by Anne Arenstein
15 days ago
Posted In: Opera
at 02:07 PM | Permalink
In August, the Corbett Foundation announced it was closing shop, ending
one of the city's most generous streams of philanthropy. It turns out that
there was still one more gift in the hopper. On Tuesday, The University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music's J. Ralph Corbett
Distinguished Chair of Opera received the final award of $1 million, a gift
that will provide additional support for scholarships, touring productions, an
archive and partial support of the named professorship currently held by Robin
Opera Department is one of the nation's finest. Two of its recent graduates
were winners in the Metropolitan Opera's national auditions, and its alumni
perform in theaters all over the world. Robin Guarino is one of the most sought-after
directors and has staged productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Indiana
University, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera and Brooklyn
Academy of Music.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 29, 2014
With a name like Diane Lala, she was
apparently destined for a career in musical theater.
by Rick Pender
42 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 08:20 AM | Permalink
Know Theatre sets sail this weekend with tonight's opening of Moby Dick. It's Herman Melville's great American novel stripped down to its bare essentials of men at sea doing battle with a creature that maimed their obsessive captain. It's Know's first main stage show staged by new artistic director Andrew Hungerford, who's teamed with co-director Michael Burnham, retired from CCM but no doubt as inventive as ever in bringing unusual material to audiences. Featuring the haunting music of sea shanties and a stage full of theatricality, it being performed through Nov. 8. Tickets ($20 in advance): 513-300-5669. And here's a tip: Wednesday evening performances are free as part of Know's "Welcome Experiment," intended to bring new audiences to its Over-the-Rhine facility. UC's College-Conservatory of Music is presenting Willy Russell's powerful British musical Blood Brothers today and tomorrow in the Cohen Family StudioTheater. Set in 1950s Liverpool, it's about a woman with too many children who is talked into giving up one of a pair of newborn fraternal twins. Despite her efforts and those of the unstable woman who wanted a baby, the boys meet and become not just friends but "blood brothers." They don't know their history, they simply feel drawn to one another. That leads to a tragic, perhaps inevitable, confrontation. But there is humor and an energetic Pop Rock score along the way. Hannah Kornfeld is heartbreaking as the conflicted mother; Thomas Knapp and Karl Amundson turn in heart-breaking performances as the ill-fated boys, from age 7 to 22. This weekend only; the final performance is Saturday evening at 8 p.m. Tickets are free but need to be reserved (513-556-4183); call in advance — performances are often sold out.
Perhaps you'd like to take a kid or two to see a show. The Cincinnati Playhouse's "Off the Hill" production, Roses & Thorns, based on "Beauty and the Beast," would be a fine choice. It's a touring production for kids ages 7 and up, and it's making its way to various neighborhoods over the next month or so (through Nov. 2). I attended a preview recently and found it thoroughly enjoyable. It's a sweet retelling of the familiar story whose love and devotion saves her family and breaks a curse on a monstrous beast who's really a handsome prince. The show uses clever props and costumes, slapstick, satire and high camp styles; its four actors are professionals in training, and their work, playing multiple characters and making quick changes, is great fun to watch. This weekend it's onstage at the Lebanon Theatre Company (10 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon) on Sunday at 2 p.m. Check the Playhouse's website for future performances around the Tristate. Tickets in Lebanon are $5: 513-228-0932
If you missed Kevin Crowley's one-woman show Sarge during the Cincinnati Fringe Festival last June, it's getting a reprise this weekend and next (it's onstage tonight through Oct. 20). Christine Dye's performance as the devoted but deluded wife of Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, found guilty of molesting young boys, won the Critics Pick of the Fringe. Dye is remarkable in three monologues that reveal the mind of a woman who cannot accept her husband's true nature. It's being presented in a double bill with another short script by local actor and playwright Crowley, The Monkey's Paw, a dark comedy about a couple struggling with the anxieties of early parenthood. Performances at Clifton Performance Theater, 404 Ludlow Avenue. Tickets ($25): 513-861-7469
