Category Archives: Detroit Shoreway

Cleveland Scares: West Clinton Historic Haunts Walking Tour

Giveaway Reminder: You have until Monday, Sept. 30 at 11:59pm to enter the L’Amour du Vin giveaway. Remember to tweet daily for extra entries, and tune into WEOL 940AM on Oct. 1 at 8:10AM, when Dr. Donald Sheldon – EMH president and CEO, and honorary chair of this year’s event – is scheduled to be interviewed.
Our garden gnomes are ready for Halloween. Are you?

Our garden gnomes are ready for Halloween. Are you?

The Halloween decorations and fall flowers have started to go up around the Hicken house, and with October’s arrival comes Halloween festivities. has a good list of haunted houses in Northeast Ohio, from zombies galore at Burton’s Undead Armageddon Haunted Forest and Elyria Hauntville’s 3-D zombie paintball hunt to the Mansfield Reformatory and Hudson Haunted House. Then of course there’s Cedar Point’s Halloweekends and Boo at the Zoo.

Personally, I love my Halloween haunts mixed with a bit of history, which is what you’ll find in the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood next weekend.

Ghoulish tourguides at the West Clinton Historic Haunts Walking Tour

Ghoulish tourguides at the West Clinton Historic Haunts Walking Tour

On October 4 and 5, the West Clinton Historic Haunts Walking Tour will transport you to 1910 Cleveland. Guests will be met by famed former Cleveland Mayor Tom L. Johnson at Cleveland Public Theatre’s Parish Hall (6205 Detroit Avenue).

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Giveaway: CCFA Movie Gala with Luxe at Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theatre and Luxe partner to help the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

Call me old-fashioned, but there is nothing like dinner and a movie when it comes to date night. And in Cleveland, the Capitol Theatre and surrounding restaurants in Gordon Square are Scott’s and my go-to.

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge, XYZ, and Stone Mad are all great dinner and drink options right around the historic Capitol, while Happy Dog, Spice, Reddstone, and Battery Park Wine Bar are just a walk away. If you’re in the mood for a well-crafted coffee, there’s Gypsy Beans. And Sweet Moses Soda Fountain is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth.

On October 25th, one of Gordon Square’s finest – Luxe – is teaming up with the Capitol Theatre to present a night full of culinary and cinematic treats, raising dinner and a movie to new heights.

At the second annual Cleveland Movie Gala to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, guests will enjoy gourmet food from Luxe, cocktails and staggered film screenings from 7 to 11pm.

I love the Capitol’s 1920s-era decor and architecture and think it’ll be a fantastic backdrop for the event. And with Chef Brian Okin’s creativity and skill in the kitchen, the food is sure to match (here’s my review of the CLE Dinner Club visit to Luxe if you want a glimpse at his talent).

CCFA Movie Gala: Oct. 25, 7-11pm

All of this will go to support the work of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  CCFA continually works to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis while improving the quality of life for children and adults affected by these diseases.

From clinical research to educational programs and supportive services for those with chronic intestinal diseases, CCFA is there to help the 1.4 million Americans who are currently diagnosed (in Northeast Ohio alone, there is an estimated 20,000 people diagnosed).  This video from a young boy who just had surgery for UC really helped demonstrate the importance of CCFA’s work for me.

I hope you’ll join me at the CCFA Movie Gala and support the Northeast Ohio chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Purchase general admission tickets for only $50 for an evening of food, two drink tickets and a movie ticket (VIP tickets include all of this + an open bar for $100).

You can also enter my giveaway to win a pair of tickets!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway

**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) My favorite excuse to visit Capitol is for their Sunday Classics series. Watching Charade surrounded by the Capitol’s vintage aesthetic is a great way to spend a Sunday morning. What’s your favorite classic film? Leave a comment on this post for one entry.

2) Like the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation – Northeast Ohio Chapter and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

3) Post a link to this page ( on your Facebook wall and leave a comment letting me know you did.

4) Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “I want to win tickets to @CCFA_NEOhio’s Movie Gala. Enter @ADHicken’s #CCFAneo giveaway for your chance to win:”  (Each day you do this, you must leave a new comment.)

5) Subscribe to receive Clue Into Cleveland blog posts in your inbox or blog reader like Google Reader and leave a comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “You’ve Got Mail” section of this page.

You have until Thursday, Oct. 4 at 11:59PM to enter. On Friday, Oct. 5, I will select a winner using and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided 2 general admission tickets to give away to the CCFA Movie Gala and a pair for myself in exchange for this post. As always, though, my thoughts and the final choice of events I share are my own.

Pandemonium Celebrates Cleveland Public Theatre Season

Blogkeeping Note: You have until 11:59 pm on Sept. 4 to enter the Taste of the Browns giveaway – good luck!

