0 Comments · Monday, July 13, 2015
February 2005 I was in New York City to see some shows, and at the last moment
(on a Saturday afternoon) I was offered the chance to see a new off-Broadway
show I hadn’t heard of, The 25t
by Rick Pender
24 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 11:38 AM | Permalink
History, Spelling and One-Minute Plays
Of course, everyone is focused on baseball this weekend,
leading up to Tuesday’s All-Star Game right in our own backyard — and
that’s great for Cincinnati. But if you’re looking for theatrical
entertainment, it’s here, too.
I had a chance to see the musical 1776 at
Cincinnati Landmark’s new Warsaw Federal Incline Theater on Wednesday.
It’s just the second show to be staged there, but it’s a fine one from
just about every angle. The 1969 show — as much a play about American
history as a musical (it has a stretch of 30 minutes in which no music
happens) — is seldom produced in part because it requires nearly two-dozen strong singing male actors. This production found them, and they
do a fine job: Especially noteworthy is Rodger Pille as the feisty John
Adams, as well as his colleagues Ben Franklin (played by Bob Brunner )and
Thomas Jefferson (taken on by Matt Krieg). But numerous others have
their “historical” moments, as do Allison Muennich as Adams’
understanding wife Abigail and Lindsey Franxman as Jefferson’s lovely
wife Martha. The show is both entertaining and inspiring, even if it
takes a lot of liberties with real events. It won the 1969 Tony Award
for best musical, and it’s a delight to see. It’s onstage at the Incline
through July 26. Tickets: 513-241-6550
After 10 years, the musical about adolescents vying for honors in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has
become pretty familiar. But it’s still a lot of fun to watch, and I
suspect anyone who goes to the Commonwealth Theatre Company’s dinner
theater production on campus at Northern Kentucky University will be
having a good time — maybe even becoming a volunteer speller to join the
contest. For 8 p.m. shows in the Stauss Theatre, there’s dinner at 6:30 p.m.
in the Corbett Lobby. Through July 26. Tickets: 859-572-5464
If you want something a little more off the beaten path, you’ll find it at Know Theatre on Saturday and Sunday when the One-Minute Play Festival
has three performances. Part community-convening, part social action
and part play festival, the program investigates who we are and how we
relate to our community through a series of 60 moments of storytelling
by local writers and actors. If you’ve enjoyed the annual Fringe
Festival, you should show up for this one. Tickets: 513-300-5669.In a
similar vein — and just a block away from Know Theatre’s Over-the-Rhine
location — you’ll find a show by the GoodPeople Theatre Company, Is This Really Happening Right Now? It’s
some vignettes by two local writers exploring friendships and
relationships — on a blind date, in a coffee shop, in a Laundromat and
over Tinder. Tickets ($15) at the door at Simple Space (16 E. 13th St.,
Over-the-Rhine).And if you still need more, remember that Monday will
be the second round of Serials! at Know Theatre, with five
plays started by local writers pick up for another 15-minute episode,
but now penned by a different playwright. This time around the theme is
“Round House,” and it’s sure to generate some zany stuff.
Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
by Steven Rosen
101 days ago
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
NKU professor to moderate discussion on classic novel's 21st century impact
Tonight at 6:30 p.m., Cincinnati Art Museum will host a symposium on Moby-Dick: How a 19th Century Novel Speaks to the 21st Century. This free event features Elizabeth Schultz, author of
Unpainted to the Last; Samuel Otter, editor of Leviathan; Matt Kish, author of
Moby-Dick in Pictures, and Emma Rose Thompson of Northern
Kentucky University. The moderator will be Robert K. Wallace, an English
professor at Northern Kentucky University who has taught a course on
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick since 1972. You
can RSVP at moby-dick-symposium.eventbrite.com.
This is the opening event to a Moby-Dick Arts Festival, co-organized by Thompson and Wallace, that then takes place at
the Covington branch of the Kenton County Public Library and NKU from Saturday through Monday. From 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, there will be a marathon reading of the novel at the library. You can sign up for a 10-minute slot at mobydick.nku.edu. There is also a Moby-Dick-related art exhibition at the library.
On Monday, there is an all-day symposium on the book at NKU, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Budig Theater. More information is available at mobydick.nku.edu.
Encore, Encore and It's a Grand Night for Murder (Review)
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Northern Kentucky University’s 17th
biennial Year End Series (Y.E.S.) Festival began last week and continues
through April 26. According to NKU professor Sandra Forman, who
oversees the project every two years, no other university in America
undertakes a festival on this scale.
The Divine Visitor at NKU's Y.E.S. Festival (Review)
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The third play in Northern Kentucky University’s
biennial Year End Series (Y.E.S.) Festival is David L. Williams' The Divine Visitor.
