemistry I expected, but she’s intriguing to watch. Kyle Brumley plays a slightly creepy, slow-mo Emperor Octavius, a reticent but efficient in establishing his power yet drained of passion. Cincy Shakes stages this sweeping story with projected video and animation to depict sea battles and military combat, and that’s a plus for this production. The show is one for completists who want to check it off, but I found it overlong and not always compelling. Through June 4. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

The Cincinnati Playhouse’s staging of Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates is an entertaining evening of storytelling by a woman who’s trying to make a go at finding love after a dry spell and at middle age. It’s amusing without being in any way profound, but you’ll like Vivia Font’s charming performance as Haley Walker, a sweet but uninhibited girl next door — at least next door in New York City. This show was an immense hit for the playhouse in 2005, and it seems likely that this revival will pack the Shelterhouse Theatre through June 12. (CityBeat review here.) Tickets: 513-421-3888.

If you’re a musical theater fan and willing to spring for a ticket to the touring production of Cabaret at the Aronoff, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fittingly slutty interpretation of Kander and Ebb’s powerful piece, and this rendition doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the sinister undertones of life in Berlin before World War II as the Nazi regime rose to power. The show has great music, but sometimes that takes precedence over the admonitory tale of people unwilling to see what’s right in front of them. The tour features a strong ensemble, especially with 2000 CCM grad Randy Harrison as the sleazy, sinister emcee. He’s so engaged in this role that right after intermission he ad libs his way through a few minutes of audience interaction — spreading the discomfort beyond the stage. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Quite a few shows are wrapping up runs and seasons this weekend, what with Memorial Day not far behind when Cincinnati theaters tend to slow down. It’s final curtains for Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing at the Playhouse, Brigadoon at the Covedale, the truly excellent staging of Violet at Ensemble Theatre, plus Next Fall at Newport’s Falcon Theatre and Catch Me If You Can by Showbiz Players at the Carnegie in Covington.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday.

 
 
by Staff 05.20.2016 9 days ago
at 09:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_happydays_larrylamb

Your Weekend To Do List

OTR 5k & City Flea of the season; AVP Beach Volleyball Tour; Preacher premieres on AMC and more

FRIDAY

ONSTAGE: HAPPY DAYS

If you’re looking for uplifting plays, Samuel Beckett is not the guy you’d normally turn to. Nevertheless, the writer of Waiting for Godot had occasional lighter moments, and Happy Days was one of them — even though it’s an absurdist tale of a woman buried up to her waist and a man sleeping in a hole. This production by Diogenes Theatre Company features the return of two former Cincinnati theater favorites, director Michael Haney and actress Amy Warner, playing the indomitable Winnie, who maintains both sanity and optimism in the face of adversity. Joining Warner onstage is Minnesota actor Michael Sommers as her laconic husband Willie. Through May 22. $29; $14 students. Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-721-3344, diogenestheatrecompany.com

AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour
Photo: Provided by Jerry Milani
SPORTS: AVP PRO BEACH VOLLEYBALL TOUR
AVP’s beach volleyball tour returns to Cincinnati in the form of a five-day qualifying event for the Rio Olympic Games — the final qualifying event for the 2016 Summer Olympics held on American soil. The tour was scheduled to begin on May 17 with qualification tournaments, and features main draw tournaments and pool play into the weekend. The tour culminates 6:30 p.m. Saturday with men’s and women’s award ceremonies. But that isn’t all: The Linder Family Tennis Center transforms into a beachy getaway in honor of the event, featuring music, food and interactive activations, which let you personally assume the role of a pro volleyball player. Events continue through Saturday. Free. Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason, avp.com

Dave Ross
Photo: Provided 
COMEDY: DAVE ROSS
Dave Ross is a stand-up comedian based in Los Angeles. When he’s not doing stand-up, he’s in a sketch group called WOMEN that produces skits for Comedy Central and IFC's Comedy Crib. He also hosts a podcast called Terrified, won a MOTH Grand Slam and was interviewed by Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast. His advice for young people? Turn 30. “If you’re still in your twenties, you should try this being in your thirties stuff. Everything is better now. I don’t throw up anymore; I have a teapot. It’s dope.” Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

ReUse-apalooza
Photo: Provided
EVENT: REUSE-APALOOZA
This sustainable soirée brings customers, designers and local leaders together to celebrate the power of renewability. Featuring light bites, My Nose Turns Red circus performers and entertainment by Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke, ReUse-apalooza is the annual fundraiser of Building Value, a nonprofit that salvages reusable building materials for public sale. A highlight of the night is the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind home or garden item — including everything from decorative plant holders to furniture — during the Designer Challenge Auction, which features functional pieces constructed from reused or repurposed materials. 7-11 p.m. Friday. $25. Building Value, 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-475-6783, buildingvalue.org. 

