by Rick Pender
33 days ago
Noble Romans, ambitious astronomers, fairy tales and one bad girl
You have more theater choices this weekend than time, I
suspect, so choose carefully depending on the kind of show you most
If it’s a classic, I suggest you check out Julius Caesar
at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. This tale of one of history’s most
memorable political assassinations is one of Shakespeare’s shorter
plays, about two hours and 15 minutes. But it’s action-packed with a lot of
intrigue, soul-searching and emotions that ebb and flow. Cincy Shakes
relies on its acting ensemble to fill these iconic roles, and they bring
them to life more vividly than I’ve seen in a long time. Josh Katawick
is especially engaging as the leader, “lean and hungry” Cassius, whose
motives are not far below his ambitious surface; Brent Vimtrup is
Brutus, caught up in the plot for reasons of principle rather than envy,
and his subtle performance of this conflicted man is compelling.
Veteran Nick Rose is the blustery soldier Marc Antony, who’s actually a
subtle manipulator of opinion. (We’ll see more of him next month when
Cincy Shakes move on to Shakespeare’s other Roman play, Antony and Cleopatra). Through May 7. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
An engaging new play, Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky,
is onstage at Know Theatre, the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a woman of
science from a century ago when women were not expected to have
meaningful insights. But drawn to the mysteries of astronomy, she
tirelessly made advances despite many barriers. Maggie Lou Rader plays
the feisty woman, and her moral support from two older women, played by
Annie Fitzpatrick and Regina Pugh, has elements of humor. This is a
well-acted, well-staged play (direction by Know’s Tamara Winters), worth
seeing. I gave it a Critic’s Pick with my CityBeat review. Through May 14. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
The 2014 movie of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods
featured Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden and
Johnny Depp. A production currently onstage at Northern Kentucky
University doesn’t have that kind of star power, but the student cast
does an admirable job with a show that places extraordinary vocal
demands on singers. Director Jamey Strawn hit upon an imaginative
framing device for the legendary fairy tale mash-up, setting it in a
library where a young boy (played with a mischievously expressive
demeanor by Charlie Klesa, a sixth-grader at Mercy Montessori), hides
away for an overnight adventure of reading and fantasizing. As giants
threaten the kingdom, books tumble from the library’s two-story-tall
shelves. Into the Woods requires a big cast, and more than 20 NKU
student actors plus a stylized wooden cow are clearly committed to
giving their all to this production. Opening night on Thursday was an
enthusiastic full house. Through May 1. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
Neil LaBute’s plays traffic in complex, often ironic,
manipulative situations, frequently brutal stories of abusive, selfish
behavior. The Shape of Things, presented by New
Edgecliff Theatre at Hoffner Lodge in Northside, is that kind of story —
about Evelyn, an ambitious young woman who makes an art project of
Adam, another student who thinks their relationship is a love affair.
Rebecca Whatley and Matthew Krieg handle these complicated roles
believably, but you’ll walk away wondering about their motives — she’s
cold, he’s clueless. It’s a compelling, disturbing story that makes for
an evening of edgy, psychological theater. Another Critic’s Pick with my
CityBeat review. Through April 30. Tickets here.There’s a touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
onstage at the Aronoff Center through Sunday. It’s an entertaining,
visually captivating production. There’s nothing new about it, to be
sure, but the young cast carries off the sprightly songs and
choreography with lots of energy. I wish there was a little more heart
and a little less clowning, especially by Sam Hartley as the Beast,
who’s meant to be a tragic hero. The chemistry between him and Brooke
Quintana as Belle is in the script, but it only shows up intermittently
onstage. Nevertheless, Wednesday night’s full house with lots of kids
dressed for the evening clearly had a good time watching the story
unfold. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
Quick Notes: True Theater is back for another quarterly
evening of storytelling on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. Know Theatre.
This time the theme is True Gay, so it will be enlightening to
hear the personal reminiscences that get shared. … At UC’s
College-Conservatory of Music this weekend, the drama program presents a
staged reading of Grace Gardner’s new script, Very Dumb Kids,
tonight 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. It’s the beginning of a new
play commissioning initiative that will foster new works. … This is the
final weekend for David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross at the Incline Theater in East Price Hill and for Jason Robert Brown’s musical, The Last Five Years, at The Carnegie in Covington.
Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 5, 2014
With this week’s announcements of the 2014-15 seasons
for touring shows presented by Broadway in Cincinnati and by Cincinnati
Landmark Productions at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, you
have more than a dozen choices to consider.
Cincy theaters put good shows on every stage in town
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Throughout the year I assign “Critic’s
Picks” to noteworthy theatrical productions. As 2012 draws to a close,
it seems like a good time to take a look back at some shows that made
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Cincinnati no longer has a theater awards
program resembling the Tonys (nominees for the year’s best Broadway
productions will be out soon), but that won’t stop me from naming my
choices for the best shows so far.