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Lowering the Curtain on ’09

The ups and downs of the year in Cincinnati theater

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Rick Pender reminiscences about his favorite theater moments from this year. From the amazing work of Sarah Ruhl, the insanity that is the Fringe Festival to the Cincinnati Playhouse marking its 50th season with a stunning line-up, this year will not soon be forgotten.  

Once Upon a Mattress (Review)

Jersey Productions show has too many lumps

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 16, 2009
How can a theater company take a charming musical based on a fairy tale and turn it into an evening of charmless showboating? Jersey Productions has done so with Once Upon a Mattress, based on the story of “The Princess and the Pea.”  

Oliver! (Review)

Carnegie's production is missing some key parts

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 16, 2009
A stolen locket. In the end, this bagatelle is all that stands between Oliver Twist’s miserable childhood and the loving home to which he should have been born. The Carnegie Arts Center’s Oliver! has a fine pedigree of its own — a first-class pit, a young star, a pro in the key role of Fagin — and nearly wins a place in our hearts. But this production has bigger problems than a misplaced bit of jewelry.  

Sleeping Beauty (Review)

ETC's holiday show casts a spell on kids and adults

0 Comments · Monday, December 7, 2009
Compared to last year's ETC holiday show, 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Sleeping Beauty' is prettier and less zany, as the source material would suggest. Its operatic soul lies uneasily with such crowd-pleasing gimmicks as an Elvis-inspired prince and a sock-puppet dragon who likes to play hide-and-seek.  

Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Review)

Know Theatre's strange and silly stories don't quite add up

1 Comment · Saturday, December 5, 2009
This new "family-friendly" show for the holidays could be presented anytime, as there's nary a sprig of holly or a "Bah, humbug" in sight. Know has assembled a talented cast who work hard to bring to life a collection of strange and silly stories from Louis Sachar's books for kids about a school that's 30 stories tall due to an architectural mistake, but ultimately I found myself bored with 90 minutes of forced zaniness.   

Titanic (Review)

NKU musical succeeds with logistics, misses on the artistry

1 Comment · Saturday, December 5, 2009
Yes, the ship sinks. Happily, the musical does not. 'Titanic,' that is, now onstage with a cast of 37 at Northern Kentucky University. Composer-lyricist Maury Yeston and author Peter Stone have created a show with close to continuous music, solos for more than 20 people, huge choral numbers and frequent shifts of scene from bow to stern. The cast members are nicely matched to their music and to each other.   

Lighting the Way

Multimedia ensemble concert:nova continues expanding Chamber music boundaries and audiences

1 Comment · Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Four years ago, clarinetist Ixi Chen moved from New York to join the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and immediately began networking with other young professionals. A brainstorming session drew 15 musicians, and concert:nova was born. The group took inspiration from cellist Matt Haimowitz, a champion of new music who performs in concerts halls and Rock clubs and collaborates with leading conductors, Hip Hop artists and Klezmer musicians.  

The Taming of the Shrew (Review)

Cincinnati Shakespeare presents a zany, cinematic version of the classic

0 Comments · Monday, November 30, 2009
Director Matt Johnson has set the battle of the sexes in a "mythical Hollywood studio" of the 1930s. What often goes wrong with adaptations is that they're not fully applied, but Johnson's update works flawlessly and completely, adding layers of humor for theatergoers who might not routinely warm to a play by Shakespeare.  

Hitting the Right Marx

Comedian Lewis Black knocks politics to the mat with a (far) left hook

0 Comments · Monday, November 30, 2009
Lewis Black recently turned 61 and, like many of his generation, was influenced by the social comedy of George Carlin, Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. It was worth asking if Black felt that stand-up comedy was still evolving or if, like Rock & Roll, it had played itself out and was searching for an identity.   

God Bless Them Every One!

Cincinnati theaters ready their holiday offerings

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It's the time of year when theaters hope to strike holiday gold with shows that will deliver lots of ticket revenue — enough to provide the funds needed for the second half of their seasons. The hands-down winner, of course, is Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' a budget balancer for the Cincinnati Playhouse since 1991. But there are plenty of other holiday-themed stories being told on local stages this season.  

Sanders Family Christmas (Review)

Familiar Playhouse holiday show is still smokin'

0 Comments · Monday, November 23, 2009
Sometimes those with the least to offer bestow the greatest gifts. Ask O. Henry or Charlie Brown — or Jesus himself (born in a barn). No wonder the best performance in 'Sanders Family Christmas' comes from the one character who supposedly has no talent for music: June (Tess Hartman), the plain, non-singing daughter of the Sanders clan, who were celebrity guests on Christmas Eve 1941 at the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.  

Hair (Review)

CCM enters the Age of Aquarius for its 40th anniversary

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 17, 2009
For 40 years UC's College-Conservatory of Music has trained musical theater performers. The legendary musical 'Hair' burst forth around the same time that CCM's program began, so the "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" is a perfect centerpiece for an anniversary celebration.   

Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Review)

Touring holiday show is a Technicolor spectacular

0 Comments · Friday, November 13, 2009
If you enjoy musicals — especially movie musicals — you're in for a great time at the Aronoff Center, where Broadway Across America is presenting the first touring production of 'Irving Berlin's White Christmas.' OK, so it's early for a holiday show. It has a holiday sparkle, but the music, energy and polished performances will impress you.  

Waite Gain

Local comedian Dave Waite makes national TV debut on Comedy Central

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 10, 2009
What's this? Another Cincinnati comedian is appearing on national TV? It's becoming almost commonplace, as the Queen City's Dave Waite makes his television debut this week on Comedy Central's 'Live at Gotham,' debuting Friday night and repeating Saturday morning.  

News to You

Comedian Kevin Nealon's act gets more personal

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 3, 2009
In addition to the popular Showtime series 'Weeds,' comedian/actor Kevin Nealon is probably most widely known for his work on 'Saturday Night Live,' where he anchored the "Weekend Update" segment for so many years. While he skillfully parodied current events on that program, these days his outlook is more domestic, and that's reflected in his stand-up set.