by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:36 AM | Permalink
Don't be scared. Just because it's Halloween, you don't have to miss out on good theater. In fact, there are some great deals available. For instance, this weekend is your last chance to see Ensemble Theatre's production of An Iliad (CityBeat review here), a one-man retelling of Homer's epic tale of the Trojan War. (The final performance is Sunday at 2 p.m.) Bruce Cromer has been turning in one of the best acting performances seen locally in years as "The Poet" who narrates the story of the tragic conflict — as well as about a dozen of the story's central characters. Several of the weekend's performances are sold out, but seats do remain tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and if you use the coupon code SPOOKY to order tickets for either one, you'll get them for $25 each (they're usually $44). Box office: 513-421-3555.
This is also the final weekend for Falcon Theater's staging of The Woman in Black in Newport's tiny Monmouth Theater (which the group recently purchased, so it now has a permanent home, renamed "Falcon Theater"). The final performance on Saturday is sold out, but if you attend the classic ghost story tonight at 8 p.m. in costume, you'll get a $2 discount on your ticket (normally $19; $17 for students and seniors): 513-479-6783.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of The Birds (CityBeat review here) is also intended to give you the creeps, so it's another good choice for Halloween weekend. If that title sounds familiar, it's because Alfred Hitchcock adapted Daphne Du Maurier's short story into a classic thriller back in 1963. Cincy Shakes is presenting a more recent stage adaptation, this one by Irish playwright Conor McPherson (who has his own reputation as a storyteller who knows how to scare an audience, with past hits like The Weir and The Seafarer). It's an evening of psychological twists and turns with a cast featuring four of the company's best actors. This one will be around for another week, but if you're celebrating Halloween, you'll have fun with this one. Tickets ($22-$36): 513-381-2273, x1.
Also onstage through Nov. 8 is Know Theatre's production of Moby Dick (CityBeat review here.) It's not exactly a ghost story, but the obsessive Captain Ahab is certainly haunted by the specter of the great white whale, and Know's retelling of Herman Melville's great American novel is inventive and engaging. Tickets ($18): 513-300-5669.Other good choices onstage are Covedale Center's Into the Woods (CityBeat review here) and the Cincinnati Playhouse's Safe House (CityBeat review here.) The former (tickets, $21-$24: 513-241-6550) is Stephen Sondheim's classic musical that's a mash-up of fairytales; the Playhouse show is a world premiere of a play by native Cincinnatian Keith Josef Adkins about people like his ancestors, free people of color in 19th-century Kentucky (tickets, $30-$75: 513-421-3888).
Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
Safe House explores a little known dimension of freedom at the Cincinnati Playhouse
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I thought I knew quite a bit about American history before I read Keith Josef Adkins’ new play, Safe House,
about to have its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the
The play’s afoot: Sherlock is still kicking at the Playhouse
0 Comments · Monday, September 15, 2014
I believe Hatcher’s
script and the Playhouse’s production will satisfy fans of Holmes, but a much
broader audience will appreciate the show’s theatrical production.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 17, 2013
In recent columns I surveyed Cincinnati
theater companies that came and went during the past 20 years. Some
stumbled because their founders had more passion than management
expertise; others simply lacked the focus to keep audiences coming back.
The truth is it’s hard to identify a niche and settle into it
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:52 AM | Permalink
Nothing new onstage
this week, but lots of good work continues as we head toward the summer
when theater gets scarce. Now's the time to stock up.
