0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
It’s time for mistletoe and holly, when
theaters entice folks in search of holiday cheer (and occasional
parodies thereof) to celebrate the season. Many theaters need December
ticket revenues to present shows onstage for the rest of the year.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Collaboration is the byword for many
arts organizations today, especially theaters where financial support is
tough to obtain and ticket revenues are seldom enough to support the
cost of productions. By working together, economies can be achieved and,
in some cases, multiple constituencies can be activated.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:05 AM | Permalink
If you can tear yourself way from TV ads for the
presidential election this weekend, you'll find plenty of good theater
to distract you, starting with a production at Covington's Carnegie
Center opening Friday night. It's Under a Red Moon, a
world premiere co-production with Dayton’s Human Race Theatre Company.
Michael Slade's taut psychological thriller just spent nearly a month
onstage at the Loft Theatre in Dayton, so it's already a seasoned
production. A dramatized psychological interview in the same vein as Silence of the Lambs,
it’s based on the chilling true story of England’s notorious “Acid Bath
Murderer” from a half-century ago. The play features Broadway actors
Bradford Cover as the criminal and Dee Pelletier as the psychologist
trying to get inside his head. Box office: 859-957-1940.
A different set of thrills are available from Cincinnati Shakespeare
Company, which is staging Shakespeare's bloody revenge tragedy,
Titus Andronicus. This
show requires a lot of hand-to-hand combat, blood and gore — presented
by CSC with ghastly zeal. Just as creepy tales like Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween
have chilled film audiences in recent years, this kind of play was all
the rage in the early 1590s. (CSC director Jeremy Dubin calls it “a
snuff film in blank verse.”) It's especially fun to watch veteran Nick
Rose as a Roman general who gets into a grotesque battle of wills with
the amoral Queen of the Goths, played by Miranda McGee. The awful things
they they do to one another's families make for some delicious,
hair-raising storytelling. Also onstage at Cincy Shakes is Romeo & Juliet,
with the central characters played as hormonal, irrational teens. Sara
Clark is especially good as Juliet. Both productions tell their tale
through more contemporary visual filters — R&J's characters wear contemporary clothing and are surrounded with music of the here and now, while Titus
gets a "Steampunk" treatment that presumes that the Victorian
ingenuity of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells extended its steam-driven,
mechanical technology to the present. Both approaches give new vitality
to the shows. (Review here.) Box office: 513-381-2273.
Also worth seeing is a funny, touching tale of growing up in Depression-era Brooklyn, Neil Simon's
Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Cincinnati Playhouse (513-381-3888)).
(Review here.) It's the first time that the Playhouse has staged a
work by Simon, one of America's most prolific playwrights of the 20th
century. Box office: 513-421-3888
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:35 AM | Permalink
You'll have to pick and choose this weekend because
there's so much theater onstage. In addition to our professional
theaters, it's worth checking out production at universities: Tonight
through Sunday, CCM's esteemed musical theater program is offering the
cult favorite Chess, with music by ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus
and Benny Andersson. The story is set in Bangkok and Budapest during a
mid-1970s world chess championship — and it's driven by gamesmanship
between nations, between lovers and, of course, between chess players. I
saw the opening on Thursday, and it's a BIG show with a gigantic cast.
Several leading roles are double cast (with more juniors than seniors,
in fact, which bodes well for CCM productions for this season and next).
In particular, Matthew Paul Hill, playing the Russian grand master
Anatoly, lifted the roof of Corbett Auditorium with his powerful
baritone voice singing the stirring "Anthem," the Act 1 finale. Tickets
($30) Box office: 513-556-4183. At Northern Kentucky University you'll a production of Royal Gambit
by German playwright Hermann Gressieker (translated into English in the
late 1950s). The subject is King Henry VIII and his six wives, and this
looks to be a beautifully costumed show, featuring senior Seth Wallen
in the leading role. Tickets ($14). Box office: 859-572-5464.
