by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:12 AM | Permalink
There's ample evidence at the Cincinnati Playhouse as to why David Ives' Tony-nominated play Venus in Fur
is the most produced script in America this season. I saw the opening
performance last evening, and it's an entertaining attention-grabber.
Inspired by an erotic Victorian novel, it's the story of a playwright
who's adapted it for the stage but despairing of finding the right
actress — until Vanda appears. Despite the initial impression she makes,
she proves to be almost too good to be true. Greta Wohlrabe is a marvel
in this role, flipping between being an ambitious, over-enthused
wannabe and a commanding, demanding, sophisticated paramour who knows
the character she wants to play and how to get what she wants. It's sexy
and funny — and a great evening for grown-ups. Through May 17. Tickets ($30-$75): 513-421-3888.
Want to try something new this weekend? A new theater company, Women in Theatre (WIT) is staging Joe Calarco's Walter Cronkite Is Dead
at St. John United Church of Christ in Bellevue, Ky. Two women stuck in
an airport together end up sharing a table: One, from Washington, D.C.,
is reserved and educated, yearning for peace and quiet; the other is a
chatty Southerner who can't stop talking. Their conversation, according to
the show's publicity, is "funny, difficult, deeply revealing and
astonishingly frank." Through May 3. Tickets: 859-441-6882.
Stacy Sims, my CityBeat colleague, thought that New Edgecliff Theatre's production of Other People's Money was
pretty good. (CityBeat review here.) Jerry Sterner's 1989 play remains timely, the story of a
rapacious business guy who stands to destroy a small town when he buys a
company that is pretty much the sole livelihood of the residents of a
small Rhode Island town. Stacy called the show "good entertainment" and
added, "it just might provoke you to consider whom you are listening to
today." It's onstage at the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater through Saturday evening.
Stacy liked Know Theatre's production of The Twentieth-Century Way enough to give it a Critic's Pick in her CityBeat
review here. It's two actors playing two actors in 1914 who are hired to
play gay men in Long Beach and entrap "social vagrants" — that is, gay
men. It's a multi-leveled script, playing with concepts of what's real
and what's "enacted." Heady but fascinating, and it features two
excellent actors, Jens Rasmussen and Michael McKeough. You won't be
bored if you go to see this one. Through May 3. Tickets ($15 in advance; $20 at the door): 513-300-5669.
Two productions that will appeal to audiences who like old-fashioned theater remain onstage. With its final performance on Sunday, Mary Chase's gentle comedy, Harvey,
at the Carnegie in Covington, is about Elwood, a guy who's a little
off-kilter — who sees a six-foot-tall white rabbit that no one else
believes is real (except the audience). Tickets ($17-$24); 859-957-1940. The classic musical Gypsy — full of great show tunes — continues at the Covedale through May 4;
it's about Rose, the pushy stage mother who launched her rather
unwilling daughter into a burlesque career as Gypsy Rose Lee. (CityBeat review here.) Tickets
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:17 AM | Permalink
If you follow music coverage in CityBeat (hey, isn't that really why you pick up the paper?), you're certainly aware of Green Day's 2004 recording American Idiot.
But since you're reading my weekend theater previews, you must be
interested in other kinds of performance, so here's a tip: For two nights
only, Green Day's American Idiot, a stage version of the powerful Punk score, will be onstage at the Aronoff. That's right — Friday and Saturday
only, just three performances, much shorter that Broadway in
Cincinnati's two-week presentation of touring Broadway musicals. I can
vouch for this one, since I saw it a year ago during a similar tour stop
in Dayton. It's the story of three disaffected guys who take different downward
spirals when confronted with the numbing boredom of everyday life —
"alien nation" — as they sing in the opening number. The recording was
conceived as a "Punk Rock Opera" and turned into a Tony Award-nominated
Broadway show in 2010, with a lot of involvement by Green Day's lead
singer Billie Joe Armstrong (who actually appeared onstage in New York
at various performances; that's not happening here in Cincinnati).
There's a day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of $25
tickets; you need to show up two-and-a-half hours before the performance
you're hoping to see (8 p.m. Friday, and 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturday)
with a valid photo ID. Complete an entry form and wait 30 minutes to
find out if you're a winner. If you prefer to just go ahead and buy your
seats ($38-$91), you can call the Aronoff box office: 513-621-2787.
