by Rick Pender
120 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
Hand-crafted life-size puppets spin emotional tale with heart and soul
0 Comments · Thursday, March 28, 2013
In addition to the imaginative stage work, War Horse
features stage-wide projections, evocative music and more than 30 actors who play numerous
roles and quickly assemble simple but suggestive props and bits of
A whole lotta talking
0 Comments · Thursday, January 24, 2013
It’s Sept. 3, 1939. The father of psychoanalysis, Dr.
Sigmund Freud, has invited to his London flat a young scholar of
literature and theology from Oxford, C. S. Lewis.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:35 AM | Permalink
You'll have to pick and choose this weekend because
there's so much theater onstage. In addition to our professional
theaters, it's worth checking out production at universities: Tonight
through Sunday, CCM's esteemed musical theater program is offering the
cult favorite Chess, with music by ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus
and Benny Andersson. The story is set in Bangkok and Budapest during a
mid-1970s world chess championship — and it's driven by gamesmanship
between nations, between lovers and, of course, between chess players. I
saw the opening on Thursday, and it's a BIG show with a gigantic cast.
Several leading roles are double cast (with more juniors than seniors,
in fact, which bodes well for CCM productions for this season and next).
In particular, Matthew Paul Hill, playing the Russian grand master
Anatoly, lifted the roof of Corbett Auditorium with his powerful
baritone voice singing the stirring "Anthem," the Act 1 finale. Tickets
($30) Box office: 513-556-4183. At Northern Kentucky University you'll a production of Royal Gambit
by German playwright Hermann Gressieker (translated into English in the
late 1950s). The subject is King Henry VIII and his six wives, and this
looks to be a beautifully costumed show, featuring senior Seth Wallen
in the leading role. Tickets ($14). Box office: 859-572-5464.
Neil Simon's funny and endearing Brighton Beach Memoirs is
onstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse. I gave it a Critic's Pick (review here),
and I'm sure audiences will love this sweet portrait of growing up in
Brooklyn in the 1930s, where a loving but fractious family copes with
hard times. It's told from the perspective of Eugene, a precocious
adolescent (he's really Simon as a 15-year-old), who takes notes on his
family's behavior. Well acted and beautifully staged. Box office: 513-421-3888l.
My schedule hasn't permitted me to see several shows that are getting
good notices, including recognition from the folks evaluating
productions for the League of Cincinnati Theatres. I'm catching up this
evening with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is offering two shows
Romeo & Juliet is its mainstage show, and
Sara Clark is getting high marks for her portrait of romantic but
tragic young love. Brian Phillips' staging picked up an LCT nod, and the
show received an overall recommendation from LCT. On the evenings when R&J
is not onstage, there's another Shakespeare work for thrill seekers,
specially selected and staged for the Halloween season: the bloody, gory
tale of revenge, Titus Andronicus. Veteran actor Nick
Rose plays a crazed Roman general, and just about everyone I've heard
from says his performance is memorable. (It earned him an LCT
nomination, too.) Box office: 513-381-2273.
This weekend is the final one for
Mrs. Mannerly at Ensemble Theatre. When Harper Lee reviewed this one for CityBeat (review here),
she gave it a Critic's Pick, and I agree wholeheartedly. (LCT named it a
recommended production, too.) CEA Hall of Fame actress Dale Hodges is
great fun to watch as a strict etiquette teacher in 1967, and Raymond
McAnally plays all the other characters — a bunch of kids who are
learning how to behave in a "mannerly" way. It's funny from start to
finish, but there's a heart-warming message within the story. Definitely
worth seeing. Box office: 513-421-3555.
At Clifton Performance Theatre, Clifton Players are staging
A Bright New Boise,
which also picked up an LCT recommendation. I haven't seen it, but the
show won an Obie Award (that's for outstanding off-Broadway plays) in
2011, and it has a strong cast. This is a newish venue that's
specializing in "storefront theater." Should be worth supporting.
Tickets ($20): 513-861-7469.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 01:45 PM | Permalink
OK, so it's MidPoint weekend and I know you're busy
running from bar to bar and band to band, but variety is the spice of
life, right? So wouldn't you enjoy it all the more if you took in a
show, just to break up the monotony of all that great music? Here are a
couple of theatrical ideas.
Shark Eat Muffin is a new Cincinnati theater company — with a name that
sounds like a band! They're breaking onto our local theater scene with
three short plays they're calling
Just Beyond Reach. For
one ticket ($10 in advance, $15 at the door) you'll get into Newport's
Monmouth Theatre (636 Monmouth St.) to see Abbie Doyle's It's a Real Shame, David H. Hughes Acapulco and Catie O'Keefe's The Noise Maker.
This is mostly young talent, so it's your chance to catch the theater
equivalent of the up-and-coming Midpoint bands: Doyle is a senior at
McAuley High School, Hughes is a recent UC theater arts grad and O'Keefe
is New Edgecliff Theatre's young playwright-in-residence (and Shark Eat
Muffin's artistic director). Their scripts are derived from the theme
of "just beyond reach," one of several suggestions posted on the
company's Facebook page two months ago. Sounds like fun: performances
are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets: www.sharkeatmuffin.com.
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park just opened its first Shelterhouse production of the season, Daniel Beaty's
Through the Night.
It's a one-man show that Beaty wrote and performs — it's already won an
Obie Award in New York City (that's "OB" as in Off-Broadway).
He plays six African-American males whose lives intertwine during the
course of one night. It's an exploration of the place of such men in
America today, especially how they influence one another. I chatted with
Beaty about his play in my CityBeat column this week, and I expect this
to be a thought-provoking performance. Box office: 513-421-3888.
