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.
The Cincy Fringe Festival returns to Over-the-Rhine in all its fringy glory
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 22, 2013
My first tip: Don’t think you can outwit
the Fringe. I like to say that the festival is best described as theater
roulette. Give the cylinder a whirl, pull the trigger and see what
comes at you. Sometimes it might be what you expect, but more often than
not you’ll be surprised.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:46 AM | Permalink
You still have several weeks to see Cock (aka "The Cockfight Play" for journalism wimps) at Know Theatre. (It's onstage through May 11.) It's an oh-so-contemporary piece of theater about a gay man — or rather a man — who thought himself to be gay until he breaks up with his boyfriend and takes up with a woman. (CityBeat review here.) The play involves the tense dance of indecision he becomes part of as his lovers fight over him. It's about 90-minutes of fiercely acted theatrics, staged in a setting that looks like the arena where cockfighting happens. Definitely for mature audiences who appreciate shows that don't pull punches. Tickets: 513-3
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:17 AM | Permalink
There's a bounty of
theater choices to keep you entertained this weekend, with productions
on venues all over town — including on several university campuses. Here
are a few you might want to check out.
Edgecliff Theatre, which has presented shows at the Columbia
Performance Center on Cincinnati's East Side for quite a few years, has
been itinerant this year while they seek a new home. They're completing
their fifteenth season with a production of David Auburn's Proof
at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater, which looks like it's
where they'll land for their next season. (I'll be writing more about
NET in my next CityBeat "Curtain Call" column on April 24.) I
attended the show's opening on Wednesday, and it's a solid production of
a very engaging play, the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. Greg
Procaccino, NET's former artistic director, has returned to stage a
simple but effective production that features Rebecca Whatley as
Catherine, the anxious, self-doubting young woman who has been a
caregiver for years for her father, a renowned math professor whose
mental instability has been a factor and a threat in his daughter's
life. The show has several gripping twists and turns, as well as a
satisfying resolution. Through April 27. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
Last week I was at the opening of Cock,
a regional premiere and Know Theatre's second production of the season. (CityBeat review here.)
It's the story of a man falling out of a gay relationship and into one
with a woman; he's torn by indecision and doubt about which way to go.
The show is staged (by director Brian Robertson) like a cockfight, with
the characters "pecking" at one another emotionally. It's also presented
in an unusual setting, bertween two rows of bleachers (like a cockfight
arena), so you're close to the action and able to see how others are
responding. It's a fight to the finish, and you can never be certain of
the outcome. Strong acting and a very contemporary, well-written script
by British playwright Mike Bartlett. Through May May 11. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
This is the final weekend at the Carnegie in Covington for the hard-hitting musical Parade
by composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown and playwright Alfred Uhry.
(CityBeat review here.) It's based on the true story of Leo Frank, unjustly accused of
murdering a young teenaged girl working in the factory he managed in
Atlanta in 1913. A Jew from New York, Frank was the target of profound
anti-Semitism and never had a realistic chance to defend himself,
although his wife tried mightily to expose the prejudice. It's a
powerful production, featuring a cast of musical theater talent from
UC's College-Conservatory of Music, directed by Dee Anne Bryll and Ed
Cohen. The show is not easy to watch, but it's deeply moving. Through
Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
years since 1981, Northern Kentucky University has presented the Year
End Series Festival — shortened to the "YES," ten days of presentations
of three world premieres. This year's shows are a murder-mystery farce, Heart Attack with a Knife by Oded Gross; David L. Williams Spake, a drama set in Siberia; and a comic fable about fame and friendship, Furbelow
by J. Stephen Brantley. YES is a gargantuan undertaking, and it
represents how NKU prepares its drama students for careers in the
theater. Shows are presented in rotating repertory, so you should check the Web site for specific performance dates. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
area universities this weekend: At the Cohen Family Studio Theater at
UC's College-Conservatory of Music, you can see a production of Emily
Mann's Execution of Justice (UC's College-Conservatory of Music, through Sunday, 513-556-4183),
a new docu-drama about the trial of Dan White for the murder of Harvey
Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay Supervisor and Mayor George
Moscone. It's staged by retiring UC drama professor Michael Burnham. And
for musical theater fans, you can see Stephen Sondheim and James
Lapine's popular fairytale musical Into the Woods at Miami University (through April 27, 513-529-3200).
