Friday, September 19, 2014

THE LITTLE FOXES @ Cleveland Play House

September 12-October 5, 2014

Bob Abelman
No review yet.

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

Roy Berko
 

Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes” is a classic American play which probes into the values, ethics and morals of a group of southerners at the turn of the century.  This is a play and production well worth seeing thanks to Hellman’s writing, Kepley’s directing, the excellent acting, and well-conceived technical aspects.  It makes for a fine opening offering in this, CPH’s ninety-ninth year.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE SUNSET LIMITED @ none too fragile theater

September 12-September 27, 2014


Bob Abelman

Novelist and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy’s well-crafted diatribe on the meaning of life and death is a brilliant piece of work.   Dense with thoughtful reflection, poetic in its composition, and eloquent in its articulation of diverse philosophical outlooks, “The Sunset Limited” is a pleasure to listen to but displeasing to watch.  It is, quite frankly, a lousy play.

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

Roy Berko
 

“The Sunset Limited” is a thought-provoking script, which gets an intelligent production at none too fragile.  It is a play that will hold the attention of those interested in a philosophical delving into life, religion, and the human condition.

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


Kerry Clawson

Cormac McCarthy’s THE SUNSET LIMITED is a bleak, stark story that pits faith against unbelief as two men from different worlds debate in a New York tenement. .. The entire show is dialogue- rather than action-driven, with the whole discussion taking place in Black’s ghetto apartment. The result is an interesting yet ultimately depressing philosophical debate on the very existence of God.


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

FOREVER PLAID @ Beck Center for the Arts

September 12-October 12, 2014
216-521-2540 or http://www.beckcenter.org

Bob Abelman

"Forever Plaid" shows its true stripes in this Beck Center production.  It is corny, contrived and wonderfully contagious.

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

Roy Berko


Director Martin Céspedes’s creative directing and choreography, the excellent talents of Shane Patrick O’Neill, Matthew Ryan Thompson, John Rhett Noble and Brian Altman, and the fine musicianship of Bryan Bird, Bill Hart and Kevin Aylward, all combine to create a most pleasurable theatrical experience in Beck’s “Forever Plaid.”  It’s a relaxing, fun filled, “you’ll enjoy” it experience.

To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog 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
The evergreen show Forever Plaid, now at the Beck Center, brings back that era of crooning post World War II innocence. As directed and choreographed by Martin Cespedes, this is an entertaining and endearing representation of the Plaid franchise, even if some of the songs don’t fly as high as they might.

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

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

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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

BELLEVILLE @ Dobama

September 5-October 5, 2014
216-932-3396 or dobama.org

Bob Abelman

According to Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in “The Brothers Karamazov,” hell is the suffering of being unable to love.  Playwright Amy Herzog would argue quite the opposite.     

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

Roy Berko

Belleville” is a dark, draining play.  It looks at the limits of trust, truth, deception and dependency.  Dobama’s production is superb.  The writing, acting, staging and technical aspects all blend together to make for a compelling evening at the theatre.  It’s a must see for anyone interested in theatre and the limits of the human condition.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

This play is much like slowing down on the highway to view a horrific but spectacular automobile accident.  As our eyes are drawn to the carnage we recoil in horror with what we have witnessed but still cannot stop looking.  This is a work that will sit uncomfortably for some time.  Precisely acted but disturbing none the less.  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
Some of the scariest moments in theater and in life can arise from seemingly predictable, every-day situations. There's something about a placid façade hiding a terrifying secret that is more blood-curdling than a spooky haunted house at night. This is the effect that playwright Amy Herzog is after in Belleville, now at Dobama Theatre. And there certainly are a couple chilling moments. But due to a lot of loose ends in the script and excessively languorous pauses in the performance, the show oozes to a rather limp conclusion.
To see a full review of this show, read Christine Howey's review at  Cleveland Scene


Friday, August 29, 2014

HAIR @ Blank Canvas

August 29-September 13, 2014 440-941-0458 or www.blankcanvastheatre.com

Bob Abelman

Despite the unfortunate but inevitable aging of Aquarius, Blank Canvas Theatre's production of "Hair" has tapped the key ingredient that made the original Broadway production such a success:  it is extremely likable.

