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by Rick Pender 07.06.2012
Posted In: World Choir Games at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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World Choir Games: 'Global Harmony'

Masonic Center performances high quality and appreciated

On Thursday evening I slogged through the humid, 100 degree soup of downtown Cincinnati to hear a World Choir Games concert at the Masonic Center on Fourth Street (next door to the Taft Theatre). I've lived in Cincinnati for 32 years and covered lots of arts events, but I've never set foot inside this honeycomb of stages, halls and meeting rooms. The sold-out event I attended, "Global Harmony," was in a steeply sloped, floridly decorated auditorium that seats approximately 1,000 people. A four-step set of risers was set up in front of a proscenium with a curtain; the scenery was provided by three choirs, two international groups — the Diocesan Schools Choral Society from Hong Kong and the Stellenbosch University Choir from South Africa — both highly recognized ensembles at the 2010 World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China. The third choir had a shorter trek to Cincinnati; the Capital University Chapel Choir, about 80 singers strong, came from Columbus and held its own with the two groups from other continents.

The Hong Kong group, roughly 120 high school boys and girls, offered a beautiful, restrained program of earnestly conceived works performed with polish, some religious and some literary (the latter included a piece based on Robert Burns' poem, "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose"). The singers from Capital University had the men attired in black suits, shirts and ties, the women in long dresses with identical bias-cut necklines but in varying colors, bright blue, maroon and navy. Their program was an interesting mixture of pieces, with several uptempo numbers — a lovely song by Dolly Parton, "Light of a Clear Blue Morning," that featured a crystalline solo by Annie Huckaba, and several rhythmic works, "Hehehlooyuh" and "Tshotsholoza," both of which evoked strong responses from the audience. The latter, a South African number, featured two forceful soloists, Chris Bozeka and Nicholas Klein, as well as percussive accompaniment on African drums by Emily Riggin and another chorus member (not named in the program).


The Stellenbosch choir, constituted of approximately 120 white and black college students and which earned three gold medals in the 2010 World Choir Games in China, presented a half-dozen songs plus an encore. "Kiasa-isa Niyan," described by conductor André van der Merwe as a counting song from the Philippines, used catchy choreography and motion, including chest thumping, vocal clicking, head snapping and a sharply executed bow at the end. The most moving number of the program, a traditional Zulu song, "African Prayer." It pulled six strong-voiced soloists (again, not named in the program) to the front of the stage and placed two more among the audience for an emotional call-and-response counterpoint that evoked a standing ovation.


In fact, each group was greeted with sustained applause as its singers filed on stage and cheered with a standing ovation after their performance. The audience was appreciative and wildly enthusiastic; some were parents of the Capital University performers, but many others were clearly people who simply love choral performances that are delivered with finesse, creativity and enthusiasm. Fifth Street was choked with buses bringing people from various hotels beyond downtown, here as tourists to listen to these performances.


Oh, yes: The auditorium was comfortably air-conditioned, a fact appreciated by those in attendance as well as the singers. It was a fine way to be introduced to the possibilities of the World Choir Games, here in the United States — not to mention in Cincinnati — for the first time ever. I was proud to be in attendance.

 
 
by Rick Pender 08.20.2010
Posted In: Theater at 05:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

25: The Season (at Ensemble Theatre)

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.

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by Rick Pender 10.06.2009
Posted In: Theater at 09:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Covedale Center Unveils Expansion Tonight

Since the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts opened back in 2002, it’s become the go-to place for onstage entertainment on the West Side, including the summertime Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre, which provides theater opportunities for high school kids from across the city. The facility is owned and operated by Cincinnati Landmark Productions (CLP), recently inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame on Aug. 30. CLP also operates the Showboat Majestic

The Covedale Center has been a busy place, but the converted 1940s movie house had minimal backstage space — until now. After several years of tight quarters, no running water or bathrooms, the facility has been renovated and expanded: There is now a rehearsal studio, a green room, two dressing rooms, shop space and two handicapped-accessible bathrooms. This evening marks the grand opening of the addition with a reception for VIPs and local media.

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by Maija Zummo 04.15.2014
at 12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnati Takes Over New York City

Cincy in NYC Week features Queen City art, music and food in the Big Apple

Cincinnati's arts groups and chefs are road tripping it to New York City for a seven-day showcase highlighting the eats, arts and culture of the Queen City for Cincy in NYC.

The showcase, which runs May 6 through May 12, features events and performances from the Cincinnati Ballet, CCM alumni, the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Playhouse in the Park, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum of Art, Queen City chefs (Jean-Robert de Cavel, Julie Francis of Nectar, David Cook of Daveed's NEXT, David Falk of Boca, Jose Salazar of Salazar, chocolatier Jean-Philippe Solnom and Stephen Williams of Bouquet) and more.

