by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:35 AM | Permalink
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
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
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)
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 10, 2012
More often than not, I try to introduce CityBeat
readers to new plays and writers. We see quite a few such shows locally
thanks to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC), the Cincinnati Playhouse
and Know Theatre. In fact, looking at American Theatre’s list of
2012-2013’s “Top 10” most-produced plays, six have already been
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:25 AM | Permalink
After a long hot summer (well, it's still feeling like a
long hot summer), we have a full array of shows onstage in Cincinnati
for you to choose among. I've seen two of them so far: Good People at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and The Three Musketeers at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
ETC's production of Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire's 2011 piece (this is the regional premiere of Good People,
which was nominated for a Tony a year ago) about a woman who falls off
the bottom of the employment ladder has enough humor to be entertaining
(especially with Annie Fitzpatrick in the central role of Margie and
Kate Wilford and Deb Girdler as her gossipy friends and bingo-night
comrades) and enough contemporary relevance to be thought-provoking.
ETC's D. Lynn Meyers is at her best staging naturalistic shows with
social meaning, and that's exactly what this one offers. It has a great
cast and flexible, attractive scenic design by the ever-creative Brian
c. Mehring. I gave it a Critic's Pick. Through Sept. 23. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3555.
I wanted to love The Three Musketeers at the
Playhouse (through Sept. 29), but its balance of humor and heart is out
of whack to my tastes. There's lots of adventure, hilarity and laughter
— especially some no-holds-barred swordplay — but the show tries to
hard to entertain that it misses out on the true emotion that should lie
beneath. I suspect many people will love this thrill-a-minute tale of
political intrigue and valor, loyalty and royalty in 17th-century
France, and perhaps it will evolve to deeper feelings as it runs. I love
new Artistic Director Blake Robison's desire to put appealing,
family-friendly work onstage, and he's using this production to show
what he means. I hope his approach gets a tad more texture and depth as
his tenure continues. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3888.
I haven't yet seen To Kill a Mockingbird at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and their publicity says it's already
sold out its first-two weekends. So you might want to put that one on
your calendar for sometime before it wraps up (Sept. 30). In the
meantime, you might want to head to Washington Park on Sunday evening at
7 p.m. for a special free presentation of CSC's touring production of The Tempest.
It's a perfect piece for outdoor performance, set on an island with a
sorcerer and his lovely daughter and some shipwrecked nobles who are
responsible for his exile. Audience participation will be a key
component of this event, with the audience asked to create large-scale
effects by blowing bubbles, making waves with silk and generating sound
effects. Sounds like great fun. Music (by The Young Heirlooms) begins at
6 p.m. This is a good one to bring kids to see.
Also off and running this weekend is Cincinnati Landmark's production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
It's a classic drama of sexual tension and family strife, a bit heavier
fare than is usually found at the Covedale Center. It's a sign of the
company's ambition to be a full-fledged theater offering a wide range of
material. (Through Sept. 30.) Box office: 513-241-6550.
by Jac Kern
Skirtz will discuss and sign her new book Econocide: Elimination of the Urban Poor
today at Findlay Market’s Skirtz & Johnson. The book looks at how
Cincinnati “has used legislation and the administration of public policy to
serve the ends of privatizing public assets and displacing people who are
perceived as undesirable because they lack economic power and privilege.” Skirtz
is also a social worker and founder of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the
Homeless — proceeds from tonight’s book sales will go to the organization. The
signing runs 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Helping Women is a 24-hour crisis service helping victims of domestic violence,
sexual assault and stalking. The non-shelter program offers intervention and
support services for women — and men — in Southwestern Ohio. Tonight,
Sharonville transforms into Oz for Light Up the Night: Emerald City Ball, a benefit for Women Helping Women. Don your best ruby slippers as you enjoy
dinner-by-the-bite, Wizard of Oz-themed cocktails, auctions and music — all for
a wonderful cause. Tickets should have been reserved in advance. Go here
to get involved with the
organization by adopting a family, donating or volunteering.
Theater Cincinnati takes audiences on a “trip down musical memory lane” with
its production of Life Could be a Dream, onstage tonight. Fans of ETC’s Wonderettes productions will feel at
home with this sock hop-era musical that follows the Crooning Crabcakes as they
try to make the big time and win a local radio contest. Sing along to classic
hits like “Runaround Sue,” “Earth Angel,” “Unchained Melody” and more tunes
from the time. Tickets to tonight’s 7:30 show are $36.Check out our music blog for tonight's live show lineup and our To Do page for more events, art shows and performances.