This is the final weekend for Cock at Know Theatre. (Some publications call it The Cockfight Play, but Cock
is Mike Bartlett's actual title for his play.) It's the story of a man
who thought he was gay but now finds himself powerfully drawn to a
woman. (CityBeat review here.) His former lover and his new passion both push him to make a
choice, and he's torn. It's a great piece of theater, fueled by strong
acting and interesting staging. Tickets: 513-300-5669. Ensemble Theatre's production of The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns
is off and running — and on its way to being another box-office hit for
ETC. It's the same four spunky gals who audiences loved back in 2010
(in ETC's best-selling show ever), with new tuneful glimpses into their
high school graduation in 1958 and a wedding reception in 1968. Talented
singers, individually and as a quartet, make this a fine evening's
entertainment. If you've seen it before, you know the drill — and you're
probably ready for more. Tickets: 513-421-3555
James M. Cain's novel of crime and deception, Double Indemnity, continues at the Cincinnati Playhouse. (CityBeat review here.) If you think you know this show from Billy Wilder's 1944 film (one that defined the noir
genre), you're in for a treat: While this production adopts the
elements of terse narration, tough guys and sexy dames, the playwrights
tell the story differently for the stage. And the Playhouse stages it
inventively — one might even say cinematically. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Shakespeare's Measure for Measure
is a strange piece, a comedy with a deeply disturbing story about
hypocrisy. (CityBeat review here.) A judgmental official condemns men for their licentious
behavior, then turns around and propositions a virtuous woman pleading
to spare her brother. This troublesome tale is interspersed with comic
moments as minor characters wend their way through a time of sordid
behavior — in Cincinnati Shakespeare's production it's been moved to
Prohibition-era America. If you're a Shakespeare buff, this one is worth
seeing, since it's not often staged. (It's been 18 years since it's
been presented locally.) Tickets: 513-381-2273 x.1.
The musical Sister Act,
based on the Whoopi Goldberg film from 1992, continues at the Aronoff. (CityBeat review here.)
It's an evening of silly fluff, but the touring production, onstage
through Sunday, is polished and entertaining. The plot is implausible,
but it's a framework for some great singing and an eye-popping series of
set pieces. Tickets: 800-982-2787.
If you prefer a musical with a little more grit, head to Dayton where the Human Race Theatre Company is presenting next to normal
at the Victoria Theater. This Rock musical about a paranoid
schizophrenic mom and the damage her affliction imposes on her family is
a powerful show, one that Cincinnati's Ensemble Theatre gave a well
received production in 2011 that was revived a year ago. The show was an
unusual winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It's onstage in
Dayton through May 19. Tickets: 937-228-9360.
Dynamic, fast-paced comedy flips tables on character studies
0 Comments · Friday, March 29, 2013
The Book Club Play a comedy about five people with some personal
history who come together for monthly conversations about books, progresses — perhaps more accurately,
regresses — through a series of novels reflecting tastes, aspirations and
Reviving America's Honky-Tonk hero
0 Comments · Monday, November 12, 2012
For a guy who spent most of
his mental energy on comic books, “Hillbilly” singer Hank Williams
surely knew how write songs that connected with people from all walks of
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:03 AM | Permalink
The fall theater season in Cincinnati is off to a great
start, with well received productions on several stages. If you get a
chance to see Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of To Kill a Mockingbird,
I urge you to do so. It's onstage through Sept. 30, but almost all of
its performances (including several added ones) have been sold out. Good
news for the theater, but not for you if you don't have tickets yet.
Nevertheless, it would be worth a call to CSC's box office (513-381-2273 x1)
to see if there's anything available. The chance to see Bruce Cromer
portray the virtuous attorney Atticus Finch is worth the effort.
If you can't score a ticket at CSC, you might try to get in to see Good People,
a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire, which
concludes its run on Sunday. The tale about an unskilled woman from
South Boston seeking work in today's world has the ring of truth and
reality to it, and Annie Fitzpatrick's portrait of hard-luck Margie —
who thinks of herself as "good people" — is touching and relevant to the
world we live in. Tickets are selling at a fast clip for this one, too,
so call to find out if seats are available: 513-421-3555.
Want to take some kids to a show they'll enjoy? It's
always fun to introduce them to live theater, and there are two great
choices currently onstage: The Cincinnati Playhouse production of The Three Musketeers (running through Sept. 29, 513-421-3888) is full of action and adventure, good guys and bad guys. And The Music Man, on the Showboat Majestic (through Sept. 30, 513-241-6550),
is a classic musical with a lot of humor — and a winning acting job by
charming Owen Gunderman as Winthrop, the kid who overcomes his shyness
when he gets a cornet to play in a boys' band.
