CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[ Stage Door: Still a Lot of Christmas Stories at Cincinnati Theaters]]>

Even though Christmas was yesterday, there are still holiday shows in the pipeline for you to enjoy. 

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has an annual hit with Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!), and this ninth go-round has been no exception. In fact, all 12 of the show's originally scheduled performances were sold out. A 13th performance was added on Sunday, Dec. 21, and it too sold out. So one more has been tacked on, this Sunday, Dec. 28, at 7:30 p.m. If you want to see this hilarious mash-up of Christmas stories — Ebenezer Scrooge, Frosty, Rudolph (he's Gustav the Green-Nosed RainGoat in this rendition), the Grinch, the Peanuts gang, Clarence Oddbody and others from It's a Wonderful Life — check for tickets right away. You'll be laughing all the way into 2015 it you can get in. Tickets ($28): 513-381-2273 (or, a better chance, online at cincyshakes.com).

The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's 24th annual production of A Christmas Carol continues through Sunday, and the charming, tuneful recreation of girl singer Rosemary Clooney in Tenderly has proved so popular that it's on the Shelterhouse stage until Jan. 11. Tickets: 513-421-3888

If the kids are already tired of the toys they ripped open on Christmas morning, how about taking them to see Sleeping Beauty at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati? It's onstage at the Over-the-Rhine theater through Jan. 4. Yes, it's a familiar fairytale, but it's told with some new twists in the humorous script by playwright Joe McDonough accompanied by a toe-tapping score by composer David KIsor. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

For musical theater fans, take note that a cinematic rendition of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods just opened at a movie theater near you. It has a mind-boggling cast — Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Christine Baranski, Tracy Ullman and more — so it's just about as good as going to see a live show, but with incredible special effects. Here's a the film's trailer:


Now that Christmas is in your rearview mirror, maybe it's time to make plans for New Year's Eve. Know Theatre of Cincinnati has the event you're looking for: Get ready to party like it's 1923, the seventh annual celebration (sponsored by CityBeat, so you know it will be fun) has a Speakeasy theme at Know's Underground Bar. You'll find backroom games, tasty appetizers and libations including Martinis, Sidecars and Manhattans. There's a hot dance floor and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. You can order tickets online in advance for $35, or wait until the last minute and — if there's room left — and pay $50 at the door on New Year's Eve, starting at 8 p.m.

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

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<![CDATA[Party Like It's 2015]]> BARS 
An Elegant Affair New Year’s Eve at Igby’s 
Dress in cocktail attire and dance to music by DJ Ice Cold Tony. Advance-order bottle specials available: two bottles of Tito’s Vodka and two bottles of Perrier Jouet Brut champagne for $515. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $20. Igby’s, 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-246-4396, igbysbar.com

New Year’s Eve Ball at the Pavilion 
Two DJs on two levels plus an hors d’oeuvres buffet, party favors and champagne toast. 8 p.m. $30; discounts for 10 or more. Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, RSVP to 513-744-9200 or mountadamspavilion.com

New Year’s Eve at The Blind Pig 
Free buffet from 8-10 p.m., with a champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. $25; $20 advance; $75 table; $20 champagne bottle. The Blind Pig, 24 W. Third St., Downtown, 513-381-3114.

New Year’s Eve at The Lackman
Drink specials include $5 Bulleit cocktails. 8 p.m. Free. The Lackman, 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, lackmanbar.com.

New Year’s Eve at Lachey’s Bar 
Only limited VIP packages available; includes eight tickets, full access to open bar, two bottles of champagne, personal cocktail waitresses and special VIP seating. Enjoy a special guest DJ, photo booth and party favors. Dress is formal. 10 p.m. -2 a.m. $1,200. Lachey’s Bar, 101 W. Seventh St., Downtown, facebook.com/events/355435507970572.

New Year’s Eve at Mynt Martini
Radio station KISS FM hosts a party with a balloon drop, music by Davey C. and a champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. $25 advance; table packages $1,000-$2,000. Mynt Martini, 28 Fountain Square, Downtown, RSVP to 513-621-6968.

New Year’s Eve at Obscura 
Includes unlimited signature and classic cocktails, select liquors, domestic beers, select wine, light bites and a champagne toast at midnight. 9:30 p.m. $100; $500 table for four. Obscura, 645 Walnut St., Downtown, obscuracincinnati.com.

New Year’s Eve at The Stand 
VIP tables available. 8 p.m. Free. The Stand, 3195 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, RSVP to jrjoy@thestandcincy.com or 513-871-5006. 

New Year’s Eve at Unwind Wine Bar 
Music by DJ Kim with wine and drinks. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Free. Unwind Wine Bar, 3435 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park, unwindhydepark.com

No Hassle New Year’s Eve 
Drinks specials and a mac-and-cheese bar at midnight. $4 fireballs, Stoli drinks and cherry bombs. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. 9 p.m. Free. Keystone Clifton, 249 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, keystonebar.com. 

Stress Free New Year’s Eve 
Music by DJ Simo in the back courtyard. VIP tables available. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Free. The Righteous Room, 641 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-381-4408, therighteousroom.com

RESTAURANTS 
A Bright New Year Beer Dinner 
Fifty West throws a New Year’s party with four courses paired with beer and featuring foods that symbolize good fortune in the coming year. 6-9 p.m. $55. Fifty West, 7664 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com

New Year’s Eve at Andy’s 
A special menu with a full bar, champagne toast at midnight, belly dancers and a DJ. 6 p.m. Free. Andy’s Mediterranean, 906 Nassau St., Walnut Hills, andyskabob.com

New Year’s Eve at BrewRiver GastroPub
Chef Michael Shields crafts a three-course meal. Drop an additional $20 and get a bottle of Casteller sparkling cava. 5 p.m.-1 a.m. $45. BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com.

New Year’s Eve Dinner at Daveed’s NEXT 
Seatings at 5:30 and 8 p.m. $50 early seating; $75 late seating (includes a sparkling wine reception). Daveed’s NEXT, 8944 Columbia Road, Landen, daveedsnext.com

New Year’s Eve at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 
Enjoy upscale dining and a live performance by the Kelsey Mira Band. Happy hour begins at 4:30 p.m. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Free. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, 700 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-784-1200, jeffruby.com

New Year’s Eve at La Petite France 
A four-course dinner with entrees choices including filet mignon Oscar and roasted rack of lamb. 5 p.m. $49.95. La Petite France, 3177 Glendale-Milford Road, Evendale, lapetitefrance.biz

New Year’s Eve at The Mercer OTR 
A four-course NYE dinner with a champagne toast. 7 p.m. The Mercer OTR, 1324 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/themercerotr

New Year’s Eve at the Metropole 
Head to the 21c Museum Hotel for chef Jared Bennett’s farm-to-fireplace menu. Dinner served until 7 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., dinner jumps to a $95, four-course prix-fixe menu, which includes a champagne toast. 5:30-11 p.m. $95 prix-fixe menu. Metropole, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, metropoleonwalnut.com

New Year’s Eve at Nectar 
A three-course meal with several choices for entrees, dessert and starters. 5:30-10:30 p.m. $65. Nectar, 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, dineatnectar.com

New Year’s Eve at Parkers 
Parkers Blue Ash Tavern throws a NYE dinner party, featuring music by Jeff Henry. 9 p.m-1 a.m. Prices vary. Parkers Blue Ash Tavern, 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, parkersblueash.com

New Year’s Eve at Via Vite 
Two separate seatings with chef Cristian Pietoso’s signature Italian buffet. Late seating includes a prosecco toast and cocktail or glass of wine. 6-8 p.m.; 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $50; $99. Via Vite, 520 Vine St., Fountain Square, Downtown, viaviterestaurant.com

PARTIES/EVENTS 
Axis Alley New Year’s Eve 
A DJ, noisemaker, balloon drop, champagne toast, bowling and shoe rental, appetizers and prize packages. 9 p.m. $50. Axis Alley, Newport on the Levee, 1 Levee Way, Newport, Ky., axisalleylevee.com

Cheers to the New Year at Rhinegeist 
Normal tap offerings, plus cocktails and champagne. 8 p.m. $10. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, eventbrite.com/e/new-years-celebration-at-rhinegeist-tickets-14780652329. 

