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.

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.

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


God of Carnage @ none too fragile theater


Through May 9, 2015

1835 Merriman Road, Akron (enter through Pub Bricco), nonetoofragile.com)


Kerry Clawson

A voyeuristic view of a fight can be awfully funny.  That fight turns hilarious in the dark comedy GOD OF CARNAGE, now playing at None Too Fragile in Akron’s Merriman Valley. French playwright Yasmina Reza explores the fine line between civility and nastiness, illuminating man’s animalistic impulses.
To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review here.


Christine Howey

Director Sean Derry has assembled a dandy cast for this tag-team match that takes place in 90 minutes of real time, as refined snacks involving espresso and clafoutis give way to strong rum and projectile vomiting. This is the parlor version of Lord of the Flies where the out-of-control kids happen to be adults.

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


Saturday, April 18, 2015

in a word @ Cleveland Public Theatre


Through May 2, 2015
6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727    

Bob Abelman

While the subject matter explored in this play is weighty and disturbing, this production is a remarkably engaging and brilliantly orchestrated series of images.  And it is surprisingly buoyant thanks to superb performers who have mastered the playwright’s complex wordplay and found the dark humor in the deepest recesses of this intriguing work.     

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here or at:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko


IN A WORD is one of the top area presentations of this season.  Anyone who is interested in well written, compelling scripts, directed and performed in an almost not-to-be-believed level of brilliance, has to see IN A WORD.  A standing ovation doesn’t even give the necessary praise this piece of theatrical wonderment deserves. 

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

Mark Horning


This work needs to be seen more as a psychological thriller rather than a dark comedy.  From the very first line, the tension is set and gradually ratcheted up to the point of nearly unbearable suspense.  For fans who like their theater with a jolt of electricity, this is your show.  Bring a friend.

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

Christine Howey


Fiona's quiet, climactic scene with a Kit Kat bar is, given its context, perhaps the most trenchant human interaction with chocolate since Willy Wonka boffed the Swiss Miss on the Cocoa Cruiser ride at Hershey Park.

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


Friday, April 17, 2015

Bad Jews @ Actors' Summit


Through May 3, 2015

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

More lows than chais in Actors' Summit's "Bad Jews."

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here or go to:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/.

Roy Berko

BAD JEWS is a poorly conceived play with a title that is a put-off for many and may well be misleading.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson
The unfortunately titled BAD JEWS is billed as a comedy, but at Actors’ Summit, the intermissionless play feels a lot more like a heavy drama with its 90 minutes of relentless insults between two key characters. ...
We end up feeling embroiled in the family battle, but we don’t experience a lot of laughs.

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


Mark Horning

In short, the play is an unnatural experience that fans of film noir might appreciate with a collection of characters that you will find hard to like, much less love.   

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


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Tempest @ Great Lakes Theater


Through April 26, 2015

Hanna Theatre, 2067 E. 14th St., , 216-241-6000 
Bob Abelman

High concept seems low-budget in Great Lakes’ "The Tempest."

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here or go to:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko


THE TEMPEST, reported to be Shakespeare’s last solo dramatic writing, is not one of the Bard’s great plays, but there is enough fantasy and intrigue to allow for a pleasant evening of theater.  The GLT production does justice to the script.

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

Mark Horning


While the acting itself for the most part is superb, Great Lake Theater’s production of “The Tempest” is too convoluted to be understood by a first time audience member. Distractions ranging from costuming, set design and continuity make it difficult to follow. It is the Bard’s last work and not his best and neither is the Great Lakes Theater rendition their best as well.

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

Christine Howey

Give credit to GLT for trying something new in this interpretation of The Tempest. But when the story gets camouflaged in a torrent of design flourishes and jarring tonal switchbacks, the audience has to work even harder to find Will’s real magic.

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

Art Thomas
  
"Reimagining the classics" has gone a bit too far in this production where the story becomes lost in the sometimes intriguing, sometimes bizarre production concept. Prospero's "cell" is a huge magic box right out of David Copperfield's Magic where spoken of people, props, and events appear. 

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike @ Cleveland Play House


Through April 26, 2015

1407 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-6000.

