Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MOTOWN @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through August 20, 2017
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

For those seeking a reprieve from days like these, “Motown: The Musical” is the entertainment for you.  It will take you back to the 1960s as they should have been – when singing was as easy as breathing, dance was the preferred method of locomotion, and the 12th Street riot didn’t exist.   

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

Mark Horning


As the summer travels along, what better way to spend an August evening than listing to an entire collection of classic hits known by all. The costuming and sets will dazzle you and the feel good music will lift your spirits. This is one rockin’ show!

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



Saturday, August 12, 2017

EQUUS @ BLANK CANVAS THEATRE



Through August 26, 2017
(440) 941-0458

Bob Abelman

Blank Canvas’ production of “Equus” is a good one and when everyone learns their lines it will be a great one.

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

Roy Berko

“Equus” is not only one of Blank Canvas’s finest productions, but one of the best stagings of the script I’ve seen.  This is required attendance for anyone interested in experiences of marrying a well-written script with a superb staging.  If for no other reason, go to the theatre to experience the marvel of Antonio DeJesus.
 
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

Laura Kennelly
 No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A DOLL'S HOUSE @ MAMAI THEATRE



Through August 27, 2017

(440) 394-6353

Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

Currently playing on Broadway is Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” an imagined sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s landmark 1879 melodrama. Mamai Theatre’s revisiting of the original work – a smart and stirring turn under Christine McBurney’s fast-paced and quietly gripping direction – serves to remind us what all the fuss was about in the first place.

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

Great theater often comes alive in the details, and there are gorgeous details aplenty in the outstanding production of A Doll’s House now at Mamai Theatre Company. This talented troupe has taken an adaptation by Thornton Wilder of the Henrik Ibsen script and turned that old Norwegian play into a fresh and compelling look at a restless and unfulfilled woman in a confining marriage.

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

Laura Kennelly

An excellent production in a perfect venue that should delight just about anyone — even those who are afraid of classic Norwegian drama or establishment feminism. This is neither — it’s just great theater.

To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland or on her blog at artstillmatters.comArtStillMatters.com

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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

HAIRSPRAY @ MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY



Through August 19, 2017
(216) 771-5862

Bob Abelman

Last year's live TV broadcast of the musical “Hairspray” was a heavily promoted, overproduced and underperforming $10 million affair.  It was, in short, the artistic antithesis of the under-produced yet absolutely delightful Mercury Theatre Company rendition . 

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




Saturday, July 29, 2017

DISNEY'S NEWSIES @ PORTHOUSE THEATRE



Through August 13, 2017
(330) 929-4416 or (330) 672-3884


Bob Abelman

Porthouse’s ‘Newsies’ performs above the fold.

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

Roy Berko


“Newsies,” which is based on a real tale of good versus evil, and a love connection of opposites attracting, has a multi-textured melodic score. The Porthouse production contains dynamic choreography and strong musical and vocal sounds, which adds up to a very pleasant evening of theater!

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

Mark Horning

A small army of professional caliber performers have been gathered to entertain who manage to take a formula musical and turn it into something very special. Bring the entire family together for a pre-show picnic and an outstanding evening of musical entertainment.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

CARRIE @ NEAR WEST THEATRE


Through August 6, 2017
(216) 961-6391
Or http://www.nearwesttheatre.org/pages/tickets

WORTH NOTING: 
In order to bring attention to local productions of merit at theaters that are not on the Cleveland Critics Circle’s approved list, members of the Circle who attend a community or educational theater production that is perceived as of high quality will have the option of listing that production on the CCC blogsite.  This review falls into that category.

Mark Horning

If you are startled at things that go bump in the night then laugh this may be the perfect show for you. Elements of stagecraft, choreography, acting and song propel the story of a woeful waif trying to deal with two impossible situations in her life at home and school. This is scary drama at its best as only Near West Theatre can pull off.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE SOUND OF MUSIC @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through July 23, 2017
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

Touring ‘Sound of Music’ bids a fond and fabulous so long, farewell at Playhouse Square.

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

Roy Berko


 The little girl sitting behind me was on the edge of her seat throughout the show and, at the end, sleepily said to her mother, “I loved it!”  Yes, the touring production of “The Sound of Music,” is a very pleasant experience. “So long, Farewell,” Oy, how long will it be before I have to “Climb Every Mountain” again?  Guess as long as I’m a reviewer, “There is No Way to Stop It.”

