ONSTAGE: MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL If you're older than 50 and female, perhaps the subject of "the change of life" brings you together with friends. If so, you might find yourself with other like-minded women at Menopause: The Musical. The show has been a hit since 2001 when it began in a perfume shop in Orlando. It comes to Cincinnati for seven performances at the Taft Theatre (with more than the 76 seats in the perfume shop). Menopause uses old Baby Boom musical hits — "Stayin' Alive" becomes "Stayin' Awake," for example — and I guess that makes sense, since there's not much about menopause that's new. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — RICK PENDER
MUSIC: AS I LAY DYING plays Bogart's. See Sound Advice here.
COMEDY: TIG NOTARO She thought she wanted to be in the music business, so much so that she left her home in Texas and headed to L.A. Notaro found herself increasingly hanging out in comedy clubs before finally deciding to take the stage herself. "It was one of those things where I really enjoyed doing it while I was doing it," she says of the music business.
"(But) when I finally started doing stand-up, nothing that I ever did before made any sense." While she still enjoys making music, she has no desire to fold songs into her act. "I have started a band with a bunch of other comedians," she says. "A real casual situation. I don't think there's plans for a tour, but it's fun to write songs and play with people." Notaro performs Thursday-Sunday at Go Bananas in Montgomery. $8-$12. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — P.F. WILSON
MUSIC: SHARON JONES AND THE DAP KINGS give Bogart's an injection of Soul. See interview here.
ONSTAGE: TOPDOG/UNDERDOG This weekend offers the first round in a pair of prize fights from Know Theatre of Cincinnati with Suzan-Lori Parks' 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner, Topdog/Underdog, about two brothers locked in a desperate struggle for survival and dominance. Abandoned by their parents who ironically named them Lincoln and Booth, the pair are in their thirties and want to escape their grim lives. Lincoln, a card shark, has broken from his criminal past and impersonates Abraham Lincoln at an arcade. Booth, a successful petty thief, envies his brother's success "throwing cards" and wants to learn the finer points of the game. Who's up and who's down is the dramatic engine that drives Parks' powerful script. Amping up the electricity are actors Derek Snow and Todd Patterson and director Richard Hess, drama professor at CCM. Next week Know completes the one-two punch with Adam Rapp's 2006 Pulitzer finalist, Red Light Winter, pitting two college friends adrift in Amsterdam and contending for the affections of the same woman. This weekend it's all Topdog/Underdog. Red Light Winter has the weekend of Feb. 8-10, then the shows will be presented on a more or less alternating schedule. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — RICK PENDER
LITERARY: MARCO MARSAN Ever wonder what the world would be like if the Roman Empire hadn't disintegrated amid an avalanche of decadence and corruption? Local author Marco Marsan imagines just that in his new novel The Lion's Way, a history-revising head-scratcher that raises a host of intriguing what-ifs while at the same time working as a rollicking page-turner. Marsan's adventurously conceived story (which is co-written with Peter Lloyd) reveals that the Romans have "conquered the world under an enlightened political policy inspired by an all-but-forgotten rabbi, whom readers will recognize as Jesus." Yes, that means Marsan works from the idea that Jesus Christ and Christianity as we know them never happened. The author will discuss his provocative conceit and no doubt more during a discussion at Barnes and Noble in West Chester from 7-9 p.m. Friday. (Get event details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — JASON GARGANO
EVENTS: MARDI GRAS The year's first big party might have crept up on you, as Mardi Gras is about as early as it can possibly be. That's still no excuse not to get involved. Covington hosts a big weekend of fun, starting with the 12th annual MainStrasse Village Mardi Gras Friday and Saturday. Parades begin at 8 p.m. each night, with live music following under the big tent at Fifth and Main streets where New Orleans-style food will be served. ($10 in advance each night, $15 at the gate, 859-491-0458.) ... Also tonight, head over to the Madison Theater for the fourth annual Mardi Gras with Robin Lacy & Dezydeco, featuring great music as well as New Orleans-style food and drinks. Costumes recommended. A portion of the proceeds benefits New Orleans Habitat for Humanity. ($8 general admission, 859-491-2444.) (Buy tickets to the MainStrasse event and find nearby bars and restaurants here. Buy tickets to the Robin Lacy event and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — JOHN FOX
ART: The ART ACADEMY OF CINCINNATI'S CONVERGYS GALLERY offers up some "Love." See Focal Point here.
MUSIC: The aptly named LEE ROCKER of Stray Cats fame rips up the Southgate House. See Sound Advice here.