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:27 AM | Permalink
Tenth annual event begins May 28
Sure signs of springtime in Cincinnati: The Reds are playing (and
winning), trees in Over-the-Rhine are covered with white blossoms — and
Know Theatre has announced the lineup for the upcoming Cincinnati Fringe
Festival. 2013 is a significant year for the Fringe: It's marking the 10th anniversary of the annual celebration of weird creativity. Last
evening a big crowd gathered at Know Theatre's Jackson Street facility
to hear what's in store for the May 28-June 8 festival.
Know's producing artistic director, shared the news that, building on a
decade of success, the Fringe received a
record number of applicants for 2013, with 70 percent of the
applications coming from brand-new producers. That's one of the best
parts of the Fringe, the fact that a new jolt of energy arrives annually
from performers that haven't been seen locally. Sixty-three percent of the 2013
applications were from out of town, including several from
international producers. There will be 35 productions in all, by 17
local groups and 18 from out of town. There will be 19 plays, seven solo
shows, two dance pieces, two musicals, and five multimedia/variety
said that it was no easy task for the Fringe selection committee to
assemble this lineup. The group was made up of theater professionals
from Greater Cincinnati: Heather
Britt, Michael Haney, Dave Levy, Miranda McGee, D. Lynn Meyers and Torie
Wiggins. “The quality of applications continues to get stronger
and larger each year," he said. "I'm so happy to have these amazing leaders of the local
theatre community as a part of our jury, and we're grateful for their time in
deciding the 2013 lineup.”
The official CityBeat
Fringe Kick-Off Party takes place Tuesday, May 28, at Know Theatre. This year's
event will also be a 10th birthday celebration, with many of the
festival's founders in attendance. The evening, which kicks off at 6
p.m., will feature Indie rock group Bethesda and food from a half-dozen
local eateries. The evening (suggested donation: $5) is an opportunity
to meet Fringe artists, staff,
volunteers and other audience members.The
full Fringe schedule will be published in CityBeat's May 15 edition,
but you can get some information at the refreshed website: www.cincyfringe.com.
I'm looking forward to return visits by Wonderheads (from Portland,
Ore., who did some amazing work with masks in last year's Grim and Fischer; their new piece is titled LOON), Four Humors Theatre (from Minneapolis, whose always creative troupe will be staging Lolita: A Three Man Show) and Tanya O'Debra (from New York City; whose Radio Star was a much admired work in 2012; this time she's in a two-person piece, Shut UP, Emily Dickinson).
Performance Gallery, based here in Cincinnati and a regular annual
presence every year is staging Mater Facit, "an absurd look at
motherhood, nationalism, war, sex and sacrifice." Tangled Leaves
Theatrical Collective, another Cincinnati-based group popular with local
audiences, will produce Vortex of the Great Unknown.
course, the real fun of Fringe is being surprised by new material and
performers, and this year's lineup offers plenty of that: Poe and
Mathews: A Misadventure in the Middle of Nowhere (Los Angeles);
Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity
(Bloomington, Ind.); The Bubble and Other Displays of Moral Turpitude
(from Cincinnati-based North American New Opera Workshop); The Elephant
in My Closet (New York City); and a production of Cincinnati playwright
Catie O'Keefe's The Space Between my Head and my Body (by Shark Eat
Muffin Theatre Company). I could go on and on — Know's announcement news
release is 20 pages! Based on a decade of Fringing, I like to say that
the festival is "theater roulette": You never know what's going to
happen when you show up for a performance, and serendipity is the only
predictable element. That's what makes it fun. I don't want to wish away
springtime, but is it May 28 yet?