by Rick Pender
95 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 11:48 AM | Permalink
Know Theatre, New Edgecliff, Carnegie, Commonwealth, Xavier announce new seasons
your calendars read for another avalanche of shows from local theaters. Know
Theatre just announced its 2015-2016 season, and several others have done the
same recently, so you’ll find everything rounded up in this “Call Board” blog
for CityBeat theater fans. Nearly two
dozen full-scale shows and a handful of other events are headed your way.
Know Theatre of Cincinnati
Hungerford, Know Theatre’s artistic director, has pointed out that the coming
season is the company’s 18th, and that at years of age, “We’re ready to do
everything that entails: step into a wider world, fall in love, confront loss,
get a crazy summer job, have a history lesson, party with some college kids,
give up our childhood toys, obsess over Star Wars again, rail against poverty
and injustice, engage in civic discourse, major in the sciences and then,
maybe, take a trip to the beach.” Know is planning a lot of shows including
works that are entertaining and socially conscious and that offer lots of opportunities
for local artists.
we near the 10th anniversary of moving into our home at 1120 Jackson St., I
think we’re getting ever closer to the vision that Know Theatre’s leadership
has always had for this space,” says Producing Artistic Andrew Hungerford.
“From our mainstage to Serials to Fringe, there is so much happening on our
stages. It really is a theatrical playground here. And seeing the Underground
filled with an audience eager to be a part of the next crazy thing we make
reminds me exactly why I took this job.” Hungerford is completing his first
season of artistic leadership. Here’s what’s in store for his second:
(Late June) will be another stab at short-form theater. This time out there
will be five playwrights involved in creating five episodic plays. Each week
they’ll trade who’s writing which story.
(July 10-12, 2015) This event will invite writers to consider the world around
them, their cities and communities and the ways they view the world, then write
topical moments that say something about what’s happening here and now. The
results, probably 70 to 90 of them, will be put together into three evenings of
Hundred Days (July 24-Aug. 22, 2015). This
is a show conceived by the Bengsons, a singer-musician couple who have been Cincinnati
Fringe festival favorites, and they workshopped it here in 2011. It’s about a
couple whose time together is cut short by a fatal illness. They decide to live
the 100 days left as if it were the 60 years they had hoped for.
The Hunchback of
Charise Castro Smith (Oct. 9-24, 2015) with CCM drama students, will be staged
by CCM drama faculty member Brant Russell. Set in 1504 in Spain, it’s an
irreverent comedy that turns historical atrocities on their heads.
Andy’s House of
Paul Strickland and Trey Tatum (Oct. 30-Nov. 14, 2015). This will be a fully
staged version of the show that was presented in 15-minute increments across
the five evenings of Serials 2:
Thunderdome. (It’s the only show that made it through five weeks.) It’s a
small-town, mystery-spot, time travel musical about an unusual man who runs a
store that’s an every changing emporium of oddities. Strickland and Tatum are
Fringe Festival veterans.
Joseph Zettelmaier (Nov. 20-Dec. 19, 2015) is about three guys who still have Star Wars on the brain, despite being 30
years old. It’s set in Norwood, and the fact that Kenner, designer of Star Wars toys was headquartered in
Cincinnati, is important to this story. This production happens right around
the time that Star Wars: Episode VII –
The Force Awakens will be in movie theaters. The playwright has been
recognized several times by the American Theatre Critics Association, including
this play in 2006.
The Naughty List by OTR Improv at Arnold’s Bar
& Grill (December 2015) picks up on the Star
Wars theme, too. This holiday iteration is subtitled, “The Jolly Awakens.”
Serials 4! (January 2016). Another round
of episodic storytelling.
BlackTop Sky by Christina Anderson (Jan.
29-Feb. 20, 2016) is a story about love, violence, community, mental illness
and the line between poverty and true homelessness. Kimberly Faith Hickman, the
New York City-based director who staged Know’s thought-provoking production of The Twentieth-Century Way in April 2014,
will stage it.
