CINCINNATI -- Winter weather recently arrived in Cincinnati, but your entertainment options are not limited to making snowmen. Our city is full of great performances; here are nine great choices this season.
A Moveable Feast, Jan. 22. The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music — best known as “CCM” — trains actors, dancers, musicians and designers on their way to becoming the “stars of tomorrow.” CCM’s Moveable Feast is a showcase for all of them, using the state-of-the-art stages and facilities of CCM Village. The “feast” offers a smorgasbord of jazz, orchestra, string quartet, musical theater, dance, drama, opera, choral music, steel drum band and preparatory department, plus backstage and electronic media tours and lighting demonstrations. Brief intervals between performances allow for grazing bites from some of Cincinnati’s best caterers. The event, presented by the Friends of CCM, raises funds for scholarships. Call: 513-556-2100; ccm.uc.edu/support/friends. Tickets: $75.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Jan. 22-23. Contemporary Dance Theatre gives you a chance to witness the remarkable New York City dance troupe that resulted from an 11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. Their company, which has performed in more than 200 cities around the world, changed the face of American dance, redefining duets and foreshadowing issues of identity, form and social commentary. Performances are at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. If you attend the Friday evening event, stay afterward for a free reception with the dancers. Box office: 513-621-2787; cincinnatiarts.org. Tickets: $22-$32.
World premiere plays at the Cincinnati Playhouse, Jan. 23-March 6. Catch two new shows at Cincinnati’s Tony Award-winning regional theater, both by rising female playwrights. Karen Zacarías’s "Native Gardens" (Jan. 23-Feb. 21) uses comedy about neighbors with opposing ideas on gardening — a laid-back environmental approach vs. structured formality — to dig into deeper issues of taste, class, privilege and entitlement. On the Playhouse’s mainstage, it features Tony winner Karen Ziemba in a key role. Before that one is over, the Mount Adams theater will open Lauren Gunderson’s "The Revolutionists" (Feb. 6-March 6) on the intimate Shelterhouse stage. This one is a darkly imaginative story set during the French Revolution as four women from history — a playwright, an assassin, an activist and Queen Marie Antoinette — consider how to save themselves from the guillotine and beat back extremist insanity in Paris. Plan your theatergoing for a weekend when these shows overlap (Feb. 6-21) for a local festival of new works. Box office: 513-421-3888; cincyplay.com. Tickets: $30-$85.
"Dancing with the Stars" at the Taft Theatre, Jan. 24. ABC's Emmy Award-winning dance competition show makes a one-night stop in Cincinnati. Featuring several popular competitors, the tour re-creates memorable dances from the show and offers new routines performed by champion Melissa Rycroft, Witney Carson, Keo Motsepe, Emma Slater and others. The evening employs a playlist of contemporary hits and, of course, the costumes are glorious. Seeing it live adds a dimension you don’t get on TV, and no one gets eliminated during this all-star evening. Box office: 800-745-3000; ticketmaster.com, tafttheatre.org. Tickets: $47-$75.
"Cinderella" by the Cincinnati Ballet at the Aronoff Center, Feb. 12-14. Accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and choreographed by artistic director Victoria Morgan, this will be a revitalized production from 2010 with new dances, refurbished sets and updated costumes. The riotous stepsisters are played hilariously by men in drag, and a larger-than-life pumpkin explodes to reveal a redesigned carriage. Puppet mice and more than 80 children from the Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy make this a pleasing, family-friendly production. Box office: 513-621-5282; cballet.org. Tickets: $32-$110.
American orchestral favorites by the Cincinnati Symphony, Feb. 19-20. A lot of the music performed by the CSO originated in Europe. But music director Louis Langrée will conduct a program of American masters, including Copland’s "Appalachian Spring," with melodies that capture the vast openness of the American landscape and the country's pioneer spirit. Concertmaster Timothy Lees performs Barber’s Violin Concerto, with elegant opening strains and virtuoso fireworks to close, a perfect showcase for his artistry. The program includes music by Leonard Bernstein for the 1954 movie "On the Waterfront," melodies reflecting the docks and slums of postwar New Jersey. Box office: 513-381-3300; cincinnatisymphony.org. Tickets: $10-$87.
"Newsies," at the Aronoff Center, March 1-13. A so-so 1992 Disney movie about newspaper delivery boys going on strike in New York City during the summer of 1899 became a 2012 Broadway musical hit. It picked up Tonys for music (by Alan Menken, who composed "Beauty and the Beast") and exciting choreography. This is a heartwarming story -- with a lot of energetic dancing -- about underdog kids who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to legendary newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst to air grievances about underpaid child laborers. Box office: 513-621-2787; cincinnatiarts.org. Tickets: $29-$107.
"American Idiot" at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theatre, March 3-13. CCM’s Broadway-bound musical theater talent offers one of the first university-level productions of this show, a Tony-winning hit musical based on Green Day's multi-platinum album of the same name. It’s an energy-fueled rock opera about three disgruntled buddies who struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world. When they leave behind their hometown for the thrills of city life, their paths diverge. One joins the Army, one must return home for family responsibilities, and the third is seduced by love and drugs. (The show is for mature audiences.) Box office: 513-556-4183; www.ccm.uc.edu. Tickets: $31-$35.
MusicNOW Festival at Music Hall, March 18-19. See the Cincinnati Symphony in a very different mode when it partners for another intersection of classical, rock and indie music genres. The festival’s director is Bryce Dessner of the National, an indie band with gold-plated credentials; this will be the third year he has collaborated with the CSO’s Louis Langrée for innovative concerts. Over its 10-year history MusicNOW has showcased contemporary musicians and risk-taking artists who don’t fit neatly into defined categories. Want to see where music is headed? Here’s a great chance. Box office: 513-381-3300; cincinnatisymphony.org. Tickets: $10-$92.