Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST @ Blank Canvas Theatre

July 18-August 2, 2014
440-941-0458 or www.blankcanvastheatre.com
1305  West 78th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 

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

Roy Berko

“One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of America’s great plays.  The script gets an outstanding production at Blank Canvas. The cast is outstanding, the direction spot on, the pacing is excellent, the intimate venue lends itself to the audience being completely swept into the action.    It is a must see!

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

Mark Horning

“Cuckoo’s Nest” is what one might consider a “complete” play that touches on all of our emotions.  We experience laughter, sorrow, compassion, anger, fear and empathy as we see ourselves through the various portrayals of the characters.  While you may like or not like the ending, this is an intense night of theater that will leave you drained but in a good way.  Great cast with a great vehicle.    

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

Christine Howey
Things don’t start well in this production, as the first act is larded with so many long pauses, lingering beats and languorous low-volume line readings (other than McMurphy) that one begins to feel drugged. But the second act snaps into shape nicely under the direction of Patrick Ciamacco. 

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

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

ARCADIA @ Mamai Theatre Company

 










July 13-August 3, 2014
Pilgrim Congregational Church
2592 West 14th Street, Cleveland
Information and tickets:  
http://www.mamaitheatreco.org

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

Roy Berko

“Arcadia” is one of the English language’s great plays.  Tom Stoppard’s language is poetic and poignant.  His use of dichotomies is impressive. This is a play worth seeing and Mamai should be praised for selecting and staging the script.  That said, the almost three hour sit became frustrating as many lines could not be heard, echoes exceeded clarity, acting styles weren’t always consistent to their era. The theatre desperately needs to find another venue.  It’s a shame that their quality work and the efforts of the cast are spoiled by the blurring of the dialogue, which is the basis for understanding the playwright’s brilliant efforts.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning
With the new wall treatment lining the back wall, the effect of “Echo Theater” has been greatly reduced thus giving a very adequate cast the ability to project their lines without fear of reverberation.  In short it is a dramody that allows you to solve the mysteries by giving you enough clues to do so.  Good Theater and Good Fun.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
The talented Mamai cast delivers Stoppard’s brain-tickling words with musical rhythm and sly wit, under the direction of Christine McBurney. 

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.

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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN @ Beck Center for the Arts

Mackey Main Stage
July 11-August 17, 2014
216-521-2540 or http://www.beckcenter.org

Bob Abelman

It’s alive, alright!

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN review here or go to: http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local/article_6be3f0f0-0958-11e4-9a1f-001a4bcf887a.html

Roy Berko


“Young Frankenstein” isn’t a well-written script and it has a weak musical score.  Is the production bad?  Not really. Martin Céspedes’s choreography added a creativity factor, and the second act on opening night was funnier than the first, hopefully indicating an increased comfort level of the cast with the material and the ability to have more abandonment.   In spite of the negatives, audiences should have a fun time at Beck.

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

Mark Horning

“The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” now playing at the Beck Center for the Arts is a wonderful surprise.  It is a highly ambitious project that squeezes out every inch of stage area as well as every ounce of craft from a very talented cast.  This looks to be a monster hit for the Beck.

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

Christine Howey

There are plenty of entertaining riffs provided by the leads, even though one can see ways they could have gone farther with their characterizations. But the material is weak and wan (ie. "The Producers" it ain’t). 

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

Andrea Simakis

On opening night those little nitrous busts of cleverness were too few and far between to deliver a sustained buzz. 

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


Art Thomas

"Young Frankenstein" does not represent the best work of director Spence, choreographer Cespedes, or The Beck Center. There's some bouncy act I tunes, but the indomitable "Putting on the Ritz" is the show's bright spot. It takes a long time to get there, however. 

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET @ Ohio/PlayhouseSquare

July 8-27, 2014
216-241-6000 or www.playhousesquare.org

Bob Abelman

In museums across the country there are security strips on the floor that trigger an alarm when patrons get too close to famous paintings.  In the presence of great art, human nature dictates that we get as close as possible – to see what genius saw at the time of its creation, to be in that same small space that genius occupied, to share the rarified air that genius breathed.


