WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Rick Pender 10.26.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
onstage 10-31 - brighton beach memoirs (cincinnati playhouse) - eugene (ryan deluca) observes his family - photo sandy underwood

Stage Door: Options Abound

You'll have to pick and choose this weekend because there's so much theater onstage. In addition to our professional theaters, it's worth checking out production at universities: Tonight through Sunday, CCM's esteemed musical theater program is offering the cult favorite Chess, with music by ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The story is set in Bangkok and Budapest during a mid-1970s world chess championship — and it's driven by gamesmanship between nations, between lovers and, of course, between chess players. I saw the opening on Thursday, and it's a BIG show with a gigantic cast. Several leading roles are double cast (with more juniors than seniors, in fact, which bodes well for CCM productions for this season and next). In particular, Matthew Paul Hill, playing the Russian grand master Anatoly, lifted the roof of Corbett Auditorium with his powerful baritone voice singing the stirring "Anthem," the Act 1 finale. Tickets ($30) Box office: 513-556-4183. At Northern Kentucky University you'll a production of Royal Gambit by German playwright Hermann Gressieker (translated into English in the late 1950s). The subject is King Henry VIII and his six wives, and this looks to be a beautifully costumed show, featuring senior Seth Wallen in the leading role. Tickets ($14). Box office: 859-572-5464. Neil Simon's funny and endearing Brighton Beach Memoirs is onstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse. I gave it a Critic's Pick (review here), and I'm sure audiences will love this sweet portrait of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s, where a loving but fractious family copes with hard times. It's told from the perspective of  Eugene, a precocious adolescent (he's really Simon as a 15-year-old), who takes notes on his family's behavior. Well acted and beautifully staged. Box office: 513-421-3888l. My schedule hasn't permitted me to see several shows that are getting good notices, including recognition from the folks evaluating productions for the League of Cincinnati Theatres. I'm catching up this evening with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is offering two shows this month. Romeo & Juliet is its mainstage show, and Sara Clark is getting high marks for her portrait of romantic but tragic young love. Brian Phillips' staging picked up an LCT nod, and the show received an overall recommendation from LCT. On the evenings when R&J is not onstage, there's another Shakespeare work for thrill seekers, specially selected and staged for the Halloween season: the bloody, gory tale of revenge, Titus Andronicus. Veteran actor Nick Rose plays a crazed Roman general, and just about everyone I've heard from says his performance is memorable. (It earned him an LCT nomination, too.) Box office: 513-381-2273. This weekend is the final one for Mrs. Mannerly at Ensemble Theatre. When Harper Lee reviewed this one for CityBeat (review here), she gave it a Critic's Pick, and I agree wholeheartedly. (LCT named it a recommended production, too.) CEA Hall of Fame actress Dale Hodges is great fun to watch as a strict etiquette teacher in 1967, and Raymond McAnally plays all the other characters — a bunch of kids who are learning how to behave in a "mannerly" way. It's funny from start to finish, but there's a heart-warming message within the story. Definitely worth seeing. Box office: 513-421-3555. At Clifton Performance Theatre, Clifton Players are staging A Bright New Boise, which also picked up an LCT recommendation. I haven't seen it, but the show won an Obie Award (that's for outstanding off-Broadway plays) in 2011, and it has a strong cast. This is a newish venue that's specializing in "storefront theater." Should be worth supporting. Tickets ($20): 513-861-7469. 
 
 
by Rick Pender 10.12.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Too Many Options

