Monday, May 2, 2016

MATILDA @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



May 3 through 11, 10`6
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

Touring ‘Matilda’ stays true to Dahl’s dark, delightful children’s book. 

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review here.

Howard Gollop
No review yet.

Mark Horning
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

David Ritchey
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read David's posts at Talkin' Broadway

Andrea Simakis
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Art Thomas
No review yet.
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Saturday, April 30, 2016

JERUSALEM @ ENSEMBLE THEATRE



Through May 21, 2016
216-321-2930

Bob Abelman

Ensemble Theatre’s dark comedy strikes the perfect balance.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko


JERUSALEM is an award winning play that gets an Ensemble production which tries hard but simply doesn’t reach the performance level the script deserves. Unfortunately, the feeling of “who cares about these people and what happens to them,” permeates.  That’s not what the author intended.

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

“Jerusalem” is another in a line of socially reflective productions highlighting the downfall of civilization through an overwhelming hedonistic society that is standing toe to toe with the old guard who is there to resist the downward spiral of decadent change.  Depending on your point of view you will either love it or hate it.  No matter what, see it for the excellent performances and fascinating patter and word play. 

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

Andrea Simakis
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE@NONE TOO FRAGILE



April 22 through May 7, 2016
330-671-4563

Roy Berko


THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE is a first-class Irish play, by a very talented modern “Mick” writer.  The none too fragile production is finely-directed and performed.  This is one of the top area productions of the season and is a definite must see!

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh is a master at bringing to life petty power struggles between family members, often over the most mundane issues.  None Too Fragile has embraced his extreme black humor repeatedly in the last several years, currently with the dark comedy THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE. The play features fiery Equity actress Derdriu Ring in her None Too Fragile debut as the lonely, plain Maureen Folan, who is in her 40s.

To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review here.

Mark Horning
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

David Ritchey
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read David's posts at Talkin' Broadway

Friday, April 22, 2016

MARIE ANTOINETTE @ DOBAMA THEATER



April 22 through May 22, 2016
216-932-3396

Bob Abelman

Dobama’s ‘Marie Antoinette’ promises cake, provides breadcrumbs.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko


MARIE ANTOINETTE tells the tale of a king and queen who are totally unsuited for their roles and the part they seemingly played in inciting the French Revolution.  The author’s adaptation of the dialogue to include modern language and idioms opens the door to drawing a parallel between that period and today, for those interested in probing beyond the historical story.  The production is well done and makes for good theater.

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


At the beginning of the show everything is light, funny and rock and roll.  As the play goes on it turns very dark very fast.  While well acted and truthfully reflecting the life and times of two historical figures from an unfortunate time in human history this would not be a show for the delicately minded and especially not for children.  

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey


In 'Marie Antoinette' at Dobama, a Rock ‘em, Sock 'em Version of the Doomed Royal.

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

Andrea Simakis


Dobama Theatre's vapid 'Marie Antoinette' is missing style, substance, along with those royal heads.

To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

TALLEY'S FOLLY @ ACTORS' SUMMIT



Through May 1, 2016
330-374-7568

Bob Abelman

Olmsted Falls-born, Catholic-raised, Actors’ Summit-based Keith Stevens sure makes a convincing Latvian Jew.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko

TALLEY’S FOLLY is a fine play that gets an excellent production.  The cast (Keith Stevens and Shani Ferry) create real, accessible characters.  The story showcases the kinds of prejudices that often cause problems in people’s lives and gives a hopeful glow that there is hope, even in light of hate and gossip mongering.  This is a go-see evening of theater!
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

David Ritchey

A good, old-fashioned love story provides an interesting night in the theater and something to talk about on the way home. “Talley’s Folly” is such a story and, now, it’s lighting up Actors’ Summit Theater.  Lanford Wilson (1947-2011) (playwright) provides the audience with a brief look into life in Lebanon, Missouri, where he lived as a child.  Set in 1944, at the peak of World War II, “Talley’s Folly” reflects the fears and hopes of mid-westerners as they prepare for the end of the war.  Will the country fall into an economic recession when the soldiers return home from the war?  Will people become more accepting of others, who might not be like themselves?

To see a full review of this show, read David's posts at Talkin' Broadway

Monday, April 11, 2016

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST @ GREAT LAKES THEATER



Through April 24, 2016
216-664-6064

Bob Abelman

In her program notes for Great Lakes Theater’s current production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” director Tyne Rafaeli calls the play “a polyphonic explosion – a feast of style and language.”  An explosion it is, but the writing is more smorgasbord than feast.  