I gave Critic's Picks in CityBeat recently to two excellent productions recently, and they remain onstage this weekend. I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti at the Cincinnati Playhouse is a one-woman piece about cooking and relationships (charming actress Antoinette LaVecchia prepares an Italian dinner while describing her bad luck with men). Tickets ($30-$75): 513-421-3888 … The Little Dog Laughed finishes its run this weekend at New Edgecliff Theater at Hoffner Hall (4120 Hamilton, Ave., Northside. It's the story of a gay actor whose agent is trying to keep him from ruining his career by being public about his persuasion. It's surprising how a play from 2007 could present anxieties about something that today is much more accepted, but this production is great fun to watch thanks to four fine actors, especially Kemper Florin as the motor-mouthed, scheming agent. Tickets: ($20-$27): 888-428-7311
by Rick Pender
49 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 08:17 AM | Permalink
Last night I was at the Cincinnati Playhouse for the opening of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, a charming one-woman play based on Giulia Melucci's foodie memoir from 2009. The frame of the show is that it's set in a stylish kitchen where actress Antoinette LaVecchia prepares a meal while sketching out her numerous disconnects in search of love, feeding boyfriends but finding herself starving. Four couples pay a bit more ($35 apiece beyond the ticket price) to sit at tables directly in front of her kitchen where she serves antipasti, salad and spaghetti Bolognese that she prepares as she talks about a series of amusing but unpromising relationships, convincingly painting portraits of her ill-fated choice in men. La Vecchia is so natural in the role (which she originated in 2012 and has played at several regional theaters since then) that you'll feel like you're one of her best friends. Running through Oct. 26, this Shelterhouse production gets a Critic's Pick. Tickets ($30-$75): 513-421-3888I also thoroughly enjoyed New Edgecliff Theatre's production of The Little Dog Laughed (at Hoffner Hall, 4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside). The four-actor comedy by Douglas Carter Beane is about Diane, an acerbic agent, and Mitch, the actor whose career she's advancing. He's found a boyfriend he really likes (even though boyfriend is a male prostitute with a girlfriend), but she's convinced that this news could ruin his chances … and hers. Kemper Florin is a hoot as the motor-mouthed agent, spouting all sorts of crazy theories about how things should be in monologues that directly address the audience. The entire cast does a fine job, and I gave this one a Critic's Pick. Tickets ($20-$27): 888-428-7311
Area universities have two classics to offer. At UC's College-Conservatory of Music in a brief weekend run (through Sunday) it's Shakespeare's classic tragedy, Macbeth. In an unusual twist, the production features third-year female drama student Laura McCarthy as the power-mad military man who seizes the throne of Scotland. Tickets ($27-$31): 513-556-4183 … South of the Ohio River, Northern Kentucky University presents Euripides' The Bacchae, a play first performed in 405 B.C. The tale of power, revenge, decadence and debauchery takes place in Thebes, where citizens are torn between worship of the god Dionysus and the centrality of reason and humanism. Sunday will be the conclusion of a two-week run of the production. Tickets ($14): 859-572-5464
The musical Dirty Dancing, based on a hit movie from 1987 about young love at a family resort in the Catskills, wraps up two weeks of performance at the Aronoff Center. The touring production, presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Sunday, features some dazzling video and lots of dancing. The story is pretty predictable, but it's one that people love. "Don't put Baby in the corner."
Tickets ($39-$89): 513-621-2787
University of Cincinnati graduate student Omer Ben-Seadia directs 'Don Pasquale' at CCM
1 Comment · Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Don Pasquale is Omer Ben-Seadia’s final production for CCM and a fitting conclusion to her CCM career, according to Robin Guarino, J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:25 AM | Permalink
I had a glimpse of Broadway's future last
night on campus at UC. I attended Not Yet Famous, the 22nd edition of
CCM's musical theater showcase, featuring the about-to-graduate senior class.
The 19 vibrant performers presented a 45-minute program that they'll take to
New York City on April 7 to present to casting agents, producers and others.
It's how they begin to land contracts and establish relationships that will
give them solid professional careers. With accompanist Julie Spangler at the
piano, the singers worked as a large ensemble and smaller sets, but each one
had multiple chances to show off her or his strengths as a singer, dancer and
actor — they're all trained to be "triple threats" with a polished
arsenal of vocal and movement skills. They were warmly received by the Friends
of CCM, the support group that helps keep various programs at the conservatory
going; the evening was a benefit. You have a chance to see the showcase for
free if you act quickly: There will be performances on Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m.
at Patricia Corbett Theater. No charge, but you need to call CCM's box
office to reserve a seat (limit of two per order). I suspect tickets will be
snapped up, so call right away: 513-556-4183.