There are no security strips on the edge of the Ohio Theatre stage in PlayhouseSquare but, for this production of "Million Dollar Quartet," there should be.

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

Roy Berko

Though it doesn’t have the fidelity of the original staging of “Million Dollar Quartet”, if you are a rock and roll fan, you will enjoy the production now at the Ohio.  It is a  fun and enlightening evening of theatre filled with great music and some excellent performances.  Yes, “Memories Are Made of This!”
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Howard Gollop

"Playhouse Square's Ohio Theater, which is the size of a typical, smaller Broadway house, allows the "Million Dollar Quartet" to resonate as it never has before. The magnified impact of the recreated iconic hits  and up-close personal connection between the audience and living legends elevate "Million Dollar Quartet" into a whole new pay scale.

Mark Horning

Of all the musical reviews that I have seen this is absolutely the best one ever.  The cast hits the ground running and does not look back.  It is high energy rock and roll with healthy portions of pure heart.  I would pay to see this again.

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

Christine Howey

Directed by Eric Schaeffer, the production actually has plenty of energy, more even than the recent less-than-stirring visit of Jersey Boys. And they’ll get you to your feet at the end, with a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.

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

Andrea Simakis

It's hard to beat the irresistible idea for the show itself. On Dec. 4, 1956, Samuel Cornelius Phillips, a scrappy, upstart producer from nowhere Alabama (played with crackling energy and down home, Pied Piper charm by Vince Nappo) recorded four of his greatest discoveries in his cramped studio in Memphis.

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

STARMITES @ Porthouse/Kent State


July 3-19, 2014
 or 330-929-4416 or 330-672-3884

Bob Abelman

A very two-dimensional ‘Starmites’ gets a five-star treatment at Porthouse Theatre

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

Roy Berko


Artistic Director Terri Kent and the Porthouse staff, knowing their audiences, usually play it safe, producing the tried and true musicals (e.g., “My Fair Lady,” “Sound of Music.”)  Doing “Starmites” was a stretch.  It will be interesting to evaluate how the audiences respond and whether that encourages future stretching of the boundaries.  (I’d love to see them do “First Date” or “Bridges of Madison County,” recent Broadway shows.)  As for the production, I would have preferred that, as the powers that be had picked a ridiculous farce, that director Michael Mcintosh, had pulled out all the stops and created a staging that was parallel to the bizarre sci-fi plot.


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

Kerry Clawson

'Starmites' is an ultra-bright, fantastical, over-the-top musical comedy that’s fun for all ages at Porthouse Theatre.
This comic book story-come-to-life, nominated for six Tony Awards in 1989, is dominated by tongue-in-cheek humor and tuneful melodies. It’s a ridiculously fun Innerspace fantasy adventure that’s markedly different fare from Porthouse’s usual musical classics.

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

Mark Horning

If you're looking for a nice frothy summer time treat with a decent moral back story, this is a good show to share with the family.  It’s not Hamlet, but it doesn't try to be.  Enjoy the show for what it is…nice easy to listen to music, an easy to follow story and a fun campy cast.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
You'd think that a Broadway musical that was nominated for six Tony Awards would have a lot going for it. But in the case of the regrettably titled Starmites, now at Porthouse Theatre, there's less to this show than meets the eye.

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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

BACK TO BACHARACH AND DAVID @ Actors' Summit


June 12-July 20, 2014
330-374-7568 or go to www.actorssummit.org

Bob Abelman


This production of easy-listening classics is corny but charming and so intimate that it feels as if you are sitting at a piano bar.  All that’s missing is the pretzels and highballs. 


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

Kerry Clawson
 
The musical revue Back to Bacharach and David at Actors’ Summit offers an enjoyable evening of smooth pop stylings by songwriting team Burt Bacharach and Hal David. ...