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

Roy Berko


HAIR is a classic musical, which entered the theatre into an era of reflection of the turbulent era of the 60s and broke many traditional theatrical formats.  For those who want to relive the era, or who want to generally get an idea of what was going on during those times, the Blank Canvas staging gives an opportunity to take a seldom reprised trip through the times.  Due to a generation gap in understanding the true angst of the era, this isn’t a great production, but it is entertaining.

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

Taking a big stage production and trying to fit it in a small theater space is always a risky proposition but due to the energy and precision of this cast this show works well on a lot of levels.  It gives this staging an even more intimate feel which is what the original creators sought.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

Although this production has its flaws (and only a nanosecond of nudity), there's enough radical spirit and go-for-broke youthful energy to light up the stage, and maybe a few bongs.

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


Sunday, August 17, 2014

RIDE @ none too fragile

August 15-30, 2014

Bob Abelman 

Ride,” Eric Lane’s coming-of-age comedy, has all the makings of an interesting theatrical road trip: good company, appealing banter and a final destination worth reaching.  Unfortunately, the journey quickly turns tedious in this none too fragile theater production. 

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

Roy Berko
 

Eric Lane’s RIDE is more a character study than a well-structured play.  It is both the strength and weakness of the script.  Regardless of the message, or lack of message, or quality, or lack of quality of the script, it is worth going to see the production, to be exposed to the talented cast, especially to seventh grader Ireland Derry.  You will be one of the first to experience “a star being born,” in this, her theatrical debut! 
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

RIDE by Eric Lane seems to have many of the right ingredients for strong storytelling: a coming-of-age tale that takes place during a quest, some well-drawn characters, and equal doses of humor and angst.  But the 2008 drama, playing at None Too Fragile Theater in the Merriman Valley, lags and meanders.


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

Christine Howey

That is once again the case in Ride by Eric Lane, now playing at None Too Fragile Theater in Akron. A capable cast of three females under the direction of Sean Derry gives the material a solid presentation. But there are a few too many glitches in the occasionally perceptive script to make this a two-hour joy ride.

To see a full review, see Christine Howey's review in Scene Magazine here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Henry IV, Part 1

July 31-August 17, 2014
http://ohioshakespeare.com or 330-673-8761


Kerry Clawson

It’s well worth it to take in KING HENRY IV, PART ONE just to see the huge lug of a fat suit that actor Terry Burgler wears as the ridiculous Falstaff.
... Burgler and actor Andrew Cruse make a great team, with the latter playing Prince Hal, who keeps the scurrilous Falstaff around as a sidekick for his own amusement.

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


Christine Howey


HIVPI is a long play loaded with all kinds of political details, but as usual the talented Ohio Shakespeare Festival company manages to sort it all out.

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

Saturday, August 9, 2014

AMAZONS AND THEIR MEN @ convergence-continuum

August 8-30, 2014

Bob Abelman

You’ve got to admire convergence-continuum for swinging for the fences with every production it stages.  Unfortunately, its rendering of Jordan Harrison’s “Amazons and Their Men,” an offbeat off-Broadway success in 2008, misses by a mile. 

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

Roy Berko


Jordan Harrison’s “Amazons and their Men” is a well written play that tells a fascinating and revealing story of film making and Nazi Germany.  Unfortunately, the convergence-continuum production does not live up to the potential of the script.

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

Mark Horning

From a company that has delighted and thrilled me to no end with past performances (I was truly looking forward to this show) I was gravely disappointed.  Nothing seemed to click…from the acting, delivery of the dialog, costumes and props…it just left me feeling sad.  Go see it to see if you agree with me.


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

Christine Howey


The script by Harrison is so continually fascinating that a spotty performance by con-con’s four-person cast doesn’t create many obstacles. Although it would certainly help if this production had been done in an appropriate period style with crisp comic timing.

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

Andrea Simakis

It's a marvelous play--but it's badly executed, the effect not unlike seeing a beautifully cut frock on a potbellied pig.

