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Navigating the Novelties

The Cincy Fringe Festival returns to Over-the-Rhine in all its fringy glory

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 22, 2013
My first tip: Don’t think you can outwit the Fringe. I like to say that the festival is best described as theater roulette. Give the cylinder a whirl, pull the trigger and see what comes at you. Sometimes it might be what you expect, but more often than not you’ll be surprised.   

Handing Out Awards

1 Comment · Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT) presented awards for the 2012-2013 theater season on May 20 at Know Theatre, too late to report the results in this issue of CityBeat. So I want to offer some thoughts and my own choices.  

Sunset Boulevard (Review)

Tale of Hollywood desperation and dementia gets a big-time patina

0 Comments · Monday, May 13, 2013
David Zlatic designed a production — scenery, lighting in the style of film noir and a stream of well executed photographic and video projections in moody black-and-white — that works very well, including Desmond’s mansion with a sweeping central staircase.   

Is ETC Doing — or Overdoing?

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 8, 2013
“If something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” proclaims one of the spunky gals in the current iteration of The Marvelous Wonderettes at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati this month. ETC apparently agrees, since this is the fourth consecutive year it has staged one of Roger Bean’s retro shows featuring music from the ’50s and ’60s.  

Measure for Measure (Review)

Cincy Shakes presents strange brew of drama, comedy

0 Comments · Monday, May 6, 2013
Director Brian Isaac Phillips has set his production in the U.S. in the 1920s. It’s a good match to Jacobean London and we are given visual insight into the characters — from puritanical tyrants in three-piece business suits to loose men in fur coats and lowlife women as flappers.  

New Edgecliff Adapts with Audiences in Mind

0 Comments · Tuesday, April 23, 2013
New Edgecliff Theatre completes its 15th season with David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Proof (onstage through Sunday at the Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Bank Theater), a production providing ample evidence of NET’s strength...   
by Rick Pender 04.19.2013
Posted In: Theater at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Bounty of Choices

There's a bounty of theater choices to keep you entertained this weekend, with productions on venues all over town — including on several university campuses. Here are a few you might want to check out. New Edgecliff Theatre, which has presented shows at the Columbia Performance Center on Cincinnati's East Side for quite a few years, has been itinerant this year while they seek a new home. They're completing their fifteenth season with a production of David Auburn's Proof at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater, which looks like it's where they'll land for their next season. (I'll be writing more about NET in my next CityBeat "Curtain Call" column on April 24.) I attended the show's opening on Wednesday, and it's a solid production of a very engaging play, the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. Greg Procaccino, NET's former artistic director, has returned to stage a simple but effective production that features Rebecca Whatley as Catherine, the anxious, self-doubting young woman who has been a caregiver for years for her father, a renowned math professor whose mental instability has been a factor and a threat in his daughter's life. The show has several gripping twists and turns, as well as a satisfying resolution. Through April 27. Tickets: 513-621-2787. Last week I was at the opening of Cock, a regional premiere and Know Theatre's second production of the season. (CityBeat review here.) It's the story of a man falling out of a gay relationship and into one with a woman; he's torn by indecision and doubt about which way to go. The show is staged (by director Brian Robertson) like a cockfight, with the characters "pecking" at one another emotionally. It's also presented in an unusual setting, bertween two rows of bleachers (like a cockfight arena), so you're close to the action and able to see how others are responding. It's a fight to the finish, and you can never be certain of the outcome. Strong acting and a very contemporary, well-written script by British playwright Mike Bartlett. Through May May 11. Tickets: 513-300-5669. This is the final weekend at the Carnegie in Covington for the hard-hitting musical Parade by composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown and playwright Alfred Uhry. (CityBeat review here.) It's based on the true story of Leo Frank, unjustly accused of murdering a young teenaged girl working in the factory he managed in Atlanta in 1913. A Jew from New York, Frank was the target of profound anti-Semitism and never had a realistic chance to defend himself, although his wife tried mightily to expose the prejudice. It's a powerful production, featuring a cast of musical theater talent from UC's College-Conservatory of Music, directed by Dee Anne Bryll and Ed Cohen. The show is not easy to watch, but it's deeply moving. Through Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940. Every two years since 1981, Northern Kentucky University has presented the Year End Series Festival — shortened to the "YES," ten days of presentations of three world premieres. This year's shows are a murder-mystery farce, Heart Attack with a Knife by Oded Gross; David L. Williams Spake, a drama set in Siberia; and a comic fable about fame and friendship, Furbelow by J. Stephen Brantley. YES is a gargantuan undertaking, and it represents how NKU prepares its drama students for careers in the theater. Shows are presented in rotating repertory, so you should check the Web site for specific performance dates. Tickets: 859-572-5464. At other area universities this weekend: At the Cohen Family Studio Theater at UC's College-Conservatory of Music, you can see a production of Emily Mann's Execution of Justice (UC's College-Conservatory of Music, through Sunday, 513-556-4183), a new docu-drama about the trial of Dan White for the murder of Harvey Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay Supervisor and Mayor George Moscone. It's staged by retiring UC drama professor Michael Burnham. And for musical theater fans, you can see Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's popular fairytale musical Into the Woods at Miami University (through April 27, 513-529-3200).
 
