Thursday, January 9, 2020

THE ILLUSIONISTS LIVE FROM BROADWAY



Connor Palace
January 7-11, 2020
216-241-6000 or go to www.playhousesquare.org


Roy Berko


Capsule judgment:  Though many aspects of the show were very entertaining, the over-all effect was under-whelming.  It seemed in many segments, that the cast has done these same tricks over and over, and were on automatic pilot.   

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

Sunday, December 15, 2019

NEVILLE'S ISLAND@NONE TOO FRAGILE



Through December 21, 2019
(330) 671-4563


Kerry Clawson

"Neville’s Island” is kind of like “Lord of the Flies,” the middle-aged version. In this comedy, playwright Tim Firth explores how quickly human beings’ sanity can devolve when fear and panic start to take over.

Sean Derry directs an excellent cast of four men at None Too Fragile in this British show, which premiered in Scarborough, England, in 1992, moved to the West End in 1994 and made its North American premiere in 1996 in Sante Fe, New Mexico. The play, which offers an incisive look into the human condition through four very different personalities, is written by the same man who co-wrote the films “Calendar Girls” and “Kinky Boots.”

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

Saturday, December 14, 2019

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE @ Theatre in the Circle


Judson Mannor--1890 East 107th Street--Cleveland
216-282-9424 or theatreinthecircle.com

Roy Berko

If you are a fan of the movie “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” you will like Theatre in the Circle’s stage version. Go knowing that it’s the same overly sentimental and hokey tale set to music.  It’s a nice break from the usual holiday shows that are repeated over and over at some local theatres.  

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


SHE KILLS MONSTERS@OHIO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL



Through December 22, 2019
(330) 673-8761



Kerry Clawson

This play about teens and young adults has a script with some truly juvenile dialogue, including crude language from teen characters playing fantasy roles. That could play as comical, but I wasn’t feeling any big belly laughs at Sunday’s show. “She Kills Monsters,” which premiered Off-Off Broadway, may just be too much of a niche show that appeals mainly to D&D lovers. ... Fight director Ryan Zarecki has choreographed fight after fight in this show as the team must slay several “bosses” to find the lost soul of Athens, Ohio. There’s quite a bit of floor work but too often, female warriors look like they’re lying and waiting for their next fight cue.

To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review at https://www.beaconjournal.com/topics/clawson.

BLACK NATIVITY@KARAMU



Through December 29, 2019
(216) 795-7070




CONSTELLATIONS@CONVERGENCE CONTINUUM



Through December 21, 2019
(216) 687-0074


Roy Berko

“CONSTELLATIONS” is one of con-con’s best stagings.  It combines a well-conceived script, superb acting and well-focused directing.  It’s a must-see experience!

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

A CHRISTMAS STORY@CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



Through December 23, 2019
(216) 241-6000



Mark Horning


There is no greater gift during this holiday time than to share the magic of theater with the entire family. Although a familiar story this production is a wonderful way to share time together and relax during this sometimes hectic season. Bring the entire family for an evening of warmth and delight.

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


YIPPEE KI-YAY MERRY CHRISTMAS@BLANK CANVAS



Through December 21, 2019
(440) 941-0458



Mark Horning


Tickets will be die-hard to come by as the show winds down its December run with the final performance scheduled for Saturday, December 21st. If your looking for a really well done Christmas parody this one will blow you away.   

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


SHREK, THE MUSICAL@THE BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS


Through January 5, 2020
(216) 521-2540



Howard Gollop

“Shrek” is clever enough in a "Rocky & Bullwinkle" sort of way. But it could hardly sustain an unstable production suffering all the trappings of -- to put it politely -- less-than-Broadway regional theater trappings.  Not to worry at the Beck Center.

Mark Horning


If your looking for a change from holiday theater fare that the entire family will love, this is a must see show. It literally has something for everyone with its great cast, awesome costuming, timely message of inclusion and lively songs. It’s a dream come true for the holiday season.