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

Mark Horning


There is something quite comforting about enjoying a delightful summertime performance of The Sound of Music in the beautiful and perfectly temperature controlled Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square. Bring the entire family for an evening of familiar music that if it is not already will soon become one “of your favorite things.” With this short run, you are advised to get your tickets quickly.

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


Saturday, July 15, 2017

NEIGHBORS @ CONVERGENCE-CONTINUUM



Through July 29, 2017
(216) 687-0074

Bob Abelman


Intentionally discomforting, con-con’s ‘Neighbors’ is also compelling.

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

Roy Berko


“Neighbors” is a disturbing play with a well-intentioned message, but, as is often the case with first plays by an author, it lacks a strong center, is too long, and often shocks more than presents awareness reactions.  It is definitely not a play to be seen by everyone.

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

Mark Horning

Raw, visual, over-bearing and shocking but at the same time thought provoking are words that best describes this over blown sex act of a play that relies on shock rather than finesse to make its point. It is at heart a good story upon which too much extraneous baggage has been heaped. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. It is up for you to decide.

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


LA CAGE AUX FOLLIES @ MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY



Through July 22, 2017
(440) 394-6353
Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

What defines the Mercury production is that it is an unfortunate amalgam of other productions of this show -- farcical, campy, comedic and charming in spurts, and rarely finding the right balance or holding it for long.  This production works best – works brilliantly, in fact – when it addresses the dignity and resilience of its hero Albin, played by Brian Marshall, and when it does so in song. 

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

Christine Howey

The entire enterprise is saved and even elevated by a genuine fondness for the characters and indomitable energy for which MTC has become famous.

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



Thursday, July 6, 2017

AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' @ PORTHOUSE THEATRE


July 6 through 22, 2017
(330) 929-4416 or (330) 672-3884


Bob Abelman

Porthouse Theatre has found the perfect formula for a delightful evening’s escapism:  Take 30 of the best 1920’s and 1930’s jazz and swing compositions by Harlem nightclub legend “Fats” Waller, divide them among five extraordinarily entertaining performers, add a tight three-piece band, and subtract any semblance of a storyline. 

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

Roy Berko


“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is a musical-review which will be of interest to those who like 1920 and 30’s Harlem Renaissance swing music.  Be aware that the show, though nicely performed, has over 30 songs and no story line. 

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

Kerry Clawson

The musical revue "Ain’t Misbehavin’" is performed with style, humor, panache and great skill at Porthouse Theatre.  It’s a two-hour party where the joint really is jumpin’ as an excellent cast of five brings to life the spirit of jazz innovator Thomas “Fats” Waller.

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

Mark Horning


Bring along a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and whatever other picnic delights you wish for some open air theater that is the Porthouse tradition. This show will have you jumpin’ and jivin’ in your seat. It is the musical revue at its best.

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

Christine Howey


The Porthouse production sparks to life at times, particularly in the wonderful “Black and Blue” number that reveals the hurt behind the jazz and jive. But in general, Ain’t Misbehavin’ ain’t misbehavin’ enough.

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



CITY OF ANGELS @ BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS




July 7 through August 13, 2017
(216) 521-2540

Bob Abelman

Beck Center’s ‘City of Angels’ is missing its wings.

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

Roy Berko


Though it is inconsistent in performance quality, the Beck production of “City of Angels,” gives theater buffs an opportunity to see this seldom-done musical with a fine display of technical effects.

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

Mark Horning


This is a show that tries too hard to do too much in too long of a time. A judicial use of editing of scenes and songs as well as the elimination of the overbearing incidental music during times of dialog would go a long way in improving the effort. Not a bad show per say but one in need of improvement.

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

Christine Howey

Hats off to Beck and Spence for taking on this challenge, and to the performers who damn near make it all work. 

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

Laura Kennelly

The Beck Center’s ambitious summer musical, City of Angels, wins a few, loses a few. Directed by Scott Spence, this clever and comic Tony Award-winning musical (1990) celebrates, literally, two story lines at a time and, much of the time, this works.

To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY @ MAMAI THEATRE COMPANY



Through July 23, 2017
(440) 394-6353
Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

Risks are taken in this regional premiere production – including the opening reveal of Mary and her final tableau – but not all of them pay off and, given the nature of this work, not enough of them are attempted.  At the end of the play, the grieving, flesh and blood mother of the historical Christ asks “was it worth it?”  If this same question was applied to MamaĆ­’s production, the answer would be yes.


