by Rick Pender
40 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 09:19 AM | Permalink
The Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Cabaret is a
must-see for anyone who is a fan of musicals. (CityBeat review here.) Kander and Ebb's Tony
Award winner from the late '60s has been brought to the main stage with
inventive verve by veteran Broadway choreographer and director Marsha
Milgrom Dodge. Sure, it's set in 1929 Berlin, populated by amoral
entertainers and Nazis rising to power. But its scrutiny of prejudice
and bigotry in the context of jaunty, thoughtless entertainment is a
fascinating way to bring attention to topics that are timeless. Dodge
has assembled a cast of triple-threats (who can sing, act and dance),
given them choreography rooted in the 1920s, costumed them in period
clothing (and some clever get-ups for the cabaret routines) and set them
spinning on a stage arrayed with Expressionist imagery. It's a winning
combination. Cabaret just opened on Thursday evening; you have until Nov. 16
to catch it, but it's likely to be a hot ticket, so this is a good
weekend to head to Mount Adams. The other choice at the Playhouse, Seven Spots on the Sun,
is in its final weekend on the Shelterhouse stage. It's a powerful
drama set in a Latin American nation, torn asunder by civil war. Serious
theatergoers have been giving this one a thumbs-up. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Shakespeare hasn't gotten around to any Shakespeare plays yet this
season, but no one's complaining. Last weekend they opened a moving
production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, featuring
top-notch performances by Jeremy Dubin and Jim Hopkins as a pair of
Depression Era migrant works who have to stay one step ahead of trouble
because man-child Lennie (Hopkins) doesn't know his own strength and has
emotions that are seldom reined in. Great acting, worth seeing. (CityBeat review here.) Through
Nov. 10. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati finishes its run of Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn this
weekend, hot from Broadway in its regional premiere. (CityBeat review here.) A story about
modern women and what satisfies — and dissatisfies — them. Three
generations end up debating choices made: It's both entertaining and
thought-provoking, a showcase of excellent local actors. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
As Halloween draws closer, you might want to check out a show or two inspired by the "season." Dracula at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts (tickets: 513-241-6550) tells the familiar tale of the legendary vampire. (CityBeat review here.) Slasher at Falcon Theatre (Monmouth Theatre in Newport; tickets 513-479-6783)
is a tongue-in-cheek piece that originated a few years back at the
Humana Festival in Louisvile. It's about people making a horror flick
and how it affects their lives. Lots of humor, but some thoughtful
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 07:47 AM | Permalink
My schedule hasn't afforded me the time to see the production of Don't Cross the Streams: The Cease and Desist Musical, a show that began its life in the Cincinnati Fringe Festival back in June. (It also was a festival highlight at the IndyFringe in Indianapolis in August.) But the very tongue-in-cheek piece inspired by the film Ghostbusters (but not allowed to say that) has now been expanded into a full-fledged
musical that's onstage at Newport's Monmouth Theatre, presented by
Falcon Theatre and Hugo West Theatricals. The League of Cincinnati
Theatres has termed the show a "recommended production," so it's evident
that their judging panel enjoyed it. One panelist called
it "a lively, enthusiastic spoof," and another said that the show is
"an evening of theater that doesn't take itself too seriously. The show just had a two-weekend run, so it's final performance is Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets: 513-479-6783.
Ensemble Theatre's production of Black Pearl Sings! features one of the finest performances by a local actor that I've seen this season. Torie
Wiggins plays a woman in the 1930s who translates her memory of songs
from her African ancestors into a ticket out of prison and to some
notoriety in New York City. Wiggins nuanced performance is complemented by veteran Annie Fitzpatrick as the folk music researcher who sees Pearl as her own ticket to success. Their tentative relationship becomes a delicately balanced friendship, while both explore issues of racism, sexism and getting ahead. Definitely worth seeing. Through March 31. Box office: 513-421-3555. Lizan Mitchell is at the other end of the career spectrum from Wiggins, but she too plays Carrie Watts, a sprightly, elderly African-Amerian woman whose powerful sense of home takes her on an impromptu journey back to her roots in A Trip to Bountiful at the Cincinnati Playhouse.
It's laced with sadness, since what she remembers no longer exists, but
her memories and her joyful take on life make it all worthwhile, not
only for her but for others in her life, including her browbeaten son and his selfish wife as well as a sweet young woman who is Carrie's companion on a long bus ride. Through April 7. Box office: 513-421-3888.
