ONSTAGE: FOREVER PLAID, a dinner musical presented by the Commonwealth Theatre Company, masters tight harmony. See Tom McElfresh's review here.
ART: TAFT MUSEUM OF ART allows you to experience art without feeling the pressure to get to the masterworks in Views From the Uffizi. See Laura James' review here.
ART: CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM Only a fraction of the Cincinnati Art Museum's collection is ever on display in the exhibition space available. With its new exhibition Long Time No See: Hidden Treasures from the Cincinnati Art Museum, this conundrum gets addressed, whetting our appetite for even more treasures than are seen here. The exhibition also doubles as a smart pitch for the museum's need for more space with a concept proposal and model by Neutelings Riedijk, the architectural firm tasked to envision new elements of the museum. The playful materials generated by this firm are entrancing. The galleries are conceived to resemble museum storage, with the two-dimensional works hung on skeletons of walls built from cheap lumber. Clever juxtapositions abound throughout, such as a metallic garment by Issey Miyake beside an Italian suit of armor.
There are a number of amazing pastel drawings by many artists of importance: Frank Duveneck, Robert Blum and Jennifer Bartlett to name a few. A recent Mark Fox piece might seem discordant from any great distance, but the intimate chatter of every kind of picture in dialogue is a lovely reminder of Fox's mastery as seen in Dust, his solo exhibition at the CAM in 2003. My favorite piece is a Mixografia print by Kiki Smith that is a pop-up, embellished with silver glitter and images of roses. Through Aug. 31. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. —Matt Morris
COMEDY: TERRY FATOR If you were surprised that a ventriloquist won last year's edition of NBC's America's Got Talent, you are probably less astonished than the man who accomplished that feat, Terry Fator. The Dallas-native thought about trying out for the show's first season but decided against it. Then he saw what the show did for a ventriloquist that did try out. "He was able to further his career by being on the show," Fator says. He figured he'd make it on to three episodes at best and then use the exposure to put more butts in the seats at his live shows. "I didn't give myself even a slight chance of winning it," he says. "People would tell me, 'I think you're going to win,' and I'd say, 'I appreciate that, but there's no way America's going to vote a ventriloquist the best act in the country. It's just not going to happen." People did, however. Fator, you see, is not your garden-variety ventriloquist. Also a capable impressionist, he decided just over two years ago to combine his two talents. "I was doing the impressions and people were amused," he says. "I was doing ventriloquism and people were amused. When I put the two together and I started doing the impressions without moving my lips, through puppets, people went completely nuts." Fator performs at The Funny Bone on the Levee 8 p.m. Wednesday. $40. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — P.F. Wilson
ART: CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER Trying to prove that visual art is more interesting, if not better, when you can sing along to it, the Contemporary Arts Center is continuing American Idyll: Contemporary Art and Karaoke through Aug. 31. But it's not all about singing — one of the best pieces in the multi-artist, multi-installation show encourages laughter ... to a point. "He who laughs last laughs longest" by Phil Collins (a Scottish video artist, not the vanilla-flavored Genesis guy) records more than seven minutes of a laughing contest featuring a group of everyday folks competing for a cash prize. It's funny for a while; the spirits on display are so ebullient you want to laugh along. But it quickly becomes oppressive and shrill, as if these people are literally laughing themselves to death. By the time it's over, you crave air or silence — anything but false hilarity. You also wonder what in the world people will do for money. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Steven Rosen
ATTRACTIONS: FROG BOG It's jumping down at the Newport Aquarium with the brand new exhibit, Frog Bog. This fun and educational adventure features more than 20 species of exotic frogs from around the world. Children can hop from exciting game to exciting game all while learning about these fascinating creatures and the environmental issues they're dealing with. The interactive exhibit experience allows kids to make frog music by hopping to the beat. They can also play a Frogger-type game by jumping on lily pads, or simply explore the exhibit by climbing through tunnels and going down slides. Also, families can't beat the new summer deals the aquarium is offering. During the summer family hours (4:30-7 p.m. Sunday-Friday) up to two kids (12 and under) can get into the aquarium for free with each paying adult. On top of that, each kid will receive a coupon for a free Kid's Meal at participating Bob Evans restaurants. And don't forget about the aquarium's extended summer hours, which are 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Sunday-Friday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday through Aug. 30. With these great deals and new, longer hours there's no excuse to miss out on this phenomenal new exhibit. $18.95 for adults. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Chris Boyer
MUSIC: KAISERCARTEL Though far from hokey, there is something pure, honest and sunshine-y about the music of Brooklyn-based Indie duo KaiserCartel. The directness and simplicity may have something to do with the two musicians' day jobs — both work with young children teaching music and arts. The mix of innocence and experience is part of what makes KaiserCartel's music so endearing. The couple delivers bright, simple melodies and harmonies encased in a puffy cloud of whistles, xylophone and basic guitar and drums with an aura of wise soulfulness hovering over the proceedings at all times. Another reason it works so well is the clear musical connection Courtney Kaiser and Ben Cartel share — like Mates of State, the duo are romantically involved and seemingly channel that relationship into an unbreakable musical telepathy. KC's recently released long-player, March Forth (a play on the date they first met — March 4), has a folksy simplicity, underpinned with a rich Indie Pop fullness. Live, the group is said to bring the intimacy strong, strolling through the audience to serenade the audience members personally. The twosome brings its show to the Gypsy Hut Thursday. The free show also features Philly's Perkasie and Dayton's Moon High. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Mike Breen
MUSIC: MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD shake up the music industry methodology with their "Radiolarian Series" at the Madison Theater in Covington. See interview here.
ONSTAGE: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK What's it take to become a classic play? Staying power is one criteria. Staging multiple productions is another. Perhaps being made into a movie helps. The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's stock-in-trade is classics — typically by Shakespeare, of course, but also by other venerable playwrights like Anton Chekhov, Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. Does Neil Simon fill the bill? Don't laugh. (Well actually you should, because that's the reaction his scripts evoke.) This summer Cincy Shakes is producing one of Simon's best early comedies: Barefoot in the Park, which opened 45 years ago and ran for 1,530 performances — a Broadway record seldom surpassed by non-musicals today. It didn't hurt that a young Robert Redford (all of 26 when the show opened) played the beleaguered husband of a newlywed couple who fight, disconnect and reconnect. Simon's flair for zany situations with oddball characters kept audiences entertained and coming back. CSC director Brian Phillips says, "Whether you grew up watching The Honeymooners or Dharma and Greg, you'll recognize the easy, breezy style that Neil Simon perfected in this comedic gem." His cast includes Justin McCombs (in Redford's role) and Lauren Shively as the young couple. They're joined by Cincinnati stage favorites Michael Bath as Victor Velasco, an eccentric neighbor and Sherman Fracher as Ethel, the bride's neurotic mother. Smiles for a summer night — whether Barefoot is a classic or not. $20-$26. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Rick Pender
EVENTS: CIVIL WAR REENACTMENT There's nothing fun about hearing gunshots in Cincinnati. That is, unless it's coming from a muzzleloader. I'm talking, of course, about a Civil War reenactment hosted by Gorman Heritage Farm and the Evendale Historical Commission. The story goes that in 1863, Brigadier-General John Hunt Morgan of the Confederacy decided to be a punk and cross the Ohio River into Indiana and Ohio against the direct orders of his superiors. After an unsuccessful attempt to cross the river back into Kentucky, Morgan and his remaining men continued North through Ohio pilfering goods from houses and stores. To learn more about Morgan's "Great Raid" and witness a 19th-century ass-whoopin', you'll have to attend. Also enjoy a program of traditional American music presented by Greg Jowaisas, see a new and vintage quilt display and buy Civil War memorabilia and clothing. Activities for kids include crafts, searching for buried valuables and experiencing life in the 1860's. $6; $4 kids/seniors. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Battles take place at 2:30 p.m. daily. Gorman Farm, 10052 Reading Road, Evendale. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Brian Cross
EVENTS: 24-HOUR FILM SCHOOL For one day only, Hollywood is coming to Cincinnati in the form of the 24-Hour Film School. If you are interested in a career in filmmaking or screenwriting, it's an opportunity you won't see everyday. The one-day workshop involves successful Hollywood artists representing the most common fields in the trade (filmmakers, producers and screen writers) giving personal information and insider tips on how big movies actually get made. Besides the educational aspect, the event also serves as a venue for networking with others in the local and national film community. David Donnelly, a native Cincinnatian, is a young filmmaker who has achieved success in the film industry and now lives in L.A. He is currently in Cincinnati shooting an independent feature film and has organized this event to make Hollywood resources available to aspiring filmmakers in his hometown. Donnelly says his goal is to narrow the gap between dreams and reality for actors and filmmakers across the country by offering opportunities and access to those outside the Hollywood system. $175. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday at the Cincinnati Airport Hilton, 7373 Turfway Road, Florence. Seating is limited, enroll at: www.24hourfilmschool.com. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Elizabeth Wu
EVENTS: CLASSIC CAR SHOW Some things get better with age, like fine wine, toddlers and vintage Chevrolets. All are invited to view the four-wheeled wonders at the Eastgate Classic Chevy 27th Annual Car Show and Swap Meet at Sharon Woods. The show, which features Chevy's from 1912 to 1972, is free and includes live 1950s and '60s music, food and games for the younger set. Registration is from 9 a.m.-noon on Sunday, and awards are given out at 4 p.m. Don't miss this celebration of the classic Chevy. www.eastgateclassicchevyclub.com. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Bessie Taliaferro
MUSIC: TIM EASTON plays his blend of swaggering Roots Rock at the Taft Museum of Art with Matthew Shelton. See Sound Advice preview here.
MUSIC: SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN supports their sophomore album, Pershing, at the Mad Hatter. See Sound Advice preview here.
LITERARY: NATHAN SINGER Local author Nathan Singer's latest literary punch to the gut, In the Light of You, grabs one from the get-go via expressive, lacerating prose and a brisk narrative engine drunk on its own unique rhythm. Like Singer's previous trips to America's dark underbelly, this self-proclaimed "Punk novel" is a coming-of-age tale that explores the nature of identity and so-called freedom in a world handcuffed by conformity. "I've been told that I tend to speak loudly and very quickly, and that my vocabulary can be abrasive, so that's probably how the words end up on the page as well," Singer says of his taut prose style. Published by Bleak House Books, In the Light of You is the result of a similiarly organic process. "I never really set out to be a professional novelist," he says. "Or playwright, for that matter. Instead I've spent my entire life writing and playing music, so I was pretty sure that music would be my primary focus. Writing novels, short stories, spoken-word performance pieces, that was all just something I did more for myself. But when my first novel A Prayer for Dawn got published I went, 'Hmm, OK, I guess I'm a writer now." Uh, hmm, we should all be so lucky. Singer reads from and discusses In the Light of You 7 p.m. Tuesday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. — Jason Gargano
MUSIC: DANIEL MARTIN MOORE, the Northern Kentucky native who was recently signed to Sub Pop, plays his slow-burning, self-assured Folk music at The Southgate House. See interview here.