by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:19 AM | Permalink
The Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Cabaret is a
must-see for anyone who is a fan of musicals. (CityBeat review here.) Kander and Ebb's Tony
Award winner from the late '60s has been brought to the main stage with
inventive verve by veteran Broadway choreographer and director Marsha
Milgrom Dodge. Sure, it's set in 1929 Berlin, populated by amoral
entertainers and Nazis rising to power. But its scrutiny of prejudice
and bigotry in the context of jaunty, thoughtless entertainment is a
fascinating way to bring attention to topics that are timeless. Dodge
has assembled a cast of triple-threats (who can sing, act and dance),
given them choreography rooted in the 1920s, costumed them in period
clothing (and some clever get-ups for the cabaret routines) and set them
spinning on a stage arrayed with Expressionist imagery. It's a winning
combination. Cabaret just opened on Thursday evening; you have until Nov. 16
to catch it, but it's likely to be a hot ticket, so this is a good
weekend to head to Mount Adams. The other choice at the Playhouse, Seven Spots on the Sun,
is in its final weekend on the Shelterhouse stage. It's a powerful
drama set in a Latin American nation, torn asunder by civil war. Serious
theatergoers have been giving this one a thumbs-up. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Shakespeare hasn't gotten around to any Shakespeare plays yet this
season, but no one's complaining. Last weekend they opened a moving
production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, featuring
top-notch performances by Jeremy Dubin and Jim Hopkins as a pair of
Depression Era migrant works who have to stay one step ahead of trouble
because man-child Lennie (Hopkins) doesn't know his own strength and has
emotions that are seldom reined in. Great acting, worth seeing. (CityBeat review here.) Through
Nov. 10. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati finishes its run of Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn this
weekend, hot from Broadway in its regional premiere. (CityBeat review here.) A story about
modern women and what satisfies — and dissatisfies — them. Three
generations end up debating choices made: It's both entertaining and
thought-provoking, a showcase of excellent local actors. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
As Halloween draws closer, you might want to check out a show or two inspired by the "season." Dracula at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts (tickets: 513-241-6550) tells the familiar tale of the legendary vampire. (CityBeat review here.) Slasher at Falcon Theatre (Monmouth Theatre in Newport; tickets 513-479-6783)
is a tongue-in-cheek piece that originated a few years back at the
Humana Festival in Louisvile. It's about people making a horror flick
and how it affects their lives. Lots of humor, but some thoughtful
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:34 AM | Permalink
My best recommendation for this weekend is Ensemble Theatre's staging of Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn.
This is an ultra-natural piece of writing with several generations of
women arguing and contesting over the ways women should behave. (CityBeat review here.) It's
focused on two women, once friends, one married to the other's ex
college boyfriend. It's years later and neither woman is very happy with
her present life. How that plays out will keep you engaged from start
to finish. Some exceptional acting, with strong direction by D. Lynn
Meyers. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
The Playhouse's world premiere of Martín Zimmerman's Seven Spots on the Sun
is a powerful drama that engages all your senses as well as your
imagination. The products of a devastating civil war in Central America
are played out in painfully personal ways. Potent script, strong
performances make this a show worth seeing. (CityBeat review here.) This weekend at the
Playhouse also offers a series of previews (hence, more affordable
tickets) of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, a show that's been
around for a long time — but still has a saucy kick that makes it feel
very in the moment. Playhouse box office: 513-421-3888.
Need to starting getting into a Halloween state of mind? Covedale Center opened a production of Dracula on Thursday (it's onstage through Nov. 10) for you to sink your teeth into. Or vice versa. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
Cincinnati Shakespeare kicks off its production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
this evening. It's a tale of friendship in the midst of the Great
Depression, two men who are migrant workers, often staying one step
beyond serious trouble caused by oafish Lennie. Cincy Shakes' regular
Jim Hopkins plays the simple-minded giant who's protected by the
pragmatic George, brought to life by veteran Jeremy Dubin. It's a
thoughtful, sad story. Opens Friday evening, continues through Nov. 10. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
of Cincinnati Shakespeare, the company is involved in bringing National
Theatre Live broadcasts from London to Cincinnati. If these screenings
generate any profits, Cincy Shakes will get some financial benefit. So
assemble a group and head to Springdale 18's Cinema de Luxe on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. You'll see a powerful performance of Othello
featuring Adrian Lester (an Olivier Award winner) as the title
character and Rory Kinnear (featured in a couple of recent James Bond
films) as the manipulative Iago. Here's a link to buy tickets, $19 in general, $15 for seniors and students.
