Louis Langrée is well aware of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's rich history. The CSO's freshly minted music director also knows part of that history includes the nurturing of contemporary composers and their often unconventional works.
Enter MusicNOW, Bryce Dessner's 9-year-old festival of adventurous sounds. (Read our conversation with Dessner here.) This year's sonic extravaganza includes the CSO's take on new pieces by such esteemed composers as Nico Muhly and David Lang, as well as the title work from Dessner's new Classical album, St. Carolyn by the Sea.
CityBeat recently connected with the genial Langrée — who spoke in self-described "primitive" English by phone from Paris — to discuss the CSO's collaboration with MusicNOW.
CityBeat: Before we get into MusicNOW, I'm curious about your initial impressions of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Why were you interested in coming on as music director?
Louis Langrée: The fame the orchestra is really big. Everybody knows it's a major orchestra. But then making music with them was a completely different experience because, yes, they have the qualities of all major American orchestras — precision, clarity of the attack of the situation. But they have also from their heritage, in their DNA, this German conception of sound, that you build the sound from the base of the harmony. That means the density of the sound is something absolutely remarkable, and that's rare in the United States. I think it has to do with the tradition, the roots, of this orchestra and also, of course, about the quality and the spirit of the musicians, which is really wonderful.
CB: Why were you interested in collaborating with MusicNOW and taking on a festival of contemporary music?
LL: One of the strengths of the orchestra is to have supported and commissioned and performed contemporary music from their very early age. Having given the American premiere Mahler Third, Mahler Fifth, Stravinsky coming to Cincinnati before he was considered a giant, having premiered (Aaron Copland's ) "Lincoln Portrait," having commissioned (Copland's) "Fanfare for a Common Man" and many other pieces and many more recent pieces. That's why I wanted to open my tenure as music director with eighth blackbird and Jennifer Higdon concerto piece. It shows that we should support, play, commission and perform contemporary music — and, of course, contemporary American music.
CB: What was it like collaborating with Bryce?
LL: Meeting Bryce was a wonderful. His French is perfect. Especially compared to my primitive English. (Laughs). I like his attitude in making music and experimentation. And any strong institution should be also a place of experimentation. Music is not something you put in a museum. It's alive. And then we should perform contemporary music like Classical music and perform Beethoven music, not forgetting that he only composed contemporary music. All the composers — Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bartok — composed contemporary music, so we have to continue it. He's very focused and concentrated, but on the other hand the spectrum was quite bright. I think we have arrived on wonderful programs — very challenging, but very exciting.
CB: What makes him unique as a composer?
LL: He knows how to make an orchestra sound. It's a very clear and precise writing but at the same time there is so much flexibility in the variations of colors written and the flow of the music. It's always quite exciting to study a piece and hear it. Having the privilege of working with the composer is something wonderful because there are so many questions I would like to ask of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and of course it's impossible. So being able to ask the composer and to hear his answers is just wonderful.
Bryce is someone who has great harmonic taste, and I think for the orchestra it's wonderful because you can express yourself much easier. I think he's very much like his music — a very welcoming man, a very open, very luminous person. I see that in his music, which is not always the case with composers. With him, I get the feeling he's one with his music.
CB: How has the orchestra responded to playing these new, sometimes challenging pieces?
LL: Any new piece you don't know what to expect. What I've found is that these musicians are very open-minded, they are very generous and positive in their attitude and are eager to try any new experience. It's a privilege to perform these two concerts of new music, but it's also very challenging, so you have to be very practical.
CB: And what's the experience been like for you?
LL: It's a great responsibility when you conduct a piece, but it's also a great privilege that today's major American composers are willing to write for us. To be sharing this experiment and experience in concert, to be a part of MusicNOW, is really something beautiful.
MusicNOW's 2014 festival begins tonight and continues tomorrow. Visit musicnowfestival.org for tickets and full programming details.
The three-week run of the tour of Wicked wraps up this Sunday at the Aronoff Center. It's a faithful reproduction of the Broadway hit, with performers who can give you the experience of seeing the original, a kind of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. (Tickets, $38-$188: 513-621-2787, but each performance has a pre-show lottery; if your name is pulled, you can buy a ticket for $25). If you've already seen this one, I suggest you check out one of the great new productions on local stages.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati has offered another powerhouse season this year, but I'll venture to say that The Mountaintop is aptly named: It's at the peak. It's an imagined story about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was assassinated. I'll venture to say that you've never seen him in quite this altogether human light, as portrayed — dare I say wholly embodied — by Gavin Lawrence. And then he's visited by Camae, a sassy maid who evolves into something so much more as he contemplates the meaning of his life. The always watchable Torie Wiggins takes on this role, and it might be one of her best performances yet at ETC. The Mountaintop won London's Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2011, and in my opinion, it's one of the best productions we'll see here in Cincinnati this theater season. Through April 6. (Tickets, $25-$43: 513-421-3555).
I caught up with the Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Pride and Prejudice at the Playhouse earlier this week. (It opened a week ago, but I was out of town.) It's a faithful rendition of Jane Austen's beloved novel, gorgeously staged and costumed. It has a big cast, so all the characters, quirky and memorable, are present and accounted for — a few actors need to play more than one role. If you're an Austen fan, I suspect you'll like this one; if not, you might find it kind of uneven, since some characters come across as cartoons (especially Elizabeth Bennet's meddlesome, garrulous mother and the arrogant Lady Catherine de Bourgh) while others are more naturalistic. Kate Cook's Lizzie has all the right notes (she ought to, as she's played the role several times elsewhere) and Loren Dunn's Mr. Darcy, while a bit slow out of the gate, eventually captures the character's aloof charm. Director Blake Robison has done a good job with an interesting adaptation that has scenes that flow swiftly one into the next, sometimes with overlapping elements that recall past moments. Through April 5. (Tickets, $30-$80: 513-421-3888).