'Da Vinci — The Genius'
Photo: Provided
ATTRACTIONS: DA VINCI – THE GENIUS 
What do an airplane, a helicopter, an automobile, a submarine, a parachute, a bicycle and a military tank have in common? They were all envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci, the 16th-century artist, scientist and thinker. The new Cincinnati Museum Center exhibit, Da Vinci – The Genius, lets you push, pull, crank and interact with replicas of the Renaissance Man’s machines. Explore da Vinci’s legacy like never before in 17 themed galleries with more than 200 pieces, plus educational animations of his most famous work and the most in-depth analysis ever of the iconic “Mona Lisa.” Through Sep. 25. $19.50; $17.50 senior; $12.50 children; discounts for members. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org

May Festival Chorus
ONSTAGE: MAY FESTIVAL
Surround yourself in song and celebrate music director James Conlon’s final season with the May Festival, America’s oldest choral festival. Performances include Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, the first piece Conlon conducted with the May Festival 37 years ago, plus a special concert of works by Mozart and two world premieres performed in the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. The fest’s finale concert on May 28 will be the very last performance at Music Hall before it closes for renovation. Through May 28. Ticket prices vary. Find a full schedule at mayfestival.com

Cincy Swing Fest
Photo: 3CDC
EVENT: CINCY SWING FEST WEEKEND
Rewind to the 1920s, when crowds in Harlem took to the dance floor with a new type of move called Swing; a time when Swing-era bandleader Cab Calloway referred to dancers as “jitterbugs,” out on the floor with their fast, bouncy movements. You too can Jitterbug, Charleston and Lindy Hop right at home on present-day Fountain Square. Free, impromptu dance instruction from The Lindy Society will be accompanied by local Jazz and Swing bands. Ambitious performers can participate in a Jack & Jill competition Saturday night, and pin-up studio Retrocentric will be on hand to give mini-makeovers. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

Sugar Candy Mountain
Photo: Sheva Kafai 
MUSIC: SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN
California’s Sugar Candy Mountain is one of the new breed of Pysch Rock's top artists to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of modern Psych Pop and Rock. Wonderfully showcasing the music’s tendency to meld vintage elements with new and unique visions, Sugar Candy Mountain is the brainchild of Will Halsey, an active Bay Area musician and engineer who played drums for successful Indie act The Blank Tapes, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Ash Reiter. The two musicians met when Halsey responded to ad Reiter had placed looking for a drummer for her eponymous band, an Indie Pop outfit. Halsey got the gig, and the two became romantically involved (they’re getting married later this year). Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Sugar Candy Mountain plays MOTR Pub Friday with All Seeing Eyes and A Giant Dog. More info/tickets: motrpub.com.

SATURDAY
Cincinnati Library Comic Con
Photo: Provided
EVENT: CINCINNATI LIBRARY COMIC CON 
Set your phasers to stun and head downtown for the fourth-annual Cincinnati Library Comic Con. This year’s event celebrates the 50th-anniversary of Star Trek with an exhibit of memorabilia ranging from the original series through the rebooted films, plus screenings of fan-favorite Star Trek movies. This daylong geeky get-together also features tabletop game play, cosplay contests, creator booths, special guest cartoonists/comics/graphic novelists, a drawing contest and additional events for kids, teens and adults. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org. 

EVENT: WESTSIDE MAKERS NEIGHBORHOOD FIELD DAY AND BOOK RELEASE
Calcagno Cullen, who has brought attention to Camp Washington’s potential through her Wave Pool gallery, has also noticed ripples in Covington’s west side neighborhood. Over the past four months, she’s used a grant from the Center for Great Neighborhoods to profile roughly 30 community-makers and compiled a book of their recipes, designs and DIY tips. Cullen says that when she started the project, she expected to meet artists quietly working in their basements. Instead she found budding philanthropists and other creatives eager to share and inspire. Get to know a chicken keeper, librarians, gardeners, yoga teachers, musicians, cooks, a sculptor and more at a party in and around Orchard Park. 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Free; $5 book. Orchard Park, 318 Orchard St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/westsidemakers. 

'Domestic Departures'
Photo/Art: Susan Byrnes 
ART: DOMESTIC DEPARTURES AT KENNEDY HEIGHTS ART CENTER
Multimedia installation artist Susan Byrnes has taken over five rooms throughout the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s historic house to reframe domestic activities for audiences and reflect the processes and environments that contain and shape the development of personal identity and family interaction. In addition to the sculptural installation and ambient audio work featured within the home, Byrnes will engage local Kennedy Heights residents to build upon existing pieces and create additional artworks to populate the exhibition. A public reception featuring the completed exhibition, including the community components, will be held Saturday. Reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday. Free. Through June 4. Kennedy Heights Arts Center, 6546 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights, kennedyarts.org. 

Ruby the Hatchet
Photo: Action PR
MUSIC: RUBY THE HATCHET
The band coalesced five years ago after a succession of basement jams in their home state of New Jersey, followed quickly by their relocation to Philadelphia. The fivesome — vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, organist Sean Hur, bassist Mike Parise and drummer Owen Stewart — blended Black Sabbath’s black-hole heaviness, Blue Cheer’s acid-drenched mindmeld, shades of Led Zeppelin’s Brit Folk nuance and Alice in Chains’ growling-hellhound ferocity to forge a sound that pummels and purrs with equal intensity. Read more about the group in this week's Sound Advice. Ruby the Hatchet plays Northside Tavern Saturday with Electric Citizen. More info/tickets: northsidetav.com.

