If God really did create people so he'd have an endless supply of stories — to quote a line from the likable 'How? How? Why? Why? Why?' now at the Playhouse — then the heavens must be smiling down on Kevin Kling. The playwright/performer well known to fans of National Public Radio seems to have been born, raised and divinely ordained to spin a tale.
Sometimes those with the least to offer bestow the greatest gifts. Ask O. Henry or Charlie Brown — or Jesus himself (born in a barn). No wonder the best performance in 'Sanders Family Christmas' comes from the one character who supposedly has no talent for music: June (Tess Hartman), the plain, non-singing daughter of the Sanders clan, who were celebrity guests on Christmas Eve 1941 at the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.
How can people with the best of intentions do things that eventually turn out to be wrong, or at least misguided? Such matters are the foundation of Michele Lowe's 'Victoria Musica,' in its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse.
Even if you know the story of 'Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde,' Robert Louis Stevenson's classic 1886 horror story, you'll likely be surprised by the Cincinnati Playhouse's version, since it twists and turns the tale in unanticipated directions. Jeffrey Hatcher adapted the story, and this version provides unexpected textures and narrative elements.
The Cincinnati Playhouse has offered a steady diet of musicals by Stephen Sondheim over the past decade. If you've seen them, you might think you're familiar with music by the legendary composer/lyricist. I have news for you: The current Shelterhouse production, 'Marry Me a Little,' will feel like a new show, full of songs that are clearly Sondheim's but seldom heard. It's a show for Sondheim fans and musical theater lovers.
While Arlene Hutton's play is new to Cincinnati, it's been around for almost a decade. The two-actor, 90-minute script charmed audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and its simplicity appeals to theaters today because it's inexpensive to produce, requiring minimal scenery. But it's rich in the emotion and storytelling that audiences respond to.
When the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park kicks off its 50th anniversary season this fall, Ed Stern will be in his 18th year as producing artistic director. That's a remarkably long tenure as a theater leader, but he has an uncanny knack for offering tried-and-true classics alongside works by rising playwrights.
As the foundation for its laughter, 'The Foreigner' asks audiences to accept a lulu of a gimmick. Many comedies do. The problem with gimmicks is that once they're established the playwright must create characters and situations so funny and so convincing that they transcend the gimmickry.
Sexual contact between an adult and a child is always and automatically abusive. Or is it? Unsettling questions and uncertain answers take the stage at Cincinnati Playhouse in director Michael Evan Haney's flawless production of 'Blackbird,' the 2005 David Harrower script that won an Olivier Award, the English theater's equivalent of a Tony.
A provocative play can take you to places you don't expect, says Michael Evan Haney, assistant artistic director at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for seven seasons. That's exactly what happened to him and what he expects will grab audiences who come to see David Harrower's 'Blackbird,' opening this week at the Playhouse.