by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:34 AM | Permalink
My best recommendation for this weekend is Ensemble Theatre's staging of Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn.
This is an ultra-natural piece of writing with several generations of
women arguing and contesting over the ways women should behave. (CityBeat review here.) It's
focused on two women, once friends, one married to the other's ex
college boyfriend. It's years later and neither woman is very happy with
her present life. How that plays out will keep you engaged from start
to finish. Some exceptional acting, with strong direction by D. Lynn
Meyers. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
The Playhouse's world premiere of Martín Zimmerman's Seven Spots on the Sun
is a powerful drama that engages all your senses as well as your
imagination. The products of a devastating civil war in Central America
are played out in painfully personal ways. Potent script, strong
performances make this a show worth seeing. (CityBeat review here.) This weekend at the
Playhouse also offers a series of previews (hence, more affordable
tickets) of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, a show that's been
around for a long time — but still has a saucy kick that makes it feel
very in the moment. Playhouse box office: 513-421-3888.
Need to starting getting into a Halloween state of mind? Covedale Center opened a production of Dracula on Thursday (it's onstage through Nov. 10) for you to sink your teeth into. Or vice versa. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
Cincinnati Shakespeare kicks off its production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
this evening. It's a tale of friendship in the midst of the Great
Depression, two men who are migrant workers, often staying one step
beyond serious trouble caused by oafish Lennie. Cincy Shakes' regular
Jim Hopkins plays the simple-minded giant who's protected by the
pragmatic George, brought to life by veteran Jeremy Dubin. It's a
thoughtful, sad story. Opens Friday evening, continues through Nov. 10. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
of Cincinnati Shakespeare, the company is involved in bringing National
Theatre Live broadcasts from London to Cincinnati. If these screenings
generate any profits, Cincy Shakes will get some financial benefit. So
assemble a group and head to Springdale 18's Cinema de Luxe on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. You'll see a powerful performance of Othello
featuring Adrian Lester (an Olivier Award winner) as the title
character and Rory Kinnear (featured in a couple of recent James Bond
films) as the manipulative Iago. Here's a link to buy tickets, $19 in general, $15 for seniors and students.
a kid to see a show and you're likely to create a lifetime theater
lover. That's what happened to me when my grandfather took me to see the
musical Brigadoon. So you can give this theory a try this weekend as
the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati opens its 89th mainstage season
with Annie JR. at the Taft Theatre. It's a shortened
version of the Broadway hit about a spunky orphan who charms everyone
(and which happens to be back on Broadway this fall in a full-length
production). Public performances today, tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets: 800-745-3000.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 07:31 AM | Permalink
Theatre company to focus on Covedale Center after 23 years on the river
Abandon ship! Well, that's not exactly true. In fact, Cincinnati
Landmark Productions has done a remarkable and loving job of sustaining
the ship — in the form of the Showboat Majestic, which it has operated
for 23 years in the face of at least 10 floods and countless repairs
(including a leaky hull). But with its lease running out later this
month, the company has decided not to return for the 2014 season.
Cincinnati Landmark will focus its endeavors on the
Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, the converted West Side movie
theater where it will offer a "Summer Classics Season" in a vein similar
to mainstream fare of classic comedies and musicals that has long drawn
audiences to the Majestic. There have been 170 productions on board
since 1991, attracting more than 350,000 patrons to the last floating
theater in the United States. Cincinnati Landmark is also embarking on a
new voyage with a performing arts center to be built in the Incline
District in East Price Hill, a venue anticipated to be up and running as
early as 2015.Tim Perrino, executive artistic director at Cincinnati
Landmark, says, "It's time to say goodbye. Our organization enjoyed a
prolific chapter in the Majestic's grand history, painstakingly caring
for the old boat" — launched in 1923 — "and producing seasons that paid
tribute to her heritage."
