A lot of people who love the holidays can recite lines from Frank Capra's popular 1946 film 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Well, rather than simply bring the movie to the stage, Falcon Theatre retells the story as a radio drama, re-creating a radio studio with three sound effects artists, a stentorian announcer, electric organ, three cute singers for ads and a cast of voice talents who play multiple roles.
You could point out to fans of 'A Christmas Story' that cherished holiday films almost never work onstage. You might also tell a kid who dreams of owning a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle that he'll shoot his eye out. Some warnings are destined to fall on deaf ears. So expect full houses this month at Covedale Center for the Performing Arts.
Acclaimed visual artist Jay Bolotin — who lives in North Fairmount and has a Brighton studio — has been devoting time to a related but somewhat separate aspect of his artistic career. He’s finding new attention as a singer/songwriter, for both his past and present work.
I discovered David Sedaris via a wickedly funny monologue on NPR about working as an elf at Macy's in New York City. When 'The Santaland Diaries' became a theater piece a decade ago, I was entertained, especially if a good actor took it on. In New Edgecliff's current production, Joshua Steele is the right elf for the job, a skinny, frizzy-haired guy in a silly, green velvet costume with curly pointed shoes.
Brains trump beauty in 'Cinderella,' now playing at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, where every December another familiar fairy tale gets a fun musical makeover. This year's installment features a philosophy-loving heroine (exceptional homegrown talent Brooke Rucidlo) in local playwright Joe McDonough's clever script.
Earlier this year John Glore's adaptation of 'A Wrinkle in Time' premiered at South Coast Rep, one of America's most respected theaters for new plays. The 1962 novel about precocious kids has been popular for a long time (especially with, well, precocious kids), so there's a built-in audience. That's certainly why Know Theatre is staging it for the 2010 holidays.
The popularity of Sir John Falstaff, the portly jokester in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV' plays, led to a sequel. 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' today would have been dubbed 'Falstaff II.' And like most sequels, the original idea wears thin. Falstaff is funny, but his coarse, self-aggrandizing behavior is one-dimensional. That's part of why Cincinnati Shakespeare's holiday show grows a bit wearisome.
The holidays offer a perfect time to go to the theater with local productions for theater fans from wide-eyed kids to old cynics. Some shows are familiar, like a visit with old friends, while others spruce up an old story with some new garland — and perhaps a sprig of twisted sass. Here's a rundown on eight locally staged holiday recommendations.
Make no mistake about it: Mel Brooks is a dirty old man. And since his very funny film 'Young Frankenstein' he's gotten ever dirtier and older. What was raunchy but amusing in 1974 is simply repeated louder and cruder in this 2007 Broadway version, currently spending two weeks at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.
When CCM staged Carlisle Floyd's opera 'Of Mice and Men' last May, the composer was on hand for opening night. He was so impressed that when opera department head Robin Guarino asked him to return to work with students he immediately accepted. Floyd has been coaching CCM students since Nov. 10, culminating in a public performance of excerpts from his operas Wednesday.
Team spirit is what Professor Harold Hill is really selling to the people of River City, Iowa. And 'The Music Man,' now at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater thanks to Cincinnati Music Theatre, has more esprit de corps in its piccolo-playing pinkie fingers than you might find in the entire bodies of a real brass band.
If it's laughter you're seeking for the holidays, you'll find plenty at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the new comedy revue from the legendary Chicago-based Second City improv company. It's full of our familiar foibles as well as a cast of local crackpots and characters. Never has it been so much fun to be teased.
"If I accidentally find myself in a good mood before a show, it's scary, and it's detrimental," Doug Stanhope says. "I go, 'Everything sucks, remember that! Stop smiling; you'll ruin the show!'" But Stanhope has a lot to smile about. He's a huge draw not only in America but the U.K.; apparently anger and annoyance are universal.
Although I've not encountered any other kind, 'Unnecessary Farce' by Paul Slade Smith is, well, an unnecessary farce. No one needs to see a crop of oddballs sprinting about a stage (frequently sans pants) opening one door, slamming another, lobbing double-entendres out to the house before the curtain finally extinguishes the frenzy.
Midway through 'The Rocky Horror Show,' the title character says, "I feel that all is not well here. ... I have a feeling of foreboding." Rocky is assessing his situation with the sweetly naive Janet, not critiquing the production in which they're performing at Northern Kentucky University. But his observation applies.