You have no excuse for complaining that there's not enough theater in the days ahead. In fact, you'll have a hard time fitting it all in. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati's regional premiere of Mrs. Mannerly opened a few days ago: It's a comedy about growing up in small-town Ohio under the watchful (perhaps oppressive) eye of a strict etiquette teacher. Jeffrey Hatcher's play (largely based on his own experience in 1967) features one of Cincinnati's best actresses, Dale Hodges, in the title role. And the production has been staged by Ed Stern, recently retired after 20 years as producing artistic director at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Box Office: 513-421-3555. Cincinnati Shakespeare is producing Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo & Juliet, featuring a pair of actors — Sara Clark and Ian Bond — who had great chemistry in recent productions of Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. They will bring new life a familiar work, I'm sure. The production opens Friday; bear in mind that Cincy Shakes has been selling out its productions this season, so catching this one before it catches on with the larger audience might be a good idea. Box Office: 513-381-2273 x1. For entertainment of an entirely different stripe, I suggest you check out The Beggar's Carnivale on Friday and Saturday evenings (9 p.m.) at Know Theatre. This variety show has been described as "Cirque du Soleil on a whiskey bender." It includes elements of traiditonal circus arts, gypsy folk and Rock & Roll. You'll witness a fast-paced spectacle with several acts linked by interludes in the style of silent film. There's live music, too, by their house band The Royal We and the Carnivale's personal DJ. Sounds like an evening of unusual entertainment. Box Office: 513-300-5669. For the stay-at-homes, you might sample Lost in Yonkers on WVXU's broadcast of L.A. Theatre Works, Saturday evening at 8 p.m. on FM 91.7. This great nostalgic play by Neil Simon is part of an autobiographical trilogy; the Cincinnati Playhouse is producing Brighton Beach Memoirs, another from this set, a few weeks from now. On Sunday evening at 8 p.m. WVXU will air The Moth, a collection of monologues by everyday people, sharing anecdotes of things that actually happened to them. It's the inspiration for our local company True Theatre, which opens its third season on Monday evening (7:30 p.m.) with trueLearning at Know Theatre. Finally, to keep you occupied next week, CCM Drama is offering a week of free, unticketed readings of gay-themed plays. On Monday it's Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart (1985); Tuesday and Wednesday offer Tony Kushner's 1993 award-winning Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches and Part 2: Perestroika. Thursday evening it's Stephen Karam's Sons of the Prophet (2011). All readings are at 7 p.m. in the Corbett Center's Room 4755 at the University of Cincinnati. On Friday evening, Dr. Richard Coons will moderate a conversation about "Storytellers, History Makers and Revolutionaries: The LGBT Story." A clinical psychologist, Coons is a CCM Drama grad; in 1998 and 1999 he played the central role of Prior Walter in CCM's local premiere of Kushner's Angels in America. (Also free, this event will be in Patricia Corbett Theatre on the UC campus.) 
 
 
by Rick Pender 10.05.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
stage door - daniel beaty in through the night at the cincinnati playhouse - photo sandy underwood

Stage Door: 'Through the Night,' CCM, NKU and the Carnegie

Your best bet for theater this weekend, based on several enthusiastic recommendations, seems to be Daniel Beaty's one-man performance at the Cincinnati Playhouse in Through the Night. Harper Lee gave it a Critic's Pick in her CityBeat review this week, and the League of Cincinnati Theatres panel described Beaty as a "brilliant showman and interpreter” whose “beautifully and powerfully acted” performance “weaved in, out and through real people — multifaceted people.” The show was praised as “moving and full of hope — an evening of pure joy, celebration and a mournful reminder as well.” Through the Night “shatters the stereotypes of the ‘African American’ plight and shows beautifully that these predicaments and life choices are ‘human’ ones." I caught a performance this week and found Beaty's ability to shift from character to character quite astonishing — he plays six men and boys, as well as numerous other figures in their lives, each well defined and believable. It's a tour de force performance in the Shelterhouse, presented simply with some projected images and nothing more, not even costume changes. Box office: 513-421-3888. College theater has good choices for you at both UC's College-Conservatory of Music and Northern Kentucky University. Each is presenting a classic, although from very different eras. NKU continues its run of You Can't Take It With You (through Sunday), a classic comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart that won a Pulitzer Prize back in 1937. It's about a wacky family that marches to the beat of several different drummers and how their "normal" daughter and her boyfriend (the product of truly straitlaced parents) try to figure out how to make a relationship work in the midst of a lot of craziness. At CCM there's another form of craziness in Michael Burnham's staging of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a tale of mistaken lovers and magical transformations. In both cases, there's a happy ending and most of the right people end up with suitable partners. Both shows are sure to offer offer a lot of laughs, as well as plenty of opportunities for young actors to take on entertaining roles. Either show should make for a fun outing that doesn't require much serious thought. CCM Box Office: 513-556-4183; NKU Box Office: 859-572-5464. Finally, on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. you have a very special opportunity to see a brand-new musical as a work-in-progress at the Carnegie Center in Covington. It's a one-night-only presentation of The Sandman, a creepy musical created by Cincinnati native and Cirque du Soleil maestro Richard Oberacker and his creative partner Robert Taylor. Using a wildly imaginative story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (the guy who wrote the wildly imaginative story of battling mice and toys coming to life that became The Nutcracker), Oberacker and Taylor have crafted a show that's getting a workshop locally with some serious star power. Narrated by Van Ackerman (who turned in a great performance as the Man in the Chair in CMT's recent production of The Drowsy Chaperone), the performance will feature Tony nominee (and early CCM grad) Pamela Myers, always watchable Bruce Cromer (fresh off his powerful turn as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincy Shakes), Charlie Clark and Sara Mackie. While it's a "reading," it will have sound effects and some slide projections to set the eerie scene. You can call 859-957-1940 for tickets, or order them online at www.thecarnegie.com. General admission is $25 (theater professionals and students can get in for $15). Sounds like a don't miss event.
 
