0 Comments · Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Rather than focus
on one venue, Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company delivers its Shakespeare in the Park Tour to more than a dozen parks
and outdoor venues throughout the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. The first of CSC’s touring performances will be on Saturday with the 7 p.m. opening of The Tempest
at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:16 AM | Permalink
I can't say that a musical based on the Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer
is going to be either edifying or educational for a bunch of teens. But
I can assure you that the kids from all over the region involved in
Cincinnati Young People's Theatre, which opens its production of the
show tonight, will be having a blast at the Covedale Center for the
Performing Arts. I bet their good times with this goofy show will mean
contagious entertainment for everyone who shows up to see it. Whether
they're related to the kids or not! It's onstage through Aug. 5. Box
It appears that Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has a summertime hit on its hands with its very tongue-in-cheek staging of
The Hound of the Baskervilles
using three of its best actors. The show opened a week ago and there is
so much demand for tickets that CSC has added matinee performances
through the production's three-week run. Several performances have
completely sold out. It's directed by Michael Evan Haney, associate
artistic director at the Cincinnati Playhouse and one of our area's best
at staging witty and complicated pieces — his Cincinnati Playhouse
production of Around the World in Eighty Days was a big hit
several seasons back (it used four actors) and it moved on to a
well-received run in New York City. While Hound retells the well known
Sherlock Holmes tale, it does it with actors in multiple roles (Jeremy
Dubin, who portrays Holmes, for instance, also plays all the villains)
and a lot of visual humor and slapstick physicality. Through Aug. 12.
Box office: 513-381-2273. Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
Looking back on another top-notch Cincinnati theater season
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 25, 2012
If you want to know the “best” shows in New
York City, you need only check which Broadway productions are nominated
annually for Tony Awards. In fact, the Big Apple has tons of awards to
recognize and honor theatrical work. Not so in Cincinnati.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:05 AM | Permalink
Some fine entertainment can be found onstage this weekend. Just opening is Cincinnati Shakespeare's production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a clever, three-man rendition done in the style of The 39 Steps,
with actors taking on multiple roles and looking for moments of humor
and slapstick. In addition to using three fine actors from CSC's company
— Jeremy Dubin, Nick Rose and Brent Vimtrup — the show is being staged
by Michael Evan Haney, associate artistic director at the Cincinnati
Playhouse. A few years back he staged a similar version of Around the World in 80 Days
that was an entertaining delight. Haney is one of our finest local
directors, so you can expect this to be a production definitely worth
seeing. It opens tonight and runs through Aug. 12. Box office: 513-381-2273, x1.
In its final weekend onstage, Commonwealth Dinner Theatre's production of The Foreigner
continues through Sunday. It's a daffy situation comedy about a shy
Brit stuck at a fishing lodge in rural Georgia where there are a lot of
nefarious goings-on. To help him cope, his friend tells the innkeeper
that Charlie is a "foreigner" who doesn't speak English. That premise
leads to all kinds of complications and a hilariously happy ending. This
production is a laugh machine, but its star Roderick Justice is
absolutely perfect in the role, giving it a funny physicality to match
the comedic writing. Box office: 859-572-5464.
And if the weekend isn't enough for you, call up Know Theatre and make a reservation for Monday evening's quarterly dose of
This time the theme for sincerely presented monologues is "true Grit."
It will be an evening of storytelling, tales of perseverance, endurance
and survival from everyday people. These programs are always fascinating
because they're told with heartfelt honesty. I highly recommend
attending; tickets are only $15. Box office: 513-300-5669.Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
Red, white and true blue
0 Comments · Thursday, July 19, 2012
George M. Cohan could easily have been mistaken for a
whole crowd of people: The American entertainer was known as
a playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer. He is the individual who most shaped the art form of
American musical comedy. In 1968, the musical George M!
took Cohan’s life and made it into a show — a logical step for a man
who spent most of his own career writing and performing in his own
by Rick Pender
The best theatrical entertainment onstage this weekend is
The Foreigner, presented by the Commonwealth Theatre Company at Northern
Kentucky University. I saw it a week ago (review here) and it's a winner — a
very funny play with a marvelously inventive performance by Roderick
Justice in the title role. He plays a painfully shy man who tries to
avoid social contact by posing as someone who doesn't speak English,
even though he's quite literate. The concept doesn't quite work out as
planned when his "cover" means that people have all kinds of revealing
conversations around him. The plot is hilarious, but it's Justice's
performance that makes it run like clockwork. It's part of a dinner
theater package — dinner at 6:30 most nights, show at 8:00 p.m. Tickets:
There's not a lot of theater right now, but if you're looking for great
onstage entertainment right now, the World Choir Games have plenty to
offer. I've been blogging about it for the past week, and you can read
more here. Events and performances through Saturday evening.
