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Giving the Gift of Theater

0 Comments · Tuesday, December 18, 2012
All right, you’re going to have to forgive me — I am a theater critic and a theater lover. Those terms are not mutually exclusive.  

Making Merry, Theatrically

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.  

More Than the Sum of the Parts

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 11.02.2012
Posted In: Theater at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Non-Political Ad Edition

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 10.26.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Options Abound

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 this month. 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. 
 
 

The Thrill of the Familiar

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 presented locally.  

Through the Night (Review)

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 faith.  

Daniel Beaty Shows How to Live in New Ways

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 09.12.2012
Posted In: Performances, Movies, Events at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Wednesday To Do List

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 program. Ensemble 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 Steele here. 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.
 
 

The Three Musketeers (Review)

Playhouse production has lots of laughs but could use more heart

0 Comments · Friday, September 7, 2012
Artistic 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.  

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