With Spring right around the corner — I can almost smell it — I'm hoping that, with its rays of sunshine, come some rays of hope. I'm getting sort of tired of writing and blogging about the economy. No doubt, you are tired of hearing about it.

At least we have USITT in Cincinnati right around the bend. Maybe you don't like trade shows, but face it, getting out there to network and have an opportunity for “trade” and maybe a little education isn't the worst way to spend your time these days.

And for those of you who don't know, our leader David Johnson is originally from the lovely state of Ohio (no, I don't think he put the “cin” in “Cincinnati.” He's from Xenia). So if you're not a local or a frequenter of that particular state, I'm sure he will be happy to regale you with tales of his teen years as drummer of the band False Teeth, as well as point you in the direction of decent eateries.

And speaking of USITT, we caught up with its president, Carl Lefko, who discusses some changes at USITT during the first year of his two-year term, including the development of a new organizational model and other expectations as the Institute moves toward its 50th anniversary in 2010 (gosh, remember when 2010 was just the name of Arthur C. Clarke's best-selling sci-fi novel?).

And for the fans of theatre, we have two New York stories to share this month. Our cover story, of course, is Robert Cashill's comprehensive coverage of the various designs — sound, lighting, costumes, projection, and sets — for Broadway's Shrek The Musical, while Ellen Lampert-Gréaux takes us on a technical tour of the renovation of the iconic Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. Of course, there's a lot more than that. You'll just have to read for yourself (and laugh out loud at John Leonard's column).

Oh, and I must use my position for personal gain for just one moment to shout out to someone I know is reading: Happy 70th, Mom. Don't worry — no one knows how old you are.