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Arts Weekend: Ensemble Theater + Cincinnati Opera + OTR


Lots and lots of artsy things happening in Cincinnati this weekend, but I wanted to focus on two.

First, Ensemble Theater is completing its last weekend of a remount of the musical Next to Normal.  I got a chance to see it a week ago, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since– the sign of a good show, in my opinion.  It’s a musical, but not one of those happy-go-lucky ones; instead, it’s about a woman dealing with mental illness and how her family copes (or doesn’t cope) with her disease.  It’s pretty strong, emotional stuff– the couple next to me couldn’t quite handle it and left at intermission (so fair warning, there).  The stagecraft is fantastic– their scenic designer is great, the costumes are perfect levels of beige to contrast the set and the content, and the actors are all Broadway-calibre (really).  They close on Sunday, so you have a few more chances to grab tickets, and there’s not a bad seat in the house.

The Opera is this weekend as well, with the Cincinnati debut of the opera, Porgy and Bess.  This is fairly significant as Cincinnati, the second-oldest opera company in the United States (did you know they used to perform at the Cincinnati Zoo?  My grandfather was in the chorus.) has never performed this piece.  There are still tickets available for Saturday, as well as next weekend.

Oh, and don’t forget to use this as an excuse to get out into Over-the-Rhine!  The parking garage at Washington Park is open, and there are a variety of restaurants to eat at, whether you’re going for a matinee or at 8 PM.  A few tips:

  • If you go before your show, the latest you should try to get into a restaurant is 5:30.  Absolute latest, as they’ll start getting crowded.
  • Lots of places serve post-show– in fact, all of the restaurants on Vine do.
  • The Symphony Hotel, a hidden treasure near Music Hall, also serves dinner– but you need reservations.
  • If you’re doing a matinee of Next to Normal, the brunch scene in OTR has expanded.  Your choices:  Taste of Belgium, Senate, MOTR, Coffee Emporium, 1215 Wine + Coffee Lab and if you go just a block or so into the Central Business District, Washington Platform.
  • Be sure to let your server know you’re seeing a show.

Have a great, arts-filled weekend (you have to get ready for the World Choir Games somehow!).