Beertown by dog & pony DC (March
2-19, 2016) is another crossover by a Fringe Festival act: dog & Pony
performed A Killing Game here in
2013. For this show, they’ll present alternative tales about our town’s history
and we get to choose which version we like — a mash-up of choose your own
adventure and maybe a murder mystery dinner party. Every performance begins
with a dessert potluck; audiences are encouraged to bring a dessert to share.
Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson (April
15-May 14, 2016), one of America’s hottest young playwrights. Know presented
her Macbeth-themed script, Toil and Trouble back in 2014, and the Cincinnati
Playhouse is giving her new play The
Revolutionists its world premiere in February 2016. Silent Sky is the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta
Leavitt and a group of revolutionary women who found a way to measure the
thirteenth annual Cincinnati Fringe
Festival happens in late May and early June 2016. Followed by one more (June
24-July 16, 2016) show that’s still TBA (June 24-July 16), but Hungerford hints
that it could be by Steve Yockey, whose surreal Pluto was staged by Know early in 2014.
New Edgecliff Theatre
New Edgecliff Theatre
has announced three shows for its 2015-2016 season, planned for a new Northside
venue at St. Patrick’s Church. “These are plays that challenge the way the
characters view their lives and the circumstances they find themselves in,”
says Producing Artistic Director Jim Stump. “They are stories of how much can
change when you change how you look at things.”
Frankie and Johnny
in the Clare de Lune
by Terrence McNally (Sept. 17-Oct. 3, 2015). Jared Doren staged an excellent
production of William Inge’s Bus Stop
for NET in 2013, and he’ll be back to put together this show about a pair of
lonely, middle-aged people whose first date ends with their tumbling into bed.
Things head in different directions from there. This show, which debuted in
1987, had a sterling production at the Cincinnati Playhouse back in 1989; the
Playhouse presents a new play by McNally, Mothers
and Sons, in the spring of 2016.
(Dec. 3-19, 2015) is a reprise of David Sedaris’s very funny monologue about
working as an elf in Macy’s Santaland in New York City. This holiday staple has
been missing from local stages for two seasons; it will be fun to see it again.
The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute (April 14-30, 2016). Former NET artistic director Elizabeth Harris will direct LaBute’s 2001
play about a man who thinks a woman is romantically interested in him when
she’s actually using him as the subject of her MFA thesis project.
the management of new artistic director Maggie Perrino, Covington’s Carnegie
will present four productions of well-known theater titles in the Otto M. Budig
Company by Stephen Sondheim and George
Furth (Aug. 15-30, 2015) is about a single man and his married friends. The
show, which won a dozen Tony Awards in 1971, has some of Sondheim’s greatest
musical numbers, including “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Getting Married Today” and
Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer (Nov. 7-22,
2015) is about playing games, but in this tale, the games are deadly serious.
Veteran director Greg Procaccino will stage this famous Tony Award winner, a
whodunit that will keep audiences guessing from start to finish.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, music and
lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg (Jan. 21-31, 2016) will be the
Carnegie’s “lightly staged” musical for the coming season — a production that
puts music and storytelling over physical staging. The production will feature
the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, led by J. R. Cassidy, performing all the tunes
from the classic 1939 movie.
The Last Five
Jason Robert Brown (April 9-24, 2016) is an excellent contemporary musical
(from 2001) about Jamie and Cathy, a young couple going through a divorce. His
story and hers travel in opposite directions through time. Brown is one of the
best of Broadway’s next generation of composers.
Commonwealth Dinner Theater
company offers professional productions with dinner at Northern Kentucky
University during the summer months. Productions are often sold out, so be sure
to call early to reserve tickets (859-572-5464). This summer’s shows have
characters from opposite ends of the age spectrum.
The Sunshine Boys (June 3-21, 2015) is Neil
Simon’s 1971 comedy about two aging vaudevillian comics who have grown to hate
each other after 40 years of working together. They’re reuniting for a special
about the history of comedy, but keeping them on the same page is no easy task.
