0 Comments · Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation
is a deceptively simple play — on the surface, it’s a comedy about five
people enrolled in a community center class about learning how to act.
0 Comments · Monday, May 11, 2015
Shakespeare Company is engaged in an ambitious effort to become only the second
theater company in the U.S. to present Shakespeare’s eight history plays in
by Rick Pender
49 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 08:10 AM | Permalink
There's a ton of theater opening up this weekend, something for just about every taste. But if you're looking for something free, I have a special recommendation: It's 110 in the Shade at UC's College-Conservatory of Music. This is a production in the Cohen Family Studio Theater (an intimate black box venue that seats about 150). The production is in the "Musical Redux" series, bringing back a show that's not often produced. 110 dates back to 1963. It's the story of Lizzie Curry, on her way to being an "old maid," who lives with her dad and her brothers. A charming con man shows up posing as a rainmaker and promises relief to drought-stricken farmers. Is he for real? Lizzie has her doubts, but he works hard to win her over. CCM Studio productions are free, but reservations are required (513-556-4183), and performances are often filled up. This one is likely to be a lot of fun; it's this weekend only, final performance at 8 p.m. Saturday.I gave Cincinnati Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew a Critic's Pick in my CityBeat review here. It's lusty and lewd, and the battle of the sexes has never been fought in a more entertaining way. Two of the company's veteran actors, Nick Rose and Kelly Mengelkoch, play Petruchio and Katherine, and they mix it up with with and humor. Definitely an entertaining evening. Tickets: 513-381-2273.A week ago I had a chance to see one of the Cincinnati Playhouse's current touring productions (this one is aimed at kids in grades K-3), Bird Brain. It's funny fable that teaches a lesson that strange behavior isn't always foolish. More info here. This weekend it will be presented at Springfield Townships Grove Banquet Hall (Friday at 7 p.m.), The Drama Workshop at Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot (Saturday at 2 p.m.), the Blue Ash Recreation Center (Saturday at 7 p.m.) and The Lebanon Theatre Company (Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m.). Admission is usually free (or very inexpensive). Grab a kid and go.Other productions opening this weekend: Steve Martin's very funny farce,The Underpants, kicks off a three weekend run at the Carnegie in Covington. New Edgecliff Theatre, still not in its new permanent home in Northside, is staging David Mamet's piercing drama, Race, at the Hoffner Lodge (4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside). At Falcon Theatre (636 Monmouth St., Newport) you can catch the first weekend of The Cover of Life, a drama about three young women married to brothers from the same small town who have gone off to fight in World War II. Meanwhile, in Bellevue, Ky., at St. John United Church of Christ, you can see a production of Joanna Murray-Smith's Honour by WIT-Women in Theatre. The story of three women propelled to ask the question "What is love?" when they've been struggling with tough relationships, is onstage for two weekends. Children's Theatre kicks off two weekends of public performances of Disney's Aladdin JR. at the Taft Theatre. It's a stage version of the popular animated musical feature; the production includes jugglers, acrobats and stilt walkers. And Lion King continues its month-long run at the Aronoff. (CityBeat review here.)Don't forget that Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. is another quarterly offering from the True Theatre guys at Know Theatre. The theme this time is "true beauty," with real monologues by people who talk about things they've really experienced.Something for everyone, as they say!Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
0 Comments · Monday, April 6, 2015
ever seen The Taming of the Shrew,
you might remember it as the tale of an ill-tempered woman brought into line by
an abusive, gold-digging suitor. In
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 31, 2015
When I was a high school senior and the teacher who staged the school plays — her name was Mary Price — picked Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew,
there was a lot of moaning and groaning. Why do we have to perform in
some dusty old play from centuries earlier?
by Rick Pender
77 days ago
at 09:08 AM | Permalink
I seldom laugh out
loud when I'm watching a comedy, but I found myself doing just that more
than once at last night's opening of Peter and the Starcatcher at the Cincinnati Playhouse. You can read about this show and the appeal of Peter Pan here,
but let me simply say this is a deliriously silly but wholly heartfelt
prequel about the origins of the boy who "won't grow up." This
award-winning play uses simple theatrics, not special effects, to work
its magic, and the Playhouse cast of a dozen quick-change performers
dive into the wacky storytelling with zest and zeal. Everyone is having a
good time, perhaps Tom Story most of all, playing "Black Stache" (the
pirate who will become Captain Hook) who spews malapropisms and
extravagant posturing: "There's a poet in these pirate veins," he
announces. The laugh-inducing moment that sets up his subsequent need
for a hook is both ghastly and breathlessly funny, not to mention milked
for all it's worth. Everyone in the cast has moments of fun. This is
imaginative storytelling and extravagant theatricality at its best.
