Wednesday, February 10, 2016

IN THE HEIGHTS @ BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS



February 12 through 28, 2016
216-521-2540

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

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

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

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

MR. BURNS @ CLEVELAND PUBLIC THEATRE



February 11 through March 5, 2016
216-631-2727

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



February 10 through 20, 2016
216-241-6000

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

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

Howard Gollop
No review yet.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

IF/THEN @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE


February 9 through 21, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

There’s so much to love in touring ‘If/Then,’ but not what matters most.

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

Roy Berko

IF/THEN has a wonderful score. The touring production has a strong cast and is nicely staged.  Too bad somewhere in the show’s development the sometimes confusing plot and excessive length weren’t dealt with. 
 
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

“If/Then” is a fascinating study on the effects of choices and chance in our lives and is a good start to opening dialogs both internally and with life partners.  With very high production standards and an energetic and hugely talented cast it is a solid evening of entertainment.  To repeat some advice, keep your eyes on the lass with and without the glasses. 

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

GOLDEN LEAF RAG TIME BLUES @ ENSEMBLE THEATRE



February 5 through 28, 2016
216-321-2930

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

If you have a premium baby sitter who charges an extortionist rate and you seek a short evening of entertainment, this is the play for you.  The show does raise the question…”Why Bother?”

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

Christine Howey

The entire play feels disassembled, similar to the odd, two-word spelling of ragtime in the title. Like a not particularly entertaining skit, Golden Leaf is short, predictable and without any real depth.

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

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

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

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

DETROIT '67 @ KARAMU HOUSE



February 5 through 28, 2016
216-795-707)  

Roy Berko

DETROIT ’67 lacks the plot and writing dynamics that make for great plays. It gets a better production at Karamu than the script probably is due.  For this, the director and cast get a great deal of credit.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

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

Christine Howey


There are two crises at work in Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau, now at Karamu House. But the interplay between the two events—one personal and one community-wide— doesn’t exactly benefit either one. In fact, they actually minimize each other, which is clearly not the intent.

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.

SLOW DANCE ON THE KILLING GROUND @ ENSEMBLE THEATRE


February 5 through 28, 2016
216-321-2930

Bob Abelman

‘Slow Dance’ stumbles despite graceful Ensemble Theatre production. 

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


“Killing Ground” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it should be seen for the excellent performance values and fascinating characters.  While the baring of souls by three total strangers may seem a bit farfetched, the pacing and acting helps bring a sense of believability to the production.  At the intermission you will be wondering what direction this show will go and look forward to the journey.  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
While the play frequently creaks with age, the three performers under the expressive direction of Greg White find some surprising nuances hiding in the creases.

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

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

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

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

INTO THE WOODS @ LAKELAND CIVIC THEATRE


February 5 through 28, 2016
440-525-7134



Bob Abelman

Lakeland Civic Theatre offers a tepid ‘Into the Woods.’

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

Roy Berko


INTO THE WOODS, which is yet another of Stephen Sondheim’s creative and challenging shows, gets a very credible performance at Lakeland Civic Theatre.  A lighter and more playful first act would have helped make the deep and thought-provoking second act more meaningful.  As is, the production should please those who like Sondheim’s works and appreciate the difficulty of staging one of his creations.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

PURE SHOCK VALUE

none too fragile theater
January 29-February 13, 2016
330-671-4563 or go to nonetoofragile.com

Bob Abelman

There is certainly no shortage of satires of the Hollywood industry, but none do it with comedy that is blacker or more profane than Matt Pelfrey’s “Pure Shock Value,” a little-traveled, fringe-festival favorite written in 2009. And it is safe to say that few will do it better than none too fragile theater in Akron.
To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.

Roy Berko


Though the production values are fairly high PURE SHOCK VALUE is an absurdist script that will confound many, offend some due to the language and sexual actions, and please others due to its gutsy ”in your face telling it like it is.”  