CityBeat and Know Theatre’s Speakeasy Party 
A 1920s-themed speakeasy in the basement bar of the Know Theatre with casino games, dance lessons, food, martinis and a champagne toast at midnight. Benefits the Know Theatre. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $35 advance; $50 day-of. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, RSVP to 513-300-5669 or knowtheatre.com

First Midnight Party 
Music by DJ Taryn Manning in The Pavilion and complimentary champagne. VIP options include table and bottle service. Benefits Give Back Cincinnati. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. $30-$550. Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, ffecincinnati.com

Fountain Square New Year’s Eve Blast 
Music by DJ Tweet, games and prizes, dance contests and more. Rozzi’s famous fireworks at midnight. Full bar service and drink specials available. Complimentary skating admission. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Free; $4 skate rental. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

Lawrenceburg Event Center New Year’s Eve 
Live music from After Midnight and Gen X. Includes a buffet dinner, beer and wine, champagne toast at midnight and party favors. 8 p.m. $75. Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg Event Center, 91 Walnut St., Lawrenceburg, Ind., hollywoodindiana.com

New Year’s Eve Ball with Taken by Storm at Music Hall 
Celebrate the New Year in concert with Pops conductor John Morris Russell and a special guest appearance by Storm Large. After the concert, festivities continue in Music Hall’s Ballroom with a catered dinner, dancing and live music and a champagne toast at midnight. 7:30 p.m. concert; $22-$90. 9:30 p.m. ball; $175-$275. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org

New Year’s Eve at Bobby Mackey’s Music World 
The 36th annual NYE bash at Bobby’s. Music by Bobby Mackey and the Big Mac Band. 9 p.m. Free. Bobby Mackey’s Music World, 44 Licking Pike, Wilder, Ky., bobbymackey.com

New Year’s Eve Dance at Receptions Bridgetown 
A catered dinner with beer, wine and a champagne toast. Live music by Saffire Express. 8 p.m. $50. Receptions Banquet and Conference Center Bridgetown, 3302 Westbourne Drive, Bridgetown, 513-922-6777

New Year’s Eve BB Riverboats Dinner Cruise 
An Ohio River cruise with BB Riverboats includes a buffet, entertainment, champagne split at midnight and a late-night snack buffet and party favors. Moonshine provided by Old Smokey Moonshine. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $102 adults; $62 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., RSVP to 859-261-8500 or bbriverboats.com

New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance at Lakeridge Hall 
A hot buffet with drinks, a wine fountain, hats, noisemakers, music by DJ Larry Robers and an option to BYOB. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $40. Lakeridge Hall, 7210 Pippin Road, Colerain, 513-521-1112. 
 
New Year’s Eve at Embassy Suites Blue Ash 
An all-inclusive package includes a deluxe two-room suite plus an open bar, dancing, DJ, chef’s premiere buffet dinner, cooked-to-order breakfast and late check out. $349 per couple. Embassy Suites Blue Ash, 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, RSVP to 513-981-3752. 

New Year’s Eve at Funny Bone on the Levee 
A special engagement with comedian Dave Landau. 8 and 10:30 p.m. $20 early show; $25 late show. Levee Funny Bone, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnybone.com/venues/levee. 

New Year’s Eve at Go Bananas 
Two sets by comedian Robert Hawkins. The later show features a cheese and veggie plate and champagne toast. 7:30 and 10 p.m. $20 early show; $40 late show. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

New Year’s Eve at Perfect North Slopes 
Skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing open until 1 a.m., with party favors and a DJ in the lodge. Fireworks at midnight plus a torchlight parade down the slopes by ski instructors and ski patrol. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $35-$47 lift tickets. Perfect North Slopes, 19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, Ind., perfectnorth.com
 
New Year’s Eve at Receptions Fairfield 
Second Wind Band performs live. Reservations include open bar, appetizers and the executive chef’s buffet with sinful desserts. Enjoy a champagne toast at midnight and a late-night chili bar. $149 per couple, tax and tip included. Receptions Conference Centers, 5975 Boymel Drive, Fairfield, RSVP to 513-860-4100. 

New Year’s Eve at Springdale 18 
A screening of Unbroken in the Director’s Hall plus a champagne toast, dessert reception and a live feed of the ball drop on the big screen. Screening at 9:40 p.m. $20.50. Springdale 18: Cinema de Lux, 12064 Springfield Pike, Springfield, showcasecinemas.com

New Year’s Eve at the Syndicate 
Three parties in one. Features an open bar, dinner, champagne toast, party favors, late-night appetizers and entertainment by The Rusty Griswolds, DJ Mark McFadden and the world famous Gangsters Dueling Piano players. 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. $75-$150. Newport Syndicate, 18 E. Fifth St., Newport, Ky., newportsyndicate.com
 
Party with the Ponies 
Turfway Park presents live horse racing, music by the Danny Frazier Band, party favors, a champagne toast, balloon drop, DJ and light appetizers. 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. $85. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence, Ky., turfway.com. 

Silvestertanz 
A German New Year’s Eve celebration, with an hors d’oeuvres buffet (9-11 p.m.) and live music from Alpen Echos. 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m. $25. Donaschwaben Haus, 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain, cincydonau.com

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical 
The Cincinnati Playhouse’s extended run of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical has two performances on New Year’s Eve. 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30. 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com. 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY
Great Parks Family New Year’s Eve Celebration 
A ton of family-friendly fun to fit in before the ball drops at 7 p.m. See live animals, balloon sculptors, magicians and play games, make crafts and more. 4-7 p.m. $5; free for two and younger. Woodland Mound, 8250 Old Kellogg Road, Beechmont, greatparks.org or 513-521-7275. 

Happy Zoo Year 
Ring in the New Year early with the Festival of Lights, a New Year’s Eve Madcap Puppet Theatre show, party favors, costumed characters and appearances by Baby Zoo Year and Father Time. An early New Year countdown begins at 8:55 p.m. with Rozzi’s Famouse Fireworks. 5-9 p.m. Included with zoo admission ($15 adults; $11 seniors and children). Cincinnati Zoo, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org

International New Year’s Celebration 
Celebrate New Year’s traditions from around the world each hour in the Cincinnati Museum Center’s rotunda. Learn about the different countries and their culture with music, games and crafts. Stop by “customs” for special participation stamps and write a letter to troops stationed abroad. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org

Kid’s Night New Year’s Eve at YMCA 
Camp Kern Get the kids out of the house on New Year’s Eve and drop them off at camp for s’mores, bonfires, rock climbing and more. Meals and snacks provided. Check-in begins 3 p.m. Dec. 31. Check-out 11 a.m. Jan. 1. $100 per child. Camp Kern, 5291 State Route 350, Oregonia, register at campkern.org or 513-932-3756. 

New Year’s Eve Kids’ Countdown at Newport Aquarium 
Head to Shark Ray Bay Theater for a kid-friendly NYE celebration with music, dancing and giveaways, plus a special appearance countdown by Scuba Santa at 5 p.m. Kids also get noisemakers and party hats to ring in the New Year. 3-5:30 p.m. Free with admission ($23 adults; $15 children; free two and younger). 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com

New Year’s Kids Cruise 
Countdown 2015 at noon. The cruise features party favors, a DJ, lunch buffet and characters from BB Riverboats’ pirate, princess and super hero cruises. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $32 adults; $20 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com

LIVE MUSIC 
500 Miles to Memphis 
Say goodbye to 2014 with 500 Miles to Memphis. 9 p.m. $12 day-of; $10 advance. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-2201, southgatehouse.com

RL Big Band and Nancy James 
Dinner, dancing, a champagne toast and live music from RL Big Band. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $65. Legends, 3801 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, legendscincinnati.com

New Year’s Eve with The Almighty Get Down 
Appetizers, a champagne toast and live music from The Almighty Get Down, Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle and Jamwave. 7:15 p.m. $25; $20 advance. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, the20thcenturytheater.com.  

New Year’s Eve Show Featuring Ott. 
With Bluetech, Aytiko and Yheti. 9 p.m. $30; $25 advance. Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., madisontheateronline.com

Rumpke Mountain Boys’ Grateful New Year’s Eve Ball 
Bluegrass band the Rumpke Mountain Boys host a New Year’s bash with David Gans, Born Cross-Eyed and Restless Leg String Band. 7 p.m. $25. The Thompson House, 24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-7469, thompsonhousenewport.com. 

Woodward New Year’s Eve with Wussy and Bobby Bare Jr. 
8 p.m. $10; $15 day of. The Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/thewoodwardtheater

Tweens at The Comet 
Trash Punk trio Tweens and The Harlequins. 9 p.m. Free. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900, cometbar.com.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hello all! I’m here to give you one more news roundup before the holidays start in earnest. It’s pretty much the only reason I’m working today. Well, that and our holiday party. But that’s later. News is now.

It’s always rough when the authority figures in your life fight during the holidays. So it’s good news that the city and the county won’t be in court just yet over ongoing disagreements about how to tackle the region’s looming $3 billion sewer upgrade. Hamilton County owns the sewer system, but the City of Cincinnati runs it. And in the midst of a massive court-ordered upgrade after lawsuits from the EPA, environmental groups and homeowners, the two haven’t exactly seen eye to eye on how to get out of the mess. But in a meeting yesterday, the two governments agreed, at least in principle, to stop all the fussin’ and the feudin’ and work together to get things figured out. Early next year, the city and county will go through an independent mediation process to work through some of the issues around the revamp that have in the past landed them in court. That’s the holiday spirit!

• Meanwhile, just across the river, there’s another fight over billions of dollars still raging. Delays to a Brent Spence Bridge repair or replacement will cost taxpayers $7 million a month, Kentucky Governor Bill Beshear said yesterday at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce meeting in Covington. Beshear arrived at that number by considering the total cost of the project and government projections for inflation of construction costs. The obsolete though structurally sound bridge will cost $2.6 billion to replace and Beshear wants to talk about public-private partnerships as a way to get to that dollar amount. But those partnerships would probably mean tolls on the bridge — something many in Northern Kentucky are dead-set against. Opponents say tolls will adversely impact commuters who must cross the bridge every day. Anti-toll group Northern Kentucky United would like to see tolls off the table before any plan for the bridge goes forward. Beshear, on the other hand, wants to keep the option to use tolls open. He will meet with Ohio Gov. John Kasich in January to hammer out a plan for funding the bridge.