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


Monday, December 9, 2019



2019 CLEVELAND CRITICS CIRCLE THEATER AWARDS

The Cleveland Critics Circle each year honors local theaters, performances, writers, performers and technicians of plays staged by Cleveland area professional theaters during the January 1-December 31 2019 year.

Award Committee Voters: Roy Berko, Kerry Clawson, Howard Gollop, Mark Horning, Laura Kennelly and Andrea Simakis.  Participation in these awards does not preclude individual critics from preparing their own recognitions.

Those recognized for Superior Achievement are listed alphabetically, not by order of achievement.

Best Musical Production  
ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program
Honorable Mention:
KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, Blank Canvas  
MAN OF LA MANCHA, Porthouse
THE MUSIC MAN, Great Lakes Theater

Best Non-Musical Production
TWO, none-too-fragile
Honorable Mention:
AN ILIAD, Cleveland Play House
BY THE BOG OF CATS, Ensemble
HAMLET, Ohio Shakespeare Festival
INTO THE BREECHES, Cleveland Play House
STUPID FUCKING BIRD, Dobama
            
Best Actor – Musical
Fabio Polanco, MAN OF LA MANCHA, Porthouse
           Honorable Mention
Alex Syiek, THE MUSIC MAN, Great Lakes Theater
Jake Slater, ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program
Patrick Ciamacco, THE TOXIC AVENGER, Blank Canvas
Scott Esposito, KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, Blank Canvas
            
Best Actors – Non-Musical
David Peacock, TWO, none-too-fragile
Robert Hawkes, KING LEAR, Beck
           Honorable Mention
Alex Brightwell, EVERY BRILLIANT THING, Cleveland Play House
Christopher M. Bohan, GLENGARRY, GLEN ROSS, Beck Center
Kieron Cindric, HOMOS OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA, convergence-continuum

Best Actress – Musical  
Nicole Sumlin, LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL, Beck Center
            Honorable Mention
            Jillian Kates, THE MUSIC MAN, Great Lakes Theater.
            Kelsey Brown, ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre 
Program
            Mary-Francis R. Miller, AIDA, Karamu

Best Actress – Non-Musical  
Tarah Flanagan, AN ILIAD, Cleveland Play House
           Honorable Mention
Amy Fritsche, THE PINELOPIAD, Ensemble
Derdriu Ring, TWO, none-too-fragile
Laura Perotta, STUPID FUCKING BIRD, Dobama
Tess Burgler, HAMLET, Ohio Shakespeare Festival

Rising Stars
            Male 
            Jake Spencer, RAGTIME, Cain Park
            Female
            Calista Zajac, NETHER, Dobama
            
Best Director – Musical
Victoria Bussert, ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre
           Honorable Mention
Patrick Ciamacco, KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, Blank Canvas
Terri Kent, MAN OF LA MANCHA, Porthouse
Victoria Bussert, MUSIC MAN, Great Lakes Theater

Best Director – Non-Musical
Nathan Motta, STUPID FUCKING BIRD, Dobama
           Honorable Mention
Robert Barry Fleming, NATIVE GARDENS, Cleveland Play House
Sara Brunner, JULIUS CAESAR, Great Lakes Theater
Sean Derry, TWO, none-too-fragile
Tarah Flanagan and Andrew Carlson, AN ILIAD, Cleveland Play House

Best Choreographer
Martin Céspedes, MAN OF LA MANCHA, Porthouse
Honorable Mention
           Gregory Daniels, ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program
Imani Jackson, RAGTIME, Cain Park
Martin Cespedes, MATILDA, Beck

Best Musical Direction  
Mathew Webb, ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program
           Honorable Mention
Ed Ridley, LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL, Beck Center
James Barry, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, Great Lakes Theater
Jonathan Swoboda, MAN OF LA MANCHA, Porthouse

