by Rick Pender
at 09:10 AM | Permalink
Last night I attended
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of The Grapes of
Wrath, which opened a week ago and runs through April 29.
It’s a powerful theatrical interpretation of John Steinbeck’s
grim recounting of a Depression-era family of Oklahoma sharecroppers
driven from home by ecological and economic disasters. They make an
arduous trek to California in vain hope of employment and a better
life. The show calls for an ensemble cast, and CSC uses more than 20
actors to pull it off convincingly. The first act revolves around the
Joads’ agonizing trip in a dilapidated truck; the second act
portrays the dismal conditions of unemployment and mistreatment once
they arrive. It’s a sad reflection of life in the 1930s, as well as
a powerful reminder that life has not improved for many Americans
some 80 years later. The production is made all the more relevant by
folksy musical interludes performed live by some of the actors. A
downer of a story, but definitely worth seeing. Here's a link to my review. Box office:
production of the recent off-Broadway and Broadway Rock musical hit,
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, opened last Saturday. I
haven’t seen it yet, but the production has a positive buzz. (It’s
onstage through May 12.) Box office: 513-300-5669.
Thanks to spot-on
casting of the four actors who bring Kim Rosenstock’s new play
Tigers Be Still to life at the Cincinnati Playhouse,
the show about people dealing with depression is charming, funny,
optimistic and even heart-warming. It’s about a young woman with a recently earned
degree in art therapy; she’s been down in the dumps about finding
work, but not as much as her mom who’s gained weight and her sister
who’s been dumped by her fiancé. She’s starting a new job thanks
to her mom’s long-ago boyfriend, now a middle school principal. He
has issues of his own — from a slacker son to anxiety about a tiger
that’s escaped from the local zoo. Sound zany? Well, it is — as
well as entertaining. The League of Cincinnati Theatres singled out
this production’s sound design by Vincent Olivieri for an award.
One panelist wrote, “On a very small stage, scenes took place in a
school gym, drugstore, office, closet, outdoors and in the living
spaces of two houses. Except for the main set, capturing the essence
of these scenes was limited to a couple of props and pieces of
furniture — and the sound!” Through April 15. Box office:
profound about The Addams Family, onstage at the
Aronoff Center in downtown Cincinnati through a Sunday matinee. The
touring musical is derived from a 1960s TV series (and subsequent
movies), based on on droll, mordant cartoons by Charles Addams,
originally in The New Yorker. The show is a faithful
reproduction of a pop culture icon; in fact, it begins with the
sprightly theme from the TV show, complete with finger-snaps. It has
a silly story about willful love and romance, but the entertainment
comes from seeing the familiar characters come to life. The new
musical numbers are largely clever, and the cast — which includes
1999 CCM grad Sara Gettelfinger as Morticia — is top-notch.
Here's a link to my recent review. Tickets: 800-982-2787.Each week in
Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few
pieces of theater news.
Know Theatre production has heart and humor
1 Comment · Monday, February 6, 2012
Allison Moore’s new play is quite literally
a play for our anxious times. Its four characters are each driven by some form
of anxiety unlikely in previous generations. Moore has tapped into the contemporary
zeitgeist to write a story that, while full of zany, improbably humor,
nevertheless hits a sensitive nerve that you’re likely to recognize and perhaps
Know Theatre offers a twisted love story
0 Comments · Monday, October 10, 2011
This show reunites actors Beth Harris and Jens Rasmussen with director Drew Fracher; a
year ago they created Skin Tight, the best production of Know’s
previous season. If subsequent shows are as gripping and off-kilter as
this one in which humor and pathos constantly elbow one another, Know
will deliver on its annual promise of edgy theater.
Fringe Fest finishes its most successful year yet
0 Comments · Monday, June 13, 2011
This was perhaps the most satisfying Cincy Fringe Festival yet, offering varied and diverse shows that kept audiences coming back for more. My personal top choices in addition to 'Miss Magnolia' were 'Missing: The Fantastical and True Story of My Father's Disappearance and What I Found When I Looked for Him,' 'Headscarf and the Angry Bitch,' 'Melancholy Play,' 'Peyote Business Lunch,' 'Curriculum Vitae,' 'I Love You (We're Fucked)' and 'You Only Live Once Forever.'
Eighth annual festival promises two great weeks in June
0 Comments · Monday, April 18, 2011
Despite recent chilly weather, I have received a sure sign of intense future warmth. It came in the form of the news release from Know Theatre listing the shows that will make up the eighth annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which opens its two-week run on May 31 at 6 p.m. with CityBeat’s official Fringe Kick-off Party. All in all, there will be 35 different productions to see, including three works from a new program, FringeNext, that’s powered by high school students.
Know’s production takes too long to tell an obvious story
0 Comments · Monday, April 11, 2011
Know Theatre of Cincinnati is known for its fearless work and for partnering with other artists and companies. But I wish more of their work engaged me. I looked forward to Know’s collaboration with Madcap Puppets for The Dragon, in hopes of more innovation. But what’s onstage, using a newly adapted script, struck me as lethargic and not inventive enough.
1 Comment · Tuesday, February 15, 2011
What the heck are theater critics good for? Few of us are actually curmudgeons who revel in badmouthing actors and shows. Most I know are theater fans. I typically attend a show full of optimism, expecting to be entertained. I love it when something unexpected happens and I only write negatively when I feel a production has failed to live up to its promise. I’m especially thrilled by fresh interpretations or revelatory performances.
Know Theatre production portrays the plight of immigrant clowns in New York
0 Comments · Monday, January 31, 2011
Give Know Theatre credit for presenting plays with unexpected perspectives. Its current production is about a pair of clowns who have arrived in the U.S. as victims of an immigration scam, written by Saviana Stanescu, a playwright from Romania who lives and works in New York City.
Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre expands its offerings in 2011
0 Comments · Monday, January 10, 2011
Know Theatre's new concept, “The Jackson Street Market,” is intended to provide space and other forms of support for fledgling theatrical producers without space or resources of their own. It’s still in its infancy, but the concept is bearing fruit in several obvious ways.
Know's holiday show needs to iron out a few wrinkles
0 Comments · Monday, November 29, 2010
Earlier this year John Glore's adaptation of 'A Wrinkle in Time' premiered at South Coast Rep, one of America's most respected theaters for new plays. The 1962 novel about precocious kids has been popular for a long time (especially with, well, precocious kids), so there's a built-in audience. That's certainly why Know Theatre is staging it for the 2010 holidays.