To see a full review of this show, go to:  www.news-herald.com


Mark Horning
For those looking for a revealing religious experience in which to hang their hat on they may be disappointed. This is more a play about a mother’s loss and the effect it has had on her life. You truly feel Mary’s pain as you relate to the loss of her husband and Son. Go in with an open mind and leave a little wiser.   
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

Quibbles with the staging aside, Toibin’s script is finely crafted and Anne McEvoy invests it with a quiet determination and wry skepticism that is rich and evocative. And that is something worth seeing, protests or not.

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

Andrea Simakis

In "The Testament of Mary," the mother of Jesus tells the story of her son's life and crucifixion in her own words.  Her rendition, as imagined by Irish playwright Colm Toibin, differs from anything we've heard. In its regional premiere, the one-woman play is more audacious in concept than execution. This might come as a surprise and, perhaps, something of a disappointment to demonstrators who have gathered in Playhouse Square to protest the production.
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

AS YOU LIKE IT @ OHIO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL



Through July 16, 2017
(330) 673-8761

Mark Horning


Pack a nice picnic dinner, but leave the wine and beer at home since Stan Hywet does not allow you to bring your own (they check all incoming containers). Beer and wine can be purchased at the concession stand (go figure) as well as a variety of snacks and sandwiches. Have a nice meal in the open air and relax for an evening of superb Shakespeare as he originally intended. “As You Like It” is packed with comedy, romance, action, song and dance making it one of the most sought after productions, and OSF does it all extremely well!    

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

Christine Howey

The play is as intensely engaging as the pre-show, offering a volley of its own pleasures. 

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



Sunday, June 25, 2017

AN IMPENDING RUPUTURE OF THE BELLY


none-too-fragile
June 23-July 8, 2017
330-962-5547 or www.nontoofragile.com

Bob Abelman

none too fragile’s ‘An Impending Rupture’ enraptures.

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

Roy Berko


“An Impending Rupture of the Belly,” which gets a fine production, should be seen by anyone interested in experiencing outstanding acting coupled with a challenging and thought provoking script.

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

Kerry Clawson

Andrew Narten impressively walks a fine line between sanity and insanity with his paranoid character Clay in Matt Pelfrey’s dark comedy "An Impending Rupture of the Belly" at None Too Fragile Theater....  What follows is a snowball effect of hatred and violence as the other people in Clay’s life easily egg him on in his growing paranoia. Narten is magnetic as his volatile character blurts out his many anxieties.

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

Mark Horning


This snapshot of modern social conflict could be taken from the front page of any large metropolitan newspaper in America. All too often, the thin veneer of civility is being burnished off exposing the rotten core of base wood that lies beneath the false surface. While filled with comic moments we are forced to think as we laugh and see ourselves in the roles of aggressor and victim.

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

Christine Howey

Performed on a basically bare stage with minimal set pieces, the bulk of the 85-minute one act relies on the cast to make the proceedings compelling. 

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



Thursday, June 22, 2017

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS A new musical @ State Theatre







State Theatre--Key Bank Series
June 20, 2017-July 09, 2017
216-241-6000 or www.playhousesquare.org

Bob Abelman

Everything about this production – which is more ballet than musical theater fare and more artistry than artisanship – is remarkable.

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

Roy Berko


My Broadway review of “An American In Paris, A New Musical,” stated that it was “a visual, dance-driven Broadway story-telling creation that is gorgeous, enchanting, seamless and sophisticated.” Though I won’t go raise the banner as high for the touring production, I will say that it is a very, very pleasing and “’S Wonderful” evening of theater.

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

Kerry Clawson

"An American in Paris," whose national tour is now playing at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, is a glorious ballet musical full of intoxicating romance and stunning visuals.
This show, created from the beloved music of George Gershwin and brilliant dances by director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, makes you believe in love at first sight.

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

Howard Gollop

The real star of the show, the one commanding virtually every scene, is Bob Crowley, who designed sets and costumes.  A mix of animated computer projections that function and move like set pieces and set pieces that function and move like computer projections (operated by the dancers themselves), the stage erupts in painterly gorgeousness.

