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
by Kenneth McNulty
Posted In: Theater
at 02:53 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company presents seventh annual summer series
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company continues its summer
tradition of Shakespeare in the Park as the free series returns for the seventh
year this August. Romeo and Juliet and
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be
showcased in parks around the Greater Cincinnati area and Northern Kentucky
CSC Ensemble Member Nicholas Rose is directing the classic
lovers tale, Romeo and Juliet. While
the fantastic story of betrayal and magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being directed by CSC Education
Associate Miranda McGee. Six actors from the CSC Resident Ensemble will be
acting in these performances. After the free park tour, they will continue to
tour community centers, schools, venues and other performance centers into May
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is continuing its partnership
with Cincinnati Parks and Recreation, offering free shows at Seasongood
Pavilion in Eden Park, Burnet Woods, Mt. Echo Park and the new Smale Riverfront
Park. Washington Park will see the group on their tour, alongside parks in
Madeira, Colerain and Monroe in Ohio, and Burlington, Edgewood and Maysville in
Kentucky. The acting troupe will have two performances at the Vinoklet Winery
as well. Certain park locations will be accepting canned food and
non-perishable items — CSC has a partnership with the Freestore Foodbank.
If a free, al fresco viewing of Shakespeare’s best sounds
fun, then make sure to get to each performance early to ensure good seating.
All shows are general admission with first-come, first-serve seating. For more
information go to cincyshakes.com.
For show times and locations, refer to the list below:
Saturday, Aug. 3, Romeo
and Juliet at 7 p.m. in Boone Woods Park, Burlington
Wednesday, Aug. 7, Romeo
and Juliet at 7 p.m. in Eden Park – Seasongood Pavilion, Mount Adams
Thursday, Aug. 8 Romeo
and Juliet at 7 p.m. in Burnet Woods, Clifton
Friday, Aug. 9 Romeo
and Juliet at 7 p.m. in the Monroe Community Park, Monroe, Ohio
Saturday, Aug. 10 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 6:30 p.m. in the Harry Whiting Brown Lawn,
Sunday, Aug. 11 Romeo
and Juliet at 7 p.m. in the McDonald Commons Park, Madeira
Wednesday, Aug. 14 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. in Browning Shelter, Maysville, Ky.
Thursday, Aug. 15 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. in Mt. Echo Park, Price Hill
Friday, Aug. 16 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. at the Vinoklet Winery, Colerain
Saturday, Aug. 17 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. at the Miami Whitewater Forest – Harbor
Sunday, Aug. 18 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. in Washington Park, Over-the-Rhine
Wednesday, Aug. 21 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. in
Burnet Woods, Clifton
Thursday, Aug. 22 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. in Colerain Park
Friday, Aug. 23 Romeo
and Juliet at 7 p.m. at the Vinoklet Winery, Colerain
Saturday, Aug. 24 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream in Keehner Park, West Chester
Sunday, Aug. 25 Romeo
and Juliet at 6 p.m. in Presidents Park, Edgewood, Ky.
Tuesday, Aug. 27 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. in Uptown Park, Oxford
Wednesday, Aug. 28 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center Lawn
Thursday, Aug. 29 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. at the Smale Riverfront Park, Downtown
Friday, Aug. 30 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. at the Eden Park – Seasongood Pavilion,
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 07:44 AM | Permalink
Well, the big show
that's on the way will be fireworks next week, of course. That means
that most theaters are wrapping up early summer productions.But you still have a chance to see The Hound of the Baskervilles
at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. It's a daffy take on a Sherlock
Holmes mystery. In truth, it pretty well follows Sir Arthur
Conan-Doyle's brilliant deducer as he unthreads a mystery surrounding a
diabolical dog that seems to be pursuing a cursed family on the remote
moors of Devon. But the story is told using just three actors — all male
performers from Cincinnati Shakespeare's corps of veterans — who play
male and female, making quick (and sometimes mistaken) costume changes.
Nick Rose, Jeremy Dubin and Brent Vimtrup milk every last drop of humor
from this amusing script, with the able assistance of director Michael
Evan Haney. Haney, who has served as the Cincinnati Playhouse's
associate artistic director for more than a decade brings out the best
in comic timing, so you're sure to have a rollicking good time. Final
performances at Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
You can also catch The Odd Couple on board the Showboat Majestic through Sunday.
Neil Simon's comedy about two divorced guys who just can't get along is
an American classic, to be sure — so maybe that makes this a perfect
show for the weekend before the July 4th
holiday. Felix and Oscar would like nothing better than declaring their
"independence," but instead, they slowly drive one another mad. Two
good actors, Joshua Steele and Mike Hall, are no doubt making this an
amusing piece of theater. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
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.
by Rick Pender
Most of our local theaters are cooling their jets for the
summer months, but you still have two more weekends to catch the
hilarious, three-actor Sherlock Holmes spoof of Hound of the Baskervilles
at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. This one is definitely fine-tuned,
featuring a trio of Cincy Shakes best actors — Jeremy Dubin, Nick Rose
and Brent Vimtrup — directed by Michael Evan Haney from the Cincinnati
Playhouse. It's a revival of a hit from last summer, so they have the
comic timing of quick costume changes and fast-paced tomfoolery down
pat. I understand that this weekend is almost sold out, but don't let
that keep you from trying. Final performance is June 30. I hope you've
deduced that you need to get for it this time around, even if you saw it
before. (If you did, you know how funny it is.) It's elementary!
Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1
The Showboat Majestic is a venue that floats along every
summer with solid entertainment. Right now you can come on board for a
classic piece of comedy by Neil Simon, The Odd Couple.
It's a hit from 1965 in a production featuring a couple of great local
actors: Joshua Steele as the prissy Felix and Mike Hall as the messy
Oscar. They're a pair who know their way around a funny script, so it's a
fine show for a summer's laugh. Tickets: 513-241-6550
Maybe you thought Sesame Street was funny when you were a kid. How'd you like to see some raunchy puppet behavior? Avenue Q
is onstage in Dayton at the Human Race Theatre. The 2004 Tony
Award-winning musical offers laugh-out-loud musical mayhem. But leave
the kids at home: This one is aimed at those who are twentysomething and
up, offering answers to a simple question: What happens to the kids who
were raised on Sesame Street when they grow up? You'll find the answers
— in songs like "It Sucks to Be Me" and "The Internet Is for Porn" — at
the Loft Theatre, 126 North Main St. in downtown Dayton. Tickets: 937-228-3630
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:34 AM | Permalink
Head to Dayton's Nutter Center this weekend to see Cirque du Soleil's classic show, Quidam. The show, at the time a big top
production, spent several weeks in Cincinnati in August and September
2006 in a "grand chapiteau" on the Ohio River bank near the Suspension
Bridge. It's the story of a bored kid named Zoé whose parents
ignore her. We enter the world of her imagination when Quidam, a
headless wanderer under an umbrella, hands her his blue bowler hat.
As her self-absorbed parents float
away, the story moves into the magical reality her imagination, populated by Cirque's
physically astonishing performers. There's a "German Wheel," a pair of
man-sized double hoops with a guy rolling around the stage; an amazing
silk contortionist, high
above the stage); and "Statue," a mesmerizing performance by a
muscle-bound guy and a powerful woman
who slowly balance in various positions. My favorite was Banquine, the
finale by 15 acrobats, launching tumblers high into the air and catching
them. Through Sunday. Tickets: cirquedusoleil.comOther productions to consider for your theater calendar this weekend: The Odd Couple (just opened on the Showboat Majestic, 513-241-6550); The Hound of the Baskervilles (Cincinnati Shakespeare, 513-381-2273), Nunsense (Commonwealth Dinner Theatre at Northern Kentucky University, 859-572-5465) and, if you're looking to make a theater weekend in Dayton with Quidam on one evening, how about filling the other with the outrageously funny X-rated Sesame Street-inspired Avenue Q at Human Race Theatre Company (888-228-3630).
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:55 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company finishes its run of Measure for Measure
this weekend (CityBeat review here). It's a dark tale of hypocrisy and manipulation, with a
few glimmers of ribald humor. Director Brian Phillips has transported
the story from Renaissance-Era Vienna to the United States of the 1920s
when Prohibition made everyday occurrences of fast living and bad
behavior. (Can you say Boardwalk Empire?) In 20 seasons, CSC has
only staged it once before, but this is a production worth seeing
because of the strong acting company — especially Brent Vimtrup, Kelly
Mengelkoch and Nick Rose. Billy Chace does a nice job with the comic
bits, too, even though they feel weird in this difficult story of
self-righteousness and double-dealing. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.For those into crooning, sentimental nostalgia, you'll find an ample supply aboard the Showboat Majestic's production of Forever Plaid.
Jinx, Sparky Francis and Smudge conjure up a lot of good clean fun and
close harmonies for their final concert. And I do mean final — in fact,
they're kind of after the fact: Coming back from the great beyond for
one last gig after a tragic bus accident on their way to a career-making
gig. There's a lot of tomfoolery that makes this show amusing and
entertaining. Through June 2. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
If you prefer the girls to the boys, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is into the extended run of The Mavelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns.
