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Macbeth (Review)

Cincinnati Shakespeare production is a strange brew

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of Shakespeare’s tragedy has bursts of chemistry and feeling mingled with drowsy places where the language washes over your brain, and the staging feels perfunctory. Macbeth has been given a contemporary setting, but it’s hard to see what the update adds to the play.  

I Love a Piano (Review)

Covedale show is full of familiar tunes that will stick in your head

0 Comments · Friday, October 14, 2011
Irving Berlin lived for more than a century (1888-1989) and his popular songs have outlasted even that incredible lifetime — including “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” — so the current Covedale Center revue I Love a Piano (a title from another of his well known tunes) has a ready advantage with audiences of a certain age.   

Ghost-Writer (Review)

Ensemble production is a three-character dance to a typewriter’s rhythm

0 Comments · Thursday, October 13, 2011
Michael Hollinger’s Opus was a hit for ETC in 2007; Ghost-Writer recently won a Barrymore Award as the best new play in Philadelphia. It’s as much a meditation for writers as for theater lovers, but both should enjoy this thoughtful work.  

As You Like It (Review)

Ed Stern’s final Playhouse production is a gift of joy and love

0 Comments · Monday, October 10, 2011
I’ve seen As You Like It many times, but Ed Stern’s final directorial outing for the Playhouse (co-staged with Michael Evan Haney) distills its warmth and goodwill better than any I’ve previously witnessed. Stern has blessed Cincinnati audiences for 20 years, and this production is a wonderful gift of love and joy that will be remembered for years to come.  

Gruesome Playground Injuries (Review)

Know Theatre offers a twisted love story

0 Comments · Monday, October 10, 2011
This show reunites actors Beth Harris and Jens Rasmussen with director Drew Fracher; a year ago they created Skin Tight, the best production of Know’s previous season. If subsequent shows are as gripping and off-kilter as this one in which humor and pathos constantly elbow one another, Know will deliver on its annual promise of edgy theater.   

Little Women (Review)

NKU production is a heartfelt American classic

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Astonishing: It’s what Jo March yearns to be, pacing in her attic, spinning gruesome, spectacular tales to take the publishing world by storm. But Louisa May Alcott, the real-life author the fictional Jo grew up to become, made her name not by startling readers but by moving them with a simple story of four New England sisters and their mother making the best of things in bad times.   

Burn This (Review)

0 Comments · Saturday, October 1, 2011
The title of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This suggests it will be inflammatory and tempestuous. Knowing that its original New York production starred John Malkovich and Joan Allen might heighten your expectation that a local production by New Edgecliff Theatre (NET) would pin you to the wall. Featuring Nathan Neorr’s energetic performance as the crazed Pale, a man hopped up on grief, drugs and booze (the role Malkovich inhabited in 1987), there’s potential for a riveting production.  

Beauty and the Beast (Review)

0 Comments · Thursday, September 29, 2011
There’s no doubt that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a show audiences have loved. It had 5,461 performances over 13 years, making it the eighth longest-running show in Broadway history. Based on the animated film with great musical numbers and done right, it’s a surefire crowd-pleaser. That’s pretty much what’s landed onstage at the Aronoff for a two-week run, with a young cast that’s full of enthusiasm.  

Next to Normal (Review)

ETC goes way beyond “normal” with musical

1 Comment · Monday, September 12, 2011
The serious topic of mental illness is the surprising subject of Next to Normal, a musical opening Ensemble Theatre’s 26th season. It’s a perfect choice for the Over-the-Rhine theater that never shies away from matters that affect the lives of everyday people. Employing a cast of mostly local professionals, director D. Lynn Meyers has staged the Rock show’s first regional production anywhere in the U.S., one that could well be one of the best musicals onstage in Cincinnati this season.  

Superior Donuts (Review)

New Clifton theater offers Tracy Letts’ recent script

0 Comments · Monday, September 12, 2011
Superior Donuts is nothing fancy; it goes down easily, like a glazed treat that leaves you wanting another one. That’s pretty much how this show works, perhaps promising more from Clifton Performance Theatre.  

God of Carnage (Review)

Playhouse production shows human behavior at its worst

0 Comments · Monday, September 12, 2011
Directed by Ed Stern in his final Playhouse season, Carnage has a lot of delicious moments — verbal wit, physical comedy and inter-character strife. Designer Narelle Sissons’ modern, minimal set provides a social context of affluence, and subtle details — a three-panel photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and a chic glass box fireplace — offer symbolic elements suggesting connection, cool reserve and the heat of fury.  

A Man For All Seasons (Review)

Bruce Cromer plays a man who lived (and died) by his principles

0 Comments · Monday, September 12, 2011
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) opens its 2011-2012 season with A Man for All Seasons, featuring veteran local actor Bruce Cromer in the heady, demanding role of More. Cromer makes him witty, caring, sharp and cantankerous, an admirable verbal combatant — ultimately more fearful of being unfaithful to his conscience than to his king.   

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Review)

0 Comments · Monday, September 12, 2011
One of the spellers in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee loves her dictionary because “lost things can be put in order,” and another recognizes that his involvement could show his family that “I might be smart.” The musical about adolescents competing for the national spelling bee is ultimately about how they find their places in life, and the show’s current production on the Showboat Majestic amplifies material in the script to create an inventive rendition of the 2005 Broadway hit.  

No Punches Pulled

Rock musical at ETC transformed an unlikely topic into a prize winner

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 7, 2011
It’s a rare for a musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. You probably know some of those shows: South Pacific, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Chorus Line, Sunday in the Park with George. After Rent won in 1996, it was 14 years before another musical was honored: In 2010, Next to Normal by composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Brian Yorkey, was named. Now one of the first productions of the hard-hitting Rock musical is opening a three-week run at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC).  

Noises Off (Review)

Covedale Center squeezes out ever laugh

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Michael Frayn’s Noises Off might seem like a lot of easy laughs. The funny backstage farce has slamming doors, amusing misunderstandings and exaggerated characters. Its clever three-act structure takes you from a final rehearsal of a silly farce to frenzied backstage during a performance and then onstage for a final outing when things are way out of control. The madhouse of craziness keeps getting more delirious from one scene to the next, and the Covedale Center’s production does a good job of squeezing out every laugh.