by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:50 AM | Permalink
No new shows opened this week. But
several will close this weekend, so it's your last chance to see them. At the
top of that list I would put Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of Richard
II (Review here). If you're a
completist, this is a rare chance to catch a show that's produced very
infrequently. (CSC's staging is its first in 19 seasons, leaving it just one
shy of producing all 38 of Shakespeare's surviving plays.) But an even more
important reason is that actor Brent Vimtrup offers a breathtaking portrait of
a weak king (he ruled in the 14th century) who questioned his own ability to
reign, decided to hand over his throne and then agonized over relinquishing his
"God-given" right. Vimtrup makes Richard real and human in some
unexpected ways; it's a performance that's definitely worth seeing. It doesn't
hurt that the script is entirely in verse — CSC's actors know how to revel in
this language, so the words are wondrous things to hear. But you last chances
are this weekend; the final performance is Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: 513-381-2273, x1.
A British king of a different sort is onstage at the Carnegie in Covington,
where the musical
is on view in a concert staging (Review here). The mythical King Arthur — he of chivalry and
knighthood and the Round Table — is the subject, as well as his beautiful Queen
Guinevere and his valiant retainer Sir Lancelot. Like Richard, Arthur has some
shortcomings — hey, we're all human, right? — but his problems are more about
being too idealistic and trusting. The truth about Camelot is that the story is
kind of choppy and the characters rather one-dimensional, but Lerner and
Loewe's music is beautiful, especially in this production, where some great
voices are accompanied by an ensemble of musicians from the Cincinnati Chamber
Orchestra, conducted by the CCO's Mischa Santora. The show is minimally staged
and costumed, but its maximally sung. This one wraps up with a 3 p.m. matinee
on Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
Two other productions that are definitely worth seeing: The Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park's world premiere of
Feb. 17, 513-421-3888) (Review here), a spooky
sequel to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and Ensemble Theatre
Cincinnati's regional premiere of the recent Off-Broadway hit Freud's
Last Sesson (through Feb. 16, 513-421-3555)
(Review here). The latter is an imagined
conversation between Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis about some big issues of
life and death, faith and belief. It's a very thought-provoking script,
performed at ETC by two fine actors, Bruce Cromer and Barry Mulholland. This
one was scheduled to close on Feb. 10, but demand for tickets led to an
extension. Take advantage of it!
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.