Monday, July 6, 2015

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL@OBERLIN SUMMER THEATRE FESTIVAL


July 10 to August 8, 2015
or 440-775-8169

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

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

AMERICAN IDIOT@BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS



July 10 to August 16, 2015
216-521-2540 or http://www.beckcenter.org


Bob Abelman
No review yet.
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
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.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

VIOLET@PORTHOUSE THEATRE



July 9 to 25, 2015
http://www.porthousetheatre.com,
330-929-4416 or 330-672-3884 

Bob Abelman
No review yet.
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
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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING @ Ohio Shakespeare Festival

July 2-19, 2015
http://ohioshakespeare.com or 330-673-8761

Bob Abelman
Although I have seen Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” many times before, it was not until this last weekend that I saw it as it was meant to be seen courtesy of the Ohio Shakespeare Festival in Akron.  

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
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.

THE RECKLESS RUTHLESS BRUTAL CHARGE OF IT, OR THE TRAIN PLAY @ convergence-continuum

convergence-continuum
June 26-July 18, 2015

Bob Abelman


Con-con’s apocalyptic comedy ‘The Train Play’ lacks a third rail.

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

Roy Berko

 
“The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge Of It, Or The Train Play,” should appeal to con-con audiences who attend in their search for off-beat theatre.  If you are looking for a play with a message, it should be easy to use your imagination and conjure up a lesson to be learned from the abstractions and pseudo-philosophical pontifications which flow from the mouths of the actors.   
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

With Convergence-continuum’s carefully built following, this production will excite and edify.  For those coming off the street it will be a jarring experience.  Think of this as The Orient Express on acid.  Those with a transcendental leaning will dig it.  Om!

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

Christine Howey

There are laughs at times, but this is a train that one should board with some caution. Hell, it almost makes one long for Starlight Express, in which the toy train cars come to life and roll around on skates. 

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

Art Thomas

There are some surprising, some humorous, and a lot of so-so moments in "The Train Play." The cast portray the eccentric characters with enthusiasm and Clyde Simon's direction is pointed and illuminating. There may not be quite enough to illuminate in the thin script.
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ghost @ Mercury Theatre Company

Through June 27, 2015
Notre Dame College, 1857 S. Green Road, South Euclid, 216-771-5862
Bob Abelman

Mercury’s ‘Ghost: The Musical’ lacks more than its mortal coil.

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


Christine Howey


While the music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, are not particularly memorable, the Mercury cast infuses it with enough pizzazz to make it all reasonably enjoyable.

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


Monday, June 15, 2015

GODSPELL @ Cain Park

GODSPELL
Cain Park
June 11-28, 2015
Call 216-371-3000 or go to http://www.cainpark.com/

Bob Abelman

Cain Park’s ‘Godspell’ is a godsend.

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

Roy Berko

Cain Park’s GODSPELL is a creatively conceived and generally well performed production which will keep the audience rocking and laughing, while imparting the philosophical message of the “Book of Mathew.”  You don’t have to be a believer to be entertained by the high spirited songs and the clever staging.  “We Beseech Thee,”---go, see, enjoy---“You’ll Learn Your Lesson Well!”    

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


Sunday, June 14, 2015

LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC @ Porthouse

LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
PORTHOUSE THEATRE
June 11-27, 2015
330-672-3884 or go online to www.porthousetheatre.com.

Bob Abelman

“Isn't it bliss? Don't you approve?” asks Desirée in the opening refrain of “Send in the Clowns.”  Absolutely.

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

Roy Berko

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is a melodramatic story, with memorable music, that gets a nice production.  It would have been aided by stressing the story’s soap-opera aspects to garner the humor built into the script, thus sending in the clowns.  As is, as represented by the opening night assemblage, audiences will enjoy this evening of musical theater on the Blossom grounds. 

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

Kerry Clawson


Under the direction of Sean Morrissey, A Little Night Music’s tale of marital infidelities is handled with a light touch and a tongue-in-cheek humor, thanks to the characters witnessing all the romantic entanglements.

