Whether on stage or not, there is no “comfort zone” for the performing arts in Columbus

In taking a look back at 2017 in the performing arts, any representative (not to be confused with a “best of”) list would have to include Scott Woods' show-a-day-during-March, “Holler” (even though it wasn't exclusively performing arts). It certainly stands as a significant undertaking and achievement that does more than hint at what Columbus is capable of. Here's some more stuff worth recalling.

“Thanks Obama 2: Blacker and Nerdier”

January at Backstage Bistro

The second iteration of “Thanks Obama” from funny guys Joseph Moorer and Brandon Anderson referenced the former President among other sharp and witty tomfoolery.

“Top Girls”

February at Otterbein University

Otterbein's Department of Theatre gave a superb performance of Caryl Churchill's “Top Girls,” a meaningful and mercurial — and thoroughly entertaining — examination of feminism/post-feminism.


March-April at Columbus Dance Theatre

Artistic director Tim Veach based this production in part on a real-life incident involving police and African-American company dancer Seth Wilson. At once dispiriting and inspirational.

“The Road to Mecca”

April at Franklinton Playhouse

Athol Fugard's play provided a rich tapestry for Red Herring Productions, a push-pull of light and dark set against a backdrop of transitioning race relations in South Africa.

“That's Just Crazy”

May at Backstage Bistro

A simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming (and damn funny) story and performance by Robbie Nance, telling the story through spoken word and wordless music of his life with schizophrenia. Nance fully humanized the experience.

VIVO Music Festival

August-September at multiple venues

Bringing chamber music to non-traditional audiences and spaces, the VIVO Music Festival held concerts at the Columbus Museum of Art and Hot Chicken Takeover, among others locales.

Maggie Smith

October at Gramercy Books

Yes, the Columbus poet released a book, but she read from it at a handful of stops, including at the new Bexley bookseller. Smith is a true Columbus treasure.

“Parallel Connections”

October at Mershon Auditorium

The combined forces of BalletMet Columbus and the Ohio State University Department of Dance celebrated the universality of dance in this wide-ranging program.


November at Weigel Auditorium

Here was a lesson in how research at a major university can result in unique cultural statements. Ohio State University Opera and Lyric Theater presented this never-before-performed work, generating musical and societal conversations.


October-November at Short North Stage

Short North Stage is the place for locally produced musical theater, and this production, featuring MojoFlo singer Amber Knicole, did not disappoint.