 

Local Theater Awards Need Work

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Although most people think that theater awards are about recognizing excellence, the real bottom line is marketing. A half-dozen award programs in New York City — the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the Lortels, the Obies — lead up to the big kahuna, the Tony Awards, focused on Broadway shows.  

Technically Refined, Formally Graceless ‘Compositions’

0 Comments · Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The 20th century looms large in Paul Schuette’s new show Compositions at semantics. An investigation into form, structure and sound, the exhibition’s multimedia works orient themselves around Modernism’s concern with quintessence, but pose typically Postmodern questions about how we define genres and the context in which we encounter works of art.    
by Mike Breen 03.28.2012
Posted In: Music History at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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This Date in Music History: March 28

Lyle Lovett's celebrity marriage ends and Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett jam with CCM grads

On this day in 1995, what was seen as one of the strangest "celebrity marriages" ever came to an end as movie star Julia Roberts and singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett announced their separation after being married just 21 months. Although, in hindsight, was the coupling really as odd as it was made out to be at the time?People magazine played up the "beauty and the beast" plot line, suggesting Lovett was some sort of dog-faced weirdo who somehow, miraculously tricked America's sweetheart into marrying him just three weeks after they met. But Lovett is a smart, funny guy who seems genuine, sincere and nice. And it's not like he looked like Joseph Merrick or anything. He did have an unruly, big hairstyle, which seemed enough to make the storyline work. (When Roberts returned to The Pelican Brief set after tying the knot, the cast and crew members reportedly wore T-shirts that said "Welcome Back, Mrs. Lovett" on the front and, on the back, "He's A Lovely Boy … But You Really Must Do Something About His Hair.")People magazine's extensive coverage post-separation was typical of how most media treated the relationship. "From the very beginning of the Julia-Lyle fairy tale — beautiful-but-vulnerable movie star falls big for intriguingly offbeat country crooner — wishful thinking seems to have had an edge over dour common sense." Maybe they were right — two people from vastly different entertainment fields, especially when one is "classically" more attractive and monetarily more successful then the other, will never work out.  Roberts went on to marry a cameraman — Daniel Moder — with whom she had three kids. They've been together for a decade. And Lovett has been dating film producer April Kimble since 1999. Lovett has written several touching-to-hilarious songs about love, relationships and marriages. My favorite is the amusing "An Acceptable Level of Ecstasy (The Wedding Song)" from his 1986 self-titled, debut album. But here's the song "Fiona," from his 1996, post-divorce album, The Road to Ensenada, which many feel includes several songs about Roberts. "Fiona"'s intended subject is pretty clear — that's Roberts middle name and what Lovett called her "in code" on stage during the early stages of their hook-up.Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 28 birthday include Country/Pop star (and actress) Reba McEntire (1955); Country singer/songwriter Rodney Atkins (1969); Pop singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson (1973); guitarist with New Wave revivalists The Killers, Dave Keuning (1976); rapper J-Kwon (1986); and superstar Lady Gaga (1986).In the Best of Cincinnati issue out today, we included a pick on a collective of Jazz players — all graduates of U.C.'s College-Conservatory of Music — who joined Gaga and Tony Bennett on last year's hit network TV special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. Steve Kortyka (saxophone), Brian Newman (trumpet), Alex Smith (piano) and Scott Ritchie (bass) made up her band for the duet of "The Lady is a Tramp." That's Newman playing the opening riff and introducing the entire special. Check out an interview with Newman about playing with Gaga here.
 