Celebrate the start of the 2012-2013 theatre season with Cleveland Public Theatre on Sept. 8

Cleveland theatre fans, rejoice! The summer break is over and many of our local theatres are ready to premiere their new seasons. A few quick bits of note:

  • Football and theatre enthusiasts alike will love Cleveland Playhouse‘s Lombardi.
  • The thought-provoking, but comedic Milk Milk Lemonade is currently playing through Sept. 8 at the often-off-the-wall, boundary-pushing convergence continuum.
  • Beck Center for the Arts mounts the first locally produced run of Xanadu.
  • And community auditions for Near West Theatre‘s November production of Children of Eden just wrapped (they’re still seeking volunteers for backstage crew and front-of-house work — call 216-961-9750 if interested).

If you want to keep up-to-date on what’s onstage,’s theatre page and BroadwayWorld Cleveland are my favorite sites to bookmark.

CPT’s Pandemonium features dozens of local theatre, dance, visual and performance artists

Cleveland Public Theatre, in particular, knows this time of year is one to celebrate. So before they roll out their 2012-2013 shows in October, they’re throwing their 10th annual Pandemonium bash on September 8.

At Pandemonium: House of Dreams, CPT invites you to “choose your own adventure” with an extravaganza that features dozens of local theatre, dance, visual and performance artists and fabulous food and drink.

At Pandemonium, performances will pop up (or drop in) in the most-unexpected places

Check-in starts at 7pm, where guests will receive a performance schedule for the night. From there the evening is up to you as innovative performances will be popping up in surprise spots throughout CPT’s campus:

  • Dance performances will feature Verb ballets, Inlet Dance Theatre, Wind and Sand Dance Company, Double-Edge Dance, Kevin Marr, Antaeus Dance and MorrisonDance.
  • Live music by We the People, Queue Up, Last Call Cleveland, and Bobby Williams.
  • Stand-up comedy by Ramon Rivas’ Accidental Comedy Feast.
  • Original work by CPT’s The Dark Room, Eric Schmiedl, Holly Holsinger, Greg Vovos, Opera Per Tutti, Theater Ninjas and dozens more.
  • Wandering performances by Talespinners Children’s Theatre, Ray McNeice, Robin VanLear, and Mark Zust.
  • Cabaret Acts featuring Paul Hoffman and Alison Garrigan.
  • Original performances by Raymond Bobgan.
  • And installations by Jeon Francis and mother/daughter team Faye & Joan Hargate.

Meanwhile, chefs from BonBon Bake Shop, Latitude 41 N, Luxe Kitchen and Lounge, Root Café, Touch Food Truck and XYZ Grill and Tavern will be cooking up an outdoor feast. Treats from Sweet Moses and tastings from AMP 150, Players, Light Bistro, Fat Cats, Vento La Trattoria and Tartine will also be available.

The evening culminates with music and dancing til midnight.

Pandemonium supports CPT’s mission of developing new, adventurous works and education programs that speak to contemporary issues and empower positive change in the community

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $135 ($75 of which is tax-deductible) and valet parking, unlimited food, drinks and entertainment are included – so indulge yourself as much as you’d like with no regrets (at least til the next morning ;) )!

Purchase Pandemonium tickets online or call 216.631.2727 x 212.

Still need convincing? Catch a glimpse of last year’s Pandemonium experience then go get your tickets:


Pandemonium 2011 from Ted Sikora on Vimeo.

Photo Credits and Disclosure: Photos credited to Steve Wagner. Graphic provided by Cleveland Public Theatre.  A guest and I were invited to attend Pandemonium in exchange for sharing about it on my blog.

CLE Dinner Club and GHT Pop-Ups: Cleveland Culinary Experiences that Satisifed My Tastebuds and Wallet

Chefs Jonathon Sawyer and Amanda Freitag at the latest Brick and Mortar Pop-Up

After a long day at work, there is nothing I like better than dining out. Although I’ve tried, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that cooking is a fun past-time instead of just a chore.

Of course it’s hard to not want to go out to eat when there are so many great, local options.  At the end of a stressful day, I only need to walk a few blocks from work to find something to soothe my palate and nerves. And our drive home from downtown to Avon Lake is riddled with tempting culinary hotspots like Ohio City, Tremont and Gordon Square.

However, while my tastebuds may be happy, my wallet always isn’t. As Scott and I approach our thirties, money we used to reserve in our more careless carefree days for movies, dining out, and video games is now reserved for home improvements and savings.

And while the cost of a nice dinner out has always been more than justified by the quality of ingredients and the talent in our local kitchens, there are many more nights nowadays when I force myself to stick to a simple dinner at home.

At Greenhouse Tavern’s Brick and Mortar Pop-Up, guests could hang out upstairs on the rooftop and escape downstairs periodically to grab a bite to eat.

Every once in a while, though, we find an experience that makes both our wallets and our tastebuds happy.

Happy Dog’s entire menu, Noodlecat’s amazing happy hour deals and Hodge’s 2-for-$40 Tuesday special immediately come to mind.  And Cleveland blogger BiteBuff (a fellow novice in front of the stove) frequently highlights good dining deals that she’s encountered through her restaurant travels.

Recently, Scott and I attended a couple of incredible back-to-back dining events that were low on cost but overflowing in quality.

A selection of the offerings at Chef Freitag’s Brick and Mortar Cocktail Party.

