by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:14 AM | Permalink
If you can land a ticket for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s revival of the Tony Award-winning musical next to normal,
that’s what you should be doing this weekend. I saw it on Tuesday night, and it’s even better than it was last September. It’s
the story of a woman struggling with schizophrenia and how it affects
her family; that might not sound like the stuff that musicals are made
of, but it uses the power of a brilliant Rock score to deliver the
impact of this story. ETC has reassembled virtually all of its superb
cast from last fall, including Jessica Hendy in the central role. Her
beleaguered husband is now being played one of our area’s best actors,
Bruce Cromer, and his relationship with Hendy makes their pain all the
more deeply felt. It’s only around for one more week, so you should do
your best to grab a ticket now. Box office: 513-421-3555.
ETC’s revival isn’t the only thing worth seeing this weekend. You might check out the classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace
on the Showboat Majestic. It’s an old chestnut (it was a hit in 1944),
but it’s one of the funniest shows you’re likely to see, the tale of an
off-kilter pair of elderly maiden aunts who keep their quite normal
nephew astonished and scrambling to keep them in line. The kind-hearted
women take in boarders, quiet elderly men who are “all alone in the
world,” and polish them off with elderberry wine laced with arsenic.
They convince their addled brother, who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt,
to bury them in the basement by telling him they’re victims of yellow
fever who have been digging the Panama Canal. A great show for the whole
family, with lots of comic twists. Box office: 513-241-6550.
You’ll also find a stage full of laughs at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is producing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). You’ll
witness mentions of all the Bard’s works — although many are completely
unrecognizable, thanks the three buffoonish characters who undertake
the task. The second act is a wild send-up of Hamlet that involves the audience. Order your tickets online, and there’s an automatic buy-one, get-one offer available. Website: www.cincyshakes.com.
Don’t forget to look in out-of-the-way places for good
summer theater entertainment: At Highlands High School in Fort Thomas,
Ky., you’ll find the Tony Award-winning musical The Producers,
the first outing by C.A.S.T. (Commonwealth Artists Summer Theatre), the
brainchild of Jason Burgess, a one-time directing intern at Ensemble
Theatre who’s now an award-winning teacher at Highlands. The hilarious
show about putting on a musical so bad that the guys doing it can
abscond with all the investments will be onstage through July 1, with
performances at the high school (2400 Memorial Parkway, Fort Thomas) on
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets
(only $10): www.showtix4u.com (or at the door).
Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.