by RICK PENDER, CityBeat staff
More Directing Talent at the Playhouse. Last Wednesday the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park announced that Obie Award-winning director Eric Ting will join the theater as an Associate Artist for the 2015-2016 season. Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison said, "I've known Eric for nearly 15 years, when he began his career as a student at the University of Tennessee. Since then he has created an impressive body of work as one of the country's most gifted young directors. He's in touch with a new generation of American playwrights, and he brings a fresh perspective to the classics. He's distinguished himself off-Broadway with an Obie Award. And his time at Long Wharf Theatre [in Connecticut as associate artistic director] has given him experience in an institutional theatre." Ting's 2012 Obie recognized his direction of Jackie Sibblies Drury's We Are Proud to Present a Presentation on the Herero of Namibia, Formerly South-West Africa from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915. The New Yorker called his production at Soho Rep "a thrilling opportunity to see both a serious new talent developing her voice and what an inspiring director can do to encourage it." Ting said he's honored to be named an associate artist at the Playhouse: "I've long admired Blake's work as an artistic leader and have been following the storied work of the Playhouse ever since my sister's family settled in nearby Montgomery. The associate artists program combines two of the things I hold most dear in life: art-making and community building." Ting joins three other associate artists: Timothy Douglas, Michael Evan Haney and KJ Sanchez. According to Robison, these directors "form the backbone of our directing corps and bring diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints to the Playhouse."Bowled Over. I made my first excursion to Cheviot late last week to see The Drama Workshop's production of a revue of music by Stephen Sondheim, Putting It Together. The community theater's cast of five did a commendable job with Sondheim's challenging tunes, and I was glad to get to see what TDW has done with its new home, The Glenmore Playhouse, a former bowling alley that's become a spacious performance venue thanks to the hard work of the group's many volunteers. TDW recently announced its five-show 2015-2016 season: the musical comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Sept. 11-27); Ira Levin's murder mystery, Death Trap (Oct. 22-Nov. 8); Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Dec. 4-13); Paul Slade Smith's Unnecessary Farce (Feb. 26-March 13, 2016); and the world's longest-running musical, The Fantasticks (April 22-May 8, 2016). More information: www.thedramaworkshop.org.
Christmas Caroling. For the first time in 24 years, the Cincinnati Playhouse decided to have an understudy for Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and it's a good thing they did: Bruce Cromer had to miss several performances after he sprained his ankle "making merry" during a rambunctious scene in the show. Another local professional, Nick Rose — a founder and a stalwart performer with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for two decades — stepped up from a smaller role and handled a number of performances commendably. Cromer has played Scrooge for a decade (following eight years as Bob Cratchit), so it's nice to know that another fine actor might be ready to become the old curmudgeon when it's time. … Speaking of Dickens' classic story, tune in to WVXU (FM 91.7) on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. for a recording of versatile master comedian Jonathan Winters (an Ohio native who died at age 87 in 2013) presenting his own distinctive reading of the holiday story of redemption. The pioneer of improvisational stand-up comedy, an Ohio native, was a mentor for the late Robin Williams.
Last-Minute Theater Gift? Need just one more gift to finish your Christmas shopping? The creative folks at Cincinnati Landmark Productions have put together three clever packages for dinner and a show at one of their theaters. For $75 there's the "Covedale and Coneys Bundle," offering a pair of tickets to a performance at the Covedale and a $25 gift card for Price Hill Chili. If you're willing to wait until summer is here, you can purchase an "Incline District Complete Night Out" for $100; it includes two tickets to a show at the brand new Warsaw Federal Incline Theater (due to open in June), plus a $50 gift card to either the Incline Public House or Primavista. And if you care to splurge, for $200 you can get "The Incline District Summer of Fun" tickets for all three shows during the summer of 2015 at the Incline Theater plus a $75 gift card for either the Incline Public House or Primavista. For more information or to purchase one of these packages: 513-241-6550.Happy holidays to one and all!
CityBeat's Rick Pender posts theater notices on CALL BOARD every Monday morning.
Over the Rhine returns for another “reality Christmas” and news of a new venue
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 17, 2014
With Blood Oranges in the Snow,
Over the Rhine treats the Christmas album as a major artistic statement
that questions the holiday’s celebratory nature as much as it
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 10, 2014
This year, we’re defending
everything you think hate about the holidays, from mother-in-laws to
mass to matzo and all the glittery crap in between.
0 Comments · Thursday, December 4, 2014
I think about this a lot around this time of year—Princess and Christmas in 1969.
