by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:18 AM | Permalink
Summer is flying by, or so it seems. This is the final weekend for you to see Cincinnati Shakespeare's production of The 39 Steps (CityBeat review here),
a satiric adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1935 film of
espionage and intrigue. Making it all the more amusing is the fact that
the story is performed by four actors, two of whom play most of the
citizens of London and beyond, using a lot of quick changes and quick
thinking. It's a very entertaining evening of tomfoolery, featuring four
of Cincy Shakes' most talented comedic actors. Your last chances to see
the show are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. 513-381-2273.Another entertaining production is Lauren Gunderson's very new play, Toil and Trouble (CityBeat review here),
at Know Theatre. It's a comedy about contemporary slackers trying to
make a quick buck that's got a very Shakespearean ring to it — Macbeth,
to be precise. The humor presses a bit too hard at moments, but if you
go to have a good time, you'll definitely find one. Instead of warriors
and kings vying for the throne, this one focuses on 30-year-olds trying
to strike it rich without working too hard — but the echoes of the
Elizabethan tragedy can't be missed. There's a steady stream of sports
talk, too, making comparisons between baseball and life. It's a strange
brew, but plenty of laughs. Through Aug. 24. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
are always popular, but for some reason they seem especially attractive
fare in the summer months. So we can say thanks to the Carnegie in
Covington for serving up a tasty one, Kander and Ebb's Chicago,
an all-time Broadway favorite. This production — the sexy, salacious
tale of murderous women in Chicago in the 1920s — features choreography
by Broadway veteran and Cincinnati native David Baum in his local
professional debut. Word has it that he's put together some of the most
inventive choreography seen on local stages in a long time. The
production opens on Saturday evening (7:30 p.m.) and repeats on Sunday (3 p.m.). It continues for two more weekends, through Aug. 25. 859-957-1940.
Also onstage this weekend (and running through Aug. 25) is Woody Allen's hit Broadway comedy, Don't Drink the Water.
Amusingly, it's on board the Showboat Majestic (where you definitely
don't want to drink the water) — but it's a humorous tale of tourists
caught in an American embassy behind the Iron Curtain. Lightweight
entertainment, but a lot of fun. 513-241-6550.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:10 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is offering a double dose of entertainment this weekend. First and foremost is The 39 Steps at CSC's mainstage (CityBeat review here). If that title sounds familiar, it's because it was a
classic espionage novel a century ago, made into a classic film by
Alfred Hitchcock 80 years ago, now turned into a very funny riff on its
predecessors as a play using only four actors to fill all the roles. CSC
has ramped up the humor by using four of its best comedic actors — Nick
Rose, Miranda McGee, Justin McComb and Billy Chace — who play the
principals, plus much of the population of London, especially McComb and
Chace who will make you dizzy as they shift from one part to another,
sometimes within seconds. It's actually a faithful retelling of the
story, but it's amped up to a high level of hilarity by the onstage
shenanigans. It adds up to great summertime humor. It's being performed
through Aug. 11. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
One show isn't enough for CSC: This weekend they also
launch their annual free Shakespeare in the Park tour with a performance
of Romeo & Juliet at Boone Woods Park in Burlington at 7
p.m. on Saturday. (If you live north of the river, you'll get your
chance next Wednesday evening at Eden Park's Seasongood Pavilion or at
Burnet Woods in Clifton on Thursday.) As noted, these are free
presentations, presented in classic Elizabethan style and use six actors
from the company's resident ensemble. These are the same productions
that CSC tours to schools and community centers, so they're great for
the entire family. A week from now they'll start performing A Midsummer Night's Dream at some locations. For a full schedule, go here.
Shakespeare is behind the story of Toil and Trouble, the
current offering at Know Theatre. It's a new play (this is just the
second time its been produced; its world premiere was in California last
fall) that offers a contemporary riff on Macbeth (CityBeat review here).
Instead of kings and warriors, however, its characters are a pair of
thirtysomething slackers and Beth, a wildly ambitious sportscaster who
has more testosterone than either of the guys. There's a lot of wacky
moments in this play, replaces Macbeth's witches with fortune
cookies and the kingdom of Scotland with an almost unpopulated island
off the coast of Chile. You can pick up on the laughs through Aug. 24.
At the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, the annual production by Cincinnati Young People's Theatre is Grease,
a tried-and-true musical about kids in the ’50s at Rydell High. Sixty
years haven't dimmed the musicality of the show, and the youthful
performers will bring this one to life if you're in the mood for a
classic. It wraps up with a matinee on Sunday. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
While the Cincinnati Symphony's LumenoCity
isn't exactly theater, the performances in Washington Park on Saturday
and Sunday evening — with a dazzling light show on the facade of Music
Hall — will definitely be theatrical. It's the debut for Louis Langree
as the CSO's new music director, and the program will feature performers
from Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera. But the big deal is the
colorful illumination that will let you see historic Music Hall in a
light you've never imagined. It's free, starting at 8:30 p.m. both
nights; big crowds are expected, so come early. Don't you wish the
streetcar were already here so you could ride it to Over-the-Rhine?