An appeals court has denied former Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s request for a suspension of her six-month sentence, meaning she will more than likely have to report to jail Dec. 29. Hunter was convicted on one of eight felony counts this fall for having unlawful interest in a public contract. Prosecutors charge she improperly interceded on behalf of her brother, a juvenile jail employee charged with hitting an underage inmate. Judge Norbert Nadel sentenced her to the six months in Hamilton County jail last month. Hunter has appealed her conviction, and hoped to delay punishment until after that appeal was heard. Hunter's attorney also objected to a strongly-worded, one might even say snarky, letter from the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office calling for jail time for Hunter. The letter noted that Hunter had once promised to do anything for the children that came through her court, including go to jail. The letter suggested it was time for her to keep her promise.

• Four protesters arrested Saturday at a demonstration in the Beavercreek Walmart where police shot unarmed 22-year-old John Crawford III have been charged with trespassing and obstructing official business. The four, who are from Fairborn, Springfield and Wilberforce, pleaded not guilty and have been released on bond. The demonstration was a “die-in” where protesters laid on the ground in the Walmart. Management at the store decided to close in response to the protests over what they called safety concerns. Police officer Sean Williams shot Crawford Aug. 5 as Crawford walked around the store with a pellet gun sold at the Walmart.

• The U.S. economy saw the fastest growth its had in 11 years after a 5 percent boost in the third quarter of this year, according to the federal government. The U.S. Department of Commerce released the figures yesterday, which surprised many with their robustness and may indicate a deeper, more dynamic economic recovery is occurring. The growth came from an increase in consumer spending. The economy hasn’t grown so fast since this time in 2003, according to the report.

• Finally, a little year-end close-out question I'll be asking again next week: what were the biggest and most important stories this year? What did we miss? What did we get right? What do you think needs more coverage? We'll be hitting the ground running in 2015. Give us some juicy news tips.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, or tweet at your boy at @nswartsell. Or you can e-mail me: nswartsell@citybeat.com

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<![CDATA[Lachey's Bar to Open Jan. 1 ]]>
The Lachey brothers are officially in the bar business. Cincinnati natives and boy band superstars Nick and Drew Lachey held a preview night for their bar, Lachey’s Bar, Dec. 19. It opens to the public on Jan. 1. 2015. Mayor John Cranley, 3CDC and 4EG/Lachey’s Bar partner Bob Deck were on hand to help the brothers cut the red ribbon. 

“We’re literally cutting the red tape,” Drew Lachey joked to the crowd. Cranley gave the brothers keys to the city and declared December 19 98 Degrees Day, er, Lachey Day in Cincinnati. As the event unfurled, A&E was also there rolling cameras for the upcoming reality show surrounding the opening of the bar, which will start airing in March 2015. 

“Nick has been talking about this, I swear, it has to be at least a decade,” Justin Jeffre, a childhood pal of the Lacheys, fellow 98 Degrees member and editor for newspaper Streetvibes, says. “They’ve been more serious about it for the past couple of years. After hearing so many conversations, it’s nice to see it finally come to fruition.”  

The sports bar, located on the corner of Walnut and 12th Street in OTR, is huge and bright, so there’s no way you’ll miss it. Because of its large windows, you can easily stand on the street and gaze inside at Drew and Nick, and read the LED sports ticker crawling underneath the 10 or so TVs hovering above the long bar. 

“We felt like we wanted it be a sports lounge,” Nick says. “Sports bar, you kind of think of peanut shells on the floor, more Buffalo Wild Wings vibe, which I love, but we wanted to create something that was a little bit more upscale from that but still approachable to everybody.”

The plethora of TVs, the sports ticker and glowing rectangular colored lights wired into panels underneath the bar countertop creates almost a sensory overload. There’s already a sports bar (Rhinehaus) and a craft beer emporium/taco joint (Half Cut, Gomez Salsa) across the street, but keep in mind Lachey’s is more commodious, with 100 seats and a 150-person occupancy. Chefs Jonathan Price and Brian Duffy (of Bar Rescue fame) are building a menu of high-quality, non-frozen pub grub, including tater tots, pork sandwiches, bison burgers and salads, so you can stuff your face while you watch golf. 

The big draw here is not only the bros, but also the booze. Three tap stations serve an array of craft beer and Miller Lite (Nick’s fave), but there’s also Nobilo wine on draft (it’s fancy and it’s good), cocktails on tap, a beer cocktail called Una Noche and non-alcoholic sodas for the teetotalers. Sports and non-sports fans will be able to imbibe their Miller Lite and Mad Tree Thundersnows sitting on barstools at the bar, sitting at one of the high top tables or lounging in the back of the bar on a comfy couch. Or, the ladies can take their business into the bathroom and lounge on couches in there. Note: The ladies room is nicer than most sports bars’ bathrooms. 

But what’s the appeal of a sports bar to those who aren’t into sports? Nick assures, “It’s really about the people. I think I go to places because I want to be around good people and great atmosphere, and this is going to have that, for sure.” 

Like many bars in OTR, Lachey’s will have happy hour, which will be yet another reason to hang out at the bar in hopes of catching a glimpse of the bros. And if you’re into the Pedal Wagon, the bar has a garage that enables the wagon to pedal right into the bar. 

Currently, the only framed photos hanging on the red-hued walls are of The Bengals and Reds, and when asked if he’ll hang photos of 98 Degrees, Nick says, “We’re still decorating.” So here’s hoping some of those ‘90s-era shirtless pictures of the guys will make it onto the wall of shame.

Lachey’s Bar is located at 56 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. For more info, go to lacheys.com.


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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning y’all! Let’s get down to business so we can get through this short holiday week and arrive as quickly and painlessly as possible at the moment when we open our presents.

If you park in Over-the-Rhine, be prepared for change. Or, well, not needing change. The city has installed new “smart” parking meters in the neighborhood, as well as downtown, that accept credit cards. But that convenience comes at a price in OTR — rates are going from 50 cents to $1 an hour. The times when you’ll be required to feed the meters in OTR and downtown have also been increased. Starting Jan. 1, the meters will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Meter prices downtown will stay at $2 an hour for now, though City Council has given the OK for City Manager Harry Black to raise them as high as $2.15 an hour. The funds from the increase will go toward operating costs for the streetcar.

• Demonstrations continue over police killings of unarmed black men, including John Crawford III, shot this summer in a Beavercreek Walmart. Activists in Beavercreek Saturday briefly caused store management to shut down that Walmart after they staged a “die-in” at the store to protest the fact that the officer who shot Crawford was not indicted. Four of the protesters were arrested.

• Meanwhile, some activists here in Cincinnati have begun expanding their focus, taking the issue from the streets to the classroom. On Saturday, more than 120 people packed into OTR’s Peaslee Neighborhood Center for an hour-and-a-half-long teach-in and discussion on issues around race and police use of force. A number of speakers gave presentations on systemic racism, ways to make change and other topics. The teach-in was put together by an informal group of Cincinnati activists who say they will stage more events like it in the future.

The issue of police use of force has only gotten more contentious in recent days. On Saturday, a gunman shot and killed two New York City police officers while they were sitting in their squad car. The man earlier shot his girlfriend in Baltimore and fled the city. He had also recently posted threatening messages on social media about killing police officers.

Police officials have tied the killings to the large, ongoing demonstrations in New York City and to New York Mayor Bill deBlasio, who has been critical of police since taking office last year. They say the violent act was inspired by ongoing protests. Activists, however, say their movement has nothing to do with the shooter, who may have been suffering from a mental illness.

• Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman will be on a taskforce convened by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to study police-community relations and training procedures. Smitherman is one of 16 officials to join the task force, which will focus on making sure officers are trained to know when a situation requires deadly force and how to police racially diverse communities.

• Ohio’s minimum wage will be inching up in the new year. The state’s minimum wage level is tied to a consumer price index and will go from $7.95 to $8.10 on Jan. 1. The state has used the index to automatically determine its minimum wage since 2006 as an effort to keep the wage level in line with inflation and other consumer cost increases. Ohio’s rate is already above the national average of $7.25, though it is not high enough to raise most working a minimum wage job full time above the poverty line.

• Common Core has lived to fight another day in Ohio. A bill to repeal the federal education standards didn’t even make it to a vote in the Ohio House, which just ended its session. But you know there’s a sequel coming for this epic struggle. Republican State Rep. Andy Thompson from Marietta has vowed to reintroduce legislation killing Common Core next session, and he’s says he’s got backup coming. Several new House members campaigned on keeping Ohio out of the federal standards. Supporters of the new education goals say they help students learn critical thinking skills. Conservative opponents say the standards strip control from the state and local school districts and amount to a federal takeover of education. Other, more left-leaning critics of the standards decry Common Core’s reliance on standardized testing. Grab some popcorn. This drama is going to go on longer than those Lord of the Rings movies.

• Finally, do you want to travel around the country at 800 miles an hour? Don’t have enough cash to buy your own fighter jet? Tesla founder Elon Musk may have the answer for you. It’s called Hyperloop: a high-speed land-based transit system that would, in theory, zip people across a nationwide network of routes. Cincinnati and Columbus are both on a map that is included in a 76-page description of the project, though Cleveland got dissed. The first leg of this sci-fi transportation network would be built in California between San Francisco and L.A. for the low, low bargain price of $7 billion. Scientists hired by Musk to draw up the plans say raising the money will be the only big problem — they claim the science already exists to make 800 mph speeds a reality. Musk, who by the way is the same guy who started a company to shoot people into space for profit, has predicted the first hyperloop could be up and running in a decade. Meanwhile, I can’t help thinking about this.