Bob Abelman

Imagine hearing the words of 19th century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov – a man who proclaimed that his work was meant to say to an audience “Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!” – but with a laugh track.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here or go to:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko


VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE is a well-crafted play filled with comedy and tenderness.  It well deserved its Tony Award.  Though the CPH production does not live up to the Broadway production, some fine performances overcome some questionable directorial decisions in actor selection and character development, and make this a positive, but not great theatrical experience.

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

Howard Gollop

Sometimes, the best way to deal with tragic figures is to just, well, laugh at them.
It’s a notion Cleveland Play House proves nightly through April 26 at Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre, housing Christopher Durang’s hit Broadway farce, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” ... In addition to characters, lots of Chekhovian themes are gleefully ground up and remixed in Durang’s deceptively traditional drawing-room melange.


Mark Horning


Although based on Chekhov characters and situations, no prior knowledge of the famous playwright is needed to enjoy this play.  It is simply a couple of hours of unabashed humor that will delight and make you feel good about life in general.  Each and every actor shines at some point and the comic bar is jumped over time and time again.  Take your best friend to see this and enjoy a hearty laugh or two.

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

Christine Howey
As directed by Bruce Jordan, Vanya (and etc.) leaves us with lots of slickly manufactured, TV sitcom laughs, but little of the tragic-comic relevance that Chekhov mastered.  

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

Art Thomas

The handpicked cast are spot on the eccentric characters they play and take full opportunity of their solo moments to shine in this piece which is actually far more audience accessible than many of Durang's other oddball plays.
   
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Kinky Boots @ PlayhouseSquare


Through April 19, 2015
1615 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-6000


Bob Abelman

If the musicals "Billy Elliot" and "Priscilla:  Queen of the Desert" had a baby, it would be "Kinky Boots."

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's blog here or go to:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko

KINKY BOOTS is the kind of musical that seeing it once is not enough.  The music, the storyline, the humor, the stage excitement makes this a very, very special theatrical experience.  The touring production of the show is as good as the Broadway show.  This is one staging that deserves a standing ovation, not just the automatic polite Cleveland one, but a real, well-deserved one.  Bravo!
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

The musical KINKY BOOTS splashes onto the Playhouse Square stage in surprisingly bold and wonderful ways. But despite all the over-the-top high-fashion footwear featured in this audacious show, the biggest impression audiences are left with is that this musical has oodles of heart.

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


Howard Gollop

There have been great Broadway musicals based on indie movies about dying working-class small towns in England -- "Full Monty" and "Billy Elliot."  There have been great Broadway musicals based on indie movies about drag queens -- “La Cage aux Folles” and “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”  So it stands to reason that a Broadway musical based on an indie movie about a dying working-class small town in England invaded by drag queens would be a sure-fire, double-duty hit.  Indeed it is.

Mark Horning

It’s basically “Broadway by the Numbers” but with an exceptional cast who makes the show bigger than life.  If you are looking for a rock ‘em sock ‘em high energy show with lots of glitter and flash this is the one you must see. 
    
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
This bold, brassy and sassy musical spares no wattage as it flashes a galaxy of shiny, thigh-high leg holsters, in service to a story that is not nearly as inventive as the footwear.    

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

Andrea Simakis

"Boots" has glam, camp and high-kicking heart!

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


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Extremities @ Blank Canvas Theatre





Through April 18, 2015

78th Street Studio, W. 78th Street, 440-941-0458
 Bob Abelman

Despite the immense shortcomings in the play and the unfortunate foreshadowing in director Jonathan Kronenberger’s staging, the four actors do excellent work in turning Mastrosimone's caricatures into believable characters.  In addition, the fight choreography and execution of the violent assault early in this play is singularly shocking.  

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here or 
http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/


Christine Howey


While this play by William Mastrosimone is not without its flaws, it has a brutal honesty and enough credible moral complexity to fuel a number of intense post-show conversations.

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


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lend Me a Tenor @ Beck Center for the Arts


Through April 26, 2015
17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540


Bob Abelman

Have a fondness for farce?  Let the door slamming begin.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here
http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko


LEND ME A TENOR is one of the best modern day farces.  It gets a must-see production at Beck Center.  Farce is hard to do, but on the Beck stage, Scott Spence and his well-honed cast make it look exhausting, but easy.  Go, enjoy!