If you want something more tried-and-true, head to the Northern Kentucky University campus for You Can't Take It With You,
a Pulitzer Prize winning comedy from 1937. It's about the wacky but
endearing Sycamore family and the oddball characters who fill their
lives. It's truly a comic masterpiece, with lots of opportunity for
actors to make their mark. Box office: 859-572-5464.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:44 AM | Permalink
OK, it's the last day of August and the last true weekend
of summer. That typically means there's almost no theater, since most of
the stages in town are readying their season openers. But you do have a
At the Clifton Performance Theatre you can see the last few performances of
a production brought back from this year's Cincinnati Fringe Festival.
It's a one-man show about bullying and autism, told with lots of
illustrative video. It was a popular item during the Fringe in June, so
it's certainly worth checking out. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
Another Fringe-like option this weekend is a mash-up of
OTR Improv and True Theatre,
happening at Know Theater, which is kind of like the crazy uncle of
these two groups that make the Over-the-Rhine venue their home. On
Saturday evening at 8 p.m., they'll present another installment of The Chronicle,
a long-form improvisation based on the real-life stories of special
guests. Dave Levy and Jeff Groh, the guys who make True Theatre go, are
the starting point for the evening's fun and games. They'll tell
stories, and then the improv folks will turn them into something more.
You can get tickets (for $5) at the door — located at 1127 Jackson
Street in OTR.
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park opens its new season (with a new artistic director) next Thursday with
The Three Musketeers.
But here's a tip: You can see previews starting Saturday, and tickets
are more affordable than during the actual run of the show. You might
know the story of D'Artagnan and his three swashbuckling buddies, Athos,
Porthos and Aramis — but I bet you've never seen such a rollicking,
have-a-great-time production as this one. I just finished reading the
very conversational and funny script, and I suspect that audiences will
love this show, especially if it's pulled off with visual panache. It's
our first chance to see a work directed by Blake Robison, the new guy in
charge. He says this is the kind of work he wants to bring to the stage
regularly. Be among the first to see what he's up to. Box office: 513-421-3555.
Other theaters opening shows next week include Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati on Wednesday (Good People is about unemployed folks dealing with the "new normal") and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company starts its production of To Kill a Mockingbird on Friday. Both productions have fine casts: Annie Fitzpatrick is playing the hard-pressed central character in Good People; Bruce Cromer is the virtuous attorney Atticus Finch in Mockingbird. Both are among our most watchable actors.
My Curtain Call column in
CityBeat this week offers more about these shows and others that are opening this month.
Know Theatre brings back award winning shows from 2012 Fringe
1 Comment · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Perhaps you overslept back in June and
missed the 2012 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You now have a chance to make up for it or to satisfy a fall craving for
Fringe performances, thanks to the festival’s presenter, Know Theatre
3 Comments · Monday, May 14, 2012
The opening 15 minutes of Titanic: The Musical, recreating the tragic 1912 sinking of the doomed
ocean liner, is one of the most stirring, evocative sequences in all of musical
theater. It grabs you as you meet dozens of characters boarding the ship, overflowing
with great expectations — of success, of escaping poverty, of new life in
America, of achieving dreams. But we know what awaits many of them in the
freezing North Atlantic after the collision with an iceberg.
by Jac Kern
The instructors at The Art Institute of Ohio — Cincinnati talk the talk and walk the walk. In addition to teaching up-and-coming artists, they, too, create works of art on a regular basis. Tonight, check out their work during the college's 2012 Faculty Exhibition closing reception. The event runs from 6-8 p.m. in the Mason school's gallery. If you're interested in attending the Art Institute, stop by to check out the work and come back on March 31 when the school holds an open house.Bree from Hot Wheels Entertainment hosts karaoke at The Drinkery every Tuesday. Whether you're a karaoke god or just a spectator, swing by the OTR bar between 9 p.m.-2 a.m. for tunes and booze. Find details here.Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative (CPI) continues its New Voices Season of Staged Readings with Edge Walking. Written by Barbara Harkness and directed by Patrick Downey, Edge Walking follows two parents who are faced with a child claiming he is the reincarnation of their oldest son who died as a POW in Vietnam. The encounter brings up feelings of anger, loss and grief as each character must deal with the death. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. performance are just $8 and can be purchased before the show at the Aronoff Center. For more information, call CPI's Kalman Kivkovich at 513-861-0004.The library's Northside branch hosts a series of poetry and short story readings showcasing local authors from 6-8 p.m. tonight. Lyrical Synaesthesia is a quarterly reading event designed to showcase the breadth of talent in Cincinnati and help foster a strong living literary tradition in the Queen City. Tonight's free event is hosted by Justin Patrick Moore and will feature readings from Matt Hart, Nick Barrows, Abiyah and Betsy Young. Hosted by Justin Patrick Moore. The first 20 to arrive will receive a free chapbook published by Aurore Press.
Want to enjoy after-work drinks while learning about an important local cause? GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Greater Cincinnati presents a happy hour at Know Theatre from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight. Learn about GLSEN's mission to make schools safe for all students regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Enjoy a cash bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvres while the organization will gives a brief presentation at 6:45 p.m. Learn more about GLSEN and how to become on ally here.Find ongoing art exhibits and other daily events here and follow our music blog for nightly live music offerings.
Show evokes knowing reactions, but it’s predictable
0 Comments · Thursday, July 28, 2011
I am not the target demographic for Menopause the Musical, the show that’s spent 10 years “celebrating the Change.” The tour is in the midst of a three-week stop in Cincinnati, playing to largely “girlfriend” audiences at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff.