by Rick Pender
4 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 08:05 AM | Permalink
There are several good productions onstage around town — check out CityBeat coverage of Hands on a Hardbody (a musical at ETC), The Great Gatsby (a classic American novel adapted for the stage at Cincy Shakes), Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club (a new adventure for the great detective at the Cincinnati Playhouse) and Tennessee Williams' prize-winning A Streetcar Named Desire (at the Covedale)
— but if you've seen those, you have other choices for onstage
entertainment. Here are three suggestions for shows a little more off
the beaten path:Local actor/director/writer Kevin Crowley has written a play called The Riverside,
rooted in Cincinnati (Crowley is a member of a family that's lived
locally for generations) and getting a production — he's directing it,
too — at Clifton Performance Theatre, just west of the Clifton/Ludlow
business district (404 Ludlow). It's set in an imaginary (or rather an
imagined) bar called the Riverside, where a bunch of folks in 1989 are
following the Pete Rose case about gambling that eventually got him
banned from baseball. But there's a lot more happening — like protests
in Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In
CPT's tiny space is filled up with a lot of talent — Michael Shooner,
Daniel Britt, Buz Davis, Mike Dennis, Mindy Heithaus, Reggie Willis,
Mark Bowen, MaryKate Moran, Gary McGurk, Pete Wood, Cathy Springfield
and Paul Morris — playing folks who hang out and argue about what's
going on. I haven't caught this one yet, but everyone who has says it's
worth seeing. Through Sept. 27. Tickets ($25): https://cpt.tixato/com/buyCommunity theater company Showbiz Players is staging the musical Reefer Madness at the Carnegie in Covington. It opens tonight (and runs through Sept. 28).
This tongue-in-cheek show was inspired by a very serious film from 1936
designed to inspire fear and loathing when clean-cut kids fall prey to
marijuana. The producers "warn" that it contains adult humor, religious
parody and drug use — and note that it will go "straight to your head."
Should be a lot of fun for those mature enough to get the jokes ...
Tickets ($19.50-$22.50): 859-957-1940Side by Side by Sondheim was the first musical revue created using songs by the guy who wrote the music and lyrics for shows including Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Gypsy and A Little Night Music. That was in 1976 in London, but the tunes are just as fresh and vibrant today as they were nearly four decades ago. Middletown Lyric Theatre is presenting this collection of 25 numbers for two weekends (tonight and tomorrow, as well as Sept. 26-27) — using seven singers and two pianists. Tickets ($15): 513-425-7140
by Rick Pender
78 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 08:12 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati stages were pretty quiet over
the Independence Day weekend, but this week they start waking up and
getting ready for more. Tonight at 8 p.m. is the second installment of Serials!
at Know Theatre. You can see six fresh, 10-minute episodes of brand-new
plays by local playwrights — Trey Tatum, Chris Wesselman, Jon Kovach,
Ben Dudley, Michael Hall and the team of Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth
Martin — and featuring lots of Cincinnati-area actors. New artistic
director Andrew Hungerford calls it a "theater party" offering cold
beer, air-conditioning and world-premiere stories in Know's Underground
bar (1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine). Even if you missed the "pilots"
on June 23, you'll get caught up with a recap before each episode. I had
a blast watching these tantalizing tidbits two weeks ago, and I suspect
tickets will become harder to get as the summer progresses. (Subsequent
performances on July 21, Aug. 11 and 25 and Sept. 8.) Tickets ($15): 513-300-5669.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is assembling a cast for its season opener, Hands on a Hardbody (Sept. 3-21),
a recent Tony-nominated musical about 10 people vying to win a truck by
outlasting their competitors and keeping their hands touching the
vehicle — which will be onstage at the Over-the-Rhine theater (1127 Vine
St.). ETC is seeking actors, singers and dancers for the show with an
open audition on Wednesday this week (July 9, 5-8 p.m.). All are welcome, but an appointment is required. (Contact email@example.com) Ensemble Theatre is an AEA Theatre. Union and non-union actors are encouraged to apply. Rehearsals begin August 11. ETC is seeking a diverse cast, and all ethnicities are encouraged to apply, especially African-American men and Hispanic males and females.
ETC had a big hit on its hands three years ago with the Tony Award-winning musical next to normal
about a woman with bipolar disorder. In fact it was such a draw that
they revived it in the summer of 2012. Although the Rock musical is a
challenging work, this week features not one but two productions by
Cincinnati-area community theaters: Sunset Players on the West Side and
Paradise Players on the East Side. Both productions open Friday
evening. The venerable Sunset Players, which presents shows at the
Dunham Arts Center (in the Dunham Recreation Complex, 4320 Guerley Rd.,
Price Hill), has performances through July 26, mostly at 8 p.m. (July 20 is a 2 p.m. matinee.) Tickets ($14-$16): 513-588-4988.