Wisewater
Photo: Chris Key
MUSIC: WISEWATER 
The latest show at the DownTowne Listening Room — an intimate, listener-friendly space located in the former Shillito’s building in the heart of downtown — is being headlined by Nashville’s on-the-rise Wisewater, an acoustic Folk/Americana duo featuring members with some impressive chops and credentials. Kate Lee, who has backed artists from Lady Antebellum to Rod Stewart, sings and plays fiddle, while Forrest O’Connor, busy Nashville session player and son of world-renowned fiddler Mark O’Connor, also sings and plays mandolin and guitar. Formed in 2014, Wisewater has drawn praise from peers and critics for its impeccable musicianship and impressive, crafty songwriting. The twosome’s introductory release, the buzz-building EP The Demonstration, was released last year and a full-length is in the works. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $12. DownTowne Listening Room, 151 W. Seventh St., Downtown, downtownelisteningroom.com. 

OTR 5K
Photo: Provided
EVENT: OTR 5K AND SUMMER CELEBRATION
Summer is on the way and Over-the-Rhine is celebrating its arrival early with a neighborhood 5k and block party. The 10th-annual OTR 5k run/walk leaves and returns to Washington Park, with a course that winds its way through city streets, led by The Garage OTR – Segway of Cincinnati to keep everyone on track. After the race, cool down in the park with a big-ass party. There will be live music, the first official City Flea of the season, Art on Vine, kids activities and more. Expect food from local vendors, plus local beer and coffee, and cocktails on the deck starting at 11 a.m. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. $35 race registration; free Summer Celebration. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, otr5k.com, washingtonpark.org. 

Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real
Photo: Jim Eckenrode
MUSIC: LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL
It is always interesting to see what the spawn of legendary musicians will come up with when moving into the family business. One of them is guitarist and vocalist Lukas Nelson, who has been slowly rising up on his own laurels while also still playing with his dad, Willie Nelson, on occasion. Lukas is more of a rocker than his father — he’s someone who’d rather plug in his electric guitar and jam with Neil Young than play Country music with Pops. And for the past couple of years, Lukas has been doing just that. He and his band, Promise of the Real, made the 2015 album The Monsanto Years with Young, and toured with him to support it. Things must’ve gone well, because they’re backing Young on tour again this summer. That’s a heady endorsement — the characteristically outspoken and honest Young would not play with Lukas and his crew if they didn’t have the chops. Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real play Southgate House Revival Saturday with Jim Castro. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.

SUNDAY
Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer
Photo: Lewis Jacobs/AMC
TV: PREACHER
AMC — home of The Walking Dead — continues to cash in on the comic book craze currently taking over screens with its latest original series. Developed by Seth Rogen and frequent contributor/childhood friend Evan Goldberg along with Breaking Bad writer/producer Sam Catlin, Preacher brings to life the dark graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. The Preacher at hand is Jesse Custer, a rugged Texan minister who develops an unbelievable power and sets out on a mission of biblical proportions: a journey to find God — literally. By his side are his BFF Irish vampire Cassidy (the stellar Joe Gilgun) and his trigger-happy, on again, off again girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga). Expect the action-packed brutality of Dead with far more twisted humor. And because Chris Hardwick is AMC’s Ryan Seacrest, of course he’s hosting a Talking Preacher after-show — but only following the May 29 re-airing of the premiere and the July 31 finale. Catlin, Cooper, Goldberg and Rogen will join Hardwick on the show next Sunday at 10:30 p.m. New episodes will pick up at Preacher’s regular 9 p.m. Sunday time slot on June 5. Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Sunday, AMC.

See the zoo's cheetah cubs in the Nursery throughout May.
Photo: Cassandre Crawford
ATTRACTION: ZOO BABIES
Oh, baby: ’tis the season for tots of all sorts at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Cubs, calves, chicks and more will be on exhibit throughout the month of May. Gasp and squeal in the presence of more than a dozen babies, including Bowie the penguin in the Children’s Zoo; Dale the takin at Wildlife Canyon; Boca the alligator in Manatee Springs; and bonobos Kibibi and Bolingo in the Jungle Trails. The zoo’s recently born cheetah cubs will also be viewable at the nursery, and Emperor scorplings (aka baby scorpions) are on exhibit in the Insect World building. Human moms receive free admission on Mother’s Day (May 8). Through May 31. $18 adults; $13 children and seniors. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org

ONSTAGE: VIOLET
Ensemble Theatre staged this moving musical back in 1999 to great success, but that was before people were flocking to Over-the-Rhine as they do today. To close out its 30th-anniversary season, ETC has revived the story of an anxious young woman bearing a disfiguring scar from a childhood accident. She’s on a cross-country pilgrimage to a televangelist she hopes will heal her, but along the way she meets people who help her find the true meaning of beauty. Composer Jeanine Tesori created powerful anthems for this show, and director D. Lynn Meyers has assembled excellent singers and actors to perform them. Tickets are selling fast. Through May 22. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.com.

