By Thomas Consolo
The lines at the grocery stores are getting longer, and the stock of ingredients for green bean casserole is getting smaller. Thanksgiving dinner is just around the corner. Don’t panic, though. If holiday preparations have you stressed, M&M has just the remedy to soothe your spirit like … gravy for sliced turkey.
MamLuft&Co. Dance | 6840 Lakota Lane, Liberty Township, OH 45044; 513-494-6526 (MLCO)
Friday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m.: ML&Co. in West Chester/Liberty
MamLuft&Co. takes its trademark new works north of town for a free performance at Lakota East High School. On the program are five works, the majority choreographed by MamLuft company members. Stick around after the performance for a free discussion and Q&A with the performers.
Maybe it reflects something instinctive in humans that, as the days grow short, we head out to see lights. Two of the region’s biggest light displays flip the switch this weekend.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden | 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-4700
Opens Saturday, Nov. 17: PNC Festival of Lights
The granddaddy of outdoor light displays is the Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights. Back for its 36th year, you’ll see about 3 million LED lights strung throughout the place. There are also animal encounters, puppet shows and the Toyland Express train ride. Santa visits at 4 p.m. daily; the festival officially starts at 5 p.m. Runs until 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and till 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Jan. 1.
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum | 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, Hamilton, OH 45013; 513-868-1234
Opens Friday, Nov. 16: Holiday Lights on the Hill
North of town, Pyramid Hill also is decking the grounds with multicolored jolly. The sculpture park’s light display comprises a 2-mile drive through the park. The creative directors behind Luminosity and Blink are partnering with Pyramid Hill on this year’s display. Runs until 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, till 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, through Jan. 1. Admission is per carload.
Northern Kentucky University | 1 Louie B. Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, KY 41099; 859-572-5421
Thursday, Nov. 15, 6:30 p.m.: “The Producers”
We told you earlier about the NKU Gold cinema series to mark the university’s 50th birthday – screenings of films released in 1968, the year the university was founded. This week, enjoy another chorus of “Springtime for” … you know who. If you think “The Producers” is just a stage musical, you must see the original, one of the greatest comedies in film history – and one that almost never got made. It’s Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Dick Shawn at their best. Free, in the Digitorium at Griffin Hall.
The Mini Microcinema | 1404 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Thursday-Friday, Nov. 15-16, 7 p.m.: The Response Project – “Something is Happening Here”
The Response Project’s third commissioning initiative, “Something Is Happening Here” features nine original short films and 12 music premieres – all inspired by “Highway 61 Revisited,” the 1965 Bob Dylan album. Over two evenings, pianist Brianna Matzke will perform new works for solo piano by 12 composers, each an interpretation of a track from “Highway 61 Revisited.” The performances will be preceded by short films by nine filmmakers also responding to the album. It all happens at the Woodward Theater, across Main Street from The Mini’s home.
Mercantile Library | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-0717
Thursday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.: John Jeremiah Sullivan and the Queen of the Blues
Cincinnati, birthplace of the blues? That might be a stretch, but recent investigation has revealed that the Queen City is the likely birthplace of the queen of the blues, Mamie Smith. (She was the first African-American to record a blues song.) Author John Jeremiah Sullivan talks about his research, and DJ Daryl “Mista Rare Grove” Henderson accompanies.
Catacoustic Consort | 2366 Kemper Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-772-3242
Sunday, Nov. 18, 3 p.m.: “Seductive Charm”
Join Catacoustic, the city’s Baroque period-instrument group, for the first concert of its 18th season. It’s an afternoon of 17th century opera airs from France arranged for pardessus de viole and soprano, in this case Melissa Harvey. It’s coincidentally the repertoire heard on Catacoustic’s latest CD, which was released earlier this month.
Chamber Music Cincinnati | 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-342-6870
Tuesday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m.: Modigliani Quartet
No, this quartet’s members do not all have really long necks. Founded in 2003, the Modigliani now performs all over the world. For Tuesday’s performance at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater, the program includes quartets by Haydn, Brahms and Ravel. For my money, the Ravel is worth the trip all by itself.
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra | 3187 Linwood Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208; 513-280-8181
Thursday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.: “The First Lady of Song”
The CCJO’s Big Band at The Redmoor series continues with a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald featuring adopted Cincinnatian Adia Dobbins. The Pennsylvania native has made the Queen City her home base since earning two degrees from the College-Conservatory of Music. Even through school, she maintained a busy performing calendar. Now she’s almost a veteran. Hear what she has to say on Great American Songbook tunes made famous by Fitzgerald.