Meanwhile, Paradise Players, a newish group offering summer productions
at McNicholas High School's Jeanne Spurlock Theatre (6536 Beechmont
Ave.), will offer the show just this week, July 10-11 (7:30 p.m.) and July 12 (2:30 and 7:30 p.m.). Tickets: $15 (http://mcnhs.seatyourself.biz)
high schoolers now have Commonwealth Artists Summer Theatre (C.A.S.T.)
as a summer outlet for theatrical opportunities at Highlands High School
(2400 Memorial Pkwy., Fort Thomas). Starting Friday is a two-week run (July 11-20) of The Addams Family,
a Broadway musical based on the bizarre and beloved family of
characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams. C.A.S.T., headed by
Fort Thomas Independent Schools' theater instructor Jason Burgess,
enables kids from the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to
develop their skills in performance and production beyond their school
year and beyond their school population. Tickets: $10 (http://www.showtix4u.com) or at the door.
by Rick Pender
116 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 08:34 AM | Permalink
If you haven't found a couple of 2014 Cincinnati Fringe show
that you're dying to see this weekend, you need to go to CityBeat's
Fringe hub for some
recommendations — including reviews of early performances of all 30-plus shows. But if you're still coming up short, there are more choices
from area theaters.
If it's fun you're seeking, you might want to stop by the
Carnegie in Covington, where Showbiz Players is presenting Spamalot.
It opens tonight and runs through June 8. You probably know that this very
amusing musical (it won three 2005 Tony Awards, including best musical) is
"lovingly ripped off" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If
you can repeat lines from that 1975 cult hit, then this is surely the show for
you. Tickets ($21.50-$24.50): 859-957-1940
Although it's not part of the Fringe, Marc Bamuthi Joseph's red,
black & GREEN: a blues surely could be. The hybrid performance
work leads audiences through four seasons in four cities: summer in Chicago,
fall in Houston, winter in Harlem and spring in Oakland. Memories,
hallucinations, dreams and lamentations are set in shotgun houses and subway
cars, on park benches and in father-son conversations. I haven't seen it, but
people I know have raved about the power of the work, which ranges from
hilarious to poignantly sad. Joseph is a spoken-word poet, and his work is
meant to be a conversation starter about sustainability and community building.
It's being presented on Friday and Saturday evening by the Contemporary Arts
Center at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Tickets ($18 for CAC members,
$23 for everyone else): 513-621-2787
This is the final weekend for The North Pool
at the Cincinnati Playhouse. (CityBeat review here.) Rajiv Joseph's anxiety-filled drama is a sparring match
between a hard-nosed vice principal who thinks he knows something and a
student, the son of Middle Eastern immigrants, who has things he wants to keep
to himself — but it's not what the school official thinks. In fact, they both
have secrets that are slowly, painfully revealed. Great script, great actors.
This one is definitely worth catching. Tickets ($25 for students; $30-$75 for
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:09 AM | Permalink
Speaking in Tongues is a complicated noir-ish tale of marital
deceit and cryptic crime that unfolds more clearly because of its
accomplished four-actor cast, including local professionals Bruce
Cromer (who’s played roles as varied as Ebenezer Scrooge for the
Playhouse to King Lear for Cincinnati Shakespeare) and Amy Warner (a
regular at Ensemble Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare). The show is
a fascinating piece of theater that takes work to watch, follow and
absorb. I suppose that some casual theatergoers will be put off by
it, but if you like challenging drama and multi-layered acting,
you’ll leave the theater with your gears spinning. I gave Speaking
in Tongues a Critic’s Pick in this week's "Curtain Call" column. Onstage through March 4. Box office:
you’re a fan of the Cincinnati Fringe, you should check out the
at CCM on the University of Cincinnati campus. I was there last
evening and saw three of the six performances, especially enjoying
an interactive piece by nine actors based on John Wilkes Booth’s
final days. I also was entertained by The Eddie Shanahan Show,
closely inspired by Dickens’ A
but with some very modern twists. Attendees choose between six brief
productions (30 minutes or less) that are completely created,
promoted, enacted and staged by drama students. It’s a February
boost of creativity, staged throughout the CCM facility, Friday and
Saturday evenings at 7:30, as well as a 2:30 matinee on Saturday.
Admission is free, but you need to call the CCM box office to reserve
your ticket: 513-556-4183.Another
university option can be found at NKU. It’s Aaron Sorkin’s The
telling the story of Phil Farnsworth who invented television but
spent much of his life in legal wrangles with David Sarnoff, RCA
executive and the first “media mogul.” Sorkin's credits — from
— are a guarantee of a heady, exciting tale based on real events.
Tickets ($14 is the maximum price): 859-572-5464.
“comedy of anxiety” by Allison Moore, Collapse,
opens with the collapse of a highway bridge over the Mississippi
River in Minneapolis. But it’s about all kinds of things falling
down — the economy, relationships. This is the kind of edgy script
Know Theatre is known for, funny but meaningful. I gave the
production a Critic’s Pick because it combines heart and humor.
Collapse is presented with comic finesse and fine acting,
especially by local professional actress Annie Fitzpatrick. Know’s
best work of the season. Through March 3. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
This weekend is your
last chance to see the regional premiere of Matthew Lopez’s The
Whipping Man at Ensemble Theatre (through Saturday evening).
The historical play, set in Richmond, Va., in April 1865, just days
after the end of the Civil War, is a gripping drama that’s
beautifully staged and convincingly acted. I gave it a Critic’s
Pick. The production has been extended a week because of demand for
tickets; you won’t be contending with subscribers this weekend, so
if you haven’t seen it yet — call for a ticket: 513-421-3555.Each week in Stage
Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a
few pieces of theater news.