WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Rick Pender 03.30.2012
Posted In: Theater at 10:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Entertainments For All Ages

Traditional shows, Cirque du Soleil and openings at Know and Cincy Shakes

Thanks to spot-on casting of the four actors who bring Kim Rosenstock’s new play Tigers Be Still to life at the Cincinnati Playhouse, the show about people dealing with depression is charming, funny, optimistic and even heart-warming. It’s about a young woman with a recently earned degree in art therapy; she’s been down in the dumps about finding work, but not as much as her mom who’s gained weight and her sister who’s been dumped by her fiancé. She’s starting a new job thanks to her mom’s long-ago boyfriend, now a middle school principal. He has issues of his own — from a slacker son to anxiety about a tiger that’s escaped from the local zoo. Sound zany? Well, it is — as well as entertaining. The League of Cincinnati Theatres singled out this production’s sound design by Vincent Olivieri for an award. One panelist wrote, “On a very small stage, scenes took place in a school gym, drugstore, office, closet, outdoors and in the living spaces of two houses. Except for the main set, capturing the essence of these scenes was limited to a couple of props and pieces of furniture — and the sound!” Through April 15. Box office: 513-421-3888. There’s a final performance on Saturday afternoon of Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale, presented by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. The world premiere musical by composer Janet Vogt and writer Mark Friedman has received an award from the league of Cincinnati Theatres for its scenic design by David Centers. Tickets: 513-569-8080, x13. His design for the show was described by LCT judges as “simple and very well executed in a style that was great for the play.” In addition to the show’s signature tower, the set also boasts a forest that “wasn’t too dank, dark and dismal, but instead had personality.” (Centers, a veteran local designer and a graduate of the School for Creative and Performing Arts, received an LCT Award in the same category earlier this year for his work Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr.) Tickets: 513-569-8080, x13. On Wednesday I attended the Cirque du Soleil production of Dralion at the Bank of Kentucky Arena, adjacent to Northern Kentucky University. It’s another extravaganza of strength and showmanship, athleticism and artistry. This struck me as a somewhat more compact show than I’ve seen in the past: The talent is just as great, but the concept — connections between East and West — is pretty vaporous. But there are three wonderful clowns, and several of the performances do things that make you say, “How can a human body do that?” Balancing on one hand, flying through the air on a hoop, skipping rope in a human pyramid — it’s amazing stuff. It’s being presented through Sunday: Lots of available seats on opening night, so I’m guessing you can still find tickets for all performances. Through Sunday. Tickets: 800-745-3000 Two excellent productions wrap up this weekend. The Cincinnati Playhouse’s unique staging of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical Merrily We Roll Along, which uses actors who also play musical instruments has its final performances on Saturday. I gave the production a Critic's Pick; Merrily is only infrequently staged, so this is a chance not to be missed. Box office: 513-421-3888. Ensemble Theatre concludes the run of Time Stands Still, a fine drama with a great ensemble cast directed by Michael Evan Haney. Final performance is on Sunday. This tale of burned-out journalists and last gasps at relationships by Donald Margulies, a Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist, also earned a Critic's Pick. Box office: 513-421-3555. Know Theatre’s production of the recent off-Broadway and Broadway Rock musical hit, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, opens on Saturday. (It’s onstage through May 12.) Word has it that tickets are already selling fast. Box office: 513-300-5669. This weekend is also the opening for Cincinnati Shakespeare’s production of The Grapes of Wrath, which runs through April 29. Box office: 513-381-2273, x1.Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 
by Rick Pender 03.24.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Stage Door: More Love for 'Merrily'