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

Kerry Clawson

Disclaimer: No Hollywood wannabes were killed in the making of the extreme black comedy PURE SHOCK VALUE at None Too Fragile Theater.  Set in Hollywood, playwright Matt Pelfrey’s 2009 satire of Tinseltown greed focuses on three young, desperate characters trying to break into the business. ... The audience went wild on opening night Friday, yelling out to characters as Pelfrey’s insanely funny story unfolded. Director Sean Derry’s talented cast of four dove fearlessly into the play’s completely over-the-top language and absurd sexual and violent situations.

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

Christine Howey


Pelfrey’s quicksilver dialogue and Sean Derry’s fearless direction keep this manic, frequently hilarious, and often too-predictable comedy afloat just long enough to arrive at an ending that will leave you tumescent with joy…or limp from shock.

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

Andrea Simakis

The production earns its guilty laughs - and they come with laxative-like frequency - thanks to the exquisite timing of a cast able to deliver rapid-fire dialogue laced with insider allusions, movie references and a cluelessness that only the entitled but undeserving share...

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

THE REALISTIC JONESES

DOBAMA
January 22-February 14, 2016
216-932-3396 or dobama.org

Bob Abelman

Dobama more than keeps up with ‘The Realistic Joneses’

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

Roy Berko


THE REALISTIC JONESES is one of those scripts that, with poor direction and acting could be a disaster.  Fortunately, under the adept directing of Shannon Sindelar and stellar performances by Chris Richard, Joel Hammer, Tracee Patterson and Rachel Zake, the Dobama production is an absolute must see!

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

Mark Horning

At first blush this quirky comedy makes you laugh due to the unfiltered speech in which whatever comes to the character’s mind is blurted out.  It is only later that you find that the reason for these patterns may be due to the symptoms of a disease and the closeness of the couples.  It is here that soft guilt replaces the levity and a lesson is learned.  Well worth the effort to see this play.

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



Christine Howey

The laughs come fast and furious as Eno's masterful way with quirky takes continually surprises. But from the scenic design to the direction, this play both tries too hard and then not hard enough — never penetrating below the surface and delivering on the deeper meaning that pulses just below all the glinting words.


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

Andrea Simakis

Thanks to one of Broadway's more bizarre offerings, it's never been weirder fun keeping up with the Jonses--that's Bob and Jennifer ones and their new neighbors John and Pony Jones.

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

Acomplete review at WestLife

Thursday, January 21, 2016

THE MOUNTAINTOP @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



January 23 through February 14, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

‘The Mountaintop’ at Cleveland Play House is built on hallowed but shaky ground.

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

Roy Berko


THE MOUNTAINTOP is not an easy play to watch, especially since we know what is going to happen the next day on the balcony outside that motel  room.  That is not to say the play is depressing. It’s not. It is filled with vivid imagery and humor.  The Cleveland Play House reinvention of the script is a perfect Black History month offering and is a theatrical must see!
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


Without a doubt, it will be seen that the Cleveland Play House production of “The Mountaintop” will be one of the high points of the Cleveland theatrical season.  This play shaves away the public perceptions of a great man and shows him for all his human qualities without lessoning his appeal one iota.  Gather all your friends for a night of exceptional theater. 

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

Christine Howey

The Mountaintop is shallow and manipulative, overreaching to make us consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a saint. He was simply a remarkably gifted man who fought fearlessly and eloquently for human rights. And that should be enough.

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

Art Thomas

The playwright takes King at one moment of his life, and theatrically shows the effects of that moment on a man--separate from the hero. It's an intense vision and emotionally draining to watch, especially as the pace quickens toward the assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. Two performers make the King legend human, and brilliant production design adds context to our present time. 

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR @ ACTORS' SUMMIT



January 21 through February 7, 2016
330-374-7568

Bob Abelman

While clearly not Actors’ Summit’s intention, it is impossible to sit through its production of “Same Time, Next Year” and not feel as if you’ve just binge-watched vintage sitcoms on Nick at Nite.  

