Since the 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Festival kicked off on June 1, a panel of three dedicated theater experts have been evaluating performances for recognition through the Acclaim Awards. These awards are in the process of being renamed, but for the sake of clarity and brevity, I’m going to call them by their soon-to-be-former name. The panelists are veterans of the Acclaims; neither Jackie Demaline of The Cincinnati Enquirer nor I are members of the panel or involved in this process.
There are more doors than usual this weekend, right in the middle of the eighth annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. If you're looking for a recommendation or two, I suggest you check out CityBeat's Fringe review website.
Reviews have been posted on CityBeat's Fringe microsite for eight of the nine shows that debuted yesterday on opening night of the 2011 Cincy Fringe Festival. Two are rated as "Critic's Picks," including Curriculum Vitae by Jimmy Hogg (pictured).
OK, so it's Memorial Day weekend, and theater-going might not be what you have in mind. How about this? If you're heading downtown for the feeding frenzy at Taste of Cincinnati (and what true Cincinnatian isn't?), you can take a quick side trip to Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine to pick up some tickets or a pass for the eighth annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. It's the perfect time to find your way to Know Theatre (1120 Jackson, right next to the Gateway Garage), which is Fringe headquarters.
Lynn Meyers came to Ensemble Theatre more than 15 years ago for what she was told was an "interim" appointment as the Over-the-Rhine theater's artistic director. She's still at it and today she's known as one of Cincinnati's finest stage directors. If you need evidence, you can see two fine examples this weekend.
You'll have to work hard to get a ticket, but if you can get in to see The Drowsy Chaperone, produced by Cincinnati Music Theatre at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater, you'll be glad you did. It's a show for anyone who loves musical theater. In fact, it's about a guy who loves musicals.
I don't often write about community theater. It's really a matter of time and space; we have so much good theater here in Cincinnati and not so much space in CityBeat, so I have to make some choices. I also don't have enough time to catch every community theater production — trust me, there are a lot of them. But over the weekend I felt compelled to see The Drowsy Chaperone, produced by Cincinnati Music Theatre at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater.
So the weather finally seems to be turning to springtime and that seems to make people think of having a good time with a musical. There's quite an array of choices this weekend, from the just-opening community theater production of The Drowsy Chaperone (by Cincinnati Music Theatre at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theatre) and the Showboat Majestic's Nunsensations (presented at the Covedale Center because the Ohio River is being nasty) to the ’60s tunefest Beehive (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), a show that Baby Boomers are sure to love — and sing along with.
Work a little harder and see something unexpected. That's my theme for this weekend. Theater shouldn't always make you laugh or even smile. Sometimes a playwright sets out to make you uncomfortable or to portray characters who are thoroughly unlikeable. Harold Pinter (pictured) did that a generation ago, and Adam Rapp does it today. Pinter's Ashes to Ashes gets a quick production on Saturday and Sunday evenings at Hebrew Union College.
You have the chance this weekend to see two of Cincinnati's best professional actors onstage — but you'll have to work at it a bit, since it's at an out-of-the-way location (and a bit pricey). The show is Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes, a one-act play that portrays an emotional conversation between Devlin and Rebecca, a couple in their 40s, in an indeterminate present. He interrogates her about her recollections of an abusive ex-lover, looking for a single, simple truth. She recalls not only the violence she has experienced, but also the wider violence of the world, becoming one with all victims of atrocities.