A crowd of female playwrights came
together in New York City in 2008 to express their concern that works by
women were not getting produced by that city’s theaters. More than 150
playwrights attended the gathering, resulting in standing-room-only at
It was 35 years ago when I first heard
about a new Broadway musical, the story of a Victorian serial murderer whose
victims were ground up for meat pies. My first reaction to Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was disbelief.
You read that headline correctly. The
outside-the-box thinkers at Know Theatre, the offbeat company that
presents the Fringe Festival every June and other mind-expanding
performances year-round, has a new idea. Led by new artistic director
Andrew Hungerford, this initiative is called “The Welcome Experiment.”
While the rest of us kick back during a
lazy summer, Cincinnati-based actress Dale Hodges is at work honing her
craft. That might surprise some local theatergoers, who already think of
her as one of our region’s best theater professionals; if Hodges is
onstage with a Cincinnati theater, it’s a sure bet that audiences will
show up to watch.
It’s award season in the theater world,
locally and elsewhere, when past work is pored over to find outstanding
productions and performances, accolades are bestowed, “thank you”
speeches are made and egos are boosted or blasted.
The Cincinnati Fringe had its finale on Saturday evening in
a chaotic round of thanks and kudos at Know Theatre. If you’ve never attended
but want to know what it’s like, I’d compare the party to a tumultuous Saturday
morning at Findlay Market.
I’ve been a theater critic for almost
three decades. I’m an optimist: I routinely attend shows hoping to be
pleased or surprised. Doesn’t always happen, of course, but I keep going
back. Maybe that’s a little crazy, but I’ve kept at it for all these
years because our Cincinnati theater scene gets better and better, and I
want everyone to hear about it.
I don’t have the bandwidth nor does CityBeat
have enough space to write often about community theaters — groups of
volunteers who produce and perform in shows, often for audiences in a
specific neighborhood — but that’s not because they don’t do a good job.
You won’t find cutting-edge material
onstage at the Carnegie. The theater’s managing director Joshua Steele
has mastered two elements: He collaborates with a wide array of local
theater artists and companies, and he produces works that are, by and
large, familiar fare.
As CityBeat’s theater critic, I
write about plays and musicals, so I’m occasionally asked which I like
better. The truth is I appreciate both forms. But they are distinct, so
let me hold forth on some differences and similarities.
I love going to the movies, but I leave writing about them to others, especially my CityBeat
colleague tt stern-enzi, who routinely offers a perspective worth
reading. Nevertheless, I’m going to local cineplexes more often for
digital transmissions of theater from around the world.