by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:17 AM | Permalink
There's a bounty of
theater choices to keep you entertained this weekend, with productions
on venues all over town — including on several university campuses. Here
are a few you might want to check out.
Edgecliff Theatre, which has presented shows at the Columbia
Performance Center on Cincinnati's East Side for quite a few years, has
been itinerant this year while they seek a new home. They're completing
their fifteenth season with a production of David Auburn's Proof
at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater, which looks like it's
where they'll land for their next season. (I'll be writing more about
NET in my next CityBeat "Curtain Call" column on April 24.) I
attended the show's opening on Wednesday, and it's a solid production of
a very engaging play, the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. Greg
Procaccino, NET's former artistic director, has returned to stage a
simple but effective production that features Rebecca Whatley as
Catherine, the anxious, self-doubting young woman who has been a
caregiver for years for her father, a renowned math professor whose
mental instability has been a factor and a threat in his daughter's
life. The show has several gripping twists and turns, as well as a
satisfying resolution. Through April 27. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
Last week I was at the opening of Cock,
a regional premiere and Know Theatre's second production of the season. (CityBeat review here.)
It's the story of a man falling out of a gay relationship and into one
with a woman; he's torn by indecision and doubt about which way to go.
The show is staged (by director Brian Robertson) like a cockfight, with
the characters "pecking" at one another emotionally. It's also presented
in an unusual setting, bertween two rows of bleachers (like a cockfight
arena), so you're close to the action and able to see how others are
responding. It's a fight to the finish, and you can never be certain of
the outcome. Strong acting and a very contemporary, well-written script
by British playwright Mike Bartlett. Through May May 11. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
This is the final weekend at the Carnegie in Covington for the hard-hitting musical Parade
by composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown and playwright Alfred Uhry.
(CityBeat review here.) It's based on the true story of Leo Frank, unjustly accused of
murdering a young teenaged girl working in the factory he managed in
Atlanta in 1913. A Jew from New York, Frank was the target of profound
anti-Semitism and never had a realistic chance to defend himself,
although his wife tried mightily to expose the prejudice. It's a
powerful production, featuring a cast of musical theater talent from
UC's College-Conservatory of Music, directed by Dee Anne Bryll and Ed
Cohen. The show is not easy to watch, but it's deeply moving. Through
Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
years since 1981, Northern Kentucky University has presented the Year
End Series Festival — shortened to the "YES," ten days of presentations
of three world premieres. This year's shows are a murder-mystery farce, Heart Attack with a Knife by Oded Gross; David L. Williams Spake, a drama set in Siberia; and a comic fable about fame and friendship, Furbelow
by J. Stephen Brantley. YES is a gargantuan undertaking, and it
represents how NKU prepares its drama students for careers in the
theater. Shows are presented in rotating repertory, so you should check the Web site for specific performance dates. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
area universities this weekend: At the Cohen Family Studio Theater at
UC's College-Conservatory of Music, you can see a production of Emily
Mann's Execution of Justice (UC's College-Conservatory of Music, through Sunday, 513-556-4183),
a new docu-drama about the trial of Dan White for the murder of Harvey
Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay Supervisor and Mayor George
Moscone. It's staged by retiring UC drama professor Michael Burnham. And
for musical theater fans, you can see Stephen Sondheim and James
Lapine's popular fairytale musical Into the Woods at Miami University (through April 27, 513-529-3200).
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:38 AM | Permalink
If you're looking for an unusual but gripping theatrical production this weekend, you should head straight to UC's College-Conservatory of Music for The Threepenny Opera. Don't think that this is some stuffy old piece from 1928, although that's when the
show with a script by Bertoldt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill was first
performed. It was radical and challenging, mocking the establishment
and paying no heed to social structures. This musical theater production, staged by CCM Opera Chair Robin Guarino, feels lethal and threatening. You'll recognize a tune or two ("Mack the Knife" is the show's familiar tune), and if you've seen Cabaret or Urinetown, you'll recognize how this piece influenced those works. Guarino's production, with a big cast and an
imaginative set (designed by Tony Award winner John Arnone), captures
the vitality and spirit of the original work. I doubt we'll see another
production of this one very soon, so here's your chance to catch a bit
of theater history — and be both entertained and provoked. Definitely worth seeing. Through March 10. Box office: 513-556-4183.
If you haven't yet seen Know Theatre's production of When the Rain Stops Falling, that's another one you should have in your sights. Andrew Bovell's dense, imaginative script is a compelling story of multiple, intersecting generations of two families. (Review here.) The taut, engaging 100-minute production,
staged by Cincinnati Shakespeare's Brian Phillips, features several of that company's best actors, as well as several other local standouts. One of the best productions from Know Theatre in several seasons. It's onstage through March 16. Tickets: 513-300-5669.I haven't seen it (alas, my schedule just doesn't have room for everything), but Legally Blonde: The Musical at NKU has received props from the League of Cincinnati Theatres as an entertaining production. It's the story of Elle Woods, spurned by her fiancé, off to Harvard Law School in pursuit of him, only to discover that she's got the smarts to be more than just a girlfriend. Not profound, but surefire entertainment. Through Sunday. Tickets: 859-572-5464
This is the second and final weekend for Catie O'Keefe's world premiere, Slow Descent from Heaven, presented by New Edgecliff Theatre. (O'Keefe is NET's playwright-in-residence). It's being performed in a converted classroom at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, directed by Ed Cohen. The central character, Molly (Elizabeth A. Harris), is a NASA scientist whose story is bookended by space shuttle disasters in 1986 and 2003. An angry, tense character, her involvement with men has affected her career and her attitude.