ONSTAGE: BRIGADOON
This old-fashioned show from 1949 is just the kind of musical that Cincinnati Landmark Productions excels at staging. The story of a town in Scotland that disappears into the Highland mists and only returns one day every hundred years is a delightful, tuneful fantasy from writer Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe (the team that created My Fair Lady and Camelot). This tribute to simplicity, goodness and the power of love will have you humming your way out of the theater, especially “Almost Like Being in Love.” Through May 22. $23-$26. Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glenway Ave., 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

'Butterflies of the Caribbean'
Photo: Krohn Conservatory
ATTRACTION: BUTTERFLIES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Krohn Conservatory’s annual extremely popular and extremely beautiful International Butterfly Show returns with Butterflies of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a collection of cultures and colorful islands connected by a bright blue sea, and the flora, fauna and free-flying butterflies of this exhibit reflect that whimsical seaside attitude. Find white sand, a coral reef, palm trees and an island-inspired floral display in the pinks and yellows of a Caribbean sunset. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Through June 19. $7 adults; $4 children. 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, 513-421-5707, cincinnatiparks.com

“Legacies” by Kari Steihaug
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
ART: UNRAVELED: TEXTILES RECONSIDERED AT THE CAC
In Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered, nine artists deconstruct and reanimate clothing, blankets, rugs and other fabrics into emblems of political and personal expression. Textiles are mined for their metaphors to explore aspects of identity and interconnectedness. Adrian Esparza's “Dawn,” an azure weft spun around a grid of nails using a cheap serape’s single thread, may act as the exhibit’s skeleton key. It depicts, abstractly, a 1908 photograph of the Mount Adams incline, a long-demolished structure. Its title refers to the Procter & Gamble detergent — which Esparza reserves a certain nostalgia for — yet it could just as easily indicate artistic genesis. Read more about the exhibit here. Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered is on display at the CAC through Aug. 14. More info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

“Branded Head” by Hank Willis Thomas
Photo: Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection. © Hank Willis ThomaS
ART: 30 AMERICANS AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM
If you’ve been to the Cincinnati Art Museum lately, you’ve seen an early arrival for the show 30 Americans, which opens Saturday. It is the mural-sized “Sleep,” by Kehinde Wiley, the New York-based portrait painter whose depictions of young African-American men in poses reminiscent of Old Masters paintings have made him an art star. It is in the Schmidlapp Gallery, the corridor between the main entrance and the Great Hall, and is impossible to miss. 30 Americans, which primarily features some 60 artworks on loan from Miami’s Rubell Family Collection, also has such important contemporary African-American artists as Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, Glenn Ligon and more. On view through Aug. 28. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

TV: GAME OF THRONES
Sansa finally gets to confront Littlefinger for setting her up with Ramsay; Arya goes to work; Tyrion meets with a new Red Woman; Bran’s latest voyage brings him face to face with the Night’s King and White Walker army. 9 p.m. HBO.



 
 
by Natalie Krebs 05.20.2016 9 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
yvette simpson

Morning News and Stuff

Councilwoman Simpson drops hints at possible mayoral run; UC down to final candidates for police chief; Oklahoma passes most restrictive abortion bill yet

Good morning y’all! Here are your morning headlines.

• Councilwoman Yvette Simpson might have released the first shred of evidence that she’s running for mayor next year. Simpson sent a letter to consulting firms this month searching for someone who could help with a “campaign against an incumbent executive office holder,” aka Mayor John Cranley. Simpson won’t officially say yet whether she’s going to take a shot at Cranley’s spot or just run for a third term on Council in 2017 but says she’ll make a decision by the end of this year.

• It’s that super exciting time of year when the city lays out its budget for next year. Yesterday, City Manager Harry Black presented his plan for a $1.2 billion city budget that includes raises for city employees, cuts to the human service department and the city’s economic development programs and building a new marina. Yep, the city wants the Parks Department to build a marina along the Ohio River. Mayor Cranley has two weeks to present the budget to Council, which will then approve or amend it some time before the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

• The University of Cincinnati Department of Public Safety says it is down to three candidates to lead the department. The candidates were chosen by an outside consulting firm and include the director of public safety at Oregon State University, a previous CPD officer with more than 20 years experience and police deputy chief at Ohio State. The department is also down to two candidates for assistant chief, including a CPD Department Captain. UC will present the candidates to the public during open forums will be held May 23-25. Former Police Chief Jason Goodrich and Assistant Chief Tim Thornton resigned in February in the wake of the shooting of Mount Auburn resident Samuel DuBose by former UC police officer Ray Tensing.

• Judge Tracie Hunter will not be going to jail today. The suspended juvenile court judge was supposed to start her 60-day jail sentence today, but a judge suspended her sentence after Hunter filed a petition claiming misconduct by the special prosecutor and judge during her trial. Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled Hunter can remain free during the proceedings. A jury convicted Hunter of unlawful interest in a public contract for helping her brother in a discipline hearing 19 months ago.

• Could U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown become Vice President Brown? Yesterday, Sen. Brown was seen parading around with current VP Joe Biden in Columbus, leading to rumors that the progressive senator could be Hillary Clinton’s pick for running mate. Nothing is certain yet, as Biden told White House reporters that Brown would be a “great pick” but then went on to highlight other strong Democratic contenders without hinting at a favorite.

• Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill yesterday that would subject doctors to felony charges and revoke their medical licenses for performing abortions. The bill — which is most restrictive abortion bill passed yet — is still waiting on a signature from Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. If signed in to law, it will almost certainly be challenged in state or federal court where legal experts say it will likely be declared unconstitutional.

News tips go here.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.19.2016 9 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

It's City Budget Season Again!

On deck: a marina at Smale, employee raises and cuts to human services

Are you ready for city budget season? It started today.

City Manager Harry Black this morning presented his vision for Cincinnati’s fiscal year 2017 spending blueprint; a $1.2 billion budget he touts as structurally balanced. On deck: a literal deck, as in, a marina along the Ohio River built by the Cincinnati Parks Department, raises for city employees — three percent for police and fire, plus a boost for low-paid workers through a municipal living wage initiative — and cuts to some agencies to make up for a projected $6.7 million revenue shortfall, priming another potential battle over the city’s human services funding.

Last year, Council battled for, and received, $3 million for human services to be spent through a United Way-run funding process, which vets social service organizations based on effectiveness. This year, that amount will drop to $2,781,000.

That nine percent drop once again falls short of a City Council commitment set last decade pledging to commit at least 1.5 percent of the city’s operating budget to human services.

Other organizations now, but not previously, categorized in the human services section of the budget will also take hits. Mayor John Cranley’s Hand Up Initiative, which runs through Cincinnati Works, will receive $225,000 — $25,000 less than last year. Some programs previously funded by the city, like Cradle Cincinnati, which seeks to address the city’s high infant mortality rate, will receive no money at all. Last year, Cradle got $250,000 from the city’s human services fund.

Not everyone will lose when it comes to human services funding, however. The Center for Closing the Health Gap, run by close Cranley ally and former mayor Dwight Tillery, will see its city funding boosted to $1 million, a $250,000 increase over last year. The organization has received increases in past budgets under Cranley as well.

The city’s economic development programs will also see big cuts. Nearly every program funded by that portion of the budget will take hits, totaling about $285,000. Only MORTAR, a program seeking to boost minority entrepreneurship, will see a slight budget boost.

The funding cuts could have been worse: originally, the city was projected to have as much as a $14 million deficit. But revised projections by University of Cincinnati economists showed the revenue gap will be about half that size. Income tax revenues to the city are expected to grow by 4.6 percent, according to a report on the budget issued by City Manager Black.

But the need for cuts elsewhere won’t stop the city from investing in a marina along Smale Riverfront Park. The park board today voted to go forward with the project, which has been in the works for nearly two decades, and Black’s budget calls for $750,000 of city money to go toward the estimated $3.6 million cost of the project. That money is part of $4 million in Black's budget for parks capital projects. Other money could come from past federal funds for Smale, as well as an application for a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The board says the project, which as proposed would have room for 29 boats, will generate revenue for the parks department.

More on the budget as the process unfolds; this party is just getting started. Mayor Cranley has two weeks to present the budget to Council, which will then vote to approve or amend it. The process should wrap up sometime before July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.19.2016 9 days ago
Posted In: News at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
sherrod brown

Will Sen. Sherrod Brown be Clinton's VP Pick?

Appearance yesterday in Columbus with VP Joe Biden stokes speculation

You might have missed it, but U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from the Cleveland area, was traveling around with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday in Columbus.

It’s easy to see the two palling around as a hint that Brown, whose name has been tossed around as a running mate for Democratic presidential primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton, might be next in line for Biden’s job.

But is Brown actually a contender in the veepstakes?

So far, the gruff-voiced progressive senator has demurred on that suggestion, trying to shift the spotlight to other potential VP picks.

“I think Secretary Perez and Tim Kaine would be good vice presidents,” Brown told media yesterday. Tom Perez is Obama’s labor secretary, and Kaine is a U.S. senator from Virginia.

Biden and Brown were visiting the Buckeye State to tout President Barack Obama’s move to extend overtime pay to more U.S. workers, and to do some politicking around the 2016 election. Ohio is a vital swing state for 2016 presidential contenders, a fact that Biden acknowledged was a factor in the trip. More specifically, the two did a bit of campaigning for former Democratic Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who is campaigning to take Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s seat in November.

Ohio’s Senate situation could provide a good reason Brown wouldn’t get the VP nod from Clinton. As Brown himself has pointed out, he would have to leave his Senate seat before 2018, when he’s up for reelection. Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich would then get to pick his replacement. That’s a seat Democrats can’t afford to lose as they wrestle to regain control of Congress.

But don’t count Brown out just yet.

Biden yesterday told White House reporters that Brown “would be a great pick” as Clinton’s running mate. But he also highlighted the strong pool of candidates Democrats have available and didn’t offer an endorsements.

Among other possible picks are Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who some say Clinton could choose to try and build a bridge with supporters of her primary rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.19.2016 10 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
skyline

Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati population rises slightly; NKU loses 100 jobs to budget cuts; health officials scramble to find clinics to replace Planned Parenthood

Good morning all. Let’s talk about that news stuff.

