by Rick Pender
By next weekend you'll be all crazy with gift shopping
and baking cookies, so theater might not be such a high priority. So
how about catching a great holiday show this weekend to put in in the
Starting Sunday evening you can get caught up on Christmas lore — well, at least a funny, off-kilter version of it — thanks to the jolly folks at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company who are presenting Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some)! The mash-up
of Rudolph and Frosty and Santa and Ebenezer and George Bailey (and a
lot more) opens on Sunday evening. Cincy Shakes used to offer this one in the courtyard at Arnold's Bar & Grill, but they had such demand for tickets that they've moved it to their mainstage, over on Race Street in Downtown Cincinnati. They seem to have been correct in anticipating
that people wanted to see the show: Several days before it opened,
almost all the tickets had been sold! So they've added four more
performances, 2 p.m. on Dec. 22-23 and 29-30. It all wraps up on Dec. 30, so don't waste any time figuring out when you're going fit this in. And to keep up your holiday spirits, Cincy Shakes has scored a temporary liquor permit for the run of this show. Cheers! Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
Speaking of Cincy Shakes, you still have a few more chances to see The Importance of Being Earnest (see review here) before it vacates the premises for Every Christmas Story.
Oscar Wilde's witty farce is not a holiday show, but it's a great deal
of fun, guaranteed to put you in a good mood. Although I haven't seen
Falcon Theater's production of It's a Wonderful Life — recreating the story of George Bailey and Bedford Falls as it might have been without him — it's picked up some solid recognition from a panel of judges for the Acclaim Awards. The story is presented as a production of a 1940s radio play, and it's happening in Newport's intimate Monmouth Theatre. Tickets: 513-479-6783.
Ensemble Theatre's fractured musical retelling of Alice in Wonderland (see review here) offers a colorful, visual feast as well as a take on the story that has a few lessons for kids, but plenty of entertainment for everyone. (Tickets: 513-421-3555) And the most traditional of all the holiday shows, A Christmas Carol
at the Cincinnati Playhouse, continues to be a great outing for
families. We had out of town guests last weekend who came to Cincinnati
to see it, and they loved every minute of it. If you haven't seen it, this is one you'll remember — and probably want to add as a must-see every holiday season. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Glitter and glitz abound in Covedale's holiday fairytale
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 11, 2012
It might not have occurred to you that Cinderella
is a fairytale for the holidays, but at the Covedale Center they’ve made
it into a cheerful family-friendly extravaganza, decked out with
tinsel, glitter, snow, a midwinter ball and Christmas caroling.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:38 AM | Permalink
As I wrote in my column in the current issue of CityBeat, there's a lot of good holiday theater available on Cincinnati stages right now. The Playhouse's production of A Christmas Carol,
now in its 22nd year, is best in class — a well-told traditional tale
with some of the best professional actors in town onstage, from Bruce
Cromer as Scrooge and Dale Hodges as the Ghost of Christmas past. There
are a few new faces, too, playing the Cratchits. And speaking of new
faces, I feel comfortable recommending New Edgecliff Theatre's one-woman
show, The 12 Dates of Christmas, which is being engagingly performed by Annie Kalahurka. It's paired with David Sedaris's The Santaland Diaries,
which feels a little shopworn to me, but you can catch the double-bill
downtown at the Arnonff's Fifth Third Bank Theater — and maybe go for
drinks at Arnold's before or after the show.
If you're looking for something kind of different, try The Naughty List (review here),
a holiday-themed improv show (presented in Arnold's courtyard on
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings) by Know Theatre. Five quick-witted
comics who constitute OTR Improv are doing routines that use audience
suggestions (and occasional audience participants) for nearly two hours
of entertainment. It's a different show every night.
Have kids you want to take to the theater and give them a
taste of what fun it can be? Two good bets are Ensemble Theatre
Cincinnati for one of its musical fairytales with a moral (this year the
show is a colorful, cartoonish rendition of Alice in Wonderland) and Covedale Center, where Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
is singing and dancing its way through another familiar story the kids
will know. The prince is handsome, Cinderella is sweet and the nasty
Stepmother is played by a guy.
As far as familiar stories go, you've probably seen Frank Capra's classic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life
a few times during the holidays. But I bet you haven't experienced in
the unique way that Falcon Theater offers it up at Newport's Monmouth
Theatre: The script frames the story as an old-time radio drama, and you
get to watch behind-the-scenes as a handful of actors play all the
roles and a few others create the necessary sound effects. It opens
this weekend and runs for a week. I haven't seen this year's edition,
but I've enjoyed past incarnations, and I suspect this one will be
entertaining as well.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
It’s time for mistletoe and holly, when
theaters entice folks in search of holiday cheer (and occasional
parodies thereof) to celebrate the season. Many theaters need December
ticket revenues to present shows onstage for the rest of the year.