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<![CDATA[Call Board: Theater News]]> More Directing Talent at the Playhouse. Last Wednesday the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park announced that Obie Award-winning director Eric Ting will join the theater as an Associate Artist for the 2015-2016 season. Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison said, "I've known Eric for nearly 15 years, when he began his career as a student at the University of Tennessee. Since then he has created an impressive body of work as one of the country's most gifted young directors. He's in touch with a new generation of American playwrights, and he brings a fresh perspective to the classics. He's distinguished himself off-Broadway with an Obie Award. And his time at Long Wharf Theatre [in Connecticut as associate artistic director] has given him experience in an institutional theatre." Ting's 2012 Obie recognized his direction of Jackie Sibblies Drury's We Are Proud to Present a Presentation on the Herero of Namibia, Formerly South-West Africa from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915. The New Yorker called his production at Soho Rep "a thrilling opportunity to see both a serious new talent developing her voice and what an inspiring director can do to encourage it." Ting said he's honored to be named an associate artist at the Playhouse: "I've long admired Blake's work as an artistic leader and have been following the storied work of the Playhouse ever since my sister's family settled in nearby Montgomery. The associate artists program combines two of the things I hold most dear in life: art-making and community building." Ting joins three other associate artists: Timothy Douglas, Michael Evan Haney and KJ Sanchez. According to Robison, these directors "form the backbone of our directing corps and bring diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints to the Playhouse."

Bowled Over. I made my first excursion to Cheviot late last week to see The Drama Workshop's production of a revue of music by Stephen Sondheim, Putting It Together. The community theater's cast of five did a commendable job with Sondheim's challenging tunes, and I was glad to get to see what TDW has done with its new home, The Glenmore Playhouse, a former bowling alley that's become a spacious performance venue thanks to the hard work of the group's many volunteers. TDW recently announced its five-show 2015-2016 season: the musical comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Sept. 11-27); Ira Levin's murder mystery, Death Trap (Oct. 22-Nov. 8); Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Dec. 4-13); Paul Slade Smith's Unnecessary Farce (Feb. 26-March 13, 2016); and the world's longest-running musical, The Fantasticks (April 22-May 8, 2016). More information: www.thedramaworkshop.org.

Christmas Caroling. For the first time in 24 years, the Cincinnati Playhouse decided to have an understudy for Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and it's a good thing they did: Bruce Cromer had to miss several performances after he sprained his ankle "making merry" during a rambunctious scene in the show. Another local professional, Nick Rose — a founder and a stalwart performer with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for two decades — stepped up from a smaller role and handled a number of performances commendably. Cromer has played Scrooge for a decade (following eight years as Bob Cratchit), so it's nice to know that another fine actor might be ready to become the old curmudgeon when it's time. … Speaking of Dickens' classic story, tune in to WVXU (FM 91.7) on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. for a recording of versatile master comedian Jonathan Winters (an Ohio native who died at age 87 in 2013) presenting his own distinctive reading of the holiday story of redemption. The pioneer of improvisational stand-up comedy, an Ohio native, was a mentor for the late Robin Williams.

Last-Minute Theater Gift? Need just one more gift to finish your Christmas shopping? The creative folks at Cincinnati Landmark Productions have put together three clever packages for dinner and a show at one of their theaters. For $75 there's the "Covedale and Coneys Bundle," offering a pair of tickets to a performance at the Covedale and a $25 gift card for Price Hill Chili. If you're willing to wait until summer is here, you can purchase an "Incline District Complete Night Out" for $100; it includes two tickets to a show at the brand new Warsaw Federal Incline Theater (due to open in June), plus a $50 gift card to either the Incline Public House or Primavista. And if you care to splurge, for $200 you can get "The Incline District Summer of Fun" tickets for all three shows during the summer of 2015 at the Incline Theater plus a $75 gift card for either the Incline Public House or Primavista. For more information or to purchase one of these packages: 513-241-6550.

Happy holidays to one and all!


CityBeat's Rick Pender posts theater notices on CALL BOARD every Monday morning.
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<![CDATA[Chef Ryan Santos and Please Looking for a Permanent Home]]> After four successful years as a pop-up dining experience in the downtown area and beyond, Please is looking for a permanent home. And chef and founder Ryan Santos has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the next step: a brick-and-mortar restaurant.   

Santos has been honing his culinary skills for nearly 10 years, having worked at his craft throughout the U.S. and in Europe with renowned chefs like Kevin Sousa and John Shields. Finding a spot to call home is only a natural progression for Please, known for using quality, locally grown produce and products to create new takes on classics and dream up inventive dishes like wild ohio venison with juniper branch or toasted milk ice cream. CityBeat sat down with Santos to discuss the Kickstarter campaign and what the future holds for Please. 

CityBeat: Why do you want to transition from a pop-up to a permanent location? 
Ryan Santos: Doing the pop-up has been great. It’s given me the freedom to find my voice and vision as a cook and a chef, to make mistakes, and learn greatly from them. But there comes a point when as a pop-up you can only take things to a certain level. We feel like we’ve plateaued at that point and are ready to keep pushing, improving and refining … We want something we can make and call our own, from the furniture to the food to the atmosphere. 

CB: You've been a pop-up restaurant for around four years now. Why is now the appropriate time for the transition? 
RS: I think the food scene here in town is really hitting its stride and I’ve grown to a point as a chef where I think what we do can contribute something meaningful to it. As well as our excitement to just be a part of it. 

CBWhat are your plans for a new restaurant? 
RS: We plan on continuing to do what we do. We want to open a restaurant where we continue to strive to be an honest, delicious, value-driven restaurant that continues to focus on creativity, quality and sourcing locally from the Ohio River Valley, Tristate and beyond. 

CB: What's going to be different about Please if it finds a permanent home? 
RS: The food will continue to grow, evolve and definitely we’ll be able to refine things. Right now with the pop-up it’s a lot of raw ideas, but in the format, it’s difficult to have the budget and time to refine dishes, so we are definitely looking forward to that. We’ll also have a bar with a fun beverage program. It’ll include our unique take on cocktails, a focus on local and European beers, and a wine program that focuses on natural, biodynamic and small producers. 

CB: If the Kickstar [campaign] succeeds, what's your timeline for finding a spot and opening? 
RS: The Kickstarter is also being supplemented by some private fundraising we’re still doing as well, so when all those things come together, we can get moving. We’re hoping to have a space and fundraising locked up and ready to start building out by this spring. 

You can help support their Kickstarter campaign here, or check out their website at pleasecincinnati.com. (A CityBeat 2013 cover story on Santos and Please is available here.)
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<![CDATA[Voting for the 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Starts Now]]>

The nominations for the 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, honoring Greater Cincinnati’s fantastic music scene, were announced Wednesday and now it’s your turn to weigh in. 


Click here to go to the CEA ballot and vote now.


The 18th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony/party, where the winners for each category will be announced and several acts will perform, returns to Covington’s Madison Theater on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. So far, Young Heirlooms, Injecting Strangers, Mad Anthony, The Cliftones and Buggs tha Rocka are confirmed to play the CEAs this year. Stay tuned for further info; tickets are available here.


An educated voter is the best kind of voter, so why not actually check out some or all of the artists for whom you are voting? Below you will find links to the artists’ pages on the excellent local music site cincymusic.com (thanks, CIncyMusic!) featuring links, music, bios and more. (The final three “Critical Achievement” categories are not voted on by the public but rather the CEA nominating committee, but you should still totally check all of those acts out, too.) 


Happy voting!


Bluegrass:

Comet Bluegrass Allstars

Rumpke Mountain Boys

My Brother’s Keeper

Rattlesnakin’ Daddies

The Missy Werner Band

Mamadrones 


Country: 

Dallas Moore

Bulletville

Jeremy Pinnell

Noah Smith

90 Proof Twang

Pure Grain


Folk/Americana: 

Young Heirlooms

Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound

Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle

Elk Creek

The Tillers

Shiny and the Spoon


World Music/Reggae: 

The Cliftones

Junya Be

Lagniappe

Baoku Moses & the Image Afro-beat Band

Elementree Livity Project

Keshvar Project


Rock: 

Honeyspiders

Mad Anthony

Wussy

Buffalo Killers

Pop Goes the Evil

Frontier Folk Nebraska 


Metal/Hard Rock: 

Electric Citizen

Winterhymn

Chakras

Valley of the Sun

Zebras in Public

Close to Home


Singer/Songwriter: 

Arlo McKinley

Noah Smith

Jody Stapleton

Jeremy Pinnell

Rob Fetters

Molly Sullivan 


Indie/Alternative: 

DAAP Girls

The Yugos

PUBLIC

The Hiders

State Song

Injecting Strangers


Punk: 

Tweens

Subsets

Kill City

The Dopamines

Black Planet

Vacation


Blues: 

Ricky Nye

The Whiskey Shambles

Kelly Richey

Noah Wotherspoon

Sonny Moorman Group

John Ford


R&B/Funk/Soul: 

The Almighty Get Down

The Perfect Children

Under New Order

Ingrid Woode

Freekbass & The Bump Assembly

The Cincy Brass


Jazz: 

The Faux Frenchmen

Phil DeGreg and Brasilia

The Hot Magnolias

Art & Science

Blue Wisp Big Band

Animal Mother


Hip Hop: 

Eugenius

Eclipse

Buggs tha Rocka

Valley High

Trademark Aaron

Counterfeit Money Machine


Electronic: 

Ethosine

Dream Tiger

Playfully Yours

Black Signal

Dark Colour

umin


Best Live Act: 

The Almighty Get Down

Wussy

Tweens

Mad Anthony

Young Heirlooms

Injecting Strangers


Best Music Video: 

Wussy – “North Sea Girls”

Rob Fetters – “Desire”

Mad Anthony – “Sank for Days”

Injecting Strangers – “Detroit”

Sleep – “I Shot Lincoln”

Tweens - “Forever”

The Tillers – “Willy Dear”

Trademark Aaron – “Gold”


Critical Achievement Awards Album of the Year: 

Tweens – Tweens
Pop Goes the Evil – Love Stained Heart
500 Miles to Memphis – Stand There and Bleed
Wussy – Attica!
Rob Fetters – Saint Ain’t
Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound – Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound
The Almighty Get Down – People, This Is …
Buffalo Killers – Heavy Reverie


New Artist of the Year: 

Dream Tiger

Honeyspiders

PRIM

Elk Creek

Leggy

Noah Smith


Artist of the Year: 

Electric Citizen

Tweens

Mad Anthony

Wussy

The Tillers

Buffalo Killers


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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (12/19-12/21)]]>

Since Christmas is next week (Thursday), there's a ton of holiday stuff to do this weekend — everything from plays and other onstage events to train displays and elves doing things.