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

Mark Horning
 A Little Night Music is a pleasant evening of music, intrigue and naughtiness with a few laughs thrown in for good measure.  Arrive early and bring a picnic and something cold to drink and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere of outdoor summer theater.  You may find yourself coming back time and again.  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
The talented Porthouse cast, under the direction of Sean T. Morrissey, gives this production a glossy texture that serves the material well. This includes an appearance by Terri J. Kent, producing artistic director of Porthouse, in the linchpin role of Desiree Armfeldt.

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


Friday, June 12, 2015

Exact Change @ Playhouse Square


Through June 27, 2015
"The Helen" Lab Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000


Roy Berko


Those of us who have followed the development of the staged tale from Richard to Christine, from idea to the compelling piece of theater, have been privileged to watch the piece evolve through the diligence of Chris Howey and Scott Plate.   You now can see the results of many, many hours of extremely hard work, toil that resulted in a compelling, funny, emotionally charged experience that is a must see experience.  Do yourself and Chris a favor by attending one of the remaining performances.  (Since The Helen is a small space, get tickets early as the show should sell out.)

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


Mark Horning


No matter what your opinion is concerning alternative or transgender lifestyles, this show stands on its own as a monumental work.  Due to the intimacy of the theater you feel that Christine is talking directly to you the entire time.  The show has been refined to the point of being nearly pure gold.  You are not asked to agree, but simply to accept.  

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

Triassic Parq, The Musical @ Blank Canvas Theatre

Through June 27, 2015
78th Street Studio, W. 78th Street, 440-941-0458

Roy Berko


As evidenced by the response of the audience present when I saw the production, it’s obvious that director, Pat Ciamacco succeeded in pulling out all the shticks to make this absurdity work.  His targeted audience of young, hip, lovers of off-beat stuff should love TRIASSIC PARQ.  The rest of us will have to try and remember what it was like to be young and naïve about what good story plots with music that backed up, rather than drowned out the singers, and singers who sang lyrics that helped move the plot along, were all about.

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

Christine Howey
If you laugh uncontrollably and repeatedly at dick jokes and chicks wearing strap-ons, this is the show for you. Just understand that the music is often of the nursery rhyme variety, and the lyrics are pretty basic.

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

Mark Horning
This is fast action and hard hitting humor geared for the college and young professional set.  If you enjoy the mad cap comedy of Monty Python and Benny Hill (as well as the naughtiness) you will love this show.  It is loud, raucous and very risqué with some parts being extremely funny.

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

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Three Sisters @ Mamai Theatre

Three Sister @ Mamai Theatre



 Through June 21
Cleveland Masonic Performing Arts Center


Bob Abelman

Mamai Theatre has chosen to go old school in its current production of  Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.”  And while this staging is neither radical nor revolutionary, it is most certainly exciting, for director Bernadette Clemens finds all the very intimate, inescapably dark and often very funny moments in this four-act, three-hour masterwork.  And her remarkable ensemble of players puts them on display. 

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

Mark Horning


This is a work that is most praiseworthy.  The chemistry between the various actors is electric.  The set is sumptuous without restricting movement of the cast.  It is classic Chekhov done with endearing precision that makes this work still relevant one hundred and fifteen years after it was written.  This may well be the best dramatic production of the season and must not be missed.  It is classic theater done masterfully.     

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

Christine Howey


Thanks to sharply delineated performances and a lush set design by Don McBride, Mamai has created an existential shadow box in which we can observe comfortable people in their native, uncomfortable habitat.

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


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Johanna Facing Forward @ Cleveland Public Theatre


Through June 13, 2015

6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727    
Bob Abelman

We all want to support projects that are driven by passion.  Dramatized accounts of real people triumphing over tragedy or adversity are particularly poignant, alluringly personal, and easy to rally around.  But more often than not, these heartfelt grassroots works fail to make the transition from good intentions to good theater.  Such is the case with the world premiere production of “Johanna: Facing Forward.”

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

Mark Horning

This play puts a face on the people from the horrific story of a girl who did everything right to end a relationship only to end up nearly losing her life.  It is a story of redemption not only for Johanna but the legal system as well.  If you have young teenagers nearing the dating age, this is one play they should see to get a primer on what to look for when a relationship turns sour.

