by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:33 AM | Permalink
It's the final
weekend for most holiday shows, and there are lots of good choices. I'm
ranking today's listings according to the laugh-o-meter, starting with
the most hilarious:
No. 1: Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some).
This is the eighth year the Cincinnati Shakespeare has put this show
together, but it's fun even for if you've been before. The cast of four
talented actors who usually do Shakespeare and the Classics prove adept
at silly, in-the-moment humor. While they're poking fun at many things
local, they also manage to touch on just about every Christmas story you
can imagine, all with laugh-out-loud results. The biggest challenge is
getting a ticket, since the run (through Dec. 29) was nearly sold out when it opened last Sunday. A performance has been added on Saturday at 2 p.m., which might be your best bet to score a seat or two. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
No. 2: The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), a show by the same guys who came up with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).
The Cincinnati Playhouse is presenting the show's world premiere, and
it's a wide-ranging evening of every kind of humor imaginable by three
very adept performers. They can impersonate people and characters, they
can do improv, they can satirize the classics — and they can keep
everyone in the audience paying attention lest they get a pie in the
face. Seriously. Our should I say "humorously"? It's an evening of fun,
through Dec. 29. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
No. 3: The 12 Dates of Christmas
is the story of a gal who struggles through a year of awful dating
after she loses her fiancé when she sees him making out with another
woman on national TV during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Lots of
losers, lovers and louts — and a few nice guys who aren't quite right.
It's a one-woman show with a good heart and a great performance by Annie
Kalahurka. New Edgecliff Theatre is presenting the production at Know
Theatre. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
No. 4: A Klingon Christmas Carol.
This one isn't really laugh-out-loud, but it's a lot of fun to see
actors telling the familiar story of Scrooge and his ghosts through the
filter of Star Trek's fierce warrior race, the Klingons. SQuja'
(he's the central character) isn't a miser, he's a coward — which is
sinful for these tough guys. Find out how he gets retuned. It's a good
bet for Trekkies; others venture in at your own risk. Tickets for this
one ($20) can be obtained at the door, in the lobby of the Art Academy
of Cincinnati (1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine).
Lots of more traditional fare elsewhere, of course, including Christmas Carols at the Playhouse and Covedale, as well as the family-oriented Around the World in 80 Days at Ensemble Theatre.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:37 AM | Permalink
the 13th, but if you're in the mood for holiday shows, this is your
lucky weekend. Just about every theater in town has something onstage aimed at getting you into the Christmas spirit, making you laugh,
diverting you from the stress of being cheerful or just poking fun at
the ways of the world (at least the world of commercialism we see in
America today).Perhaps you've already done your annual brush-up on Dickens' A Christmas Carol
at the Playhouse (another fine production, now in its 23rd season with
Bruce Cromer back as Scrooge and a new interpretation of Bob Cratchit,
featuring the very angular Ryan Wesley Gilreath, who seems to be all
arms and legs and stringy hair — very Dickensian) or the musical version
being presented by Covedale Center. With the story of Scrooge's dark
night of the soul fresh in mind, perhaps you're ready for A Klingon Christmas Carol,
presented by Hugo West Theatricals at the Art Academy of Cincinnati
(1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine). This is a newish theater group that
knows its way around satirical work (their Don't Cross the Streams, a goofy derivative of Ghostbusters,
was a popular piece in the 2012 Fringe festival), they are giving this
unusual piece its local premiere. (It's been staged in Chicago and
Minneapolis.) It's actually a rather faithful retelling of the story
with SQuja' (Donald Volpenheim), a cowardly, money-grubbing member of
Star Trek's warrior race, taking the place of Scrooge. It's presented by
a deadpan Vulcan narrator (Lauren Carr) who positions the work as the
"original" of the tale. Klingons don't celebrate Christmas, but they are
bound by traditions, the greatest of them being the "Feast of the Long
Night." The 70-minute piece closely matches with Scrooge's story, but
it's all through a Klingon filter — lots of angry outbursts and hearty
laughter, grunting, growling, drinking and chest-thumping by characters
with wrinkled foreheads, bushy eyebrows and fierce demeanors. Eileen
Earnest handles timHom (a Muppet-like equivalent for Tiny Tim), son of
Quachit (David Dreith), whose training as a warrior is being neglected
because of greedy SQuja'. If you've never yearned for a visit to Qo'noS,
the Klingon homeworld, you might find this production a bit
impenetrable since it's performed in the guttural Klingon language, but
there are projected subtitles that add humor to the action. This won't
be a show for everyone, but if you're a Star Trek fan, you'll have a good time. Tickets ($20 at the door or here).