Back in the early 1980s, the musical A … My Name is Alice had a long run at New York City's The Village Gate. Northern Kentucky University is producing its version of this collection of songs focused on the paradoxes women face — beauty, strength and heart. The show, created by an array of comedians, lyricists and composers, has 20 songs. It's being staged by Corrie Daniely, the newest faculty member in NKU's theater and dance department. Through April 30. (Tickets, $8-$14: 859-572-5464).
Cincinnati is now a temporary home for Cate Blanchett (this year’s winner of the Best Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects, Her), Sarah Paulson (The American Horror Story anthology, 12 Years a Slave) and Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street, Zero Dark Thirty, the Friday Night Lights series) as filming for Todd Haynes’ upcoming movie Carol is in full swing! Some of the stars (and a giant movie crew) were spotted filming at their first location, Eden Park, as well as along US 52 in New Richmond and Spare Time Grill in Alexandria, Ky. The Enquirer’s Glenn Hartong was able to catch a glimpse at Mara and Paulson looking straight out of the '50s filming a scene at the now-closed diner.
Photo: The Enquirer/Glenn Harton. See more photos here.
The film is based on is based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel (published as both Carol and The Price of Salt) about Carol (Blanchett), a wife in a loveless marriage on the brink of divorce who falls in love with a young woman, Therese (Mara). The book was revolutionary at the time for portraying a lesbian relationship, and doing so in a non-stereotypical light. Chandler will portray the titular character’s husband while Paulson plays Abby, Carol’s best friend.
Filming continues this week at a home on Grandin Avenue in Hyde Park. Retro Westside institution Maury’s Tiny Cove will be closed April 1 for a day of filming Blanchett and Mara’s characters’ first date. Cincy Magazine tweeted that the Cincinnati Club, where the mag’s office is located, will also be used to shoot the film at an unspecified date. We’ll keep an eye out — the building is right across the street from CityBeat’s HQ. Search #carolmovie on Twitter for the latest dish on the movie and its local filming and tweet us if you have a run-in with any of the stars!
Even if Carol wasn’t filmed exclusively in Cincinnati, the adaptation sounds like a great premise for a film. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about most of the recent movies based on books and other, previous movies. This week in remake fuckery, we have Rosemary’s Baby and The Birds — two classic ‘60s horror films undergoing contemporary reworkings. Zoe Saldana will take on Mia Farrow’s iconic role in a made-for-TV version of Rosemary coming to NBC; Transformers director Michael Bay is apparently producing the remake of Hitchcock’s feathery flick. We can only guess that Bay will replace said birds with laser-shooting Velociraptors.
Now and forever:
Speaking of dinosaurs, paleontologists in Alaska last week discovered a miniature species of tyrannosaurs about half the size of its close relative, the T. rex — essentially, what the prehistoric Paris Hiltons were carrying around in their designer mammoth skin handbags. Teacup-Rex!
A post I found recently on Imgur (because Reddit still confuses/scares me) recalls the story of when the United Way decided to release 1.5 million helium balloons into the air in Cleveland in 1986, breaking the world record. The photos of the event are stunning, but — as anyone with a tiny bit of foresight could tell you — the mega-balloon launch totally backfired. Not only did this result in more than 1.5 million pieces of plastic trash around the region and as north as Ontario, but also reportedly hindered a missing person search on Lake Erie.
Peep this less dismal, totally ‘80s news segment about the event:
Kermit the Frog rang in the New York Stock Exchange Monday. Muppets Most Wanted opens in theaters Friday.
Everyone’s talking about “Strangers Kissing,” a viral video of 20 strangers making out for the first time that’s actually (somehow) an ad for women’s clothing label Wren. A bit contrived, I suppose, but definitely intriguing and pretty hot.
Jimmy Fallon put his own twist on the vid…with puppies and kitties.
Kasich has proposed to cut income tax 8.5 percent across the board by 2016, which would help drive Ohio’s top tax rate below 5 percent. The governor claims single mothers making $30,000 would save an extra few hundred dollars on taxes every year as part of his proposed tax cut, a claim Neuhardt called “despicable and wrong.”
During the press conference, Neuhardt said Kasich is using the plight of single mothers to propagate a tax cut that would disproportionately benefit Ohio’s upper echelon.
“I want to really emphasize pay equality is always an important issue,” Neuhardt said.
doesn’t have a plan to square the $11,600 pay disparity between genders in 2012
that she cites, but she did say that her administration would need to reverse
everything Kasich’s administration has done in order to get Ohio’s economy
moving forward, should she and her running mate, gubernatorial candidate Ed
Fitzgerald, win office in November.
“We need Ohio’s working class to have money in their pocket,” Neuhardt said.
Kasich’s previous budget took the first steps toward pushing the state’s top tax rate below 5 percent by lowering income tax across the board and raising sales tax, a combination that disproportionately favors the wealthy. CityBeat covered that plan here and Kasich’s early 2013 budget proposals here and here.
Council members P.G. Sittenfield and Yvette Simpson spoke about pay disparity before Neurhardt took the podium on Tuesday.
Simpson stated women on average are earning 27 percent less than men in Ohio and Latin American women are earning 57 percent less.
“In the year 2014, that’s unacceptable,” Simpson said.
She also stated that Cincinnati has a 50-percent single mother rate and that 53 percent of children are living in poverty.
Sittenfield said the way toward eliminating pay disparity is through “meaningful reforms,” not tax cuts.
“Wage equality is not just a women’s issue — it’s a family issue and it’s an Ohio issue,” Sittenfield said.
Kasich proposed the cuts as part of a mid-biennium review intended to lay out administrative goals for next year.