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

Mark Horning
   
Without a doubt this is one of the wittiest and laugh out loud funniest productions to hit the boards in some time.  The chemistry is electric and each comedic vignette is a gem.  Fill the seats for this one.  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
You need to bring along an industrial-strength dose of the medicine that powers all farces: a willing suspension of disbelief. Armed with that potent elixir, this bundle of silliness will tickle your funny bone in numerous places. 

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

Twelfth Night @ Ensemble Theatre


Through April 4, 2015
2843 Washington Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216-202-0938


Christine Howey

Done in modern dress, the fictional setting of “Illyria” seems much closer to the all-too-real Elyria in this neck of the woods. But this tidy version manages to capture some of the magic.

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


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Isaac's Eye @ convergence-continuum


Through April 11, 2015

At The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Road, Tremont, 216-687-0074

Bob Abelman

“Don’t you give points for originality?” asks a young Isaac Newton when begging fellow scientist Robert Hooke for entrance into the Royal Society.  Although originality didn’t seem to count for much in the world of 17th-century science, it certainly does on the convergence-continuum stage.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's article here:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/

Roy Berko


ISAAC’S EYE is one of those productions that if you don’t see it, you’ll be missing a very special theatrical experience.  Good job con-con!

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

Christine Howey

So, are scientists angels or devils? As Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath posits, maybe the answer is a lot more complex. And this production at convergence-continuum manages to plumb the intricacies of both science and scientific fame in a fast-paced, layered staging that continually delights and surprises.

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


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Mighty Scarabs!, Karamu House


Through March 29, 2015
2355 E. 89th St., 216-795-7077    


Christine Howey


Calhoun’s script shines brilliantly, etching clear and entertaining portraits of people who once shared something great. Director Christopher Johnston, in addition to shaping scenes that pop off the stage, has also cast the show adroitly.

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


Andrea Simakis

"The Mighty Scarabs!" is a skillful collision of reality and fiction, a funny, lyrical and mournful exploration of what happens to hardwood stars, boys feted as heroes by blacks and whites alike, when the cheering stops.

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



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays @ Cleveland Public Theatre


Through March 21, 2015

6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727

Roy Berko


STANDING ON CEREMONY THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS is a must see production for anyone who has empathy toward  same sex marriage movement.  It should be required seeing for conservatives who don’t understand why there is a need for a “gay agenda.” It’s also of value to return attendees as a second viewing exposes subtle materials not previously grasped, the set is new, and there have been some positive cast changes.

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

Mark Horning

No matter where you stand on the subject of gay marriage, this is must see theater.  The message is presented without being political or preachy.  It is enlightenment through entertainment which is what good theater is all about.  Leave your preconceptions at the door and simply enjoy the ride of really good theatrical performances.

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

Christine Howey
This play, directed with energy and style by Craig J. George, does exactly that, through huge dollops of humor and a couple emotional interludes that make clear why marriage rights are so important. 

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


Becky Shaw @ Dobama Theatre


Through March 29, 2015

2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396

Bob Abelman

It is rare and wonderful when so much comedy comes out of something as caustic as "Becky Shaw," and Dobama Theatre’s superb production doesn’t miss a gag or an opportunity to activate the gag reflex.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/

Roy Berko


Gina Gionfriddo has written a play that is both fun and thought provoking.  It gets a marvelous production at Dobama.  This is theatre at its best.  The director, the cast, and the technical staff all deserve kudos!!!   Ah, if only every night at the theater could be like this!


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

Mark Horning


Becky Shaw is “in your face” combat theater that keeps tightening up the tension until your ears begin to ring.  It is equal parts drama/comedy/mystery/morality that takes no prisoners.  The surprise ending will having you hoping for a sequel.  See this with your spouse.  It will make your relationship look like a bed of roses by comparison.       

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

Christine Howey

Thanks to a tight production that fairly twangs under the direction of Donald Carrier, the playwright’s sharp-edged dialogue shoves the audience down a perilous, icy chute on well-oiled roller skates. 

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