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by Rick Pender 11.14.2014 11 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Broadway Here, Broadway There — It's Everywhere

If you're looking for good theater this weekend you have two great choices at downtown Cincinnati's Aronoff Center. It's your pick: Recent Broadway hit Once, in a touring production, or a past award-winner, Young Frankenstein, staged by one of Cincinnati's best community theaters. The musical Once began life as an Academy Award-winning film in 2007; the song "Falling Slowly" won an Oscar. The film became an off-Broadway production as a musical in 2011 then a Broadway contender in 2012, where it won eight Tony Awards, including best musical. Since 2013 it's been a hit in London (the film is about musicians in Dublin, and the stage adaptation is set in an Irish pub) and on a national tour in the U.S. a year ago that's been much praised. It's that tour presently onstage at the Aronoff Center's big hall. It's a very contemporary love story that succeeds in part because it's unpredictable: Boy Meets Girl (yeah, that's a cliché) but despite their chemistry and potential for romance, it doesn't turn out as you might expect. Along the way, a great cast of actor/musicians play instruments onstage and sing their hearts out as the story unfolds. And it's fun: Arrive early enough and you can queue up to go onstage and order a pint from the bar there and mingle with some of the cast. If there's such a thing as a casual musical for contemporary music lovers, this is it. Through Nov. 23. Tickets ($33-$80): 513-621-2787.Don't think that you'll see something less than professional if you choose to head to the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater to see Young Frankenstein, presented by Cincinnati Music Theatre through Sunday. This company of local theater junkies knows how to make big musicals work, and this jokey show by Mel Brooks (based on his equally jokey classic comedy from 1974) is a great vehicle for a talented cast and crew. There are great sets (designed by Rick Kramer) and visual effects (by Jeff Surber), and the talented performers milk every laugh line to the nth degree. Charlie Harper is lots of fun as the latter-day scientist Frankenstein, Alison Evans is his fetching lab assistant Inga and Kate Mock Elliott has great moments as his twitchy fiancee Elizabeth. Chuck Ingram's portrait of the Monster is spot on, and his delivery of the show's big number, "Puttin' on the Ritz," will stick that tune in your head for days in ways that Irving Berlin never imagined. Tickets ($20-$24): 513-621-2787.Broadway star Faith Prince is making a local appearance at Memorial Hall for an 8 p.m. concert tonight. It's part of a series of "Libations & Lite Bites," this one titled "Broadway & Bordeaux." The evening begins at 6:30 with hors d'oeuvres from local restaurants, wine and cocktails and concludes with dessert and more. Tickets ($47-$57): cincinnatimemorialhall.com.If you've got Broadway on the brain and you're on Cincinnati's West Side, you should definitely check out the Covedale Center's production of Stephen Sondheim's fairytale musical Into the Woods, finishing up its run on Sunday. It's an entertaining classic (in December it will be on movie screens everywhere in a new film version featuring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp), and the Covedale has a great cast to put it across. Tickets ($21-$24): 513-241-6550.You still have a chance to catch one of our great local actresses, Dale Hodges, in Driving Miss Daisy at Covington's Carnegie through Sunday. She's playing haughty, elderly Daisy Wertham, unwillingly partnered with Hoke, an African-American chauffeur (Reggie Williams) hired by her solicitous son Boolie (Randy Lee Bailey). It's a solid ensemble and a very entertaining production. Tickets ($18-$25): 859-957-1940.And if you're looking for something that's brand new and edgy, check out All New People by contemporary writer Zach Braff. It's onstage at Clifton Performance Theatre, staged by Untethered Theatre through Nov. 30. It starts with a suicide attempt on Charlie's birthday and spirals from there. I'm going to see it this weekend. Maybe I'll see you there. Tickets ($20): 513-939-0599.Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here
 
 

Seasons Greetings

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Here are the ingredients: a couple of Broadway and off-Broadway hits, three world premieres, a lavish Jane Austen show, a classic musical by Kander and Ebb, an innovative drama with tap dancing and video, plus holiday festivities...   