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's blog here.

Roy Berko

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST is a lesser Shakespearian comedy.  It gets an over-the-top farcical production under the direction of Tyne Rafaeli.  The liking or disliking of the show is going to depend on your reaction to lots and lots of shticks and gimmicks replacing letting the script speak for itself.  The opening night audience seems to have been evenly split…many stood and cheered at the final blackout, others sat politely clapping or silently looking on. 
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


Forget the Shakespearian experience you had in High School.  An evening of the Bard as produced by Great Lakes Theatre is easily understood and appreciated.  In this production in particular you will find yourself caught up in the story as you try to predict the ending during the intermission. (Spoiler Alert: Don’t read the program notes.)

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

In this Great Lakes Theater production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a play filled with heightened language and topical references, it’s pretty easy for many details of the story to get lost. To remedy that, director Tyne Rafaeli has turned the whole thing into a fairly non-stop game of Chutes and Ladders. And much of it is diverting while not exactly serving the play’s story and theme.

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan

Andrea Simakis

Rafaeli [director Tyne Rafaeli] has delivered one of the smartest, freshest interpretations of Shakespeare at Great Lakes Theatre in years.

To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.


Monday, April 4, 2016

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



April 5 through 17, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

Touring jukebox musical ‘Beautiful’ is aptly named

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's blog here.

Roy Berko

BEAUTIFUL THE CAROL KING MUSICAL is a solid script which gets a superior production that should delight local audiences.  Every element of the juke box show, the performances, the visual effects and the musical sounds are appropriately “beautiful!” 
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.


Kerry Clawson


 Music legend Carole King wrote scores of chart-toppers for other artists in the ’60s and produced more than 100 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout her career. But deep down, she was a normal, down-to-earth Brooklyn girl who was devoted to her family.

To see a full review of this show, read read Kerry Clawson's review here.

Howard Gollop

Vocally, everyone rises to the occasion, at least achieving the recognition level of a good cover band As the curtain falls, we really don’t learn much more about King than a casual fan might have already known or imagined ...   But sometimes, just spending a couple of hours with a nice Jewish girl and her and her exceptional music is more than enough for a fulfilling evening of theater.

Mark Horning

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” gives a truthful and unblinking look at the musical maturing of one of the greatest composers ever.  Fans of Carole King will love the show with new fans being made as well.  The show is Beautiful, indeed.    
  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

The result is a bead-stringing process of covering a whole bunch of hits from the past while injecting some humanity into the proceedings. And even though you can see the show straining to touch all the bases, the music and some interesting performances win the day.


To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

David Ritchey

 “I didn’t know she wrote THAT,” seemed to be the echo heard round the Connor Palace Theatre, in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.   “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” took the stage and filled the Connor Palace Theatre with 26 hit songs by Carole King.  The songs link the life story of Carole King from a 16-year-old girl,  in the mid-1950s, who takes her first songs to an agent and concludes with  her concert in Carnegie Hall after her award winning album, “Tapestry.”

To see a full review of this show, read David's posts at Talkin' Broadway


Friday, April 1, 2016

MR. WOLF @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



April 2 through 24, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

Surely you followed the real-life drama of Michelle Knight who, in 2002, was abducted by Ariel Castro and finally rescued from his Tremont home after spending 11 years in captivity.  Leave it to Cleveland-born playwright Rajiv Joseph to find poetry in such pathology.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko

MR. WOLF is a study of a girl, a man and a family in turmoil.  The dark drama leaves many unanswered questions that should tweak after-production discussions.  It is a play which will confound some, and exhilarate others (including me).  It is the kind of script that CPH should do more of in order to stretch the audience to be exposed to a wide range of theater. 

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


While abounding with a variety of unanswered questions, “Mr. Wolf” gives you just enough information to answer what in some cases may be rhetorical.  The amount of thinking effort post play is up to you but at the least it will make for a lively discussion on the way home.  Well done.

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey


After an opening scene that pulses with intrigue laced with heady discussions about infinity and the cosmos, the play slowly devolves into a domestic drama with snatches of a police investigation. It is indeed rare to see a play begins so promisingly and then meander away from glorious possibilities to settle for a handful of mundane clichés.