Cincinnati may be known as a German city, what with our legendary Oktoberfest and love for pork and sausages, but Irish heritage is also strong here, as we’ll see this weekend. St. Patrick’s Day is officially Monday, March 17, but the green beer starts flowing early in anticipation.
The 48th annual Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off Saturday at noon downtown. The route begins at Eggleston Avenue and Reedy Street, wrapping around Central Avenue, crossing over Sycamore Street and back down Fifth Street. Hang out on Fountain Square during the parade, where festivities run from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. with live music, Irish grub and plenty of beer. Fun on the square continues Monday starting at 11 a.m. — for those playing hooky.
For those looking to take a more culturally rich approach to the holiday, Cincinnati actually has its own Irish Heritage Center located in the East End. Read our story on the center and its founders, Kent Covey and Maureen Kennedy, here.
Doors open at the center at 2 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday; events include Irish music and dance, art exhibitions, children’s events and food and drink for purchase. They host an Irish mass at 1:30 p.m. Monday, followed by more celebrating. Find the full schedule here.
The Cincinnati Museum Center also gets in on the St. Paddy’s fun with its Celtic Lands Culture Fest Saturday-Sunday. Get your fill of folklore, performances and art from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Kids will enjoy workshops, games and crafts throughout the weekend. Activities in the rotunda are free; access to the museum requires admission. Go here for tickets and more details.
Movie lovers will want to check out Cincinnati World Cinema’s annual Oscar Shorts screening this weekend; a mix of the Academy Award-nominated flicks in the Short Film – Animated and Short Film – Live Action categories will be shown in two programs Saturday and Sunday. Each program contains a mix of five live action and animated shorts — be sure to check out both programs to see the winners from both categories. Find program details and schedules here.
It’s a Macy’s Arts Sampler
Weekend, with free art events across the Tristate all day Saturday. This
month’s sampler includes a special “Catch the Spirit” concert featuring the
collaboration of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati
Opera, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and other local arts
organizations. The performance takes place at 1 p.m. at Music Hall. Additional
performances, classes, exhibits and other exciting activities for all ages will
be offered at Elementz downtown, Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, Ky., Fairfield
Community Arts Center, Hamilton’s Fitton Center for Creative Arts and more. Go
here for more locations with a lineup of events.
Mad Tree Brewing Beer Dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens: Mecklenburg Gardens hosts local brewery Mad Tree Brewing for a bier dinner on Saturday, March 22. The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. with a Mad Tree keg tapping at 7 p.m. and continues with a German buffet featuring German sausages, sides, salad and dessert. There will also be live music from Alpen Echoes. 6:30 p.m. $20. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, reservations at 513-221-5353.
The Wines of Jean Luc Columbo at 20 Brix: Ryan Oliver joins to discuss finer points of this South American producer. Pairings by Chef Paul. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22. $50. 20 Brix, 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-2749, 20brix.com.
I had a glimpse of Broadway's future last night on campus at UC. I attended Not Yet Famous, the 22nd edition of CCM's musical theater showcase, featuring the about-to-graduate senior class. The 19 vibrant performers presented a 45-minute program that they'll take to New York City on April 7 to present to casting agents, producers and others. It's how they begin to land contracts and establish relationships that will give them solid professional careers. With accompanist Julie Spangler at the piano, the singers worked as a large ensemble and smaller sets, but each one had multiple chances to show off her or his strengths as a singer, dancer and actor — they're all trained to be "triple threats" with a polished arsenal of vocal and movement skills. They were warmly received by the Friends of CCM, the support group that helps keep various programs at the conservatory going; the evening was a benefit. You have a chance to see the showcase for free if you act quickly: There will be performances on Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m. at Patricia Corbett Theater. No charge, but you need to call CCM's box office to reserve a seat (limit of two per order). I suspect tickets will be snapped up, so call right away: 513-556-4183.
Wicked is in the midst of its three-week run at the Aronoff Center. This is one of the most popular Broadway shows of the 21st century (it's been running for a decade, as well as spawning productions around the world plus two national tours, one of which is in our midst). It's here through April 23, but tickets are expensive (cheap seats are $38 and anything else is more), so you might want to try your chances in the daily lottery for a $25 orchestra seats. Grab your valid ID and show up in person 2.5 hours before the curtain time to enter; if your name is chosen, you can purchase one or two tickets. Of course, if you're flush you can guarantee seats by buying what you need at 513-621-2787.
The Playhouse just opened Pride and Prejudice, a theatrical adaptation of Jane Austen's most popular 200-year-old novel. I won't see it until next week (busy schedule), but if you're a fan — and it seems that everyone loves her novels of manners and romance — you probably need to line up to see this one. Director Blake Robison calls his production "epic," adding, "The story is a satire of the marriage market and an exploration of true love. What could be more fun than that?" It's onstage through April 5. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
What with St. Patrick’s Day coming on Monday, this might be the perfect weekend to see Clifton Players’ production of The Irish Curse (at Clifton Performance Theatre, 404 Ludlow Ave.). Lots of folks have told me they enjoyed this tale about a group of Irish-American men who meet weekly in a self-help group in a Catholic church basement to discuss a sad “shortcoming” — let’s call it “small equipment,” a curse they believe has ruined their lives. It gets its final performance on Sunday, right before you line up for your first green beer. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
Instead, Cincinnati will continue using 100-percent renewable-backed energy from First Energy Solutions.
The city signed on with First Energy in 2012, making Cincinnati the largest metropolitan are in the country to use 100-percent renewable energy.
Stiles was expected to sign the three-year contract with First Energy Solutions today, according to city spokeswoman Meg Olberding.
Sellbach and other council members convinced Stiles to change his mind about the contract, Olberding says.