Neil Simon's funny and endearing Brighton Beach Memoirs is
onstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse. I gave it a Critic's Pick (review here),
and I'm sure audiences will love this sweet portrait of growing up in
Brooklyn in the 1930s, where a loving but fractious family copes with
hard times. It's told from the perspective of Eugene, a precocious
adolescent (he's really Simon as a 15-year-old), who takes notes on his
family's behavior. Well acted and beautifully staged. Box office: 513-421-3888l.
My schedule hasn't permitted me to see several shows that are getting
good notices, including recognition from the folks evaluating
productions for the League of Cincinnati Theatres. I'm catching up this
evening with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is offering two shows
Romeo & Juliet is its mainstage show, and
Sara Clark is getting high marks for her portrait of romantic but
tragic young love. Brian Phillips' staging picked up an LCT nod, and the
show received an overall recommendation from LCT. On the evenings when R&J
is not onstage, there's another Shakespeare work for thrill seekers,
specially selected and staged for the Halloween season: the bloody, gory
tale of revenge, Titus Andronicus. Veteran actor Nick
Rose plays a crazed Roman general, and just about everyone I've heard
from says his performance is memorable. (It earned him an LCT
nomination, too.) Box office: 513-381-2273.
This weekend is the final one for
Mrs. Mannerly at Ensemble Theatre. When Harper Lee reviewed this one for CityBeat (review here),
she gave it a Critic's Pick, and I agree wholeheartedly. (LCT named it a
recommended production, too.) CEA Hall of Fame actress Dale Hodges is
great fun to watch as a strict etiquette teacher in 1967, and Raymond
McAnally plays all the other characters — a bunch of kids who are
learning how to behave in a "mannerly" way. It's funny from start to
finish, but there's a heart-warming message within the story. Definitely
worth seeing. Box office: 513-421-3555.
At Clifton Performance Theatre, Clifton Players are staging
A Bright New Boise,
which also picked up an LCT recommendation. I haven't seen it, but the
show won an Obie Award (that's for outstanding off-Broadway plays) in
2011, and it has a strong cast. This is a newish venue that's
specializing in "storefront theater." Should be worth supporting.
Tickets ($20): 513-861-7469.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 10, 2012
More often than not, I try to introduce CityBeat
readers to new plays and writers. We see quite a few such shows locally
thanks to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC), the Cincinnati Playhouse
and Know Theatre. In fact, looking at American Theatre’s list of
2012-2013’s “Top 10” most-produced plays, six have already been
Daniel Beaty stands inside six different men and brings them to life
0 Comments · Monday, October 1, 2012
Daniel Beaty’s one-man-show, Through the Night,
now on the Shelterhouse stage at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park,
is an electrifying theatrical examination of fatherhood, family and
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Daniel Beaty spent his first 18 years in
Dayton. He considers that a blessing. “I’m a native Ohioan,” he said in a
recent phone interview, as he prepares to bring his one-man show, Through the Night,
to the Cincinnati Playhouse, where it begins a four-week run on Thursday.
by Jac Kern
The Cincinnati Ballet opens each season with a fresh crop of modern performances,
but this season’s Kaplan New Works Series stands out as being the first
featuring all women choreographers. While ballet dancers are predominantly female, male choreographers significantly outnumber women. Choreographers Amy Seiwert,
Paige Cunningham Caldarella, Heather Britt and Jessica Lang all present new
programs through Sunday. Tickets are still available for tonight’s 8 p.m.
performance here. Check out our recent story
on the Kaplan New Works Series to learn more about these choreographers and the
Theater Cincinnati and Playhouse in the Park also have productions tonight.
ETC’s Good People, a Critic’s Pick, is “a total package that feels good
and real from start to finish.”
The Three Musketeers, onstage at the Playhouse, promises
lots of silly laughs and exciting swordplay. See Rick Pender’s full review here.