 
by Jac Kern 03.27.2012
Posted In: Eats, Events, Drinking, Music, Fun, Gardening, Culture at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Tuesday To Do List

Tonight's the night! Our annual Best of Cincinnati Party is always one of the most fun events of the year. You voted for your favorite restaurants, bars, public figures, galleries, theaters, and everything in between – now's your chance to check them all out under one roof. This year's celebration is a preview party – our Best of issues doesn't hit the streets 'til Wednesday morning, which means those in attendance will be the first to know about all our winners!As always, there will be dinner-by-the-bite from your favorite restaurants like Adriatico's, Izzy's and A Tavola; coffee and dessert from Coffee Emporium and BonBonerie; and the city's best cocktails including martinis, Bloody Marys and margaritas. As you're eating your way through the beautiful Memorial Hall, enjoy music from a DJ and a live performance from Exhale Dance Tribe performers. If that's not enough, more than 100 guests will walk away with amazing swag bags from the Procter & Gamble eStore full of your favorite P&G products and coupons to local Best of businesses. Of course, like last year, we will feature Golden Ticket giveaways, which will feature amazing prizes like tickets to Bunbury, Forecastle, Bonnaroo, MidPoint Music Festival, eight consecutive Bogart's shows and much more. If you still don't have tickets, they'll be available at the door for $35. See you tonight!Other events tonight include a Make and Bake glass jewelry class at Brazee Studios from 5-7 p.m., a Homegrown Tomatoes workshop at the Civic Garden Center from 6-8 p.m. and free concert at CCM featuring the U.S. Navy Band from Washington, D.C. at 8 p.m.Find more daily arts, theaters and other events on our To Do page and follow our music blog for live show info.
 
 

Into the Woods (Review)

CCM production blends classic fairytales with new zest

0 Comments · Monday, February 27, 2012
One of the songs in Into the Woods warns, “Careful the things you say. Children will listen.” In the case of the current production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s a blender full of fairytales, some familiar and some not, the “children” — that is, CCM’s performers in training — clearly listened well as Aubrey Berg directed them in a remarkably mature and thoroughly entertaining production.  
by Rick Pender 02.03.2012
Posted In: Theater at 10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door

'The Whipping Man,' 'Spring Awakening,' 'Red' and 'Collapse' are all worthy weekend productions

Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news. The Whipping Man is drawing big audiences for Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. In fact, they’ve added several performances extending the closing date from Feb. 12 to Feb. 18. It’s the story of Simon, a dedicated former slave who remains in a ruined mansion in 1865 Richmond in the days just after the Civil War. Caleb, the wounded son of his former master, stumbles in (desperately needing some horrendous surgery) and then does John, another former slave, a young man raised side by side with Caleb. The slave-owning family was Jewish, and it’s almost time for Passover, which they must celebrate with limited means. It’s a powerful show about freedom and responsibility with a plot that will keep you guessing. As I noted recently in this week's Curtain Call column, director D. Lynn Meyers gets the most from her cast, especially Ken Early as Simon. This one is a must-see. Box office: 513-421-3555

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'Open to the New'

Cincinnati's “Classical” music scene moving in exciting new directions

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 31, 2011
What is “new music” within the classical music genre? Philip Glass’ Cello Concerto, which receives its world premiere at the Cincinnati Symphony next year? CCM composer Michael Fiday’s “9 Haiku” for flute and piano performed last year by concert: nova? Leonard Bernstein’s 1937 Trio Sonata that gets its first local performance by the Morgenstern Trio in March? And is there even an audience for contemporary music?  

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