The story has a reverse chronology, so we peal backwards in time to
learn more about why she's the way she is. This is a good chance to see an original script by a local writer. Tickets: 513-399-6638.
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 18, 2012
All right, you’re going to have to
forgive me — I am a theater critic and a theater lover. Those terms are
not mutually exclusive.
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 09:20 AM | Permalink
My first and foremost recommendation for the weekend is Blue Man Group.
(Review here.) It's a performance experience unlike much of anything else you've
probably ever experienced in a theater — raucous music, zany humor,
eye-popping technology and infectiously fun engagement with the
audience. Amazingly, it's done without spoken words — the guys mime
(well, kind of, it's actually more like they're mute in the style of
Harpo Marx, with a lot of staring and double-takes), although they're
backed up by awesome video that does offer some instruction (and laughs)
for the literate. As I've said before, it's hard to describe but easy
to enjoy. This is Blue Man Group's first time in Cincinnati, presented
by Broadway Across America; the Aronoff Center might never be the same.
(Through Oct. 28) Box office: 800-982-2787.
Last night I enjoyed opening night for the thoroughly authentic and charming production of Neil Simon's
Brighton Beach Memoirs
at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. It's the story of a Jewish
family in Brooklyn in the 1930s, but thanks to Simon's witty, heartfelt
recollections of his own youth, it has a feeling of universality. The
narrator is Eugene Morris Jerome (who's a stand-in for Simon himself),
and actor Ryan DeLuca conveys the joys and pangs of adolescence and
puberty with feeling and hilarity. He frequently addresses the audience
about his interactions with his grouchy parents and his woebegon aunt,
his worldly brother, his pampered cousins — he's documenting them for
something he'll write when he's older, a novel or perhaps a play! And
that play is the one onstage at the Playhouse, the first Neil Simon
script ever presented there in more than 50 seasons. (Through Nov. 10.)
Box office: 513-421-3888.
Continuing productions of the comedy
Mrs. Mannerly at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (513-421-3555) and Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo & Juliet at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (513-381-2273, x1)
have been positively reviewed and appreciated by audiences. This
weekend also marks the opening of Cincy Shakes' staging of Shakespeare's
bloody history of the Roman emperor Titus Andronicus,
staged with tongue in cheek (and in a pie) for the Halloween season. It
happens on the nights when the R&J cast takes a breather.
You might also consider two special events: New Edgecliff Theatre's annual one-night fundraiser,
Sweet Suspense Theatre,
a presentation in the style of a radio play, happens on Saturday
evening. This year the production, a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde's
story of The Canterville Ghost, is being presented at the
Cincinnati Art Museum — and includes an extended intermission with lots
of goodies from local bakeries and restaurants. (Tickets: 888-588-0177). You might also want to check in with the Playhouse about ticket availability for Post Secret
on Monday evening; the one-night presentation of a piece based on an
anonymous "true confessions" website is rumored to be sold out, but
there might be a waiting list if you call the box office. (513-421-3888)
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:40 AM | Permalink
Company recently found out Columbia Performance Center was no longer available
New Edgecliff Theatre will cancel its first production of the season,
largely the result of its need for a new venue. The group has performed
in the Columbia Performance Center, the "pink church" on Eastern Avenue
in the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood on Cincinnati's East Side, for
several years. Without much notice over the summer, NET was informed by
the property's owner that the facility would no longer be available.
Artistic Director Jim Stump tells me that they've been notifying the
actors and designers who had been recruited for a staging of Eric
Talk Radio that the production, scheduled to open on
Sept. 27, is not going to happen. He wrote to me in an email, "This is
due to a number of factors, not the least of which was the suddenness of
our losing the Columbia with little warning. This meant we spent a
significant portion of the time we would normally dedicate to the first
production to the search for a new venue. In the end, we didn't feel we
could present a production of the quality our audiences would expect."
NET is still seeking a permanent solution to its venue needs, but Stump says the company will present
The Santaland Diaries and The 12 Dates of Christmas at the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater in December.
New Edgecliff production is typical LaBute
3 Comments · Sunday, April 15, 2012
Reasons to be Pretty, getting its
local premiere at New Edgecliff Theatre, was Neil LaBute's first play to make
it to Broadway, where it landed in 2009 and earned a few Tony
In search of innocent victims — critics and vampires
3 Comments · Thursday, March 1, 2012
In Irish playwright Conor McPherson's St. Nicholas, Michael Shooner plays a thoroughly nasty theater critic; a writer without much to say but who enjoys lording his influence over
actors and theaters. Most critics actually love the theater, but not this guy — it’s largely an experience for him to bully people and
freeload food and drink on opening nights. He enjoys preying on those who fear
him. So perhaps it’s only natural that he ends up in the employ
of a coven of vampires.
0 Comments · Saturday, October 1, 2011
The title of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This suggests
it will be inflammatory and tempestuous. Knowing that its original New
York production starred John Malkovich and Joan Allen might heighten
your expectation that a local production by New Edgecliff Theatre (NET)
would pin you to the wall. Featuring Nathan Neorr’s energetic
performance as the crazed Pale, a man hopped up on grief, drugs and
booze (the role Malkovich inhabited in 1987), there’s potential for a
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 02:25 PM | Permalink
New Edgecliff offers training for aspiring writers
If your aspirations include playwriting, New Edgecliff Theatre is offering a weekend intensive playwriting workshop for anyone age 16-22 — from beginners who have never dabbled in playwriting, to professionals wanting to get back to the basics. Catie O’Keefe, a professional playwright who is NET’s playwright-in-residence, will lead the workshops.