In the classic musical Gypsy,
Rose has very concrete ideas regarding how to turn her daughters into
stars (long before Green Day was punking out, to be sure): Back in the
1920s and ’30s she pushed her kids onto vaudeville stages whether they
liked it or not. Things never went quite as she imagined, which was
really a desire for her own fame and stardom. It's one of the great
musicals, and the role of Rose has been compared to King Lear. That
might be a bit of a stretch, but she's a tragic character who's
fascinating to watch. There's a ton of great music, composed by Jule
Styne with lyrics by a very young Stephen Sondheim and lots of humor
along the way, especially the hilarious number by three strippers, "You
Gotta Get a Gimmick." Cincinnati Landmark opened its production Thursday
night, and it will be onstage at the Covedale Center for the Performing
Arts through May 4. Tickets ($21-$24): 513-241-6550.
Mary Chase's comedy Harvey
won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize and had a four-year Broadway run (1,800
performances). The story of Elwood P. Dowd and his invisible friend, a 6-foot tall rabbit named Harvey, is perhaps best known for the 1950
movie featuring Jimmy Stewart in an Oscar-nominated performance. That's
all well and good, but it's a show that audiences love to see live and
in-person, and you can do just that at Covington's Carnegie for the next
three weekends (tonight through April 27).
It's directed by Buz Davis, who produced shows at the Carnegie when it
was a dilapidated wreck back in the ’80s and ’90s. Now he's returning to
stage Harvey in the beautifully renovated Otto M. Budig Theatre.
(Tickets ($17-$24): 859-957-1940.) Davis has assembled a strong cast for this family-friendly comedy, you
can catch a few of them in this charming promotional video:Still onstage are several recommended productions: The Mountaintop at Ensemble Theatre (final extended performance is Saturday evening; 513-421-3555); A Delicate Ship at the Cincinnati Playhouse (through April 20; 513-421-3888; CityBeat review here); and The Twentieth-Century Way at Know Theatre (through May 3; CityBeat review here.) And if Monday comes and you want still more: Check out True Theatre's next installment — True Dating (7:30 p.m.
at Know Theatre). This round of monologues of real experiences will
feature stories of dating that led to true love, and some that went off
the tracks along the way. Tickets ($15): 513-300-5669.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:30 AM | Permalink
Andrew Hungerford announces four coming productions
Know Theatre formally introduced its incoming artistic director, Andrew Hungerford, before a full house on Wednesday evening. He might not approach the boundless energy of his
predecessor Eric Vosmeier (more on his half-dozen years at the helm here), but Hungerford has a kind of boyish
enthusiasm for the job he's taking on that feels fresh and infectious.
The crowd of supporters seemed enthusiastic about his engagement and were
especially pleased as he filled in details about coming productions for
the months ahead in 2014.
Know's 17th season "Adaptation," he stressed that shows he's selected
are adaptations of literary works, of different genres for the stage, of
people struggling with changing circumstances and — by the way — of a
theater company adapting to a new artistic director. He announced four
The Twentieth-Century Way
by Tom Jacobson (April). Two actors play more than a dozen roles to
recreate the true story of how, in 1914, police in Long Beach, Calif.,
hired two actors to entrap gay men in the crime of "social vagrancy."
(Summer). Inspired by episodic TV series, Know will present 15-minute
slices of six "series" every other week, commencing during the Fringe
(in early June) and proceeding through the summer. This promises to be a
playground for local artists to connect with audiences returning for
more during the summer months on Know's Underground stage, with the bar
nearby — and popcorn promised.
Harry and the Thief
by Sigrid Gilmer (August). The story of a guy with a time machine and a
plan to go back to the Civil War era, find abolitionist Harriet Tubman
and give her guns. Hungerford describes this play "a socially conscious
riot of a play that uses a form of a Michael Bay action movie to tell a
story full of adventure, social relevance, and answering the call of
(October). This one was previously announced, a stage version of Herman
Melville's immense 19th-century American novel about an obsessive sea
captain and a "great white whale." Hungerford will co-direct Julian
Rad's script with "local theatrical rabble-rouser" Michael Burnham
(recently retired from the drama faculty at CCM). The production mixes
sea shanties and inventive physicality with a text that explores issues
of youth, friendship, duty and how far a man like Captain Ahab will go.
an intriguing lineup, one that seems likely to keep audiences returning
for doses of Know's brand of off-kilter but engaging theater.
