by Rick Pender
I had occasion to be in downtown Dayton on business
earlier this week and thought I'd stay for the evening to catch the
Human Race Theatre Company's production of Fiddler on the Roof
at the Loft Theatre. It's not a space you'd immediately think of for
this often large-scale show, but director Kevin Moore has put of lot of
action and choreography (by Chris Crowthers) on the stage, centering on
Drew Pulver as the philosophical Jewish milkman, Tevye. He's the show's
charismatic core, but he's surrounded by a strong cast who really embody
their roles. Wandering on and off the stage, a four-musician band,
including George Abud as the expressive fiddler, ably accompanies the
cast, several of whom play multiple roles. The intimacy of the Loft
amplifies the heartfelt nature of the show, and the actors pour heart
and soul into the joyous storytelling. This production runs through Nov.
30, so you have time to plan a trip to Dayton yourself. If you're a fan
of musicals, you won't be disappointed. Tickets: 937-228-3630
If you're looking for a good musical closer to home, I can certainly recommend the Cincinnati Playhouse production of Cabaret,
which gets my Critic's Pick in the current issue (see review here). Director Marcia
Milgrom Dodge has taken it back to 1929 with costumes and choreography
very true to the period in a seedy, sexy Berlin nightclub. The Playhouse
doesn't often do musicals, but this one is done right. Tickets: 513-421-3888
Know Theatre is staging another work by Mike Bartlett. Last spring it was Cock; this time it's Bull (review here).
It's a story of two people bullying a third as they compete for jobs. A
nasty tale, not for the faint-hearted, but some fine writing and
acting. You'll feel ashamed of yourself for enjoying it, I suspect.
A fine production of John Steinbeck's Depression era tale of migrant workers and a guy who just doesn't fit in, Of Mice and Men (review here),
finishes its run this weekend at Cincinnati Shakespeare. Jeremy Dubin's
performance as cranky George and Jim Hopkins as simpleminded Lenny are
examples of the kind of fine acting that's a regular commodity at Cincy
Shakes. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
Finally, if you're in the mood for a hilarious farce, your
destination should be the Carnegie in Covington. CCM Drama has
transported some of its actors from the UC Campus to Covington, Ky., for a
production of a deliriously funny tale of one man in Paris juggling
three fiancees, Boeing Boeing. They're all flight
attendants, but advances in aviation screw up his neat schedule to keep
them discreet from one another. Comedy ensues. Tickets: 859-957-1940
Lively choreography spices up an otherwise bland production
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The philosophy picked up by Flashdance: The Musical’s
welder/wanna-be-dancer Alex (Jillian Mueller) from her mentor is that
trying and falling is better than not trying at all. Its touring production
is still trying, including its current stop at Cincinnati’s Aronoff
Center. And it does have its moments, mostly when the energetic cast is
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
When I mention the Cincinnati Playhouse
in the Park, you likely think of the theater that sits on the hilltop
above Mount Adams...But the folks who run the
Playhouse know that new audiences must be continuously cultivated, and
for that reason, they deliver performances through a program they call
“Off the Hill,” which tours shows for young audiences to community arts
centers across the Tristate.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is partnering with the theater
program at Xavier University to stage Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
(Oct. 25- Nov. 3; tickets are $15-$30; 513-745-3939.) This came about
because Stephen Skiles, who heads XU’s theater program, is friends with
Brian Isaac Phillips, CSC’s artistic director. Skiles was an acting
intern at the Cincinnati Playhouse 16 years ago when Phillips was
recruited to fill out a cast.
Deep scars, painful memories
0 Comments · Monday, October 7, 2013
Wartime tortures its victims long beyond the battlefields
and combat. Especially when a war tears apart the population of a single
nation, the scars run deep, last long and profoundly change lives.
That’s the circumstance of the characters in Martín Zimmerman’s Seven Spots on the Sun, receiving its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
in leadership is under way at Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre. Eric
Vosmeier, producing artistic director for the past half-dozen years, is
gradually handing over the reins to resident scenic and lighting
designer Andrew Hungerford. Know, an adventurous and occasionally
chaotic organization that began in 1997, is handling this evolution in a
surprisingly orderly fashion.
Musical based on film has more flash than heart
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Producers of musical theater are always on the prowl
for material that already has some emotional traction and romantic
tales that were films when today’s audiences were young and in love are
ripe for conversion into theatrical works. It’s possible to do this with
some success, but I’m afraid that the folks who’ve translated the film
into Ghost: The Musical didn’t have enough faith in the story.
A bus stop worth stopping for
0 Comments · Friday, September 20, 2013
Set in a small-town
Kansas diner where passengers on bus must wait out a blizzard overnight
with a few friendly locals, the show is a tale of love vs. loneliness
and staying vs. going.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Occasionally I like to discuss where
plays and musicals come from. We have two interesting examples locally
this month: a touring production of Ghost the Musical at the Aronoff and the Cincinnati Playhouse’s regional premiere of Fly, a historical drama presented with imaginative staging.
Straighten up and fly right
0 Comments · Monday, September 16, 2013
Fly’s story is one that’s important
to the evolution of America, and it’s done in this production with such
verve and passion that I know audiences will respond.