Cincinnati’s population increased slightly again last year, though not as much as the surrounding suburbs. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Queen City’s population grew to 298,550 people from the 298,041 who lived here in 2014. That’s a .17 percent bump — smaller than the metropolitan area’s growth rate of .4 percent. But hey, at least we’re not losing people like we were just a decade ago, and like cities such as Cleveland, St. Louis and Pittsburgh still are. Other cities in our region outperformed us in population growth, however, including Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville, which each added a couple thousand people. So, Cincy’s doing OK when it comes to rebounding from decades of population loss, but could be doing better. Personally, I’d like to see us get above 300,000 again, so please, invite 1,450 of your closest friends to move here. Just as long as they’re not jerks.

• Did you know that your sewer bills have helped pay the salaries of the Cincinnati Park Board? It’s true, apparently. Due to some joint cooperation between the city’s Metropolitan Sewer District and the parks, money from MSD goes to personnel like Parks Director Willie Carden. That money exchange started when parks began helping MSD with some green infrastructure projects, but now some county officials are questioning whether the funding should go so far as to pay administrative salaries. Both MSD and parks have been mired in recent oversight issues around spending, so this revelation will probably anger some folks. You can read more about the situation here.

• Soon, you’ll be able to hop on Metro buses and the streetcar using a mobile app to pay your fare. Officials with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Tuesday announced an agreement with Passport, which makes payment apps. The contract between the two means that riders will be able to pay via a Passport app and show Metro and streetcar drivers their tickets on their phone. That will eliminate the need to carry cash for many customers, SORTA officials say. The app will also let riders track their bus as it makes its way to the bus stop, which is pretty cool.

• Hamilton County Democrats have tapped a big-name political consultant to help turn the county blue in the 2016 election. Candidates for county-wide office have pooled campaign funds to hire Ernie Davis, a longtime political consultant for the party. Davis will help strategize ways to convince voters to elect down-ballot candidates come November, including Hamilton County Commission candidate Denise Driehaus, Aftab Pureval for clerk of courts and others. Driehaus is in a highly competitive race with Dennis Deters for the Commission seat, which Deters currently holds after the surprise departure of former commissioner Greg Hartmann. Pureval faces a tougher challenge against current Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler, a well-established Republican.

• You might have guessed that outspoken immigration critic Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has something to say about Cincinnati City Council’s recent move to recognize alternate IDs for those without state-issued identification, including undocumented immigrants. You’d be right. Like any reputable, professional public servant, Jones weighed in on the issue in a tweet asking Butler County officials not to recognize cards provided by the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati.

“I am asking butler county not 2 except Cincinnati mark cards for illegals,” Jones tweeted recently. He later clarified that he meant “MARCC ID cards,” though he has yet to confirm that he meant to use the word “accept” instead of “except.”

• Northern Kentucky University will cut more than 100 jobs in response to budget cuts to higher education from recently elected Governor Matt Bevin. NKU will eliminate 37 faculty positions and 68 staff and administrative positions as part of the attempt to make do with less money from the state. The move will save the school about $8 million. Funding for higher education in Kentucky has been sliding for most of the decade, officials with the school say, forcing tough situations for all the state’s public universities. The funding crunch has gotten worse in the state’s most recent budget, however, as Bevin looks to drastically cut state spending.

• Health officials in Ohio are scrambling to find replacement clinics that can administer services like HIV and cancer screenings ahead of a state move to cut federal and state funding for such services from Planned Parenthood. Many health officials say it’s challenging to find other clinics that can step into the void left by the controversial health organization, which state lawmakers say shouldn’t receive public money because it provides abortions. The $1 million conservatives are withholding from Planned Parenthood didn’t go to providing that service, but instead went to other health services. Lawmakers say the money will be rerouted to other clinics that don’t provide abortions, but critics say there aren’t enough clinics with the capacity to take over for Planned Parenthood.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.18.2016 11 days ago
at 09:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eats2_roundingthird_madtree

Morning News and Stuff

MadTree breaks ground on new facility; Sittenfeld weighs options; Clinton takes Kentucky primary

Hey all. It's news time.

Let’s start out with some good news today, shall we? Yesterday, MadTree Brewering Co. hosted a ground-breaking celebration for their new Oakley brewing facility, MadTree 2.0. That facility in a former manufacturing site in Oakley will have 50,000 square feet of production space and another 10,000 square feet for a beer garden. The move is a sign of the brewery’s growth: The new site will allow MadTree to quadruple its production and the beer garden is twice the size of its current taproom.

• The controversial Dennison Hotel might soon be designated an “endangered” historic site by a statewide preservation nonprofit. Columbus-based Preservation Ohio is set to announce its list of endangered buildings across the state today. Local preservationists have nominated the Dennison, constructed downtown in 1892 by the firm of noted architect Samuel Hannaford. That designation won’t necessarily provide more legal protection for the building, which could soon face demolition by owners the Joseph family pending a May 26 Historic Conservation Board vote. But appearing on the list can draw more attention and support for historic structures, preservationists say.