Onstage:
  • Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) (through Dec. 28 at Cincy Shakes): For seven seasons this mash-up of holiday tales has played to sold-out Cincinnati Shakespeare audiences. It starts as an annual performance of A Christmas Carol but goes off the tracks almost immediately to poke fun at the season and the stories we all remember — Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, The Island of Lost Toys, The Nutcracker, even It’s a Wonderful Life.
  • A Soldier's Christmas (through Dec. 21 at NKU's Corbett Theatre): Last summer Cincinnati Opera presented Silent Night, a retelling of the 1914 “Christmas Truce,” when World War I forces set aside their battles and marked the holiday. Local playwright Phil Paradis has rendered this story into a play that is being presented for the holidays. Two soldiers — one British, the other German — meet by chance as they seek warmth for their respective trenches.
  • Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings (through Dec. 21 at Covedale): The late-’50s singing group of Francis, Jinx, Smudge and Sparky died when a bus full of Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show crashed into the Plaids’ car as they drove to an audition. In the sequel, they’re on a mission with heavenly guidance from Rosemary Clooney, who tells them harmony is needed to cheer a discordant world.
  • Amahl and the Night Visitors (Dec. 19-22 at Xavier University's Gallagher Center Theater): Amahl and the Night Visitors is Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s annual holiday gift, a multi-media extravaganza of the Christmas classic originally written for television in 1951. Gian Carlo Menotti’s one-act opera of the crippled boy Amahl and his encounter with the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem is a celebration of music, magic and miracles.
  • And, of course, A Christmas Carol (through Dec. at the Playhouse in the Park): Howard Dallin’s excellent adaptation has been used since 1991. The Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol features one of the Cincinnati area’s best local actors, Bruce Cromer, as Scrooge for the 10th consecutive year.
Off-stage but still holiday-ish

 

  • Grab a friend or family member and head to Fountain Square for some ice skating. The ice rink is up through Jan. 4, 2015 — and this weekend is the last weekend to skate with santa. The man in red hits the ice for some skate time on Saturday and Sunday.
  • BB Riverboats is offering a variety of holiday-themed cruises, including a Christian Moerlein Brew Ho Ho Ho dinner cruise with beer tastings on Saturday.  
  • The Cyclones are throwing an ugly sweater party during their game against the Elmira, N.Y. Jackals on Saturday. 
  • For an enlightening holiday experience, head to Union Terminal on Saturday and Sunday for their two-day Winter Solstice Celebration, highlighting end of year traditions like Chinese New Year, Diwali and Kwanzaa.
  • Take that a step further Sunday for the annual Lighting of the Serpent at Serpent Mound. Volunteers will light luminaries along the coils of the ancient effigy mound. 
  • And, another thing to see at Union Terminal: Holiday Junction. The Duke Energy trains are back through Jan. 4, 2015, with 300 mini rain cars, 60 engines and 1,000 feet of sparkly, snow-covered track. 
Music!
Over the Rhine

  • Folk duo Over the Rhine is continuing their annual Christmas tradition of performing a holiday concert at the Taft. Expect to hear songs from their recently released Blood Oranges in the Snow Saturday night.
  • Nashville, Tenn. quartet Steelism packed the house at this year's Midpoint Music Festival. Expect a similar crowd when the band plays MOTR Friday.
  • Guitar ace Adrian Belew plays the 20th Century Theater Sunday.
For more of what's going on this weekend (besides some last-minute gift shopping), check out our staff picks here.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door: Tears or Laughs]]> It's unusual that we get a chance during the holidays to see a world premiere of a new play, but it's happening at Northern Kentucky University's Corbett Theatre, where New Edgecliff Theatre and Actor & Playwrights Collaborative are producing Phil Paradis's new script, Soldier's Christmas, through Sunday. The show commemorates the centennial of the memorable "Christmas Truce" in which British and German troops stopped fighting along the Western Front during World War I and came together to celebrate the holiday. I had the opportunity to see its opening performance last week, and I can assure you that it's worth your time. A strong cast of men play nine solders, especially focused on one Brit, Corporal Tug Wilson (Aaron Epstein) and one German, Sgt. Gerhardt Dietrich (Jeffrey K. Miller). They meet tentatively after a furious episode of hand-to-hand combat, seeking warmth. They recognize their common ground and slowly convince their fellow soldiers of the common humanity that they share, leading to a momentary celebratory event in which they sing carols in their own language and discover how much alike they are. These scenes are counterpointed by five actresses playing women — wives, mothers, sisters, lovers — of the soldiers, telling their stories in monologues and chorus-like passages. Paradis's script covers the emotional spectrum, from humor to pathos, from anguish to joy. Cincinnati theatrical veteran Robert Allen directed the piece, and he keeps it from become maudlin or unbelievable. In fact, the tale is deeply moving — not to mention profoundly sad when the men are all but forced to return to their trenches and the senseless warfare that they've momentarily escaped. Nevertheless, a thread of hope runs through Soldier's Christmas, an emotion that makes this seem fitting for the season. Tickets ($18-$22) are available for performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.

For something completely different, look for the hilarious production of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. This is the ninth consecutive year for Cincy Shakes to present this mash-up of holiday tales told by three inventive comic actors and one very drunk Santa Claus. I've seen the production, featuring Sara Clark, Billy Chace, Justin McComb and Miranda McGee (she's Santa with a can of Foster's and her native Australian accent) for several years running. Even when I know what's coming, I find myself laughing out loud. That's because the cast and director Jeremy Dubin refresh the material every year with topical references and new bits, so it you have to keep up with their quick wit and frequent ad libs. McComb is the goofy but mischievous innocent; Chace is a pompous hipster; and Clark is the Dickens devotee who tries to coax her colleagues to pull together for the greatest "BHC" (Beloved Holiday Classic) of them all, A Christmas Carol. They steadfastly refuse, spewing forth with machine-gun rapidity one sharp parody or silly take on these familiar stories . The second act (the entire performance is about 90 minutes with an intermission) seems to be headed into Scrooge territory, but it keeps veering off into It's a Wonderful Life — in the most delightful and daffy way. After awhile you begin to wonder whether these shows are all somehow connected. And in fact they are: with an exclamation point provided at the end with a rendition of "Every Christmas Carol Ever Sung," an amazing compilation of musical numbers spliced together. Tickets ($28) for this production are virtually sold out, but it's worth a call to see if you can get in, especially for tonight's special 11 p.m. performance. In case you're wondering, Cincy Shakes does have a liquor license so you can join in the good fun with a drink of you own. Box office: 513-381-2273.

Most every local stage in Cincinnati is presenting a holiday show this weekend, so check CityBeat's listings for more choices. It's a great weekend to go out and have fun at the theater.

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

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<![CDATA[From the Copy Desk]]>

Good late morning readers! It's time to take another look at the Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue and the general absurdities of the English language.

I once spent a lot of time in Columbus teaching largely illiterate adults how to read and write English. (Most were recent immigrants from India.) And let me tell you, trying to explain a sentence like: "Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present" to a person with little or no English skills is tough. Or how about "The bandage was wound around the wound" or "She was close to the door so she closed it."

It's a complicated language, riddled with nuances and mysterious rules. The adults I taught, many of whom had never taken a formal English course in their lives, astounded me with their sheer enthusiasm to take it on.

It's hard, ya'll. Even I mess it up on a daily basis, and reading and writing is, like, my job. Reading CityBeat has expanded my arsenal of adult words, though, and it will expand yours, too. Pick up this week's issue! Read it! Learn!

OK, onto the best word in this week's issue: bifurcated, in Kathy Y. Wilson's fatigued editorial regarding the criminal justice system.

bifurcated: having two branches or peaks; forked (adj.)

In this issue: "In those hands, blackness morphs into rage, disappointment, property damage, protests, shame, splintered loyalties and proof, once and for all, that we are indeed living in Two Americas, a bifurcated landscape where, after all these generations together, we steadfastly still refuse to accept and/or respect the complexities of race."