She also added that First Energy told Stiles it would allow any customer who wants to save the additional $5.63 annual savings of conventional energy to opt-out of the green energy agreement.
The green energy plan is estimated to save customers $43.58 compared Duke’s standard service.
About 65,000 households and small businesses will continue using First Energy unless they choose to retain another energy supplier.
Stiles will also institute a green energy fee of $.006 on each electric bill as part of a program he’s developing that will help local business owners and residents equip their homes or offices with energy-saving solutions. The program will be run by the Office of Environment and Sustainability.
But luckily for us, our snow day was going to get a little brighter: I had booked reservations at Hen of the Woods Underground.
Hen of the Woods (it’s a type of mushroom) is the brainchild of Nick and Kim Marckwald. The duo (Nick is the chef and Kim manages services) recently purchased the old J.B. Schmidt contractor space at 1432 and 1434 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. They have ambitious plans for a restaurant and urban market there. As a run-up, they have been holding “pop-up” brunches since January in Main Street’s Street Pops space (closed for the winter months). And the very last one was scheduled for Sunday.
Now, this is just a hop, skip and jump from us, so the weather was not a concern — or was it?
Just to be sure it was all going to happen given the poor road conditions, I sneakily walked our puppy by the space, which was holding the first of two seatings that day. The windows were properly steamed up, I could glimpse small tables of people inside and the most wonderful smells wafted from the slightly propped open door.
When we arrived an hour later, our table was waiting. We were among about 10 guests. Our first course was a refreshing juice du jour — Meyer lemonade with ginger and cilantro flavors, and a jalapeno ice cube floating in the jelly jar glass.
Next, we were offered coffee. Deeper Roots Coffee’s Ryan Doan stood at the counter carefully pouring from what looked like a tiny watering can into a Chemex coffee maker. The brew was deep and rich without being acidic.
During the next hour or so, we were offered three courses and a dessert prepared by the clearly visible staff. Each was meticulously described by our server— most times it was Nick or Kim.
First came a beautiful refreshing plate made from lemongrass, tapioca, mango, fingerlime, almond, ginger and pea shoots.
Next up, another precisely plated combo — lovely pink-edged beet cured salmon was draped over a crispy seared rice cake on a bed of leeks and shiitakes with a horseradish and basil sauce.
Next, the brunch got down to business because, what’s brunch without bacon and eggs? Hen’s take on eggs Benedict was a fat, wobbly egg sitting on top of a concoction with Woodlands “back bacon” lardo, English muffin, frisee and Hollandaise, served on a wooden slab made of black walnut. One poke with my fork sent yellow yolk running hither and yon amidst the gathering of elements.
Finally, a rich bread pudding, with banana, sesame, chocolate, dulche de leche and pine. In the only misstep of the entire production, the crisp decorative chip had a distinct lack of flavor.
I’m not usually a fan of little-plate meals and such as a fill-in for a meal. They often just tease, sending you out the door looking for something else to eat. This time? Not the case. We walked home in the ice and cold, happy and full, ready to hunker down and slog through the last of winter.
I am so waiting for spring, and also for Hen of the Woods to begin doing impromptu servings in their new space while it is under construction. Nick and Kim assure me they’ll be doing it as soon as the permits are in order. The sooner the better for me!
Follow Hen of the Woods news on their Facebook page.
But no amount of acclaim and popularity protects a show from parodies — quite the contrary, it seems. Here are a few gems:
And if you're hungry for another crime drama, Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan has a new show in the works. Battle Creek, starring Dean Winters (Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock, The Mayhem Guy) and Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, Fergie's hubby) and will follow two detectives named Milton and Russ. Hmmm...
RIP Ke$ha! No, the
trash-pop “singer” didn’t meet an untimely demise, but the $ in her
name (turns out Kesha is her actual birth name) did. Upon her exit from rehab
for an eating disorder, Kesha unveiled a new twitter handle, @KeshaRose, which revealed she
was dropping the $. It’s always great to see people get healthy, and using a
dollar sign as a letter in your name is fucking stupid, but what will these changes mean for
her music/celeb persona? Can the girl who popularized whiskey as dental hygiene
make the leap to squeaky-clean good girl?
And speaking of hot mess makeovers, the new Oprah-backed Lindsay Lohan docu-series Lindsay premiered on OWN Sunday. The mighty O offered Linds $2 million to complete the filming of eight episodes for her network (in addition to one-on-one interviews aired throughout the show). The premiere was considerably boring for being the first “real,” inside look at the troubled star’s personal life. Honestly, it felt more like Celebrity Hoarders than anything. There were some genuinely sad moments — Lindsay was essentially forced to skip an AA meeting due to a crowd of stalkerly paparazzi threatening the others’ anonymity; she struggles to find a stable apartment she so desperately needs for her continuing recovery because no one wants her in their building (without a hefty insurance fee) — and some thinly veiled digs at the actress — an optimistic Linds explains how proud she feels to be independent, only to have the screen cut to her personal assistant moving all of her belongings from one hotel room to another without help. But if the series trailer is any indication, drama is forthcoming — particularly in a scene where Oprah tells LL to “cut the bullshit.”
Zach Galifianakis has been entertaining audiences with his spoof-talk show Between Two Ferns since 2008. The comedian has interviewed some of the most famous actors and personalities as well as Tila Tequila. The latest episode raises the bar by featuring none other than Barack Obama, further proving that the prez should just move to Hollywood in 2017. It is also revealed that Galifianakis has not been filming his segments in some public access studio, but rather the White House. Enjoy:
Everyone with a human heart loves ice cream, but perhaps no one appreciates a good soft-serve cone more than this dog.