Kentucky Symphony Orchestra | 325 W. Eighth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 859-431-6216
Saturday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.: “Via Dolorosa”
The Kentucky Symphony continues season 27 with a North American premiere. Pawel Lukaszewski is part of the generation of Polish composers to come of age after the fall of the Soviet Union, and he celebrates the rebirth of Polish culture through its history of faith. The KSO teams up again with the choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral for Lukaszewski’s “Via Crucis,” a choral-orchestral work inspired by the stations of the cross. Rounding out the program is Jennifer Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral,” premiered in 2000 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Curtis Institute of Music. Stop by and say hello; I’ll be the one wearing black and co-publisher Thom Mariner will be adding his voice to the throng.
Xavier University | 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207; 513-745-3000
Friday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m.: Mark Guiliana
Sunday, Nov. 18, 2:30 p.m.: Kemal Gekic
The stars align this week as both sets of the Xavier Music Series present concerts this weekend. First up is drummer Mark Guiliana in the Jazz Series. Guiliana was chosen as Best Jazz Drummer in the Modern Drummer 2017 readers poll, and he played on David Bowie’s final album, “Black Star.” He’ll perform at the Music Resource Center (3032 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206). Then, on Sunday, the Piano Series presents Kemal Gekic. Gekic was described by the Boston Globe as “something like a general who has learned all the rules in the book and is, therefore, free to ignore them.” Hear the Croatian native’s unique approach to tone and form in his concert at the Gallagher Theater.
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-4183
Thursday, Nov. 15, through Sunday, Nov. 18: “The Turn of the Screw”
Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece may well be his first opera, “Peter Grimes,” but he turned out several gems in the form of chamber operas, among them an adaptation of the 1898 Henry James novella “The Turn of the Screw.” The psychological turmoil among its characters lends it to musical treatment, and Britten got a fine libretto from Myfanwy Piper. CCM presents it as part of its Mainstage Series with performances in Patricia Corbett Theater. As the description says, with its themes, it’s best left to mature audiences.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company | 1195 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-2273
Opens Friday, Nov. 16: “Twelfth Night”
The Shakespeare Company has an official holiday play in store for us (watch this space!), but “Twelfth Night” would do nicely, too. It’s a comedy that boasts a cross-dressed lady, a lovelorn lord, a fickle countess, a drunken uncle, a flamboyant fop, an uptight servant, a mischievous clown, a protective pirate and an identical twin. Director Austin Tichenor (of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, they of the “Complete … (abridged)” series of plays) has added a touch of “Westworld” to the madness by setting it in 1850s San Francisco. Even in the Wild West, though, “If music be the food of love, play on.” Through Dec. 8.
Falcon Theatre | 636 Monmouth St., Newport, KY 41071; 513-479-6783
Opens Friday, Nov. 16: “A Small Fire”
John and Emily are a happily long-married couple whose lives are upended when Emily falls victim to a mysterious disease. As she loses her senses one by one, Emily resolves to remain engaged with her community, but she is ever more dependent on the husband whose devotions she had always taken for granted. Through Dec. 1.
School for Creative & Performing Arts | 108 W. Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-363-8100 x2
Thursday, Nov. 15-Sunday, Nov. 18: “Little Shop of Horrors”
Neither going to the dentist nor agreeing to feed a neighbor’s plants will ever be the same again, thanks to this horror-farce. The original “Little Shop” was a nonmusical 1960 film by the prolific Roger Corman. Alan Mencken (yes, he of the Disney hits) and Howard Ashman added songs – in a ’60s style – for their 1982 musical that eventually was made into a second movie, this one directed by, of all people Muppet master Frank Oz. The stars of tomorrow at SCPA feed Audrey II for their fall musical. In Corbett Theater.
Gallery 708 | 708 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-551-8171
Opens Thursday, Nov. 15, 5-8 p.m.: “Elemental Dimensions”
Fiber, photography and bronze sculpture works by Cynthia Lockhart, Jens G. Rosenkrantz Jr. and Paul Kroner. Through Jan. 12.
Wave Pool Gallery | 2940 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45225; 513-600-6117
Opens Saturday, Nov. 17, 6-9 p.m.: “Invisible Labor”
If they do their jobs well, you won’t ever notice the work done by art preparatory crews when you visit an exhibition. (This makes them kindred spirits to copy editors.) Wave Pool, though, puts the invisible labor of the prep crew – often artists themselves – front and center for this show on how an exhibition is put on. Through Jan. 5.
Cincinnati Art Museum | 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Through Sunday, Nov. 18: Tibetan Mandala
The Drepung Gomang Monastery in South India was founded in 1416. A group of Tibetan Buddhist monks from the monastery gathered in the art museum’s Great Hall this week to demonstrate the painstaking process of creating a mandala, a complex sand painting that is believed to aid spiritual healing (mandala literally translates as “world harmony”). The work will take most of the weekend, pouring tiny amounts of colored grains at a time. See it while you can: On Sunday, to symbolize the impermanence of human existence, the mandala will be swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream so the waters can carry the healing energies throughout the world.