In-the-moment, fast-talking producting loses some humor in the fury
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Lauren Gunderson’s Toil and Trouble is a very new play inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The title page of her script calls it a “Scottish-ish” comedy. Know
Theatre of Cincinnati is giving the script just its second production.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:19 AM | Permalink
Finally, a weekend
with some theater choices for your entertainment, even though the
weather is beautiful enough to keep us outdoors. But you want to see a
curtain go up somewhere, right?You'll have fun for sure if you go to see The 39 Steps
at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. If that title sounds vaguely
familiar, it's because Alfred Hitchcock made a classic film that's at
the root of this very amusing piece of theater. Four actors play all the
roles of what was a taut tale of murder and espionage. The story's
still there, but the telling of it makes it a new experience. It's a
chance to see four of CSC's best comic actors at work, too. Through Aug. 11. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
Speaking of vaguely familiar, this weekend is your first chance to check out a virtually brand-new show at Know Theatre, Toil and Trouble. It's a contemporary take on Shakespeare's Macbeth, but the characters are two slackers and an over-the-top ambitious girlfriend. It opens tonight (running through Aug. 24);
so I haven't seen it yet, but I've read the script, and this one shows
promise. It's only had one production,it's world premiere at Impact
Theatre in Berkeley, Calif., last November.
prefer something definitely familiar, head to the Covedale for the 32nd
annual summer musical by Cincinnati Young People's Theatre, which opens
tonight. It's Grease, a show about rowdy teens in the
1950s. I suspect that local teens from all over Cincinnati will have a
blast with this one. It has a short run, just through Aug. 4. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
One last suggestion: The Showboat Majestic is presenting Big River, a musical based on Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.
Since it's about the adventures of Huck and Jim, a runaway slave,
escaping on the mighty Mississippi (a river that wouldn't be much
without the contributions of the Ohio), the 'boat seems like the perfect
setting. Tunes by Pop composer Roger Miller make for a rollicking
evening of music. It's one of my favorite shows; I've never been
disappointed by a production of it. It wraps up this weekend on Sunday. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 19, 2013
As the Sitwell’s Coffee House crowd
buzzes around him, Jon Kovach calmly ticks off his lengthy list of
commitments for the approaching summer.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:35 AM | Permalink
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.
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.
Tenth annual Cincy Fringe Festival going strong in Over-the-Rhine
0 Comments · Thursday, May 30, 2013
Welcome to CityBeat’s 2013 Fringe Festival ongoing coverage. Find performance reviews, commentary and mad Tweets about the festivities.
by Rick Pender
LCT singles out great theater productions and performers for 2012-2013
I wrote my Curtain Call column before the League of Cincinnati Theatres held its Monday night awards gala at The Know Theatre. So I thought you might want to learn the results. I'm glad to report that the LCT voters and I agreed about the season's best shows: I thought that Know Theatre's When the Rain Stops Falling was the best theatrical production, and that CCM Musical Theatre's production of Parade at the Carnegie was the most satisfying musical — and those are the productions that LCT cited, too.LCT employed social media to identify audience favorites: Untethered Theatre's Red Light Winter won as the favored play, NKU's production of the musical Legally Blonde got the nod. I'm sure these were both fine productions, and it's nice to see Untethered, a new company, receive this recognition. But it's also apparent that some theaters lobbied supporters to vote for their productions, which is part of this game. So take such results with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, recognition is recognition, and that's what the awards are ultimately about — bringing good theater to the attention of the theater-going public.There were some nice touches to LCT's program this year, including an "audience service award" that singled out people who serve audience members — box office managers and bartenders, for instance. Sue Bolger, who runs the ticket operation at NKU was named the winner, but all of these folks make going to the theater a pleasure — Brenda Berger at the Carnegie, Cal Harris at Cincy Shakes, Barb Marino with New Edgecliff and John Simpson, who runs the bar at the Playhouse.LCT annually recognizes outstanding theater educators: This year's honorees, Mike Sherman from Colerain High School and Chad Weddle from Anderson High School, both gave grateful speeches thanking parents and hard-working kids for making it possible. These guys (and everyone who puts together high school productions) are heroes in my book: They instill a love of theater in kids, some of whom go on to careers, but many more who just come to love theater and enjoy a lifetime of happy audience membership.Speaking of heroes, Cincinnati Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Michael Evan Haney received a standing ovation from the crowd of 200 or so when he was presented with the Rick Steiner Award for Excellence. Haney is marking his 40th year in professional theater, having spent more than 20 years staging shows for the Playhouse (including 20+ iterations of A Christmas Carol, a show he first appeared in as Bob Cratchit), as well as work at other local theaters including Ensemble Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare.Four Rising Stars were also named, performers under age 25 who are on the front end of promising careers. Ellie Jamison (CCM Drama), Drew Blakeman (NKU), Jon Kovach (Miami) and Sydney Kuhlman (an Ohio Northern grad who has been a stage management intern at the Playhouse) each received a $1,000 check to get them started. The full list of LCT winners (as well as other nominees), can be found at leagueofcincytheatres.info.