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

Roy Berko

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR is an old-fashioned comedy that is filled with tender and humorous lines.  It a perfect play choice for the Actors’ Summit audiences and gets a delightful production under the direction of Paula Kline Messner, with fine performances by Keith Stevens and Natalie Sander Kern.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

The play’s dialogue and gender roles, depicting 1951 to 1975, come across as dated. And some of the references to race and sexuality are painful to listen to, as are a number of corny jokes. But the heart of the work is interesting in its two simultaneous character studies, with both George and Doris learning, evolving and finding themselves as individuals over more than two decades.

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

Mark Horning

For those “oldsters” looking to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this production is the perfect answer.  The laughs are genuine and are balanced with heartbreak to bring balance to the evening.  Expertly directed and acted, this is well worth the drive to Akron.

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


Monday, January 18, 2016

PROOF @ CLAGUE PLAYHOUSE



Through February 7, 2016
(440) 331-0403
Or info@ clagueplayhouse.org

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.

Art Thomas

This beautiful play is perfectly set in the intimate Clague Playhouse performance space. You start with the multi-layered script, move through the sensible and clear direction by Anne McEvoy, and relish four excellent performances. "Proof" starts by asking how "genius" in any form can disrupt a traditional family, and allows deeper questions from there.
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Christine Howey

The Clague Playhouse production, performed on a wonderfully detailed set designed by Ron Newell, makes this old-fashioned storytelling ring gratifyingly true and fresh.
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan



Thursday, January 14, 2016

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



Through February 7, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

The Cleveland Play House doesn’t often stage musicals and, when it does, most serve to tell the life story of legendary singers like Mahalia Jackson, Woody Guthrie, and five guys named Moe. It is the exception when the CPH boldly colors outside the lines and stages so effectively something as outrageously campy and hilariously quirky as "Little Shop of Horrors.”  

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

Roy Berko

LITLE SHOP OF HORRORS will delight audience members who are looking for an escapist evening of theatre, while giving the “thinking” audience an opportunity to consider the implications of the Ashman-Menken creation.  The show is well-conceived by director/choreographer/musical director Amanda Dehnert.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

A bloodbath can be an awful lot of fun when it’s Audrey II you’re talking about, the man-eating plant in Cleveland Play House’s delicious celebration of the ultra-campy: "Little Shop of Horrors."  Director Amanda Dehnert has modernized this 1982 musical by replacing its original trio of street urchins with five sexy girl band members.

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

Mark Horning

With two show stopping hummable tunes to take home, a great stage set, fine acting and singing, a really rocking band and of course the true star of the show, Audrey II, “Little Shop” is a creepy delight that will entertain all who attend.  The show is a killer.

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

Christine Howey

Sure enough, this production at the Allen Theatre is often a fun ride. And if you've never seen this show before, the bloodthirsty plant and the sadistic dentist will definitely blow your skirt up. But if you have seen Little Shop previously, you may be distracted by some odd directorial choices and a couple performances that fall a tad short.

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


Andrea Simakis

Why does "Little Shop of Horrors" 2016 at the Cleveland Play House feel flat and uninspired much of the time?  Maybe it's because it isn't content to sha-boop its way into ears and hearts.

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



Art Thomas

There's some rethinking of the original production of this show, which itself was a musical adaptation of a low-budget campy horror film. The talking plant from outer space desires to take over the world, but nerdy florist assistant Seymour tries to make things right. Ari Butler dances up a storm using the exuberant direction/choreography of Amanda Dehnert.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ANNIE @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through January 17, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

Late in the second act of “Annie,” billionaire industrialist Oliver Warbucks (a wonderful Gilgamesh Taggett) sings about his empty life in "Something Was Missing."   The lyrics also apply to the tour of this musical, and what is missing is any semblance of spontaneity.

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

Roy Berko


How can one not like a story about an orphan kid who finds herself being adopted by a billionaire, a stray dog who is saved from the pound, a billionaire with a heart, a bunch of singing and dancing orphans, and a female villain who gets her due  punishment?  Add fine singing, some fun comedy shticks, and clear characterizations.  Leapin’ Lizards, even if it’s a little tired, you’ll probably like seeing “ANNIE, ANNIE, ANNIE!”