Memphis (Review)

Broadway production takes risks lyrically exploring '50s racial divide

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award winner for best musical, is loosely based on the story of a white disc jockey who crossed the color line and played black music on the radio in the racially divided Tennessee city, and it’s a story worth witnessing.  
by Rick Pender 01.18.2013
Posted In: Arts community, Visual Art, Theater at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Options Abound

An avalanche of theater heads our way next week — including the touring Broadway musical Memphis (not Million Dollar Quartet, as mistakenly published in last Sunday's Enquirer), the regional premiere of Freud's Last Session at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (not "Freud's Last Stand" as the same Enquirer piece labeled it — doesn't our daily paper employ copy editors and fact checkers?), the world premiere of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Abigail/1702 (in previews this weekend; read more here) and a concert staging of Lerner & Loewe's lovely musical Camelot at the Carnegie Center in Covington (with accompaniment by Mischa Santora and members of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra).  By the way, there's apparently such anticipation for Freud's Last Session, which features local actor Bruce Cromer, that tickets are selling out for some performances. As a result, even before the show opens on Jan. 23, ETC has extended the show's run by a week, to Feb. 16. Box office: 513-421-3555 If you haven't yet caught Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's staging of Richard II, you really should make a point of doing so. In my review, I pointed to Brent Vimtrup's multi-faceted performance. I'll add here that there are strong supporting performances from Jim Hopkins, Nick Rose and Giles Davies (this longtime CSC favorite is back in town for a few productions). This show isn't often produced (it's the first time for Cincy Shakes in its 19-year history), but this staging will make you wonder why. It's bursting with poetry, and there's lots to look at with beautiful 14th-century-styled costumes. An Acclaim Awards panel cited Vimtrup's performance as well as Andrew Hungerford's lighting design; I gave the production a Critic's Pick. Need any more encouragement? Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1 Elsewhere, you'll find a production of Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter by Untethered Theater at Clifton Performance Theatre. This is a chilly drama about a weird love triangle. It's a great piece for three young actors. Look for a review in the next issue of CityBeat. (Tickets: 513-939-0599) If you want something a little lighter, consider Moonlight and Magnolias at Mariemont Players, a very dependable community theater on Cincinnati's east side. The show is an amusing reconstruction of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans involved in writing the script for Gone with the Wind. It's told with a lot of slapstick that will have audiences laughing out loud. (513-684-1236)
 
 

Star Gazing

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
If you spent some of last spring watching the TV series Smash, you learned that Broadway producers look for talent whose names attract audiences. The commercial concerns of Broadway producers are surely a big factor in their decision-making, especially how much magnetism a star can bring. This led me to speculate whether we have bankable stars in Cincinnati.  
by Jac Kern 02.28.2012
Posted In: Animals, Fun, Events, Music, Northside at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Wednesday To Do List

One year ago today, the home of Shannon DeBra, founder of the all-foster rescue Recycled Doggies, caught on fire. Thirteen dogs and one cat died as a result, and Recycled Doggies faced a tremendous setback. Tonight, on the tragedy's anniversary, animal lovers everywhere are invited to attend a benefit, give what you can and support the organization and all its foster families and volunteers. Head over to Star Lanes at the Levee for a silent auction, raffles, happy hour specials and, of course, plenty of bowling fun. Go here to RSVP to the event, which runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m.CANstruction kicked off today, with teams building artistic creations made entirely out of canned goods. Stop by the Weston Gallery to see their progress and drop off canned goods of your own. All donations, and all cans used to build the artwork, will go to the Freestore Foodbank. Crazy! Cool. No, I'm not talking about TLC's 1994 album, I'm talkin' 'bout West Side Story. The Bernstein and Sondheim hit is alive and well 55 years after its debut on Broadway. The Jets and Sharks put any Crosstown Shootout rivalries to shame, and in this revived version, audiences can expect a grittier tale with more Hispanic influence. The classic runs at the Aronoff Center through March 11. Find details here.Every Tuesday is Writer's Night at MOTR Pub. Songwriters, poets, spoken word artists — anyone with original work is welcome to share. Sign ups open at 8:30 p.m. and $40 goes to a special winner each week. Lucas of The Dukes Are Dead hosts. Enjoy a beer, a BLT and great company.Honey in Northside offers a $10 comfort food menu every Tuesday. Choose from homestyle favorites like fish and chips, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chicken stew with dumplings and more. It's a great chance to try the local spot if you've never been and you're on a budget. Peep our full review of Honey here.Check out our To Do page for tons of recommended art shows open today.
 
 

Frost/Nixon (Review)

Humor obscures play's more serious points

0 Comments · Thursday, February 26, 2009
Tricky Dick did it again. I went to see the touring production of 'Frost/Nixon' with high expectations. The play won praise in London and New York, and the current film based on Peter Morgan's play has been a hit. But no more than a half hour into the 100-minute performance I felt like I'd been handed one more "gotcha" by a president who bamboozled Americans.  

The Wizard of Oz (Review)

Onstage Wizard tries to mimic the classic film

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 19, 2008
As a kid, I watched "The Wizard of Oz" annually on TV. The 1939 film is a classic, and its stars, including Judy Garland as Dorothy, songs and lines are iconic. Now it's been turned into a stage musical. Unfortunately, a touring version, at the Aronoff for a two-week run, never gets beyond reproducing the film.   

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