Greenhouse Tavern tops my list of favorite restaurants in Cleveland (when Scott asked me where I wanted to go to dinner in a few weeks for my 30th birthday, GHT’s fifth quarter and pig’s head dishes immediately came to mind).

In addition to their standard fare, though, Chef Jonathon Sawyer will periodically invite visiting chefs to take over his kitchen for one night only.

These Brick & Mortar Pop-Ups have previously hosted Chefs Jason Roberts, Lee Anne Wong and Jeff Michaud. His most recent guest was Celebrity Chef Amanda Freitag of Food Network’s Chopped.

For her Brick & Mortar stint, Chef Freitag threw a cocktail party on Greenhouse Tavern’s rooftop.  After enjoying GHT’s rooftop on previous occasions, we knew it would be an excellent backdrop that could only be complemented by Freitag’s cooking.

We were not disappointed. Her menu featured a selection of bite-sized servings that may have been small in size but were huge on taste. A variety of these trays were placed throughout the mezzanine area of GHT and passed on occasion throughout the crowd on the rooftop.

Although I’m not sure if anyone was lucky enough to sample everything (I can attribute my sampling of most of the menu to Scott’s repeated trips downstairs to check for new trays), what we did taste we thoroughly enjoyed and we went back for a few seconds after everyone seemed to pass through.

The crowd was eager to try Chef Freitag’s dishes so trays quickly emptied. However, Scott and I bided our time throughout the night and managed to sample most of the menu by the end.

The herb-roasted potatoes with french onion dip, along with the 75 Day Aged Beef Sausage Double Down and Grilled Pimento Cheese Sammies were very appetizing, and I may borrow Freitag’s idea of mixing up kim chee butter next time I serve corn on the cob.

However, my favorite was the Heirloom Beet Borscht.  Everything about this dish — from the vibrant color to the rich texture and taste – resonated with me.  The small cups of borscht were complemented by a dollop of horseradish creme and micro greens on top.  The dish’s plating, taste and balanced ingredients won the night for me.

The ticket price for all of this food was only $19 and both the quality and quantity made this an instant value.

Cocktails, wine and beer were extra. And while you weren’t obligated to order any if you didn’t want to, I still came in under my budget when I ordered a Chef’s Special Smash cocktail.

Topped with a few sprigs of summer flowers, it featured tequila, raspberry puree, lemongrass and ginger.  Perfect sipping while enjoying downtown’s skyscape at the end of the night.

Chef’s Special Smash cocktail – as beautiful as a summer sunset

I wasn’t sure if anything could top Monday’s dinner, but then I attended my first CLE Dinner Club.

Twitter, where would I be without you? I had first read about these once-a-month Cleveland restaurant meetups through the @CLEDinnerClub twitter handle and reached out to to receive updates on future events.

Joe G. works with local chefs throughout Northeast Ohio to offer a one-night $40 prix fixe menu that focuses solely on the food and chefs’ mastery. The end result is a low-key evening spent exploring some of Cleveland’s best restaurants in good company.

After not being able to attend the last few times, I was finally able to attend the most recent CLE Dinner Club at Luxe.

Luxe’s Chef Brian Okin started his CLE Dinner Club feast with these beautifully stuffed zucchini blossoms (this was also the cleanest my plate would be for the rest of the night)

My previous trips to Luxe have only been for brunch, and with Chef Brian Okin recently taking over in the kitchen, I had been very eager to try it out for dinner.

Chef Okin strayed a little from CLE Dinner Club’s typical format and served everything family style – giving us ample opportunity to get to know our tablemates while picking and choosing what we wanted to try.

There was no picking and choosing for me, though. I sampled everything – and there was a lot. 

Saying there was “a lot of food” doesn’t do this dinner justice. As Bite Buff described in her review, this was a case of “Man vs. Brian Okin.”

Before I knew we had so much left to the dinner, I helped myself to a second spoonful of pork belly and poached egg. It tasted too good to regret, though.

After serving a delicious and colorful selection of stuffed zucchini blossoms, crispy brussels sprouts, their trio of Mediterranean dips, pizza and pork belly with poached eggs, I was already full and ready to leisurely finish my cocktail before heading home.

I wasn’t the only one who was already content with what we had been served at this point, since a few of us refilled out plates with more of the savory pork belly before realizing we still had more dinner to go.  In fact, this was only the first of three courses for the evening.

This selection of plates was followed by three large salads featuring prosciutto and melon with arugula; kale with ricotta and avocado; and shaved asparagus and fennel salad.  All three highlighted dramatically different tastes but I think the kale salad was my favorite.

Chef Okin still wasn’t done with us yet, though.  Looking back I don’t know how, but I managed to make room for the evening’s main attraction: a 6-dish list of entrees that still makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it.

From walleye in a dill sauce to chorizo sausage with creamy risotto; chicken and mushrooms; Himalayan rice and beans; and shrimp and grits with Ohio sweet corn, each dish packed a lot of flavor and showcased the range of Chef Okin’s ability.

