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Seven Spots on the Sun (Review)

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.    
by Rick Pender 09.27.2013
Posted In: Theater at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
stage door 9-13 - fly @ playhouse - photo sandy underwood

Stage Door: Memory Lane

Perhaps this weekend you want to take a last-chance trip down Memory Lane. You have that option as the Showboat Majestic is wrapping up its production of Showboat Follies, the final show that Cincinnati Landmark Productions will stage on the historic vessel. It's a revue of songs and skits that should be fun if not profound, but if you go (final performance is Sunday), you'll be able to tell you foriends that you were among the last to visit this nostalgic Cincinnati venue. (Unless the City of Cincinnati finds another operator — which they've been seeking with no success.) Tickets: 513-241-6550. This weekend also offers the final performances of Oliver Twist at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. It's a tale of crime and child abuse from the Victorian era, and not terribly chipper — think A Christmas Carol without any holiday spirits. But as always with Cincy Shakes, there's some fine acting — and they've added some musical elements that keep things interest, too. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1. The most engaging theater onstage right now (and sticking around until Oct. 4) is Fly at the Cincinnati Playhouse. It's a creative portrait of four aspiring African Americans striving to be Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. The challenges they faced — prejudice, rigorous training and life-threatening aerial combat — not only made them pioneers who addressed civil rights issues decades before the rest of America, it made them heroes, too. Making this production all the more interesting is a modern tap dancer who "underscores" many of the scenes with movement and rhythm. I suspect you've never seen anything quite like this. Tickets: 513-241-3888. If you're a movie fan I suspect you've seen Carrie (based on Stephen King's novel about a bullied girl who unleashed her telekinetic powers) and Ghost (about a guy who's murdered but comes back with the help of a crazy psychic to save the lover he's lost). They've both been turned into unmemorable musicals that are onstage locally for you to see. I've seen them both, and I'm sorry to say that — despite some fine voices (in Carrie at the Carnegie, presented by Showbiz Players) and a lot of video and special effects (a touring production of Ghost at the Aronoff Center) — I believe you might be better off to pull out your DVD of either film to watch.  I haven't seen it, but I'm intrigued by Northern Kentucky University's production of Moby Dick Rehearsed. Herman Melville's great American novel is brought to life onstage when a company of Shakespearean actors stop rehearsing King Lear and consider a new play drawn from the tale of the Great White Whale. Theater elements become aspects of the Pequod as the crew is lashed along in Captain Ahab's obsessive hunt for the beast that took his leg. Through Oct. 6. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
 
 

Haunting Tales, Flying High

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.  

Fly (Review)

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.  
by Rick Pender 06.07.2013
Posted In: Theater at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
know at night - photo eric vosmeier

Stage Door: Finishing Up Fringe

Two more days of the 2013 Cincy Fringe remain. In its 10th year, this year's festival has provided consistently high-quality offerings. If you're serious about the full range of theater, you owe it to yourself to catch a couple of them. I can't go into everything here, but you can check out my column from the current issue of CityBeat here or go straight to CityBeat's hub for web coverage where you can read coverage of all the shows, thanks to our dedicated corps of reviewers.One further recommendation: Make your way to Know Theatre after 10 p.m. on Saturday to mix and mingle with the lively crowd and be among the first to learn which shows have earned "Pick of the Fringe" honors. There's no charge for admission; buy a drink or two and tip the bartenders generously. This is a volunteer-driven event, so you might also say thanks to anyone wearing a volunteer T-shirt. Even as the Fringe sails off into the sunset, there's still plenty of theater onstage locally. For instance, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company opens its revival of its hit from last summer, The Hound of the Baskervilles. (Find CityBeat's review of last summer's CSC production here.) A three-man cast plays all the characters in a very funny take on the classic Sherlock Holmes tale. The actors, a trio of Cincy Shakes' best (Jeremy Dubin, Nicholas Rose and Brent Vimtrup), have been staged by the always inventive Michael Evan Haney, the Cincinnati Playhouse's associate artistic director and perhaps our finest local stage director, who manages to squeeze every possible ounce of entertainment from this hilarious script. The show had a sold-out run last July, and you can expect a similar response this month; the run continues through June 30. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1. Another option: Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, at Falcon Theater in Newport. It's a funny script by Mitch Albom (the author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven) about two bumbling Alabama duck hunters who think they’ve shot an angel. The story lands in a New York tabloid and explodes from there. Through June 15. Tickets: 513-479-6783. For something more serious, I suggest Showbiz Players production of Spring Awakening at the Carnegie in Covington, the winner of eight Tony Awards (including best musical). It's a tale of teen angst and emerging sexuality, a powerful piece with a driving Rock score. Onstage through June 8. Tickets: 859-957-1940. And there's still time to catch Shipwrecked! on the Playhouse's Shelterhouse stage (through June 16). It's a fantastic and family-friendly tale about adventure and storytelling, told imaginatively using three actors and a lot of clever sound effects and adaptation of everyday things to create exotic settings and dangerous moments, rescued by heroism or happenstance. (CityBeat review here.) A good show for the whole family. Tickets: 513-421-3888 Finally, a reminder: The Tony Awards, recognizing Broadway's best shows, will be be broadcast on Sunday evening on CBS, starting at 8 p.m., hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
 
