Friday, August 29, 2014

HAIR @ Blank Canvas

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

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.

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

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.


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 C├ęspedes’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 C├ęspedes’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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

BACK TO BACHARACH AND DAVID @ Actors' Summit


June 12-July 20, 2014
330-374-7568 or go to www.actorssummit.org

Bob Abelman


This production of easy-listening classics is corny but charming and so intimate that it feels as if you are sitting at a piano bar.  All that’s missing is the pretzels and highballs. 


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

Kerry Clawson
 
The musical revue Back to Bacharach and David at Actors’ Summit offers an enjoyable evening of smooth pop stylings by songwriting team Burt Bacharach and Hal David. ...


The cast, featuring Brandon Isner, Chanda Porter, Debra Rose and Lisa Marie Schueller, sings in cool four-part harmony. On Thursday night, pro Mary Anne Prevost joined the group, adding her soprano voice to aid the higher range of Schueller’s vocal part, as the actress was suffering from bronchitis.

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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A MAP OF VIRTUE @ convergence continuum

June 20-July 12, 2014


Bob Abelman


Smack in the middle of Erin Courtney’s “A Map of Virtue,” a delicate one-act meditation about chance meetings and the currents that guide our lives, lies a psychodrama of Hitchcockian proportions.  It’s the surreal journey leading up to and returning from that dark and disturbing center that makes this Obie Award-winning play so thought-provoking. And it’s convergence-continuum’s mishandling of this that makes its production so mind-numbing.

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

Roy Berko
 

I guess I’m old fashioned.   I prefer a play that, when it is over, I have some idea of what went on and take from it either having experienced a good laugh, a bit of real intrigue, a message, or a moral.  Sorry, philosophically abstract gibberish, and a plot in search of a purpose, isn’t my thing.  If it’s yours, you’ll really be turned on by “A Map of Virtue.’   
  
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

For all you pseudo-intellectuals out there wanting to impress someone, this is a great show to see and discuss for hours over wine coolers at some hip and happening saloon.  For the rest of us “normal” theater patrons, it is a play that makes no sense whatsoever and probably never will.  For me it showed how far the pendulum can swing away from relevant theater.

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

Christine Howey

This bird-centric play by Erin Courtney is often lyrical, chilling and ambitious. And even though it isn't entirely successful, that's no reason to demean it through "cheep" wordplay.

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

Art Thomas 

This, like so many of the Con-Con shows, sounds like a dream when one attempts to describe it. An Obie award winner, "A Map of Virtue" starts with two people in a chance encounter, later they are held captive by wierdos, and finally their relationship is deconstructed and reconciled.  The promised "part comedy" never emerges, but like most Con-Con fare, there is a lot to "unwrap" in post-performance thinking.
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MY FAIR LADY @ Porthouse Theatre/Kent State

June 12-28, 2014


Bob Abelman


The Porthouse Theatre's treatment of this musical theater classic is significantly less grand and interesting than what patrons have grown accustomed to.  It is more in line with dinner theater, but without the beverage service or 50/50 raffle.

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

Roy Berko
 

Under the directing awareness of Terri Kent, and the outstanding performances by Kayce Cummings and Greg Violand, the Porthouse production of "My Fair Lady," made for a fine evening of summer entertainment.

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


Kerry Clawson


Greg Violand and Kayce Cummings make a winsome pair in the Lerner and Loewe classic MY FAIR LADY, the famous tale of  an egotistical phoneticist who tutors a Cockney flower seller to speak the Queen’s English in an effort to pass her off as a high-class lady.

Violand lets the audience in on how confounded Higgins really is by women when he sings tunes such as "I’m An Ordinary Man," elevating himself with lyrics such as "Let a woman in your life and invite eternal strife." 

Lead actress Cummings gets to squawk and snort plenty as the feisty Eliza, who exhibits great physical humor and decidedly unladylike body language.

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


This show about the Cockney ragamuffin Eliza Doolittle being transformed into a refined lady never gets old, as long as the performers are up to the task. And happily, this production at the Porthouse Theatre has two stellar performers in the key roles.

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


Saturday, June 14, 2014

POSSUM DREAMS @ none too fragile


none too fragile is located in Pub Bricco, 1841 Merriman Road, Akron
June 13th-28th, 2014


Roy Berko
 


“Possum Dreams” is a poorly written and conceived script which gets a better than deserved production at none too fragile theater.  While Andrew Narten and Leighann Niles DeLorenzo are excellent, the play, itself, is not.  Oh well, even none too fragile has to stage something that is less than outstanding every once in a while.

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


Christine Howey 

It’s mostly an amazing, intense experience, thanks to his often deftly written script, two spectacular performances and the masterful direction of Sean Derry.

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

Kerry Clawson

POSSUM DREAMS is a fascinating, two-actor portrayal of a marriage gone wrong, contained in just one alcohol- and drug-infused night as husband and wife Walter and Jan Landing — who have been together nearly two decades — finally face their ugly truths.


Audience members are right on top of this awesome fight in the middle of the Landings’ living room, voyeurs to the dynamics between husband and wife behind closed doors. To say this work is intimate would be an understatement. The play, which runs about 100 minutes with no intermission, is a nonstop scene of domestic combat, both verbal and physical.


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

Andrea  Simakis

"Possum Dreams" feels like an unhinged cousin to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "God of Carnage;" it's a play with similar DNA but willing to go further, break more windows, get into more trouble, than its older relations. 

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