Bad blogger! I’m pretty sure this dish was the sausage and risotto but by this point was so overwhelmed by all of the tastes (and the food coma I was slipping into), I forgot to note it.

However, it was the kangaroo that was the evening’s adventurous masterpiece. While I usually don’t prefer particularly gamey meat, I was glad to take a chance on this dish which was paired with blueberries and caramelized onions.

It tasted like a more intense cut of beef and the onions and blueberries lent a subtlety to temper the kangaroo’s flavor. After discussing the dish with a friend who used to live in Australia, she said it can be very easy to ruin kangaroo meat. Fortunately for everyone at the table, Chef Okin’s was a success.

My only wish is that the kangaroo was regularly on Luxe’s menu so I could bring Scott back. Because after telling (ok, maybe boasting) about it, he’s on a desperate search for kangaroo now.

Kangaroo, blueberries, potato and caramelized onions made for a hearty ending to CLE Dinner Club’s evening

Similar to the Brick and Mortar Pop-Up, the $40 did not cover beverages — which I actually prefer.  It allowed me to make the choice of how much I wanted to spend on drinks (which wasn’t much since I was driving).

Simply put, Chef Okin outdid himself. I don’t know if I’ll ever sit down to a dinner of that magnitude again.  And definitely not for $40. While Chef Okin had us all calling uncle by the end of dinner, I’ll take a defeat like that any day!

Thanks to Chefs Sawyer and Freitag as well as Joe G. and Chef Okin for hosting 2 events that demonstrate I can still enjoy extraordinary dining in Cleveland while balancing my budget.

This Weekend – Cleveland Fests from East to West!

Another week is almost done – what are you doing this weekend?

If you don’t have plans, a slate of festivals have you covered from the east to westsides.  Get out this weekend (bring a water bottle – it’s going to be hot) and experience the unique art and entertainment our community has to offer:

23rd Annual Parade the Circle takes place this Saturday in University Circle

Parade the Circle and Party in the Square

Parade the Circle returns this Saturday, June 9th from 11am-4pm (the parade itself starts at noon).  For more than 20 years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been bringing this free signature summer event to Greater Cleveland – it’s one of my favorite things about June in Cleveland.

At the start of each summer, University Circle fills with color, music, and art for all ages. International and national guest artists join Greater Cleveland artists, families, schools, and community groups in a spectacular display of bright costumes, giant puppets, stilt-dancers, handmade masks, and colorful floats.

The 2012 parade route – themed around Branches Become Roots – will begin and end at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, moving in a clockwise direction along Wade Oval Drive and East Blvd. The parade will end by turning onto Wade Oval.  In addition to the Parade, University Circle Inc. hosts Circle Village, filling Wade Oval with activities, entertainment, and food.

Download the Parade Program here.  A parking map is also available and free valet bicycle parking will be provided by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op in front of the Cleveland Institute of Art from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Parade the Circle guests can take a free shuttle back and forth to Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day

For the third year, Parade the Circle guests can also hop over to the westside for Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day.  University Circle and Gordon Square Arts District will provide a FREE shuttle service to and from Parade the Circle and Gordon Square.

Round-trip shuttles will be available all day with the Eastside shuttle picking up at East Blvd. and Bellflower every hour between 10:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and the Westside shuttle picking up at the corner of West 65th and Detroit every half-hour between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

At Gordon Square Day, you can enjoy free classic cartoons at Capitol Theatre, live performances at CPT’s and Near West Theatre’s outdoor stages, art galleries, pop-up shops and food and drinks.  For more information, visit

WMC Fest runs all weekend long – starting Friday with an evening of bands

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

If you can’t wait for Saturday, the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest starts tomorrow (Friday, June 8) and runs through Sunday.

The Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is heralded as the premier art, design, and music event in the Midwest. Now in its third year, 1,000+ attendees will descend on Cleveland to enjoy 20 inspiring speakers, 20 artists and designers, and almost 30 bands.

Part conference, part concert, part art show, and part festival, WMC Fest’s grassroots movement strives to educate, inspire, create and celebrate.

Get inspired by 20 speakers, 20 artists, almost 30 bands and the rest of the Weapons of Mass Creation community

Friday’s schedule revolves around a pre-fest mixer with music at Saigon Plaza.

Bands will continue to play there on Saturday and Sunday, while speakers take the stage noon to 7 both days at Reinberger Auditorium.

The speakers include a fantastic mix of Cleveland talent like Julia Kuo and CLE Clothing Co’s Mike Kubinski, as well as creative professionals and designers from across the country and our neighbor to the north.

WMC Fest’s Art & Design Show will take place at the iLTHY Workshop. Admission is free for the art show, while one-day tickets and weekend passes are available to purchase for the bands and presentations.

You can purchase single-day or weekend passes for the speakers and music. The art show at iLTHY Workshop is free.

So what are you waiting for? Cleveland is opening its doors this weekend to our neighborhoods, shops, and galleries and celebrating our thriving creative community. Whether it’s east, west, or both sides, hope to see you out and about!

Note: Graphics/photos of WMC Fest from; Discover GSAD Day image from Parade the Circle photos are mine from a couple of years ago.