The cast, featuring Brandon Isner, Chanda Porter, Debra Rose and Lisa Marie Schueller, sings in cool four-part harmony. On Thursday night, pro Mary Anne Prevost joined the group, adding her soprano voice to aid the higher range of Schueller’s vocal part, as the actress was suffering from bronchitis.

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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A MAP OF VIRTUE @ convergence continuum

June 20-July 12, 2014


Bob Abelman


Smack in the middle of Erin Courtney’s “A Map of Virtue,” a delicate one-act meditation about chance meetings and the currents that guide our lives, lies a psychodrama of Hitchcockian proportions.  It’s the surreal journey leading up to and returning from that dark and disturbing center that makes this Obie Award-winning play so thought-provoking. And it’s convergence-continuum’s mishandling of this that makes its production so mind-numbing.

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

Roy Berko
 

I guess I’m old fashioned.   I prefer a play that, when it is over, I have some idea of what went on and take from it either having experienced a good laugh, a bit of real intrigue, a message, or a moral.  Sorry, philosophically abstract gibberish, and a plot in search of a purpose, isn’t my thing.  If it’s yours, you’ll really be turned on by “A Map of Virtue.’   
  
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

For all you pseudo-intellectuals out there wanting to impress someone, this is a great show to see and discuss for hours over wine coolers at some hip and happening saloon.  For the rest of us “normal” theater patrons, it is a play that makes no sense whatsoever and probably never will.  For me it showed how far the pendulum can swing away from relevant theater.

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

Christine Howey

This bird-centric play by Erin Courtney is often lyrical, chilling and ambitious. And even though it isn't entirely successful, that's no reason to demean it through "cheep" wordplay.

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

Art Thomas 

This, like so many of the Con-Con shows, sounds like a dream when one attempts to describe it. An Obie award winner, "A Map of Virtue" starts with two people in a chance encounter, later they are held captive by wierdos, and finally their relationship is deconstructed and reconciled.  The promised "part comedy" never emerges, but like most Con-Con fare, there is a lot to "unwrap" in post-performance thinking.
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MY FAIR LADY @ Porthouse Theatre/Kent State

June 12-28, 2014


Bob Abelman


The Porthouse Theatre's treatment of this musical theater classic is significantly less grand and interesting than what patrons have grown accustomed to.  It is more in line with dinner theater, but without the beverage service or 50/50 raffle.

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

Roy Berko
 

Under the directing awareness of Terri Kent, and the outstanding performances by Kayce Cummings and Greg Violand, the Porthouse production of "My Fair Lady," made for a fine evening of summer entertainment.

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


Kerry Clawson


Greg Violand and Kayce Cummings make a winsome pair in the Lerner and Loewe classic MY FAIR LADY, the famous tale of  an egotistical phoneticist who tutors a Cockney flower seller to speak the Queen’s English in an effort to pass her off as a high-class lady.

Violand lets the audience in on how confounded Higgins really is by women when he sings tunes such as "I’m An Ordinary Man," elevating himself with lyrics such as "Let a woman in your life and invite eternal strife." 

Lead actress Cummings gets to squawk and snort plenty as the feisty Eliza, who exhibits great physical humor and decidedly unladylike body language.

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


This show about the Cockney ragamuffin Eliza Doolittle being transformed into a refined lady never gets old, as long as the performers are up to the task. And happily, this production at the Porthouse Theatre has two stellar performers in the key roles.

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


Saturday, June 14, 2014

POSSUM DREAMS @ none too fragile


none too fragile is located in Pub Bricco, 1841 Merriman Road, Akron
June 13th-28th, 2014


Roy Berko
 


“Possum Dreams” is a poorly written and conceived script which gets a better than deserved production at none too fragile theater.  While Andrew Narten and Leighann Niles DeLorenzo are excellent, the play, itself, is not.  Oh well, even none too fragile has to stage something that is less than outstanding every once in a while.