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

David Ritchey


Playwright Rajiv Joseph tackled an almost impossible subject in “Mr. Wolf.” I went into the performance in Cleveland Play House’s Outcalt Theatre with no knowledge of the subject of this drama.  Now, I have nothing but admiration for Joseph and the cast for dealing so openly with this topic.

To see a full review of this show, read David's posts at Talkin' Broadway

Andrea Simakis

MR. WOLF, like Joseph's BENGAL TIGER, works on our hearts as its' messing with our heads.  If also refuses to offer pat answer or an ending tied up in a neat, bright bow, all reasons to celebrate this finely wrought production.

To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.


SHINING CITY @ BECK CENTER


April 1 through May 1, 2016
216-521-2540

Bob Abelman

Beck Center’s yarn inspires a yawn.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko


SHINING CITY is a well-written script which tells a compelling set of stories.  Past productions of the play were praised for their emotional development and wit.  Though the Beck production had some excellent performances, the pace, staging and some shallow character connections, left some of the over-all effect missing.  Hopefully, as the show runs, the performers will add some of the missing or muted elements.

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


Shining City is a show of subtle nuances where close attention to stance and inflection are needed to understand the purpose of the plot.  The opening night production was one of those rare instances when the show surpassed the reach of local theater and went into the realm of Broadway worthy.  The writing is smart and concise and the acting (under the direction of Bernadette Clemens) well balanced.  This is a great date night debate show to see.

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey


It’s a fascinating construct in theory, but at the opening Saturday performance the balance was ever so slightly off-kilter, turning McPherson’s naturalistic dialogue into a procession of truncated affectations and half-finished thoughts.

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene


Saturday, March 26, 2016

BOOTY CANDY @ convergence-continuum

The Liminis
March 25-April 16, 2016

Bob Abelman

Theater at convergence-continuum can, at times, be provocative, profound, perverse and very funny.  Robert O’Hara’s “Bootycandy” is all of these things at once, though not always in balance or with consistently satisfying results.  

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko
 

BOOTY CANDY, as is true with most con-con plays, will please many (including me), and offend others. It is funny, revealing and generally well-staged. As publicity for the show states, “PLEASE BE ADVISED:  This play is called BOOTY CANDY, so they’ll be talking about booty, and show some booty.  That means strong language, mature themes, and full nudity.  You’ve been warned!” 

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Christine Howey
While there are some glitches in this balls-to-the-wall satire of some familiar cultural stereotypes, the ribald humor is often howlingly funny. 


To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

Andrea Simakis

You'll laugh!  You'll cry!  You'll take offense!  

To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A KID LIKE JAKE @ NONE TOO FRAGILE THEATER


Through March 26, 2016
330-671-4563

Bob Abelman

‘A Kid Like Jake’ is a captivating, contemporary Cinderella story.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko


A KID LIKE JAKE is a well-developed, thought-provoking script, centering on the contemporary topics of gender identity, parental relationships, and the controversy of nature versus nurture.  The acting is excellent.  It is the type of production that incites discussion and will be appealing to a thinking audience. 

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson


In A KID LIKE JAKE, Rachel Lee Kolis gives a heartbreaking performance as stressed-out mom Alex, willfully blind to who her child really is even though she professes to know him best. Sensitively directed by Sean Derry at None Too Fragile Theater, the play presents a raw, often harrowing tale of the great pressure moneyed, anxious parents put on themselves to make the right decisions for their youngsters.

To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review here.

Christine Howey

Director Sean Derry has summoned a talented cast to handle this 100-minute production, but even the best efforts of these accomplished actors can't overcome Pearle's talky script, one that only strikes sparks near the very end. 

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

THE 39 STEPS @ BLANK CANVAS THEATRE


Through March 19, 2016
440-941-0458

Bob Abelman

Blank Canvas has prioritized silly over stylized for its production of "The 39 Steps" which, while playful and thoroughly entertaining, is pedestrian.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko


THE 39 STEPS is a farcical romp which gets a good, but not great production.  If your theater liking is for improbable plot twists, and extended ridiculousness, the Blank Canvas production makes for a chucklefest and should delight you.  

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

If you are a fan of Hitchcock, spy movies, murder mysteries and slapstick all combined, this is the show for you.  A thoroughly engaging cast that keeps the laughs going all show long.

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey


It’s hard to find a whole show that’s as funny and engaging as the first act of The 39 Steps. A treasure trove for Hitchcock fans, and everyone else for that matter.

