by Rick Pender
12 hours ago
Posted In: Theater
at 09:24 AM | Permalink
Can you imagine Les Misérables
without a turntable or the immense barricades lumbering down from the wings?
Aubrey Berg, head of the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music’s renowned musical theater program, has dramatically
re-imagined the legendary show for a run at UC, using a largely bare stage
backed by a wall of ladders, staircases, shelves and recessed
ledges. Berg's simplified physical production earned my Critic's Pick with
its sharper focus on characters, action and music. Les Mis has a remarkable
cast of 40 or so with soaring vocal talent for solo numbers and breathtaking
choral power when they combine forces in iconic numbers such as “Do You Hear
the People Sing?” and “One Day More.” It's a spectacular production, onstage
through Sunday. Tickets: 513-556-4183.
Wicked just opened
a three-week run at the Aronoff (it's the third time the show has been here,
and it's set box office records every time). Tickets can be expensive (the
cheap seats start at $38 and go up quickly from there), so keep in mind there's
lottery for a limited number of $25 orchestra seats for each performance. You
need to show up in person 2.5 hours before the curtain time (with a valid photo
ID) to submit your name; if it's pulled you can purchase one or two tickets.
It's worth a shot. Otherwise, you can purchase tickets by calling 513-621-2787.
If you're a Tony Bennett fan, you might
consider heading to the West Side for I Left My Heart at the
Covedale Center, a salute to the legendary crooner. You'll get to hear 40
standards that he's known for — "Because of You," "I Wanna Be
Around," "The Good Life" and, of course, "I Left My Heart
in San Francisco." Tom Highley, Deondra Kamau Means and Brian Wylie will
be singing, with Mark Magistrelli at the piano. Through March 23. Tickets:
Here's an item worth considering for Monday evening: The Educational
Theatre Association, a national organization for high school kids involved in
theater, is headquartered here in Cincinnati. (They're the folks behind the
National Thespian Society.) They're partnering with the School for Creative and
Performing Arts on Monday at 7 p.m. for Making Magic, Defying Gravity.
Presented at SCPA's Corbett Theatre (108 Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine),
the evening offers a program of music and conversation featuring members of the
touring cast of Wicked (as noted above) and performances by high
school students from the area. You'll hear from Jason Daunter, Wicked's
production stage manager, and Matt Conover, VP with Walt Disney Parks and
Resorts. They'll talk about how their high school dreams led to careers in the
theater. Tickets are $10 in advance; 15 at the door (going on sale at
5:45 p.m.). Proceeds from this event will benefit the Friends of SCPA
Scholarship Fund and the Educational Theatre Association's Scholarship Fund,
both of which will help develop talent for the future of the theater.
by Mike Breen
Posted In: Music History
at 11:45 AM | Permalink
Lyle Lovett's celebrity marriage ends and Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett jam with CCM grads
On this day in 1995, what was seen as one of the strangest "celebrity marriages" ever came to an end as movie star Julia Roberts and singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett announced their separation after being married just 21 months. Although, in hindsight, was the coupling really as odd as it was made out to be at the time?People magazine played up the "beauty and the beast" plot line, suggesting Lovett was some sort of dog-faced weirdo who somehow, miraculously tricked America's sweetheart into marrying him just three weeks after they met. But Lovett is a smart, funny guy who seems genuine, sincere and nice. And it's not like he looked like Joseph Merrick or anything. He did have an unruly, big hairstyle, which seemed enough to make the storyline work. (When Roberts returned to The Pelican Brief set after tying the knot, the cast and crew members reportedly wore T-shirts that said "Welcome Back, Mrs. Lovett" on the front and, on the back, "He's A Lovely Boy … But You Really Must Do Something About His Hair.")People magazine's extensive coverage post-separation was typical of how most media treated the relationship. "From the very beginning of the Julia-Lyle fairy tale — beautiful-but-vulnerable movie star falls big for intriguingly offbeat country crooner — wishful thinking seems to have had an edge over dour common sense." Maybe they were right — two people from vastly different entertainment fields, especially when one is "classically" more attractive and monetarily more successful then the other, will never work out. Roberts went on to marry a cameraman — Daniel Moder — with whom she had three kids. They've been together for a decade. And Lovett has been dating film producer April Kimble since 1999. Lovett has written several touching-to-hilarious songs about love, relationships and marriages. My favorite is the amusing "An Acceptable Level of Ecstasy (The Wedding Song)" from his 1986 self-titled, debut album. But here's the song "Fiona," from his 1996, post-divorce album, The Road to Ensenada, which many feel includes several songs about Roberts. "Fiona"'s intended subject is pretty clear — that's Roberts middle name and what Lovett called her "in code" on stage during the early stages of their hook-up.Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 28 birthday include Country/Pop star (and actress) Reba McEntire (1955); Country singer/songwriter Rodney Atkins (1969); Pop singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson (1973); guitarist with New Wave revivalists The Killers, Dave Keuning (1976); rapper J-Kwon (1986); and superstar Lady Gaga (1986).In the Best of Cincinnati issue out today, we included a pick on a collective of Jazz players — all graduates of U.C.'s College-Conservatory of Music — who joined Gaga and Tony Bennett on last year's hit network TV special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. Steve Kortyka (saxophone), Brian Newman (trumpet), Alex Smith (piano) and Scott Ritchie (bass) made up her band for the duet of "The Lady is a Tramp." That's Newman playing the opening riff and introducing the entire special. Check out an interview with Newman about playing with Gaga here.