Presents for People You Know
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 19, 2014
With Black Friday quickly approaching (aka
Nov. 28, if you’re the type to pretend to ignore capitalism and Walmart
ads), the hive mind of America is focusing in on the holiest of all
holiday celebrations: shopping.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Luckily, some local restaurants are
offering special Turkey Day deals and buffets so you can still stuff
yourself with stuffing, minus all the effort.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The holidays aren’t complete without the
macabre sight of our neediest brothers and sisters lined up all over
town in inclement weather waiting for handouts — boxes of food, a
turkey, clothing, maybe a voucher or two for free furniture.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:30 AM | Permalink
Many Cincinnati stages are momentarily paused, readying shows for the holidays. Last night the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park opened its production of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical. Susan Haefner does a remarkable job of channeling the "girl singer" from Maysville, Ky., who grew up in Greater Cincinnati. We learn how she became a star, rose to fame, almost lost it to pills and dissolute behavior, then battled back for a "flip side" to her singing career. All the other characters in her story — male and female, young and old, famous and unknown — are performed by Michael Marotta, who principally plays her counselor but is amusingly convincing as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Merv Griffin and many more. It's a thoroughly entertaining two hours on the Playhouse's Shelterhouse stage, and it's already appealing to audiences apparently, since the show's run has been extended from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4. Tickets ($30-$85): 513-421-3888
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company kicks off its next production of the 2014-2015 season tonight with The Comedy of Errors. The emphasis in this show, one of Shakespeare's earliest works, is definitely on the comedy, what with two pairs of twins whose adventures are hysterically compounded by mistaken identities when they end up in the same town on the same day. For this staging, it's set in a seaside resort in America of the 1930s in the midst of a classic carnival, adding to the story's hilarity. This one will only be onstage until Dec. 13, so this weekend is the perfect time to catch a performance, before holiday shows take center stage elsewhere. Tickets ($22-$36): 513-381-2273
One last treat I'll mention, which happens to be operatic rather than theatrical: It's Great Scott, a new work that Cincinnati Opera is nurturing in partnership with UC's College-Conservatory of Music. The production's creators have been in town all this week honing this brand new opera, the story of a struggling opera company and the hometown football team. They come into conflict when the team is to play in the Super Bowl on the same day the company has planned to premiere a long lost opera. To heighten the drama, the team's owner is married to the opera company's founder. The composer is Jake Heggie, who wrote the music for Dead Man Walking, a work produced by Cincinnati Opera at Music Hall in 2002, and Great Scott's script is by prize-winning playwright Terrence McNally. The week's work will culminate in a public reading on Tuesday evening. It's free, but you are asked to make a reservation by calling 513-241-2742 to see it at Memorial Hall (1225 Elm Street, next door to Music Hall; it's easy to park your car in the nearby Washington Park Garage).
Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 18, 2013
They’re here. They’re my human Christmas cards, joy in
the flesh and unwrapped, laughing presents exploding with a year’s worth
of stories, relationships, work and secrets about places women find
by Zachary McAuliffe
Posted In: Shopping
at 01:17 PM | Permalink
Marking the beginning
of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is easily
the most disgusting bastardization of what a holiday is.
Let’s start with a
brief history of where Black Friday began. This day has been a
grotesque part of the holiday season here in America for years. Notably, in
1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to an earlier date, stretching out the holiday
shopping season. This change was brought
on by retailers during the Depression Era, allowing people more time to go gift shopping or, more importantly, spend their money in the retailers’
Later in the 1950s
and '60s, the day began to be viewed as a kind of worker-less void for shop
owners as their employees started to not show up to work in order to go
Finally, in the '80s, store owners began to state how profitable the day was, or
how much their profits were “in the black."
See what they did there?
Now, the day is a
barbaric ritual for many people across America as they wait until store-doors
open so they can grab a hodgepodge of items away from their competition and
fight anyone who gets in their way.
Black Friday is like the Hunger
Games but without all the talk about a rebellion against an oppressive
regime. It’s just people fighting
each other, and sometimes dying, for seemingly no good reason other than saving
a buck or two.
Like back in 2011 when
Walter Vance was trampled to death by other shoppers while trying to shop at
his local Target in West Virginia. No one noticed they
were literally running over a person to get their goodies.
Deaths do happen on
this “holiday,” which is unsettling on its own, but the injuries far outnumber
According to blackfridaydeathcount.com, there
have been seven deaths attributed to Black Friday and a total of 89
injuries. This data only dates back
to 2006, though, which means there are surely more from earlier years.
Just a quick look at
this same website shows people are not afraid to pepper-spray, stab or
even shoot each other, again, all in the name of savings.
What is even more
unsettling is how ravenous customers are. The following compilation
of Black Friday videos over the years shows just how crazy people can act on this unholy of
days as people break down doors to enter stores, tear apart in-store kiosks and basically act like filthy animals.
Watching videos of
Black Friday is simply depressing, and when you remember these are
people and not zombies from The Walking Dead, it’s hard to think of this day
as a holiday.
definition, a holiday is when little to no work is done and people celebrate something, but
more than that, holidays are meant to bring people together.
One clear example of
what a holiday should be is the Christmas Truce of 1914 during the first World
War. Both sides of the fighting had a
ceasefire on Christmas Day along many points of the Western Front, and some
points saw friendly and enemy soldiers alike exchanging gifts, food and good
That’s a holiday. Everyone put aside their differences for a
short period and came together as humans.
If soldiers fighting a
war can do this, why can’t shoppers perform these same acts of kindness and
decency towards each other?