WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Rick Pender 09.28.2012
Posted In: Theater at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Shark Eat Muffin and Playhouse

OK, so it's MidPoint weekend and I know you're busy running from bar to bar and band to band, but variety is the spice of life, right? So wouldn't you enjoy it all the more if you took in a show, just to break up the monotony of all that great music? Here are a couple of theatrical ideas. Shark Eat Muffin is a new Cincinnati theater company — with a name that sounds like a band! They're breaking onto our local theater scene with three short plays they're calling Just Beyond Reach. For one ticket ($10 in advance, $15 at the door) you'll get into Newport's Monmouth Theatre (636 Monmouth St.) to see Abbie Doyle's It's a Real Shame, David H. Hughes Acapulco and Catie O'Keefe's The Noise Maker.  This is mostly young talent, so it's your chance to catch the theater equivalent of the up-and-coming Midpoint bands: Doyle is a senior at McAuley High School, Hughes is a recent UC theater arts grad and O'Keefe is New Edgecliff Theatre's young playwright-in-residence (and Shark Eat Muffin's artistic director). Their scripts are derived from the theme of "just beyond reach," one of several suggestions posted on the company's Facebook page two months ago. Sounds like fun: performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets: www.sharkeatmuffin.com. The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park just opened its first Shelterhouse production of the season, Daniel Beaty's Through the Night. It's a one-man show that Beaty wrote and performs — it's already won an Obie Award in New York City (that's "OB" as in Off-Broadway). He plays six African-American males whose lives intertwine during the course of one night. It's an exploration of the place of such men in America today, especially how they influence one another. I chatted with Beaty about his play in my CityBeat column this week, and I expect this to be a thought-provoking performance. Box office: 513-421-3888. If you want something more tried-and-true, head to the Northern Kentucky University campus for You Can't Take It With You, a Pulitzer Prize winning comedy from 1937. It's about the wacky but endearing Sycamore family and the oddball characters who fill their lives. It's truly a comic masterpiece, with lots of opportunity for actors to make their mark. Box office: 859-572-5464.
 
 
by Rick Pender 09.23.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
mormons

'Mormons' Are Coming to the Aronoff

Broadway Across America to produce Trey Parker and Matt Stone musical

The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming! No, not the one running for president (although he's showing up pretty often). It's the award-winning irreverent musical The Book of Mormon, which Broadway Across America announced this morning will be part of its 2013-2014 season at the Aronoff Center. The winner of nine Tony Awards (including the best musical of 2011) is a satirical look at two naive and idealistic Mormon missionaries who are sent to a remote Ugandan location where a nasty warlord is oppressing the villagers. Their clueless devotion, good-hearted but misguided — with a lot of very off-color humor — has made The Book of Mormon an unusual hit.It will come as no surprise to CityBeat readers that the guys behind this are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of animated South Park, another outrageously irreverent look at contemporary life. Also involved was composer Robert Lopez, whose Avenue Q was another Broadway hit, this one featuring Sesame Street-styled puppets in very adult situations.The Book of Mormon has been a big Broadway hit. It will be interesting to see how it plays at the Aronoff Center for audiences that tend to be very mainstream, if not downright conservative in what they'll line up to see. I'm eager to see this one! Broadway Across America has not announced specific dates for the engagement yet.
 
 
by Rick Pender 09.21.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
onstage 9-19 - mockingbird @ cincy shakes - bruce cromer as atticus finch - photo rich sofranko