According to an article in Cincy Magainze, the original idea was that just the Cincinnati Ballet would return to New York City for the first time in 30 years. But it turns out the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the May Festival Chorus were also scheduled to be in NYC, performing around the same time as the ballet's performance week at the Joyce. So, long story short, other Cincinnati-based art groups were recruited to head East and now there's a ton of Cincinnatians trekking to New York to show the city what the Midwest has to offer.

Events kick off on May 6 with a performance from the Cincinnati Ballet at the Joyce and round out with a performance by CCM's quartet-in-residence, the Ariel Quartet, at the 92nd Street Y. 

MAY 6
The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 7:30 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

CCM Jazz Alumni at Jazz at Lincoln Center — Past and present CCM big band alumni perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. $30-$45. Broadway at 60th Street, New York, jalc.org/dizzys.

MAY 7
Music and Words with Ricky Ian Gordon — The composer will discuss his work with moderator Evans Mirageas, the Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Opera. 7 p.m. Free for members; $20 for non. The National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, operaamerica.org

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 7:30 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

MAY 8
May Festival/Symphony Party — The May Festival and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra host a cocktail soiree. 6-8 p.m. $275 (patron); $200 (guest). New York Yacht Club, 37 W. 44th St., New York, cincyinnyc.com.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 8 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

MAY 9
Playhouse Staged Reading in Afternoon — Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park presents a reading of Fool, by Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck, creator of TV's Smash. The reading features an all-star cast of Cincinnati stars. 2 p.m. Free but tickets required. Pearl Studios, 519 Eighth Ave., 12th Floor, Studio D, 513-421-3888.

Cincinnati Night at Carnegie Hall — The May Festival Chorus and the CSO take the Carnegie Hall stage as part of the prestigious Spring for Music Festival with a program including John Adams' iconic "Harmonium" and the New York premiere of R. Nathanial Dett's "The Ordering of Moses." 7:30 p.m. $25. Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave., New York, mayfestival.com.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 8 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

Cincinnati Party for Young Professionals — Cincinnati-native YPs are invited to an evening of live music, mingling and an open bar. Dhani Jones will MC. 9-11 p.m. Free. Arlene's Grocery, 95 Stanton St., New York, cincyinnyc.com.

MAY 10
Queen City Chefs Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple — Jean-Robert de Cavel, Julie Francis of Nectar, David Cook of Daveed's NEXT, David Falk of Boca, Jose Salazar of Salazar, chocolatier Jean-Philippe Solnom and Stephen Williams of Bouquet head to the James Beard House in NYC to cook a seven-course dinner. While they planned the menu together, they're each responsible for a different course. 7 p.m. $170; $130 for James Beard members. James Beard House, 167 W. 12th St., New York, jamesbeard.org.

Cincinnati Art Museum's Eyes on the Street Panel — A panel discussion of street photography in the 21st century. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $5. Aperture Gallery, 547 W. 27th St., Fourth Floor, New York, cincyinnyc.com.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 2 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Tour — Enjoy a special docent-led tour of the Met's Rembrandt galleries, including Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair, on loan from the Taft Museum of Art. 2 p.m. $29. The Met, 1000 Fifht Ave., New York, taftmuseum.cincyregister.com/rembrandtatmet.

MAY 11
World Piano Competition Gold Medalists at the Carnegie — Performance by gold medalist Alexander Yakovlev, 2012 World Piano Competition winner. 2 p.m. $15. The Carnegie, 881 Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, New York,  carnegiehall.org/events.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 2 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

MAY 12
CCM's Ariel Quartet — The internationally acclaimed Ariel Quartet and CCM's quartet-in-residence perform Haydn's String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1; Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130 and more. 7:30 p.m. $30. 92nd Street Y, SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St., New York, 92y.org.

For more information on all the events and Cincy in NYC in general, head to cincyinnyc.com.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 06.03.2011
Posted In: Visual Art at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincy Art Museum Curator Wins AAMC Award

In the Association of Art Museum Curators' recent Annual Awards for Excellence (for the calendar year 2010), Benedict Leca — curator of European Painting and Sculpture at Cincinnati Art Museum — won first place in the Outstanding Article, Essay or Extended Catalogue Entry category for his "A Favorite Among the Demireps" article for the museum's Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman exhibition. He also organized the show.