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


Christine Howey 

It’s mostly an amazing, intense experience, thanks to his often deftly written script, two spectacular performances and the masterful direction of Sean Derry.

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

Kerry Clawson

POSSUM DREAMS is a fascinating, two-actor portrayal of a marriage gone wrong, contained in just one alcohol- and drug-infused night as husband and wife Walter and Jan Landing — who have been together nearly two decades — finally face their ugly truths.


Audience members are right on top of this awesome fight in the middle of the Landings’ living room, voyeurs to the dynamics between husband and wife behind closed doors. To say this work is intimate would be an understatement. The play, which runs about 100 minutes with no intermission, is a nonstop scene of domestic combat, both verbal and physical.


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

Andrea  Simakis

"Possum Dreams" feels like an unhinged cousin to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "God of Carnage;" it's a play with similar DNA but willing to go further, break more windows, get into more trouble, than its older relations. 

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

HEARTBREAK HOUSE by Actors’ Equity Association @ Pilgram Church/Tremont



Through June 29, 2014 (Thursday-Saturday @ 7:30, Sunday @ 2:30
Tickets:  216-570-3403, www.heartbreakhouse.org or may be purchased at the door

Bob Abelman

This play is rarely performed due to its length (three acts in over 3 hours) and complexity, both of which are seen as creative challenges by director Bernadette Clemens, her design team, and her cast of professional actors who have self-produced this production.  It's an absolutely phenomenal production!

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

Roy Berko


Those interested in being exposed to George Bernard Shaw and his philosophy of life,  the beauty of his language, his use of humor and satire to develop his message, and are willing to sit through three hours of words, words and more words, many of which can’t be grasped because of the echo in the theatre, will enjoy the Actors' Equity Association Members' Project Code production.

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

Mark Horning

While certainly not the fault of the actors, what truly should have been a masterful and exceptional evening of theater quite plainly is not due to the wrong choice of venue that swallows up all sound from the stage.  Add to this the overdone accents and the rising temperatures in the room it was over three hours not well spent at the theater.    
  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.



Saturday, June 7, 2014

STRANDED ON EARTH @ Mamai Theatre


June 5-22, 2014
Theatre Ninjas and Mamai Theatre Company


Bob Abelman


When we first meet Alexandra, the tormented middle-aged artist has her eyes focused on the looming, omnipresent and descending cover of clouds she envisions overhead.  She references the clouds often throughout this play, for her mind, like the weather, is also overcast, turbulent, and undergoing extreme atmospheric pressure. 

Derdriu Ring is one of only a handful of local actors who can play this role; none could play it better.  

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

Roy Berko
 

Mamaí’s mission is “to create intelligent, relevant classical theatre that offers an artistic home for Cleveland’s theatre artists, and equal opportunity for women in the professional theatre community.”  Theater Ninja’s goal is to “reimagine how and why we tell stories, and help us to create deep, fascinating worlds for the audience to explore.”  Their production of Eric Coble’s “Stranded on Earth,” with a master class demonstration of finite acting by Derdriu Ring, well meets both organization’s purposes.   

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

Mark Horning


I strongly suggest that prior to seeing Eric Coble’s “Stranded on Earth” you become familiar with the other two parts of his trilogy, “A Girl’s Guide to Coffee” and “The Velocity of Autumn” either through reviews or synopsizes.  This will greatly add to your enjoyment and understanding of this one woman acting masterpiece starring Derdriu Ring.  Thoughtful, Funny, Intense and Jarring.

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

Christine Howey

In this one-hander, brilliantly performed by Derdriu Ring and directed by Jeremy Paul, Alexa is a 40-something visual artist who is discussing her life in terms of before and after. 

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

Andrea Simakis
 

Actress Derdriu Ring is the white-hot center of a stunning production... Mamai Theatre Company and Theater Ninjas have taken on the most challenging of the three works [Eric Coble's Alexandra plays trilogy]. For me, thanks to this not-to-be-missed collaboration, it is also the most compelling."  