• As we’ve talked about here and elsewhere in CityBeat a lot, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is still walking off a loss in the Democratic Party’s Ohio primary against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland for the chance to challenge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman for his Senate seat. So what’s a young man who just lost a Senate race to do? Sittenfeld is weighing his professional options, it seems. He told WCPO recently that he has yet to decide whether to seek a third term on Cincinnati City Council. Sittenfeld, just 31, was the top vote-getter in his first run for the office. If he doesn’t do that, he might jump into a startup venture and wait until he’s a bit more seasoned to continue his career in politics. In the meantime, he’s going full-tilt on Council, and has some solid summer plans: getting married.  

• The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of my favorite places, like, ever, which makes this story all the more heartbreaking. Overdoses at the main branch of the library downtown have increased significantly as the heroin crisis continues to grip our region. The main branch is on pace to see 18 overdoses this year — as many as the last two years combined. Solutions to the problem might be difficult, police say, and the situation is just one sign of the larger opiate problem that has taken hold in Ohio and other parts of the country. That problem persists, even as treatment options for addiction have narrowed for many low-income people.

• Finally, how’d that Democratic presidential primary contest go just south of the Ohio River last night? It was a nail-biter. Dem frontrunner Hillary Clinton ended up pulling out a slim victory over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. She took 46.8 percent of the vote, netting 29 delegates, to Sanders’ 46.3 percent of the vote and 27 delegates.

The contest didn’t matter much numerically — Clinton still has a comfortable lead in the overall primary, and Sanders only the narrowest path to victory, even with his win in Oregon’s primary last night. But Clinton desperately wants to put the primary behind her and focus on the general election, where she’s likely to face off against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump. The problem for her: Democratic voters aren’t lining up behind her yet, instead continuing to support Sanders’ populist campaign and somewhat more liberal message. Upcoming early June primaries should put Clinton over the top numbers-wise for the nomination, but even after she sews up the primary, she’ll have a bigger task: wooing Sanders supporters to back her in the general election. That may be a big hill to climb, given what happened in Nevada last week and the overall contentiousness of the Democratic primary this season.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 05.17.2016 12 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_johnkasich

Morning News and Stuff

Kentucky holds its primary today; UC to begin renovating basketball arena in June; CDC ranks Kentucky as top risk for HIV outbreak

Do you live in Kentucky? Well, if you do, it's primary day! Unfortunately, it looks like Kentucky's primary has come too late for Republicans to participate in what was the GOP presidential show down. Kentuckians won't be able to vote on which Republican they'd like to see in the White House because Trump became the presumed nominee earlier this month after all other candidates dropped out. But Democrats can still cast their votes for Team Clinton or Team Sanders. If that's not enough to get you to the polls, you can also vote on one of the little-known candidates running for Rand Paul's U.S. Senate seat and who gets to fill the vacant spot in the state House left by retiring state Rep. Tom Kerr. 

• University of Cincinnati construction partner Skanska and Megan Construction announced Monday that it has signed a $70 million deal to begin renovating the Bearcats' basketball arena in June. The University says it's still fundraising to come up with the rest of the money for the planned $87 million renovation of Fifth Third Arena. The announcement appears to be UC's latest attempt to flaunt its feathers to convince Big 12 officials to allow the university to join the conference, which UC has been trying to join for two years. UC officials are scheduled to meet with Big 12 officials in Dallas in two weeks.

• The Centers for Disease Control is concerned that Kentucky's heroin crisis is leading to another possible crisis: an AIDS/HIV outbreak. The CDC has ranked Kentucky as the state with the highest risk for an HIV outbreak, placing thirteen of the state's counties on its top 20 at-risk list. The federal agency began analyzing every U.S. county after the virus rapidly spread through needle sharing in rural Scott County, Indiana, which has a population of just 20,000 people, and found 220 counties posed a high risk for an outbreak, which includes nearby Brown and Adams counties in Ohio.

• Less than two weeks after bidding farewell to his shot at the White House, Gov. John Kasich sat down on Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper. In his first interview since dropping out of the race, Kasich told Cooper he wasn't quite ready to endorse presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump, he definitely won't be running as a third party candidate and Republicans need to start appealing to more minority groups if they hope to win the election.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.16.2016 13 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
clinton

Morning News and Stuff

Clinton in NKY; OTR gets beer garden; Kasich won't mount independent prez bid

Hey all. Let’s do this news thing.

Democrat presidential primary front runner Hillary Clinton came to Northern Kentucky yesterday for some last-minute campaigning before the state’s primary tomorrow. Clinton mostly bashed her likely general election opponent, real estate magnate and GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump, and didn’t mention her primary opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was also campaigning around the state. In addition to landing punches against Trump, Clinton touched on local issues like replacing the Brent Spence Bridge and the region’s heroin crisis. There has been limited polling in Kentucky, so it’s hard to know who’s ahead. The primary is closed, meaning independents can’t vote in it. That should help Clinton. On the other hand, the state’s demographic makeup — heavily white and working class — looks to work in Sanders’ favor, given results in other states. Stay tuned.

• Speaking of the Brent Spence, the bridge carrying I-75 over the Ohio River into Kentucky just got some national media attention. It’s not necessarily the good kind of press, though. The Hill, a D.C.-centric publication covering national politics and policy, put the 53-year-old bridge at the top of an article about the nation’s “Five Big Infrastructure Emergencies.” The article highlighted the struggle over how to pay for a replacement and the fact that the bridge carries four percent of the nation’s gross national product over it every year.