Cleveland Public Theatre's Transformative Akarui

From Cleveland Public Theatre’s Akarui, left to right: Beth Wood, Dionne D. Atchison, Rose Sengenberger, Amy Schwabauer, Faye Hargate, Carly Garinger, Roxana Bell – laying down is James Alexander Rankin

When I compare it to other theatres, what sets Cleveland Public Theatre apart is that I never know what to expect when I walk in their doors.  When I see a show there, I get the same on-edge excitement as when I stick my hand into a mystery box at a fair, not knowing what I’m going to pull out.

From a transatlantic love story that bears witness to the tragic consequences of extremist ideologies to experimental dinner theatre that’s not really dinner theatre – their shows often take the audience on a wild ride challenging our views on certain topics and sometimes even the fabric of reality itself.

I love this element of surprise, and CPT delivered on it again when my friend Kate and I saw their latest production – Akarui – last week.

With Reddstone’s renovations complete, theatregoers have another option for pre-show drinks and dinner

Before we headed to CPT, we stopped at nearby Reddstone to try their revised menu and see the newly renovated space. I really enjoyed the bulliet black cherry sour and o*y*o mule served in mason jars, while their goat cheese and chorizo-stuffed mushrooms were the highlight of our meal.

With our whistles wetted, we headed over to Detroit Ave. for opening night of Akarui’s world premiere. Written by up-and-coming playwright Jen Silverman, Akarui is a contemporary tale of transformation that transports its characters across time and place to a rave where DJ Akarui spins beats for the lost, the desperate and the dangerous.

Among those that answer the call are a pre-op transboi, a beautiful musician, a victim of violence and a fearsome scientist caught up in her experiments. Everything comes at a price, though, in this world led by the hypnotizing sounds of DJ Akarui.

Akarui’s chorus looks on from the scaffolding at James Alexander Rankin and Davis Aguila

When we walked into the theatre, we were struck by the set’s industrial, urban feel. Designed by Great Lakes Theatre’s Marketing and PR Director Todd Krispinsky, it featured three sets of scaffolding platforms and graffiti artwork by Christopher “Pokes” Cook.

Over the next couple of hours, this well-utilized space would be the backdrop for a town in America, Brazil, Dr. Baba Yaga’s hut in the middle of a swamp, and finally DJ Akarui’s rave-cave at the end of the world.

As everyone settled into their seats, thumping music started to swell and a veiled, androgynous chorus entered the stage. With echoes of a Greek Chorus, DJ Akarui’s rave children weaved the seemingly disconnected storylines of the play together until they all collided with one another in the second act.

The chorus and DJ Akarui (back: Faye Hargate, Dionne D. Atchinson, Roxana Bell, Chris Seibert, Amy Schwabauer, Carly Garinger, Rose Sengenberger; front: Adam Seeholzer, Jeremy Paul)

Akarui had a very entrancing cadence to it thanks to the rhythmic nature of the script and a percussive songscape influenced by the Afro-Brazilian Candomble Tradition.

In Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan’s Director Notes, he wrote about traditional music’s ability to ease humanity through moments of transition – to transport and guide us.   The music was central to Akarui because it is a play about people, who (like all of us) are half done.

While some of the transformations in Akarui were physical (like DC’s and the Mantaray’s), others were emotional such as the killer who sought redemption and his victim who sought revenge and then forgiveness.

These characters were all guided in their change by either DJ Akarui or Baba Yaga who were excellent foils as to how to achieve a successful transformation.  Whereas Baba Yaga sought a scientific, “easy” and immediate approach to change, DJ Akarui embraced an organic process in which the person seeking something new needed to fully want and accept it and be willing to give up their former self.

I’ve always been intrigued by Roman and Greek myths about transformation (that’s what 7 years of studying Latin will do to you!) and Akarui was a very interesting, contemporary take on it.  The notion that you have to be truly open to your change before you can undergo it successfully really hit home for me.

Richard Brandon Hall and Molly Andrews-Hinders as the musician and DC in Akarui

There were a couple of spots within the performance that I thought could possibly be smoothed out. Specifically, the very end – which admittedly had the challenge of wrapping up so many intertwined story lines – left me wanting something more.

I felt that there was such an incredible peak in energy leading up to it which didn’t carry over to the last note. Regardless though, the rest of the journey more than made up for it.

The performing arts revolve around the notion of transformation – from the writing of the script and the transformation of a bare stage with props and sets, to the emotional experience actors and audience share during a performance. Akarui is a strange, beautiful ode to this Transformation that takes place not just onstage but also in our lives.

Akarui is at Cleveland Public Theatre through June 9th with performances at 7:30pm on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays. Tickets range from $10 to $25 and can be purchased at, by calling 216-631-2727, ext 501 or by visiting the box office.

Because this is the last production of CPT’s season, join them after the closing performance on June 9th for their End of Season Party. Starting at 10pm, the event is free, open to the public and features dancing, free desserts and a cash bar.

Disclosure: All production photos courtesy of Cleveland Public Theatre – credited to Steve Wagner.  A guest and I were invited to attend Akarui’s opening night in exchange for blogging about the experience. As always, though, my opinions are 100% my own.