Lena Dunham hosted Saturday Night Live last week. The Girls creator did a fine job with the material she was given, which is pretty much the overall consensus of this season (writers, up ya game!). One highlight was how SNL dealt with Girls. Obviously they have to address the show, her nudity and the ridiculous characters in it, but without relying on it as the punchline for every joke. Instead, the Girls spoofery was limited to a previously filmed faux trailer for (The First) Girl, complete with the reprisal of Taran Killam’s spot-on Adam impression.
Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler and other stars are in Cincinnati right now for the filming of the upcoming movie, Carol. We're keeping a close watch on Paulson's Twitter (she's the only star that has an account) and, according to our research, so far she has definitely been to CVG airport and a local CVS. Keep @CityBeatCincy abreast of any celeb spottings you may experience during this magical time!
There are several good theater choices south of the Ohio River this weekend.
The theater (and dance) program at Northern Kentucky University presents a truly varied array of programming — this season has included a play by Orson Welles, the legendary musical South Pacific, Shakespeare's As You Like It and more. The academic year's final production Monty Python's Spamalot, opened last evening, and it seems to be a perfect vehicle for a lot of onstage clowning. (In case you haven't been tuned in, the show is subtitled "A musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and many of the show's most hilarious moments are reproduced wholesale onstage.) But clowning can be serious work, and if you catch NKU's production, pay attention to the choreography (the work of NKU grad Roderick Justice) which is complex, amusing and very well executed by the cast of 25. Director Ken Jones keeps things moving; the actors get into the tomfoolery from start to finish, especially Kat Moser as the diva who's the Lady of the Lake and Bradley Goren as long-suffering Patsy (he's the one who clicks the coconut shells to simulate King Arthur riding on horseback, among other amusing moments). The show is a fine entertainment, if you're a fan of the low but articulate humor of the Python troupe. Through April 27. Tickets ($8-$14): 859-572-5464.
Comedy of an entirely different sort is available at another Kentucky venue, the Carnegie in Covington, where Mary Chase's 1945 Pulitzer Prize winner Harvey is available through April 27. This is a piece of gentle humor from the past, about a slightly off-kilter guy who sees a six-foot-plus rabbit — he calls it a "pooka" — named Harvey, much to the dismay of several family members who are embarrassed by his behavior. Their efforts to get him committed to a local asylum go awry to much merriment and a message about being, well, gentle and sweet. This is good, old-fashioned fun. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
If you prefer a well-written contemporary drama, this weekend is your last chance to see A Delicate Ship at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Anna Ziegler's new show (this is its world premiere) is a memory play that explores an unexpected chain of events triggered by a love triangle. It's beautifully staged by Michael Evan Haney with a cast of three actors who are just right for each of their roles. I gave this one a Critic's Pick when it opened; it's as good as anything I saw recently at the much-respected Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Tickets ($30-$80): 513-421-3888.
Comedian Rajiv Satyal was born and bred in Cincinnati — Fairfield to be exact. He’s gone from being an intern on Capitol Hill to brand manager at Procter & Gamble to full-time comedian living in Los Angeles. Satyal has worked with Dave Chappelle, Kevin James, Tim (the tool man) Allen, Kevin Nealon and Russell Peters. Heard of the University of Cincinnati’s Bearcast? He named the school’s radio station-turned-media group. He runs a consulting business called StandPoint Agency and is a regular at all the L.A. comedy clubs, but he got his start at Montgomery’s Go Bananas. Satyal’s unique way of viewing the world continually draws in more fans. He refers to himself as the funny Indian, but he’s really just a funny — and nice — dude from Ohio. Satyal performs his first one-man show No Man’s Land Saturday to a sold-out audience at the Aronoff Center, and he squeezed CityBeat into his schedule for a quick rundown of all things Rajiv.
CityBeat: Since you’re from Cincinnati I have to ask, what high school did you go to?
Rajiv Satyal: Totally fine, a very Cincinnati question, but I went to Fairfield High School and I got an undergrad at the University of Cincinnati in materials engineering.
CB: I read that you worked on Capitol Hill, what did you do there?
RS: I was at the University of Cincinnati at the time and I went out to Capitol Hill to be an intern for a representative, Steve Chabot. So I just worked in the office and it was for fun, I got to live in DC and explore that town and did whatever tasks around the office, but it was mostly getting the feel of Washington.
CB: Do you have a funny family or what sparked your interest in comedy?
RS: Actually I have two brothers and, well, two parents, and everybody has a sense of humor. It was a super fun household to grow up in. We were all pretty positively reinforced, we weren’t really a tough crowd, like, we definitely encouraged each other to say funny things and we laughed a lot. I know a lot of comedians’ families would be like, you know, “boo” or whatever when they told a joke and were a tough crowd, but we were a really good crowd for each other and just kind of encouraged each other to be funny. My brothers and I never really fought a lot growing up, which is so strange, but we all got a long and we had a good time.
(Check out Rajiv’s dad going Bollywood last Monday on The Bob & Tom Show here.)
CB: Does Cincinnati or growing up here inspire any of your stand-ups?
RS: Oh, definitely. I feel like growing up in Ohio, it made me kind of more of an everyman being able to relate to people in the heartland of the country and people who grew up on the coast. I think people on the coast have their own sensibility, but it’s hard to know what works inland. A lot of comedians are like virgins; they knock it out on the coast, but when they come inland they die. I feel like being from the Midwest gives me an advantage.
CB: What inspired you to pursue comedy seriously?
RS: When I turned 30 I really flipped out, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life and I need to do something different.’ So I left Procter & Gamble and moved to Los Angeles, I was a brand manager at P&G Water for only about 3 months and then I jumped shipped and went into it [comedy] full-time. I guess I felt like I really enjoyed speaking in front of people and I love being funny and those two things lend themselves well to being a famous comic, ya know.
CB: So basically just turning 30 did it for you?
