Cats, Jack O'Connell, Radio Party, painting robots, butterflies and much more

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Jack O'Connell

Author Jack O'Connell

ONSTAGE: CATS Although Andrew Lloyd Webber made a name for himself with early musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, which he created with Tim Rice, it was Cats that really made him famous and began a wave of transatlantic theater imports from London to Broadway. The show opened at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on Oct. 7, 1982 and ran continuously until Sept. 10, 2000. Those 7,485 performances made it the longest-running show in Broadway history at the time. Based on whimsical children's poems from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the show presents portraits of humanized cats — some amusing, some poignant. I recommend ignoring the silly story about choosing one cat to ascend to cat-heaven and focusing instead on the individual stories — my favorite is the very operatic production of "Growltiger's Last Stand." Cats prowled the stages of the Taft and the Aronoff during various touring productions over the past quarter-century, but the show has not been staged locally — until now, by Northern Kentucky University, where it opens today for a 10-day run at NKU's Corbett Theatre. The production is directed by Teresa De Zarn, who played Sillabub, a major singing and dancing role, on Broadway from 1983-1985. She's now an NKU faculty member. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 3 p.m.

Sunday. $6-$10. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)— Rick Pender

LITERARY: JACK O'CONNELL Sweeney is in a shitty state. His wife is dead and his son, Danny, is in a coma. A pharmacist by trade, he decides to take a job at the Peck Clinic, an imposing labyrinth of a building where Danny can also reside with the hope that he will someday, somehow wake from his current state. Author Jack O'Connell's latest novel, The Resurrectionist, alternates this bleak narrative thread with chapters of a comic-book world called Limbo, an apt title given Danny's condition. Sweeney will do anything to "resurrect" his son, including inhabiting a fantasy world in which Danny was immersed at the time of his accident as well as narrative turns that include "psychotic bikers, mad neurologists and wandering circus freaks." O'Connell has a way with setting a scene — atmospheric, hard-boiled concoctions rife with detail and mystery — and he weaves elements of classic noir and fantasy with head-tripping mastery. O'Connell discusses the distinctive world of The Resurrectionist 7 p.m. Thursday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Jason Gargano

EVENTS: VIVA RADIO PARTY Viva Radio, a Brooklyn-based, contributor-programmed online radio station, is pumped into computer speakers and more than 180 American Apparel stores worldwide, and now it's coming to the Gypsy Hut. Viva has roped a gang of roving DJs, put them in a "Good Times" van and sent them on their merry way for a three-day tour of the majestic Midwest. Their assignment: to bring club-goers an experience as unique and diverse as the online radio station itself. Sounds easy. Emceed by the station's own Tedward of Springbreak (serious party name), the night will feature sweet tunes by the likes of DJ Neil J Molitoris (Soul, Funk and R&B); DJ Glen Szabo ('70s and '80s Classic Rock and Soul); Rob Low (Hip Hop booty music); Kim Sorise from SoundHouse; and our very own DJ Pete Fosco. If you feel like dancing, you know the place. And dress nice because the DJs aren't leaving until they record the whole night on audio and video. 9 p.m. Free for 21 and up; $3 ages 18-21. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Maija Zummo

EVENTS: ROCK THE TOT If watching "interesting people eating lots of tater tots" doesn't sound like an amusing endeavor, then what kind of weird stuff are you into? On Thursday, Bar Louie at Newport on the Levee will host its first "Rock the Tot" competition to see who can eat the most tater tots in six minutes. One person will be declared the local champion, and his or her score will go up against tot-eaters nationwide for the national title. Bar Louie says this is the first "contest of this nature," so expect other eating contests involving obscure side dishes in the future. 8 p.m. Free. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Danny Cross

CLASSES: ACHOK RINOPCHE Adversity as an opportunity sounds like an oxymoron, but anyone who has gone through a difficult situation and learned something knows it isn't. How to see difficulties as beneficial is what a respected Buddhist teacher, Venerable Achok Rinpoche, will explain during three days of open talks. Beginning with "Transforming Adversity into Opportunity" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Rinpoche shares the Buddhist perspective on how problems can actually become a source of strength and bring us closer to achieving lasting happiness. The Medicine Buddha initiation that follows at 7 p.m. Friday acts as an introduction to the "healing Buddha," who can help us address and deal with the health challenge in order to live a longer and fuller life. The final class, "Eight Verses of Mind Training," 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, teaches people how to cultivate a mind of compassion. Rinpoche will explain this instruction as a way to provide a method for transforming adversity into an opportunity for spiritual growth. All classes are free, but donations are appreciated. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Margo Pierce

MUSIC: THE POCKET If you judge a band based on the company they keep, then DC-based Reggae crew The Pocket is one of the best new, original Reggae outfits going. Of course, you could also just listen to one of their three CD releases to come to that same conclusion. While Reggae has many subgenres, none of them do The Pocket justice (all of them might). Start with a deep-bass, flawless rhythm section, add soulful vocals, some Hip Hop and Dancehall toasting, intricate keys and guitar and some fantastic, versatile songwriting and you have a world-class Reggae unit that handles the basics like lifetime pros but also sprinkles in more diversity and uniqueness than most other Reggae bands ever dare. They've got the chops and credentials to woo fans of pure Reggae (Dub prince Scientist has worked with the group on two CDs; their latest, Out of Many, One, was produced by Bob Marley engineer Errol Brown; and they've garnered fan bases from L.A. to Jamaica), but enough of an alternative edge to suck in fans of just about any genre. The band is doing a mini-tour of the Cincinnati area this week — Thursday they play The Mad Frog with Super-Massive (formerly Selecter), Saturday they'll be at Annie's opening for Collie Buddz and Sunday they'll rock the Gypsy Hut with Mister Creeper and DJ Mowgli (who has prepped a special Reggae mix just for the night). Catch them Thursday and, if their live reputation is any indication, you'll likely be compelled to check out all three shows. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Mike Breen

MUSIC: STEPHEN KELLOGG AND THE SIXERS open for the Hansons at the Madison Theater. See interview here.

