There's a freshness in the air this fall as the city's performing arts groups present an array of new and recent works, including a new play by a local writer about Civil War ghosts and conversion therapy and a 2018 oratorio based on the journals of an Underground Railroad conductor. October will also will offer classic and contemporary jazz, authors and much more. Here's a preview of the month ahead.


“The Humans” (Oct. 24–Nov. 10)
Franklinton Playhouse
A family gathered around the table of its youngest member’s new apartment for a Thanksgiving meal might be the most banal of scenarios, but here it proves extraordinary as humor and despair collide in this dark comedy, the 2016 winner of the Tony Award for Best Play. $25.

“The Turkey Men,” (Oct. 16–26)
Columbus Performing Arts Center
Evolution Theatre Co. offers the world premiere of a play by former OSU law professor Douglas Whaley about a teenage lesbian whose family has sent her to conversion therapy in an old house on an abandoned turkey farm. She finds herself in the presence of two ghosts, soldiers who fell in love at Camp Chase, Columbus’ Civil War prison camp. $15–$25.

“West Side Story” (Oct. 17–Nov. 17)
Garden Theatre
Columbus Children’s Theatre and the Short North Stage come together to present the iconic tragedy of forbidden love on the streets of New York City in the 1950s. More than six decades after the show opened on Broadway, its themes still find resonance—and the music is timeless. $30–$44.

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“Mean Girls” (Oct. 22–27)
Ohio Theatre
The Ohio Theatre plays host to this humorous exploration of high school drama for eight performances. The show is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (“Aladdin” and “The Book of Mormon”), with a script by Tina Fey, based on her own 2004 movie of the same name, so it’s sure to be “fetch.” Price TBD.

“Be MOVED” (Oct. 25–Nov. 3)
Davidson Theatre, Riffe Center
Three pieces by three top choreographers comprise this mixed-rep ballet performance, which in addition to the dancers of BalletMet will include live performances on electric violin and a string quartet. $29–$78.

“The Spare Room” (Oct. 10–26)
MadLab Theatre
The Columbus theater company will offer the first full production of this memory play from Denver playwright Dakota C. Hill about two men in a long-term relationship and the moment that changes their lives forever. James Blackmon directs. $13–$18.


Hugh Jackman: The Man. The Music. The Show. (Oct. 10)
Schottenstein Center
Accompanied by a live orchestra, the Tony Award-winning performer brings his show to Columbus. Expect Jackman to perform hits from “The Greatest Showman,” “Les Misérables” and other Broadway and film classics. $50–$225.

The American Festival (Oct. 11–12)
Ohio Theatre
William Still, a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, documented his interactions with nearly 800 people escaping slavery in an 1877 book that is the basis for “Sanctuary Road.” The oratorio by Paul Moravec features a libretto by Mark Campbell, both of whom will be on hand for a pre-concert discussion at this Columbus Symphony Orchestra season opener, which pairs the work with a selection of songs from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” $10–$78.

The Greatest Jazz Concert in the World (Oct. 17–20)
Southern Theatre
This audacious title isn’t a boast. It’s a tribute to the 1975 landmark LP of the same name that featured the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Coleman Hawkins at the peak of their musical powers. Artistic director Byron Stripling and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra—joined by bassist John Clayton, pianist Benny Green and drummer Jeff Hamilton—will recreate this classic recording for the opening concert of the Swingin’ with the CJO concert series. $10–$68.


Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film (Oct. 2–30)
Wexner Center for the Arts
For a half century, the Yellow Springs documentarian has focused on the lives of political radicals and blue-collar workers, often in Ohio. The Wexner Center’s monthlong career retrospective will feature 10 of Reichert’s films, including her latest, 2019’s “American Factory” (made with partner Steven Bognar), which was picked up by Netflix in a development deal with a couple of high-profile but inexperienced movie producers—Barack and Michelle Obama.

Unorthodocs (Oct. 17–21)
Wexner Center for the Arts
The third annual celebration of unconventional creative nonfiction filmmaking will feature “Chez Jolie Coiffure,” a portrait of a Belgian hair salon run by an African immigrant named Sabine. The movie’s Cameroonian director, Rosine Mbakam, will visit the Wex during the film festival.


Samin Nosrat (Oct. 20)
Upper Arlington High School
Samin Nosrat’s experiences learning to cook with Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters launched her on a round-the-world search for the secrets of flavor. The book that resulted, “Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking,” won a James Beard award in 2018; it’s now a Netflix documentary series. Nosrat is the featured speaker for the Upper Arlington author series. $15–$35.

David Sedaris (Oct. 20)
Palace Theatre
Thanks to his longtime presence on NPR, humorist Sedaris’ slightly nasal voice is as recognizable to his legions of fans as is his literacy voice—the wry, misanthropic, witty and neurotic persona he projects in essays in the New Yorker and his many books. His latest, “Calypso,” documents his purchase of a North Carolina beach home (named The Sea Section) and the dark comedy that ensues. $54–$64.

A Holocaust Discussion (Oct. 24)
Gramercy Books
Award-winning author Margaret McMullan will discuss her recent memoir, “Where Angels Lived,” an account of her quest to understand her family’s history during the Hungarian Holocaust. McMullan will appear in conversation with Ohio State Holocaust historian Robin Judd in an event at Gramercy Books, co-sponsored by JewishColumbus and Ohio State’s Melton Center for Jewish Studies. Free.


I AM: Exploring Connectivity Through Fiber (Sept. 6–Oct. 25)
Wehrle Gallery, Ohio Dominican University
Celeste Malvar-Stewart’s sustainable and locally-sourced couture and one-off fashion designs have been featured on runways worldwide. In this exhibition of hand-felted garments made from local sheep and alpaca wool, Malvar-Stewart explores her spiritual connection to fiber. Free.

Season Two: Follow the Mud (Oct. 10–March 15)
Beeler Gallery, CCAD
The second season of installations curated by gallery director Jo-ey Tang will be organized as a series of “instances,” each one activated by a performance, screening or dialog. The exhibition will grow over the five-month season, incorporating music, sculpture, video installation and including, even, a performance inside a Usonian house in Blacklick. Free.