RS: Yeah, I felt like life’s too short and, you know, why do something you don’t want to do? Why not go for it. I guess I thought when I turned 30 I felt like, “Man, I don’t want to turn 40 and watch TV and go, ‘Man I could have done that.’” I think given all the privileges, if I don’t try it…I’m born in the United States, I’m American, I have all these opportunities, it’s the land of opportunity, you got to self-actualize, man, go for it.
CB: How has your comedy evolved from where you first started to now?
RS: I would say that just getting deeper. As comedians do it longer and longer you start to go from jokes to more of a point of view. You start to realize what makes you funny. You have these weird beliefs and you stand out a little bit. You don’t really have to do jokes anymore, you just tell people what you think and they think it’s funny because they are like, ‘Wow, that’s a weird way to look at it.’ Being able to make people laugh at the way you look at the world, I think that’s kind of cool.
CB: Do you have any stories about opening up for or working with various comedians?
RS: I actually opened up Dave Chappelle’s very first show when he came back from Africa in 2005, so that was really cool. I had opened up for him at the University of Cincinnati in 2000 before I even started doing stand-up — I started doing stand-up in 2002. So people in the student senate and student government and programming board at UC were like, ‘Hey, you’re a funny guy, you’ve done a little bit of stand-up, would you want to do?’ So I opened for Dave Chappelle at UC and got booed off the stage in front of all these people. Then five years later I opened Dave Chappelle’s first show when he comes back from Africa and I did really well, I killed and it was really redeeming.
CB: Did he remember you from 2000?
RS: Yeah, he did actually, that’s what’s crazy about it — that he remembered that. It’s funny. He was really encouraging and complimentary. I talked to him for two hours by myself that night in 2005, after we were done, just he and I were in the room and for two hours we were just talking about politics and religion and the world…I know that he was happy that I stuck with it and everything.
CB: Who would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with?
RS: I would like to work with Bill Burr. He is not an extremely well-known person, but he is a genius and he is from Boston. I think it would be awesome to work with Louis C. K., of course, he is like the biggest guy in comedy right now. I mean, I don’t know, I think Jerry Seinfeld would be pretty awesome. I love Ricky Gervais, I’m a big fan of Ricky Gervais, a guy from England. Chris Rock, I love Chris Rock. I actually met Chris Rock when he performed at Ohio State and I told him someday I am going to open for him and he goes, ‘That would be something man, you never know.’ So I have to make good of my promise. I told him one day I was going to open for him, so I better do.
CB: What kind of topics or themes can audiences expect from No Man’s Land?
RS: It’s mostly about dating and relationships. The central questions of the show are: Why am I single and how would you define manhood in modern society? So I’m a single, 38-year-old man out there trying to figure out the evolution of manhood and what does it mean now, how does the definition of manhood change and I try to define it. It’s not a show about men versus women, it’s a show about men versus guys.
CB: What do you miss most about living in Cincinnati?
RS: Well my family, obviously, my family and my friends. I have a really good friend who lives in Seattle, but he is thinking about moving back here and the only reason is his family; it’s not for the weather, it’s not for a better job and it’s not for anything else other than the fact that his family is here. I think family is a big thing.
CB: I feel like if I moved away I would miss three-ways too much.
RS: I do miss Cincinnati food. I love LaRosa’s, I love Graeters’, I love Skyline and I do love Cincinnati food. You know, there is something about the Midwest. The people are super nice and, you know, just walking down the street you can say hi and the person will say hi back or the person will initiate or whatever — that doesn’t really happen in L.A. as much, at all, and people are not as nearly as friendly as they are here.
CB: What advice do you have for people who are trying to break into the business?
RS: I think they should just start. They need to start…The Internet is such an opportunity to reach the people you want to reach. I think it’s possible more than ever to go down to the local comedy club and enter the open mic night and start. Get to know the people and get up and do it. Write material, start a group up that supports each other. It is difficult, but you know there is a way in. Comedy is more accessible than ever.
Get a glimpse of some of Satyal’s funny stuff here.
This evening at its Jackson Street headquarters in Over-the-Rhine, Know Theatre of Cincinnati revealed the lineup for the 11th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival to a crowd of nearly 100 enthusiastic supporters and performers. The two-week festival begins Tuesday, May 27, with the CityBeat Fringe Kick-Off Party; it winds up 12 days later on Saturday, June 7, having presented 32 productions — 17 plays, two musicals, seven solo performers, and six dance presentations. In addition, there will be four FringeNext productions (selected from 11 applicants — a record number), featuring original material produced and performed by local students from the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Newport Central Catholic High School, St. Xavier High School and Highlands High School.
Performance Gallery is kind of the alpha and omega of the Cincinnati Fringe: They’ve been in all 11 festivals, including the 2008 hit show fricative. Producer Eric Vosmeier calls them the inspiration for much of what the Fringe is about: They were doing “fringe-like” work before the festival began, and they’ve returned annually with work that pushes the envelope. This time they’ll offer Heist, about three crooks of questionable ability. Vosmeier also cited Pones Inc., the dance-based company that returns for the seventh time with Traffick, a piece of audience engagement that explores issues of human trafficking. Vosmeier says, “This is the kind of work the Fringe was built to exhibit.”
“We had a great mix of new producers and returning favorites in the applicant pool,” Vosmeier says. “The word continues to spread about our Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which has a national reputation for being the most artist-friendly festival. We’ve worked very hard on this over the years, and I believe that we’ve created something special for our artists and for our region.”
