See the world through the compound eyes of insects and arachnids in Cirque du Soleil’s OVO. Watch as red ants juggle their food and each other, fleas create acrobatic art, crickets reach impressive heights and spiders balance gracefully on their webs. OVOcombines Cirque du Soleil’s strengths: colorful costuming; transportive set design; a live band playing Bossa Nova, Samba and Funk; and jugglers, contortionists, acrobats and dancers. Develop a new appreciation for the talented bugs in the ecosystem beneath us. Read more in Curtain Call on page 19. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $46 adults; $25 children. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, usbankarena.com.
Erma Bombeck was a journalist whose three-times-weekly columns evoked chuckles from 30 million readers across America for more than three decades. And she was from this region —born in Bellbrook, Ohio, she eventually made her home in Centerville, south of Dayton. Despite the fact that she was read by millions, appeared regularly on national television and wrote for magazines including Good Housekeeping, Redbook and McCall’s, she’s not remembered today as a serious journalist. (Bombeck died of cancer at age 69 in 1996.) That generates a feisty observation from Barbara Chisholm, the actress portraying the legendary humorist in a new one-woman show, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, on the Shelterhouse Theatre stage at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Read more about the show here. Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End runs through June 18 in the Shelterhouse Theatre at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Tickets/more info: cincyplay.com.
MUSIC: SEAN ROWE
Some songs are just so all-around drop-dead gorgeous — in the heartfelt poignancy of their vocals, the gently mournful exquisiteness of their melodies and the poetic specificity of their lyrics — that you stop everything the first time you hear them. And then you want to seek them out again and again. Sean Rowe’s “Gas Station Rose,” from his latest album New Lore, is like that. A Folk/Americana troubadour, he’s been carefully, judiciously introducing Pop and Rock elements into his songs for a while, and on this one he’s found his perfect mix. His acoustic guitar offers the sparest introduction, allowing for short dramatic moments of silence, before Rowe’s resonantly low, gravely voice begins the first couplet, expressing both melancholy and tenderness: “We can’t have a garden while we’re still on the road/There’s only room on the dash for a gas station rose.” And just like that, he’s got you, unraveling a tale of two people living on the road and driving through a Nebraska that’s “flat as a sheet” as they both pursue and escape something. Read more about Rowe in this week's Sound Advice. Sean Rowe plays Southgate House Revival Friday. Click here for tickets/more show info.
Comedian Jay Pharoah was first inspired to do voices and impressions as a child by Iago, the parrot from the Disney filmAladdin, voiced by comic Gilbert Gottfried. Over the years, he’s built an impressive impression repertoire that includes Eddie Murphy, Jay-Z, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan and President Barack Obama. After a video of Pharoah as Obama went viral in 2010, Lorne Michaels plucked him out of the comedy clubs and put him onSaturday Night Live. Pharoah began as a featured player but was quickly promoted to full cast member. He left the show last year but has since appeared in films Get a Job and Sing. 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday. $25. Liberty Funny Bone, 7518 Bales Ave., Liberty Township, liberty.funnybone.com.
ONSTAGE: IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO
If it’s Italian comic opera, there’s always a wedding involved, usually one that’s opposed by everyone except the lovers. Domenico Cimarosa’s frothy Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) has the distinction of being the only opera to be completely encored following its premiere performance — and for good reason. Cincinnati Chamber Opera presents this breezy tale of an already-wed couple trying to hide their marriage from the bride’s father and a perspective suitor. The score is delightful and the cast is made up of promising young singers, many of them UC College-Conservatory of Music students. Yael Front conducts. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $25 adult; $10 student. Hoffner Lodge, 4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside, cincinnatichamberopera.org.
Will stingrays actually sting you? Find out at the Newport Aquarium’s new Stingray Hideaway exhibit, which features a 17,000-gallon pool where adults and kids can touch three different species of stingray. These cartilaginous fish, kind of related to sharks, have long tails — some of which will sting in self-defense, but the ones you can touch here do not. The tropically inspired exhibit also includes colorful fish, reptiles and more than 15 different playful species of rays, plus a 30-foot underwater tunnel with a special viewing tube that allows guests to get face-to-face with flat fish. Open daily. Free with admission: $24.99 adults; $16.99 children. Newport Aquarium, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com.