Next best word is nadir, found in our cover story, a really interesting and well written piece on the litany of issues facing the county morgue and crime lab.

nadir: that point of the celestial sphere directly opposite to the zenith and directly below the observer; the lowest point (adj.)

In this issue: "Sales tax receipts in the county have grown $9 million since their recession nadir in 2009."

Next word is idyll. I can't figure out where this word actually appeared in the issue, but I know it's in there somewhere. I'll give you the definition anyway, because two words just isn't enough:

idyll (can always be spelled idyl): a short poem or prose work describing a simple, peaceful scene of rural or pastoral life; a scene or incident suitable for such a work (n.)

And here's a random sentence with it, via the Almighty Google: "But the appearance of a pastoral idyll conceals a poverty trap."

Happy holidays, readers.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey y’all. Here’s a brief rundown of the news this morning before I have to fly out the door to cover a few things.

• City Council yesterday voted to approve a number of property tax-related items we’ve already reported on. But here are the cliff notes. Among the bigger ones was a controversial move to create two tax increment financing districts around properties owned by Evanston-based developer Neyer. The group has said it will be making big improvements to the area and asked the city to create the TIF districts to fund infrastructure improvements in the districts. Some critics have called this a tax abatement, but in reality, Neyer will stay pay taxes — they’ll just end up in a fund earmarked for public works projects around their buildings instead of flowing into the general fund, where they could be used for police, transit, etc. Council also passed an amendment at the request of Councilwoman Yvette Simpson requiring council approval of all expenditures from the fund. Councilman Chris Seelbach voted against the TIF districts.

• City Council also unanimously passed a 15-year tax abatement for a project in Clifton Heights by Gilbane Development Co. that will bring 180 units of student housing to the neighborhood. The abatement, which could be worth up to $12 million, is for the building’s proposed environmentally-friendly Silver LEED certification. Council voted unanimously for the tax break. This project was also controversial, as a number of residents in Clifton Heights say such developments are changing the character of the neighborhood.

• Believe in Cincinnati, the grassroots group responsible for pushing the streetcar forward last winter, is holding a rally today to launch an effort pushing council to make plans for the streetcar’s extension into uptown. City administration so far has no plans for such a study until the first phase of the project is complete and can be evaluated. Believe in Cincinnati would like to see the next phase planned soon so that the project can apply for grants and find other funding.

The rally will be at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Race and Elder streets near Findlay Market.

"Why shouldn't we get those scarce federal dollars for transit instead of another city? If we don't have a plan, we won't be considered," said the group’s leader Ryan Messer to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

• Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, Mayor John Cranley will hold a news conference at Music Hall, where he’s likely to announce that the landmark has won an Ohio historic tax credit worth millions. Representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Development Services Office will also speak at the press conference, along with state Sen. Bill Seitz. The grant is worth up to $25 million. Music Hall has been competing with Cleveland’s Huntington Building and May Co. department store and the former Goodyear Tire Co. headquarters in Akron. 

The historic hall, which is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a number of other cultural institutions, needs $123 million in renovations. Funding efforts so far are still $40 million short. The state tax credit could go a long way toward filling that gap.

UPDATE: Music Hall will get the full $25 million tax credit.

• The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is investigating a grant program for public schools recently put forward by Gov. John Kasich. The Community Connections mentorship program conditions receipt of the grant on public schools’ collaboration with religious institutions, something the ACLU says may be violate separation of church and state under the constitution. The group is investigating the program further.

“The First Amendment of the Constitution provides very strong protection against the government imposing religion upon children in public schools,” said Heather Weaver of the ACLU Program on Religious Freedom and Belief in a news release. “This new program appears to disregard those protections and injects religion into our classrooms.”

• Continually low wages and changes to federal food assistance programs have been a one-two punch for low-income families in Ohio, a new study finds. The combination of stagnant pay and cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enacted last year mean that Ohioans lost access to the equivalent of 195 million meals since November of last year, according to research by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which provides food assistance across the state. The study showed that 50 percent of households receiving food assistance have at least one member who is employed; it also showed that many of those recipients are underemployed and received no boost in wages from the year prior. Tied to the $265 million cut to the SNAP program Congress enacted last year, that’s left many families worse off than they have been before. The cuts have other repercussions as well, according to the group.

“Our network and the people we serve can’t afford to absorb any more spending tradeoffs, reductions, or harmful policy changes,” said OAF Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. “The loss of $265 million in entirely federally-funded SNAP benefits has already had an astronomical economic impact. Every $5 in federal expenditures of SNAP benefits generates $9 in local spending, so this loss of SNAP benefits has not only impacted the food budgets of low-income families — it has also led to an estimated $477 million in lost revenue for grocers and retailers and lost economic growth.”

• If you need a way to boost productivity around the office, well, this is one way to get that done. Or it might just start a ton of fights and paranoid ramblings. Actually, maybe just steer clear of this “enhanced” coffee shipped to Germany recently.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

All right. Since today is a bit of a slow news day and because I’ve spent the past few days working on this week’s cover story and news feature along with several blogs and the trusty morning news, let’s play catch-up today and go through the week’s stories I didn’t get to earlier. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

• What costs more than $3 billion and smells awful? No, it’s not the amount of sauerkraut Cincinnati consumes annually. It’s the city’s sewer system, which is facing a court-ordered upgrade. After a lawsuit by environmental group the Sierra Club and area homeowners tired of sewage in their basements, the city was ordered to revamp its aging sewer system over the next 20 years. That’s going to cost more than the streetcar and the two stadiums. The system is owned by Hamilton County but administered by the city. Upgrades plus normal annual operating costs are expected to cost ratepayers $395 million this year alone. Rates have gone from $250 in 2000 to a projected level of more than $800 in 2015. All that for a bunch of pipes.

• The fastest growing startup in Ohio is right here in Cincinnati. Ahalogy, a firm that helps companies market themselves using Pinterest, has gone from two employees in 2013 to more than 50 today. San Francisco-based Mattermark, which rates startups, gave Ahalogy the top spot in the state for the second year in a row due to its rapid growth. Local startup hubs like The Brandery and Cintrifuse helped the company rise so quickly. Ahalogy founders say the company is a good fit for Cincinnati because of the city’s strong consumer marketing scene.

• On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a controversial t-shirt during warm ups before the team’s home game shellacking by the Bengals. The shirt said simply, “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” on the front and “The Real Battle for Ohio” on the back.

Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer slammed Hawkins later that day, calling the shirt “pathetic.”

Follmer demanded Hawkins apologize.

"He's an athlete. He's someone with no facts of the case whatsoever," Follmer said. "He's disrespecting the police on a job that we had to do and make a split-second decision."

A very similar situation played out with St. Louis Rams players last month who ran out onto the field while imitating protesters’ “hands up, don’t shoot” pose in solidarity for activists. The St. Louis Police Union demanded an apology, while the team stuck behind its players.

Hawkins seems to have gotten the last word in the dispute. The Browns are standing behind him, and he gave this very thought-provoking interview Monday in which he stressed he respects the police, but couldn't stay silent against what he saw as injustice. Hawkins, who was visibly choked up, said he was motivated mostly by the thought of something similar happening to his two year old son.

“The number one reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality,” he said.

• It’s official: former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman David Pepper is the Ohio Democratic Party’s new chairman. The state party’s executive committee elected Pepper last night after his main competitor, former lieutenant governor candidate Sharen Neuhardt, dropped out of the race. Pepper has indicated he’ll be asking another former statewide candidate, Nina Turner, to join the state’s leadership. Turner ran for secretary of state. The two will have a big job ahead — rebuilding after resounding losses statewide for the party.

• Here’s another catch-up story for you: the Ohio General Assembly has passed some important changes to the state’s gun laws. A new bill passed by both the state house and senate last week would recognize other states’ concealed carry permits without additional permitting, allow silencers on some hunting rifles, give a six-month grace period for military service members’ license renewals and disallow those with non-immigrant visas and dishonorable discharges from the military from getting handgun licenses. The bill does not include an earlier provision that would have set up a “stand your ground” type law in Ohio. The changes are currently awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature.

• 113th Congress, we hardly knew ye. Wait, yes we did, and we hated you. One of the least productive and lowest rated congressional sessions in the country’s history came to end yesterday when Barack Obama signed the body’s controversial $1 trillion “CRominubs” spending plan. At least they got something done. Over the last two years, Congress has passed just 200 laws, the least amount of legislating done in recent memory. For comparison, the last time that number was anywhere near that low was the infamous “do nothing” Congress of 1948-1949, which passed more than 900 pieces of legislation. Way to go guys!

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. It’s like, 8 a.m. and I’ve already experienced utter, terrifying confusion today. Normally that doesn’t happen until at least noon. Earlier, I woke up to a loud, continuous peal of thunder, which stupefied me in my half-awake state because it’s, you know, December and that usually doesn’t happen. I thought my house was falling down or exploding or something. Then I fell back asleep.

Anyway, news time. Is the city doing some shady dealing on tax breaks? City Council’s Neighborhood Committee yesterday approved a number of property tax deals city officials say will help spur development and job growth. The committee is made up of all members of Council, so passage here means the measures are pretty much a done deal. Some critics, however, question whether the tax deals are in the city’s best interest.

