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Columbus variety show looking for performers

An array of local entertainers will perform in a series of variety shows this quarter near campus.

The series, dubbed the Greatest Show, will kick-off Friday at the Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine restaurant on King Avenue and will occur every Friday for the next nine weeks at the same location.

Each show will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a free art exhibit lasting until 8:30, which includes a $1 wine tasting. Following the art exhibit is a performance session featuring three comedians and three bands or musical performers. Admission after 8:30 is $5 with all money earned at the door being split among the performers that night. After the performances, a DJ will provide music until 2 a.m.

Zach Baird, the producer of the series, aims to keep the audience coming back by shuffling the arrangement for each show.

“There will be a wide variety in the formatting of the shows,” Baird said, noting that each show had to live up to a high standard. “If one show is weak, that ruins our credibility.”

Some planned theme nights include the “speakeasy” night on January 15, which will feature local jazz artists, and another night will include locally produced short films in place of comedians.

Baird and stage manager Andy Gallagher will MC and engage the performers between acts. Baird says the setup will make for more entertaining performances.

“I like it because it allows people to really interact with the performers on stage,” he said. “It forces the performer to care about those they are performing for.”

Baird, Gallagher and art curator Atom Vincent each have many motives for putting on the show, but profit isn’t one of them. Gallagher listed keeping people in Columbus as one reason.

“It’s allowing an avenue for local artists,” Baird said. ” It is, from my perspective, completely beneficial for everyone.”

The trio has used several methods to find local artists and performers, relying on Facebook, word of mouth and viewing local shows to find entertainment.

“I got a mysterious e-mail asking if I wanted to show work [at Dragonfly Neo-V],” said artist and Ohio State alumnus Brook Simmons. “I’ve wanted to show here before and it didn’t work out. I think it’s a good opportunity for people to see work and get exposure.”

Baird and Gallagher have had experience organizing local events. Baird explained that the area between West Ninth and West Fifth avenues and between High Street and the river was long ago named “the Peach District” and continues to be called that by permanent residents today. Baird clarified that there was no relevance to the moniker but that he and Gallagher got involved in planning events such as The Peach District Classic and Peachtoberfest, which attracted nearly 800 people.

Baird hopes to expand the variety show idea if these shows are a success.

“I’m hoping for the summer to move to a street performance,” he said.
For now, the group is content with offering local performers a way to display their talents and giving locals affordable weekend entertainment.

“It’s good but not recognized,” says Baird of local entertainment. “It’s my opinion that there are a lot of talented performers in Columbus that never get paid for anything.”

Gallagher hopes to encourage those same performers to keep it up by providing them with an audience.

“I want to help people follow their dreams,” he said. “I don’t know if that pays, but I don’t really care.”

Information can be found on specific shows at peachdistrict.com.

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