Wicked is in the
midst of its three-week run at the Aronoff Center. This is one of the most
popular Broadway shows of the 21st century (it's been running for a decade, as
well as spawning productions around the world plus two national tours, one of
which is in our midst). It's here through April 23, but tickets are expensive
(cheap seats are $38 and anything else is more), so you might want to try your
chances in the daily lottery for a $25 orchestra seats. Grab your valid ID and
show up in person 2.5 hours before the curtain time to enter; if your name is
chosen, you can purchase one or two tickets. Of course, if you're flush you can
guarantee seats by buying what you need at 513-621-2787.
The Playhouse just opened Pride and
Prejudice, a theatrical adaptation of Jane Austen's most popular
200-year-old novel. I won't see it until next week (busy schedule), but if
you're a fan — and it seems that everyone loves her novels of manners and
romance — you probably need to line up to see this one. Director Blake Robison calls
his production "epic," adding, "The story is a satire of the
marriage market and an exploration of true love. What could be more fun than
that?" It's onstage through April 5. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
What with St. Patrick’s Day coming on
Monday, this might be the perfect weekend to see Clifton Players’ production of
The Irish Curse (at Clifton Performance Theatre, 404 Ludlow Ave.).
Lots of folks have told me they enjoyed this tale about a group of
Irish-American men who meet weekly in a self-help group in a Catholic church
basement to discuss a sad “shortcoming” — let’s call it “small equipment,” a
curse they believe has ruined their lives. It gets its final performance on
Sunday, right before you line up for your first green beer. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:06 AM | Permalink
There's a fine community theater production of A Chorus Line
at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. It's by Cincinnati Music
Theatre, and they've recruited a talented cast of dancers, singers and
actors to tell the stories of 16 performers competing for roles in the
chorus of a Broadway show. There are many fine performances in this show
— the characters become known, one by one as they tell their stories,
some humorous, some heartbreaking — but the show's greatest emotional
wallop comes when they are all in synch, wearing glitter and gold, hats
cocked and performing as "One." Final performance is Saturday evening. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
you prefer your theater small and intimate, you might want to head to
the tiny Clifton Performance Theater on Ludlow, just east of the
business district. Untethered Theater opens a production of Wendy
MacLeod's The House of Yes tonight for a three-week run.
It's a very dark comedy about a dysfunctional family obsessed with the
Kennedys. I haven't seen this one, but it's a solid script and the young
Untethered company has a good track record of interesting shows.
Through Dec. 7. Tickets: 513-939-0599.
If you are in the mood for something totally silly, I can recommend the Cincinnati Playhouse's presentation of The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) that opened last evening. (It has a long run, through the holidays, closing on Dec. 29.) It's a world premiere by the same guys who created The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
and other works — several presented at the Playhouse — comically
condensing subject matter like the Bible, great literature and American
history. These guys are the originators of this material, so it's a
special treat to see them at work. If you’ve enjoyed Shakespeare (abridged), you’ll find this right up your alley. The performers are truly adept jokesters,
physical shtick, music, improv — they can do it all. … Also, the Playhouse's excellent production of the legendary Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret winds up on Saturday
evening. (CityBeat review here.) By now, most of the subscribers have attended, so you might be
able to call at the last-minute and get a ticket. Marcia Milgrom
Dodge's production traces back to the roots of the show, adhering
closely to the stories of Berlin in the 1920s that inspired the show.
Worth seeing. Playhouse box office: 513-421-3888.
CityBeat's other reviewer, Stacy Sims, really enjoyed the production of the farce Boeing Boeing
at the Carnegie by CCM Drama. (CityBeat review here.) It's about a Casanova in Paris who's
careful juggling of three flight attendances to whom he's engaged goes
awry when Trans-Atlantic flights happen faster thanks to new aircraft.
Silly but obviously a lot of fun. Through Nov. 24. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
From Bach and contemporary composer Missy Mazzoli
to rarely performed operas and superstar vocal and instrumental
soloists, Cincinnati's fall arts season underscores the creative shifts in musical
programming. It’s not easy to choose highlights from an abundance of
great offerings, but here’s one per month.
0 Comments · Thursday, May 30, 2013
This inventive show at the Art Academy is produced by North American New Opera
Workshop of Cincinnati, comprised of current or past CCM Opera students.
CCM shines with historical tale of corruption, greed
0 Comments · Friday, March 1, 2013
CCM production is an engaging if sordid recreation of the creators’
intentions, a bravura performance that serves as a reminder of how
theater can provide sharp social commentary. Bravo to Guarino and her
student cast for this memorable production.