The Cincinnati Fringe differs from festivals elsewhere in that productions are screened and handpicked by a committee of local theater artists. Drawing from a large pool of applicants, comparable to last year’s record-breaking number, this yielded a balanced mix of local vs. out-of-town producers: 15 from Greater Cincinnati and 18 from beyond. The latter number includes three international shows, the most ever for the festival: Around Dark Matter, a Holocaust memory piece by Mica Dvir, is from Tel Aviv, Israel; A Brief History of Beer by Wish Experience from London, a company that has performed at festivals from Edinburgh to Adelaide; and Prefer Not to Say, an interactive piece by blueDragonfly Productions, another U.K. group, the presenter of And All the Rest is Junk Mail a year ago.
For Wednesday evening’s announcement event, members of the Fringe staff mentioned the shows they were most looking forward to. They named:
· An Unauthorized Autobiography of Benny Hill by Four Humors Theater (Minneapolis), the creative minds behind such past Festival favorites as Lolita: A Three Man Show, Bombus and Berylline and Harold. This will be their sixth consecutive Cincinnati Fringe appearance.
· Blogging Behind Bars by Unity Productions, creators of two past Fringe hits, The Wave and Nothing. This time it’s a true story about a young, nonviolent criminal who wrote a blog while incarcerated in a maximum-security prison.
· Papa Squat’s Store of Sorts by solo artist Paul Strickland from Indianapolis, whose Ain’t True and Uncle False was a “Pick of the Fringe” last year. His new show is a music-filled memorial for a guy who “once filled the emptiness in Big-Fib Cul-de-sac with his insightful songs.”
· Something Something New Vagina by Rebecca Kling, a transgender artist and educator from Chicago with a follow-up show to her 2012 production, Beneath Her Skin.
· The Ultimate Stimulus by Felipe Ossa, a Brooklyn-based playwright and a new artist to the Cincy Fringe, is presented in the form of a TED Talk that argues for concubinage as a way to address the problem of income inequality.
The festival is also a chance for Cincinnati’s local theater companies to show off. Clifton Performance Theatre will present Sarge, a piece by Kevin Crowley about the wife of discredited Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Untethered Theatre has prepared Where Edward Went, a new play by Ben Dudley and Adam Sievering about a screenwriter’s effort to make a documentary about Edward, the late fiancé of Elyse, a painter. They don’t quite agree about the portrait. New Edgecliff Theatre will offer TRAGEDY: a tragedy, described as “one of the funniest apocalypses of our time.” And Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s intern company always offers a fine showcase of young talent. This year it’s two one-act plays: Sheila Callaghan’s Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) and Itamar Moses’s Authorial Intent.
In addition to the productions offered nightly, artists, audience members, staff and volunteers flock nightly at Know Theatre’s Underground and headquarters for the Fringe Bar Series, with a reasonably priced bar, some free food inside and offerings for purchase from food wagons on Jackson Street. Each evening after the Channel Fringe Hard Hitting Action News Update, everyone has a chance to be a performer with activities such as the Fringe Olympics, Fringe-A-Oke, Fringe Prom, Segway Night and the Night Without Technology. This year the Bar Series night adds Fringetoberfest, an evening of German-inspired food and brews from local craft beer creators.
Vosmeier expects the festival to attract more than 8,000 visitors this year. If you’re someone who tries to see as much as possible, your best bet is a “Full Frontal” Fringe pass ($200) providing access to every event in the festival. Know also offers “Voyeur” passes ($60) good for six shows of your choice. If you can only make it once, a “One Night Stand” pass ($25) is available — admission to any two performances in an evening plus one drink at Know’s Underground bar. Single tickets to Fringe shows continue to be priced at $12; they’ll go on sale in mid-May.
There will be lots more — and the lineup can change. Hey, it’s the Fringe, so be ready for anything. You’ll find details on all these shows and more at cincyfringe.com.
The Contemporary Arts Center marks its 75th anniversary with the launch of its newly redesigned website, contemporaryartscenter.org.
By adding a timeline and a list of exhibits dating back to 1939, the updated site highlights some of the museum’s most notable attractions through videos and interactive learning. The historical timeline depicts an honest look at what Cincinnati was like in 1939 and displays the iconic artists that put the CAC on the map. In 1940, Picasso’s Guernica toured the Midwest for its first and only time and made a pit stop in Cincinnati. In 1963, the Pop art show An American Viewpoint was one of the first exhibitions of its kind. And in 1990, nearly 81,000 people visited the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition.
Along with the illustrated timeline and videos, the CAC site also offers lesson plans, exhibit brochures, audio files and slideshows about past exhibits. New features like online ticket admission and family visitor information have been added. After 75 years and hundreds of amazing artists, the Contemporary Arts Center has proven it’s still the coolest place in Cincinnati to spark your creativity and become inspired.
FORM, a Cleveland-based creative services firm, designed the visual layout of the site.
Dining Out For Life is an annual event to raise funds for licensed AIDS service agencies in 60 cities across the nation. Started in 1991 by ActionAIDS in Philadelphia, today more than 3,000 restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds from one day to the aforementioned service agencies; more than $4 million is raised each year which goes directly to the agencies (except for a $1,150 licensing fee).
Cincinnati's Dining Out For Life event benefits Caracole, a nonprofit that provides housing and supportive services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS in eight counties across Southwest Ohio. Caracole currently serves more than 1,400 clients and their families.
Area restaurants participating include Arnold's Bar & Grill (donating 25 percent); Below Zero Lounge (donating 100 percent); Blue Jay Restaurant (donating 25 percent); Green Dog Cafe (donating 25 percent); Kitchen 452 (donating 25 percent); Tom+Chee (donating 25 percent); and more. Find a full list of participating restaurants and how much they're donating here.
Dining Out For Life is easy. Just follow three steps:
If you would like to participate or would like more information, please contact Megan Green, Caracole Community Investment Coordinator, at 513-619-1483 or at email@example.com.