EVENT: APPALACHIAN FESTIVAL
In a celebration of mountain culture, the Appalachian Festival presents storytellers, artists and craftspeople who will provide an authentic exploration of the place they call home. Visit a school marm, cook on an open fire, churn butter and experience the art of mountain music with festival demonstrators. Guests can shop with crafters selling homemade wares and sample down-home cooking. And a nearly full schedule of musicians will give a taste of Bluegrass, Gospel and Big Band. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. $10; $5 seniors; $2 children; free 2 and under; “Frugal Friday” tickets available. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, appalachianfestival.org.
Before she became the legendary ’60s Pop songwriter Carole King, she was Carol Klein, a Brooklyn kid who had the right stuff. She broke into the record business as a teenage songwriter, and her career took off even as she married in her early 20s. But her own voice didn’t entirely surface until some things went wrong in her personal life. That led to a career some have called the “soundtrack of a generation” — “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “A Natural Woman” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” You’ll definitely be humming these tunes when you leave the Aronoff after Broadway in Cincinnati’s performance. Through May 14. $29-$107. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.
Butterflies and beer collide at this adults-only event, which coincides both with the Krohn’s Majestic Monarch butterfly show (through June 18) and Krohn Marketplace Weekend. Local vendors and artists will be onsite selling a variety of Earth-friendly products all day Saturday and Sunday, but this after-hours bash comes with a few special bonuses, i.e. live music and copious samples of craft beer. Includes entry to The Majestic Monarch,which revolves around attracting butterflies and other pollinators to your home garden by using specific plant colors, shapes and scents. The showroom is filled with vibrant marigolds, celosia, hydrangeas and butterflies. Crafts & Crafts 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday. $15. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, butterflyshow.com.
ONSTAGE: SHREK THE MUSICAL
Think theater productions have to be performed by professionals to be entertaining? Year after year, Cincinnati Music Theatre, one of our best local community theaters, produces ambitious musicals with just volunteer actors and stagehands. Shrek the Musical, based on the Oscar-winning animated film, is a fairy tale adventure featuring all new songs from Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori. It’s the story of an unlikely hero on a life-changing journey with a smart-aleck donkey and a feisty princess. It’s great show for the entire family. Through May 20. $20-$24. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatimusictheatre.org.
When he visited his hometown near Dayton, Ohio last year, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder realized the 2016 election was like no other. “Coming to Ohio made me see, for the first time, that we were sinking into a world where talking about politics with someone who had different views was becoming weird,” he says. “The new normal was to sit in front of your screen and get your views affirmed.” A week after the election, Snyder penned a Facebook essay that began: “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.” His post, which reached more than a million viewers, is the basis for his new book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. With clarity and urgency, Snyder offers 20 ways to recognize and fight tyranny, ranging from “Do not obey in advance” to “Listen for dangerous words.” Timothy Snyder will give a free talk 7 p.m. Saturday at the Main Library, 800 Vine St., Downtown. More info: cincinnatilibrary.org/news.
Since emerging from the Post Hardcore/Metalcore scene in Phoenix in 2003, Eyes Set to Kill has had a tumultuous history, enduring over a dozen lineup shifts, including perhaps the most fundamental in the band’s 14-year tenure. In 2016, the band lost founding bassist Anissa Rodriguez, but more recently enlisted Tiaday Ball (ex-The World Over member) as her replacement. Another key lineup shift was the official addition of longtime touring guitarist and dirty vocalist A.J. Bartholomew. All of this was announced along with the release of the band’s new single “Break” and the news that Eyes Set to Kill’s first new album in four years will arrive before year’s end. Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Eyes Set to Kill plays the Thompson House Saturday. Click here for tickets/more show info.