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

Art Thomas

The epic film that was never made by Hitler's cinema propagandist Leni Riefenstahl is the origin of this play which adds layers of interaction among actors, lovers, and figures from Greek mythology. This production probably has less humor than the playwright intended as the audience unravel the relationships.
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, August 7, 2014

JEKYLL & HYDE @ North Olmsted Performing Arts





Olmsted Performing Arts
6941 Columbia Road, Olmsted Falls

August 1-3, 8-10, 2014


Bob Abelman

There is tenacity by the boatload and plenty of creative vision by co-directors Angela Boehm and Christina Haviland.  But there also exists a sizable divide between this vision and the technical and artistic competence required to pull it off.  "Jekyll and Hyde” is a bit too much show for OPA to handle so early in its evolution as a professional theater.

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

Mark Horning

It is time for Cleveland to take notice of “this gem in the glen” and take the long and winding road downhill to the Olmsted Performing Arts Center in Olmsted Falls.  There you will find a superb performance of a very demanding musical, but hurry, there are only a few performances left.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

THE FROGS @ Cain Park

July 31-August 17, 2014
216-371-3000 or go on line to www.cainpark.com

Bob Abelman

Everything about this production -- the casting, the staging, the choreography -- is ribbiting.

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

Roy Berko


Though the message of “The Frogs” is generally clear, and Martin Friedman’s directing is on target, and Martin Céspedes’s choreography is prime, the script, the music, and the lyrics fail to incite much excitement.  The tepid response of the audience on preview night brings into question the wisdom in selecting this script. 

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


Andrea Simakis

Despite the tidal wave of talent that is Dan Folino – a shape-shifter who can play everything from glam-rock dead presidents ("Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson") to chainsaw-wielding avengers ("Evil Dead") – "The Frogs," now at Cain Park's Alma Theater, is a real sinker.

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

OLIVER @ Porthouse

July24-August 10, 2014
or 330-929-4416 or 330-672-3884

Bob Abelman

Many stage productions of this beloved musical have dared to bring to the surface the depth, darkness and ethnic divide that Dickens intended.  The Porthouse Theatre production is not of that ilk.  It is, instead, a pleasant diversion meant to amuse rather than engage. 

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

Roy Berko



“Oliver!” is a wonderful musical theatre script which tells a well conceived tale, has marvelous music, and, in a good production, pleases an audience.  Unfortunately, Porthouse’s version left much to be desired.

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

Mark Horning

Summer is a time for lightness…clothes, music, temperatures, food and theater.  “Oliver!” is perfect entertainment for this time.  Take a drive out to Cuyahoga Falls for an enjoyable evening of musical theater. 

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

Christine Howey

This production goes even further in soft-pedaling the unpleasant parts of the original source material. As directed by Terri Kent, this Oliver! works hard to ear its exclamation point, even though there are a couple somewhat sour notes along the way.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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

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

Bob Abelman

Blank Canvas Theatre – Cleveland’s primary provider of cultist comedies and wonderfully bizarre musicals – has also based its professional reputation on its productions of modern classics. Its current rendition of Dale Wasserman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” directed and designed by Patrick Ciamacco, does little to bolster that reputation. 

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

Roy Berko

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

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

Mark Horning

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

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

Christine Howey

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

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

Andrea Simakis

Unlike "Arcadia," Tom Stoppard's 1993 time-traveling masterpiece now playing in Tremont, Dale Wasserman's 50-year-old adaptation of the wildly popular novel by Ken Kesey feels slightly musty.

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

ARCADIA @ Mamai Theatre Company

 










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

Bob Abelman


Extravagantly lengthy, opulently wordy and intellectually challenging, this play tests one’s endurance while this production of it – beautifully directed by Christine McBurney with particular attention given to the thread of frivolity that weaves its way through the script – makes the arduous journey well worth the while.  

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

Roy Berko

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

Mark Horning

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

Christine Howey

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

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


Saturday, July 12, 2014

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN @ Beck Center for the Arts

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

Bob Abelman

It’s alive, alright!

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

Roy Berko


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

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

Mark Horning

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

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

Christine Howey

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

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

Andrea Simakis

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

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


Art Thomas

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

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET @ Ohio/PlayhouseSquare

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

Bob Abelman

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


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

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

Roy Berko

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

Howard Gollop

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

Mark Horning

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

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

Christine Howey

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

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

Andrea Simakis

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

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

STARMITES @ Porthouse/Kent State


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

Bob Abelman

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

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

Roy Berko


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


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

Kerry Clawson

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

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

Mark Horning

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

Christine Howey

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

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