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.

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
   

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
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

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



Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Pianist of Willesden Lane @ Cleveland Play House


Through March 22, 2015
Allen Theatre, PlayhouseSquare, 216-241-6000


Bob Abelman

All of us readers of the Cleveland Jewish News have a personal story to share about Kristellnacht and its life-altering impact on our families. But none of us, save for Mona Golabek, have the remarkable skill and unique opportunity to set those stories to classical music and share them on stage.   

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

Roy Berko


THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE is a special theatrical and musical event.  An absolute “must see,” the script and the production educate, entertain and enrapture!  Kudos to  Mona Golabek and Hershey Felder for creating an experience that viewers will long remember.

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

Kerry Clawson




Mona Golabek offered a soulful performance of her one-woman show "The Pianist of Willesden Lane," a gripping, 90-minute piece with no intermission at Cleveland Play House’s Allen Theatre. The Grammy-nominated classical concert pianist told from the piano the story of her mother’s Kindertransport flight from Vienna to London just before World War II broke out. Golabek expertly interspersed the music of Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy and Grieg with the dramatic true story of her mother, Lisa Jura.  This inspiring show about the life-affirming power of music for one girl through the dark history of the Holocaust is a must-see for audiences of all ages.

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

Mark Horning


This is theater of such magnitude that it is no surprise that tickets for the sold out performances are becoming dear.  Mona Golabek gives what can only be described as a once in a lifetime theater experience that will evoke sincere changes in the way you look at performances from now on.  It is a story of love, hope, talent, luck, perseverance and sacrifice.  It is the ultimate theatrical experience.   

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

Christine Howey


This show, which is touring many cities, is a tight and captivating package highlighted by Golabek’s entrancing talents at the keyboard of her Steinway grand piano. The piano is not only the key set piece on the mostly black stage, it is absolutely central to Golabek’s life.


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


Andrea Simakis



Though the details of her life fascinate, Lisa Jura's story stands in for the more than 10,000 children spared from the gas chambers by a seat on the Kindertransport.

As their numbers dwindle with each passing year, so do their stories of survival. This is something Golabek knows. Her every stroke of the gleaming keys echoes the words that swirled up from the ashes of a war torn world: "Never forget."

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

Art Thomas


This show is storytelling at its finest, with a performer who is first of all a top notch concert pianist. There are moments of powerful sadness, but the overarching element is hope for the future. 

 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Dirty Dancing @ PlayhouseSquare


Through March 22, 2015
Connor Palace, PlayhouseSquare, 216-241-6000


Bob Abelman


When the dancing stops and the dry ice settles, it is clear that “Dirty Dancing” is merely a color-by-number musical whose fanatical devotion to the duplication of the movie's storyline and cinematic sensibilities is more disorienting and disappointing than engaging.

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

Roy Berko


If you go to see DIRTY DANCING THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE expecting the emotional and sensual overload that many experienced from the film, you will be very disappointed.  The only way to watch this touring production is to sit back, take the unspectacular staging, the mediocre acting and dancing, and soap opera story for what it is.  The opening night audience slowly got to its feet as the curtain call proceeded.  Was the show that good?  No, but take into consideration this is Cleveland.  Cleveland, the home of  polite people who stand at the end of almost every show, deserving or not.

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

Kerry Clawson

The 1987 film "Dirty Dancing" captured viewers' hearts and imaginations with its incredible dancing and the undeniable chemistry of its stars — Patrick Swayze as Johnny and Jennifer Grey as Baby.  
"Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage" tries to keep the love going but fell flat Wednesday night at Playhouse Square’s Connor Palace. That’s because Gillian Abbott, who just assumed the role of Baby for the Cleveland run, and swing Josh Drake, filling in as Johnny for Samuel Pergande who’s suffering from a hand injury, had very little chemistry together Wednesday night.

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


Mark Horning


While any opinion will do little to change the guaranteed sellout that this production will enjoy, go see this badly acted show for the music and some dance but don’t expect to be wowed.           

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

Christine Howey

Dirty Dancing is a hybrid musical that gives you more than your money’s worth in terms of visual and auditory pizzazz. And, you know, it has the iconic bits: "(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life" and the swan dive lift. But if you’re looking for the unvarnished heart of the original, you can find that on Netflix.

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


Andrea Simakis


"Dirty Dancing" onstage is as critic-proof as the flick was when it opened in theaters nearly 30 years ago. (For the record, this reviewer has been known to draw the shades, ignore phone calls and abandon dinner plans upon encountering a "Dirty Dancing" cable marathon.)

