CSC's adept cast has a ball
0 Comments · Sunday, July 29, 2012
The process of translating clichés into high humor is a
delicate one. Luckily for Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company, the able three actors assembled for a very
tongue-in-cheek retelling of the Sherlock Holmes tale The Hound of the Baskervilles know their way around slapstick and shtick.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:09 AM | Permalink
Light entertainment is what most of us are looking for
onstage during August, and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has just the
answer: The Hound of the Baskervilles. The amusing script
takes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's class Sherlock Holmes tale and turns it
into a silly romp around the moor. CSC's cast of three veteran
performers — Nick Rose, Jeremy Dubin and Brent Vimtrup — have just the
right attitude to keep it amusing from start to finish without becoming
tiresome. That's also due to the work of director Michael Evan Haney.
He's the longtime associate artistic director at the Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park, and he's done fine work on other stages locally,
but this is his debut with Cincy Shakes. It's a fine partnership,
building on his experience with a similar show — a funny romp through
Around the World in 80 Days that entertained Playhouse/Shelterhouse
audiences several years back and then moved on to New York City where it
had a successful run at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Hound is like
drinking fine English tea from a dribble cup. Review here. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
While other theaters are largely dormant, the folks at Cincy Shakes are
very busy in August. In addition to the aforementioned production at
their Race Street theater, they also launch their Shakespeare in the
Park series this weekend with a performance of
The Tempest at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. It gets its first outing on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Go to cincyshakes.com for more dates and locations. These are free performances, so they're definitely worth checking out.
And in case you need a reminder that we have a great theater scene
locally, here's a tidbit. The Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis just
announced its 2012-2013 season; this is a fine theater company, rather
like Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati in its presentation of new works. But
they're touting their September production of
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as the "Midwest Premiere," and they've given a similar designation to their January-February staging of next to normal.
Um, I'm sorry to burst their bubble, but those shows have already been
onstage here in Cincinnati (and I believe we're in the Midwest). Both
were produced last season. In fact, ETC offered next to normal
last September (not long after the Tony and Pulitzer prize winner closed
in New York) and already presented a sold-out revival in June. Know
Theatre gave us the hard-rockin' version of our seventh president in a
heavily sold run last spring. So the Indy theater's claims are more than
a bit overblown. But we'll let them believe their own hype, and aren't
we smug that we didn't have to leave town to see those shows. That being
said, the Phoenix is offering Seminar, a snarky drama by Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck (her play Dead Accounts had its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse back in January) this fall (Oct. 25-Nov. 25) and Nicky Silver's dark comedy The Lyons next spring (Feb. 28-March 31). Both could be worth the drive. www.phoenixtheatre.org.
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.