CSC portrays the fall of a king
0 Comments · Monday, January 14, 2013
Audiences seeing Richard II will wonder why it’s not presented more often because this production works so well. The common wisdom is that Richard II is
more about head than heart. Shakespeare’s other histories are full of
glory and combat, whereas this play focuses on a king whose weakness
leads to his downfall.
by Rick Pender
An avalanche of theater heads our way next week — including the touring Broadway musical Memphis (not Million Dollar Quartet, as mistakenly published in last Sunday's Enquirer), the regional premiere of Freud's Last Session
at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (not "Freud's Last Stand" as the same
Enquirer piece labeled it — doesn't our daily paper employ copy editors
and fact checkers?), the world premiere of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Abigail/1702 (in previews this weekend; read more here)
and a concert staging of Lerner & Loewe's lovely musical Camelot at
the Carnegie Center in Covington (with accompaniment by Mischa Santora
and members of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra).
By the way, there's apparently such anticipation for Freud's Last Session,
which features local actor Bruce Cromer, that tickets are selling out
for some performances. As a result, even before the show opens on Jan.
23, ETC has extended the show's run by a week, to Feb. 16. Box office: 513-421-3555
If you haven't yet caught Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's staging of Richard II, you really should make a point of doing so. In my review,
I pointed to Brent Vimtrup's multi-faceted performance. I'll add here
that there are strong supporting performances from Jim Hopkins, Nick
Rose and Giles Davies (this longtime CSC favorite is back in town for a
few productions). This show isn't often produced (it's the first time
for Cincy Shakes in its 19-year history), but this staging will make you
wonder why. It's bursting with poetry, and there's lots to look at with
beautiful 14th-century-styled costumes. An Acclaim Awards panel cited
Vimtrup's performance as well as Andrew Hungerford's lighting design; I
gave the production a Critic's Pick. Need any more encouragement?
Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1
Elsewhere, you'll find a production of Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter
by Untethered Theater at Clifton Performance Theatre. This is a chilly
drama about a weird love triangle. It's a great piece for three young
actors. Look for a review in the next issue of CityBeat. (Tickets: 513-939-0599) If you want something a little lighter, consider Moonlight and Magnolias
at Mariemont Players, a very dependable community theater on
Cincinnati's east side. The show is an amusing reconstruction of the
behind-the-scenes shenanigans involved in writing the script for Gone with the Wind. It's told with a lot of slapstick that will have audiences laughing out loud. (513-684-1236)
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:29 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is the first out of the
chute with a new production in 2013. Of course, it's a 400-year-old play
about a king from two centuries before that. But Shakespeare proved
with his script for Richard II that there are universal
traits that make us all human, even if we're a king who's supposedly
given his powers directly from God. Richard was thrust onto the throne
while still a teenager, and in Shakespeare's version he's an adult but
very uncertain of his right to rule and doubtful of his ability to do
so. That kind of anxiety still makes sense in the 21st century. So CSC's
first-ever staging of the show is something that should interest both
to your average theatergoer as well as anyone looking to complete the
experience of seeing every play the Bard penned. This one marks No. 37
of 38 for CSC; one more year and they'll have staged every one of
Shakespeare's surviving works, quite an accomplishment. With a fine
actor, Brent Vimtrup, playing Richard, and a script that's all poetry,
this one promises to be both fascinating and satisfying.
More things start up next week and the one after that has a
veritable avalanche of shows, so I suggest you hustle on downtown to
Cincy Shakes venue and catch this one before you have too many choices.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 2, 2013
You might know that Shakespeare’s Richard III focuses on one of his great villains. But among his 38 plays, there’s also Richard II.
You probably know almost nothing about this guy — a weak king, deposed
in 1399 — who died in captivity in 1400.
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.
Wilde's “trivial comedy for serious people” stays fresh, funny
0 Comments · Monday, November 26, 2012
It doesn’t matter whether your preference at
teatime is for cake or muffins. You’ll be pleased with Cincinnati
Shakespeare’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest,
full of sweets and bon mots.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:42 AM | Permalink
So Thanksgiving was early this year, and that means that not only
retailers but all of our local theaters have fired their starting guns
earlier than usual with family-friendly holiday shows. That began with
Ensemble Theatre's opening of Alice in Wonderland on Nov. 28, and
Cinderella at the Covedale, A Christmas Carol at the Playhouse and New Edgecliff's Santaland Diaries (newly paired with The 12 Dates of Christmas) using a new venue, the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater.
But before you start wearing your Christmas sweaters and holiday socks, I
have a few non-seasonal but highly entertaining productions you should
Let's start with Cincinnati Shakespeare's staging of
The Importance of Being Earnest.
This is a classic comedy from 1895 by Oscar Wilde, but don't think
there's anything old and musty about it. The production of this witty,
romantic tale of harmless manipulation bubbles with laughter and
sprightly performances. I gave it a Critic's Pick here and I suspect
it will be another sold-out run for Cincy Shakes, which has assembled a
gangbuster season. You should note that it's only onstage through Dec.
16, so if you want to see it, don't wait too long. (As of the 16th it
will be supplanted by Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some), Cincy Shakes' holiday offering.) Box office: 513-381-2273 x.1.
And if smiles without holiday trimming are something you seek, I highly recommend the touring production of
This is the true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Pop stars
from the 1960s, and the show is stuffed full of their memorable,
tuneful hits. The four leading actors faithfully recreate the
group's close harmonies and Valli's soaring falsetto tenor — he's one of
the great Pop vocalists of all time, and Nick Cosgrove nails the role.
Although the history of these four singers has its ups and downs, the
story is told with a sense of wry humor (and numerous F-bombs) that
keeps things light and entertaining. Audiences have been clamoring for
Broadway in Cincinnati to bring this show back since it appeared at the
Aronoff back in 2008, and tickets are selling fast. Box office:
Hank Williams: Lost Highway at the
Playhouse's Shelterhouse stage. (Review here.) It's another genuine
reincarnation of a singer who made an indelible mark on the world of Pop
music. Box office: 513-421-3888.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
When Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest
back in 1895, he subtitled it “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.”
That’s an apt description for a show still produced with frequency 117
years later — and as funny as ever.
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