Friday and Saturday are the final two days of performances from the Cincinnati Fringe. You can read reviews of all the shows at CityBeat's special Fringe blog site. But for your quick reference, here's a list of the shows that received "Critic's Picks" from one of our writers.
CityBeat’s theater guru Rick Pender is right when he pimps the Cincy Fringe Festival as an “Antidote to Uptight” — personally speaking, the annual smorgasbord of edgy indie theater is among the best 12 days the city has to offer. Even the productions that don’t work are at least unique in one way or another. (Check CityBeat’s extensive Fringe coverage for proof.)
Furthermore, as an Over-the-Rhine resident, it’s always heartening to see our city’s most historic and interesting neighborhood even more alive than usual during the fest’s run, a bohemian beehive of activity that celebrates creativity, passion and, as Fringe Producing Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier likes to say, weirdness over all else.
Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC) has turned over a new leaf, at least for its 26th season. Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers has typically spent much of the summer making last-minute arrangements for the shows she’ll offer starting in September. In good years, she’s been able to announce her choices around the time of the Tony Awards, roughly the second week of June. So I’m pleased (and a bit surprised) to tell you that Meyers has pulled it all together for May 1. It’s unprecedented — what’s more, it’s a remarkably good season.
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern today announced that he will leave the esteemed regional theater after two more seasons, following the 2011-12 season, his 20th. Ed’s tenure at the Playhouse predates CityBeat’s coming into existence: He began in 1992, two years before CityBeat began publishing. I had the pleasure of writing about the recovery of the theater under Stern for EveryBody’s News and then for CityBeat; the Playhouse was in desperate financial straits when Stern and Executive Director Buzz Ward took over — a $1.25 million accumulated deficit.
OK, I’m a little behind the curve in sharing the word about Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s 25th season, which was actually announced about a week ago. It was a tad anticlimactic, since Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers had announced some of this information back in early June. Nevertheless, with the opening of the 2010-2011 season just a few weeks away, the complete picture is now in place. ETC will offer four regional premieres, a premiere musical revue and several special limited performance events.
If you can't find some good theater to attend this weekend, you simply aren't looking. I'm sure that fans of musicals will be heading to the Aronoff to check out the tour of Mary Poppins, and for a meaty dramatic classic, you simply can't go wrong with Angels in America at Know Theatre (read my review here). But let me offer a tip on a show you've certainly never seen but that's likely to have people talking: It's the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's world premiere of David Bar Katz's The History of Invulnerability.
OK, I can't see any theater in Cincinnati this weekend because I'm attending the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, 100 miles down I-71. But if I were in town, I'd have to make some tough choices.
Because of a busy travel schedule, I missed the opening of Daddy-Long-Legs at the Cincinnati Playhouse, but everyone I've talked to has enjoyed it. CityBeat reviewer Tom McElfresh described it as " a two-performer evening of grace and delicacy that’s tuneful, true to the original and altogether satisfying."
I think there are few more satisfying segments of musical theater than the opening 10 minutes of the musical Chicago, which is in town for a brief run at the Aronoff Center. The first number, “All That Jazz,” gives you an encyclopedia of the stylistic dance moves of iconic choreographer Bob Fosse, followed by “Funny Honey,” an introduction of Roxie Hart, who murders her low-life lover. A few minutes later, “Cell Block Tango” provides the set-up for the colorful women who are in prison for their acts of violence. The touring production stars Terra MacLeod as Velma Kelly and Bianca Marroquin as Roxie Hart (the roles played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger in the Academy Award-winning film) and they dance and sing with the requisite zest. Chicago opens with a quick speech defining it as containing “violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery — all the things we hold near and dear to our hearts.” If you’re looking for a stylish musical with nary a whiff of the holidays, this is the show to see this weekend. It runs through Sunday. Tickets: 800-982-2787.