Know Theatre, OTR Improv combine for offbeat comedy tale
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 4, 2012
It’s good to have Know’s
offbeat perspective available as a choice for holiday entertainment in
the form of the energetic players of OTR Improv.
1 Comment · Saturday, December 1, 2012
Jersey Boys was a hit at the Aronoff in 2008, and Broadway Series subscribers have been asking for a return visit since then, with good reason.
Ensemble Theatre offers a colorful, energetic take on classic tale
0 Comments · Friday, November 30, 2012
Alice in Wonderland works best when treated as an
ensemble show, rather than a show about a dreamy little girl meeting a
cast of supporting characters. This show does exactly that.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:42 AM | Permalink
So Thanksgiving was early this year, and that means that not only
retailers but all of our local theaters have fired their starting guns
earlier than usual with family-friendly holiday shows. That began with
Ensemble Theatre's opening of Alice in Wonderland on Nov. 28, and
Cinderella at the Covedale, A Christmas Carol at the Playhouse and New Edgecliff's Santaland Diaries (newly paired with The 12 Dates of Christmas) using a new venue, the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater.
But before you start wearing your Christmas sweaters and holiday socks, I
have a few non-seasonal but highly entertaining productions you should
Let's start with Cincinnati Shakespeare's staging of
The Importance of Being Earnest.
This is a classic comedy from 1895 by Oscar Wilde, but don't think
there's anything old and musty about it. The production of this witty,
romantic tale of harmless manipulation bubbles with laughter and
sprightly performances. I gave it a Critic's Pick here and I suspect
it will be another sold-out run for Cincy Shakes, which has assembled a
gangbuster season. You should note that it's only onstage through Dec.
16, so if you want to see it, don't wait too long. (As of the 16th it
will be supplanted by Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some), Cincy Shakes' holiday offering.) Box office: 513-381-2273 x.1.
And if smiles without holiday trimming are something you seek, I highly recommend the touring production of
This is the true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Pop stars
from the 1960s, and the show is stuffed full of their memorable,
tuneful hits. The four leading actors faithfully recreate the
group's close harmonies and Valli's soaring falsetto tenor — he's one of
the great Pop vocalists of all time, and Nick Cosgrove nails the role.
Although the history of these four singers has its ups and downs, the
story is told with a sense of wry humor (and numerous F-bombs) that
keeps things light and entertaining. Audiences have been clamoring for
Broadway in Cincinnati to bring this show back since it appeared at the
Aronoff back in 2008, and tickets are selling fast. Box office:
Hank Williams: Lost Highway at the
Playhouse's Shelterhouse stage. (Review here.) It's another genuine
reincarnation of a singer who made an indelible mark on the world of Pop
music. Box office: 513-421-3888.
Holiday theater for the nice and naughty
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
How does that upbeat holiday tune go? “It’s the most
wonderful time of the year”? If you’re a theater fan and a devotee of
holiday cheer, that’s the song you’re humming.
by Rick Pender
The weekends around Thanksgiving tend to offer fewer theater opportunities than most since lots of companies are readying holiday productions that open near the end of the month. (In fact, from Nov. 28 to 30, eight shows will open!) But that doesn't mean you should look elsewhere for entertainment.First and foremost is Street Scene at UC's College-Conservatory of Music, the kick-off of a year-long celebration of works by Kurt Weill. It's a dramatic American opera in two acts, a story set in a mid-century Manhattan neighborhood. It's a massive undertaking involving hundreds of students from several CCM departments; Steven Goldstein is directing, and the performances will be musically conducted by Mark Gibson. The opera is based on Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama; it's sometimes compared to Porgy & Bess, presenting a wide range of multi-ethnic characters and two intertwined love stories. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets ($17-$30): 513-556-4183.A feisty young theater company, Untethered Theatre, is producing a dark comedy, John Patrick Shanley's Savage in Limbo in a storefront theater on Ludlow Avenue, Clifton Performance Theater. The performers are young and the characters they portray are young adults who haven't yet taken hold of life. The venue is intimate, recreating a bar where the characters gather, and the audience sits amidst the action. Tickets ($15): 513-938-0599. If you show up at 7:55 p.m. you might get lucky and score a rush seat for $5.Two community theaters are wrapping up productions of classics that ought to be worth seeing: Cincinnati Music Theatre is presenting Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Tony Award-winning musical from 1970, Company, at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theatre. Tickets: ($20-$22): 513-621-2787 … And Footlighters' is finishing up a run of Thornton Wilder's 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Our Town, at the Stained Glass Theatre in Newport. Tickets ($20): 859-652-3849.Finally, if you want an evening of great music with a bit of true life biography, check out Hank Williams: Lost Highway, at the Cincinnati Playhouse. This one runs through the holidays, but tickets will be hard to come by in December, so this would be a perfect weekend to take in a performance of two dozen songs by the guy who blended the Blues with "Hillbilly" tunes and more or less created Country Western music in the early 1950s. You'll know lots of the tunes. Tickets: 513-421-3888.