The 25th Annual
Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin (July 8-26, 2015) is
about a contest featuring six quirky adolescents, overseen by three oddball
adults. Its 2005 Broadway production was a surprise winner of several Tony
Awards. Brush up on your spelling and you could be one of several audience
members invited onstage to test your skills against the “kids.”
second year as a degree program, Xavier University Theatre is undertaking an
ambitious season that features two Broadway musicals, a world premiere and a
contemporary drama, staged by former Cincinnati Playhouse artistic director Ed
undergraduate actors at Xavier will give Cincinnati audiences a second chance
to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Oct. 22-24, 2015).
will direct Kenney Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth (Dec. 3-6, 2015),
the story of three wayward young people navigating New York in 1982 as they try
to thread their way into adulthood.
especially challenging endeavor, the theatre program will present three plays
in repertory during a two-week stretch (Feb. 17-28, 2016): Miss Julie by August
Strindberg will be staged by veteran actress Torie Wiggins; Betrayal
by Harold Pinter will be staged by another stage veteran, Bruce Cromer; and a
new play by student playwright Tatum Hunter, Eve, will be staged by
Larson’s rock musical Rent (April 21-24, 2016) will round
out the season. It’s another Tony Award winner — and it landed a Pulitzer
Prize, not often bestowed on a musical. Set in New York’s East Village, it
follows a story about bohemian artists struggling to get by, inspired by Puccini’s
opera, La Bohème.
Actors Theatre of Louisville
the Humana Festival of New American Plays marks its 40th anniversary at Actors
Theatre of Louisville. The theater has commissioned Sarah Ruhl, one of
America’s most respected current playwrights, to create a new work, Peter
Pan on her 70th Birthday, for the occasion. The play, a moving look at
growing up and growing old within a family, will be presented from March 10 to April
10, 2016. Ruhl’s works have been offered by many of Cincinnati’s theatres — The Clean House by the Cincinnati
Playhouse, Eurydice by Know Theatre, Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Ensemble
Theatre and In the Next Room (or The
Vibrator Play) by CCM Drama at the Carnegie in Covington.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:05 AM | Permalink
There are several good productions onstage around town — check out CityBeat coverage of Hands on a Hardbody (a musical at ETC), The Great Gatsby (a classic American novel adapted for the stage at Cincy Shakes), Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club (a new adventure for the great detective at the Cincinnati Playhouse) and Tennessee Williams' prize-winning A Streetcar Named Desire (at the Covedale)
— but if you've seen those, you have other choices for onstage
entertainment. Here are three suggestions for shows a little more off
the beaten path:Local actor/director/writer Kevin Crowley has written a play called The Riverside,
rooted in Cincinnati (Crowley is a member of a family that's lived
locally for generations) and getting a production — he's directing it,
too — at Clifton Performance Theatre, just west of the Clifton/Ludlow
business district (404 Ludlow). It's set in an imaginary (or rather an
imagined) bar called the Riverside, where a bunch of folks in 1989 are
following the Pete Rose case about gambling that eventually got him
banned from baseball. But there's a lot more happening — like protests
in Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In
CPT's tiny space is filled up with a lot of talent — Michael Shooner,
Daniel Britt, Buz Davis, Mike Dennis, Mindy Heithaus, Reggie Willis,
Mark Bowen, MaryKate Moran, Gary McGurk, Pete Wood, Cathy Springfield
and Paul Morris — playing folks who hang out and argue about what's
going on. I haven't caught this one yet, but everyone who has says it's
worth seeing. Through Sept. 27. Tickets ($25): https://cpt.tixato/com/buyCommunity theater company Showbiz Players is staging the musical Reefer Madness at the Carnegie in Covington. It opens tonight (and runs through Sept. 28).
