Holiday shows actually go on beyond this weekend, so you can consider theater tickets as Christmas gifts: Here are several suggestions. New Stage Collective is presenting a clever musical re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl," a sad story set on New Year's Eve. Their production of STRIKING 12, six musicians, three of whom are actors, is in the form of a hip concert that tells a story with music by the Folk/Jazz trio GrooveLily. It's onstage in Over-the-Rhine through New Year's Eve. Tickets: 513-621-3700. If you want something for the kids with a positive message about judging people for who they are and not what they look like, check out Ensemble Theatre's THE FROG PRINCESS through Jan. 6. It's a musical rendition of a Russian fairytale about a prince who thinks he's married a loser, but who learns a message about love and caring.
Tickets: 513-421-3555. Finally, you'll laugh yourself silly at Cincinnati Shakespeare if you see their very funny production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, also running through Jan. 6. A strange show for this time of year? Actually, this production reproduces all four seasons plus a year's worth of comedy, especially the very funny play-within-a-play by some guys who know nothing about theater. Tickets: 513-381-2279. ...
Another gift idea for theater fans: the recent documentary SHOW BUSINESS: THE ROAD TO BROADWAY. Now available on DVD, this documentary by Dori Berinstein follows the development of four musicals, three of which became the 2004 Tony nominees for best musical -- the box-office blockbuster Wicked, Tony Kushner's powerful Caroline, or Change (recently staged locally by New Stage Collective) and the X-rated puppet show, Avenue Q, the surprise winner. The fourth show is Taboo, a crash-and-burn funded by Rosie O'Donnell that featured Raul Esparza in the title role, for which he earned his first Tony nomination. (His second, by the way, was for the 2006 Cincinnati Playhouse production of Company, which moved to Broadway.) It's an insider's look at the high-stakes business behind assembling a Broadway show, but there's plenty of performances and star power that make this one fun to watch. You'll be entertained but also understand the pressures at play when union stagehands went on strike recently for 19 days. (It's $28.95 from bookstores and various online services.) ...
Another gift idea could be the most recent BEST PLAYS THEATER YEARBOOK, issued in August 2007 and covering 10 outstanding plays from the 2005-2006 season in New York. In addition to reports about the world of theater in New York and lots of stats about specific shows and the overall season, you can read a detailed essay about Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter, the story of an ill-fated menage trois in Amsterdam that Know Theatre will present in January and February. Also covered are several shows recently staged locally: In the Continuum by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter (presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse in October 2006 with Salter as one of the two performers); David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize winner Rabbit Hole (produced by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati in September 2007), Rolin Jones' The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow (staged by Queen City Off-Broadway in November 2007). Also covered are the musical Grey Gardens by Dough Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie; The History Boys by Alan Bennett; The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh; Shining City by Conor McPherson; Stuff Happens by David Hare and Third by Wendy Wasserstein. This is the 87th volume of this important annual record, now edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins. (Published by Limelight Editions, $49.95)
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