Still fresh after 30 years
0 Comments · Sunday, July 8, 2012
I’ve seen Ken Shue’s 1984 comedy The Foreigner in
several good productions. It’s one of the funniest plays I know, a
well-oiled laugh machine, but if you anticipate what’s happening, you’d
think it would diminish the humor.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Opera always struck me as a strange,
overblown cousin to musical theater. I told people that I had to “turn
off my theater filters when I went to see opera.” But then I spent
several seasons working for Cincinnati Opera, and my eyes were opened to
the reasons people react so strongly to that art form.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
'The Second City 2' and 'next to normal' conclude this weekend, among others
It’s a weekend of last chances, as several shows that have
been entertaining audiences wind up their runs just before Independence
Day. Let’s start with The Second City 2: Less Pride … More Pork.
If you haven’t yet caught this evening of poking fun
at our local foibles and sacred cows, you have only until Saturday. The
cast of five from Chicago’s legendary comedy troupe has been tickling
local funny bones since late April, drawing their material from
bottomless well of our beliefs and behaviors. Even if you saw the show a
month or two ago, you’ll be entertained by a return visit. Improv is
the fuel for the evening, and every night they’re up to new tricks to
entertain audiences. By the way, that includes involving a few folks in
attendance, so be prepared. Box office: 513-421-3888.
Sunday winds up Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s revival of the Tony Award-winning musical next to normal. (Review here.) The story of a woman struggling with schizophrenia
and how it affects her family is even better than it was back in
September. The show uses the power of a brilliant Rock score to enhance
the impact of this painful story. ETC has reassembled most of its superb
cast from last fall, including Jessica Hendy in the central role. Her
beleaguered husband is now played by Bruce Cromer, who you might know as
Ebenezer Scrooge in the Playhouse’s annual A Christmas Carol. His character’s relationship with Hendy’s makes their struggles all the more deeply felt. Box office: 513-421-3555.
Last Sunday I had some good laughs at the classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace
on the Showboat Majestic. It’s an old chestnut (it was a hit in 1944),
but it’s one of the funniest shows you’re likely to see, about a pair of
off-kilter elderly maiden aunts who keep their rather normal nephew
astonished and scrambling to keep them in line. The kind-hearted women
take in boarders, quiet elderly men who are “all alone in the world,”
and polish them off with elderberry wine laced with arsenic. They
convince another nephew, who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt, to bury them
in the basement by telling him they’re Panama Canal works who are
victims of yellow fever. A great show for the whole family. Box office:
Also winding up this weekend is Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). This
rambunctious show mentions of all the Bard’s works — although many are
completely unrecognizable, thanks the three buffoonish guys who
undertake the task. Order your tickets online where you’ll find an
automatic buy-one, get-one offer. Website: www.cincyshakes.com.
Cincinnati Opera is offering Porgy & Bess
for the first time ever, with a performances on Saturday evening (as
well as July 6 and 8). (Preview here.) Is it an opera or a musical? Judge for yourself
(and read about it in my Curtain Call column in next week’s issue of CityBeat).
It’s at Music Hall, with lots of seats, but as always, a limited run.
This is one you shouldn’t miss. I saw it Thursday night, and the leading
performers are great: Measha Brueggergosman is a conflicted Bess,
Jonathan Lemalu conveys Porgy’s dignified but depressed life, Gordon
Hawkins is the brutal Crown, and Steven Cole steals the show as the
animated, irreverent Sporting Life. And pay attention to the chorus —
it’s a wonderful ensemble. Box office: 513-241-2742.
Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:44 AM | Permalink
Nineteen all-volunteer community theaters honored
Last weekend a dozen Cincinnati-area community theaters
competed in the annual Regional OCTA Fest, each presenting 30-minute
excerpts of shows that had been produced sometime during the 2011-2012
season. Performances were presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday;
the final day was capped by the annual Orchid Awards recognition program
on Saturday evening, where more than 60 productions received awards.
The excerpt competition, with performances evaluated by
three adjudicators from elsewhere in Ohio, results in three productions
being selected to go to the statewide event on Labor Day weekend.
Selected this year were Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, presented by the Drama Workshop; the musical Avenue Q, presented by Showbiz Players; and the musical Rent,
presented by Footlighters, Inc. An alternate is selected, too, in the
event that some complication prevents one of the chosen productions from
traveling to the state competition. The 2012 alternate is An Inspector Calls, presented by The Village Players.
Nineteen Cincinnati community theaters — all-volunteer
groups that produce shows throughout the region — were honored with
Orchid Awards at Saturday’s banquet, with recognition for individuals as
well as elements of productions. Footlighters, which presents its shows
at the Stained Glass Theater in Newport, had the show with the most
awards: Rent picked up 26, including one for “overall performance
quality.” Coming in second with 20 awards was Greater Hamilton
Community Theater’s production of the musical Little Women. Footlighters, always a strong contender, also took third place (16 awards) with a production of the musical The Light in the Piazza. Rounding out the top 10 award-winning productions were Cole (15 awards; Mariemont Players); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (13, Greater Hamilton Community Theater); Titanic (12, Cincinnati Music Theatre); Over the River and Through the Woods (12, Mariemont Players); Same Time Next Year (12, Mariemont Players); Becky’s New Car (12, Middletown Lyric Theatre); and The Crucible (12, The Drama Workshop).
A final note: Mariemont Players, which produces six shows
annually (most groups present three or four, at most) had the strongest
overall showing, picking up a total of 68 Orchid recognitions.