by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:36 AM | Permalink
Last evening I went to see Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses
at UC's College-Conservatory of Music. You can read more about
playwright Zimmerman in my column in this week's issue here, and you'll
probably figure out that this is one of my favorite scripts. CCM's drama
program has created a shimmering, playful production that's getting a
brief run (final performance is a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday) at Patricia Corbett Theatre. Guest director D. Lynn Meyers
took a break from Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati to travel up the hill and
stage this one on the UC campus, and her cast of 18 student performers
wholly embraced this unusual show — which requires a pool of water as
its central design feature. (Water plays a significant and meaningful
role in the retelling of a set of classical myths shaped and recorded by
Ovid two millennia ago.) But Dana Hall's scenic design doesn't stop
with water; it's elemental, with immense hanging slabs of stone that
resonate with the decorative concrete slabs in PCT. Wes Richter's
lighting — it really does shimmer — enhances the stories of characters
changed by circumstances, good intentions and bad decisions, and Kevin
Semancik's sound design brings vivid punctuation to many stories,
including a destructive storm at sea. Speaking of sound, cellist Jacob
Yates, a senior at CCM, composed moody accompaniment that distills the
moving emotional essence of each scene; he performs live from stage left
as the tales unfold. Amanda Kai Newman's costume designs complete the
visual power of the show, whether they are fluttering around the edge of
the pool or from a high balcony upstage from which the gods watch and
control the mortals — and even when they are sopping wet from action in
the variable-depth pool. Much of the action is beautifully choreographed
and delivered with confident physicality. All in all, CCM's Metamorphoses is a total theatrical package that's definitely worth seeing. Tickets are likely available if you call quickly: 513-556-4183..
If you want a two-fer featuring shows staged by D. Lynn Meyers, you can catch her production of Tribes
back at her ETC home base. (CityBeat review here.) Nina Raine's script focuses on two young
adults who come from different "tribes," families with distinctively
separate approaches to deafness. Billy's family wants to approximate
normalcy by teaching him to lip read, while Sylvia's parents, both deaf,
have used signing. Now that she's going deaf herself and has befriended
Billy, these practices are at odds. But this is also a show about
family dynamics, love and acceptance — something everyone can relate to.
Billy's family is boisterous and rude, behaviors that often exclude
him. Sylvia's gentle, thoughtful manner is both solace and revelation to
him. Actors Dale Dymkoski and Kelly Mengelkoch (familiar to Cincinnati
Shakespeare audiences; she's a company member there) are simply
excellent in these two roles, and the balance of the cast creates real,
human characters. Tribes has been extended to Feb. 22, a week beyond its announced closing, to accommodate ticket demand. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
Other productions worth checking out this weekend are Seminar
by Falcon Theater at Newport's Monmouth Theater, a play by Cincinnatian
Theresa Rebeck about a writing class with a tyrannical teacher
(CityBeat review here; tickets: 513-479-6783); Bruce Norris's Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, revealing how attitudes about race and class haven't evolved all that much in 50 years, at Cincinnati Playhouse (CityBeat review here; tickets: 513-421-3888); and Steve Yockey's absurdist drama Pluto at Know Theatre, an inventively told story of contemporary grief (CityBeat review here; tickets: 513-300-5669).
Can you hear me now? 'Tribes' at Ensemble Theatre
0 Comments · Friday, February 7, 2014
Raine’s award-winning play Tribes is
overtly — and creatively — about people living with deafness. But it’s also a
story of families and the human need to connect.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:34 AM | Permalink
Truth to tell, midnight
has already passed and Victorian adventurer Phileas Fogg thinks he's
missed the deadline for getting "around the world in 80 days." But his
faithful servant Passepartout (played with manic energy by the always
amusing Michael G. Bath) saves the day by sorting out travel across time
zones. Your deadline has not quite passed, since Ensemble Theatre
Cincinnati's inventive staging of a musical version of Jules Verne's
classic Around the World in 80 Days continues through a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
(CityBeat review here.) If football and cold weather aren't your preferences, maybe you should
head to the Over-the-Rhine theater for a final volley of holiday
entertainment. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
you're thinking about theater, you should be making plans to see
Shakespeare's greatest tragedy (some say it's the greatest play ever
written), Hamlet, which opens next week at Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company. Once you've taken that one in, you'll be ready to
head back in mid-February for Tom Stoppard's other-end-of-the-telescope
version of the show (using the same actors), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
Happy New Year!
