Family Friendly

Isn't this the reason we all live in this town?

People ask the question all the time in our town: Why are you still here? If someone has professional skills and doesn't drool on herself, we're too often suspicious as to her reasons for staying.

But those of us who love Cleveland can tick off several reasons for being here. Many found good jobs and kept them. Some grew up here and never left. Others have found a way to stay mngaged with the Cleveland-based corporations that have remained. Some have embraced radical career makeovers to work in entirely different fields just to stay close to family.

Many Clevelanders wandered away after high school or college and then returned with a couple of kids, ready to build a permanent nest. Lately, younger folks, still single, have fled cooling '90s hotspots such as Seattle or Silicon Valley and their high cost of living for Cleveland's more welcoming environment.

If you ask 10 people who live and work in Northeast Ohio, chances are nine of them will confess that they have family ties: parents, relatives or extended family who work, own a business or are retired here and offer social activities, community and fulfillment. Rarely, it seems, do people move to Cleveland without some familial connection.

Indeed, Cleveland feels like a family. And this month, arts and community events explore the nature of relationships: romantic, sexual, spiritual. Get out to see work that deals with the real reason we all live in Cleveland, and reflect on your own family ties.

The Last Five Years by Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown, directed by Victoria Bussert, featuring Scott Plate and Sandy Simon, is an Ohio premiere. This humorous two-person, romantic musical explores the modern relationship while charting the journey of a young Jewish novelist making his way from unknown student to best-selling author, and a young girl who moves from the Midwest to Manhattan. April 23 at 8 p.m. Dobama Theatre, 1846 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, (216) 932-3396,

The Cult is the newest creation of Cleveland avant-director Raymond Bobgan. You'll witness strange rituals and experience haunting evocations. A mysterious and confounding party of esoteric game players battle for divine inspiration in this anthropological exposé. April 24 at 8 p.m. Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., (216) 631-2727,

Breaking the Silence Celebration is a popular community event yncouraging gay youth and featuring art, music and food. More than 80 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual youth joined in for this National Day of Silence event last year. April 21 from 7 to 10 p.m. Lesbian Gay Community Service Center of Cleveland, 6600 Detroit Ave., (216) 651-5428,

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