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

Art Thomas

You'll see some great dancing, with duplications of the poses and images from the movie. There's the addition of two key songs given to a pair of feisty singers. The plot line remains thin and the cartoonish nature of the show indicates that no one takes it too seriously....which is how it should be. 
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Book Club Play @ Actors' Summit


Through March 15, 2015

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

Director MaryJo Alexander recognizes this play’s potential and is skilled enough to follow up on it.  Through clever casting , fast pacing, and a concerted effort to reel in what comes across on the page as disingenuous, Alexander finds common ground between what is acerbic and what is asinine.  There are still moments when one brand of comedy wins out over the other and when an actor cannot find the humanity in the humor.  But the end result is a very funny play that will appeal to just about everyone.  

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


Kerry Clawson

As heavy-handed as the unlikable Ana is, playwright Karen Zacarias’ comedy, now running at Actors’ Summit in downtown Akron, is heavy-handed too. There’s nothing subtle or surprising about her humor: The play’s heightened sense of self-awareness leads to trite-sounding dialogue that overstates the obvious.  The comedy, which premiered in 2008 in Bethesda, Md., feels dated and overly simplistic now as it proffers a sort of book club for dummies to explain what the 'Twilight' series and Twihards are.


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


Mark Horning

The Book Club Play is an absolutely delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening.  The writing is smart and witty and the comic timing is superb.  There are some truly funny moments that have a universal appeal even to those not in book clubs.  This one is a real page turner.

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



Dial "M" for Murder @ Great Lakes Theater


Through March 22, 2015

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

The biggest mystery in this classic psychological thriller is what the good folks at Great Lakes Theater have in store to keep the plot twists camouflaged, make the abrupt turns sufficiently disorienting, and serve up Tony’s  pathology in a fresh and interesting way. As it turns out, what they have in store is not nearly enough.  

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

Roy Berko
 
Great Lakes production of DIAL “M” FOR MURDER makes for a wonderful escapist evening of theatre.  Anyone liking murder mysteries, good acting, and good staging will enjoy this production.  As to the theatre’s evolving pattern of staging a mystery each season, as long as they continue in the vein of their DEATHTRAP, MOUSETRAP, and DIAL “M,” let’s have some more!
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

Dial M for Murder is a surprising disappointment from what many consider the gold standard of classic theater in Cleveland.  In theater, the two most difficult genres to pull off are comedy and mystery.  In both, timing is everything.  In this slouthfest time seems to stand still.  Hopefully some of the bugs can be worked out as the performances continue.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.


Andrea Simakis

Great Lakes Theater's 'Dial "M" for Murder' gleams, but there's too little life beneath the surface sheen.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Art Thomas

The script and music are solidly rooted in the 1950's but Charlie Fee's production has nods to this decade. The result is a show that is relevant to the technology savvy denizens of the 21st century. Imagine, young people will learn about the archaic phones with dials! This is a handsome and well conceived production. 

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lonesome West @ None Too Fragile Theater

Through February 28, 2015
1835 Merriman Rd., Akron, 330-962-5547, nonetoofragile.com


Bob Abelman

Unlike the playwright’s “The Pillowman” (recently performed to perfection at convergence-continuum), where the gruesome drama sets up disturbing avenues for dark comedy, the hilarious “Lonesome West” leads with the comedy and allows the dramatic moments to find their own way to the surface.  And by comedy we're talking vintage Warner Bros. cartoon humor, where the perpetually feuding Coleman (Sean Derry) and Valene (Andrew Narten) are live-action equivalents of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck with a brogue. 

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here:  http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/features/leisure/arts/none-too-fragile-stages-deliciously-dark-the-lonesome-west/article_d2e7f72a-b55f-11e4-87a2-871be2aacd40.html

Kerry Clawson

Sparks fly in more ways than one in the savagely funny "The Lonesome West," now onstage at None Too Fragile in Akron’s Merriman Valley.   Martin McDonagh’s black comedy is one of absurd extremes as brothers Coleman and Valene constantly bicker over everything from plastic religious figures to who gets to touch a magazine, eat crisps (chips) or drink poteen (a distilled Irish drink).

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


Christine Howey

They craft a pair of relationships that are dramatically different in their details but share a common thread of desperation — one quiet and tender, the other foul-mouthed and violent.

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

Andrea Simakis


The None Too Fragile production of "The Lonesome West" is some of the best theater you'll see this season. But be warned: Potato chips, household appliances and organized religion are harmed in the making of this play
 
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Dogfight @ Beck Center for the Arts


Through March 15, 2015

17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, 216-521-2540    

Bob Abelman

In Beck Center’s "Dogfight," no one comes out a winner.

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN article here.
www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local/in-beck-center-s-dogfight-no-one-comes-out-a/article_bf229980-affa-11e4-bcc3-ab6d370a51b5.html


Roy Berko 

The production agreement between Beck Center and the Baldwin Wallace Musical Theatre program has produced some outstanding productions.  Though it is not bad, DOGFIGHT is not of the quality of the duo’s previous stagings.   

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

Mark Horning

While the premise of “Dogfight” starts out as a bunch of marine toughs perpetrating a cruel joke in the end the principle player, Eddie Birdlace, finds compassion as well as true comfort in the arms of Rose.  In the end he realizes that truly Everything is Beautiful.