a kid to see a show and you're likely to create a lifetime theater
lover. That's what happened to me when my grandfather took me to see the
musical Brigadoon. So you can give this theory a try this weekend as
the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati opens its 89th mainstage season
with Annie JR. at the Taft Theatre. It's a shortened
version of the Broadway hit about a spunky orphan who charms everyone
(and which happens to be back on Broadway this fall in a full-length
production). Public performances today, tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets: 800-745-3000.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is partnering with the theater
program at Xavier University to stage Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
(Oct. 25- Nov. 3; tickets are $15-$30; 513-745-3939.) This came about
because Stephen Skiles, who heads XU’s theater program, is friends with
Brian Isaac Phillips, CSC’s artistic director. Skiles was an acting
intern at the Cincinnati Playhouse 16 years ago when Phillips was
recruited to fill out a cast.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:32 AM | Permalink
Perhaps this weekend
you want to take a last-chance trip down Memory Lane. You have that
option as the Showboat Majestic is wrapping up its production of Showboat Follies,
the final show that Cincinnati Landmark Productions will stage on the
historic vessel. It's a revue of songs and skits that should be fun if
not profound, but if you go (final performance is Sunday),
you'll be able to tell you foriends that you were among the last to
visit this nostalgic Cincinnati venue. (Unless the City of Cincinnati
finds another operator — which they've been seeking with no success.)
This weekend also offers the final performances of Oliver Twist at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. It's a tale of crime and child abuse
from the Victorian era, and not terribly chipper — think A Christmas Carol
without any holiday spirits. But as always with Cincy Shakes, there's
some fine acting — and they've added some musical elements that keep
things interest, too. Through Sunday. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
The most engaging theater onstage right now (and sticking around until Oct. 4) is Fly
at the Cincinnati Playhouse. It's a creative portrait of four aspiring
African Americans striving to be Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
The challenges they faced — prejudice, rigorous training and
life-threatening aerial combat — not only made them pioneers who
addressed civil rights issues decades before the rest of America, it
made them heroes, too. Making this production all the more interesting
is a modern tap dancer who "underscores" many of the scenes with
movement and rhythm. I suspect you've never seen anything quite like
this. Tickets: 513-241-3888.
If you're a movie fan I suspect you've seen Carrie (based on Stephen King's novel about a bullied girl who unleashed her telekinetic powers) and Ghost
(about a guy who's murdered but comes back with the help of a crazy
psychic to save the lover he's lost). They've both been turned into
unmemorable musicals that are onstage locally for you to see. I've seen
them both, and I'm sorry to say that — despite some fine voices (in Carrie at the Carnegie, presented by Showbiz Players) and a lot of video and special effects (a touring production of Ghost at the Aronoff Center) — I believe you might be better off to pull out your DVD of either film to watch.