Opening this week on Wednesday, Showboat Follies
will be Cincinnati Landmark's final production on the Majestic. An
annual tradition, it's a compilation of musical showstoppers, comic
sketches, audience interaction and a return of the "Queen City Toast," a
longtime staple of season-closing shows. "This show has become our love
letter to the Majestic," Perrino says, adding that it's "a thank-you to
our subscribers, longtime supporters and the many artists who helped
make our time on the Showboat so special." Showboat Follies runs through Sept. 29.During the summer of 2014, Cincinnati Landmark will present four productions at the Covedale: Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! (May 22-June 1); Neil Simon's comedy, The Sunshine Boys (June 19-29); Footloose (July
24-Aug. 3), the 2014 Cincinnati Young People's Theater production, a
summer favorite using local high school talent; and a spectacular
song-and-dance show, The Will Rogers Follies (Aug. 21-31).
In 1989, the Showboat Majestic was named a National
Historic Landmark. No word from the City of Cincinnati, which has owned
the Majestic since 1967, as to what might be next. The Majestic was
operated with summertime shows by the University of Cincinnati for many
years, and it served as a popular venue during several of the Tall
Stacks festivals over the years.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:10 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is offering a double dose of entertainment this weekend. First and foremost is The 39 Steps at CSC's mainstage (CityBeat review here). If that title sounds familiar, it's because it was a
classic espionage novel a century ago, made into a classic film by
Alfred Hitchcock 80 years ago, now turned into a very funny riff on its
predecessors as a play using only four actors to fill all the roles. CSC
has ramped up the humor by using four of its best comedic actors — Nick
Rose, Miranda McGee, Justin McComb and Billy Chace — who play the
principals, plus much of the population of London, especially McComb and
Chace who will make you dizzy as they shift from one part to another,
sometimes within seconds. It's actually a faithful retelling of the
story, but it's amped up to a high level of hilarity by the onstage
shenanigans. It adds up to great summertime humor. It's being performed
through Aug. 11. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
One show isn't enough for CSC: This weekend they also
launch their annual free Shakespeare in the Park tour with a performance
of Romeo & Juliet at Boone Woods Park in Burlington at 7
p.m. on Saturday. (If you live north of the river, you'll get your
chance next Wednesday evening at Eden Park's Seasongood Pavilion or at
Burnet Woods in Clifton on Thursday.) As noted, these are free
presentations, presented in classic Elizabethan style and use six actors
from the company's resident ensemble. These are the same productions
that CSC tours to schools and community centers, so they're great for
the entire family. A week from now they'll start performing A Midsummer Night's Dream at some locations. For a full schedule, go here.
Shakespeare is behind the story of Toil and Trouble, the
current offering at Know Theatre. It's a new play (this is just the
second time its been produced; its world premiere was in California last
fall) that offers a contemporary riff on Macbeth (CityBeat review here).
Instead of kings and warriors, however, its characters are a pair of
thirtysomething slackers and Beth, a wildly ambitious sportscaster who
has more testosterone than either of the guys. There's a lot of wacky
moments in this play, replaces Macbeth's witches with fortune
cookies and the kingdom of Scotland with an almost unpopulated island
off the coast of Chile. You can pick up on the laughs through Aug. 24.
At the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, the annual production by Cincinnati Young People's Theatre is Grease,
a tried-and-true musical about kids in the ’50s at Rydell High. Sixty
years haven't dimmed the musicality of the show, and the youthful
performers will bring this one to life if you're in the mood for a
classic. It wraps up with a matinee on Sunday. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
While the Cincinnati Symphony's LumenoCity
isn't exactly theater, the performances in Washington Park on Saturday
and Sunday evening — with a dazzling light show on the facade of Music
Hall — will definitely be theatrical. It's the debut for Louis Langree
as the CSO's new music director, and the program will feature performers
from Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera. But the big deal is the
colorful illumination that will let you see historic Music Hall in a
light you've never imagined. It's free, starting at 8:30 p.m. both
nights; big crowds are expected, so come early. Don't you wish the
streetcar were already here so you could ride it to Over-the-Rhine?