Stage Door: Great Start to Fall

The fall theater season in Cincinnati is off to a great start, with well received productions on several stages. If you get a chance to see Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of To Kill a Mockingbird, I urge you to do so. It's onstage through Sept. 30, but almost all of its performances (including several added ones) have been sold out. Good news for the theater, but not for you if you don't have tickets yet. Nevertheless, it would be worth a call to CSC's box office (513-381-2273 x1) to see if there's anything available. The chance to see Bruce Cromer portray the virtuous attorney Atticus Finch is worth the effort. If you can't score a ticket at CSC, you might try to get in to see Good People, a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire, which concludes its run on Sunday. The tale about an unskilled woman from South Boston seeking work in today's world has the ring of truth and reality to it, and Annie Fitzpatrick's portrait of hard-luck Margie — who thinks of herself as "good people" — is touching and relevant to the world we live in. Tickets are selling at a fast clip for this one, too, so call to find out if seats are available: 513-421-3555. Want to take some kids to a show they'll enjoy? It's always fun to introduce them to live theater, and there are two great choices currently onstage: The Cincinnati Playhouse production of The Three Musketeers (running through Sept. 29, 513-421-3888) is full of action and adventure, good guys and bad guys. And The Music Man, on the Showboat Majestic (through Sept. 30, 513-241-6550), is a classic musical with a lot of humor — and a winning acting job by charming Owen Gunderman as Winthrop, the  kid who overcomes his shyness when he gets a cornet to play in a boys' band. Want something a tad more adventurous: Check out the Fringe shows that Know Theatre has brought back from last June's festival for several days. It's a sampling of some of the best work that drew big crowds to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, including two "Pick of the Fringe" offerings, On Her Pillow and The Screw You Revue, and two solo performers, Tommy Nugent and Kevin Thornton, who always draw a crowd. Probably no problem with ticket availability, but I recommend calling in advance: 513-300-5669.
 
 
by Rick Pender 09.19.2012
Posted In: Theater at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
on her pillow_paul wilson

Fringe Reprised

Know Theatre offering two solid pieces from 2012 Fringe Fest

Does this late September weather make you wish you could turn back the clock? Know Theatre is ready to take you back to June and the 2012 Cincinnati Fringe Festival with a brief reprise of several shows and artists who pleased audiences three months ago. Today through Saturday you can stop by the theater on Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine for performances by Honour Pillow (her Audience "Pick of the Fringe" show On Her Pillow (review here) will be presented tonight and Friday evening) or Dewey Chaffee and Douglas McGeoch (whose Screw You Revue (review here) was the Producers' Pick of the Fringe in June and will be presented on Friday and Saturday). There will also be performances by two favorite Fringe solo performers on Thursday and Saturday — Kevin Thornton and Tommy Nugent. For the schedule and tickets, click here.
 
 
by Julie Mullins 09.15.2012
Posted In: Dance at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnati Ballet's 'New Works' Opens with Emotion