haven't seen it, but I'm intrigued by Northern Kentucky University's
production of Moby Dick Rehearsed. Herman Melville's great American
novel is brought to life onstage when a company of Shakespearean actors
stop rehearsing King Lear and consider a new play drawn from the tale of
the Great White Whale. Theater elements become aspects of the Pequod as the crew is lashed along in Captain Ahab's obsessive hunt for the beast that took his leg. Through Oct. 6. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:19 AM | Permalink
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is typically the first professional theater
in town to start the season, and that's the case for 2013 with Other Desert Cities that opened a week ago. You can read my review;
I really appreciated the powerhouse cast performing the show. That led
me to give Jon Robin Baitz's provocative family drama about strife
between generations a "Critic's Pick." (It's onstage through Sept. 22.) A tip option for seats is an added 7 p.m. performance on that final Sunday. If you enjoy ETC's productions of fresh new plays, you owe a debt of gratitude to its founding supporters. Longtime friends
Ruth Sawyer and Murph Mahler got the ball rolling back in 1987 and
faithfully guided the company for two decades, sustaining the company
financially, artistically and spiritually. Mahler passed away in 2009
and Sawyer earlier this year, so ETC is commemorating their dedication
with a special free event this Sunday evening at 7 p.m. The program will offer songs and stories performed by some of ETC's best artists. Seating is limited, so you need to RSVP: 513-421-3555.I attended the opening of the Cincinnati Playhouse's 2013-2014 season last evening. Fly
is a heart-grabbing piece of history, the story of four Tuskegee
Airmen, some of those bold African Americans who overcame prejudice in
the 1940s by joining the Army Air Corps and serving America valiantly
during World War II. The show is imaginatively presented, using a modern
tap dancer to punctuate the storytelling. There's plenty of excitement,
conveyed with video and sound — but mostly with some excellent acting.
The full-house audience, which included four veterans of the training
program, responded warmly. Through Oct. 5. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Cincinnati Shakespeare's Oliver Twist is a stage adaptation of Charles Dickens' dark 1838
novel about crime and child abuse in Victorian London (CityBeat review here). It's a grim
drama, definitely not the chipper rendition you might recall if you've
seen the musical Oliver! Cincy Shakes' acting company rises to
the task, but I suspect you'll leave the theater glad you weren't a
child — or an adult — in that era. Through Sept. 29. 513-381-2273.
A few years back a play was commissioned about Cincinnati as A City of Immigrants.
It's a fine piece of theater about the place we call home and how it's
rooted in people who came here from elsewhere. It gets presented
periodically, including tonight (Friday) at 6 p.m. at the Freedom Center, 30 East Freedom Way on the Banks. (Doors open at 5:30.)
There's no charge for admission; it's definitely worth seeing. The
event is to mark the kickoff of the local celebration of Hispanic
Cincinnati Shakespeare's remake of a classic generally “well-cured”
1 Comment · Monday, September 9, 2013
Michael Evan Haney, an associate artist at the Cincinnati
ably directs Neil Bartlett adaptation of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens’ classic orphan tale. While it features several songs, it’s definitely not the jaunty 1960 musical Oliver!
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Here are three categories designed to
satisfy different tastes: theatergoers who love musicals, those who
yearn for the classics and anyone with a taste for new plays. Since this
is CityBeat’s fall preview, these are shows you can catch before
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:18 AM | Permalink
Summer is flying by, or so it seems. This is the final weekend for you to see Cincinnati Shakespeare's production of The 39 Steps (CityBeat review here),
a satiric adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1935 film of
espionage and intrigue. Making it all the more amusing is the fact that
the story is performed by four actors, two of whom play most of the
citizens of London and beyond, using a lot of quick changes and quick
thinking. It's a very entertaining evening of tomfoolery, featuring four
of Cincy Shakes' most talented comedic actors. Your last chances to see
the show are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. 513-381-2273.Another entertaining production is Lauren Gunderson's very new play, Toil and Trouble (CityBeat review here),
at Know Theatre. It's a comedy about contemporary slackers trying to
make a quick buck that's got a very Shakespearean ring to it — Macbeth,
to be precise. The humor presses a bit too hard at moments, but if you
go to have a good time, you'll definitely find one. Instead of warriors
and kings vying for the throne, this one focuses on 30-year-olds trying
to strike it rich without working too hard — but the echoes of the
Elizabethan tragedy can't be missed. There's a steady stream of sports
talk, too, making comparisons between baseball and life. It's a strange
brew, but plenty of laughs. Through Aug. 24. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
are always popular, but for some reason they seem especially attractive
fare in the summer months. So we can say thanks to the Carnegie in
Covington for serving up a tasty one, Kander and Ebb's Chicago,
an all-time Broadway favorite. This production — the sexy, salacious
tale of murderous women in Chicago in the 1920s — features choreography
by Broadway veteran and Cincinnati native David Baum in his local
professional debut. Word has it that he's put together some of the most
inventive choreography seen on local stages in a long time. The
production opens on Saturday evening (7:30 p.m.) and repeats on Sunday (3 p.m.). It continues for two more weekends, through Aug. 25. 859-957-1940.