This weekend Cincinnati Shakespeare is opening a production of the much-loved Shakespearean romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's been transported to 1940s America and set in a Jazz-inspired
magical forest, with original musica composed by resident sound
designer Doug Borntrager; there's also original choreography by Brittany
Kugler. The production is staged by Jeremy Dubin, and features veteran
actor Nick Rose in the role of Nick Bottom the Weaver, the guy who makes
an ass of himself — literally. It's a tangled, funny story that all
works out perfectly in the end. A great show to kick off springtime. Through April 21. Box office: 513-381-2273 x1.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:38 AM | Permalink
As I wrote in my column in the current issue of CityBeat, there's a lot of good holiday theater available on Cincinnati stages right now. The Playhouse's production of A Christmas Carol,
now in its 22nd year, is best in class — a well-told traditional tale
with some of the best professional actors in town onstage, from Bruce
Cromer as Scrooge and Dale Hodges as the Ghost of Christmas past. There
are a few new faces, too, playing the Cratchits. And speaking of new
faces, I feel comfortable recommending New Edgecliff Theatre's one-woman
show, The 12 Dates of Christmas, which is being engagingly performed by Annie Kalahurka. It's paired with David Sedaris's The Santaland Diaries,
which feels a little shopworn to me, but you can catch the double-bill
downtown at the Arnonff's Fifth Third Bank Theater — and maybe go for
drinks at Arnold's before or after the show.
If you're looking for something kind of different, try The Naughty List (review here),
a holiday-themed improv show (presented in Arnold's courtyard on
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings) by Know Theatre. Five quick-witted
comics who constitute OTR Improv are doing routines that use audience
suggestions (and occasional audience participants) for nearly two hours
of entertainment. It's a different show every night.
Have kids you want to take to the theater and give them a
taste of what fun it can be? Two good bets are Ensemble Theatre
Cincinnati for one of its musical fairytales with a moral (this year the
show is a colorful, cartoonish rendition of Alice in Wonderland) and Covedale Center, where Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
is singing and dancing its way through another familiar story the kids
will know. The prince is handsome, Cinderella is sweet and the nasty
Stepmother is played by a guy.
As far as familiar stories go, you've probably seen Frank Capra's classic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life
a few times during the holidays. But I bet you haven't experienced in
the unique way that Falcon Theater offers it up at Newport's Monmouth
Theatre: The script frames the story as an old-time radio drama, and you
get to watch behind-the-scenes as a handful of actors play all the
roles and a few others create the necessary sound effects. It opens
this weekend and runs for a week. I haven't seen this year's edition,
but I've enjoyed past incarnations, and I suspect this one will be
entertaining as well.
Falcon Theatre offers holiday classic as a radio play
0 Comments · Monday, December 13, 2010
A lot of people who love the holidays can recite lines from Frank Capra's popular 1946 film 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Well, rather than simply bring the movie to the stage, Falcon Theatre retells the story as a radio drama, re-creating a radio studio with three sound effects artists, a stentorian announcer, electric organ, three cute singers for ads and a cast of voice talents who play multiple roles.
0 Comments · Monday, December 6, 2010
I annually face the holidays with mixed
emotions. I love the holiday season, but I also know that it means I'll be in overdrive, attending numerous theatrical holiday productions. But there are excellent options again this holiday season, starting with Cincinnati Playhouse's 'A Christmas Carol' and ETC's 'Cinderella.'
Falcon Theatre's production of classic lacks unifying vision
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 25, 2009
What's on the page gets on the Monmouth Theater stage. Words and plot are explicated with energy, clarity and conviction — but there's little resonance to Shakespeare's 400-year-old tale of howling revenge.
Falcon Theatre takes a step back in time
0 Comments · Monday, December 8, 2008
Stepping inside the Monmouth Theatre in Newport for Falcon Theatre's production of 'It's a Wonderful Life' feels like a step back in time. The company has transformed the intimate performance space into the Falcon Broadcasting Company, a replica of a 1940s radio broadcasting studio. The effect is fun and nostalgic.
Falcon Theatre offers humor and insight
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Michael C. Potter makes obsessive-compulsive Arnold a stream of fast-talking twitches and non-sequiturs, while David A. Levy's Norman is a sweetly innocent guy who obsesses about donuts.