The Art of Engagement, Part 4: Cleveland Public Theatre

Over the last month, I’ve enjoyed blogging about one of my favorite topics: Cleveland theatre.  Specifically, highlighting what a few of our local theatres are doing to engage more diverse audiences and help members of the community explore a deeper relationship with the performing arts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about local enrichment programs along the way and will check some of them out the next time you see a show.  Today I’m happy to conclude the Art of Engagement with Cleveland Public Theatre.

CPT is the ideal setting for audience engagement programs. Founded in 1981, CPT was inspired by Cafe LaMama, an internationally renowned experimental theatre in New York City. For over 30 years, Cleveland Public Theatre has been Cleveland’s leading stage for adventurous new theatre, nationally recognized for its unconventional and ground breaking work.

From productions like Conni’s Avant-Garde Restaurant to their Big Box series, which gives local artists the opportunity to create new work, CPT challenges their audiences to experience theatre as “a site for celebration, a forum for debate, a vessel for exploration.”

To help audiences dig deeper into the labyrinth, Cleveland Public Theatre has introduced a handful of audience engagement programs this season.

After Friday night performances, CPT invites the audience to stay and enjoy a drink on them. However, Free Beer Fridays are about more than just drinking for free.

Artists from the show, such as actors, designers or the director, as well as CPT staff attend Free Beer Fridays to mingle with the audience and have a conversation about what they just saw.  The goal is to make the theatre feel more like a home where questions, thoughts and discussion are always welcome.

CPT is also engaging audiences and helping newer artists through two development programs: the Springboard: Staged Reading Festival and Leap/Conceive.

CPT opened the 2011-2012 season with their first Springboard series. The festival featured staged readings of new scripts by local writers as well as work that was under consideration for future production.

In addition to post-show discussions, comment cards were left on every chair so that if audience members wanted they could anonymously share their feedback on the show.

With Leap/Conceive, audiences got a sneak peek into the creative process as CPT presented showcases of performances in the middle of development.  The artists — all from Northeast Ohio — chose a 10 minute segment of their future production to develop and share. Audience and artists saw the work together, assessed it and offered their reactions.  CPT took a flip/cam around immediately after the show to get people’s reactions on what they had just experienced.

Both of these series not only supported local artists, but also offered audiences a rare opportunity to participate in shaping new work.  The final production will show the fruits of the audience feedback it received during development.

Coming up next for Cleveland Public Theatre is their production of Antebellum which opens this coming Thursday, February 23.

Against the backdrops of a southern American plantation, a German concentration camp, the world premiere of Gone With The Wind and 1930s Berlin cabarets, the love story of two men, one Jewish and the other African-American, bridges time, space and gender and challenges intolerance of race and religion.

In addition to Antebellum, CPT’s upcoming productions of Poor Little Lulu and Akarui were either written by an openly gay playwright or deal with LGBT issues. To further engage the LGBT community and allies during these productions, CPT created goPUBLIC.

On the second Friday of these three productions (March 2, March 16 and June 1), CPT will host their goPUBLIC pre-show happy hour as well as the Free Beer Friday after the performance.  With the production bookended by these opportunities to socialize pre- and post-show, the performance creates a source of insightful conversation.

More information about the goPUBLIC night for Antebellum can be found below:

From social to educational experiences, new to well-established programs, I’ve loved learning about the audience engagement experiences the Cleveland Play House, Near West Theatre, Great Lakes Theater and Cleveland Public Theatre offer.

There are a lot of opportunities (most of them free!) to discover more about the shows you see onstage, meet new people who are similarly interested in the arts and even get involved with the creative process.

Of course, there’s a lot I still need to explore within Cleveland theatre – Dobama, Beck and convergence-continuum are on my list to name just a few.

But that’s what I think is at the heart of audience engagement and its greatest gift: the desire to keep exploring new theatres, shows and the unique approaches each company takes. And at the end of the day, I hope I was able to share a bit of that with you.

Missed parts 1-3 in the Art of Engagement? Here you go:

Happy First Birthday, Yelp Cleveland

When I’m thinking of checking out a new store or need help making a decision between two restaurants, one of my first stops is Yelp.   I even used it this past weekend when I was out of town and needed the address of a diner in Philly. 

I’ll admit, though, it’s a love affair from afar.  Although I’ve never found the time to jump in and start reviewing things, I’ve always enjoyed the honest, helpful and even humorous reviews from the Yelp Community.

About a year ago, the already-active Cleveland Yelpers took another jump forward under their new community manager Cara L.  One of the new community features that she rolled out: a Weekly Yelp newsletter I still enjoy reading 12 months later. Each week, it spotlights a different topic — from Cleveland’s best sandwiches to the best deals on vintage clothing.  

To celebrate the community’s 1-year anniversary, Yelp CLE is throwing a First Burstday Party on Thursday, Nov. 10 from 7-9pm. 

The event is open to everyone 21+ and it’s free. It’ll be taking place at 78th Street Studios’ smARTspace, which is reason enough for me to go. 