Thirty food vendors descend on Washington Park this weekend for the largest installment of Asian Food Fest to date, celebrating the culture and cuisine of Asian countries from India to Vietnam. Grab small plates and local craft beers from the likes of Pho Lang Thang, Indi-Go and Red Sesame Korean Barbecue before swinging by a “Secret Menu” booth for unique Asian recipes from home chefs and aspiring food entrepreneurs. The event also features live performances on the park’s main stage and gazebo. Catch Chinese cultural dances by the Confucius Institute, a Tai Chi demonstration by Sato and a presentation by the University of Cincinnati Korean Culture and Dance Club. Noon-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free admission. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.
EVENT: BILL & TED SCAVENGER CRAWL
Keep Your Shirt On Covington presents an excellent adventure in the form of a hybrid scavenger hunt and bar crawl. In a quest to pass a “totally bogus history class,” crawlers will journey into both the past and future, completing challenges like taking selfies with Socrates and battling Death at Battleshots. You’ll also be asked to seek out local landmarks and art all while enjoying some bodacious drink specials along the way. Bonus: All players will receive a limited-edition “Be Excellent to Each Other” fannie pack. 1-4 p.m. Saturday. $30. Begins at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, 1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, keepyourshirtoncovington.com.
MOTHER'S DAY: MOTHER'S DAY AT VINOKLET
Choose an entrée to accompany the Vinoklet buffet, featuring salad, potatoes and plenty of desserts. RSVP required. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $23.36. Vinoklet Winery, 11069 Colerain Ave., Colerain, vinokletwines.com.
MOTHER'S DAY: CONEY ISLAND MOTHER'S DAY BRUNCH
A breakfast buffet featuring pastries, an omelet station, dessert station and more. Cash bar. RSVP required. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $24.99 adult; $12.99 child. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.
Atlanta’s Mastodon has been consistently honing its sound since forming in 2000, and the Hard Rock/Metal group’s hard work has been paying off big time. The band’s latest album, Emperor of Sand, continued the trend of each Mastodon album topping the last in terms of sales and chart positions. Besides entering Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart at No. 1, Emperor’s dominance of various other charts in its first week of release demonstrates Mastodon’s widespread appeal and dynamic musical approach. Emperor of Sand is the pinnacle of the band’s move toward more song-oriented material and features the most melodically ear-grabbing tracks in the band’s eight-album discography. But Mastodon isn’t pandering — the group’s Prog tendencies and dazzling technical proficiency are just more concisely distilled into the song’s framework. The music is smartly constructed and still rings with Mastodon’s sublime mix of classic Metal, Sabbath-inspired Hard Rock and AltMetal (think Queens of the Stone Age on a vintage Thrash bender). Eagles of Death Metal and Russian Circles join Mastodon for its tour stop at the Taft. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. $42.25-$77.50. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org.
Some people are to the music manor born, and Devin Townsend is certainly among that rarified elite. The British Columbia native played banjo at 5, guitar at 12 and joined a succession of high school Metal bands before recording under the Noisescapes banner in his early 20s. His demo earned him a Relativity Records contract for his debut, Promise, and an introduction to Steve Vai, who invited Townsend to lend vocals to Vai’s Sex & Religion album. Townsend toured with Vai and subsequently with his opening act, The Wildhearts. He also formed a Thrash Metal trio dubbed IR8 with former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and Exodus drummer Tom Hunting. After being dropped by Relativity and rejected by Roadrunner, Townsend played session guitar for Industrial outfit Front Line Assembly, then signed a five-album deal with Century Media under the name Strapping Young Lad (to escape the preconceptions of his Vai association). Townsend’s first Strapping Young Lad album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, was almost completely a one-man project and was followed by the Punk/Metal parody/concept album Punky Brüster – Cooked on Phonics in 1996. Townsend formed an actual Strapping Young Lad band with previous musical companions and recorded 1997’s City, which remains an all-time favorite for many Metal connoisseurs. Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Devin Townsend’s Devin Townsend Project plays Bogart’s Sunday. Click here for tickets/more show info.