• Cincinnati has scored its biggest major conference since 2012, but the crowds won’t be coming for a little bit. The African American Methodist Episcopalian Church announced yesterday it will hold its 2024 convention in Cincinnati. It’s one of the largest African American conventions in the country and is expected to draw 20,000 people. The last time the city saw that many guests at once was the World Choir Games four years ago. It’s not the only convention Cincinnati has slated, however. This year, the NAACP will hold its national conference here, which is expected to draw 10,000 people and is one of the most important political conventions in the country — an especially big get for the city considering we’re in the midst of one of the most intense presidential campaigns in modern memory.

• There is about to be a beer garden on Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine. Queen City Radio, named for the former business that occupied the location at West 12th Street, will carry local brews like Braxton, Listermann’s, Rhinegeist, Morelein, Madtree, Rivertown and others. It’s also right next to the Central Parkway Bikeway, something owners and siblings Louisa Reckman and Gabriel Deutsch have highlighted as a reason for choosing the location. The two expect to open in July.

• Former house speaker John Boehner spoke this weekend at Xavier University’s graduation, though he didn’t drop any news-making bombs about the 2016 presidential election like he did at an earlier speech at Stanford last month. Boehner, who graduated from Xavier before his career in Congress, stuck mostly to the inspirational fare common to commencement addresses. But in true form, he did tear up a little bit. Boehner last month told a group of students at Stanford that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, then a presidential primary contender, was "Lucifer in the flesh."

• Kentucky public schools will resist an order from the federal government requiring it to recognize the expressed gender identity of transgender students, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has said. That sets up a big fight between the state, as well as some others in the South, and the federal government. President Barack Obama announced the measure, an effort to clarify standards under the anti-sex-discrimination law known as Title IX. Bevin says the order amounts to intimidation by the feds, however, and that Kentucky won’t comply.

• Following the exit of the last opponents to GOP presidential primary presumptive nominee Donald Trump, some bigwigs in the party have taken up an effort to draft a third-party candidate to compete against the real estate mogul and his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton. But Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was briefly Trump’s last opponent standing, won’t be that candidate. Despite being on a shortlist of possible Trump/Clinton challengers, a staffer for Kasich’s campaign told Columbus’ 10TV that Kasich isn’t interested in that particular suicide mission, which is perhaps the most clear-headed decision the governor has made in this whole mess.

 
 
by Rick Pender 05.13.2016 15 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
violet 1

Stage Door: Searches for Beauty, Love and Truth

There are so many good choices for theater right now you could hardly go wrong anywhere, but there are three shows you should absolutely see.

The musical Violet at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is the story of an angry, self-conscious young woman who believes her life is a dead end because of a disfiguring facial scar. She travels from North Carolina to a televangelist in Oklahoma in hopes of a miracle, which does happen — kind of, but certainly not in the way she imagined. This is a moving story with great music, and it’s superbly performed, especially by Brooke Steele as the title character: Putting together an excellent vocal performance with fully committed acting, she delivers an aching, anxious performance that occasionally flashes with joy. She’s surrounded by more talent, several of whom take on multiple roles. This is the kind of show that makes you grateful that we have a theater like ETC and a director like Lynn Meyers. (CityBeat review here.) Through May 22. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

Violet is searching for beauty, while Haley, the solo character in Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates, is just looking for a good evening out. But she’s having a hard time finding the right man — not to mention the right shoes to wear. The Cincinnati Playhouse produced this show a dozen years ago and it was a big hit. With Vivia Font as the charming narrator, a sweet but uninhibited girl-next-door who carries it off like she’s chatting with girlfriends, this production is a surefire hit. (CityBeat review here.) Through June 12. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

Another big search us underway at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater where Cincinnati Music Theatre is presenting the musical Big Fish, based on a Tim Burton film from 2003 featuring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor and Billy Crudup. It’s the story of Edward Bloom (Fred Tacon, pulling off a role handled by two actors in the movie) who loves to embroider and exaggerate the events of his life, and Will (PJ Karpew, a powerful singer), his down-to-earth son who loved his dad’s tall tales as a kid. But as a grownup, he’s grown both weary and dubious of these apparent fantasies and insists on discovering the truth. Ed’s imagined adventures are brought to amusing life onstage in this production, and CMT’s cast, steered by community theater veteran Skip Fenker, is busy from start to finish with countless costume changes, dance routines and funny situations. (There’s some clever use of video, too.) Will learns some truth he never expected, discovering that his father was indeed a hero — even if it wasn’t in the stories he made up. The show’s messages of love and inspiration come through loud and clear. Through Saturday evening. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Also worth your consideration: Opening tonight are Antony and Cleopatra (Cincinnati Shakespeare, through June 4) and Catch Me If You Can: The Musical (Showbiz Players at the Carnegie in Covington, through May 22). You still have time to see Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing at the Cincinnati Playhouse and the touring production of Cabaret at the Aronoff Center, presented by Broadway in Cincinnati. Both continue through next weekend.


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.


 
 

 

 

 
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