Best Scenic Design  
Arnulfo Maldonado, TINY HOUSES, Cleveland Play House
           Honorable Mention
Jason Ardizzone-West, NATIVE GARDENS, Cleveland Play House
Jordan Janota, ONCE, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program
Richard H. Morris, Jr., PARADISE BLUE, Karamu
            
Best Lighting Design
Rick Martin, JULIUS CAESAR, Great Lakes Theater
           Honorable Mention
Michael Boll, NATIVE GARDENS, Cleveland Play House
Cynthia Stillings, MAN OF LA MANCHA, Porthouse
Ian Hinz THE PENELOPIAD, Ensemble

Best Projection Design
Katherine Freer, PIPELINE, Cleveland Play House
           Honorable Mention
Benjamin Gantose, RASTUS AND HATTIE, Cleveland Public Theatre
T. Paul Lowry, AIDA, Karamu
T. Paul Lowry, NETHER, Dobama
Trad Burns and Jason Taylor, MATILDA, Beck Center
            
Best Costume Design
Angela Calin, INTO THE BREECHES, Cleveland Play House
            Honorable Mention
            Leah Piehl, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, Great Lakes Theater
            Inda Blatch-Geib, AIDA, Karamu

Best Sound Design
Mathew Webb, JULIUS CAESER, Great Lakes Theater
           Honorable Mention
Patrick Ciamacco, LOBBY HERO, Blank Canvas
Richard Ingraham, STUPID FUCKING BIRD, Dobama

Best Touring Production  
THE BAND’S VISIT, Key Bank Broadway Series

Best New Play by a Local Playwright
Lisa Langford, RUSTUS AND HATTIE, Cleveland Public Theatre
            Honorable Mention
            THE HAT BOX, Eric Coble
            LIVE BODIES FOR SALE, Christopher Johnson

Best Ensemble in a Musical:  
ONCE, BW/Beck
           Honorable Mention
MAN OF LAMANCHA, Porthouse
AIDA, Karamu
THE MUSIC MAN, Great Lakes Theater

Best World Premiere in The Cleveland Area: 
RUSTUS AND HATTIE, Cleveland Public Theatre
            Honorable Mention
            LIVE BODIES FOR SALE, Playwrights Local
 MAID MARION: AN ADVENTURE WITH MUSIC, Ohio Shakespeare Festival
TINY HOUSES, Cleveland Play House

Special Mention
Co-production of THE IMPACT OF SHUFFLE ALONG by Karamu and The Musical Theater Project for placing a spotlight on the story of the first all African American written, produced and performed hit Broadway musical

None too fragile…for finding a permanent home

Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program for producing the national Collegiate Premiere of KINKY BOOTS

Cleveland Public Theatre’s Teatro Publico de Cleveland and Y-Haven Theater for giving a voice to minority performers and playwrights

Scott Campbell for his original music and lyrics in the world premiere of Sarah Coon's MAID MARION: AN ADVENTURE WITH MUSIC, Ohio Shakespeare Festival

Fight director Ryan Zarecki for the exceptional stage combat in HAMLET at Ohio Shakespeare Festival

Eva Rose Scholz-Carlson, for her original cello compositions and performance in AN ILLIAD, Cleveland Play House

Saturday, December 7, 2019

THE OLD MAN AND THE MOON @ DOBAMA THEATRE



Through January 5, 2019
(216) 932-3396

Roy Berko


Dobama’s “OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON” creates a world which will enchant many and confound others.  In order to truly participate in the experience, you must combine your inner curious child and let loose of your inhibitions and expectations of the format for traditional theater.  It’s worth seeing if just to immerse yourself in experiencing what “non-traditional” theatre can be, realizing that this is not theater for everyone, especially children.


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


Mark Horning


With a rambling story line and bit confusing conclusion this extended version of the original production could use a bit of red penciling to trim off some of the fat. An earlier start time would also draw in more parents with children.

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

Andrea Simakis


Dobama Theatre’s ‘The Old Man and the Old Moon’ takes aim at family-friendly magic, but misses the mark


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

Thursday, December 5, 2019

THE TOURING PRODUCTION OF MEAN GIRLS @ THE CONNOR PALACE THEATRE



Theough December 22, 2019
(216) 241-6000

Roy Berko

“MEAN GIRLS” is filled with music, characters and Tina Fey-satire that will appeal to audiences.”  Go, see, enjoy, but don’t expect “DEAR EVAN HANSEN” or “FAR FROM AWAY” greatness.

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

Kerry Clawson

“Mean Girls” is a humorous musical about teens behaving badly. But it’s not the comedic perfection that the 2004 teen film was.
The national tour of the musical, adapted from Tina Fey’s movie with a book by Fey, music by husband Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, has a lot of likable elements. They just don’t all come together on stage in as sharply satirical fashion as the subversive movie did.

To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review at  https://www.beaconjournal.com/topics/clawson.


Howard Gollop

Does the entertainment world really need another go-round of a teen outsider navigating the trials and tribulations of high-school life and its social-cliques hierarchy? Well, if that go-round has the wit and heart of "Saturday Night Live" legend Tina Fey, why not?

Mark Horning


If high school had been this much fun many of us would never have left. This high energy show dazzles with brilliant choreography, great singing numbers and superb acting. It is a moral tale of redemption and acceptance that should be required viewing by all high school age children and their parents. See if you can spot yourself among the cast.

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


Laura Kennelly

It’s not Carrie or Heathers (no one ends up dead, although someone does get hit by a bus), but it is definitely one of those “high school is hell for girls” musicals that teaches a lesson about how to treat others (which is, “as you would like to be treated,” of course).

On the good side, the large cast skillfully executes the dance routines.

One of the most striking elements in Mean Girls was not the music (routine pop, nothing special), but the video design by Finn Ross and Adam Young. Projections on the set behind the actors made the show fresh, reminding us where we were (Africa, the high school, their homes, and so on), and letting us “see” the cruel comments written over students’ pictures that cause big trouble.

Bottom Line: There are funny moments, the cast is good, but the story has, overall, been done over and over. Yes, we know growing up is hard, but get over it. (I feel like a mean girl now, but there’s something about this show that brings out the snark.)

See full review at artstillmatters.com
or read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ GREAT LAKES THEATER


Through December 22, 2019
(216) 241-6000



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


This long standing Cleveland Christmas tradition still sells out simply because it is so superbly done. It is the touchstone that a lot of families use to kick off the holiday celebrations. Come see it again and bring the entire family for a night of superb holiday theater.

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


Laura Kennelly
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

EVERY BRILLIANT THING @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



Until December 22, 2019
(216) 241-6000

Roy Berko

“EVERY BRILLIANT THING” is a brilliant and absolutely must-see production.  Mental illness and its impact on a family, mortality and existential despondency are central themes. These are heavy subjects but, ironically, the approach is almost frolicsome and totally mesmerizing.

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.

Mark Horning


Mental health issues seem to peak especially during the holiday season thus the timeliness of this show is apt as we are bombarded with holly jolly Christmas cheer whether we want it or not. It is a show of hope that gently reminds us of every brilliant thing that gives us reason to live.  

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


Laura Kennelly
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

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

TOURING PRODUCTION OF WHITE CHRISTMAS @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through December 1, 2019
(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

"White Christmas" is back with nonstop candy-colored backdrops befitting both a Cinemascope movie and a Currier and Ives Christmas card; decorated trees rolling in from the wings; tons of bubbly snow falling from the stage and auditorium; scene-stealing bits from Elyria's own Cliff Bemis; and abundant evergreen tunes by the great Irving Berlin.

Mark Horning


This show is a perfect early Christmas gift for the entire family as nothing has been spared in this lush production filled with nostalgia and great show tunes. With a short run of only four remaining performances you need to order tickers NOW! This is the ultimate feel good show of the season.

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


Laura Kennelly
No review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

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