Crossing Wires Between Reality and Fantasy: Pluto
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Know Theatre is presently staging Steve Yockey’s new play Pluto,
the second of four “rolling world premieres.” The work is not easy to
describe, to watch or to like. That’s not to say it’s not worth seeing —
but it’s challenging.
0 Comments · Monday, December 23, 2013
How was 2013 as a year for plays and
musicals in Cincinnati? From where I stand — or sit, since I’m most
often in a seat at one of our local theaters — it stacked up pretty
by Mike Breen
CincyMusic.com hosts a happy hour party featuring locally-shot live music photography
Tomorrow (Friday) at Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre of Cincinnati, a special photography collection will be on the display, showcasing some of the best work of local photographers who especially shine when shooting live music events.
In the spirit of the Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience exhibit presented by FofoFocus at the Art Academy of Cincinnati this past September leading up to the MidPoint Music Festival, the photographers whose work is published at the great local music site CincyMusic.com have put together a collection of some of their favorite shots. The photos — by Jacob Drabik, Brian Bruemmer, Kelly Painter, Phil Dawson, Julia Huber, Matt Steffen, Mike Clare and Sarah McDermott — were all taken at club shows, festivals and concerts in the Cincinnati area (including ones from MidPoint and the Bunbury Music Festival).
CincyMusic.com hosts tomorrow's free event at Know, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. There will be light appetizers and the venue’s lower-level bar will be open for business. And if you're up for a little theatre afterwards, tickets are still available for Know's 8 p.m. staging of Bull, a play about adult bullying (timely!). Rick Pender reviewed Bull in CityBeat earlier this month, writing, "You won’t like anyone you see onstage in this savage tale. You’ll probably question your own enjoyment of the show’s dark humor and vicious actions. But the acting and staging of Bull make this a riveting piece of theater." Get tickets here or at the theatre if any remain.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
in leadership is under way at Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre. Eric
Vosmeier, producing artistic director for the past half-dozen years, is
gradually handing over the reins to resident scenic and lighting
designer Andrew Hungerford. Know, an adventurous and occasionally
chaotic organization that began in 1997, is handling this evolution in a
surprisingly orderly fashion.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:23 AM | Permalink
A few good local
productions are winding up this weekend. On Labor Day weekend, you won't
find much onstage. But you have a couple of decent choices right now to
tide you over.
At the top of my list would be Chicago
at the Carnegie (CityBeat review here). It's a classic musical by Kander & Ebb, getting an
excellent staging — great performances (by some solid professionals
with Broadway experience as well as rising talent from universities
around the Tristate), great choreography (Bob Fosse's iconic style has
been updated in some very imaginative ways) and really hot orchestral
accompaniment (the musicians would be worth listening to on their own!)
It all adds up to some fabulous razzle-dazzle. Final performance is Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets ($19-$26): 859-957-1940.
Know Theatre wraps up its run of Lauren Gunderson's very contemporary comedy, Toil and Trouble, which has echoes of Shakespeare's Macbeth from start to finish (CityBeat review here). Inspired by messages from fortune cookies (in place of Macbeth's
witches) A couple of slackers and their aggressive sportscaster
girlfriend concoct a crazy scheme to grab power and wealth. Of course,
it goes wildly wrong, with a lot of laughs along the way. Final
performance is Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets ($20): 513-300-5669
And if you're a Woody Allen fan, you might want to board the Showboat Majestic at the Public Landing for Don't Drink the Water,
a play he wrote in 1966 that had a two-year run on Broadway. Set inside
an American embassy behind the Iron Curtain, the show features lots of
Allen's hallmarks: farcical situations, loopy characters and a high dose
of humor. Final performance is Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets ($19-$20): 513-241-6550
The current issue of CityBeat includes previews of the fall arts season. It's online here, including my suggestions about shows from local theaters here.