Friday, September 23, 2016

ALL THE WAY @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



September 17 through October 9, 2016
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

Richard II.  Edward III.  Henry VIII.  LBJ.  These famous  figures – with their larger-than-life personalities, excessive appetites, unfillable holes in their egos, and Rabelaisian crudity – are the focus of historical dramas.  And Robert Schenkkan's Tony Award-winning “All the Way” is no less Elizabethan, no less epic and no less theatrical than those penned by William Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe.

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

Roy Berko

ALL THE WAY is a well-written script that gets a strong production at Cleveland Play House.  In spite of some sound projection problems, the cast develops their characters and the themes of the play so well that anyone interested in good theatre and political history should be captivated.
 
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
Reading more like a Shakespearean tragedy than a political historical drama we gain insight into President Johnson and the conflicts that made him what he was.  Deeply flawed and ultimately challenged with making lasting changes to better his country he was a man driven to set things right.  This show is as close a representation as you will ever find of the author of “The Great Society.”  It is a fast moving and gripping drama well worth seeing.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

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

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

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

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

THE WHIPPING MAN @ NONE TOO FRAGILE



September 23 through October 8, 2016
(330) 671-4563

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

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

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

Howard Gollop
No review yet.

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

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

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

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

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

MY FAIR LADY @ GREAT LAKES THEATER



September 23 trhough October 29, 2016
(216) 664-6064

Bob Abelman

Shortly after the record-breaking, award-winning production of “My Fair Lady” opened on Broadway in 1956, playwright and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner remarked that “the right people at the right moment in their lives embarked on the right venture.”   The same can be said for Great Lakes Theater’s most remarkable rendition of “My Fair Lady.” 

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

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

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

Howard Gollop
No review yet.

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE 5 @ CESEAR'S FORUM



September 23 through October 29, 2016
(216) 241-6000

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

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

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

Howard Gollop
No review yet.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

URINETOWN @ NEAR WEST THEATRE


Through September 25, 2016
(216) 961-6391
Or http://www.nearwesttheatre.org/pages/tickets


WORTH NOTING: 
In order to bring attention to local productions of merit at theaters that are not on the Cleveland Critics Circle’s approved list, members of the Circle who attend a community or educational theater production that is perceived as of high quality will have the option of listing that production on the CCC blogsite.  This review falls into that category.

Mark Horning


Near West Theatre has taken a show that while wildly popular is still written in what some would consider rather bad taste.  None the less it is performed with a high degree of professionalism in spite of the young age of the cast.  Think of this as a school musical done as good as it can be done.  The amazing set, costumes, ensemble work, lighting and orchestra make for an evening of good entertainment.     

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

JERSEY BOYS @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



September 20 through 25, 2016
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

Jersey Boys’ returns, again, without missing a downbeat.

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

Roy Berko

JERSEY BOYS retreads and newbies will all have a wonderful time.  Oh, yes, “Oh, What a Night.”  You’ll be “Beggin’” to “Stay” for another curtain call!  You’ll leave the State singing and dancing down the aisle.
 
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

But the joy of “Jersey Boys” is how the cast captures the essence of The Four Seasons while creating real-life characters when not nailing a jukebox full of standards such as “You’re Just Too Good to be True,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll” and “Walk Like a Man.”  In that department, this latest tour is a solid-gold No. 1 hit.

Mark Horning

“Jersey Boys” is that kind of Juke Box Musical that you could easily see over and over again.  The current tour that has landed at Playhouse Square is exceptional.  You will find yourself tapping your feet, singing along and holding hands with your significant other.  It is two-and-a-half hours of great music that flies by in a hurry.

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

David Ritchey

Oh, what a night.  Wow!  Cleveland’s State Theatre was filled (few seats were vacant).  That means almost 2,500 people sat in sweet anticipation for “Jersey Boys.” Many had seen the show on other tours.  One friend was back for her fifth time to see the show.  I saw it for the fourth time.  Oh, what a night.

