Somewhere in playwright Theresa Rebeck's past there must have been a 420-too-friendly techie who smoked up the booth, a big-name hack who got the plum job and a lover who walked out without a word. Or maybe these professional disasters and personal heartbreaks, captured so hilariously and affectingly in the Cincinnati native's 'The Understudy,' are simply the products of Rebeck's rich imagination. Either way, the comedy has a ring of authenticity that anyone who's ever acted (onstage or in life) should appreciate.
It might be premature to call the touring production of 'South Pacific' at the Aronoff Center the best you're going to see this season, but it's safe to say audiences won't be disappointed. The 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is a reminder of why the show exemplifies the golden age of Broadway musicals. It's got the tunes and the talent.
After Cincinnati nabbed the 2012 World Choir Games last June, It was only natural to turn to Dr. Catherine Roma, a passionate advocate for building community through choral singing. In March, she began recruiting singers from her choirs for SingCinnati. Singers had to have schedules flexible enough to fit in a demanding rehearsal schedule and nine days in China.
Sister Jamison Connelly (Kathleen Turner) is a blunt, hard-boiled nun with a past. She meets her match in Cory Randall (Evan Jonigkeit), a young drug addict so far gone it's hard to imagine his recovery. 'High' suggests that faith and redemption can confront troubling contemporary issues, but the outcome feels incomplete and contradictory.
Good theater can result from good stories, good writing, good acting or
good directing. All are in evidence in Ensemble Theatre's 25th season opener, 'Collected Stories,' which was a Pulitzer finalist in 1997, was filmed for PBS in 2002 and had a Broadway revival earlier this year. ETC's production is its local premiere.
Khaled Hosseini's debut novel, 'The Kite Runner,' spent more than five years on The New York Times bestseller list. Published in 42 languages and made into a 2007 movie, the story follows the life of a young Afghani from the mid-1970s until 2001 and has resonated with readers worldwide. It's now a play receiving its regional premiere this month at Actors Theatre of Louisville in a co-production with the Cleveland Playhouse, where it will transfer in October.
A production of 'Love's Labour's Lost' by Cincinnati Outdoor Classics on a temperate Saturday afternoon held out such a promise. This youthful play is perfect for college students (the company is an outgrowth of the drama program at UC's College-Conservatory of Music) because it's about young love and naive vows, plus a lot of tomfoolery. The energy of this company is evident, but the challenges of performing in the open air are tough.
There are two unlikely pairings in Cincinnati Shakespeare's 1960s-flavored 'Much Ado About Nothing.' First is the romance between Beatrice and Benedick, competing wits whose friends trick them into realizing they're perfect for each other. Still more audacious is director Drew Fracher's attempt to marry this well-mannered comedy with the acid-tinged, free-love vibe of a hippie commune.
September marks the beginning of Greater Cincinnati's 2010-11 theater season. Check it out: Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare, Know Theatre, Human Race Theatre Company, Broadway Across America, the Covedale Center, CCM, Falcon Theater, NKU, the Footlighters and Cincinnati Musical Theatre are offering up a huge array of live theater this fall.
The 2010-11 theater season has barely started, but it's off to a rollicking start with a lively, inventive and polished production of 'Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' at Covington's Carnegie Center. That's no small achievement: The Carnegie's Otto M. Budig Theatre is a lovingly restored venue, but it's not an easy place to stage a musical: shallow stage, no real orchestra pit and limited sight lines.
When Aubrey Berg goes to Broadway, he has a hard time forgetting his day job. That's actually a point of pride for the professor and department head at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. Berg, who has taught at UC for 23 of the program's 40 years, has been honored by the League of Cincinnati Theatres with its 2010 Continuing Achievement Award and will be inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame Sunday.
Most theatergoers don't want to see anything too challenging in the summertime. If you're looking for that kind of amusement, you'll find it aboard the Showboat through Aug. 22. Larry Shue's 'The Nerd' offers twists and turns that will turn you upside down once or twice before the evening is over ... with some genuine laughter along the way.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is offering two productions this summer ('Hamlet' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream') that can be enjoyed at city parks and other such areas in Northern Kentucky and Hamilton County. I headed to East Price Hill July 28 for the opening night of 'Hamlet' at Mount Echo Park, one of the many great facilities maintained by the city of Cincinnati's Parks Department.
For several summers, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has offered shows of witty, classical fluff when most companies are on a seasonal break. This month Noel Coward's comedic ghost story 'Blithe Spirit' fills the bill nicely, featuring six CSC veteran performers as well as Annie Fitzpatrick, who provides a great dollop of loony frosting on a very tasty summer dessert.
Puccini's 'La Boheme' is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The inspiration for 'Rent,' it's the perfect opera for first-timers, for date night, for anyone. And when the staging is by veteran British director Jonathan Miller, 'La Boheme' is a must-see, a Cincinnati Opera co-production with the English National Opera updated to Paris in the early 1930s with a cast of exciting young singers. Miller speaks with CityBeat about his insistence on hewing to the dramatic truth in opera productions.