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.
The Thompson House's new art gallery is locked and loaded
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Go up the imposing staircase at Thompson
House, continue past the second floor and on to the third, and you’ll be
in the Thompson House Shooting Gallery, where art is the weapon at
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.
Rake’s End transforms from motorcycle club to artsy drinkery
2 Comments · Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Jerome Jaffe is a character. With his thick New York
accent, wiry frame, perma-five o’clock shadow and penchant for
misnomers, he’s kind of a minor celebrity in his home base of Brighton
in the West End. He recently bought Rake’s End from
long-time area resident/developer Fred Lane, and is determined to
see the bar succeed.
by Jac Kern
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
Tickets are now on sale for an appearance at the Aronoff Center Nov. 3
Humorist and storytelling champion David Sedaris will return to Cincinnati for a one-night speaking engagement this fall. The best-selling author will bring his signature stories to the Aronoff Center Nov. 3; tickets are $40-$53 and can be purchased here.Sedaris is known for his oddly relatable, true-ish tales that combine comedy, embarrassment, neurosis and observational rants into a beautiful, laugh-out-loud experience. Some of his most popular writings include Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and "Santaland Diaries." He is also a frequent contributor on National Public Radio's This American Life. And he has a pretty cool sister.For a perfect slice of Sedaris storytelling, go here to listen to his recent contribution to This American Life's live theater event. Sedaris last performed in Cincinnati in 2010.
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.
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 18, 2012
You Are My Superhero, opening
Sunday at Dayton Art Institute (DAI), is here to rescue art lovers from
the summer blahs. The difference starts at the door, where there’s $2
off for wearing a superhero costume.
by Rick Pender
On Saturday (July 14) I spent much of my day attending two excellent events. In the afternoon, I was part of a full-to-the-rafters Music Hall (every single seat was sold, meaning more than 3,400 people were in attendance!) for the final Champions Concert, featuring 11 groups that were judged to be the best in their respective categories. I had a chance to see Fairfield High's Choraliers, named the outstanding Show Choir, as well as the heartfelt Jeremy Winston Chorale, from Wilberforce, Ohio, winners of the Gospel category. (Interestingly, Jeremy Winston was once a member of The Aeolians from Oakwood University of Huntsville, Alabama, the group that won the Spirituals category.) Several children's groups, notably the Vocalista Angels from Indonesia (Children's Choirs) and Wenzhou Children Art School Boys Choir from China (Young Children's Choirs), demonstrated incredible talent and discipline with kids who are still elementary school. The Music Contemporanea category winner was Stellenberg Girls Choir from South Africa, yet another group — this one comprised of approximately 80 adolescent girls — directed by André van der Merwe. Among the several chamber group categories, I was most moved by the smallest group: Seven beautiful young women from Latvia, performing as "Latvian Voices," performed two numbers as much like chant as singing, using smooth harmonics and powerful vocal ranges as their music rose and fell, with single and multiple voices weaving in and out. Quite remarkable, and a kind of invitation to the next games — to be held in Riga, Latvia, in 2014. The Greater Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) chapter of Sweet Adelines that I had seen on Thursday was back to celebrate their championship in the first-ever competition for Barbershop singing, and best of all was another chance to witness a repeat performance by the Kearsney College Choir, a group of 65 high school boys from South Africa. Their thumping, rhythmic rendition of a Folklore number (the category they were named champions in) about King Shaka, "father of the Zulu nation," was a rousing finish to the two-and-a-half concert at Music Hall.The closing event was held at U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday evening, with approximately 11,000 people in attendance. There were lots of choirs there, sitting together and making their presence known. Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory urged them to return to their homes and "tell everyone about the great hospitality you received here." It was also announced that Interkultur, the organization behind the games, plans to establish a U.S. office here in Cincinnati. Reports indicate that the group is seriously considering staging a "Choirs of the Americas" event, likely here in Cincinnati, possibly in 2013.The program saw a hand-off of the WCG flag to the mayor of Riga, Latvia, as well as another performance by the powerful presence of the seven young women constituting Latvian Voices. The balance of the evening was an eclectic performance by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the May Festival Chorus, amplified by numerous WCG choirs in the seats behind them at the north end of the U.S. Bank Arena. Their ad libbed choreography made a festive evening even more so, and it was frequently shown on the large video screens in the Arena. The musical program featured Broadway star Idina Menzel and Gospel singer Marvin Winans; they combined for a rendition of "Oh, Happy Day," joined onstage by other singers from Cincinnati Opera and the leaders of WCG. As we walked out, there as an impromptu performance on the plaza between the arena and Great American Ball Park by the Gema Chandra Cendrawasih University Choir from Papua, Indonesia. The 49-member group, I learned, had an outrageous week of headaches traveling from Jakarta to Cincinnati, arriving on Saturday, too late to compete. They decided to entertain the crowd leaving the closing ceremony — hundreds of people circled them as they danced wearing grass skirts and body paint, warbling, shouting, singing and whistling through the numbers they would have performed in the Folklore category. Arrangements were made for them to sing at a Madisonville Church on Sunday, but then they needed to begin the arduous task of returning to Indonesia.There were many takeaways from the two weeks of WCG in Cincinnati, and I'll be writing about those in my CityBeat column later this week. The theme of the Games is, "Singing together brings nations together." I saw it happen right here in Cincinnati.