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

Thursday, June 5, 2014

TAPPIN' thru LIFE B@ Cleveland Play House

 
May 30-June 29, 2014
216-241-6000 or www.clevelandplayhouse.com

Bob Abelman

Before Vegas and before the rebirth of Atlantic City, the grand hotels in the Borsch Belt of the Catskill Mountains were “the place” for big-name entertainment.  But by the late 1970s and 1980s, these resorts could no longer attract young guests or afford contemporary artists, relying instead on the nostalgic attraction of performers who no longer had the skills or stamina to do what they were famous for.  Earnest and eager to please, they rely on their celebrity, showmanship and storytelling to tap the shared memories of the late-in-life audience in attendance.

Sadly, such is “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life.” 

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

Roy Berko


“Maurice Hines Is Tappin’ Thru Life,” is a personable concert, which is more a Vegas act, than a play.  Audiences anticipating 90-minutes of non-stop dancing may be frustrate.  Some might question why CPH is doing a “touring” show rather than producing its own product and why they stage these one-person bio-musicals.  Whatever.  The majority of the audience will come and enjoy themselves. 

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

Mark Horning

I am going to make a prediction that this show will be a sell-out for each and every performance so you had best get your tickets right now.  Vegas meets Vaudeville with great stories, songs, dancing and music.  This is the hot ticket of the year!

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

Christine Howey

If you’re lonely for the kind of polished and unabashedly sentimental lounge acts that Vegas is famous for, then you need to take a relaxing dip in Maurice Hones is "Tappin’ Through Life," now at the Cleveland Play House.

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

Andrea Simakis

The melodic, poignant production at the Cleveland Play House is a loose homage to colossal talents who gave the Hines Kids – the name he and Gregory used when they hit New York's storied Apollo Theater at ages 7 and 5, respectively – a leg up in the dog-eat-dog business: Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland and more.

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

Art Thomas

If you didn't realize that Maurice Hines has been a major theatrical entertainer for the last seventy years, you will after seeing "Tappin'Thru Life".  He sings eighteen songs, tells as many stories and finally tap dances with the Manzari Brothers in an extended exuberant finale. This is a must-see in an intimate theater setting.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Friday, May 30, 2014

SEMINAR @ Beck Center for the Arts

May 30-June 29, 2014
216-521-2540 or http://www.beckcenter.org

Bob Abelman

What is on display at the Beck Center may not be the play the playwright intended or the “big laugh” comedy some in attendance might be expecting.  But it is certainly the play this play was meant to be.

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

Roy Berko


“Seminar” is one of those special evenings of theatre:  well written script, quality acting, perceptive direction!  The show is filled with both laughter and message that makes it a must see for a perceptive audience!

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

Mark Horning

“Seminar” is a masterfully honest portrayal of the many stages and levels of professional writing.  It proves that great writers do not so much reach greatness; rather they are kicked up to greatness by someone with thick boots.  This one is worth seeing for all the twists and turns.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

This snarky and amusing 95-minute play imagines a fiction-writing seminar attended by four bright, self-absorbed, young-ish scribblers who have paid $5K each to sit at the feet of the infamous Leonard, an older writer, editor and supposedly all-knowing guru of all things fictive. And even though the script sometimes strains credulity, the smooth and often witty direction of Donald Carrier delivers a thought-provoking look at the art of writing.

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

Andrea Simakis

“This smart, tart production…has the pacing of an unputdownable read, the kind you don't mind losing sleep to finish”

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

Art Thomas

The characters of four aspiring writers in this script are more fascinating than the characters that the writers imagine for their literature. This wildly successful comedy also makes commentary on the nature of art in a non trite way. 
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Sunday, May 25, 2014

POSSUM DREAMS @ none too fragile

June 13-28,,2014


Christine Howey
It’s mostly an amazing, intense experience, thanks to a deft script, two spectacular performances and the masterful direction of Sean Derry.

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