Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center is located inside Union Terminal, the city's renovated 1930s art deco railway station. The massive facility houses the Cincinnati Historical Society, the Museum of Natural History, the Cinergy Children's Museum and the Robert D. Lindner Omnimax Theatre. The Cincinnati Dining Room, Public Landing, the Grand Rotunda and other event spaces are available for rentals, weddings, corporate events and all sorts of charity galas.

"Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is so successful as an event facility because it is so many things at once "” a beloved historic building, an architectural masterpiece, an exciting 'edu-tainment' venue and a fine dining establishment," says Jennifer Hillman, director of sales. "In addition, our sheer size and the fact that we have many different rental spaces within the building enable us to accommodate small groups of 25 in an intimate dining room or large groups of 5,000 if using the entire facility."

The Museum Center has become a very popular site for weddings "” not only receptions, but ceremonies and rehearsal dinners as well. In 2004 alone, the museum hosted more than 60 wedding-related functions with an average size of 200 guests. Mitzvah events have also become frequent at Museum Center, as have anniversary and milestone birthday celebrations. "Being the selected venue for these life-cycle events is a tremendous compliment for us "” and one that is not lost on our staff," Hillman says. "We are always aware of what a privilege it is to be chosen to participate in such momentous occasions in our clients' lives."

Many community groups and charitable organizations have also chosen Cincinnati Museum Center as a site for annual fund-raisers and galas, including AVOC's "Cirque du Bizzare," the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual fund-raising gala, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' "Best in Show" fund-raiser, and the Cincinnati NAACP's annual Freedom Fund dinner.

Playhouse in the Park

Ed Stern can't seem to keep from breaking into a huge grin these days.

That's been true since the moment he found out that Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park had won the 2004 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

"A friend of mine was at the announcement, and he was on the phone to me 30 seconds later," recalls Stern, the Playhouse's producing artistic director. "We were not forewarned."

Stern flew to New York City to pick up the Tony at the televised awards ceremony in Radio City Music Hall. The Playhouse in the Park is the first Ohio regional theater to win the national prize, awarded through a vote by members of the American Theatre Critics Association.

"It's not my award," Stern is quick to clarify. "It's the Cincinnati Playhouse's award."

Stern points to such world premiere productions as The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Carson Kreitzer, as one reason the critics might admire the Playhouse. While staples by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams are often part of the mix in any season, Stern is always willing to gamble on a new play. Sometimes with stellar results. The world premiere of Keith Glover's In Walks Ed, for instance, was nominated for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

About 200,000 theater lovers each season frequent the Playhouse's two stages, the 626-seat Robert S. Marx Theater and the 225-seat Thompson Shelterhouse.

What are Stern's recommendations if you can only get to Playhouse once or twice in 2005? "I'd say you ought to see the two plays I'm not directing, so you know I'm serious: Bad Dates, a comedy in January, and Crowns, a musical in April." (See the Cincy Life calendar of nonprofit events for details.)