 

Cock (Review)

Fighting for Love: 'Cock' at Know Theatre

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Know Theatre has opted for quality rather than quantity in its productions this season. It’s following the highly regarded When the Rain Stops Falling with its second show, Cock by Mike Bartlett, maintaining a similar high level of material and performance  
by Rick Pender 04.12.2013
Posted In: Theater, Visual Art at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Controversy, Conversation and Comedy

Tonight (Friday) Know Theatre opens a new production of a work that's bound to launch a lot of conversations. And let's not beat around the bush: The real title of Mike Bartlett's play is Cock (The Cockfight Play is the substitute title for media that are afraid to offend). It's a tense comedy about sexual identity: John takes a break from his longtime boyfriend and unexpectedly falls in love with a woman. The story is about how he's caught in a tug-of-war between these two lovers, and the play's conflict is John's navigation of his sexuality and his selfhood. It's also told without scenery or props, focusing squarely on the relationships. According to Know's Eric Vosmeier, "It's a kind of pansexual love story that's told very simply without all the trappings of a traditional production." Vosmeier describes this production as "one of the first victories of Know's new scheduling model." The rights for Cock just became available; this is only the second American production of the play that premiered at London's Royal Court Theatre in 2009. The show runs through May 11. Box office: 513-300-5669 This weekend is the opener for Covedale Center's production of Legally Blonde, the show that kicked up controversy in a Loveland High School staging last fall that led to the firing of a dedicated director. I still shake my head over what could offend anyone about this PG rated piece of musical theater, but you can check it out and decide for yourself at the Covedale. It's about a young woman who won't take "no" for an answer and becomes her own woman in the process — outshining everyone at Harvard Law School. It's kind of crazy, but a lot of fun. No one will get fired over this one, I suspect. Box office: 513-241-6550 The Otto M. Budig Theatre at the Carnegie in Covington is in the midst of a run of Jason Robert Brown's Parade. My schedule and the theater's haven't matched up yet, but I'm eager to see it — I'm headed there for the Sunday matinee this weekend. Set in the sweltering intolerance of 1913 Atlanta, Parade is the story of Leo Frank, a northerner and Jewish factory manager, wrongfully accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl in his employment. Despite media frenzy and public outrage, his courageous wife struggles in vain to clear his name. The show won 1999 Tony Awards for best book and best score. This is an off-campus production by the musical theater program at UC's College-Conservatory of Music, and it's been given high marks by the judging panel from the League of Cincinnati Theatres: for the ensemble, for musical direction by Steve Goers, for featured actor Noah Ricketts and for lighting design by Alan Hanson and Wes Richter. It's onstage through April 21. Box office: 859-957-1940 Untethered Theater is midway through it's run of Jeff Daniels' Apartment 3A, presented at the Clifton Performance Theatre on Ludlow, a few blocks east of the Esquire. It's about a once idealistic young woman who has been disillusioned in just about every aspect of her life. The show is an exploration of faith and hope in today's world, described as "an uncynical play about cynics in cynical times." Through April 27. Tickets: 513-939-0599
 
 

The Book Club Play (Review)

Dynamic, fast-paced comedy flips tables on character studies

0 Comments · Friday, March 29, 2013
The Book Club Play  a comedy about five people with some personal history who come together for monthly conversations about books, progresses — perhaps more accurately, regresses — through a series of novels reflecting tastes, aspirations and differences.    

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