0 Comments · Monday, December 23, 2013
How was 2013 as a year for plays and
musicals in Cincinnati? From where I stand — or sit, since I’m most
often in a seat at one of our local theaters — it stacked up pretty
Entertaining, Charming and Heart-Warming
1 Comment · Monday, December 9, 2013
Theatre Cincinnati opened a revamped version of the delightfully spirited Around The World in 80 Days on Dec. 4 to
a full house. The production is exactly what you would hope for from a
family-friendly holiday show.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:28 AM | Permalink
Several great choices for theatergoing this weekend. At the top of your list should be Rapture, Blister, Burn at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. I was at the opening of Gina Gionfriddo's 2013 Pulitzer Prize runner-up on Wednesday,
and it's another fine example of the kind of excellent production we've
come to expect from ETC. Lynn Meyers has a knack for finding exactly
the right actors for her shows, and she's assembled a perfect cast for
this one, the story of a twisty relationship between three one-time
college friends. Two women, played by Jen Joplin and Corinne Mohlenhoff,
were roommates back then, and Mohlenhoff's character had a charismatic
boyfriend. She went off to a renowned academic career and Joplin's
character ended up marrying Don, played by Charlie Clark. Twenty years
later they're back in close proximity, and neither woman is feeling
fulfilled by her life. Don is a willing player in trading places, which
makes for some amusing drama. Mohlenhoff's character offers a summer
seminar in feminism, film and pornography which plays out some
interesting theorizing among the show's female characters about the
roles women play. It's a great stew of talking and experimenting, which
takes some interesting turns along the way. Definitely watchable and
entertaining. Onstage through Oct. 27. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
At the Playhouse you'll find Martín Zimmerman's much more serious Seven Spots on the Sun,
a story set in a Latin American nation torn asunder by civil war. (CityBeat review here.) We
see the drama played out between several characters whose lives are
tragically intertwined and who struggle to understand how to continue in
light of past decisions and tragedies. It's a powerful story that
offers small glimmers of hope, not to mention some magical turns that
lead you to speculate about fate and hope. Zimmerman is a playwright
whose name will become increasingly familiar in the future; the
Playhouse is offer his script in its world premiere. Onstage through Oct. 27. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
you're looking for a different kind of theater experience, check out
New Edgecliff Theatre's annual fundraiser, "Sweet Suspense," back for
its sixth year with a one-time performance on Sunday evening. Playwright Catie O'Keefe has adapted Mary Shelley's classic monster tale of Frankenstein
into a radio adaptation, complete with creepy sound effects. Since NET
is homeless this season, the event is happening at Know Theatre at 7:30 p.m.
The "sweet" part of the evening is a dessert buffet at intermission
with treats from many local bakeries, including Holtman's Donuts, the
hot new sweet shop on Vine Street in OTR. Tickets are $35 (hey, it's a
fundraiser) for adults, $20 for kids 13 and under. Seating is limited,
so ordering tickets in advance is advised: 513-399-6638.
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
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Several slots for the 2013-2014 season
have been filled in by local theaters as the current season finishes.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:00 AM | Permalink
Cincy Playhouse veterans Ed Stern and Michael Evan Haney to stage shows
If you enjoyed "great theater in a great theater" at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park during past seasons, you'll be pleased to learn that Ed Stern, former producing artistic director, and Michael Evan Haney, whose tenure as associate artistic director ends on June 30, have both been engaged to stage shows at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC) for its 2013-2014 season. Haney will stage Nina Raine's Tribes (Jan. 29-Feb. 16, 2014) and Stern will co-direct the world premiere of Raymond McAnally's Size Matters (May 7-25, 2014); the playwright is also an actor (he co-starred in ETC's production of Mrs. Mannerly last fall) and he will be the solo performer of the one-man show.Tribes is about Billy, the deaf son of an outspoken family obsessed with self-expression. He has adapted to his family but not vice versa. Then he begins to connect with the deaf community, and his family resents his new "tribe." The show uses spoken and sign language as well as surtitles so audiences can fully follow the action. The show has been a hit in New York (where it won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for outstanding play) and London, where it debuted in 2010 at the Royal Court Theatre. It's only been seen at a few theaters in the U.S. including the La Jolla Playhouse and the Guthrie in Minneapolis. As usual, ETC's Lynn Meyers is ahead of the curve in picking up great new works, and it's a good bet that Haney will make this a fine production. (Haney remains connected with the Playhouse as one of three artistic associates; he will direct A Christmas Carol as well as the world premiere of Anna Ziegler's A Delicate Ship during the Playhouse's 2013-2014 season.)McAnally's comedy, Size Matters is even newer, of course, as a world premiere. It's about a "big guy," living in a crowded city and getting work based on his weight. McAnally, an actor who's weighed more than 280 pounds since he was 18, explores the impact his weight has had on who he is: It's apparent to him that "size matters" much of the time, but not always. The show about body issues and self-confidence is based on true events. Stern will co-direct with ETC's Meyers.The balance of ETC's season was announced earlier: It opens on Sept. 4 with Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities, andincludes Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn, the holiday musical Around the World in 80 Days and Katori Hall's The Mountaintop about Martin Luther King Jr. Find more details here.
0 Comments · Saturday, June 8, 2013
The 2013 Fringe has provided a final showcase for a half-dozen talented performers to shine in their own light in a production of Adam Bock’s absurdist comedy.