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

David Ritchey

Everything went well.  But, everything lacked that spontaneity and energy of an opening night. No one is to blame.  The anxiety was normal and, I assume, by the time the show has finished its scheduled tour in Portland, OR, in May, everyone will have settled in place and peace will surround the cast.

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

Mark Horning

This is a good family theater experience that everyone will enjoy.  Although it has a short run through to Sunday, January 17, 2016 it would be worth your effort to gather the clan for a fun evening of musical theater.  There is a load of cuteness throughout and hummable songs to take home as well. Top notch performances, orchestra and stage sets add to the fun.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Art Thomas

Opening night demonstrated that this show still resonates with children. In the plus column are a competent cast with standout performances by Lynn Andrews as Miss Hannigan and local favorite Gilgamesh Taggett as Oliver Warbucks. One can almost look past the totally uninspired choreography.  

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, January 7, 2016

FRANKENSTEIN'S WAKE @ CLEVELAND PUBLIC THEATRE



January 7 through 30, 2016

216-631-2727


Bob Abelman

It’s alive!

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

Roy Berko

Raymond Bobgan, the director and the piece’s co-creator, concludes his program remarks by stating, “Perhaps, on this stage, we will reform the image of the monster made by humanity.”  Whether he and Holly Holsinger have done so depends on whether audience members are capable of grasping the duo’s intent and purpose.  Doing so is a challenge, but can be worth the effort.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning
For those wishing to discover the true and unblemished story concerning Victor Frankenstein and his “daemon” creations,” Holly Holsinger gives an astoundingly honest portrayal of all the characters involved in what is considered the very first “science fiction” work.  With just over fifty seats available for each performance you would be advised to reserve your places early.  This is a work designed for those who like to think and are not influenced by the Hollywoodized versions of a classic morality tale.  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

As the only performer, Holsinger uses her supple voice and gloriously specific, intention-driven movement to captivate the audience. 
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's blog Rave and Pan




INCENDIARIES @ CLEVELAND PUBLIC THEATRE



January 7 through 23, 2016
(216) 631-2727

Bob Abelman

“This happened.”  These are the final words in the play “Incendiaries,” which explores the race riots that tore through Cleveland’s east side Hough neighborhood in the late 1960s.  But the hope of its creators is that these won’t be the last words when it comes to public discussion about the conflict that exists between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

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

Roy Berko


Cleveland Public Theatre and Ohio City Theatre Project should be praised for undertaking the showcasing of an era in Cleveland history that tells an important tale.  The overall effect, except for the talk-back session, was a good example of how theater can be a conduit for sharing historical and sociological information and creating insightful intra-thought.

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

Mark Horning


From the opening salvo of voice to the final shout of rebellion, “Incendiaries” grips you.  Be prepared for a goose bump, hair tingling, gasping in your face theater experience.  Stay for the discussion following the show to see if anything has really changed in the fifty years following the events in 1966.  

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

Christine Howey

If you want to get a visceral sense of how it felt to be swept up in the Hough riots, Incendiaries will take you by the hand through that hellscape. But if you yearn for a deeper look at how that awful week damaged our city's psyche for decades to come, you may have to look elsewhere. 

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




Monday, December 28, 2015

ELF @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE'S CONNOR PALACE



December 29, 2015 to January 3, 2016
216-241-6000


Roy Berko

ELF THE MUSICAL is a total holiday delight.  The story line is nicely developed, the visual elements of the production pleasing, the music nicely textured, the choreography sparkles, and the acting is top-notch.  This definitely makes for a delightful experience for youngsters and adults.  
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.


Mark Horning

In case you are not tinseled out by the holidays and are looking for a good show to take the family to (especially the little ones) you can do no wrong by taking them to see this delightful Broadway show that just happens to have a Christmas theme.  It is chock full of nostalgia and good feelings.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.