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


Thursday, September 15, 2016

THE LAST FIVE YEARS @ LAKELAND CIVIC THEATRE



September 16 through October 2, 2016
(440) 525-7134

Bob Abelman

In this remarkable piece of slice-of-life storytelling, nearly every song is an intricate and strenuous vocal callisthenic that tests the metal of the performers.  Neely Gevaart and Jason Leupold have what it takes.

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

Roy Berko

The Last Five Years is a musical which many audience members, including myself, will like due to its structure, exquisite music, and the talent of the cast.   Don’t’ go expecting large production show stoppers and dance numbers as they are not part of this script or concept. 
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.


Christine Howey


It’s pretty hard to connect with a love story, or a break-up story, when the two principals never engage in intercourse (I mean the talking kind). But that’s exactly what happens in The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown.

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


RUTHLESS @ THE BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS

September 16 through October 126, 2016
(216) 521-2540

Bob Abelman

Beck Center’s ‘Ruthless!’ goes for broke, which pays dividends.

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

Roy Berko


Ruthless! will delight many. It is a fun farce.  This production gets it almost right.  With a little more letting loose and playing for laughs, it could have been great.

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


Howard Gollop

(The cast is) uniformly spectacular. ... As for the Beck production itself, the direction and stage design could be a bit more strident, arch and over-the-top to match the material. But it’s still a thrill to see this rarely done 24-year-old intimate show (with lots of new witty topical references) in near-perfect condition.


Mark Horning

If your brand of entertainment runs to outrageous musical spoofs then this is a must see show for you.  The dialog is rapid fire, the jokes broad and frequent and enough surprises to keep you guessing.  This would be a great guy or gal’s night out.  Come fill the seats.
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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

THE BLOODLESS JUNGLE @ ENSEMBLE THEATRE



September 15 through October 2, 2016
(216) 321-2930

Roy Berko


The Bloodless Jungle presents an interesting political concept.  The surprise ending adds a nice touch of realism, saving the show from being a television soap opera.  This is a script in process which needs shortening and the addition of more humor and drama.  Interested in the political process and the behind the scenes machinations?  If so, you might enjoy this production.

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

Mark Horning
 With the fertilizer factories in full swing this election year, The Bloodless Jungle brings a refreshing behind the scenes look at the political process.  It is a story of true friendship, good moral values and dedication to make the world a better place…in other words a work of fiction.  Well worth the effort to see this one. 
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

Sometimes, the title of a play inadvertently captures its essence. And that is the case here, in a play that seems drained of its blood, and guts, in exchange for soft soap and pablum.

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.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE AND SEX @ DOBAMA THEATRE



September 2 through October 2, 2016
(216) 932-3396

Bob Abelman

This play is familiar familial territory for the playwright, whose modern-day dramedy “Kin” – which played at Dobama in 2014 – similarly explored the intimate relationships of its characters in order to unlock the mystery of who they really are.  But this production of “Mystery of Love & Sex” is less successful.  The reason is that each actor seems to be performing in a fundamentally different play rather than finding what it takes to blend into this one.

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

Roy Berko


The Mystery of Love and Sex is one of those special scripts that will appeal to the Dobama audience who come to see contemporary professional scripts which look at society and its strengths and foibles.  Bathsheba Doran’s play gets a strong production that should delight and enlighten and deserves strong support.  It’s a “go see!”

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

Mark Horning


“The Mystery of Love and Sex” pushes the envelope of Cleveland Theater with its portrayal of strong social themes that include inter-racial relationships, inter-religious relationships, sex, gay lifestyles and gay marriage.  Those with a liberal bent will enjoy it while others may find it less fulfilling due to its mature nature.  As Lucinda would put it, “It’s so bohemian.”

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

Christine Howey


Where’s Bill Nye the Science Guy when you need him? Maybe he could explain how you get four actors on stage talking about sex, with some full frontal nudity, and have absolutely no chemical reaction among any of them.