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by Rick Pender 03.13.2009
Posted In: Theater at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Stage Door: Don't Be Afraid of Friday the 13th

There's nothing unlucky about Friday the 13th in the theater world. (Theater folks have enough other superstitions anyway.) So you have lots of excellent choices this weekend, from the very funny The Foreigner at the Playhouse (just opened) to the satiric Timon of Athens at Cincinnati Shakespeare (see review here).

If you want a heavy-duty drama, try Bent at New Stage Collective (it's about the mistreatment of gays in Nazi concentration camps; see my review here). And if you want to see some of the talent that keeps spilling out of UC's College-Conservatory of Music, I recommend that you stop by the Over-the-Rhine nightclub Below Zero tonight after 10 p.m.

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by Rick Pender 02.24.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Sondheim at CCM; Broadway 2012-13

A lot of Stephen Sondheim’s shows are kind of heady, but Into the Woods — an intersection of a bunch of fairytale characters — is perhaps the most approachable and especially when it’s given the kind of colorful, overflowing with talent treatment that you’ll find for the next two weekends at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (that’s longer than usual, but tickets will still be in short supply, I suspect). Act I is about “happily every after,” while Act II explores what comes next. Twenty years ago, when an endowed chair in musical theater (the first in the nation) was established at CCM, professor and director Aubrey Berg staged the show; to honor the gift of Patricia Corbett, he’s mounting a new production at the theater named in her honor. I thought last fall’s Oklahoma at CCM was a wonderful production, but this one, which I saw open on Thursday evening, is even better, with an incredible array of talent and wildly inventive staging. Tickets: 513-556-4183.

A year ago Cincinnati Shakespeare had a big hit with a stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Looks like they’ve done it again with another adaptation of the 19th-century novelists Sense & Sensibility. This time it’s the sisters Dashwood, one rational and one emotional. The roles are wonderfully played by Kelly Mengelkoch (as the reserved, reasonable Elinor) and Sara Clark (as the willful and romantic Marianne), and they’re surrounded by delightfully drawn supporting characters — and a story of romance and domestic intrigue. I gave the production a Critic’s Pick. I’m told that several performances are already sold out (it’s onstage through March 18), so if you hope to see this one, you should line your tickets up right away. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

In case you wanted a short course in shows by Sondheim, the next few weeks is your big opportunity. In addition to Into the Woods at CCM, you can catch the touring production of West Side Story at the Aronoff (it opens a two-week run on Tuesday), a show that Sondheim wrote the lyrics for when he was 26 (he’s about to turn 82). And a week from now, the Cincinnati Playhouse will start previews of Merrily We Roll Along, a show from 1981 that was a flop at first, but now is praised as one of his greatest musical accomplishments. It’s about the joys and frustrations of success from the perspective of people involved in creating musical theater. It will be on the Marx Stage through March 31.

Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues is a complicated noir-ish tale of marital deceit and cryptic crime that unfolds more clearly because of its accomplished four-actor cast, including local professionals Bruce Cromer (who’s played roles as varied as Ebenezer Scrooge for the Playhouse to King Lear for Cincinnati Shakespeare) and Amy Warner (a regular at Ensemble Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare). The show is a fascinating piece of theater that takes work to watch, follow and absorb. I suppose that some casual theatergoers will be put off by it, but if you like challenging drama and multi-layered acting, you’ll leave the theater with their gears spinning. I gave Speaking in Tongues a Critic’s Pick. Through March 4. Box office: 513-421-3888.

Know Theater’s “comedy of anxiety” by Allison Moore, Collapse, opens with the collapse of a highway bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. But it’s about all kinds of things falling down — the economy, relationships. This is the kind of edgy script Know Theatre is known for, funny but meaningful. I gave the production a Critic’s Pick because it combines heart and humor. Collapse is presented with comic finesse and fine acting, especially by local professional actress Annie Fitzpatrick. Know’s best work of the season. Through March 3. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Planning for next season? Check out my blog from last Sunday about what Broadway in Cincinnati will be presenting, including the zany Blue Man Group.

Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.

 
 
by Rick Pender 02.17.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Stage Door: Transmigration and Several Critic's Picks

Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues is a complicated noir-ish tale of marital deceit and cryptic crime that unfolds more clearly because of its accomplished four-actor cast, including local professionals Bruce Cromer (who’s played roles as varied as Ebenezer Scrooge for the Playhouse to King Lear for Cincinnati Shakespeare) and Amy Warner (a regular at Ensemble Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare). The show is a fascinating piece of theater that takes work to watch, follow and absorb. I suppose that some casual theatergoers will be put off by it, but if you like challenging drama and multi-layered acting, you’ll leave the theater with your gears spinning. I gave Speaking in Tongues a Critic’s Pick in this week's "Curtain Call" column. Onstage through March 4. Box office: 513-421-3888.