NKU's Failure is not
0 Comments · Monday, November 24, 2014
Failure: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins is a whimsical, comedic play about the sequential, senseless deaths of three Chicago sisters.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:24 AM | Permalink
There are several good theater choices south of the Ohio River this weekend.The theater (and dance) program at Northern Kentucky University presents a truly varied array of programming — this season has included a play by Orson Welles, the legendary musical South Pacific, Shakespeare's As You Like It and more. The academic year's final production Monty Python's Spamalot, opened last evening, and it seems to be a perfect vehicle for a lot of onstage clowning. (In case you haven't been tuned in, the show is subtitled "A musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and many of the show's most hilarious moments are reproduced wholesale onstage.) But clowning can be serious work, and if you catch NKU's production, pay attention to the choreography (the work of NKU grad Roderick Justice) which is complex, amusing and very well executed by the cast of 25. Director Ken Jones keeps things moving; the actors get into the tomfoolery from start to finish, especially Kat Moser as the diva who's the Lady of the Lake and Bradley Goren as long-suffering Patsy (he's the one who clicks the coconut shells to simulate King Arthur riding on horseback, among other amusing moments). The show is a fine entertainment, if you're a fan of the low but articulate humor of the Python troupe. Through April 27. Tickets ($8-$14): 859-572-5464.Comedy of an entirely different sort is available at another Kentucky venue, the Carnegie in Covington, where Mary Chase's 1945 Pulitzer Prize winner Harvey is available through April 27. This is a piece of gentle humor from the past, about a slightly off-kilter guy who sees a six-foot-plus rabbit — he calls it a "pooka" — named Harvey, much to the dismay of several family members who are embarrassed by his behavior. Their efforts to get him committed to a local asylum go awry to much merriment and a message about being, well, gentle and sweet. This is good, old-fashioned fun. Tickets: 859-957-1940.If you prefer a well-written contemporary drama, this weekend is your last chance to see A Delicate Ship at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Anna Ziegler's new show (this is its world premiere) is a memory play that explores an unexpected chain of events triggered by a love triangle. It's beautifully staged by Michael Evan Haney with a cast of three actors who are just right for each of their roles. I gave this one a Critic's Pick when it opened; it's as good as anything I saw recently at the much-respected Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Tickets ($30-$80): 513-421-3888.
Friday • Greaves Hall (Northern Kentucky University)
0 Comments · Monday, March 17, 2014
The legendary five-time Grammy winners
Blind Boys of Alabama have steadily brought inspired grooves to the
stage since the group’s beginnings in the 1930s. Greater Cincinnati has
witnessed some special shows by the group, especially their gig at the2006 Tall Stacks Festival, when lead singer Jimmy Carter was led
into the crowd with a mic where he proceeded to lift up
the audience with goodness and light and soul.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 06:00 PM | Permalink
Cincy Shakes to offer Gatsby, Birds, Godot and the Bard; NKU has hit musicals and more
Shakespeare Company today announced its 21st season, commencing in July.
The company is committed to staging works by Shakespeare, of course,
but its goal is broader: It also presents definitive works of drama and
literary classics adapted for the stage. As far as the Bard's work, the 2014-2015 season will include a holiday staging of the silly but hilarious The Comedy of
Errors. Also on tap is the powerful history play, Henry V, another step in the company's epic five-year, eight-play history cycle that began with Richard II and continues during the current season with the upcoming Henry IV. Additionally, there will be a production in April 2015 of the comic battle of the sexes, The Taming of the Shrew, a popular work that Cincy Shakes staged during its first season in 1994 (as well as in 1999, 2003 and 2009).
Aside from Shakespeare's works, the coming season will offer stage versions of two beloved American classics: a new
adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age classic The Great Gatsby and the regional
premiere of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Daphne du Maurier's thriller, The Birds
(familiar to many as a 1963 film by Alfred Hitchcock) will show up in a
2009 adaptation by Irish playwright Conor McPherson (known for numerous
works staged locally, including St. Nicholas, The Weir, Port Authority, Shining City and The Seafarer). Next January will bring forth Samuel Beckett’s
profound comedy, Waiting for Godot featuring veteran actors Joneal Joplin and Bruce Cromer, and the season concludes in June 2015 with the Cincinnati
debut of the Tony-award winning, West-End
smash hit comedy, Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors, a 2011 play based on Carlo Goldoni's 1743 comic masterpiece, The Servant
of Two Masters.
