Our staff picks for the best in Columbus arts and entertainment

Concert Name

Nothing beats a great pun—except a truly terrible one, perhaps. With that in mind, local musicians Phil Cogley (of The Saturday Giant), Phil Kim (of Connections) and Phil Palma (of Strangers in Daylight) decided that the trio's July 2016 set of cover songs at Little Rock bar would be dubbed “Ya Phil Me?!” We humbly suggest an encore performance this year: “Can You Phil the Love Tonight?”

Toast of the Town

What better way for patrons to cap off a riveting evening of Russian melodies performed by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and BalletMet than to enjoy an after-show toast with the musicians themselves? Following the Russian Winter Festival in January, theatergoers were invited to raise a glass with CSO performers during a postlude vodka tasting. Wrapping up the second installment of the festival in March, guests joined players and director Rossen Milanov for White Russian cocktails.

Show of Gratitude

Making the Capital City proud at the 2017 Grammys for their Best Pop Duo/Group Performance win, Twenty One Pilots bared their sincerest gratitude for the honor by dropping trou on the way up to the stage. Accepting the award in their boxer briefs, the gesture was a full-circle moment for the Columbus group, who explained that only a few years earlier they watched the awards show in their underwear from their couch as self-described nobodies.

Parking Lot Booths

Count on the artistic visionaries of Columbus to find creative potential in overlooked places. Thanks to Bold Booths, a public art project spearheaded by the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District and artist Malcolm Cochran, three Downtown parking lot booths have been transformed from unsightly necessities into conversation pieces. Funded by city organizations, “Microtower” (73 E. Spring St.) and “PARKlot” (pictured, 166 E. Main St.), were completed this spring, following the first installation, “Coney Island” (310 S. High St.), in 2015.

Artistic Longevity

Vaud-Villities, Central Ohio's theatrical song-and-dance troupe with the slogan, “Where Broadway Meets Hollywood,” celebrated its 75th anniversary with a Diamond Jubilee show in April, making it the longest continuously operating arts organization in town, they say. Vaud-Villities performs spring, summer and holiday shows at the Northland Performing Arts Center and hosts a kids' camp in June for ages 6-17. The summer show, the cabaret-style “G.I. Jive,” takes the stage July 13–15.

Viral Poem

You know you've made it big when Meryl Streep does a dramatic reading of one of your poems in honor of National Poetry Month. Such is the case for Bexley poet Maggie Smith, whose profound poem “Good Bones” struck a chord with readers, going viral following the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016. Since then, the mini literary celebrity's piece has been featured on TV shows and performed by a dance troupe in India.

Flashback: 1993, Unsolicited Advice

The Rev. Leroy Jenkins suggested that prisoners at Lucasville should read their Bibles instead of riot. Any argument with that?

Face Off: Literary Neighborhoods

In recent years, two best-selling authors—Piper Kerman (“Orange is the New Black”) and J.D. Vance (“Hillbilly Elegy”)—have relocated to Columbus. Kerman moved to Victorian Village, north of Downtown, while Vance chose German Village on the South Side. Their decisions raise a question: Which of their new neighborhoods is the most author-friendly? We studied the data.

Piper Kerman (Victorian Village)

Bookstore: If Kerman wants to add to her book collection, she'll need to leave the neighborhood—or order from Amazon.

Library: The new 25,000-square-foot Northside branch triples the size of the previous building.

Inspiring Scenery: Plenty of murals, pocket parks and people-watching opportunities (Gallery Hop, HighBall Halloween, Doo Dah Parade)

Literary Events: ComFest's Live Arts Stage would offer a welcoming audience for a reading from Kerman's upcoming book on criminal justice reform.

James Thurber Connection: When Kerman starts getting up there in age, she can settle down in a senior residential community in Thurber Village, the development named after Columbus' most famous literary native.

J.D. Vance (German Village)

Bookstore: Vance's neighborhood boasts one of Columbus's best bookstores, the 32-room Book Loft.

Library: For the busy author on the go, the new Parsons Avenue library branch—which opened in June 2016—offers a drive-through window for picking up materials.

Inspiring Scenery: Historic architecture and a park named after German poet Friedrich Schiller, whose poem “Ode to Joy” was used in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Literary Events: High culture is just around the block—Schiller Park is the only place in Columbus to see Shakespeare performed outdoors.

James Thurber Connection: Vance can visit Thurber's grave in nearby Green Lawn Cemetery, also a nice spot for a head-clearing stroll amid the cemetery's lush grounds, designated as both an arboretum and an “Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society.