This tongue-in-cheek show was inspired by a very serious film from 1936
designed to inspire fear and loathing when clean-cut kids fall prey to
marijuana. The producers "warn" that it contains adult humor, religious
parody and drug use — and note that it will go "straight to your head."
Should be a lot of fun for those mature enough to get the jokes ...
Tickets ($19.50-$22.50): 859-957-1940Side by Side by Sondheim was the first musical revue created using songs by the guy who wrote the music and lyrics for shows including Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Gypsy and A Little Night Music. That was in 1976 in London, but the tunes are just as fresh and vibrant today as they were nearly four decades ago. Middletown Lyric Theatre is presenting this collection of 25 numbers for two weekends (tonight and tomorrow, as well as Sept. 26-27) — using seven singers and two pianists. Tickets ($15): 513-425-7140
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:32 AM | Permalink
Perhaps this weekend
you want to take a last-chance trip down Memory Lane. You have that
option as the Showboat Majestic is wrapping up its production of Showboat Follies,
the final show that Cincinnati Landmark Productions will stage on the
historic vessel. It's a revue of songs and skits that should be fun if
not profound, but if you go (final performance is Sunday),
you'll be able to tell you foriends that you were among the last to
visit this nostalgic Cincinnati venue. (Unless the City of Cincinnati
finds another operator — which they've been seeking with no success.)
This weekend also offers the final performances of Oliver Twist at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. It's a tale of crime and child abuse
from the Victorian era, and not terribly chipper — think A Christmas Carol
without any holiday spirits. But as always with Cincy Shakes, there's
some fine acting — and they've added some musical elements that keep
things interest, too. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
The most engaging theater onstage right now (and sticking around until Oct. 4) is Fly
at the Cincinnati Playhouse. It's a creative portrait of four aspiring
African Americans striving to be Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
The challenges they faced — prejudice, rigorous training and
life-threatening aerial combat — not only made them pioneers who
addressed civil rights issues decades before the rest of America, it
made them heroes, too. Making this production all the more interesting
is a modern tap dancer who "underscores" many of the scenes with
movement and rhythm. I suspect you've never seen anything quite like
this. Tickets: 513-241-3888.
If you're a movie fan I suspect you've seen Carrie (based on Stephen King's novel about a bullied girl who unleashed her telekinetic powers) and Ghost
(about a guy who's murdered but comes back with the help of a crazy
psychic to save the lover he's lost). They've both been turned into
unmemorable musicals that are onstage locally for you to see. I've seen
them both, and I'm sorry to say that — despite some fine voices (in Carrie at the Carnegie, presented by Showbiz Players) and a lot of video and special effects (a touring production of Ghost at the Aronoff Center) — I believe you might be better off to pull out your DVD of either film to watch.
haven't seen it, but I'm intrigued by Northern Kentucky University's
production of Moby Dick Rehearsed. Herman Melville's great American
novel is brought to life onstage when a company of Shakespearean actors
stop rehearsing King Lear and consider a new play drawn from the tale of
the Great White Whale. Theater elements become aspects of the Pequod as the crew is lashed along in Captain Ahab's obsessive hunt for the beast that took his leg. Through Oct. 6. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
1 Comment · Monday, September 23, 2013
It takes a brave theater company to stage Carrie: The Musical. Since 1988 when it
lasted for just five nights on Broadway and lost its $8 million investment,
it’s been ridiculed nearly as much as its beleaguered central character.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:35 AM | Permalink
Two more days of the
2013 Cincy Fringe remain. In its 10th year, this year's festival has
provided consistently high-quality offerings. If you're serious about
the full range of theater, you owe it to yourself to catch a couple of
them. I can't go into everything here, but you can check out my column
from the current issue of CityBeat here or go straight to CityBeat's hub for web coverage where you can read coverage of all the shows, thanks to our dedicated corps of reviewers.One further recommendation: Make your way to Know Theatre after 10 p.m. on Saturday
to mix and mingle with the lively crowd and be among the first to learn
which shows have earned "Pick of the Fringe" honors. There's no charge
for admission; buy a drink or two and tip the bartenders generously.