Contemporary new work's moments of stillness and quiet grab you and draw you in

The intense energy between Principal dancers Cervilio Amador and Janessa Touchet is so palpable you can feel it — even when their hands aren’t touching. Their expressive duet in Heather Britt’s world premier “Opus 5.5” provided an inviting opening to Cincinnati Ballet’s annual Kaplan New Works season opener last Thursday evening. The production offers a rare chance to see dance up close, as it takes place in the company’s home performance studio at the Cincinnati Ballet Center. There’s nothing like watching live performance, but there’s something even more exciting and visceral about seeing the dancers glowing and their muscles flexing. Full of emotion, Britt’s sweeping contemporary new work has the dancers really moving all over: across the stage in sculptural lifts, through the air in expansive leaps and extravagant extensions. But it’s really the rare moments of stillness and quiet that grab you and draw you in closer. New Works’ stock in trade has always been pushing stylistic boundaries. “It’s our R&D,” says Cincinnati Ballet CEO/Artistic Director Victoria Morgan. “We need to scare ourselves, to try things we’ve never done before.” But this year is noteworthy for another reason: For the first time, all of the choreographers featured are female. Dance-wise, the women also stand out in the spotlight this year more than usual. Though, as always, there are plenty of equally fine turns by the men as well. Paige Cunningham Caldarella’s “Without Consideration,” the program’s most offbeat piece, presents a topsy-turvy look at social media and its pleasures and pitfalls. Its five short sections comprise a modern dance piece cut with classical ballet. It’s by turns satirical, ominous and oddly compelling. Clad in a lime green tee-shirt and a short, ruffled floral skirt, Corps de Ballet dancer Courtney Hellebuyck shines in her solo. She attacks each movement with ferocious intensity. Her dramatic facial expressions and stage presence are spellbinding. She and the other four dancers appear equally comfortable switching between styles — instant, by instant — in this mash-up of ballet and modern. The women even manage to perform modern floor drops in pointe shoes. A physical wall (think social media) covered in paper provides the backdrop and set piece. The dancers write on it, hurl themselves against it, and press into it. They connect and disconnect, or nearly connect with each other. But at times, they just miss, undulating away from each other. Individual gestures are repeated, such as one’s own hand suddenly turning the head and face away in a slo-mo sideways “slap.” It seems to suggest the struggle to turn one’s attention away from staying online all day. Amy Seiwert, San Francisco-based Resident Choreographer for Smuin Ballet (where she was also a longtime dancer), has created a thoroughly delightful getaway world in her world premier modern ballet ,“Think of You Often.” The weather is balmy. The light-colored clothing, designed by the Cincinnati Ballet Wardrobe Department, is carefree and casual. The women collectively become an ocean tide, even in their pointe shoes. Its feel-good soundtrack, music by the Swedish group Koop, delivers effusive swing and a touch of Latin flair. Principal dancer Sarah Hairston warmly embraces her role, full of flirtation and feline sassiness. First two, then four men lift and sway her — and no doubt cater to her every need. But don’t let the piece’s escapist playfulness belie its underlying choreographic sophistication. The partnering throughout is highly complex, original, and technically demanding. In a most striking duet, Zach Grubbs and Jacqueline Damico make the most intricate sequences look as easy and natural as an ocean breeze. Jessica Lang’s contemporary neoclassical work “La Belle Danse” (2007) presents a slightly quirky court dance of sorts. Set to a score of the likes of Handel and Mozart, it’s the sole work here that the Ballet has presented previously, in 2009. It’s the most classical piece on the program — relatively speaking — yet unexpectedly it marks the only one where the women wear soft shoes. Displaying a very different, more sacred type of passion in this role’s solo, Hairston demonstrates her versatility as  dancer, and a performer. The large cast brims over with expressive dancing, filled with plenty of leaps, turns, waltzing… and conducting gestures. Amador and Touchet rapid-fire their way through pirouettes and petit allegro galore. Although their style here sharply contrasts their opening duet, this superb pairing brings this production — one of the best New Works in recent years — full circle.
 
 

The Music Man (Review)

Showboat production is a celebration of America

0 Comments · Saturday, September 15, 2012
My historic experience with The Music Man makes me a serious judge of whether a production of this iconic show succeeds. As a one-time mayor of River City, I pronounce this one a success.  
by Jac Kern 09.14.2012
Posted In: Events, Music, Performances at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 9/14-9/16