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan


MAMMA MIA @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE


March 8 through 13, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

“So when you're near me, darling can't you hear me S.O.S.”  These are more than the lyrics to one of the many songs by Swedish pop group Abba that make up Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ global smash hit musical “Mamma Mia!”  They are a desperate cry for help from the national tour, which came through Cleveland in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2012, and is once again on stage – this time in cardiac arrest – at Playhouse Square.


To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Mark Horning

If you’re a fan of ABBA and are looking for a nice evening of escapism you can do no worse than to “Take A Chance” with “Mamma Mia.”  This feel good musical gives you nearly two dozen hits that are all ‘sing along’ strong.  Bring your gal pals for a night out!

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.


Monday, March 7, 2016

THE REVISIONIST @ DOBAMA THEATRE


Through April 3, 2016
216-932-3396

Bob Abelman


This is a lovely story but, as with the early works of many fledgling authors, it is thinly told and full of implausible, forced and structurally graceless moments. What should be a small, delicate watercolor portrait is rendered with expressionistic subjectivity, broad strokes and unrefined technique. Fortunately, it fell into the hands of director Leighann Delorenzo. Her delicate touch has tapped all that is heartfelt and beguiling in the script. And her eye for casting has allowed it to take form on stage.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article blog here.

Roy Berko


Though there are flaws in the writing, Dobama’s THE REVISIONIST is a must see to experience the great Dorothy Silver and the very talented Andrew Gombas.  These performances deserve a standing ovation!


To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


If you have yet to get your fill of the strangeness that this theater season seems bent on providing, then “The Revisionist” is your cup of vodka.  Dorothy Silver reminds us all that it is after all the actor that makes the show as her small nuances give light to a burdensome script.  In anybody else’s hands this play would suffer terribly.  Dorothy saves the day with her fantastic talent.

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey


Director Leighann DeLorenzo enables Dorothy Silver to do her thing, crafting every word and gesture with the specificity, intelligence and wit that have long been the trademark of her performances. You must see The Revisionist for that reason, since any other reasons pale in comparison.

To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan

Andrea Simakis

Though she has a knack for making any role feel organic, her Maria is one for the ages. Whether delivering lines in seamlessly accented English or bantering with Zenon in Polish, Silver gives us a woman who has decided she'd rather be surrounded by ghosts of her own making than the real ghouls of her childhood.  The final tableau featuring Silver, alone again and back on that worn couch, in an image reminiscent of Edvard Munch's "The Scream," is the very definition of grief.

To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

LUNA GALE @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



February 27 through March 20, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

A year or two ago, a short play called “Legally Addicted” toured Cleveland-area schools and dramatized the opiate epidemic among teens in order to educate and advocate.  Many of the kids in attendance – who received community service credit or reduced probation to be there – felt trapped within a public service announcement as the play’s didactic earnestness and frequent teaching moments overpowered things meant to be merely entertaining.  Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale” seems to have had a similar effect on its opening night audience at Cleveland Play House’s Allen Theatre.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko

One of the purposes of good theatre is to enlighten and educate an audience.  LUNA GALE does just that as it continues CPH’s quality centennial season. The script is well written, the acting top notch, the directing spot on. This is a must see for anyone who wants to experience an emotionally wrenching tale of the real world of social work and the fragile child welfare system.

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here. 

Mark Horning

Luna Gale is a deeply dark and disturbing play that exposes the weaknesses of our over burdened child protection services, the drug epidemic sweeping the country and the Christian fanatics who wait with zeal for the rapture.  It is a show that will give you plenty to talk about, especially the surprisingly logical ending.  Bring your adult children to see this and you will appreciate them much more. 

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
There are many facets in Luna Gale, and they aren't all addressed with equal success. But the cast, for the most part, is up to the challenge. 


To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene

Andrea Simakis

It's an amazingly engrossing piece of work, an edge-of-your-seat drama from its cranked-up beginning to its heartbreaking end.  Make no mistake: Though often mordantly funny, as all good pieces about the workings and failings of government are, "Luna Gale" has the makings of a modern-day tragedy. 

To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Art Thomas

The subject matter of this play moves directly into the laps of the audience with the cast never more than five feet from the front of the stage. The 110 minute study explores the powerful influences on a baby born to ill-prepared addict parents. It's powerful material stuffed with enough discussion questions for a mini-series.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife