by Rick Pender
13 days ago
at 09:08 AM | Permalink
I seldom laugh out
loud when I'm watching a comedy, but I found myself doing just that more
than once at last night's opening of Peter and the Starcatcher at the Cincinnati Playhouse. You can read about this show and the appeal of Peter Pan here,
but let me simply say this is a deliriously silly but wholly heartfelt
prequel about the origins of the boy who "won't grow up." This
award-winning play uses simple theatrics, not special effects, to work
its magic, and the Playhouse cast of a dozen quick-change performers
dive into the wacky storytelling with zest and zeal. Everyone is having a
good time, perhaps Tom Story most of all, playing "Black Stache" (the
pirate who will become Captain Hook) who spews malapropisms and
extravagant posturing: "There's a poet in these pirate veins," he
announces. The laugh-inducing moment that sets up his subsequent need
for a hook is both ghastly and breathlessly funny, not to mention milked
for all it's worth. Everyone in the cast has moments of fun. This is
imaginative storytelling and extravagant theatricality at its best.
You'll have fun if you bring a kid or two; but even if you don't, go by
yourself and feel like a kid again. Through April 4. Tickets: 513-421-3888.A show that's stuck with me since last June's Fringe Festival, Katie Hartman’s ghostly and
mournful song cycle, The Legend of White
Woman Creek, is back for a pair of performances at Know Theatre tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. It's the tale of Anna Morgan Faber, a white woman captured then slowly absorbed into the
Cheyenne tribe in 1860s Kansas. Hartman sings about a desperate, lonely woman who finally finds
happiness only to have it it brutally snatched away. “It’s
not a stand-up-and-cheer kind of show,” I wrote in my review. Instead, “it’s artfully
crafted and professionally delivered in an understated way. But it is powerfully
effective.” Tickets: 513-300-5669.Elsewhere you can catch Covedale Center's production of The Marvelous Wonderettes,
the story of four high school girls in the ’50s and ’60s who get their
big break singing Doo-Wop tunes. This show kicked off a string of hits
for Ensemble Theatre a few years back, and I imagine the Covedale's audience will love it, too. Tickets: 513-241-6550.If Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is a book you've treasured over the years, you can see a stage adaptation at Cincinnati Shakespeare through March 21 (CityBeat review here; tickets: 513-381-2273)
or a musical theater version by Footlighters, the community theater
that performs at Newport's Stained Glass Theater (tickets: 859-652-3849).This is the final weekend for August: Osage County
at Clifton Performance Theatre. It's a big sprawling play wedged into a
tiny space, but with a great script and a fine cast, it's definitely
worth seeing. You'll be close enough to feel like a member of the
dysfunctional Weston family. I gave it a Critic's Pick here. Tickets: 513-861-7469.I missed the first two installments of Serials 2: Thunderdome! at Know Theatre, but I was there on March 2, and I'll be back on Monday evening to see which of five 15-minute segments gets to live on. I'm looking forward to Josh Bromels' So In Tents (there's a pun in there) and Trey Tatum and Paul Strickland's Andy's House of [blank], a wild, time-shifting musical. But there will be more surprises, I'm sure. It's a breath of fresh creative air. Tickets: 513-300-5669Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday.