 

Shipwrecked! (Review)

An adventurous story of storytelling

0 Comments · Friday, May 24, 2013
The Playhouse is wrapping up its 53rd season with Donald Margulies’s 2007 script, Shipwrecked!. Concluding Blake Robison’s first season as artistic director, the show continues his promise to offer family-friendly plays designed to appeal to a broad cross-section of Playhouse theatergoers  

Leveling Up (Review)

Boundaries between fantasy, reality blur in Deborah Laufer's modern script

1 Comment · Monday, February 18, 2013
Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer has found a vein of universality in her new play, Leveling Up, using the world of online gaming in which players vie for higher levels of power and accomplishment, as a metaphor for growing up.  
by Rick Pender 02.01.2013
Posted In: Theater at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
brent vimtrup as king richard ii - cincinnati shakespeare company - photo by rich sofranki

Stage Door: Closing Shows

No new shows opened this week. But several will close this weekend, so it's your last chance to see them. At the top of that list I would put Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of Richard II (Review here). If you're a completist, this is a rare chance to catch a show that's produced very infrequently. (CSC's staging is its first in 19 seasons, leaving it just one shy of producing all 38 of Shakespeare's surviving plays.) But an even more important reason is that actor Brent Vimtrup offers a breathtaking portrait of a weak king (he ruled in the 14th century) who questioned his own ability to reign, decided to hand over his throne and then agonized over relinquishing his "God-given" right. Vimtrup makes Richard real and human in some unexpected ways; it's a performance that's definitely worth seeing. It doesn't hurt that the script is entirely in verse — CSC's actors know how to revel in this language, so the words are wondrous things to hear. But you last chances are this weekend; the final performance is Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1. A British king of a different sort is onstage at the Carnegie in Covington, where the musical Camelot is on view in a concert staging (Review here). The mythical King Arthur — he of chivalry and knighthood and the Round Table — is the subject, as well as his beautiful Queen Guinevere and his valiant retainer Sir Lancelot. Like Richard, Arthur has some shortcomings — hey, we're all human, right? — but his problems are more about being too idealistic and trusting. The truth about Camelot is that the story is kind of choppy and the characters rather one-dimensional, but Lerner and Loewe's music is beautiful, especially in this production, where some great voices are accompanied by an ensemble of musicians from the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the CCO's Mischa Santora. The show is minimally staged and costumed, but its maximally sung. This one wraps up with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940. Two other productions that are definitely worth seeing: The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's world premiere of Abigail/1702 (through Feb. 17, 513-421-3888) (Review here), a spooky sequel to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati's regional premiere of the recent Off-Broadway hit Freud's Last Sesson (through Feb. 16, 513-421-3555) (Review here). The latter is an imagined conversation between Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis about some big issues of life and death, faith and belief. It's a very thought-provoking script, performed at ETC by two fine actors, Bruce Cromer and Barry Mulholland. This one was scheduled to close on Feb. 10, but demand for tickets led to an extension. Take advantage of it!
 
 
by Jac Kern 02.01.2013
Posted In: Events, Drinking, Fun at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
japps-martini_sign_web-01

Your Weekend To Do List: 2/1-2/3

Remember when you could buy a proper cocktail with the spare change in your pocket? OK, probably not, but you can still enjoy Prohibition-era prices at Japp’s new happy hour kicking off Friday. From 4-6 p.m. tonight (and each night thereafter), Japp’s will serve up 33-cent Plymouth gin martinis with a side of live Jazz and ‘20s-‘30s standards. Pet owners have rallied for a downtown dog park for years; now there are two! In addition to Washington Park’s AstroTurfed dog area is Fido Field on Eggleston Ave. The space is made possible my volunteers and fundraising, as it is not managed by the Cincinnati Park Board. Help contribute to the maintenance of Fido Field by enjoying a night out on the Balls Around the Block bar crawl Friday. Dog lovers and drinkers alike will hop from the Contemporary Arts Center (check-in by 6 p.m.) to bars like Igby’s, Righteous Room, Madonna’s and more, enjoying drink and food specials at various locations. Registration for the event has closed; walk-ups will be accepted until 7 p.m. at the CAC for $40. Check out the bar crawl map and learn more about Fido Field here. While there aren’t any new theater productions opening this week, there are plenty of shows to check out at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Playhouse in the Park and Covington’s Carnegie Center. Read about them in Rick Pender’s Stage Door. Downtown’s newest bar, 601 Lounge and Nightclub, hosts a grand opening Saturday. Doors open at 9 p.m.; $10 cover includes two free drinks. Like a lot of newer downtown clubs, 601 looks to cater to the VIP/bottle service crowd, so dress to impress — or you’ll be stuck in the cold. Check out our calendar  for more events, art shows, concerts, theater productions and more happening this weekend
 
 

Abigail/1702 (Review)

Spectral sequel premieres at Cincinnati Playhouse

0 Comments · Saturday, January 26, 2013
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s world premiere play, Abigail/1702, is the Mount Adams theater’s 66th premiere, and a positive sign that new artistic director Blake Robison will continue the company’s long tradition of fostering new theatrical works and emerging writers.  

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