This is a volunteer-driven event, so you might also say thanks to anyone
wearing a volunteer T-shirt.
as the Fringe sails off into the sunset, there's still plenty of
theater onstage locally. For instance, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
opens its revival of its hit from last summer, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
(Find CityBeat's review of last summer's CSC production here.) A three-man cast plays all the characters in a very funny take on the
classic Sherlock Holmes tale. The actors, a trio of Cincy Shakes' best
(Jeremy Dubin, Nicholas Rose and Brent Vimtrup), have been staged by the
always inventive Michael Evan Haney, the Cincinnati Playhouse's
associate artistic director and perhaps our finest local stage director,
who manages to squeeze every possible ounce of entertainment from this
hilarious script. The show had a sold-out run last July, and you can
expect a similar response this month; the run continues through June 30. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
Another option: Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, at Falcon Theater in Newport. It's a funny script by Mitch Albom (the author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven) about two bumbling Alabama duck
hunters who think they’ve shot an angel. The story lands in a New York tabloid and explodes from there. Through June 15. Tickets: 513-479-6783.
For something more serious, I suggest Showbiz Players production of Spring Awakening
at the Carnegie in Covington, the winner of eight Tony Awards
(including best musical). It's a tale of teen angst and emerging
sexuality, a powerful piece with a driving Rock score. Onstage through June 8. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
And there's still time to catch Shipwrecked! on the Playhouse's Shelterhouse stage (through June 16).
It's a fantastic and family-friendly tale about adventure and
storytelling, told imaginatively using three actors and a lot of clever
sound effects and adaptation of everyday things to create exotic
settings and dangerous moments, rescued by heroism or happenstance. (CityBeat review here.) A
good show for the whole family. Tickets: 513-421-3888
Finally, a reminder: The Tony Awards, recognizing Broadway's best shows, will be be broadcast on Sunday evening on CBS, starting at 8 p.m., hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
Carnegie, CCM co-production marches to a beat of injustice
0 Comments · Monday, April 15, 2013
The powerful true story of a terrible miscarriage of justice
in 1913 Atlanta is the subject of the musical Parade.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:06 AM | Permalink
I'm off to the Humana
Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville this
weekend, where I'll be checking out plays that could well be on their
way to theaters across America in future seasons. For those of you
staying here in Greater Cincinnati, there's lots of good stuff to get
out and see onstage:War Horse
completes its Cincinnati stop on Sunday. I heard a rumor that it's not
selling well, which strikes me as mystifying. It's one of the best
pieces of theater I've seen on tour in ages. (Review here.) Of course, it's not a
musical (which is what people who go to the Broadway Series at the
Aronoff have come to expect) and it was made into a moderately
successful movie by Steven Spielberg. But the stage production is a
miraculous piece of theater artistry, especially the onstage creation of
living breathing horses, life-sized puppets that are manipulated (by
three performers) that you'll be convinced you're watching the real
thing. The silver lining to poor attendance, I suppose, is that tickets
are readily available. You should get yours right away for the chance to
see this Tony Award-winning production: Final performance is on Sunday.
Box office: 800-987-2787
Last evening I made time to see Cincinnati Shakespeare's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
It's going to be around for several more weeks, and it's definitely an
entertaining — and unusual — rendition of the tale of mixed-up lovers. (Review here.) Director Jeremy Dubin has transported it from the mythical Athens that
Shakespeare envisioned and landed it in a swampy Southeastern U.S. in
the 1940s, complete with a few guys with drawls in uniform and a clown
in a loud plaid sports coat. The latter is CSC Nick Rose, and watching
him overact as Nick Bottom, the weaver who imagines himself to be a
brilliant performer, is hilarious. MND's mix of magic and humor is
always fun, even if it doesn't make much sense, especially in this
setting. Box office: 513-381-2273, x1.