Ensemble Theatre, NKU and Children's Theater also have quality offerings

Last Sunday evening I gave a lecture prior to the Cincinnati Playhouse performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. I stuck around to see the show again (I attended the opening on March 8 in order to review it for CityBeat). I gave the show a Critic’s Pick, but empty seats on Sunday reminded me that a theater critic’s opinion is not necessarily the only endorsement needed for a show to sell tickets. Although this is a fine production, several reasons come to mind: The show is not well known; if people do know it, they’ve heard it was a flop when it had a brief Broadway run in 1981. John Doyle’s production shows little evidence of the latter and demonstrates amply that there’s much to be appreciated. But there’s not been much buzz around Merrily at the Playhouse, despite the work of Doyle and his excellent cast. The upshot is tickets are still available for most performances, through March 31. Doyle inventively staged Sondheim’s Company in 2006 at the Playhouse, a production that moved to Broadway and earned a Tony Award. This production uses the same approach: actors provide their own musical accompaniment. It’s a showbiz tale about chasing success at the expense of happiness. We start at the demise of a bond between three former friends who wonder what happened to the “good thing going” they once had. We trace back to their earliest, optimistic moments via great music, brilliant design and excellent performances. If you love musicals, you should see Merrily We Roll Along. I’ve talked with several people who have returned the Playhouse production. (Merrily is not likely to transfer to New York as Company did in 2006. The show was presented by Encores! at New York’s City Center in February, so theater critics have not paid attention to the Cincinnati production as they did with Company in 2006, right after Doyle staged Sweeney Todd on Broadway.) Box office: 513-421-3888 You can’t go wrong with Donald Margulies’ very much in-the-moment drama Time Stands Still at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. It’s the story of two journalists who have been addicted to the adrenalin rush of covering wars. He’s now running away and hiding in film reviews (there’s a touch of post-traumatic stress, it seems, because he’s watching classic horror films all the time), and she’s recovering from injuries that resulted from a roadside bomb blast in Iraq. What’s next for them? Well, that’s what the play is about — a return for more or settling for a calmer, safer life, represented by a happy if unlikely couple who visit them, the photographer’s editor and mentor and his naïve young girlfriend. Four intriguing character studies add up to an evening of thoughtful drama. I gave it a Critic’s Pick; here’s a link to my review. Through April 1. Tickets: 513-421-3555 Northern Kentucky University just opened a production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good. It’s about people sent off to a penal colony in Australia in the 1780s. The governor decides to impose order on the criminals by having them put on a play. It’s not an easy undertaking — but it changes the lives of everyone involved. It’s a play about the power of the arts to humanize people and transform them into something new and better. The show’s original Broadway production in 1991 was nominated for six Tony Awards. It’s one of my favorite scripts, a fine choice for NKU’s drama program, where it’s being staged by Daryl Harris. Through April 1. Tickets: 859-572-5464 Finally, if you’d like to instill some interest in the theater in a couple of kids, take them to one of this weekend’s performances of Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale, presented by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. It’s a world premiere musical created by composer Janet Vogt and writer Mark Friedman, who wrote How I Became a Pirate, a hit from last season. Performances happen at the nicely renovated Taft Theatre on Saturday and Sunday (as well as March 31). Tickets: 513-569-8080, x13.Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 
by Jac Kern 03.12.2012
Posted In: Dance, Arts community, Classical music at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Cincinnati Ballet Announces 2012-2013 Season

Cincinnati Ballet today announced its 49th season schedule. Dance fans can expect an array of popular classics and exciting premieres for 2012-2013. The season kicks off Sept. 6 and runs through April 27, 2013.The Kaplan New Works Series (Sept. 6-16, Cincinnati Ballet Center): This annual season opener celebrates new ideas and creative movement showcasing the female choreographer and focusing on local artists. This world premiere features dancers Amy Seiwert and Paige Cunningham, two SCPA alum, Director Heather Britt and choreographer Jessica Lang.Alice in Wonderland (Oct. 26-28, Music Hall): After its world premiere with Washington Ballet, Cincinnati will be the first to jump down the rabbit hole with Alice & Co. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will perform Matthew Pierce's original score. Choreographer Septime Webre (Cincinnati Ballet's Peter Pan) and costume designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soliel) will create a wild world for Alice to romp through that will ignite the senses of audiences.Frisch's Presents: The Nutcracker (Dec. 14-23, Aronoff Center): Victoria Morgan re-imagined the classic for 2011's world premiere, The New Nutcracker. This whimsical interpretation returns in 2012, complete with dancing cupcakes, flying bumblebees and a Sugar Plum Parade, where audience members will be invited to walk acrid stage and get a closer peek at the sets, costumes and dancers.Romeo & Juliet (Feb. 14-16, Aronoff Center): Just in time for Valentine's Day, Shakespeare's romantic tragedy comes to life in a new way. Victoria Morgan blends classical dance with contemporary movement to capture audiences' favorite moments. Prodigal Son with Extremely Close (March 22-23, Aronoff Center): Neo-classical choreographer George Balanchine comes to Cincinnati with his rendering of the classic parable about sin, redemption and unconditional love. On the same bill, Extremely Close is Alejandro Cerrudo’s thoughtful contemporary work. The performance opens on a stage of falling feathers, reflecting the delicacy and fluidity of movement, and connected throughout, punctuated by a surprising, thought-provoking ending.Ballet Toybox (March 24, Aronoff Center): Designed to introduce children and families to the joy of dance, this performance delivers a mix of classic and modern favorites. Clocking in at less than 60 minutes, this "mini-performance" is an easy and affordable way to enjoy the ballet with the whole family.Frampton & CB Come Alive (April 26-27, Aronoff Center): Legendary guitarist Peter Frampton will create a new work specifically for the performance and play live alongside choreography collaboration from Cincinnati Ballet and Exhale Dance Tribe.New subscriptions and subscription renewals are now available at the Cincinnati Ballet Center (1555 Central Pkwy., Over-the-Rhine) or by calling 513-621-5282. Individual tickets to the following shows will be available July 22 at cballet.org.
 
 
by Jac Kern 03.01.2012
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Music, Fun, Events, Concerts at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Thursday To Do List