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


The Young Man from Atlanta @ Beck Center


Through June 28, 2015

17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, 216-521-2540    
 Bob Abelman

Two reasons to see Horton Foote’s “The Young Man From Atlanta,” currently on stage at the Beck Center, are the remarkable performances by Dudley Swetland and Anne McEvoy.   But these may be the only reasons.  Like the never-seen title character in this 1995 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, much of what is enticing on the page never shows up on the stage.

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

Roy Berko

Though THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, potential viewers should not expect to see an epic play.  The tale is a 1950s tale which reflects the era and southern attitudes of the day.  The production values reflect Foote’s writing style and gets his message across.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

In short, these are the neighbors that Ozzie and Harriet would never invite to their house.  While you do not wish to dislike Will, Lily Dale and the rest of the Hee Haw Gang, they are hard people to enjoy in company.  Add to this that the show is in effect a staged production of “Groundhog Day” where the same lines are recycled over and over.  It makes more for an evening of endurance rather than pleasurable viewing. 
   
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey


Playwright Foote leaves many questions unanswered in this play. And that is just dandy, since the mysteries and secrets at work in this family create a riptide that threatens to sweep all the characters out to sea. But Schmiedl's direction, while compassionate and skillful, doesn't provide this material the motive force to make the unseen threats palpable.

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

Art Thomas

One of the more literate plays you'll see this year, this production does a good job of keeping much subtext well below the surface while the characters all act selfishly coping with a "sugar daddy" who has lost his job, as well as his son in an apparent suicide. The show is filled with issues that dominated life in the middle of the last century.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Always…Patsy Cline, Actors' Summit

Through June 21, 2015

Greystone Hall, 103 High St., Akron, 330-374-7568.
 Bob Abelman

“Always… Patsy Cline” is a sentimental journey that is well constructed and nicely performed.

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

Roy Berko


ALWAYS PATSY CLINE makes for a pleasant evening of songs, humor and musical delight.  If you appreciate country music or are an avid fan of Patsy Cline, you will have a wonderful time.

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

Kerry Clawson

Singer Jennifer Browning brings a deep well of emotion musically and a rather introspective characterization to the title character in Always … Patsy Cline, which combine for a lovely performance of the popular jukebox musical at Actors’ Summit.

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



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea @ Cleveland Public Theatre


Through June 6, 2015

6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727 
Bob Abelman

"Dontrell” is a whimsical, poetic and delicate 90-minute, one-act parable.  The script begs to be staged with uninhibited artistry and an aura of mysticism, so that the past and the present, the real and the spiritual, and free will and fate can beautifully and seamlessly coexist.  But there is not enough color, not enough music and movement, and not enough magic in this production.

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

Roy Berko

After writing this review I read the reactions of critics from other cities where DONTRELL, WHO KISSED THE SEA has been presented.  It appears that Cleveland got short-changed by director Megan Sanderg-Zakian.  Other reviews recount much laughter, vivid visualizations and the line interpretation that was “poetically transfixing.”  These  weren’t present in the local production. I wish I had seen that quality at CPT.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.

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

Mark Horning

Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea entertains with good rhythm and balance, some truly funny moments and an excellent stage set but with no clear purpose spelled out in the proceedings it leaves the audience member wondering what they just saw.  It is much like reading a thrilling novel only to find that someone removed the final chapter.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

Towards the end, when Erika helps make Dontrell’s dream come true and the stage transforms, it’s a magical moment. Too bad that glow is dulled somewhat by some repetitive actions and aimless dialogue before the glorious, uplifting conclusion.

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


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wolves


Through May 30, 2015
convergence-continuum at The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Road, Tremont,
216-687-0074

Bob Abelman

“This isn't a pretty story,” warns the sardonic narrator at the start of Steve Yockey’s “Wolves,” a particularly gruesome and adult version of the classic Red Riding Hood folktale.  That this convergence-continuum production isn’t pretty storytelling is also immediately apparent.

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

Roy Berko


WOLVES:  AN URBAN FABLE is not a well-written script, nor does it have a compelling story line.  Though some may find the experience of value, others will find the experience bewildering.

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

Christine Howey

The storyline is pretty simple stuff, with little exposition defining who these people really are and why they have the problems they do. That is fine and to be expected in a fairy tale. But the production desperately needs an inventive, overarching style that would help lift this pedestrian story to another level. 