Also onstage this weekend (and running through Aug. 25) is Woody Allen's hit Broadway comedy, Don't Drink the Water.
Amusingly, it's on board the Showboat Majestic (where you definitely
don't want to drink the water) — but it's a humorous tale of tourists
caught in an American embassy behind the Iron Curtain. Lightweight
entertainment, but a lot of fun. 513-241-6550.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:10 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is offering a double dose of entertainment this weekend. First and foremost is The 39 Steps at CSC's mainstage (CityBeat review here). If that title sounds familiar, it's because it was a
classic espionage novel a century ago, made into a classic film by
Alfred Hitchcock 80 years ago, now turned into a very funny riff on its
predecessors as a play using only four actors to fill all the roles. CSC
has ramped up the humor by using four of its best comedic actors — Nick
Rose, Miranda McGee, Justin McComb and Billy Chace — who play the
principals, plus much of the population of London, especially McComb and
Chace who will make you dizzy as they shift from one part to another,
sometimes within seconds. It's actually a faithful retelling of the
story, but it's amped up to a high level of hilarity by the onstage
shenanigans. It adds up to great summertime humor. It's being performed
through Aug. 11. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
One show isn't enough for CSC: This weekend they also
launch their annual free Shakespeare in the Park tour with a performance
of Romeo & Juliet at Boone Woods Park in Burlington at 7
p.m. on Saturday. (If you live north of the river, you'll get your
chance next Wednesday evening at Eden Park's Seasongood Pavilion or at
Burnet Woods in Clifton on Thursday.) As noted, these are free
presentations, presented in classic Elizabethan style and use six actors
from the company's resident ensemble. These are the same productions
that CSC tours to schools and community centers, so they're great for
the entire family. A week from now they'll start performing A Midsummer Night's Dream at some locations. For a full schedule, go here.
Shakespeare is behind the story of Toil and Trouble, the
current offering at Know Theatre. It's a new play (this is just the
second time its been produced; its world premiere was in California last
fall) that offers a contemporary riff on Macbeth (CityBeat review here).
Instead of kings and warriors, however, its characters are a pair of
thirtysomething slackers and Beth, a wildly ambitious sportscaster who
has more testosterone than either of the guys. There's a lot of wacky
moments in this play, replaces Macbeth's witches with fortune
cookies and the kingdom of Scotland with an almost unpopulated island
off the coast of Chile. You can pick up on the laughs through Aug. 24.
At the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, the annual production by Cincinnati Young People's Theatre is Grease,
a tried-and-true musical about kids in the ’50s at Rydell High. Sixty
years haven't dimmed the musicality of the show, and the youthful
performers will bring this one to life if you're in the mood for a
classic. It wraps up with a matinee on Sunday. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
While the Cincinnati Symphony's LumenoCity
isn't exactly theater, the performances in Washington Park on Saturday
and Sunday evening — with a dazzling light show on the facade of Music
Hall — will definitely be theatrical. It's the debut for Louis Langree
as the CSO's new music director, and the program will feature performers
from Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera. But the big deal is the
colorful illumination that will let you see historic Music Hall in a
light you've never imagined. It's free, starting at 8:30 p.m. both
nights; big crowds are expected, so come early. Don't you wish the
streetcar were already here so you could ride it to Over-the-Rhine?
0 Comments · Friday, July 26, 2013
Almost a century ago, British novelist
John Buchan wrote a potboiler about espionage and double-dealing. Twenty
years later in 1935, film director Alfred Hitchcock turned The 39 Steps
into a much-admired cinematic thriller.