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Shrek the Musical (Review)

A crowd-pleasing combination of physical and highbrow humor

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I went into Shrek The Musical expecting a silly cartoon. That’s exactly what it is — but it’s a really well-done silly cartoon, perfect fare for an audience full of kids and parents. This high-class touring production features an eye-popping array of colorful costumes for an army of fairytale characters, constantly changing scenery (several backdrops have moving projections of clouds and weather) and crazy choreography (including a number with tap-dancing rats).   

NKU’s Y.E.S. Festival (Review)

Many journeys among three titles

0 Comments · Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Northern Kentucky University’s Y.E.S Festival is showcasing three new and very different plays through April 17: Karla Jennings’ Monstrous Beauty; Jacqueline T. Lynch’s One Good Turn; and Kelly Kingston Strayer’s Marfa, Texas. A new script is an exciting thing to see, and the young actors all bring a refreshing earnestness to their work that is engaging in itself.   

Carousel (Review)

Carnegie production features fantastic music and singing

0 Comments · Monday, April 11, 2011
If it’s great singing and musical accompaniment that draws you to classic musicals, then you need to spend some time at the Carnegie Center in Covington where there’s currently a satisfying staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel at the Otto M. Budig Theatre.  

The Dragon (Review)

Know’s production takes too long to tell an obvious story

0 Comments · Monday, April 11, 2011
Know Theatre of Cincinnati is known for its fearless work and for partnering with other artists and companies. But I wish more of their work engaged me. I looked forward to Know’s collaboration with Madcap Puppets for The Dragon, in hopes of more innovation. But what’s onstage, using a newly adapted script, struck me as lethargic and not inventive enough.  

Behind the Eye (Review)

Playhouse premieres stunning new play about an iconic woman

0 Comments · Monday, April 11, 2011
The deft and compelling story of Lee Miller, a photographer’s model in Vogue in the 1920s, a photographer herself in the 1930s and a fearless photojournalist across Europe during World War II. The show — and Miller’s life — ends in an unexpected moment that leaves the audience gasping. Anyone who yearns for the power of dynamic theater needs to look Behind the Eye.   

The Handmaid's Tale (Review)

Cincy Shakes presents a frightening look at a possible not-too-distant future

0 Comments · Monday, April 4, 2011
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel from 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale, tells a frightening story about a woman trapped in a not-too-distant future that seems even more real today than it did when the book was first published a quarter-century ago. A conservative overthrow of the U.S. government has created the Republic of Gilead, a theocracy in which women are subjugated to stereotypical roles.  

Hitting the Target

Louisville’s Humana Festival features shows that could please Cincinnati audiences

0 Comments · Monday, April 4, 2011
This year marks the 35th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays presented by Actors Theatre of Louisville. Every year this event draws the attention of theater professionals from across the nation and around the world. Six world premieres are offered in rolling repertory, an amazing feat made possible by Actors Theatre’s excellent physical complex with three stages.  

Julius Caesar (Review)

Women in men’s roles misses the mark

0 Comments · Sunday, March 27, 2011
Director Jeremy Dubin writes in a director’s note, “Intrinsically and irrevocably tied to the creation of Rome is this image of feminine strength, an image of tenderness engirded by ferocity, an image of the most dangerous creature known to the world — a mother protecting her young.” But perhaps the decision to use women in men's roles is akin to the lesson of this interpretation of Julius Caesar. It’s admirable to undertake a dramatic change that might offer a new perspective. But beware the consequences.  

With Much Fanfare

“Fanfares” and CSO’s not-so-quiet role in shaping American culture

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Without much fanfare — well, actually, with fanfare — the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has played a key role in the shaping of American popular culture as we know it. That’s the contention made — a bit indirectly — by Sean Wilentz, a Princeton University professor, in his recent book Bob Dylan in America.  

Stewart Goodyear Makes For A Good Year

Stewart Goodyear debuts tribute to WGUC and Paavo Jrvi

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Pianist Stewart Goodyear made his debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2004 with an electrifying performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. He’s been back twice, but this weekend Goodyear returns not only as a soloist, but as a featured composer. The CSO will perform his fanfare Count Up.  

Gee's Bend (Review)

Playhouse production is an honest play about quilters in Alabama

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder researched Gee’s Bend by interviewing women who wove quilts from tattered clothing and other scraps of their lives in an Alabama island community that gives the play its name. She was advised, “Just write it honest.” Wilder took that wisdom to heart, and it shines through the Cincinnati Playhouse’s current production of her moving story of one family’s journey across a half-century of American life.  

End Days (Review)

ETC show uses humor to explore anxieties about carrying on

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The title of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s thoughtful comedy, End Days, says it all — the end is near. However, depending on which character you listen to, the shape of that conclusion is not clear. The play portrays a family changed by the events of 9/11, two years earlier.  

Rent (Review)

CCM produces impact and contemporary meaning

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Every decade or so a new musical comes along to breathe new life into an art form that some fear is outdated, bringing young audiences back to the theater. In the 1950s it was West Side Story. In the ’60s it was Hair. And in the ’70s it was A Chorus Line. The ’90s trendsetter was Rent, an off-Broadway work inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohme that became an unlikely Broadway.  

Fiddler on the Roof (Review)

0 Comments · Thursday, February 24, 2011
The classic musical Fiddler on the Roof has moved audiences to “happiness and tears” for almost a half-century. The current touring production onstage at the Aronoff Center has the capacity to do that, even though it’s a bare-bones rendition with an uneven cast. The fact is that Jerry Bock’s music and Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics, not to mention Joseph Stein’s book, constitute such wonderful material that theatergoers tend to be pleased regardless of the quality of a production.  

Cinderella (Review)

Spirit of invention animates NKU's production

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your box office. Consider Cinderella at Northern Kentucky University, an inventive take on a familiar show that's quickly selling out. Director Ken Jones and company have taken a simple, timeworn stage scheme and run with it, adding a trio of cute rodent clowns, a full repertoire of eccentric line readings and gestures, endless gags and, yes, a giant pest-ensnarement device set center stage as this tuneful, two-hour fairytale unfolds.