1300 West 78th St., Cleveland

I’ve been wanting to check out this sprawling arts and entertainment community for a while. Located in the former American Greetings Creative Studios, 78th Street Studios now houses 2 blocks of galleries, art and recording studios, a clothing line, and an architectural design firm among its many art-centric businesses.

The “arts mecca for Cleveland’s West Side” is not surprisingly located in one of my favorite neighborhoods – the Gordon Square Arts District (at 1300 West 78th Street). Plus, there’s ample free parking in its lot. After the Yelp CLE party, I’ll need to stop by their year-round Third Friday indoor artwalk.

Touch Supper Club, Umami Moto, Zydeco Cajun Bistro, The Nosh Box, JiBARO Gourmet Food Truck, StrEAT Mobile Bistro, Campbell’s Sweets Factory, and Cleveland Cupcake Company will be serving up light bites and sweet treats during the Yelp Cleveland party. And to wet guests’ whistles, Goose Island and Harpersfield Winery will bring the beer and vino, respectively, and Honest Tea and Ade will have some tasty non-alcohol alternatives.

Entertainment will inclue DJ MisterBradleyP, Amanda’s Elaborate Eyes face painting and cyancdesign’s digital graffiti wall.  When I’m there, I also plan on hopping in the photo booth, getting a 60-second drawing of myself from Adam Pate The Caricature Guy and browsing locally made selections from one of my Ohio City favorites Salty Not Sweet.

Although the event is free, the Cleveland Foodbank will be collecting nonperishable food and monetary donations — so bring your wallet and help them prepare for the busy holiday season.

Congrats, Yelp Cleveland, on your first birthday and here’s to many more years helping me navigate the city!

Yelp Cleveland 411:

More Classic Films Come to Cleveland – Upcoming Events in January and February

Throughout January and February, there will be plenty of opportunities to see classic films in Cleveland. One of these events is the Audrey Hepburn series at the Cleveland Institute of Art. (photo from

I love classic movies.  I attribute a lot of this to my parents … most of my childhood was spent listening to ‘oldies’ and watching older movies and reruns of tv shows with them.  I was the kid in high school who wrote essays on the Marx Brothers and film noir when it wasn’t that ‘cool’ to do  (of course, as the managing editor of my high school newsmagazine, I could torture the rest of the school with whatever topics I wanted).

Cleveland’s a hotbed for a classic movie fan like me.  Throughout the year Clevelanders have the opportunity to watch a variety of film gems somewhere else besides Turner Classic Movies or AMC.  I’ve written about a couple of these events before, such as  Cinema at the Square last summer or when Scott and I saw Pink Panther at the Capitol. However, because there are a number of amazing viewings coming up this week and throughout the next couple of months, it’s worth a new post.

If you’re a fellow classic movie fan, read on.  And if you have any other film events you’d like to clue me into, leave a comment!

Melt Bar & Grilled Late Shift: M*A*S*H* (Saturday, January 15)

M*A*S*H*, Robert Altman’s Oscar-nominated Korean War comedy, is the latest installment in Melt’s popular Late Shift series with Cleveland Cinemas.  The film that spawned one of the most successful sitcoms of all time will be showing at the Gordon Square Arts District’s Capitol Theatre this Saturday, January 15 from 12 am – 3 am. In honor of the movie, guests have a chance to win a pair of surgical gloves.

M*A*S*H* is playing at the Melt Late Shift series on Saturday.

Sunday Classic Movie and Brunch Series: Maltese Falcon (Sunday, January 16)

You can catch more classic films at the historic Capitol Theatre with their ‘Sunday Classic Movies & Brunch’ series. It’s a lovely way to spend your Sunday morning and another great example of local businesses partnering together.  This Sunday, January 16th, the Capitol is showing Maltese Falcon. The John Huston-directed mystery starring  Humphrey Bogart starts at 10 am and tickets cost only $5.  After the movie, LUXE, Latitude 41n and Reddstone offer special discounts for ticketholders.


Brunch and Bogart -- See Maltese Falcon on Sunday and get brunch afterwards in the Gordon Square Arts District.

Audrey Hepburn: Sophisticated Lady (January 15 – February 27)

The Audrey Hepburn: Sophisticated Lady series starts this Saturday at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Cinematheque.  If you’ve been to my house and seen my Audrey Hepburn film, artwork and book collection, you’ll know she’s hands down my favorite classic actress.  She’s an icon not just because of her films, but also because of how she conducted herself in life – graceful, elegant, sincere and a dedicated humanitarian.

The film series will run through January and February as the Cinematheque shows 7 of her films: Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Two for the Road, and Wait until Dark.  All are being projected from film prints – not blu ray or dvd.  It’s a new film each Saturday at 5:15 pm, and 6 of the 7 movies will be shown that Sunday as well (the complete schedule is at the link above).

This Saturday and Sunday, they’ll be showing Roman Holiday – Hepburn’s first and one of my favorites.  Before the Saturday presentation, Marcie Goodman, Executive Director of the Cleveland International Film Festival and a longtime Hepburn fan, will introduce the movie.