Doug Stanhope, Swizzle Soiree and more arts, theater and music suggestions

Comedian Doug Stanhope is performing at Go Bananas in Montgomery nightly through Sunday. Known for his sharp tongue and boozy performances, Stanhope is a comedy giant. He has released a number of comedy CDs and DVDs, toured around the globe and recently played a seriously deep character in an episode of Louie. Expect plenty of foul-mouthed fun. Tonight's show is at 8 p.m. Find details here.Speaking of people who like to drink, tonight is our Swizzle Soiree, an annual celebration of the release of our bar guide. Head on over to PLAY downtown from 5:30-10:30 p.m. There will be free drink tickets and hors d'oeuvres from area restaurants, happy hour specials all night, music from Pop Empire and lots of giveaways — movie passes, shot glasses and two passes to Bonnaroo! Sign up to register and be present at 9 p.m. to win. It's gon' be fun. Check out the event on Facebook for more info.The Cincinnati Opera's Opening Gala takes place April 28, with an after-party at the Duke Energy Center. In preparation for this "Late Night in Charleston," Japp's is hosting a happy hour tonight. Preview the event, and help the Opera decide which signature cocktail (by none other than Molly Wellman) to serve next month. The party runs 6-9 p.m. Go here for details.Catie Curtis performs at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Yonder Mountain String Band will be at Madison Theater and Ultraviolet Hippopotamus play The Mad Frog tonight. Find live music details here.Tonight in theater: Collapse at Know Theater, West Side Story at the Aronoff and Into the Woods at CCM. Find more recommended picks for tonight here.Before you leave for the night, set up that DVR for Delocated, Awake, 30 Rock and more Thursday television gems. Peep our TV column for details.
 
 
by Jac Kern 02.29.2012
Posted In: Concerts, Culture, Events, Northside, Life, Holidays at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Leap Day To Do List

Leap Day means different things to everyone (like those with rare Feb. 29 birthdays), but we suggest spending this extra day exploring all the fun events our city has to offer. Or this:Do you love the true storytelling style of This American Life and live groups like The Moth and Cincinnati's True Theater? Head down to Below Zero Lounge tonight for Teilen (German for "to share"), a local storytelling night. In honor of Leap Day, tonight's theme will be "leaping out." Enjoy a variety of true stories told without notes, and feel free to share your own five-minute anecdote. Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions and it's still a great way to connect with others. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the free event starts at 7. Find details here.Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke continues its weekly mission to make us all feel like Rock Stars. Become a frontman (or woman!), if only for three minutes. Karaoke kicks off at 9 p.m. in Northside Tavern's back room. Check out the group's Facebook page for details and an extensive song selection (start rehearsing now!).The Lackman hosts a party to introduce new Six Point Brewery beers tonight, featuring Sweet Action (barley and hops), Bengali Tiger IPA (bitter hops and sweet malt) and Resin Double IPA (just delicious). Reps will be on hand for all questions. The tasting event runs 4-6 p.m. Find more info here.Find more To Do suggestions, like theater productions and art shows, here. Check out Mike Breen's blog for tonight's live music happenings. And a head's up: Our Swizzle bar guide came out today (purty, ain't it?) and if reading that doesn't make you want to grab a cocktail at one of many amazing local watering holes, nothing will! Celebrate the issue with us tomorrow at PLAY downtown. Guests can expect free cocktails and food from Bolly Bears and FUSIAN, live music from Pop Empire, a fabulous Flashbox photo booth and tons of giveaways. And when I say giveaways, I don't just mean movie passes and shot glasses (though there will be plenty of those) — one lucky partier will walk away with two passes to Bonnaroo! If you miss this, you cray. RSVP here.
 
 

Billy Elliot The Musical (Review)

Coal-burning electricity fuels production at Aronoff

0 Comments · Thursday, January 19, 2012
You can’t go wrong with this much expressive dancing, and the kids who perform it will win your heart, from tiny Jeremy Zorer who gets the show started, to Billy’s ebullient, cross-dressing friend Michael (Ben Cook). The show evoked a rousing, and well-deserved response from the audience on opening night.  

Always ... Patsy Cline (Review)

Cincinnati Playhouse portrays a singer whose calling card was honesty

1 Comment · Monday, November 28, 2011
There’s a lot to like about the Cincinnati Playhouse’s non-holiday show for the holiday season. It’s a revue that includes two dozen of Cline’s best-known songs, and actress Carter Calvert perfectly captures the iconic Country singer’s delivery and manner.   

White Christmas (Review)

Covedale holiday production is an entertaining eyeful

0 Comments · Friday, December 9, 2011
This backstage musical about good-hearted people putting on a show to save a struggling Vermont ski lodge is perfect for the Covedale’s mainstream audience, and the performance I attended at the converted movie theater, a Sunday matinee, had every one of its 400 seats filled with people loving what they were seeing.   

Snow White (Review)

ETC production offers a different telling of a familiar story

0 Comments · Friday, December 2, 2011
Good and evil play tug-of-war throughout the story of Snow White, Ensemble Theatre’s new holiday fairytale musical.  

Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party (Review)

Know production is passionately conceived but a little zany

0 Comments · Monday, November 28, 2011
Don’t go thinking this show has anything to do with the holidays, and despite the fact that some fourth-graders light its political fuse when their teacher replaces a holiday pageant with a script that references a possible gay relationship involving the 16th president, this is not a show for kids. Who is it for? I’m not really sure, although some at the opening performance found it hilarious.  

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