Tickets for the
2014-2015 season went on sale earlier this month, resulting in a
record-breaking first day of sales on Feb. 3. Single
tickets are now on sale. For more information, go to cincyshakes.com or call the box office at 513-381-2273, x1.
the department of theater and dance at Northern Kentucky University
also announced its productions for the 2014-2015 academic year, a mix of
classics and contemporary works. The year kicks off in late September
with the ancient Greek tragedy The Bacchae by Euripedes. The fall semester also includes the hit 2003 Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray in October-November and, in November-December, Philip Dawkins' Failure: A Love Story,
the magical story of three sisters in 1928 Chicago who live and die in a
rickety home by the Chicago River. In February, launching the
spring semester, NKU will stage the epic musical Les Misérables,
the popular masterpiece that affirms the human desire to achieve
redemption. The academic year's theater productions will conclude with
the 17th Biennial Year End Series Festival of New Plays. During April,
the "YES" festival, as it's shorthanded, will present three
world-premiere plays which have not yet been selected. Info: theatre.nku.edu or 859-572-5464.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:46 AM | Permalink
I’m not making up a story when I suggest you could be charmed by Mary Zimmerman’s Arabian Nights
at Northern Kentucky University. After all, her play is about telling
tales: Scheherazade, the latest bride of a cruel king who has a history
of marrying and executing his wives, survives by stringing him along
with stories she promises to finish the next night — for a “Thousand and
One Nights.” (Read my profile of Mary Zimmerman here.) She plies him with tales of Sinbad and Ali Baba. Audiences
at NKU will likely be strung along, too. Senior Cynthea Mercado plays
Scheherazade, whose life, she says, “is threatened with the reality of
her situation, and yet she is still able to enjoy her own tales and
sometimes get lost in them.” No need to get lost. Find your way to
Highland Heights and NKU’s Corbett Theatre for this production, through
March 2. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
If a classic musical is to your taste, you might try Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical Evita,
in a touring production at the Aronoff Center through March 2. I caught
a performance last evening, and it looks great — some epic scenery and
excellent choreography. Josh Young as Che is charismatic and
strong-voiced in his role as the show’s commentator. Unfortunately,
Caroline Bowman’s Eva Perón gets too shrill way too fast and becomes a
grasping harpy before there’s a chance to be won over by her
Machiavellian charms. As Juan Peron, Sean MacLaughlin looks young and
slimy, without the sinister gravitas that the historical figure
possessed. That doesn’t leave much opportunity to convey the complex
chemistry — passion and manipulation — that bonded them as a political
machine. But the tale of the ambitious young woman who rose to the
highest levels of power in Argentina then crashed and burned is a
memorable modern tragedy, and the show’s rock-opera tunes by Andrew
Lloyd Webber will stick in your head. Tickets: 513-621-ARTS.
Cincinnati Shakespeare is keeping the cast of its recent production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet intact with its current production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
This time around, it’s the story of Hamlet’s college buddies
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who move from Shakespeare’s sidelines to
Stoppard’s center stage. In this classic 1967 script, the pawns become
the central characters, while Prince Hamlet, Queen Gertrude, King
Claudius, Ophelia and others wander by. The classic tragedy is turned on
its head, and it becomes an existential tragedy for two guys who
everyone has a hard time telling apart. Through March 9. Tickets:
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production of Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize finalist script, 4000 Miles,
is onstage at the Shelterhouse Theatre. It’s about a 91-year-old
grandmother and her 21-year-old grandson bridging a giant generation gap
and finding that they actually have a lot in common. Through March 9.
It’s the final weekend for several shows that have been pleasing audiences. Nina Raine’s Tribes
at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati was originally scheduled to close last
Sunday, but to meet ticket demand for the show about coping with
deafness — and contentious families — ETC added performances through
Saturday. (CityBeat review here.) Tickets: 513-421-3555. … A block away at Know Theatre, the
off-kilter script by Steve Yockey, Pluto, winds up on
Saturday, too. It’s about dealing with tragedy and grief, told in an
inventive, sometimes even humorous, manner. Two of Cincinnati’s finest
actors — Annie Fitzpatrick and Tori Wiggins — are in this one, making it
very watchable. (CityBeat review here.) Tickets: 513-300-5669 … For the younger set, this
weekend offers the final public performance, Saturday at 2 p.m., of
Children’s Theatre’s Pinkalicious at the Taft. It’s the story of a girl who can’s stop eating pink cupcakes. Tickets: 800-745-3000.
And here’s a tip for Monday evening: Dayton native Daniel Beaty, who pleased a lot of Playhouse patrons last season with his tour-de-force one-man show, Through the Night, will be in town for a one-night performance to promote his new book, Transforming Pain to Power.
His performance (6:30 p.m. in the Marx Theatre) and the book signing
afterward in the Rosenthal Plaza) are free, but you need to make a
reservation with the Playhouse box office: 513-421-3888.