ART: ARTWORKS According to ArtWorks Director Tamara Harkavy, Scott Donaldson has already made an exciting impression on Cincinnati's art world through a small, meticulous painting of Batman wearing stockings and a garter belt, which was included in the Secret ArtWorks sale. This Friday, a full exhibition of his paintings is opening at ArtWorks Gallery (811 Race St., Downtown). Tune In, Turn On, and Hook Up promises to be a body of new work, filled with cultural appropriations, precise details and vivid saturated color. The cropped portrait of Twiggy on the postcard keeps peeking out of different stacks of mail and papers in my apartment. She looks out of her resplendent magentas, greens and lavenders into the gloomy spring I'm living in. I can't wait to see her and the accompanying paintings in person. The exhibition opens with a reception 6-9 p.m. Friday. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Matt Morris

ART: VISUAL HISTORY GALLERY In 2007, Tom Lohre and his robot won an individual artist grant from the city of Cincinnati. Usually you don't think of robots as artists, more like machines or those tiny round vacuums, but Lohre has "taught" a robot to paint. Although it doesn't feel emotions, it can follow instructions. In the 1980s, Lohre started playing with the idea of having a machine paint. After years of tinkering, at 9 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2007, he finally figured out how to crack Lego MindStorm's Robotic system. Using this system, he taught Artisto, his robot, to transfer images from a computer to canvas. Lohre creates an image on the computer and then Artisto takes the data and places a series of colored dots in the appropriate places to re-create the picture. Over the course of 18 hours Artisto can create a low-resolution painting with 4163 dots. Because the pictures are so low-res, sometimes it's up to the viewer to fill in the blanks. In his new exhibit Man Vs. Robot, Lohre compares his paintings to those of Artisto. The differences between the two artists are obvious, and if they weren't, it might be a little freaky. Opening reception: 6-9 p.m. Friday. Continues through May 18. 2709 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Maija Zummo

ONSTAGE: THE LIVING DANCE PROJECT Lisa Smith has battled with cancer twice. Instead of seeing this as misfortune, she's chosen to see it as inspiration. Smith is a dancer and her Living Dance Project, which will be performed at the Aronoff's Jarson Kaplan Theatre this weekend, is a fund-raiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation LIVESTRONG. Trained in classical ballet, jazz and tap, Smith suffered significant and permanent nerve and muscle damage to her left leg and groin after undergoing major surgery and chemo for malignant Melanoma. "I was laying in bed doing my physical therapy exercises on my leg listening to my iPod and started seeing some of the choreography we will be performing on Friday," Smith says. The show will feature performances by the Exhale Dance Tribe, Mam Luft & Co Dance, the True Body Project, live music by Salsa Caliente and a special performance by the New Zealand dance group The Okareka Dancers, Tai Royal and Taane Mete. Their performance, Hand to Hand, was choregoraphed by dancer Michael Parmenter, who has been living with cancer for years. Smith will be donating 100 percent of the profits to LIVESTRONG in order to help others with cancer gain access to the practical tools and resources survivors need to live their lives on their own terms, just as she has. "Dance has been a healing force in my life," she says. "I feel gratitude and peace inside when dancing. I believe dance is one of the great and universal blessings of life." 8 p.m. Friday at the Aronoff's Jarson Kaplan Performance Theatre. $37.25-$152.25. (Buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Maija Zummo

ONSTAGE: SMALL STREAMS 1, a collection of five works from area choreographers, premieres at the College Hill Town Hall. See preview here.

ONSTAGE: THIS IS HOW IT GOES disorients audiences, in a good way, at Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater. See Rick Pender's review here.

MUSIC: BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB brings its big fuzzy psychedelic sound to the cozy confines of the Mad Hatter. See Sound Advice preview here.

EVENTS: CLARK MONTESSORI STUDENT DOCUMENTARY SHOWCASE Ever wonder what local high school kids think about life in Cincinnati? The Cincinnati Art Museum is the place to find out this Saturday when the Clark Montessori Student Documentary Showcase offers short documentaries created by nine teams of students. The projects are a result of the school's Intersession program, which allows two weeks of in-depth study that leads to hands-on experience with the material. Nine groups of three to four students set out to capture their versions of life in Cincinnati examining neighborhood, family and social issues. The pieces will range from five to 10 minutes and themes include single-parent vs. traditional families, the effects of illegal drugs on a neighborhood and city life. 2 p.m. $5; free for high school students. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Danny Cross

EVENTS: THE INTERNATIONAL BUTTERFLY SHOW With beauty, grace and poise, winged creatures have taken over the Krohn Conservatory, and they don't plan on leaving any time soon. The International Butterfly Show is kicking off The Silk Road theme with thousands of butterflies fluttering and interacting with each other, art and even you. This year, the Conservatory is celebrating Asia (hence the Silk Road theme) by not only creating a delicate display of native butterflies but also a breathtaking array of plants, some of which Chinese citizens still depend on for everyday survival. As the butterflies gracefully soar overhead, be transformed by authentic Asian music and dance. Let the butterflies kiss your cheek and tickle your nose, but be sure to wipe off any unwanted "residue." The exhibit is in town until June 15, so get out of your chrysalis and soar on down. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $4-$6. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Beth Rudolph

MUSIC: ARMOR FOR SLEEP and a host of Emo-pimpin' buddies take over Bogart's. See Sound Advice here.

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