You'll have fun if you bring a kid or two; but even if you don't, go by
yourself and feel like a kid again. Through April 4. Tickets: 513-421-3888.A show that's stuck with me since last June's Fringe Festival, Katie Hartman’s ghostly and
mournful song cycle, The Legend of White
Woman Creek, is back for a pair of performances at Know Theatre tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. It's the tale of Anna Morgan Faber, a white woman captured then slowly absorbed into the
Cheyenne tribe in 1860s Kansas. Hartman sings about a desperate, lonely woman who finally finds
happiness only to have it it brutally snatched away. “It’s
not a stand-up-and-cheer kind of show,” I wrote in my review. Instead, “it’s artfully
crafted and professionally delivered in an understated way. But it is powerfully
effective.” Tickets: 513-300-5669.Elsewhere you can catch Covedale Center's production of The Marvelous Wonderettes,
the story of four high school girls in the ’50s and ’60s who get their
big break singing Doo-Wop tunes. This show kicked off a string of hits
for Ensemble Theatre a few years back, and I imagine the Covedale's audience will love it, too. Tickets: 513-241-6550.If Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is a book you've treasured over the years, you can see a stage adaptation at Cincinnati Shakespeare through March 21 (CityBeat review here; tickets: 513-381-2273)
or a musical theater version by Footlighters, the community theater
that performs at Newport's Stained Glass Theater (tickets: 859-652-3849).This is the final weekend for August: Osage County
at Clifton Performance Theatre. It's a big sprawling play wedged into a
tiny space, but with a great script and a fine cast, it's definitely
worth seeing. You'll be close enough to feel like a member of the
dysfunctional Weston family. I gave it a Critic's Pick here. Tickets: 513-861-7469.I missed the first two installments of Serials 2: Thunderdome! at Know Theatre, but I was there on March 2, and I'll be back on Monday evening to see which of five 15-minute segments gets to live on. I'm looking forward to Josh Bromels' So In Tents (there's a pun in there) and Trey Tatum and Paul Strickland's Andy's House of [blank], a wild, time-shifting musical. But there will be more surprises, I'm sure. It's a breath of fresh creative air. Tickets: 513-300-5669Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday.
'Little Women' grow large at Cincy Shakes
0 Comments · Monday, March 2, 2015
Let’s hear it for the girls! Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s excellent female performers are showcased in the regional premiere of Emma Reeve’s stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
by Rick Pender
92 days ago
at 04:39 PM | Permalink
Four works by the Bard, plus timeless works by Arthur Miller, Jane Austen and Edmond Rostand — plus a few extras — make for a busy season
As I wrote on Monday, season
announcements from Cincinnati theaters are a sure sign that warmer days are
ahead. The temperature cranked up a few more notches tonight when Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company announced its 2015-2016 season. It’s no secret that CSC’s
history and stock-in-trade are plays by William Shakespeare, of which they’ll
offer four in the coming months. But their broadened scope includes definitive
works of drama and stage adaptations of literary classics by great writers. Here’s
what will be onstage at 719 Race St. from August 2015 through June 2016:
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED) by Adam Long, Reed
Martin and Austin Tichenor. Cincy Shakes has had tons of fun with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
(Abridged). But Long, Martin and Tichenor have been generating laughs with numerous
other subjects, and this is one of their best works. (It was staged at the
Cincinnati Playhouse 10 years ago.) This one is a wild ride through our
nation’s past featuring three actors, who probably did not pass high school history,
who set off on a whirlwind historical tour that’s finds laughs in many of our
nation’s greatest hits and misses. This production is a “season extra,” not included
in subscription packages. July 24-Aug. 15, 2015.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC (based on Anthony Burgess’s translation of
Edmond Rostand’s 1897 French play). Cincy Shakes will kick off the fall theater
season with this classic romantic tale of the valiant and clever Cyrano de
Bergerac, with long-time ensemble member Jeremy Dubin in the title role. Cyrano
epitomized panache: In fact, that French
word a feather or a plume was the hallmark of this dazzling swordsman and brilliant
16th-century poet. But he has a flaw, a gargantuan nose. He loves the beautiful
and brilliant Roxane but is convinced his clownish appearance means he has no
chance with her. Unaware of his feelings, Roxane tells him she loves Christian,
a handsome but dull solider; Cyrano intercedes by writing letters and verses to
her as if they were from Christian. The play has wit, swashbuckling adventure
and profound romance. Sept. 1-Oct. 3, 2015. Jeremy Dubin as Cyrano in Cyrano de
Bergerac. Photo: Mikki Schaffner.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller, written in 1949, won multiple
Tony Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The story of the waning
days of an aging salesman who still yearns to make it big is one of the great
plays of the 20th century. Cincinnati stage veteran Bruce Cromer will play
Willy Loman, the show’s memorable loser. This poignant tale of an average man
trying to achieve the American Dream, surrounded by his strident sons and his
loving wife is an exploration of failure and success that still resonates
today. Oct. 16-Nov. 7, 2015.
AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare is the first of Shakespeare’s
plays for the season and one of the Bard’s most popular, a predictable bestseller
for Cincy Shakes. This time it will be the company’s offering around the
holidays, featuring ensemble member Sara Clark playing the spirited Rosalind, banished
to the Forest of Arden with only her cousin and a fool for company. She dresses
as a man for protection and comedy ensues in the woods where love poems to her
are posted on the trees. The lovelorn poet is handsome Orlando, whom she tests
while hiding behind her boyish disguise. This show is great fun because it
features numerous comic characters, delightful music and warm-hearted romance. Nov.
20-Dec. 12, 2015. Sara Clark as Rosalind in As You Like It. Photo: Mikki Schaffner.
EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!) by Michael
Carlton, James Fitzgerald and John K Alvarez. Cincy Shakes finishes up As You Like It just in time to celebrate
the 10th anniversary of its annual holiday hit, an irreverent look at umpteen
BHCs — the show’s acronym for “Beloved Holiday Classics.” The evening starts
out innocently enough as one character endeavors to perform a solemn reading of
A Christmas Carol. But before long
audiences are entangled in the stories of Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown and
George Bailey. Four of Cincy Shakes’ veteran actors (one as a highly inebriated
Santa) send up everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss. It’s another “season
extra” (outside regular subscriptions) and definitely not for anyone who still
believes in Santa. Dec. 16-27, 2015.
HENRY VI , PART I by William Shakespeare. The company has committed
parts of several seasons to work its way through Shakespeare’s cycle of history
plays. This year it’s the first of three parts that tell the story of Henry VI.
Actors continue to reprise roles they’ve played for several seasons in two
parts of Henry IV and Henry V. In this installment, the
untimely death of Henry V puts his infant son on the throne, and the War of the
Roses, pitting the houses of York and Lancaster against one another, is off and
running. Jan. 22-Feb. 13, 2016.
JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA (adapted by Jon Jory). Cincy Shakes has struck
gold with stage productions of Pride and
Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility,
Jane Austen’s novels of early 19th-century manners as adapted by Jon Jory, the
longtime artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. These shows appealed
to audiences in part because the company has a corps of talented female actors
(presently showcased in Little Women)
who will find great opportunities in Austen’s tale about amateur matchmaker
Emma Wodehouse who lives to meddle in others’ love lives. When she tries to set
up her less than promising friend Harriet, the plan goes awry, and Emma must
try to undo the damage. It’s another classic story of wit, whimsy and anxious
romance. Feb. 26-March 26, 2016.
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare. Part one of a season-ending
epic pairing of two of the Bard’s great plays begins with this tragedy about
the brilliant general, a cunning politician and beloved leader of ancient Rome.
Jealous Roman patriots decide his ambition is a threat to the Republic and assassinate
him on the senate floor. The result is a civil war that tests friendships and loyalties;
it also determines the fate of the Roman Empire. April 8-May 7, 2016.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by William Shakespeare. The second part of the
company’s special event offers this rarely staged epic sequel to Julius Caesar. The civil war has ended
and the empire has been divided. Marc Antony heads to Egypt to rule his corner
of the globe, but his plans are sidetracked by Egypt’s Cleopatra. Their love
affair pits Rome and Egypt against each other and changes the ancient world
forever. May 13- June 4, 2016.
Subscriptions ($143-$233) are
sold in flexible sets of seven that can be used one per production or in other
combinations. Subscriptions and single tickets are now for sale via
cincyshakes.com or by calling 513-381-2273, x1.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Joe Stollenwerk lives in Bloomington,
Ind., where he’s pursuing a doctorate in theater at Indiana University.