Drawing special scrutiny was a pair of proposed TIF districts in Queensgate and the West End. The narrowly drawn districts would encompass properties owned by Evanston-based developer Neyer, which is mulling some as-yet-unnamed but said to be large-scale improvements to the property. The TIF measures would set aside property taxes paid on those improvements for public infrastructure projects within the districts, instead of that money flowing into the city’s general fund. The measures were last minute additions to the agenda, and some, including downtown resident Kathy Holwadel, are suspicious. Holwadel penned an opinion piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer pointing out that the city doesn’t have any idea what it will use the TIF money for, which is unusual.

Others have pointed out that various members of the Neyer family were Mayor John Cranley's second-largest donors during last year's mayoral election, kicking him more than $26,000. Critics ask if the administration is giving the developer special deals.

The TIF districts don't represent out-and-out tax exemptions and Council will still have to vote on future uses of the taxes put in the TIF fund.

Councilwoman Yvette Simpson at the meeting yesterday raised concerns that the TIF money would only go toward projects that benefit the developer and suggested a larger TIF district that would allow the city to spend the collected money on a wider area. City officials say state laws have limited the amount of money larger TIF districts can accumulate. Simpson abstained on the vote. Councilman Chris Seelbach voted against the districts.

• The committee also approved a number of other tax deals, including a 15-year, $12 million tax exemption for Gilbane Development Co. on its proposed development project in Clifton Heights. This project has also been controversial, with residents saying there is already too much student-oriented housing like the Gilbane project in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for our in-depth story on that in the print edition tomorrow.

• The family of John Crawford III will file a lawsuit against the officers involved in his shooting as well as the Walmart corporation. Crawford was shot by police officer Sean Williams in a Beavercreek Walmart while carrying a pellet gun Aug. 5. The family's attorneys, as well as Crawford's father, will announce more details about the lawsuit at a news conference at 11 a.m. today in Dayton.

• The special edition Cincinnati streetcar passes Metro is offering have raised more than $40,000 so far, the department reports. The commemorative metal cards get riders 15, 30 or 60 days of unlimited rides on the streetcar for $25, $50 and $100, respectively. If you’re still thinking about getting one, better hurry — 1,000 of the 1,500 cards produced have already sold.

• Would you kayak in the Ohio River? If so, you’ll be excited about this. The Covington City Commission will decide today whether to enter into a partnership with Queen City Water Sports Club to design and build a facility on the former location of Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront restaurant where people can rent canoes and kayaks. The boat that housed Waterfront sank in August, and now the city is looking for new uses for the property where it was docked.

• Former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman David Pepper looks likely to become the Ohio Democratic Party’s next chairman after his closest opponent, former lieutenant governor candidate Sharen Neuhardt, dropped out of the race yesterday. Pepper ran for attorney general in the last election but was beaten by incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. If he wins, he’ll replace outgoing chair Chris Redfern, who resigned after the Democrats faced big losses in November.

• Nineties nostalgia is so hot right now. Doc Martens are on every foot. People are listening to Soundgarden unironically again. Flannel shirts, etc. If you’re really wanting to party like it’s 1992 again, though, you may soon get your chance. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is looking more and more like he’s going to jump into the race to become the Republican nominee for the presidency. He’s releasing a book. He’s raising some cash. His most likely opponent? Democratic nominee frontrunner Hillary Clinton, of course. If those last names don’t ring a deep, deja-vu inducing bell, don’t worry. Those Bush vs. Clinton tees are going to look great at an Urban Outfitters near you. America: where anyone can become president, but especially anyone from a wealthy political dynasty. Woo!

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<![CDATA[Crawford Family to File Lawsuit Over Police Shooting]]> The family of John Crawford III, the 22-year-old Fairfield man a Beavercreek police officer shot Aug. 5 in a Walmart, is filing a lawsuit against Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers, officers Sean Williams and David Darkow and the Walmart corporation, the family’s lawyers announced today via a news release.

Officer Williams shot Crawford, a Fairfield resident who grew up in Cincinnati, in the Walmart after another customer, Ronald Ritchie, called 911 to report a man loading a gun and pointing it at customers in the store. Ritchie later contradicted that statement in interviews with the media, stating Crawford wasn’t actually pointing the gun at anyone. The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun sold by Walmart. Video footage of the event released by Attorney General Mike DeWine weeks later does not conclusively show Crawford threatening anyone with the weapon.

A grand jury on Sept. 24 declined to indict Williams for the shooting.

Many have drawn parallels between Crawford’s death and the Aug. 9 police shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was unarmed when officer Darren Wilson shot and killed him. The incident has sparked months of protests and civil unrest in Ferguson and across the country. Those protests intensified when a St. Louis County grand jury announced Nov. 24 that it would not indict Wilson.

The Crawford family’s lawyers, as well as Crawford’s father John Crawford, Jr., will hold a press conference in Dayton tomorrow at 11 a.m. to discuss the details of the lawsuit.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Morning all. Here’s the news today.

Eight Greenpeace activists arrested for hanging huge banners from P&G headquarters in March were found guilty and sentenced Friday after accepting a deal allowing them to plea down to misdemeanor charges. The group will have to perform 80 hours of community service and will be placed on probation for one year. The group was protesting P&G’s use of palm oil and the company’s role in deforestation. Originally, the group faced felony charges that could have meant more than nine years in prison. Prosecutors offered the plea deal earlier this month after P&G officials said they had begun working with Greenpeace on the issue and signaled they’d like to see a lighter sentence for the activists. A ninth protester died in California last month.

• A stalled deal to build a residential office tower downtown at Fourth and Race streets may be back on. The 16-17 story development, at least as it is planned this time around, would have 208 units of housing, a 925-space parking garage that the city will lend 3CDC $4 million to build and 25,000 square feet of retail space. Mayor John Cranley’s chief of staff Jay Kincaid told the Cincinnati Business Courier that the deal cuts back on some of the past plan’s overly-generous concessions to developer Flaherty and Collins. Originally, the tower was to be 30 stories tall and include 300 units of housing. That deal hinged on a $12 million forgivable loan from the city which has been cut in the new deal. City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee will likely vote on the agreement today, after which it could go for a full council vote on Wednesday.

• Cincinnati’s Metro system is gearing up for the year ahead. The transit program announced its new CEO Dwight Ferrell last week and held its big annual public meeting last Friday. Ferrell, who ran Atlanta’s streetcar system before coming here, will lead Metro as it looks to attract more riders, including Millennials, while better serving low-income residents who depend on its services. It also needs to get ready to run the streetcar and build new regional partnerships outside the city. Ok. You have 365 days. Go!

• Treatment for opiate addiction is nearly on par with alcoholism in the state, according to data from Ohio treatment centers. 33 percent of those treated in such facilities were there for alcoholism this year, while 32 percent where there for addiction to some form of opiate. That’s twice as many as were seeking treatment for opiate abuse six years ago. Experts say that doesn’t necessarily mean as many people are addicted to opiates in the state as alcohol, but it does show the alarming increase in abuse of the drug.

• Protests over what activists call racial inequities in the justice system have continued across the country, and Cincinnati has been no exception. A rally planned by the Cincinnati chapter of the National Action Network took place Friday afternoon at the Hamilton County Justice Center and a march from Fountain Square to Washington Park drew more than 100 people Saturday. That march was organized by individual activists in solidarity with ongoing protests in Ferguson, Mo., and enormous marches in New York City and Washington, D.C.. The latter was attended by the parents of John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown and others whose children have died at the hands of police. Police shot Crawford, from Fairfield, in a Beavercreek Walmart this summer while holding a pellet gun. Cleveland Police shot Rice last month on a playground. He was also holding a toy weapon. As activists continue to protest, they’ve also widened their focus. On Saturday, for example, a group of organizers will hold a teach-in at the downtown public library at 11 a.m.

• On a final, and really just unbelievable note, The Guardian has published a video showing Beavercreek Police's aggressive interrogation of Crawford's girlfriend Tasha Thomas immediately following Crawford's shooting. You can read the story and see the video here.

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<![CDATA[MusicNOW Announces 2015 Lineup]]>

The annual MusicNOW festival, founded by Cincinnati native and guitarist for Indie Rock superstars The National, returns to various venues in Over-the-Rhine this March for a celebration of the festival’s 10 successful years. The event will utilize Music Hall and Memorial Hall (past MusicNOW venues), as well as the new Woodward Theater (the Contemporary Arts Center will also host a related music/art installation March 11-20). Heavy on collaborations again this year, the shows will run March 11-15. 


Highlights from MusicNOW 2015 include a collaborative performance featuring The National and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The CSO will also perform “Songs from the Planetarium” with MusicNOW vets Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly and Dessner. 


Here is the full lineup announced this morning:

 

Wednesday, March 11th

Woodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OH

Will Butler

 

Thursday, March 12th

Woodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OH

concert:nova with Jeffrey Zeigler

 

Friday, March 13th

Cincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The National with the CSO and new commission by Caroline Shaw

 

Saturday, March 14th

Cincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Songs from Planetarium featuring Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly & Bryce Dessner with the CSO, new commission by Daníel Bjarnasonand So Percussion


Sunday, March 15th

Memorial Hall - 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH

Perfume Genius, The Lone Bellow, Mina Tindle

 

March 11th-20th

Contemporary Arts Center- 404 E. 6th St, Cincinnati, OH

A Lot Of Sorrow - by Ragnar Kjartansson featuring The National

An ongoing Installation (see video below)




"Many of my most significant memories as a musician have taken place in Cincinnati during the MusicNOW Festival over the last 10 years," founder Bryce Dessner says in the press release. "When we started, we were driven to create an intimate music festival that was as much a creative refuge for the artists as it is for the audience to partake in intimate and rare performances. We have celebrated works in progress and new commissions, new collaborations, and detailed music of all kinds regardless of genre or popularity."