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:46 AM | Permalink
You still have several weeks to see Cock (aka "The Cockfight Play" for journalism wimps) at Know Theatre. (It's onstage through May 11.) It's an oh-so-contemporary piece of theater about a gay man — or rather a man — who thought himself to be gay until he breaks up with his boyfriend and takes up with a woman. (CityBeat review here.) The play involves the tense dance of indecision he becomes part of as his lovers fight over him. It's about 90-minutes of fiercely acted theatrics, staged in a setting that looks like the arena where cockfighting happens. Definitely for mature audiences who appreciate shows that don't pull punches. Tickets: 513-3
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.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 03:37 PM | Permalink
just opened Thunder Knocking on the Door, a show it
staged in 1999 and sold a boatload of tickets — the most for any
musical it’s presented in the past two decades! I was there on
Thursday night for the opening, and this is a drop-dead gorgeous
production — costumes, sets, lighting and sound by Broadway
designers, and a cast of five who all have star-power. Even better,
they form a wonderful musical ensemble when they need to. Keith
Glover’s play is a fable about the Blues: Marvell Thunder is a
mystical presence who years earlier lost a “cuttin’ contest” to
a fellow named Jaguar Dupree, and now he’s back to even the score
“where the two roads meet,” somewhere near Bessemer, Alabama. But
Jaguar’s passed, survived by his wife (twice widowed since then)
and his twin brother. Her and Jaguar’s twin children, Jaguar Jr.
and Glory are musical and each have magical guitars that he
bequeathed to them. Jr. has lost his to Thunder, and now he’s
coming for the other one. But it’s complicated, because Thunder is
turning to stone because it’s been so long since he’s been in
love. All this is played out to a wonderful Blues score, most of it
by singer and composer Keb’ Mo’. There’s a great band backing
them up, and to make this tale all the more magical, among its
technical team is an “illusion designer.” You’ll be asking,
“How’d they do that?” more than once. I gave it a Critic’s
Pick, and you should get your tickets right away. 513-421k-3888.
production of the recent off-Broadway and Broadway Rock musical hit,
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a youthful mix of
political commentary, driving Rock performances, history, humor and
sober observations on the will of the people — just what we’ve
come expect from Know Theatre. Not many musicals begin with the cast
flipping the bird at the audience, but then not many musicals are
like this one, spinning a tale of America’s seventh president to
in-your-face Indie Rock tunes. This is Bloody Bloody’s first
professional regional production. I gave it a Critic’s Pick, and
the show is proving to be a big hit for Know. (Through May 12.) Box
Pump Boys &
Dinettes at the Covington’s Carnegie Center is something
like an off-Broadway classic (it had a brief Broadway run) from the
early 1980s. Set in a filling station that’s also a diner, it’s a
framework for downhome Country tunes and cornpone humor. Not much of
a story, but a talented cast makes this one a lot of light-hearted
fun. This is the final weekend. Box office: 859-957-1940.
Covedale Center is
presenting Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s but Joseph and
the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I saw it last Friday and
can recommend it as a production that does justice to a piece of
entertaining fluff. Director Tim Perrino has assembled a fast-paced
production with some fine voices. The jaunty show, which covers the
familiar tale in about 90 minutes (including intermission), has fun
with (and parodies) various musical styles — from Elvis-styled Rock
and Western Swing to French ballads and calypso. Stone walls and
palms slide back to reveal a sphinx and a smoking entrance for the
Pharaoh (aka Elvis). It’s not groundbreaking in any way, but it is
the kind of solid entertainment the Covedale has presented for 10
seasons. Through May 13. Box office: 513-241-6550.
And while I’m talking
about lighthearted shows, make not that a tour of Mamma Mia,
cramming tons of ABBA tunes into an implausible but funny story,
makes a one-week stop at the Aronoff starting on Tuesday. It would be
hard not to have a good time at any production of Mamma Mia.
Each week in Stage
Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces
of theater news.
Covedale presents Webber's tuneful Bible tale
0 Comments · Thursday, April 26, 2012
Before Jesus Christ Superstar and The Phantom of the Opera,
Andrew Lloyd Webber composed together a brief “pop cantata” based on
the biblical story of Joseph and his “coat of many colors.” It was a
piece to be sung by children and subsequently
recorded as a concept album.
Webber later expanded Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, molding it into a bouncy, bubbly show stuffed with musical parodies.
Season begins on a 'high' note at the Playhouse
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 1, 2010
September marks the beginning of Greater Cincinnati's 2010-11 theater season. Check it out: Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare, Know Theatre, Human Race Theatre Company, Broadway Across America, the Covedale Center, CCM, Falcon Theater, NKU, the Footlighters and Cincinnati Musical Theatre are offering up a huge array of live theater this fall.