by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:34 AM | Permalink
A lot of Stephen
Sondheim’s shows are kind of heady, but Into the Woods
— a bunch of fairytales put through a blender — is perhaps his
most approachable. Given the delightful treatment, overflowing with
talent you’ll find in this production at UC’s
College-Conservatory of Music, tickets might be in short supply but
try — it’s a longer run than usual. Act I is about “happily
every after,” while Act II explores what comes next. CCM has a
remarkably skilled crop of seniors this year (they’ll be on
Broadway before long), and professor and director Aubrey Berg, who
heads the program in musical theater, has used them to full advantage
in a wildly clever staging. There are many featured performances and
songs — the characters include Cinderella and her evil stepsisters,
Jack (from the beanstalk story) with a very funny pet cow, a handsome
but empty-headed prince, a precocious Little Red Riding Hood and a
lascivious Wolf — but this is way more than a tale for kids. In
fact, Into the Woods is one of the best theater productions
I’ve seen all season. Read my review (a Critic’s Pick), and then go to see it. Tickets: 513-556-4183.
A year ago Cincinnati
Shakespeare had a big hit with Jane Austen’s Pride &
Prejudice. They’ve done it again with another adaptation, Sense
& Sensibility. This time it’s two sisters, one rational
and one emotional, wonderfully portrayed by Kelly Mengelkoch (as the
reserved, reasonable Elinor) and Sara Clark (as willful, romantic
Marianne). They’re surrounded by droll supporting characters —
and a story of romance and domestic intrigue. I gave the production a
Critic’s Pick. It’s onstage for two more weeks, but many performances have sold
out, so don’t dally. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
This is the final
weekend for two more excellent productions. Know Theatre’s “comedy
of anxiety” by Allison Moore, Collapse, about all
kinds of things falling down — a highway bridge, the economy,
relationships — winds up on Saturday evening. Andrew Bovell’s
Speaking in Tongues, a complicated noir-ish tale of
marital deceit and cryptic crime, finishes its run at Cincinnati
Playhouse’s Shelterhouse Theater on Sunday. Both earned Critic’s
In addition to Into
the Woods, there are more shows by Sondheim on local stages. You’ll
find the touring production of West Side Story at the Aronoff
through March 11. It’s a show Sondheim wrote the lyrics for when he
was 26 (he’ll soon be 82). Tickets: 800-982-2787. ... This weekend
the Cincinnati Playhouse begins previews of Merrily We Roll Along,
a Sondheim show from 1981 that was a flop at first, but now is
praised as one of his greatest musical accomplishments. Tony Award
winner John Doyle is directing; he makes things interesting by having
his actors play musical instruments, too. (He did that at the
Playhouse in 2007 with Sondheim’s Company, a production that
transferred to Broadway.) Merrily opens next Thursday on the
Marx Stage, but previews are the most affordable tickets, so think
about catching it this weekend. Through March 31. Tickets:
Each week in Stage
Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces
of theater news.
Playhouse world premiere takes a loving look at hometown life
0 Comments · Monday, February 6, 2012
Playwright Theresa Rebeck knows Cincinnati (she grew up here), so her world premiere play takes dead aim by putting a very recognizable image our town onstage. You will know these people — your neighbors and people you grew up with if you’re from Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Playhouse portrays a singer whose calling card was honesty
1 Comment · Monday, November 28, 2011
There’s a lot to like about the Cincinnati Playhouse’s non-holiday show for the holiday season.
It’s a revue that includes two dozen of Cline’s best-known songs, and
actress Carter Calvert perfectly captures the iconic Country singer’s
delivery and manner.
Playhouse artistic director wants to be part of the dialogue
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Last week the Cincinnati Playhouse in the
Park announced that Blake Robison, currently the producing artistic
director at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Md., will become its
next artistic director, succeeding Ed Stern, who retires after 20 years a
the end of the current season.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 19, 2011
When I first started learning about
contemporary art, Pop ruled. There was a wicked humor in Pop that was
subversively accessible — taking the imagery of recognizable objects,
often consumer products, and liberating them from their “official”
meaning. It seemed both radical and fun in an ironic, distancing way.
Ed Stern’s final Playhouse production is a gift of joy and love
0 Comments · Monday, October 10, 2011
I’ve seen As You Like It many times, but Ed Stern’s
final directorial outing for the Playhouse (co-staged with Michael Evan
Haney) distills its warmth and goodwill better than any I’ve previously
witnessed. Stern has blessed Cincinnati audiences
for 20 years, and this production is a wonderful gift of love and joy
that will be remembered for years to come.
Cincinnati theater is off and running
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Cincinnati’s Riverfest fireworks once fired the starting gun for local theater, but already several theaters have shows onstage. This week Cincinnati’s major theaters open their first productions of 2011-2012, launching a fall offering an unusual number of award-winning shows.
Playhouse production asks “What if?” and “Could it be?”
0 Comments · Monday, May 23, 2011
The show, first produced in 2000, resonates with echoes of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, about the citizens of Grover’s Corners, a tiny New Hampshire town. Both towns are fictional — and universal. The latter point is brought to our attention immediately by a narrator (played by Jeffrey Kuhn). He’s a descendant of Wilder’s Stage Manager, full of philosophy, poetry and wry observations.
Music from the ’60s is not on the beat often enough
0 Comments · Monday, May 2, 2011
I’m no expert on pop culture, but I was a teenager in the 1960s. So the 40 or so tunes by “girl groups” and women singers that constitute Beehive are front and center in my mental jukebox. It feels good to stroll down memory lane, and Beehive’s visuals with dozens of wigs and evolving outfits, from pink chiffon to mini skirts to bell bottoms and fishnet stockings, were a reminder of how music and style intermingled.
Playhouse premieres stunning new play about an iconic woman
0 Comments · Monday, April 11, 2011
The deft and compelling story of Lee Miller, a photographer’s model in Vogue in the 1920s, a photographer herself in the 1930s and a fearless photojournalist across Europe during World War II. The show — and Miller’s life — ends in an unexpected moment that leaves the audience gasping. Anyone who yearns for the power of dynamic theater needs to look Behind the Eye.