When I read Andrew Bovell’s play Speaking in Tongues,
the current Shelterhouse production at the Cincinnati Playhouse
(through March 4), I have to admit I was mystified as to what it would
become on the stage.
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s 1937 comedy could be termed an old chestnut; it's also a classic, certainly the forbearer of many of today's TV sitcoms, replete with zany stock characters and contrived, hilarious strings of events that pile up the laughs. It's been staged twice locally over the past year (by CCM and the Showboat Majestic), but that doesn't mean the Cincinnati Playhouse's current production is repetitive.
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.
Know Theatre of Cincinnati's staging of Tony Kushner's monumental '90s icon 'Angels in America' continues with 'Part II: Perestroika.' Let me simply say that if you miss this show you'll kick yourself. It's a showcase of excellent Cincinnati actors doing one of the most important plays of the past 25 years.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "It depends on what your definition of 'well' is." Sure, 'All's Well That Ends Well' at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company ends up neatly with loose threads tidied away. But truest delights are the four strong women who, as in no other play by Shakespeare, dominate the action as played by Kelly Mengelkoch, Sherman Fracher, Amy Warner and Sara Clark.
Much was made of this show's Broadway debut earlier this year, especially Jane Fonda's starring role. ETC is offering only the second staging of this Tony Award-nominated work. Despite Amy Warner's moving performance in the role Fonda played, '33 Variations' is more than a star vehicle: It's a strong ensemble production that will engage audiences from start to finish.
The Cincy Fringe Festival soon kicks off its sixth annual celebration of offbeat theater and other art forms. Not every city has a Fringe Festival, and occasionally people ask why we have one. The quick response is similar to the one sometimes offered as to why a city needs an alternative newsweekly like CityBeat: A conservative, buttoned-down place needs events and media that shake things up, that give us a new perspective on things.
You need to strap on a backpack with some snacks and a water bottle and head to Over-the-Rhine for the sixth annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Fringe veterans know that the best way to enjoy this 12-day celebration of things theatrical and artistic is to come back again and again and see as much as possible.
A mother (Amy Warner) and daughter (Karen Wissel) meet on a Mediterranean cliff and struggle to connect. "The daughter won't speak to the mother. She dances," Warner explains, which means that CCM choreographer Judith Mikita had to create half the play's poetic "dialogue" from scratch.
So it's "hail and farewell" to Alan Patrick Kenny and New Stage Collective. With eight performances of Stephen Sondheim's and Hugh Wheeler's 'A Little Night Music' (presented at Know Theater), NSC completes its seventh and final season of always ambitious, often audacious playmaking.