Senior prom is a special
milestone for many American teens, but even traditions as old as school dances
change over time. Intimate one-on-one dates have given way to group dates and attending as friends. Flip-flops and cutout cocktail dresses replaced the overdone evening
look for many girls. And now a southern-fried specialty is getting in the prom
game. Kentucky Fried Chicken — What? Yes. — partnered with Louisville florists to create the chicken corsage. For $20, Louisville residents can purchase a corsage from Nanz and Kraft Florists that includes a $5 gift card to KFC, where folks can then go buy the perfect piece of chicken. It can only be assumed that after prom, girls will press the greasy chicken bone between their yearbook pages, just like their moms did with their corsages when they were young.
It’s confirmed: Stephen Colbert will take over the Late Show desk once David Letterman retires sometime in 2015. That’ll mean no more Colbert Report and, likely, the end of the host’s faux-servative character. Start the countdown to the announcement of a new reality show following Letterman, Leno (and, let’s just be honest — Craig Ferguson and Conan O’Brien) around Ex-Host Island. Move over, old people! Slightly younger people are takin' yer jerbs!
In the contemporary classic Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan’s Cady describes Halloween as, “the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” Well, Coachella must be kind of like Halloween for celebrities, except instead of wearing lingerie and some form of animal ears, they throw on the most jumbled assortment of terrible fashion fads. Not sure about the new cream-colored designer jumpsuit you purchased? Try it out in the middle of the desert! Want to channel Woodstock without ever having been to, read about or seen a photo of Woodstock? Grab a Native American headdress and wear that shit to Coachella. The fest is HQ for floral head wreaths, jorts and combat boots (often all worn at once), and for some reason I cannot pull myself away from the celeb photos of this mess. It’s like someone made a slot machine with various teenagers’ style blogs on Tumblr and everyone going to Coachella must take a spin to determine their outfit.
“Ooh, I got a bindi, a latex bra, a crocheted duster and gladiator sandals!” Just look at these famous attendees, capped off with Koachella Kweenz Kylie and Kendall Jenner.
But seriously, you need to see this video that’s (probably) of Leonardo DiCaprio Coachin’ it up (people say that, right?) at an MGMT performance, which makes me feel weird and old.
And since I brought up Lindsay, the supposedly sober starlet was supposedly washing down all that Coachella dust and glitter with vodka this weekend. The reports come days after the latest episode of her Oprah docu-series, in which she admits to drinking alcohol after her latest stint in rehab. Also, there were a lot of emo scenes of Lindsay filming herself crying. Get it together, girl. OPRAH WILL CUSS AT YOU AGAIN. And everyone knows if Oprah has to cuss at you twice, you will spontaneously burst into flames.
Celebrispawn in the media is quite the hot topic as of late, particularly thanks to Dax Sheppard and Kristen Bell vs. Papz (this will definitely be a court case our children will study in history class). But what about fake famous babies — fair game? OK! Leslie Knope is pregnant! Pawnee's upcoming addition will be the Prince George of fictional TV comedy births. Which is to say, a very big deal. Parks and Rec's Leslie and Ben will be the best parents ever. I think I speak for fans everywhere by saying we can't wait for his or her first playdate with the world’s most attractive child, Ann and Chris’ little Oliver.
Sunday was an epic night for television with the final Mad Men premiere (sort of) and a crazy-ass episode of Game of Thrones. These two are great popular, critically-acclaimed dramas, but they’re on complete opposite ends of the style spectrum. Mad Men’s seventh season debut was gradual and calculated (as always), giving viewers a chance to fill in the blanks between Season Six and now, speculate on what’s to come and read into every little detail. And by detail, I mean Pete’s California Ken Doll look, which was #flawless. Ratings were way down Sunday — the lowest-rated premiere since the second season's in 2008. Some attribute the drop to a lackluster episode, but the truth is probably that everyone was too busy losing their shit over this week’s Game of Thrones to get into the cool Mad Men mood.
Without giving too much away (and because I spoiled “the incident” for myself since I can’t stay off the damn Internet — so I know it sucks), Thrones fans who hadn’t already read the books were treated to a truly righteous, bubbly, bloody scene this week that totally flips the script for many of our favorite characters. Can’t these people get through one wedding without having to immediately plan a funeral?
New movie trailers to hit
the Interwebz: bestseller-turned-likely blockbuster Gone Girl;
two red band previews for 22 Jump Street (The
starring Cameron Diaz and a manorexic Jason Segel, a comedy that’s exactly what
you think it’s about; and Jon Favreau’s take on the foodie world, Chef.
The first good sign that consistent warmth is on its way is the announcement of the lineup for this year’s MidPoint Indie Summer series at downtown’s Fountain Square. The concerts are part of the Square’s free PNC Summer Music Series, which showcases different types of music (played mostly by local acts) five days a week. (The lineups for the every-Thursday Salsa on the Square shows have also been announced; visit myfountainsquare.com for details.)
The eclectic, free Indie Summer shows take place every Friday throughout the summer. This year’s lineup is perhaps the series’ strongest yet, with some higher profile national touring acts and the usual array of top-notch local talent.
Here’s the full rundown of Indie Summer shows so far (a few slots are still to be announced):
• August 15: The Nightbeast (a co-headliner will be announced in July)
The Indie Summer series is sponsored by the MidPoint Music Festival, CityBeat’s popular annual music extravaganza, which returns to the clubs and venues of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine Sept. 25-27. (Though all MPMF-worthy, the acts are booked through Fountain Square, not by MidPoint.) There will be a MidPoint booth on Fountain Square every Friday where music fans can find the latest MPMF info and purchase tickets to the three-day festival.
A limited amount of discounted early-bird passes for this year’s MPMF are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Nail down your three-day tickets (or VIP Experience tickets) before the prices increase. And be sure to stay tuned to mpmf.com and the fest's various social media accounts for the latest updates.