Also worth checking out is the Cincinnati Playhouse's entertaining production of The Book Club Play.
It's good in the same way as a well-done TV sitcom: Familiar characters
pushed to comic extremes, funny situations that you can identify with,
story twists that surprise and amuse. (Review here.) Because book clubs are a big deal
these days, lots of people are flocking to see this show (it's been
extended to May 5), so you should call now to get your tickets. I can
assure you that you'll leave the theater with a smile on your face. Box
cannot be predicted with the staging of Jason Robert Brown's very
serious musical, Parade, at the Carnegie. But a piece of great drama and
fine music is certainly in store if you head to Covington for this one,
staged by Ed Cohen and Dee Ann Bryll. It's actually a studio production
from UC's College-Conservatory of Music, featuring some outstanding
talent from one of America's best training programs for Broadway talent.
The story of a falsely accused factor manager, railroaded into a murder
conviction mainly because of anti-Semitic attitudes, is heart-rending.
But it makes for powerful theater. It opens tonight and runs through
April 21. Box office: 859-957-1940.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:50 AM | Permalink
No new shows opened this week. But
several will close this weekend, so it's your last chance to see them. At the
top of that list I would put Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of Richard
II (Review here). If you're a
completist, this is a rare chance to catch a show that's produced very
infrequently. (CSC's staging is its first in 19 seasons, leaving it just one
shy of producing all 38 of Shakespeare's surviving plays.) But an even more
important reason is that actor Brent Vimtrup offers a breathtaking portrait of
a weak king (he ruled in the 14th century) who questioned his own ability to
reign, decided to hand over his throne and then agonized over relinquishing his
"God-given" right. Vimtrup makes Richard real and human in some
unexpected ways; it's a performance that's definitely worth seeing. It doesn't
hurt that the script is entirely in verse — CSC's actors know how to revel in
this language, so the words are wondrous things to hear. But you last chances
are this weekend; the final performance is Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
A British king of a different sort is onstage at the Carnegie in Covington,
where the musical
is on view in a concert staging (Review here). The mythical King Arthur — he of chivalry and
knighthood and the Round Table — is the subject, as well as his beautiful Queen
Guinevere and his valiant retainer Sir Lancelot. Like Richard, Arthur has some
shortcomings — hey, we're all human, right? — but his problems are more about
being too idealistic and trusting. The truth about Camelot is that the story is
kind of choppy and the characters rather one-dimensional, but Lerner and
Loewe's music is beautiful, especially in this production, where some great
voices are accompanied by an ensemble of musicians from the Cincinnati Chamber
Orchestra, conducted by the CCO's Mischa Santora. The show is minimally staged
and costumed, but its maximally sung. This one wraps up with a 3 p.m. matinee
on Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
Two other productions that are definitely worth seeing: The Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park's world premiere of
Feb. 17, 513-421-3888) (Review here), a spooky
sequel to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and Ensemble Theatre
Cincinnati's regional premiere of the recent Off-Broadway hit Freud's
Last Sesson (through Feb. 16, 513-421-3555)
(Review here). The latter is an imagined
conversation between Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis about some big issues of
life and death, faith and belief. It's a very thought-provoking script,
performed at ETC by two fine actors, Bruce Cromer and Barry Mulholland. This
one was scheduled to close on Feb. 10, but demand for tickets led to an
extension. Take advantage of it!
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Yes, it’s May again, and time to get
ready for Mother’s Day! I have some advice: Do not buy your mom a
present! It’s just one more thing that, when she eventually moves, you
will have to carefully wrap in layers of bubble wrap, put in a box,
attach the lid on with miles of tape and carry out to the truck.
In need of some subtlety to balance its goofy excess
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 9, 2009
No swindle here: a professional cast, a polished design, an 11-player orchestra, a hot show just a few seasons removed from Broadway, a reasonable ticket price, all in comfortably posh surroundings at Covington's Carnegie Center. For a musical about con artists, 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' is surprisingly on the level.