Want something a tad more adventurous: Check out the Fringe
shows that Know Theatre has brought back from last June's festival for
several days. It's a sampling of some of the best work that drew big
crowds to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, including two "Pick of the
Fringe" offerings, On Her Pillow and The Screw You Revue,
and two solo performers, Tommy Nugent and Kevin Thornton, who always
draw a crowd. Probably no problem with ticket availability, but I
recommend calling in advance: 513-300-5669.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:19 AM | Permalink
No matter what your theatrical tastes are, there's something onstage right now for you to enjoy this weekend:
A classic story: If you can get a ticket (there aren't many left, I'm told, except perhaps for Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.) to To Kill a Mockingbird,
you won't be disappointed. It's a wonderful theatrical retelling of
Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It features one of Greater
Cincinnati's best actors as the honorable attorney Atticus Finch.
Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
Adventure: Buckle on your swashes (and your sword) and head to the Cincinnati Playhouse for The Three Musketeers.
It's a familiar tale of a young man named D'Artagnan who yearns to be a
member of the King's guards. He's brash and naive, but his role models,
"the three musketeers," are funny and loving and always ready for a
good fight. This is one that kids can enjoy. Tickets: 513-421-3888
Contemporary drama with a dose of with: Ensemble Theatre's Good People
is the story of a woman who loses her job and struggles to figure out
what to do next. She has good, gossipy support from two friends — and a
one-time boyfriend who's now a successful doctor. Her story is one that
feels like it's about someone you know, trying to make ends meet in
today's world. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
An old-fashioned musical: Meredith Willson's The Music Man,
a Tony Award winner, is getting a charming production on the Showboat
Majestic. It's a big cast on a small stage, but it's inventively
directed and choreographed by Ed Cohen, Dee Anne Bryll and Jane Green,
and you'll definitely leave the theater marching in 4/4 time to
"Seventy-Six Trombones" or humming one of the show's other memorable
melodies. Tickets: 513-241-6550
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:25 AM | Permalink
After a long hot summer (well, it's still feeling like a
long hot summer), we have a full array of shows onstage in Cincinnati
for you to choose among. I've seen two of them so far: Good People at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and The Three Musketeers at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
ETC's production of Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire's 2011 piece (this is the regional premiere of Good People,
which was nominated for a Tony a year ago) about a woman who falls off
the bottom of the employment ladder has enough humor to be entertaining
(especially with Annie Fitzpatrick in the central role of Margie and
Kate Wilford and Deb Girdler as her gossipy friends and bingo-night
comrades) and enough contemporary relevance to be thought-provoking.
ETC's D. Lynn Meyers is at her best staging naturalistic shows with
social meaning, and that's exactly what this one offers. It has a great
cast and flexible, attractive scenic design by the ever-creative Brian
c. Mehring. I gave it a Critic's Pick. Through Sept. 23. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3555.
I wanted to love The Three Musketeers at the
Playhouse (through Sept. 29), but its balance of humor and heart is out
of whack to my tastes. There's lots of adventure, hilarity and laughter
— especially some no-holds-barred swordplay — but the show tries to
hard to entertain that it misses out on the true emotion that should lie
beneath. I suspect many people will love this thrill-a-minute tale of
political intrigue and valor, loyalty and royalty in 17th-century
France, and perhaps it will evolve to deeper feelings as it runs. I love
new Artistic Director Blake Robison's desire to put appealing,
family-friendly work onstage, and he's using this production to show
what he means. I hope his approach gets a tad more texture and depth as
his tenure continues. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3888.
I haven't yet seen To Kill a Mockingbird at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and their publicity says it's already
sold out its first-two weekends. So you might want to put that one on
your calendar for sometime before it wraps up (Sept. 30). In the
meantime, you might want to head to Washington Park on Sunday evening at
7 p.m. for a special free presentation of CSC's touring production of The Tempest.
It's a perfect piece for outdoor performance, set on an island with a
sorcerer and his lovely daughter and some shipwrecked nobles who are
responsible for his exile. Audience participation will be a key
component of this event, with the audience asked to create large-scale
effects by blowing bubbles, making waves with silk and generating sound
effects. Sounds like great fun. Music (by The Young Heirlooms) begins at
6 p.m. This is a good one to bring kids to see.
Also off and running this weekend is Cincinnati Landmark's production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
It's a classic drama of sexual tension and family strife, a bit heavier
fare than is usually found at the Covedale Center. It's a sign of the
company's ambition to be a full-fledged theater offering a wide range of
material. (Through Sept. 30.) Box office: 513-241-6550.