'Little Women' grow large at Cincy Shakes
0 Comments · Monday, March 2, 2015
Let’s hear it for the girls! Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s excellent female performers are showcased in the regional premiere of Emma Reeve’s stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
by Rick Pender
29 days ago
at 04:39 PM | Permalink
Four works by the Bard, plus timeless works by Arthur Miller, Jane Austen and Edmond Rostand — plus a few extras — make for a busy season
As I wrote on Monday, season
announcements from Cincinnati theaters are a sure sign that warmer days are
ahead. The temperature cranked up a few more notches tonight when Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company announced its 2015-2016 season. It’s no secret that CSC’s
history and stock-in-trade are plays by William Shakespeare, of which they’ll
offer four in the coming months. But their broadened scope includes definitive
works of drama and stage adaptations of literary classics by great writers. Here’s
what will be onstage at 719 Race St. from August 2015 through June 2016:
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED) by Adam Long, Reed
Martin and Austin Tichenor. Cincy Shakes has had tons of fun with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
(Abridged). But Long, Martin and Tichenor have been generating laughs with numerous
other subjects, and this is one of their best works. (It was staged at the
Cincinnati Playhouse 10 years ago.) This one is a wild ride through our
nation’s past featuring three actors, who probably did not pass high school history,
who set off on a whirlwind historical tour that’s finds laughs in many of our
nation’s greatest hits and misses. This production is a “season extra,” not included
in subscription packages. July 24-Aug. 15, 2015.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC (based on Anthony Burgess’s translation of
Edmond Rostand’s 1897 French play). Cincy Shakes will kick off the fall theater
season with this classic romantic tale of the valiant and clever Cyrano de
Bergerac, with long-time ensemble member Jeremy Dubin in the title role. Cyrano
epitomized panache: In fact, that French
word a feather or a plume was the hallmark of this dazzling swordsman and brilliant
16th-century poet. But he has a flaw, a gargantuan nose. He loves the beautiful
and brilliant Roxane but is convinced his clownish appearance means he has no
chance with her. Unaware of his feelings, Roxane tells him she loves Christian,
a handsome but dull solider; Cyrano intercedes by writing letters and verses to
her as if they were from Christian. The play has wit, swashbuckling adventure
and profound romance. Sept. 1-Oct. 3, 2015. Jeremy Dubin as Cyrano in Cyrano de
Bergerac. Photo: Mikki Schaffner.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller, written in 1949, won multiple
Tony Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The story of the waning
days of an aging salesman who still yearns to make it big is one of the great
plays of the 20th century. Cincinnati stage veteran Bruce Cromer will play
Willy Loman, the show’s memorable loser. This poignant tale of an average man
trying to achieve the American Dream, surrounded by his strident sons and his
loving wife is an exploration of failure and success that still resonates
today. Oct. 16-Nov. 7, 2015.
AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare is the first of Shakespeare’s
plays for the season and one of the Bard’s most popular, a predictable bestseller
for Cincy Shakes. This time it will be the company’s offering around the
holidays, featuring ensemble member Sara Clark playing the spirited Rosalind, banished
to the Forest of Arden with only her cousin and a fool for company. She dresses
as a man for protection and comedy ensues in the woods where love poems to her
are posted on the trees. The lovelorn poet is handsome Orlando, whom she tests
while hiding behind her boyish disguise. This show is great fun because it
features numerous comic characters, delightful music and warm-hearted romance. Nov.
20-Dec. 12, 2015. Sara Clark as Rosalind in As You Like It. Photo: Mikki Schaffner.
EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!) by Michael
Carlton, James Fitzgerald and John K Alvarez. Cincy Shakes finishes up As You Like It just in time to celebrate
the 10th anniversary of its annual holiday hit, an irreverent look at umpteen
BHCs — the show’s acronym for “Beloved Holiday Classics.” The evening starts
out innocently enough as one character endeavors to perform a solemn reading of
A Christmas Carol. But before long
audiences are entangled in the stories of Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown and
George Bailey. Four of Cincy Shakes’ veteran actors (one as a highly inebriated
Santa) send up everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss. It’s another “season
extra” (outside regular subscriptions) and definitely not for anyone who still
believes in Santa. Dec. 16-27, 2015.
HENRY VI , PART I by William Shakespeare. The company has committed
parts of several seasons to work its way through Shakespeare’s cycle of history
plays. This year it’s the first of three parts that tell the story of Henry VI.
Actors continue to reprise roles they’ve played for several seasons in two
parts of Henry IV and Henry V. In this installment, the
untimely death of Henry V puts his infant son on the throne, and the War of the
Roses, pitting the houses of York and Lancaster against one another, is off and
running. Jan. 22-Feb. 13, 2016.
JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA (adapted by Jon Jory). Cincy Shakes has struck
gold with stage productions of Pride and
Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility,
Jane Austen’s novels of early 19th-century manners as adapted by Jon Jory, the
longtime artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. These shows appealed
to audiences in part because the company has a corps of talented female actors
(presently showcased in Little Women)
who will find great opportunities in Austen’s tale about amateur matchmaker
Emma Wodehouse who lives to meddle in others’ love lives. When she tries to set
up her less than promising friend Harriet, the plan goes awry, and Emma must
try to undo the damage. It’s another classic story of wit, whimsy and anxious
romance. Feb. 26-March 26, 2016.
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare. Part one of a season-ending
epic pairing of two of the Bard’s great plays begins with this tragedy about
the brilliant general, a cunning politician and beloved leader of ancient Rome.
Jealous Roman patriots decide his ambition is a threat to the Republic and assassinate
him on the senate floor. The result is a civil war that tests friendships and loyalties;
it also determines the fate of the Roman Empire. April 8-May 7, 2016.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by William Shakespeare. The second part of the
company’s special event offers this rarely staged epic sequel to Julius Caesar. The civil war has ended
and the empire has been divided. Marc Antony heads to Egypt to rule his corner
of the globe, but his plans are sidetracked by Egypt’s Cleopatra. Their love
affair pits Rome and Egypt against each other and changes the ancient world
forever. May 13- June 4, 2016.
Subscriptions ($143-$233) are
sold in flexible sets of seven that can be used one per production or in other
combinations. Subscriptions and single tickets are now for sale via
cincyshakes.com or by calling 513-381-2273, x1.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Joe Stollenwerk lives in Bloomington,
Ind., where he’s pursuing a doctorate in theater at Indiana University.
Waiting and waiting and waiting
0 Comments · Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s “tragicomedy in two acts,” has bewildered many theatergoers since its premiere in 1953.
by Rick Pender
107 days ago
Posted In: Theater
at 11:00 AM | Permalink
Sought. Ensemble Theatre
Cincinnati hosts its third annual Meals for Monologues on Monday
and Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 1127 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine.
It's an open casting call to Equity and non-union actors for theater, film, TV
and/or commercial projects cast by the theater's artistic director D. Lynn
Meyers. Interested performers should bring two non-perishable food (pasta,
canned goods, etc.) or toiletry items (soap, toothpaste) to the theater — to be
donated to the Freestore/Foodbank as well as a current headshot and résumé and
a short prepared monologue, song or two monologues. (No accompanist, so songs
need to be performed a capellla.) Time slots are five minutes maximum
and are available by appointment only. The deadline was last Friday, but a
quick email to Ben Raanan (email@example.com) will let
you know if any slots are still available. Meyers is a member of the Casting
Society of America, and she has tons of projects and connections beyond shows
at ETC; she recently did a lot of casting during two locally shot films, Carol
and Miles Ahead.
Fundraiser for New Edgecliff. The classic holiday story, Miracle on 34th Street
— yes, the one with Kris Kringle and Natalie Wood as a child actor — will be
brought to life as a radio production on Sunday evening at the Northside Tavern
(4163 Hamilton Ave.) as an old-time radio drama. Produced by New Edgecliff
Theatre with sound effects by WMKV's Mike Martini, it's a benefit to the
theater group. Admission is $35, and it includes a dessert buffet at
intermission provided by Cincinnati State's Midwest Culinary Institute.
Tickets: 888-428-7311 (or at the door).
The Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney
Musical seems to be a big hit. The show, onstage in the Shelterhouse, opened
on Nov. 20, and on its first night artistic director Blake Robison announced
that sales were brisk enough to make it possible to extend the production a
week beyond its intended closing date (Dec. 28) to Jan. 4. Demand for tickets
has continued, so the Playhouse has extended the show another week, now closing
on Jan. 11. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
If you've read Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale,
you know it's a creepy vision of the not-too-distant future in which the United
States has become a theocracy called the Republic of Gilead. An oppressive
regime forces women to bear children for population growth, but Offred resists
the demands made of her. Cincinnati Shakespeare gave Joe Stollenwerk's
adaptation of the show a workshop in 2009 and a short-run production in 2011
featuring veteran Cincy Shakes actress Corinne Mohlenhoff as Offred. Next month
Know Theatre fills in a TBA slot in its season with the show's first
full-fledged production (Jan. 23-Feb. 21). Cincy Shakes' Brian Phillips will
stage the one-woman piece with Mohlenhoff. They are married, so this is an
unusual opportunity for them to work together on a new work rather than the
classics that Cincy Shakes usually stages. Tickets ($20) are now available: 513-300-5669.CityBeat's Rick Pender posts theater notices on
CALL BOARD every Monday morning.
Shakespeare classic is a laugh riot at Cincy Shakes
0 Comments · Monday, November 24, 2014
The title of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is today a catch phrase for situations when things go wrong.
Suspense flocks to Cincy Shakes
0 Comments · Monday, October 20, 2014
Put aside what you think know about the narrative of The Birds if you’ve seen Hitchcock’s classic movie
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:09 AM | Permalink
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of
the Suicide Club opened last night at the Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park. It's a new adventure for the Victorian sleuth. How can
that be, you might ask, if you're a Sherlock fan — this isn't a familiar title.
That's because playwright Jeffrey Hatcher picked up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
memorable detective, a master of deductive observation, and plugged him into a
tale of mystery and intrigue conceived by Robert Louis Stevenson back in 1878.
No spoilers here, but I will tell you that the plot of this show requires
closely following a complex tale of both personal and political intrigue.
Hatcher has set the story in 1914, on the brink of the first World War, and the
state of international relations in Europe is woven into the tale. But there's
nothing dry about this story, and Steven Hauck's performance as Sherlock is
very satisfying: He brings a quirky physicality as well as a sharp wit to the
character that makes him very engaging. Fans of Sherlock will not be disappointed
by this show. Through Oct. 4. Tickets ($30-$85): 513-421-3888.
I attended the opening of The Great Gatsby at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company last week. In my review, I said, "the production gets the story and the era
right," and I added that CSC's Justin McCombs "perfectly
embodies" Nick Carraway, the honest narrator of this Jazz Age tale of
nouveau riche Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, the one-time debutante who
obsesses him. There's lots to like about this production, which captures the
essence of lavish parties and the fast life of the Roaring Twenties. Cincy
Shakes is committed to bringing classic literary works to the stage, and this
production is a good example of how they get it done. Simon Levy's script hews
close to F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1924 novel, and the company's actors bring life
to the characters. Through Oct. 4. Tickets ($22-$36): 513-381-2273.
Everyone I've talked to about Hands on a Hardbody
at Ensemble Theatre has been enthusiastic about the show that brings to life a contest to win a
Nissan pickup truck by keeping one hand on it the longest. It's a true story
(it was a 1997 documentary) and these feel like real people, down on their luck
but dreaming what a difference that winning could make. The music is by Trey
Anastasio (of Phish) and Amanda Green, and the script was written by Pulitzer
Prize winner Doug Wright. ETC has staged memorable productions of his play I
Am My Own Wife and his musical, Grey Gardens. But the real
attraction is an excellent cast who make you believe in these people,
struggling to stay away and outlast one another under the brutal sun beating
down on the Texas parking lot of a Nissan dealership. It's a fine entertainment.
Through Sept. 21. Tickets ($28-$44): 513-421-3555.
Just opened at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts
is a production of Tennessee Williams's great American play, A Streetcar
Named Desire. It's about a woman who's down on her luck but unwilling
to admit it. When genteel Blanche DuBois moves with her pragmatic sister and
her brutal, blue-collar husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a rude awakening that
goes downhill fast. Through Oct. 5. Tickets ($-$): 513-241-6550.
If you've become a fan of shows in the intimate Clifton
Performance Theatre, you might want to check out The Riverside, a
play written and directed by local theater artist Kevin Crowley. It's a story
set in a Cincinnati bar in 1989 as locals follow the saga of Pete Rose's demise
in baseball, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square. But the bar
itself is changing, too, impacting the lives of the family that owns it as well
as its patrons.Through Sept. 27. Tickets ($25): https://cpt.tixato.com/buy/.