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

Art Thomas

 "Wolves" is typical con-con fare, but is a bit less rich in post show discussion topics than I would like.  It does ask the valid question, "What do you do after you confront and kill that which frightens you?" That's what character Ben wrestles with after he kills the "wolf" who has breached his apartment.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fairfield @ Cleveland Play House


Through May 31, 2015
Cleveland Play House, 1407 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-6000.

Bob Abelman 

Some playwrights inadvertently insult their audiences by talking down to them as if they were children.  In Eric Coble’s delightful comedy “Fairfield,” the playwright intentionally treats us like actual first graders so we have the most intriguing vantage point from which to view adults behaving badly. The result is a hilarious and increasingly outrageous exploration of the current state of race relations in America.   

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

Roy Berko


Filled with edu-speak, sexual innuendos, derogatory terms, mild violence, frank conversations about race, and clever lines, the script is a laugh riot.  The production milks every possible laugh from Eric Coble’s premise and writing.  Because of the Outcalt’s thrust seating, the action was up close to each audience member, added to the high level emotional impact.  FAIRFIELD is a production absolutely not to be missed and makes a wonderful curtain-raiser for the NEW. THEATRE. FESTIVAL.

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

Mark Horning

If you are truly into seeing the folly of being “too correct” and the consequences it brings, this is the show for you.  It is comedy with heart and great comedy at that.  Bring a conservative friend and you will be guaranteed a lively discussion afterwards.

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

Christine Howey
Playwright Coble is intelligent and clever, and the talented cast under the direction of Laura Kepley delivers this comedy with vigor. But because Coble can't quell his instinct to go for big laughs that defy character logic, the ultimate takeaway from this play is less than one might desire, given its subject matter.

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

Andrea Simakis

Now in a full-fledged production directed by Laura Kepley, it's still laugh-out loud funny, but something has been lost in translation, the very opposite of what you'd hope would happen in the migration from page to stage.

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

Art Thomas

To create a farce whose subject matter is racism in a primary school is a daunting goal. Coble's show is filled with both witty and guffaw producing dialogue. The actors deftly sell the characters. Still, this world premiere needs some script tweaking before its next incarnation.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo @ Ensemble Theatre


Through May 17, 2015
2843 Washington Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-2930 

Bob Abelman

Ensemble Theatre’s ‘Bengal Tiger’ prowls rather than pounces.

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

Roy Berko


Ensemble should be commended for attempting such a monumental work as Rajiv Joseph’s BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO.  The play is not for everyone.  It is filled with depressing thoughts, which hit probably too close to home for many Americans, who, almost non-stop from the 1960s, have been participants in conflict after conflict, and misguided war after misguided war.  

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

Christine Howey
So, exactly how does one whack off with a prosthetic hand? This is certainly not one of the more profound questions raised by this complex and compelling play by Cleveland Heights High grad Rajiv Joseph. But it does represent the absurd situations that abound, amidst all the blood and tragedy, in this theatrical expedition into humanity’s dark heart.

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


Superior Donuts @ Dobama Theatre


Through May 24, 2015
2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396 

Bob Abelman

This Dobama production rises above the temptation to stage the sitcom that is "Superior Donuts."  Instead, director Nathan Motta has mined the material for something deeper, more moving and significantly more beautiful.  And he found it along with a core of actors who not only see the potential in Letts' writing but who have the talent and vision to bring it to life on stage.  

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

Roy Berko


SUPERIOR DONUTS is a well written, well directed, well acted play.  It is a play that will delight both the theatre-goer who desires theatre of entertainment, as well as the audience member wanting to probe into the underpinnings of a play with a social message.  Dobama ends its 2014-2015 season with another fine season, their first as a full-time Equity House and the area’s only full- time Small Professional Theatre.  

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

Mark Horning


Superior Donuts is a sweet confection of wonderful characters with an expertly written script combined with a remarkable cast.  It is the best of what regional theater has to offer.  Bring your friends and enjoy the laughs together while sharing the drama.  This is one to fill the seats for.

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

Christine Howey


You will enjoy Superior Donuts because Letts knows how to craft some very funny lines, and the Dobama production is just as eager to please as the script. But it could have been so much better if only Letts had brought more of Osage County to this particular corner of Cook County.

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