The thought of an “underground” party might conjure up images of a chic 1920s speakeasy or perhaps a creepy warehouse rave. Neither is true of Saturday’s Scion Exposed tunnel party, which is literally underground, at 220 Central Ave. beneath the Second Street overpass. Part car show, part concert, Scion Exposed features a pop-up skate park, food trucks, drinks and more, all free from 2 p.m.-midnight. RJD2 headlines the music stage with support from Chairlift, DAAP Girls and more performing throughout the day. RSVP here for free admission; Scion owners get advanced entrance at noon. Celebrate Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day during the Cincinnati Celtic Festival Saturday and Sunday. The free fest moves from Fountain Square to Washington Park this year, but continues to celebrate all things Celtic with plenty of music, food and entertainment. Knock back some Guinness, cheer on Irish dancers and get jig-y to the sounds of bagpipes between noon and 10:30 p.m. both days. With local Celts taking over the park, this month’s City Flea moves up the street to the lot at Twelfth and Vine. Vendors will be hawking everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and fine art from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The City Flea is a fun one-stop spot to support local artisans and sellers all under one roof. Sans roof. Downtown isn’t hogging all the fun this weekend — Milford’s Longstone Street Festival brings more than 15 area bands to the ‘burbs Saturday. Area musicians will perform on two stages along Main Street where kid-friendly activities await (we’re talking a Velcro wall, bungee joust, rock climbing and more). Saunter through historic downtown Milford, stop in a few shops and restaurants and enjoy the music from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. The fun continues west at the Westwood Art Show, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. More than 70 artists, crafters and DIY-ers will be selling goods including photography, re-purposed jewelry and accessories, woodwork, sculptures, pottery, edibles and more. This weekend’s theater offerings include Ensemble Theatre’s Good People, The Three Musketeers at Playhouse in the Park, To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Covedale’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Peep the links for our reviews of each.Browse our calendar for other events, art exhibits, volunteer opportunities and more to do this weekend.
 
 

Open Studio

Manifest Gallery welcomes its first artist-in-residence

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Manifest’s latest addition is the Manifest Artist Residency. Annually, beginning in July each year, Manifest will host a working artist in the studio facility inside the gallery building.  
by Rick Pender 09.07.2012
Posted In: Theater at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
good people @ etc - annie fitzpatrick, kate wilford & deb g. girdler - photo ryan kurtz

Stage Door: 'Good People' and 'The Three Musketeers'

After a long hot summer (well, it's still feeling like a long hot summer), we have a full array of shows onstage in Cincinnati for you to choose among. I've seen two of them so far: Good People at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and The Three Musketeers at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. ETC's production of Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire's 2011 piece (this is the regional premiere of Good People, which was nominated for a Tony a year ago) about a woman who falls off the bottom of the employment ladder has enough humor to be entertaining (especially with Annie Fitzpatrick in the central role of Margie and Kate Wilford and Deb Girdler as her gossipy friends and bingo-night comrades) and enough contemporary relevance to be thought-provoking. ETC's D. Lynn Meyers is at her best staging naturalistic shows with social meaning, and that's exactly what this one offers. It has a great cast and flexible, attractive scenic design by the ever-creative Brian c. Mehring. I gave it a Critic's Pick. Through Sept. 23. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3555. I wanted to love The Three Musketeers at the Playhouse (through Sept. 29), but its balance of humor and heart is out of whack to my tastes. There's lots of adventure, hilarity and laughter — especially some no-holds-barred swordplay — but the show tries to hard to entertain that it misses out on the true emotion that should lie beneath. I suspect many people will love this thrill-a-minute tale of political intrigue and valor, loyalty and royalty in 17th-century France, and perhaps it will evolve to deeper feelings as it runs. I love new Artistic Director Blake Robison's desire to put appealing, family-friendly work onstage, and he's using this production to show what he means. I hope his approach gets a tad more texture and depth as his tenure continues. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3888. I haven't yet seen To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and their publicity says it's already sold out its first-two weekends. So you might want to put that one on your calendar for sometime before it wraps up (Sept. 30). In the meantime, you might want to head to Washington Park on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. for a special free presentation of CSC's touring production of The Tempest. It's a perfect piece for outdoor performance, set on an island with a sorcerer and his lovely daughter and some shipwrecked nobles who are responsible for his exile. Audience participation will be a key component of this event, with the audience asked to create large-scale effects by blowing bubbles, making waves with silk and generating sound effects. Sounds like great fun. Music (by The Young Heirlooms) begins at 6 p.m. This is a good one to bring kids to see. Also off and running this weekend is Cincinnati Landmark's production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It's a classic drama of sexual tension and family strife, a bit heavier fare than is usually found at the Covedale Center. It's a sign of the company's ambition to be a full-fledged theater offering a wide range of material. (Through Sept. 30.) Box office: 513-241-6550.
 
 

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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