You know I’ll be there!

Guest Blog Post: Cleveland and its many craft fairs

The concept of shopping locally for hand made items has always been something Clevelanders can get behind.  I have several (or at least one) memories of my own mom making eucalyptus wreaths and taking us all to a big church hall to run around and meet other women who were selling their wreaths and scarves.  So is it any surprise that I’m drawn to today’s craft fairs, with their wreaths from antique christmas lights and scarves of brightly dyed felt?

Shoppers at Bazaar Bizarre 2010

This past weekend, Dec. 11 and 12, I hit up the Bazaar Bizarre, my annual “Oh, i’ve always wanted a thing just like that!” shopping trip.  The Bazaar Bizarre has been held in Cleveland for six years now, organized by Shannon Okey.  For the past two years, the bazaar has been held at 78th Street Studios, a collection of art studios and galleries and a big empty space.  The neighborhood is starting to pickup on the massive foot traffic that Bazaar Bizarre brings with it, with galleries in the 78th Street Studio and 1300/Third buildings showcasing art and objects.  Bazaar Bizarre is a great place to see our local variations on national trends – looking for interesting food trucks? Den and dim sum and Umami Moto were parked outside, and sold quickly.  What about burlesque and personalized makeup?  What about stiltdancers?  Shannon Okey, busy as usual, was happy to chat with me on Saturday and say how excited she was that the community was really starting to come out and support all the local craft shows being held in the Gordon Square Arts District and Cleveland. 

Michael Hudecek models one of his Forest City Portage bags.


Let me say here a big great job to all the vendors, and a big “well, it was really crowded and we did the best we could do to walk past one another” to all the other shoppers that thronged through the studios to see them.  Some personal favorites were Melissa Venneri-McCabe and Lew McCabe of Whimsical Wonders, creators of spoon and fork magic!; Michael Hudecek of Forest City Portage (and sometimes Melt West), making messenger bags, pouches, belts and wallets out of cordura and the desire to just have a really sweet-ass bag;  Cosette Cornelius-Bates, cosy makes fiber artist, who had the such prettily dyed wool that I had to buy a skein, even though all I can do is the world’s most basic scarf; and Puppycat, a collection of dog and kitty and people treats, where I found the annual christmas present for the kitties (this year, a catnip taco!).  I was excited to meet local Valerie Mayen (Project Runway), there to both sell some really interesting clothing from her shop Yellow Cake, and to talk about the fashion co-operative Buzz & Growl that she is the process of growing.   

Valerie Mayen and Courtney at Bazaar Bizarre 2010

It’s bad writing form to say “I can’t quite describe” but in this case, it is hard to describe all the intriguing items for sale from all the excited and friendly vendors at this year’s Bazaar Bizarre!  It’s always great to go and find something new and really cool (this year, enormous black flower earrings from mandrizzle), and to be part of a great event.

Thankfully, even though Bazaar Bizarre is over, there is still one shopping weekend and several shopping weekdays left in this busy holiday season.  And there are still some local shopping events to help you find that perfect baby onesie that says “My dad made my mom a mix tape and all they got was me.”  (Credit must go to Leigh Kelsey of Rhymes With Tree, who will be at Last Minute Market!)

  • Made in the 216 is an ongoing holiday shop at 2078 W. 25 Street, Cleveland, open until Dec. 24 and organized by Room Service‘s Danielle DeBoe.  Another yearly event, this fair showcases some 50 Cleveland artists.
  • The Last Minute Market & Screw Factory Open Studio will be held this Saturday, Dec. 18 at 13000 Athens Avenue, Lakewood.  This market will host 85 vendors from around the Midwest, as well as showcasing the visiting and resident artists of the Screw Factory.  There is always a blank wall somewhere – shouldn’t you look for some amazing, local paintings or photograph to fill it up?
  • The Pop Up Gift Shop, currently going on at Trinity Commons, 2242 Euclid, Cleveland, is open Thursday and Friday, 10-7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 pm.  If you’re going to “consume, consume locally,” says one of the artists, which encompasses the feeling behind handmade local gifts that emphasize their reused/recycled quality.  A clock made out of a motherboard?  Mosaics from flooring samples?  Check!

 I know I’m (again!) not fully sharing the many local options available to us here in Cleveland, and that’s because we’re totally spoiled for choice.  More ideas and suggestions are available from Thomas Mulready Cool Cleveland’s Holiday Gift Guide, or by checking various local print publications.  As Cool Cleveland says, it’ll be a shopping experience that doesn’t suck.  Which is true!  Absolutely none of these events will suck.  In fact, all of them will be amazing and interesting, and you’ll be able to witness people creating and sharing and selling their art.  And you’ll be a part of it!  Provided you buy something, which I highly suggest you do.  

Melissa and Lew McCabe at Bazaar Bizarre

About the Guest Author: Kate Galo
Long long ago, Kate Galo was a professional blogger at the now-defunct  Her writing style has vastly improved over the years, and she’s excited to sharing her thoughts about this city with the loyal readers at Clue Into Cleveland!