by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:17 AM | Permalink
The three-week run of the tour of Wicked wraps up this Sunday at the Aronoff Center. It's a faithful reproduction of the Broadway hit, with performers who can give you the experience of seeing the original, a kind of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. (Tickets, $38-$188: 513-621-2787, but each performance has a pre-show lottery; if your name is pulled, you can buy a ticket for $25). If you've already seen this one, I suggest you check out one of the great new productions on local stages.Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati has offered another powerhouse season this year, but I'll venture to say that The Mountaintop is aptly named: It's at the peak. It's an imagined story about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was assassinated. I'll venture to say that you've never seen him in quite this altogether human light, as portrayed — dare I say wholly embodied — by Gavin Lawrence. And then he's visited by Camae, a sassy maid who evolves into something so much more as he contemplates the meaning of his life. The always watchable Torie Wiggins takes on this role, and it might be one of her best performances yet at ETC. The Mountaintop won London's Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2011, and in my opinion, it's one of the best productions we'll see here in Cincinnati this theater season. Through April 6. (Tickets, $25-$43: 513-421-3555).I caught up with the Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Pride and Prejudice at the Playhouse earlier this week. (It opened a week ago, but I was out of town.) It's a faithful rendition of Jane Austen's beloved novel, gorgeously staged and costumed. It has a big cast, so all the characters, quirky and memorable, are present and accounted for — a few actors need to play more than one role. If you're an Austen fan, I suspect you'll like this one; if not, you might find it kind of uneven, since some characters come across as cartoons (especially Elizabeth Bennet's meddlesome, garrulous mother and the arrogant Lady Catherine de Bourgh) while others are more naturalistic. Kate Cook's Lizzie has all the right notes (she ought to, as she's played the role several times elsewhere) and Loren Dunn's Mr. Darcy, while a bit slow out of the gate, eventually captures the character's aloof charm. Director Blake Robison has done a good job with an interesting adaptation that has scenes that flow swiftly one into the next, sometimes with overlapping elements that recall past moments. Through April 5. (Tickets, $30-$80: 513-421-3888).Back in the early 1980s, the musical A … My Name is Alice had a long run at New York City's The Village Gate. Northern Kentucky University is producing its version of this collection of songs focused on the paradoxes women face — beauty, strength and heart. The show, created by an array of comedians, lyricists and composers, has 20 songs. It's being staged by Corrie Daniely, the newest faculty member in NKU's theater and dance department. Through April 30. (Tickets, $8-$14: 859-572-5464).
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:25 AM | Permalink
I had a glimpse of Broadway's future last
night on campus at UC. I attended Not Yet Famous, the 22nd edition of
CCM's musical theater showcase, featuring the about-to-graduate senior class.
The 19 vibrant performers presented a 45-minute program that they'll take to
New York City on April 7 to present to casting agents, producers and others.
It's how they begin to land contracts and establish relationships that will
give them solid professional careers. With accompanist Julie Spangler at the
piano, the singers worked as a large ensemble and smaller sets, but each one
had multiple chances to show off her or his strengths as a singer, dancer and
actor — they're all trained to be "triple threats" with a polished
arsenal of vocal and movement skills. They were warmly received by the Friends
of CCM, the support group that helps keep various programs at the conservatory
going; the evening was a benefit. You have a chance to see the showcase for
free if you act quickly: There will be performances on Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m.
at Patricia Corbett Theater. No charge, but you need to call CCM's box
office to reserve a seat (limit of two per order). I suspect tickets will be
snapped up, so call right away: 513-556-4183.
Wicked is in the
midst of its three-week run at the Aronoff Center. This is one of the most
popular Broadway shows of the 21st century (it's been running for a decade, as
well as spawning productions around the world plus two national tours, one of
which is in our midst). It's here through April 23, but tickets are expensive
(cheap seats are $38 and anything else is more), so you might want to try your
chances in the daily lottery for a $25 orchestra seats. Grab your valid ID and
show up in person 2.5 hours before the curtain time to enter; if your name is
chosen, you can purchase one or two tickets. Of course, if you're flush you can
guarantee seats by buying what you need at 513-621-2787.
The Playhouse just opened Pride and
Prejudice, a theatrical adaptation of Jane Austen's most popular
200-year-old novel. I won't see it until next week (busy schedule), but if
you're a fan — and it seems that everyone loves her novels of manners and
romance — you probably need to line up to see this one. Director Blake Robison calls
his production "epic," adding, "The story is a satire of the
marriage market and an exploration of true love. What could be more fun than
that?" It's onstage through April 5. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
What with St. Patrick’s Day coming on
Monday, this might be the perfect weekend to see Clifton Players’ production of
The Irish Curse (at Clifton Performance Theatre, 404 Ludlow Ave.).
Lots of folks have told me they enjoyed this tale about a group of
Irish-American men who meet weekly in a self-help group in a Catholic church
basement to discuss a sad “shortcoming” — let’s call it “small equipment,” a
curse they believe has ruined their lives. It gets its final performance on
Sunday, right before you line up for your first green beer. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
Touring production is certifiable, guaranteed entertainment
0 Comments · Saturday, March 8, 2014
The word I use to describe the Broadway musical hit Wicked is “juggernaut,” defined as “an
overwhelming advancing force or event.”
by Rick Pender
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Just a few more shopping days before
Christmas. Theater is a great idea for last-minute gifts. Start a
tradition that’s easy to repeat year after year. A trip to see a show is
a wonderful gift, especially for kids. My earliest memory of
theatergoing is my grandfather taking me to see the musical Brigadoon. I still remember it.
2 Comments · Friday, November 4, 2011
Stephen Schwartz’s Wizard of Oz-inspired
musical about the green witch has become a cultural icon for adolescent
girls who yearn for freedom and success. Thousands, with or without
their families, will flock downtown between now and Thanksgiving
weekend, and they won’t be disappointed.