Elsewhere in OTR, there's no need for subtitles for New Edgecliff Theatre's The 12 Dates of Christmas,
presented this year at Know Theatre (1120 Jackson St.). It's a remount
of NET's 2012 holiday, again featuring Annie Kalahurka as Mary, a New
York actress whose chipper view of the holidays is trashed when she sees
her fiancé kissing another woman on national TV at the Macy's
Thanksgiving Day Parade. The one-woman show recounts her trajectory
through a year of dating a dozen men, a few with potential, others with
"what were you thinking?" qualities. Kalahurka does it all, from her
central character, her oppressive matchmaking aunt, her nervously
worried mother and a parade of bad choices marked by ornaments she hangs
on a tree — an old friend, a doctor, a bartender, guys met at weddings,
a musician and more. Along the way, she's in a production of Macbeth and A Christmas Carol (she
plays Christmas Past) adding more humor with references to theater and
such. This is a contemporary show with language to match (so it's not
for the kids), but Kalahurka is a charming performer who makes this one
totally worth seeing. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
On Sunday evening, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company kicks off two weeks of Every Christmas Carol Ever Told (and then some) for the eighth consecutive year. As the title implies, it's a mash-up of everything from A Christmas Carol to the Grinch, with stops for Charlie Brown, It's a Wonderful Life, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, the Nutcracker
and more. It's been a great evening of adult entertainment in past
incarnations: This year returns last year's cast intact — Miranda McGee,
Sara Clark, Justin McComb and Billy Chace. They're individually funny,
and together they can be downright hilarious. Even if you've seen this
one before, it's worth a return trip. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
For those who want to take the kids to a show, you can't go wrong with Around the World in 80 Days at Ensemble Theatre through Jan. 4 (513-421-3555) or the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati's production of The Day Before Christmas with performances today and Saturday at the Taft Theatre (800-745-3000).
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.
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.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:54 AM | Permalink
Lots of choices to fulfill your appetite for good theater this weekend. Best bet is to catch one of the final performances of Other Desert Cities at Ensemble Theatre (Sunday at 2 p.m.
is your last chance), the story of parents and children who just can't
get along. (CityBeat review here.) Heavy doses of guilt, sarcasm and politics fuel a lot of
family angst, and some unexpected twists and turns keep things
interesting as a daughter who's a writer blames her parents for her
activist brother's suicide — in a very public way. The show features a
solid cast of local favorites. It's definitely worth seeing if you can
get a ticket. 513-421-3555.
A wholly different kind of show is Fly
at the Cincinnati Playhouse, an imaginative recreation of the lives of
four men recruited among hundreds of African Americans during World War
II to fulfill piloting roles in bombing missions over Europe. (CityBeat review here.) The
Tuskegee Airmen were the leading edge of the Civil Rights movement, men
who had to overcome prejudice to prove their worth. The production is
made visually and sonically engaging with videos that recreate flight
and a soulful tap dancer who brings emotion — joy, sorrow, grief and
anger — to various scenes. It's a very imaginative show. Through Oct. 5. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
On Wednesday evening, I caught the opening night of New Edgecliff Theatre's staging of William Inge's 1955 comedy-drama, Bus Stop.
It's about a collection of lost souls who end up trapped in a Kansas
diner during an overnight snowstorm. They're largely caricatures, but
Inge was a master of naturalistic dialogue, and in the hands of some
fine local performers directed by Jared Doren the show takes on a
pleasant, believable life. Some good things happen, some sad stories are
told, and some lessons learned. At the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third
Bank Theater, through Sept. 28. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
And for something completely different, you might want to check out a production by community theater group Showbiz Players of Carrie: The Musical,
Stephen King’s creepy novel about a bullied adolescent girl who
unleashes telekinetic vengeance on her persecutors. The show originated
on Broadway in 1988 and was long considered one of the worst ever, but
it was reborn in 2012, and became a hit. Decide for yourself by seeing
it at the Carnegie in Covington. Through Sept. 29. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
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 08:46 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
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 23, 2013
New Edgecliff Theatre completes its 15th season with David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Proof
(onstage through Sunday at the Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Bank
Theater), a production providing ample evidence of NET’s strength...
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.