The Cincinnati Film Festival continues today with
screenings running through 9 p.m. at Esquire Theater. Single tickets are $10 or
$25 for the full night. Read our interview with Executive Director Katharine
The Main Library
downtown kicks off its series of experimental music nights with Electric Inertia
and Her Weasels Wild Running at 7 p.m. in the Reading Garden Lounge. The night
will feature stop-motion animation from 1930s film footage, free-form trumpet,
piano and guitar. The series continues Sept. 26, Oct. 3,17 and 30.Columbus Day might be a month away, but locals can celebrate early by visiting replicas of The Nina and Pinta today. The ships will be at the Levee (conveniently docked by Hooter's) through Saturday. Tours are available between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and run $6-$8 per person.
Peep our full calendar
for more concerts, art and theater shows, events and more stuff to do tonight.
Playhouse production has lots of laughs but could use more heart
0 Comments · Friday, September 7, 2012
Director Blake Robison's first production is jam-packed with rousing non-stop action, hearty laughs and big
storytelling as well as beautiful scenic and costume elements.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:12 AM | Permalink
If this week’s
theater offerings sound familiar, it’s because we’ve seen some of
these shows (or their inspirations).
The best choice, for my
money, is Keith Glover’s Thunder Knocking on the Door at
the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a revival of sorts from 1999 —
but thoroughly and creatively reimagined for the final mainstage
production of Ed Stern’s final season leading the Tony
Award-winning theater. It’s a musical about the Blues and it
features an emotional Blues score, mostly by Keb’ Mo’, to tell
the story of the power of love and music — and blues guitar
players. It’s presented with panache, including technology and
design that are all about 2012. Through May 20. Box office:
If you loved the
Doo-Wop silliness of The Marvelous Wonderettes, a hit from 2010 at
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, then you’re likely to have a good time
at Life Could Be A Dream, Roger Bean’s sequel to the
story of some bubbly girls who bond around teen hits from the ’50s
and ’60s. This time is boys, and that’s most of the difference.
As in the two Wonderette shows, Dream is shot through with
adolescent angst, in this case around a local radio station contest
that could “make them famous.” It’s an excuse for more than two
dozen tunes from the same era that are shaped to the story. So it’s
a familiar formula, but ETC has a talented cast who make it a lot of
fun. (Through May 20.) Box office: 513-421-3555.
Another show that
totally mastered the art of wedging familiar tunes into an
implausible story is Mamma Mia, and you can catch a
touring production of that one at the Aronoff Center through Sunday.
The cast of this tour has a lot of youthful energy and several mature
characters who have fun reminiscing about their disco days. Box
Andrew Jackson will have its final performance on May 12. If
you haven’t yet seen this youthful mix of political commentary,
driving Rock, history, humor and sober observations about the will of
the people, you’d better go this weekend. (The longer you wait the
less likely you are to get a ticket — the final weekend is selling
fast.) Not many musicals begin with the cast flipping the bird at the
audience, but then not many musicals are like this one, spinning a
tale of America’s seventh president to in-your-face Indie Rock
tunes. This is Bloody Bloody’s first professional regional
production. I gave it a Critic’s Pick. Box office: 513-300-5669.
You have plenty of time
to see The Second City 2: Less Pride – More Pork,
since the Cincinnati Playhouse plans to keep it on the Shelterhouse
Stage until July 1 (at least), but I predict you’ll enjoy it
whenever you go. It’s a notch up from the first iteration of the
show that set box-office records for the Mount Adams theater a
year-and-a-half ago. Lots of hilarious fun-poking at … us. And the
clever cast uniquely tailors every performance to the audience that
shows up. Box office: 513-421-3888.
production of the recent off-Broadway and Broadway Rock musical hit,
I was thoroughly entertained by Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat last week at the Covedale. It has a
cast of strong singers who do a fine job with the amusing score,
stuffed with musical parodies — Calypso, Blues, County, Bubblegum
Pop and more — and they’re having an infectious good time. Keep
an eye out for the Pharaoh; he’s really the King! Through May 13.
Box office: 513-241-6550.
Each week in Stage
Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces
of theater news.