by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
'The Second City 2' and 'next to normal' conclude this weekend, among others
It’s a weekend of last chances, as several shows that have
been entertaining audiences wind up their runs just before Independence
Day. Let’s start with The Second City 2: Less Pride … More Pork.
If you haven’t yet caught this evening of poking fun
at our local foibles and sacred cows, you have only until Saturday. The
cast of five from Chicago’s legendary comedy troupe has been tickling
local funny bones since late April, drawing their material from
bottomless well of our beliefs and behaviors. Even if you saw the show a
month or two ago, you’ll be entertained by a return visit. Improv is
the fuel for the evening, and every night they’re up to new tricks to
entertain audiences. By the way, that includes involving a few folks in
attendance, so be prepared. Box office: 513-421-3888.
Sunday winds up Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s revival of the Tony Award-winning musical next to normal. (Review here.) The story of a woman struggling with schizophrenia
and how it affects her family is even better than it was back in
September. The show uses the power of a brilliant Rock score to enhance
the impact of this painful story. ETC has reassembled most of its superb
cast from last fall, including Jessica Hendy in the central role. Her
beleaguered husband is now played by Bruce Cromer, who you might know as
Ebenezer Scrooge in the Playhouse’s annual A Christmas Carol. His character’s relationship with Hendy’s makes their struggles all the more deeply felt. Box office: 513-421-3555.
Last Sunday I had some good laughs at the classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace
on the Showboat Majestic. It’s an old chestnut (it was a hit in 1944),
but it’s one of the funniest shows you’re likely to see, about a pair of
off-kilter elderly maiden aunts who keep their rather normal nephew
astonished and scrambling to keep them in line. The kind-hearted women
take in boarders, quiet elderly men who are “all alone in the world,”
and polish them off with elderberry wine laced with arsenic. They
convince another nephew, who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt, to bury them
in the basement by telling him they’re Panama Canal works who are
victims of yellow fever. A great show for the whole family. Box office:
Also winding up this weekend is Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). This
rambunctious show mentions of all the Bard’s works — although many are
completely unrecognizable, thanks the three buffoonish guys who
undertake the task. Order your tickets online where you’ll find an
automatic buy-one, get-one offer. Website: www.cincyshakes.com.
Cincinnati Opera is offering Porgy & Bess
for the first time ever, with a performances on Saturday evening (as
well as July 6 and 8). (Preview here.) Is it an opera or a musical? Judge for yourself
(and read about it in my Curtain Call column in next week’s issue of CityBeat).
It’s at Music Hall, with lots of seats, but as always, a limited run.
This is one you shouldn’t miss. I saw it Thursday night, and the leading
performers are great: Measha Brueggergosman is a conflicted Bess,
Jonathan Lemalu conveys Porgy’s dignified but depressed life, Gordon
Hawkins is the brutal Crown, and Steven Cole steals the show as the
animated, irreverent Sporting Life. And pay attention to the chorus —
it’s a wonderful ensemble. Box office: 513-241-2742.
Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:09 AM | Permalink
It’s a three-day
weekend that’s more about being outdoors and kicking off summer
fun. That being said, if you’re looking for a theater production
that will give you some laughs for your weekend, I recommend catching
a performance of see The Second City 2: Less Pride – More
Pork at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park on its
Shelterhouse Stage. I found it a notch up from the very entertaining
first iteration of the show that set box-office records for the Mount
Adams theater during the 2010 holiday season. Lots of hilarious
fun-poking at … us. The clever cast from Chicago’s renowned
comedy/improv troupe uniquely tailors each performance to the
audience that shows up. Box office: 513-421-3888.
I haven’t seen the
Showboat Majestic’s opening production of its 90th season (that’s
right, the boat has been entertaining audiences for nine decades!),
but Babes in Hollywood is another show that’s light
and entertaining. It’s a revue of tunes made famous by Judy Garland
and Mickey Rooney back in the 1930s and ’40s when they were
happy-go-lucky adolescent stars. I did see the four-member cast do a
number at last Monday’s LCT Awards event, and they have fine voices
and a sense of style. I suspect this show will be popular with the
grey-haired audience that frequents the Showboat, but I bet people of
any age will have a good time watching. Box office: 513-241-6550.
If you want something a
tad more profound, try Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production
of The Merchant of Venice, one of Shakespeare’s most
difficult plays. It’s officially categorized as a comedy because it
has humorous and romantic elements. But the central story about a
potentially fatal argument between a moneylender and a businessman is
anything but amusing. CSC’s artistic director Brian Isaac Phillips
takes on the role of the rapacious moneylender who has faced
anti-Semitic discrimination for his entire life. Is Shylock a villain
or a victim? Shakespeare gives him aspects of each, and CSC’s
production does not tilt in either direction. You get to decide, and
it won’t be easy. Review here. Box office: 513-381-2273, x1.
There’s a new theater
downtown, just a few doors north of Cincinnati Shakespeare’s venue.
They’re calling themselves Speakeasy Theatre, and they’re
performing in a storefront space at 815 Race Street. Their inaugural
production is Paul Baerman’s The Whistler. The show,
directed by Tim Waldrip, is set in 1965 in an unnamed Southern city
where a lot a racist attitudes are out in the open. The Andy
Griffith Show is in its fifth season, and the guy who whistles
that show’s theme (played here by local professional actor Michael
G. Bath) is living off the royalties of his work. But life gets more
complicated when he meets an African-American trumpet player (Tony
Davis is taking on the role) who shares his passion for music. The
show just opened on Thursday and I haven’t seen it, but it’s
always good to give a new theater a try. The Whistler will be
onstage through June 10. Box office: 513-861-7469.
Each week in Stage
Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces
of theater news.
Cincinnati gets teased and satirized by entertaining Playhouse show
1 Comment · Saturday, November 13, 2010
If it's laughter you're seeking for the holidays, you'll find plenty at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the new comedy revue from the legendary Chicago-based Second City improv company. It's full of our familiar foibles as well as a cast of local crackpots and characters. Never has it been so much fun to be teased.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 9, 2010
If I say "Second City," you say "Chicago?" Maybe. But I bet "comedy club" comes in a close "second." The Windy City’s legendary improv club is now exporting city-specific shows around the country, including one right here for Cincinnati audiences at Playhouse in the Park for the holidays.