Mark Horning


Can America’s favorite musical movie be improved upon in a Broadway stage production? The answer is a resounding YES! While some fans of the movie may be confused by the differences, this new story line packs more romance, sex and sizzle as you are whisked along with the sounds of the beautiful Gershwin tunes providing the musical glue that holds this show together. ‘S Wonderful.      
   
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

This American lacks truly compelling characters, and the story is sacrificed at times to the glory of dance—it’s easily more than half ballet alone. But this production is flat-out sublime visually, and not to be missed for that reason alone.

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




Sunday, June 18, 2017

9 TO 5 @ PORTHOUSE THEATRE



Through July 1, 2017
(330) 929-4416 or (330) 672-3884



Bob Abelman


Porthouse Theatre’s woefully out-of-date ‘9 to 5’ undermines as it entertains.

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

Roy Berko


“9 to 5,” which opened Porthouse Theatre’s 49th season, has neither a great script, nor a wonderful score, but, never-the-less, is an audience-pleaser.  The sold out opening night audience was on its feet at the end, screaming and clapping their delight proving once again that Artistic Director Terri Kent knows her intended audience.

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

Kerry Clawson

"9 to 5" was a goofy yet fun and popular movie when it came out in 1980 ... But it does not translate well into a musical today.  The 2009 musical, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by co-screenwriter Patricia Resnick, feels uncomfortably artificial for the whole first act at Porthouse Theatre. The characters border on caricatures, most of the songs are simplistic and unmemorable, and the lyrics are very basic rather than clever.

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

Mark Horning


Pack a nice picnic dinner with a good bottle of chilled wine and some iced soda for the children and spend an enjoyable summer evening under the stars as your cares melt away. Porthouse Theatre is a delightful summer break from the pressure and hubbub of life. It’s an ideal family sharing time and a great way to introduce your young family to live theater.

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

Christine Howey

Certainly the movie 9 to 5 could be turned into a vivid and vital stage musical. But it would probably need a new composer, lyricist and writer to update the dynamics and incorporate a fresher comedic sensibility. But for now, this is the 9 to 5 we have, and the Porthouse production has enough engaging moments to keep you amused on a summer evening.

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


Saturday, June 17, 2017

CAROUSEL @ MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY


Through June 24, 2017
(216) 771-5862
http://www.mercurytheatrecompany.org/carousel-tickets.html

Bob Abelman


The result of Mercury’s efforts is a delicate telling of a Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece that taps all the things that made it so.

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


Christine Howey
If you’re looking for reasons to see Carousel again, the iconic musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II that opened on Broadway more than 70 years ago, you won’t have to search far.
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan



THE MIRACLE WORKER @ OBERLIN SUMMER THEATRE FESTIVAL




Through July 30, 2017
(440) 775-8169 
Or http://www.oberlinsummertheaterfestival.com/get-tickets/

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

Laura KennellyNo review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.
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.

HOW TO BE A RESPECTABLE JUNKIE @ DOBAMA THEATRE



Through July 2, 2017
(216) 932-3396


Roy Berko

“How to Be A Respectable Junkie” is a special evening of theater.  Superb acting, within the confines of a meaningful script, it grabs and holds the audience’s attention.  This is absolute must be seen theater for anyone who goes to be informed, to share in a real experience, to see that there may be light at the end of a tunnel, while observing a master class in acting.  
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


Every so often a show comes along that hits with the intensity of a car wreck. This is such a show with no punches being pulled. At times humorous to counter balance the raw nerve intensity it is a stark look at a national epidemic that shows no sign of weakening. As brutal as it is, this is must see theater.

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

Christine Howey

The ending, well-meaning though it is, is way too pat. But most of Junkie is right on the mark, showing us earthlings how it feels to be stuck on the business end of those deadly needles.

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

"Christopher Bohan is Brian, a heroin addict, in the world premiere of "How to be a Respectable Junkie" at Dobama Theatre.  The one-man play by Greg Vovos is based on the real-life experiences of Craig, a former junkie who now helps others detox and stay clean.  "Heroin is kind of like this big wall," he says.  "It allows you to feel nothing, and that's why a lot of people use it.  They don't want to feel bad and they'll literally sacrifice feeling good to feel nothing."  The greatest gift of "How to be a Respectable Junkie" is that once you've seen it, the thought of his annihilation is almost impossible to bear.

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