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

Christine Howey

This is the latest collaboration between Beck Center and the esteemed Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre Program. They have put together some extraordinary productions in the past, but this one suffers from flawed material and other issues.

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


Andrea Simakis


Precision performances - Broadway quality and better - are what give this love story its real bite.


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

Art Thomas

The young cast of "Dogfight" are well chosen from the Musical Theater program at B-W U.  The weaknesses of the script's second act are minimalized by the in-your-face immediacy of this production. Selected images from the era suggest that Vietnam was, in fact, a musical.
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pippin @ PlayhouseSquare


Through February 15, 2015
Connor Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-6000


Bob Abelman

"Pippin" is a coming-of-age-during-the-Middle Ages story about the eldest son of Charlemagne, who explores war, sex, power and the ordinary in an effort to find something in life that is completely fulfilling.  All he need do is buy a ticket to this absolutely superb and thoroughly entertaining national tour.

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

Roy Berko


The touring production of PIPPIN, in spite of some minor flaws, is mainly magical.  It nicely carries out the story’s theme and should delight those who are seeing the show for the first time, or are seeing the new and reconfigured edition of the show. From my perspective,  it would be worth seeing the show just to hear “Corner of the Sky” and “Morning Glow.”

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

Kerry Clawson

Everything’s gloriously over the top under the Big Top in the national tour of "Pippin."
The magical musical, reconceived in 2012 with a circus setting by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, thrills at PlayhouseSquare’s Connor Palace with its death-defying acrobatics as young prince Pippin goes on his own death-defying journey to find his place in the world. Paulus’ creation, the first revival of Stephen Schwartz and Bob Fosse’s 1972 original, is so dazzling to watch, we’re almost on sensory overload.

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

Howard Golub

The troupe that once merely sang, danced, contorted and postured now literally jumps through hoops to please. Not only hoops, but all the other feats that go with a trapeze, tightrope, fire pit, bouncing-ball and occasional magic contraption — and it’s all done wearing considerably more revealing costumes (by Dominique Lemieux).

In a show that celebrates youth, it’s ironic that the best scenes involve the older generation, naturally taken on by the more seasoned performers.  


Mark Horning


“Pippin” quite easily can be considered the consummate Broadway show.  It combines Song, Dance, Magic, Circus, Acrobatics, Costuming and Lights into a whirlwind of mesmerizing visual and audible delight.  Prepare to be dazzled during this run of easily sold out performances.   

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

Art Thomas

I am now a believer. Everything about this show is magic. While there are a few things to quibble about, the circus skills, Fosse-inspired dance, and unified design make the production rise far above the book and score. This is not a reimagined show. It is a new "Pippin" with surprises and enough "stuff" to please any type or age of theatergoer.

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fire on the Water @ Cleveland Public Theatre


Through February 14, 2015
6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727

Roy Berko


Cleveland Public Theatre, with its Elements series, continues to use theatre to not only entertain its audience, but to act as an arts device to alert people to the needs and wants of society, as well as teach civic and social responsibility.  FIRE ON WATER, though overly long and redundant, is an interesting piece of devised theatre, that, as the rest of the Elements series, illustrates the fragility of the world in which we live. 

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

Mark Horning

While each segment stands well in its own right, the constant bombardment of the same information gets to wear thin in this two and a half hour marathon of a singular and one dimensional subject.  While fans of CPT, BC, TS, OTP and TN will rave, others new to Cleveland Theater will feel a bit overwhelmed.  This is theater for an acquired taste. 

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

Christine Howey

Even with some wrinkles — and we're not talking about the fingertips of the marinating water spirits — Fire on the Water consistently surprises and challenges the audience.

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

Andrea Simakis

Taking the "more is too much" approach, CPT and guest artists built a quartet of plays over three seasons, little enough time to conceive, write and develop one successful piece, with so many cooks and moving parts, let alone four. (There were supposed to be five plays, but one was mercifully amputated along the way.)

Consequently, though "Fire" has moments of weirdness that, like that dragon, spark into true inspiration, most of the time, the show is all wet, comically cloying and preachy or designed for children who respond to bright colors and big gestures.


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

Violet @ Lakeland Civic Theatre


Through February 15, 2015
Lakeland Community College, 440-525-7526

 Bob Abelman


If scar tissue could sing, its music would be written by Jeanine Tesori with words by Brian Crawley.  Rarely has a composer and lyricist joined forces to produce as tender, touching and unconventional a musical about the scars we bear – inside and out – as “Violet,” currently on stage at Lakeland Civic Theatre.

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


Christine Howey
The characters and the music in Violet are both complex and believable, creating a seamless work that is fully satisfying. As Violet and Finch grow closer, two people being judged by their outward appearance, the play concludes by saying “Yes” to a happy ending that feels fully earned.

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