The spunky gals — who also traffic in tunes from the ’50s and ’60s —
provide two more rounds of melodies and moodiness. "Caps" is a
reconstruction of their graduation night in 1958, while "Gowns" is a
decade later at the wedding reception of Missy, who always has a plan,
and Mr. Lee, a teacher she idolized. We get to see what life has brought
to her three friends, love-'em-and-leave-'em Cindy Lou, jealous Betty
Jean and vapid Suzy. ETC's casting gets an A+. Through June 1. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
For our early summer enjoyment, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has put together the charming and family-friendly Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself). I attended the opening on Thursday
evening and witnessed three actors who play a host of characters,
change costumes in plain view, create wildly imaginative scenery and
make their own sound effects. It's a wistful story of adventure that
revels in the adventure of storytelling. It's onstage through June 16. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:39 AM | Permalink
As the 2012-2013
theater season winds down, there are still several good productions
worth seeing: You can still be entertained by the froth of The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns at Ensemble Theatre (which runs through June 1), intrigued by the dark comedy Measure for Measure at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (through May 26; CityBeat review here) or titillated by the noir tale of lust and murder, Double Indemnity, at the Cincinnati Playhouse (wrapping up on Saturday; CityBeat review here).But if you're looking for other options, you'll find them. Slightly more off the beaten path is Sunset Boulevard,
the Andrew Lloyd Webber about a faded silent film star living in her
grandiose memory of her glory days rather than in the cynical present of
the 1940s. Cincinnati Music Theatre has assembled a fine production of
the show at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater, onstage through
Saturday evening. This is a big show in terms of cast, choreography,
scenery and more, but CMT, a community theater, has the personnel to
pull it off. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
Another tale of a film legend contemplating a return to the screen — but on a decidedly smaller scale — is offered in Krisit,
a new play by local playwright Y York. Veteran actress Dale Hodges
plays the title character in a show characterized by director Mark
Lutwak as a funny play about a serious subject. York and Hodges have a
history that goes back to New York City many years ago. It's onstage
(through June 2) at Clifton Performance Theatre (the space once occupied
by Sitwell's Coffee House, 404 Ludlow Ave.). Tickets: 513-861-7469. Speaking of legends, at the Aronoff tonight (Friday) you'll find Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!
He's been presenting the humor, satirical wit and timeless observations
of one of America's most iconic literary figures for more than a
half-century. Holbrook is now 88, more than a decade older than Twain
when he passed away in 1910. But he keeps his performances fresh and
timely with constant edits and changes about politics, culture and the
world, carefully attuned to the moment. (He has more than 16 hours of
Twain material in his repertoire!) His performance is in the Procter
& Gamble Hall at the Aronoff Center. Tickets: 513-621-2787.
If you've already enjoyed the Wonderettes at ETC, you might want to attend Forever Plaid,
which just opened the 2013 summer season on board the Showboat
Majestic. It's a similar story, a quartet of singers aspiring for their
big musical break. They get it, but at a high (and highly comic) price.
Lots of great tunes from the ’50s, surrounded by nostalgic humor. It's
onstage through June 2. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
you're a regular theatergoer in Cincinnati, you might want to attend
the League of Cincinnati's awards program on Monday evening, 7 p.m. at
Know Theatre. Details here.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:52 AM | Permalink
Nothing new onstage
this week, but lots of good work continues as we head toward the summer
when theater gets scarce. Now's the time to stock up.
This is the final weekend for Cock at Know Theatre. (Some publications call it The Cockfight Play, but Cock
is Mike Bartlett's actual title for his play.) It's the story of a man
who thought he was gay but now finds himself powerfully drawn to a
woman. (CityBeat review here.) His former lover and his new passion both push him to make a
choice, and he's torn. It's a great piece of theater, fueled by strong
acting and interesting staging. Tickets: 513-300-5669. Ensemble Theatre's production of The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns
is off and running — and on its way to being another box-office hit for
ETC. It's the same four spunky gals who audiences loved back in 2010
(in ETC's best-selling show ever), with new tuneful glimpses into their
high school graduation in 1958 and a wedding reception in 1968. Talented
singers, individually and as a quartet, make this a fine evening's
entertainment. If you've seen it before, you know the drill — and you're
probably ready for more. Tickets: 513-421-3555
James M. Cain's novel of crime and deception, Double Indemnity, continues at the Cincinnati Playhouse. (CityBeat review here.) If you think you know this show from Billy Wilder's 1944 film (one that defined the noir
genre), you're in for a treat: While this production adopts the
elements of terse narration, tough guys and sexy dames, the playwrights
tell the story differently for the stage. And the Playhouse stages it
inventively — one might even say cinematically. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Shakespeare's Measure for Measure
is a strange piece, a comedy with a deeply disturbing story about
hypocrisy. (CityBeat review here.) A judgmental official condemns men for their licentious
behavior, then turns around and propositions a virtuous woman pleading
to spare her brother. This troublesome tale is interspersed with comic
moments as minor characters wend their way through a time of sordid
behavior — in Cincinnati Shakespeare's production it's been moved to
Prohibition-era America. If you're a Shakespeare buff, this one is worth
seeing, since it's not often staged. (It's been 18 years since it's
been presented locally.) Tickets: 513-381-2273 x.1.
The musical Sister Act,
based on the Whoopi Goldberg film from 1992, continues at the Aronoff. (CityBeat review here.)
It's an evening of silly fluff, but the touring production, onstage
through Sunday, is polished and entertaining. The plot is implausible,
but it's a framework for some great singing and an eye-popping series of
set pieces. Tickets: 800-982-2787.
If you prefer a musical with a little more grit, head to Dayton where the Human Race Theatre Company is presenting next to normal
at the Victoria Theater. This Rock musical about a paranoid
schizophrenic mom and the damage her affliction imposes on her family is
a powerful show, one that Cincinnati's Ensemble Theatre gave a well
received production in 2011 that was revived a year ago. The show was an
unusual winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It's onstage in
Dayton through May 19. Tickets: 937-228-9360.