by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:30 AM | Permalink
Mormons, dancers, dictators, the Grinch and more
Cincinnati will see the regional premiere of The Book of Mormon a year from now. The winner of nine Tony Awards will be the highlight of Broadway in Cincinnati's 2013-2014 season at downtown's Aronoff Center for the Arts. It's set for a three-week run, Jan. 7-26, 2014. A show described as "the funniest musical of all time" that was created by the guys behind the satirical South Park TV series has enough raucous, off-color humor to melt away any winter chill that settles in following the holidays. It's about two naive and optimistic Mormon missionaries who tryto persuade residents of Uganda to follow their faith — but threatened by a maniacal warlord, the locals are more concerned with war, famine, poverty and AIDS than religion. The satire is laid on thick, and it's the kind of show that's bound to offend some people. Nevertheless, it's been a gigantic Broadway hit since it opened in March 2011; the tour that comes our way began back in August, so Cincinnati is an early stop.The season will have a number of familiar titles, including another three-week run for the Broadway hit Wicked (March 5-23, 2014). The Wizard of Oz musical has been running on Broadway for a decade. There will also be two Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, a new production of his 1978 musical Evita (Feb. 18-March 2, 2014), based on the show's successful 2012 Broadway revival; as well as another chance to see Lloyd Webber's phenomenal hit, The Phantom of the Opera (April 30-May, 11, 2014).Proving that old movies never die — they just come back as musicals — two other productions booked for the season are the love story Ghost(Sept. 24-Oct. 6, 2013), based on the 1990 movie with Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg; and the romantic dramaFlashdance (Oct. 29-Nov. 10), based on the 1983 film about a young woman welder who aspires to be a dancer. And if you're yearning for another story you've heard before — with more music than you mightremember — we'll also have a brief run of a holiday show, Dr. Seuss'How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (try singing that!) surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 27-Dec. 1).Subscriptions go on sale today (Jan. 20) online, and starting Monday (Jan. 21) you can order at the Aronoff Center Box Office (650 Walnut Street, Downtown Cincinnati), online or by calling 800-294-1817. Subscriptions for six shows range between $179 and $611.
Creator of 'Abigail/1702' grew up dreaming of being a playwright
0 Comments · Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was in
Chicago early in 2008, rehearsing the world premiere of a new play he
had just written for Steppenwolf Theatre. The company was staging Arthur
Miller’s legendary 1953 Tony Award winner, The Crucible, on its mainstage.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:29 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is the first out of the
chute with a new production in 2013. Of course, it's a 400-year-old play
about a king from two centuries before that. But Shakespeare proved
with his script for Richard II that there are universal
traits that make us all human, even if we're a king who's supposedly
given his powers directly from God. Richard was thrust onto the throne
while still a teenager, and in Shakespeare's version he's an adult but
very uncertain of his right to rule and doubtful of his ability to do
so. That kind of anxiety still makes sense in the 21st century. So CSC's
first-ever staging of the show is something that should interest both
to your average theatergoer as well as anyone looking to complete the
experience of seeing every play the Bard penned. This one marks No. 37
of 38 for CSC; one more year and they'll have staged every one of
Shakespeare's surviving works, quite an accomplishment. With a fine
actor, Brent Vimtrup, playing Richard, and a script that's all poetry,
this one promises to be both fascinating and satisfying.
More things start up next week and the one after that has a
veritable avalanche of shows, so I suggest you hustle on downtown to
Cincy Shakes venue and catch this one before you have too many choices.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
, Visual Art
at 09:50 AM | Permalink
There's not much onstage locally yet as our theater companies prepare their first productions of 2013, so here's a tip for this weekend. WVXU's airing of Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days on L.A. Theatre Works on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. (That's FM 91.7 if you're still using a radio or wvxu.org if you prefer to listen online.) It's the story of a
middle-American housewife who has found salvation and her rebellious
teenage daughter who wants nothing to do with it. But when a bookish young
suitor in an Elvis suit comes calling, the daughter experiences an
unexpected revelation of her own. If you're a regular at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, you will remember this show from a darkly funny production in March 2011. (Read my review here.) And a further note of interest: A world premiere work by Laufer is headed our way in February at the Cincinnati Playhouse: It's called Leveling Up, a show about twentysomethings making the transition from college to a "real" life of video games in a Las Vegas basement. Laufer has a knack for catching the drift of contemporary culture, so tune in for End Days on Saturday and get ready for Leveling Up coming soon.
Cincy theaters put good shows on every stage in town
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Throughout the year I assign “Critic’s
Picks” to noteworthy theatrical productions. As 2012 draws to a close,
it seems like a good time to take a look back at some shows that made
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 18, 2012
All right, you’re going to have to
forgive me — I am a theater critic and a theater lover. Those terms are
not mutually exclusive.
OMG, it’s a BHC*
0 Comments · Monday, December 17, 2012
Starting in 2006, Cincy Shakes offered this raucous
run-down of holiday tales, movies, TV specials and tunes at the
courtyard at Arnold’s Bar & Grill downtown. This year it’s moved to CSC’s mainstage at 719 Race St., and tickets
have been selling like candy canes.
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.