By Thomas Consolo
There’s no use avoiding the elephant in the room: We’re in the middle of a stretch in these parts when folks get a glaze of sports over their eyes. First there was FC Cincinnati’s first home Major League Soccer game. Next week, the storied Cincinnati Reds open a milestone 150th anniversary season. In between, three local basketball teams – the University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University and the sort-of-local University of Kentucky – run the first two (we hope) rounds of the Division I men’s tournament.
So do the arts just ride the bench for a week? Are you crazy? Just look at the March madness our local groups have in store for you.
Krohn Conservatory | 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-5707
Opens Saturday, March 23: “Butterflies of Ecuador”
There’s another annual big event on tap this week. It’s the first week of official spring, and Krohn Conservatory is celebrating with its also-annual butterfly show. This year’s focus is the “four worlds in one” of Ecuador, a reference to the country’s distinct climate zones – Amazonian, Andean, coastal and the living laboratory that is the Galapagos Islands. Krohn will be home to 12,000 butterflies during the show, which runs through June 16. Group registration is available, too.
Cincinnati Ballet | 1555 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214; 513-621-5282
Thursday-Sunday, March 21-24: “Director’s Cut”
Few works of art can be said to have launched a revolution or a small riot. Two that can, though, came from the pen of Igor Stravinsky. First with “The Firebird” in 1910 and then “The Rite of Spring” in 1913 (we can skip “Petrushka” for these proceedings), Stravinsky blew up the traditions of music. As often as we hear them in the concert hall, one should remember they were conceived as ballets. This weekend, in five performances at Music Hall (1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202), you can see both of them in their original form, with Cincinnati Ballet’s dancers on stage and the Cincinnati Symphony in the pit. It’s a rare treat.
Cincinnati World Cinema | 719 Race St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 859-957-3456 (FILM)
Saturday, March 23, 4 and 7 p.m.: “Sons and Daughters of Thunder”
If you’ve followed these picks for a while, you’ll know that events at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House are known to make appearances. This week, it’s a collaborative event as the Garfield Theatre hosts a film premiere the puts a landmark moment in Cincinnati history center screen. The year is 1834, and the Lane Theological Seminary is hosting an 18-day debate on slavery. It was the first such public event in the U.S. Before the debate was silenced by a municipal gag order, the debate set a fire in the spirit of two spectators, the Rev. Lyman Beecher and his daughter, Harriet. Filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle and some cast members will be on hand for Q&A after both screenings.
Esquire Theatre | 320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-8750
Saturday-Monday, March 23-25: “Casablanca”
It’s not a “big number” anniversary year for it, but who cares? “Casablanca, city of hope and despair … meeting place of adventurers, fugitives, criminals, refugees.” I have to wonder: Did they know as they made this movie that they’d trapped lightning in a bottle? “Casablanca” remains one of the Top 10 American films (AFI has it at No. 3), and the Esquire is offering six regular screenings this weekend. There’s a special seventh, too, at 1 p.m. Sunday; that one includes a “deep dive” (i.e., context and analysis) from Joe Horine, a UC film instructor. No doubt he’ll have you envision the apostasy of Ronald Reagan in Humphrey Bogart’s role, which was Warner Brothers’ original plan.
The Mini Microcinema | 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sunday, March 24, 7:30 p.m.: “Being There”
But wait, there’s more! Do you like to watch? This very sad but very funny classic is marking a landmark anniversary, its 40th. It’s perhaps Peter Sellers’ greatest performance, playing naif Chance the gardener, who in middle age is thrust from his cocooned world into reality … and accidental celebrity. Melvyn Douglas, who won an Oscar for his role, and Shirley MacLaine also star.
Cincinnati Zoo | 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-4700
Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m.: Dominique Gonçalves
It’s all well and good for the zoo to benefit from Fiona’s early fight for survival, but there’s a lot more going on there than a hungry, hungry hippo. Take, for example, the Barrows Conservation Lecture Series, now more than a quarter-century old. Kicking off 2019 is Dominique Gançalves, manager of the Elephant Ecology Project. She’ll speak about Mozambique’s wildly successful (sorry, I couldn’t resist) Gorongosa National Park and the commitment the park has made to its local communities.
Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas | 1140 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011; 513-831-2052
Sunday, March 24, 3 p.m.: Bach birthday concert
The Bach Ensemble is generally known to frequent Terrace Park, but this week it hits the road for Covington’s St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. It’s all part of the 36th Cathedral Concert Series. The program includes two cantatas, “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott” (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) and “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” (On the evening, however, of the same Sabbath). Both were written for Lent and Easter time in the liturgical year. Georg Philipp Telemann’s triple concerto for flute, oboe and violin rounds out the program. Soloists include soprano Laura LeVoir, tenor Ryan Montgomery, baritone Hayden Smith, flutist Randy Bowman and oboist Dwight Parry.
Chamber Music Cincinnati | Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-342-6870
Monday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.: Hagen Quartet
The Hagen Quartet has been around since 1981, and it’s been one of the world’s best for most of that time. Their recording of the Janacek quartets – one of 45 CDs they’ve made – is a personal favorite. Chamber Music Cincinnati says it’s been trying to get the group here for a decade, and this year it finally succeeded. Program comprises three late masterworks: Beethoven’s last quartet, No. 16 in F Minor, Op. 135; Shostakovich’s No. 13, Op. 138; and Schubert’s “Rosamunde” Quartet. Come see why we’ve had to wait a decade to hear them live.
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra | 513-280-8181
Thursday, March 21, 7 p.m.: “When Cannonball Adderley Met Oliver Nelson”
Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m.: “The Music of Cannonball Adderley”
This weekend, it’s a two-part look at Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, the alto sax player whose career was cut tragically short at age 46 by a cerebral hemorrhage. Despite that, he managed to make plenty of music, including with his little brother, Nat, a trumpet player, and with Miles Davis. CCJO offers the usual scene, a Big Band at The Redmoor (3187 Linwood Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208) show Thursday and a Jazz at First (First Unitarian, 536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219) performance Sunday afternoon. Saxophonist Charlie Young is the special guest, joining the whole band Thursday (Expect to hear plenty of “Domination”) and trumpeter Mike Wade and the Phil DeGreg Trio on Sunday for the sounds of Cannonball’s quintet.
Xavier University | Gallagher Theater, 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207; 513-745-3000
Friday, March 22, 8 p.m.: Avishai Cohen Quartet
Sunday, March 24, 2:30 p.m.: Sara Davis Buechner, piano
Xavier University didn’t make it to the NCAA tournament this year, but the music series is making up for it this week with concerts by two outstanding musicians.
XU jazz audiences already know the Cohen family. Avishai’s sister Anat performed here two years ago. Now Avishai brings his quartet to Victory Parkway. The Israeli trumpeter has racked up a bookcase full of awards since his debut at age 10. He’s now based in New York.
Sara Buechner performs an all-Mozart sonata program as part of the Piano Series. It’s a taste of her three-day marathon recital of all the Mozart sonatas in Tokyo earlier this year. She lives in Philadelphia, where she teaches at Temple University.
Cincinnati Landmark Productions | Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, Cincinnati, OH 45204; 513-241-6550
Opens Thursday, March 21: “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”
Sadly, Burt and Dolly won’t be there, but the musical about the legendary Texas brothel is still full of the same rollicking good time, just like the Chicken Ranch itself – until a crusader from Houston spoils the party.
Falcon Theatre | 636 Monmouth St., Newport, KY 41071; 513-479-6783
Opens Friday, March 22: “The Lion in Winter”
Besides being the basis of one of my mother’s favorite movies, “The Lion in Winter” is by turns a comedic and dramatic account of the battle of armies and wits between Eleanor of Aquitaine and her husband, England’s Henry II, the first Plantagenet, who keeps her locked in prison. Through April 6. Don’t disappoint my mother. Go see it.
Playhouse in the Park | 962 Mount Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-3888
Opens Saturday, March 23: “The Thanksgiving Play”
When a group of liberal artists try to create a politically correct Thanksgiving-themed play for elementary students, their plans sink into chaos. Funny chaos, though, in this satire of PC behavior, activism and apathy. Through April 21 at the Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre.
“The Winter’s Tale”: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of this tragedy with a happy ending was extended, but it absolutely closes Saturday. At the Budig Theater (1195 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-2273).
“Thoughts Made Visceral”: Four artists and writers explore the parallels between marginalia and marginalization in an immersive textual installation. Through Sunday at the Weston Gallery (650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-4165).