when I clicked on a Jimmy Kimmel Live!
video a few months back and saw Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom and
Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock, I thought it was a scene from that Tony
Award winner. They were hatching a scheme to make money — but this time
not with a stinker of a Broadway show. Instead, they needed a stinker of
Once upon a time, popular theater was the
realm of melodramas with dastardly villains, heroic champions and
damsels in distress. New Edgecliff Theatre has experienced its own run
of “perils” that seem to be the modern-day equivalent of the challenges
faced in those long-ago productions.
Don’t lose track of
theater on university campuses, because there’s a lot of it. It’s a
chance to see works that are less likely to be produced by theaters
where selling lots of tickets is a necessity.
Nearly 30 percent of Playhouse premieres were written or co-created by women, significantly more than the 22-percent figure researched by the Lilly Awards and the Dramatists Guild for shows by women produced by American theaters during seasons between 2011 and 2014.
Last month I had an opportunity to attend
an evening get-together with a group of volunteers with the League of
Cincinnati Theatres who are writing regularly about local productions,
providing previews of shows as well as critiques.
In November I was in New York City for a
gathering of the American Theatre Critics Association. I saw five
Broadway shows, listened to some informative panel discussions and
attended a luncheon at Sardi’s with an array of Broadway performers.
Ed Stern “retired” three years ago after
two decades of artistic leadership at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the
Park. I put quotation marks around that word because he’s still busy as
can be, much to the surprise of everyone — himself included.
Trey Tatum and Paul Strickland grew up
just 45 miles apart — Tatum in southern Alabama and Strickland in
Florida’s Panhandle. But they didn’t meet until their paths crossed in
Cincinnati during the Fringe Festival in June 2014.
Some plays become classics because they
last across time — Shakespeare’s plays are still produced after 400
years. That’s what’s usually onstage at the Cincinnati Shakespeare
Company, but they also dig into more recent “classics,” qualified by
elemental stories that burn fiercely.
Theater programs at our universities in
Greater Cincinnati often produce shows that not only offer educational
opportunities for students, but also expose us to works we have lost
track of or missed. David Edgar’s Pentecost is such a work, and
it accomplishes what Richard Hess likes to do — challenge audiences.
Edmond Rostand’s play, like its hero, seems to have fallen unexpectedly from the moon. Cyrano de Bergerac was
a surprising instant hit in Paris late in 1897. Its premiere received
an hour-long standing ovation, and it was subsequently performed for 200