EVENTS: GRAND REOPENING AT THE LIBRARY Library "customers" are invited to the opening celebration of the newly transformed main branch library downtown. Aside from the fact that our tax dollars pay for this library and "patron" is not a dirty word (the last time I checked a for-profit business hasn't taken over the place), it is a great opportunity to learn how to check out your own books and find out where all of the various departments have moved. A ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday will kick off a launch party that includes entertainment, music and guided tours. You have to tour to be registered to win a Dell Laptop or one of three MP3 players. New departments, including the TechCenter, TeenSpot and Homework Central, will be open for tours through Feb. 8. Free. (Get details here.) — MARGO PIERCE
EVENTS: MARDI GRAS Findlay Market hosts Mardi Gras at the Market, with merchants sprucing up the market thanks to a competition for best Mardi Gras decorations, costumes, food and spirit. Live music by Lagniappe, Robin Lacy & DeZydeco and The Medicine Menruns will be performed from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Cynthia Brown leads her annual free crawfish boil beginning at noon. (Free, 513-665-4839.) ... Covington's big weekend of fun continues with the 12th annual MainStrasse Village Mardi Gras at 8 p.m., with live music following under the big tent at Fifth and Main streets where New Orleans-style food will be served. ($10 in advance, $15 at the gate, 859-491-0458.) (Get details for the Findlay Market event and find nearby bars and restaurants here. Buy tickets to the MainStrasse event and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — JOHN FOX
ART: THE DAYTON ART INSTITUTE looks at The Creative Eye. See review here.
ONSTAGE: Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. serves a double-dip of existentialism via ENDGAME and NO EXIT. See review here.
MUSIC: The Mad Hatter hosts TIGER ARMY. See interview here.
MUSIC: ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE causes a ruckus at the Southgate House. See Sound Advice here.
EVENTS: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL The University of Cincinnati hosts the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, a free, traveling event featuring five courageous documentaries from around the globe. MainStreet Cinema, located inside UC's Tangeman University Center, presents the festival, starting with the award-winning 2006 film Enemies of Happiness. Enemies focuses on Malalai Joya, who challenged Afghani warlords in her country's 2005 election. Tuesday brings We'll Never Meet Childhood Again, the Romanian/UK story of foster parents who adopt infants infected with HIV. Wednesday's White Light/Black Rain discusses the realistic threat of nuclear war, and on Thursday Everything's Cool takes a satiric look at the global warming debate. The festival ends with Cocalero, the award-winning account of Bolivian president Evo Morales. 7 p.m. Feb. 4-8. (Get event details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — KEVIN BRUCE
MUSIC: LOVE IN OCTOBER Nothing cures a "case of the Mondays" like a little love. And some raucous Power Pop made by some Swedes wouldn't hurt either. Lucky for you, Love in October is stopping by Dirty Jack's in Elmwood Place this Monday for a show with the local popsters of Fizzgig. LiO began in Minneapolis in 2006, formed by Swedish bros Erik and Kent Widman, who landed in the states at the start of the millennium. Greasing the wheels with an acclaimed 2007 EP, the band just released its debut long-player, Pontius, the Devil, and Me. With Moog synth squiggles adding an air of New Wave (like OK Go or Motion City Soundtrack) and pining vocals and lyrics giving the album some Emo spark, LiO also captures a vintage vibe that shows a firm understanding of classic "Pop Rock" writing (a la Fountains of Wayne). If the music isn't enough to tempt you into attendance, perhaps promises of a stage show featuring "improvisation, skits, costumes, stage props and choreographed dance routines" will do the trick. Those are far from the first thing you think of when you listen to LiO's music, but that only makes it all the more intriguing. Singer Erik Widman says LiO doesn't mind being called "a Swedish Pop Rock band," though he does object to being called a "band": "I see LiO venturing into other artistic areas over the years," he says. Whether that means replicating the open artistic ideals of The Beatles' old Apple Corps concept or spreading the LiO brand name like a P&G product (the new KISS?) remains to be seen. Or maybe the LiO Variety Hour is coming to a TV network near you soon. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — MIKE BREEN
CLASSICAL MUSIC: TRIO CON BRIO COPENHAGEN How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Apparently you leave from Cincinnati — at least that's the method planned by world-renowned Trio con Brio Copenhagen. After making their Cincinnati debut at the Robert J. Werner Recital Hall at UC's College-Conservatory of Music at 8 p.m. Tuesday, the acclaimed piano trio headlines New York's most prestigious concert hall three days later. For their first Cincinnati visit, the trio — pianist Jens Elvekjaer, violinist Soo-Jin Hong and cellist Soo-Kyung Hong — plans a powerful program of Haydn's Trio in C Major, Hob. XV:27, Ravel's Trio and Shostakovich's Trio in E Minor. Tickets for Trio con Brio Copenhagen, presented by Cincinnati Chamber Music, are $25, $10 for students and free for ages 17 and under. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — BRIAN BAKER
ART: 1305 GALLERY While the rest of Main Street in Over-the-Rhine seems to lie in some kind of hibernation, 1305 Gallery presents Rachel Girard Reisert, who has untangled a series of sleek photographs into pairs and clusters across the warm brown walls of the space. The back-story is that Reisert stalked through "backyards of friends and acquaintances bearing witness to those things which resided therein." The resulting collection of works captures minutiae from nature and an accompanying vanitas symbolism with startling exactitude. Pastoral imagery like nests and flowers are anything but sentimental when organized in the space alongside portrayals of insect corpses and discarded lizard skin. Signs of human life like jumbles of string, wooden wedges and glass jars are unflinchingly documented as serendipitous still-lifes. These pensive, stark photographs might even inspire more life back into the art community in the neighborhood. Exhibition continues through Feb. 23. (Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — MATT MORRIS