If you’re a fan of the Cincinnati Fringe, you should check out the Transmigration Festival at CCM on the University of Cincinnati campus. I was there last evening and saw three of the six performances, especially enjoying Booth, an interactive piece by nine actors based on John Wilkes Booth’s final days. I also was entertained by The Eddie Shanahan Show, closely inspired by Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but with some very modern twists. Attendees choose between six brief productions (30 minutes or less) that are completely created, promoted, enacted and staged by drama students. It’s a February boost of creativity, staged throughout the CCM facility, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30, as well as a 2:30 matinee on Saturday. Admission is free, but you need to call the CCM box office to reserve your ticket: 513-556-4183.

Another university option can be found at NKU. It’s Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention, telling the story of Phil Farnsworth who invented television but spent much of his life in legal wrangles with David Sarnoff, RCA executive and the first “media mogul.” Sorkin's credits — from The West Wing to The Social Network — are a guarantee of a heady, exciting tale based on real events. Tickets ($14 is the maximum price): 859-572-5464.

Know Theater’s “comedy of anxiety” by Allison Moore, Collapse, opens with the collapse of a highway bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. But it’s about all kinds of things falling down — the economy, relationships. This is the kind of edgy script Know Theatre is known for, funny but meaningful. I gave the production a Critic’s Pick because it combines heart and humor. Collapse is presented with comic finesse and fine acting, especially by local professional actress Annie Fitzpatrick. Know’s best work of the season. Through March 3. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

This weekend is your last chance to see the regional premiere of Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man at Ensemble Theatre (through Saturday evening). The historical play, set in Richmond, Va., in April 1865, just days after the end of the Civil War, is a gripping drama that’s beautifully staged and convincingly acted. I gave it a Critic’s Pick. The production has been extended a week because of demand for tickets; you won’t be contending with subscribers this weekend, so if you haven’t seen it yet — call for a ticket: 513-421-3555.

Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.

 
 
by 12.29.2008
Posted In: Visual Art at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Buried Under the Museum Center's Green Roof

Today, the Enquirer posted a story about the Cincinnati Museum Center considering the addition of a 11,200-square-foot green roof system, which is an awesome prospect. The roof would be covered with plants, could last longer than a normal roof, and would better deal with storm run-off.  Not only that, but it would double the amount of green roof space in the city. 

But buried at the bottom of this article is mention of another part of the issue.  "The other components of the center's project - funded by a $2.4 million local tax levy, the city of Cincinnati, the state and a National Parks Service program called Save America's Treasures - include restoring long-unused dining rooms and exterior repairs," the article states.

It's the National Parks Service program that I think deserves a little more attention.  Frankly, it seems amazing, not only for what it has done for the country, but for what it has done for Cincinnati.

Save America's Treasures (SAT) was started in 1998 and has the directive of "protected America's threatened cultural treasures," like a governmental, art-saving Boondock Saint.  Actually a daughter organization of both the National Parks Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it has completed more than 850 projects since its creation with what seems like a focus on architecture.

In Cincinnati alone, the SAT in 2003 granted $199,000 in 2003 to the Majestic Theater, $250,000 to the Cincinnati Union Terminal, $150,000 to The Showboat Majestic.  And in 2005, they granted $135,250 to restore Joan Miro and Saul Steinberg Murals from Terrace Plaza Hotel and get them on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

This 11 x 75 ft mural by New Yorker artist Saul Steinberg is one of the only murals he made.

What other badass art has the SAT helped saved, you might ask. Well, how about the Palace Theatre in Columbus. Not a theater buff, what about the The New York Philharmonic Leonard Bernstein Collection. Still not impressed, what about the Moundville Archaeological Park in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Oh, you're more into recent history, they gave$295,586 to the USS Joseph P. Kennedy in Massachusetts. Maybe you just like to party, in 2006 Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia got about $50,000 . And my personal favorite, in 1999 they granted $331,000 to save the Anti-Slavery Pamphlet Collection in Ithaca, New York.

The collections of dances, photographs and other documents that have been touched by Saving America's Treasures is astounding, not to mention the dozen of courthouse they've helped to restore across the country.

Just check them out. Our government isn't complete screwed up all the time.

 
 
by Rick Pender 10.25.2010
Posted In: Theater at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

You Gotta Believe It: True Theatre at Know

The best theater is honest and real, and that's what True Theatre is setting out to offer via four evenings of "true stories told by real people" beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Know Theatre and continuing into next summer.

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