Click here for ticket and further info.


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<![CDATA[Call Board: Theater News]]> Actors Sought: If you're an actor looking for an unusual afternoon this week, the Cincinnati Police S.W.A.T. team invites you to volunteer for a training event on Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. at a location near downtown. Officer Tim Eppstein wrote this in his announcement: "Volunteers will play characters in S.W.A.T.-type situations that may include hostage situations, barricaded individuals and suicidal individuals. These trainings have been very effective for the S.W.A.T. negotiators, and the volunteer actors report that it is a positive experience, allowing them to grow as actors and have fun in an extreme role." Eppstein needs 5-6 volunteers; if you're interested, give him a call at 513-352-4566. ]

A Mega-Hit: Crossroads Church in Oakley (3500 Madison Rd.) has a major holiday hit on its hands, it appears. Its annual monumental production of Awaited, under way since Dec. 5, completely filled 29 performances in less than 24 hours when free tickets were made available in late November. That's a total audience of 100,000 seats, double the number that attended a year ago. Crossroads has presented Awaited since 2007. It's the familiar Bible story of Jesus's birth staged in a spectacular production described as "a Christmas rock concert meets the ballet meets Cirque du Soleil meets the Omnimax"; it uses a cast and crew of 265 volunteers. Performances continue through Dec. 23, and the event's website encourages those interested to look into standby seating and to check in periodically regarding the availability of returned tickets.

Celebrate on the West Side: There's a new event on Saturday at the historic Dunham Arts Center (1945 Dunham Way): A day full of festivities, The Price Hill Holiday Xtravaganza, begins at 11 a.m. with Santa's Frosty Follies, a 45-minute revue of favorite holiday characters and songs. (Tickets are $8.) Santa shows up after the show to review kids' lists and pose for picture. The day culminates with a 7 p.m. performance of It's All About Love, a 90-minute holiday variety show featuring tributes to the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Whitney Houston and more. (Tickets for this one are $16; $14 for students and seniors.). Proceeds from the day will benefit restorations of the arts center, which is the home for Sunset Players, a community theater company. (The building was part of a one-time tuberculosis hospital dating back to 1879.) You can order tickets online or by calling 513-588-4988.

The Feds Support Our Local Arts Scene: The National Endowment for the Arts made seven grants to Cincinnati area arts organizations, pumping $165,000 into our local arts economy for 2015. One of these will support the Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Tracy Scott Wilson's Buzzer, about a young lawyer who moves back to a rapidly redeveloping neighborhood where he grew up. The play (March 21-April 19 on the Shelterhouse Stage) will encourage dialogue about race, gentrification and urban renewal. Another grant will support Cincinnati Opera's world premiere of Morning Star (June 30-July 9 at the School for Creative and Performing Arts) by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William Hoffman, a work about the immigrant experience a century ago in New York City. Other local grant recipients include ArtWorks, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Symphony, Kennedy Heights Art Center and Taft Museum of Art.

At the Movies: In less than two weeks you'll be able to see the new film of Stephen Sondheim's great musical Into the Woods featuring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp. Directed by Rob Marshall (he won the 2002 Academy Award for his film of the musical Chicago), it opens on Christmas Day. Here's the trailer: http://youtu.be/Rl1CWNFClqg


CityBeat's Rick Pender posts theater notices on CALL BOARD every Monday morning.
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<![CDATA[Tape Shows Police Harshly Interrogating John Crawford's Girlfriend]]>

A video released by Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine in response to a public records requests by British site The Guardianshows a Beavercreek Police detective berating John Crawford III’s girlfriend about where Crawford got a gun. You can read The Guardian's story and watch the video here

Police shot Crawford, a 22-year-old from Fairfield, in a Beavercreek Walmart after he was sighted carrying a pellet gun he picked up, unpackaged, from a shelf in the store.

Detective Rodney Curd questioned Crawford’s girlfriend Tasha Thomas immediately after the incident until she was weeping, then accused her of being on drugs.

“Are you under the influence of anything?” Curd asks as Thomas breaks down. “Your eyes are kind of messed up looking.”

Curd continually suggests that Crawford carried a gun into the store and that Thomas knew about the weapon, despite the fact he was unarmed. He tells Thomas she "may soon be heading to jail."

“You and John went into Walmart, and from my understanding, at some point, he produced a gun. You were with him just moments before that. Tell me where he got the gun from. And the truth is, you knew at some point he did carry a gun, didn’t you?”

“No. I didn’t know. Give me a lie detector test," she says.

Thomas repeatedly asks for a polygraph test in the tape.

Curd continues to badger Thomas throughout the questioning, sometimes slamming his hand on the desk. Curd also suggests that another woman Crawford had been involved with was in the store and that he was plotting to shoot her.

“Did he ever mention ‘I’m going to shoot that bitch’ or anything like that?”

After an hour and a half of questioning, Curd told Thomas that “due to his actions,” Crawford was dead.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Morning all. It’s Friday, I’m almost finished with a couple big stories for next week and I’m warm and cozy next to my portable fireplace (read: space heater). Things are looking up.

Let’s talk about news. Mayor John Cranley recently announced he is replacing Planning Commission Chair Caleb Faux with former Pleasant Ridge Community Council President Dan Driehaus. Last month, Faux and Cranley got into a tiff after City Manager Harry Black removed a provision from the planning commission’s agenda that would have preserved the possibility of commuter rail in the city’s plans for Wasson Way on the East Side. Faux accused Cranley, who is no fan of rail projects, of trying to block future light rail along Wasson Way. Cranley said he simply wanted to give more time for consideration of the measure.

Cranley said the move wasn't a reflection on Faux and that Driehaus is simply a better fit for the board. Council voted unanimously to approve Driehaus’ appointment.

Faux fired back yesterday after Cranley announced his replacement. While Faux said Driehaus is capable and will do a good job, he painted the mayor as a foe of city planning attempts to create pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhoods and a friend of big developers. Faux and Cranley have been at odds for years on the subject of form-based versus use-based codes, going back to Oakley’s Center of Cincinnati development last decade. That development put a Target, Meijers and other big box stores in the neighborhood. Faux opposed the project.

"What the mayor seems to want is a planning commission that will accept his direction and won't be independent,” Faux told the Business Courier yesterday. “I think he has a philosophy that we need to be friendly to developers and that using land-use regulations as a way to shape the city is not a good idea."

Cranley spokesman Kevin Osborne brushed off that criticism. He pointed to Cranley’s involvement in the creation of tax-increment financing districts for Over-the-Rhine and downtown while he was on City Council as evidence the mayor is invested in creating urban spaces.

Pointing to redevelopment in OTR as a sign you’re not cozy with big developers is an interesting way to go. But I digress.

• Also in City Hall news, Cranley announced yesterday he will appoint former congressman and Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken to the city’s port authority board. Luken, who was instrumental in creating the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, has strong ties in the Cincinnati business community. He’s also close with Cranley, and the move may be a way to improve strained relations between the port and City Hall.

• Councilman Chris Seelbach yesterday announced a proposal to add people who are homeless to a list of those protected by the city’s hate crime laws. He also announced a second proposal adding $45,000 in funding for the city’s winter shelter in OTR. You can read more about both here.

• Is Cincinnati the next Silicon Valley? The Huffington Post seems to think it’s possible. The blog cited Cincinnati as one of eight unexpected cities where investors are flocking. OTR-based business incubator The Brandery got a specific shout out, as did the city’s major Fortune 500 companies and its “All American Midwest” feel. Trigger warning: The term “flyover city” is used in reference to Cincy in this article.

• Last night, the Ohio State Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would amend the state’s constitution and change the redistricting process for elections to the Ohio General Assembly. It took until 4 a.m. to reach the agreement, because the Senate parties hard. The amendment would create a seven-member board composed of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state and two legislators from each party. That is two more members than the current board, which is made up of two statewide office holders and three legislators. The 10-year district maps drawn by the board would need two votes from the minority party or they would come up for review after four years. The bill next goes to the Ohio House, where it is expected to pass.

• Finally: Congress has agreed upon a budget, it seems, and the government won’t come to a grinding, weeks-long shutdown like it did last year. If you just leave it there and don’t think about it more than that, that’s good news. But looking into some of the budgetary sausage being made is a bit terrifying. Rolled up in the massive “CRomnibus” spending proposal (meaning continuing resolution plus omnibus spending bill) is a measure that would increase rich donors’ ability to give money to political parties. Currently, donors are limited to $97,200 as individuals. The new limit would be a seven-fold boost: $776,000. A married couple would be able to donate a jaw-dropping $3.1 million under the rule changes tucked into the shutdown-averting measure.

Another worrisome measure would dismantle certain parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, which holds big banks accountable for reckless, risky financial dealings. In the simplest terms, the rules change would allow banks to keep certain risky assets in accounts insured by the federal government, leaving taxpayers on the hook for huge potential losses. As if we didn’t learn our lesson in 2008.

The measures were last-minute concessions needed to win the votes of a number of conservative congressmen. It’s depressing to think that our options are either a complete lapse into governmental dysfunction or these gimmes to the nation’s most powerful financial interests, but there you have it.

Have a fun Friday!

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