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

Andrea Simakis

Characters talk about truth throughout the play – "You wanna know the truth, you have to ask the right questions," Howard, a writer of detective fiction, proclaims – but rarely convince us they are living it.

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

SELFIES AT THE CLOWN MOTEL @ CONVERGENCE CONTINUUM



August 26 through September 17, 2016
(216) 687-0074

Bob Abelman

Evocative but empty.  This describes the abandoned pair of over-sized, fire engine red clown shoes laying in the middle of the convergence-continuum performance space, as well as the world premiere production of local playwright Christopher Johnston's “Selfies at the Clown Motel” taking place around them.   

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

Roy Berko


Selfies at the Clown Motel is a difficult play to sit through.  It’s lack of focus, purpose, even with several outstanding performances, leaves little to recommend it.

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

Mark Horning

Convergence-Continuum bills itself as theater that opens into unknown territory by breaking down the fourth wall.  With its intimate seating (set in some cases inches from the action) you feel more a part of the play than a bystander.  At the end of this work you may come to realize that we are all Bozos on this bus.

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

Andrea Simakis


What we are left with is a middle-aged male fantasy of the hetero variety (holed up in a motel in the middle of nowhere with a girl who can put her foot behind her ear – right on, brother!), uncomfortably stretched over two acts like skin in a face lift.


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


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

KINKY BOOTS @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through August 28, 2016
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

The other shoe drops as touring ‘Kinky Boots’ triumphantly returns.

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

Roy Berko


KINKY BOOTS is the kind of musical that seeing it once is just not enough. (I’ve seen it three times and look forward to more!)  The music, the story line, the humor, the stage excitement makes this a very, very special theatrical experience.  This touring production of the show is as good as the last one through town and rivals the Broadway show.  This is one staging that deserves a standing ovation, not just the automatic polite Cleveland one, but a real, well-earned one.  Go! 

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

Howard Gollop

In the dog days of summer, as the theater scene starts to make way for the fall, it’s hard to imagine Playhouse Square has any kick left.   But thanks to a great touring company of “Kinky Boots,” returning to the Connor Palace this week, that kick is high and mighty — and mighty sparkly and fabulous as well.
 


Mark Horning

At the end of this return touring production of Kinky Boots the audience leapt to its feet in appreciation.  You will do the same.  Tickets may be scarce for this show in its limited run.

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

David Ritchey


Kinky Boots has romped and stomped back on tour to Cleveland. Second time around may be best – or at least gives us a little time to think about this Tony-winning show.  A good script shows the audience a change in characters.

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

omplete review at WestLife

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

OBJECTIVELY/REASONABLE @ PLAYWRIGHTS LOCAL



August 18 through September 4, 2016
(216) 302-8850
Or http://playwrightslocal.org/

Bob Abelman

Playwright Local’s ‘Objectively/Reasonable’ hits home hard.

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

Roy Berko

It is the purpose of the Playwrights Local to produce works of North Eastern Ohio writers.  If their future efforts produce anything like this painful to watch but well conceived play, their purpose will be well confirmed.  This is a must see experience for anyone interested in the real world around them, especially if they are not part of the African American community.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.


Mark Horning


As in all things of our great and varied society it takes a senseless tragedy to bring attention to a much larger problem.  “Objectively/Reasonable” is the window that has opened for all to view the inequity of law enforcement activity in the less advantaged Cleveland neighborhoods.  It is a show that begs to be seen by police officers and citizens alike in order to break the silence and begin a dialog where community and safety officials unite in a common cause.  If not, we are doomed to repeat this tragedy over and over again.

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

Andrea Simakis

The play grapples with the notion of how such a thing could be, as a prosecution expert claimed, "reasonable."  And why Cleveland didn't burn. The sentiments of ordinary Clevelanders echo through the 90-minutes piece, mingling with the observations of figures with more intimate knowledge of the case.

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

THE WOMAN HATER @ MAMAI THEATRE COMPANY



August 18 through September 4, 2016
(440) 394-6353
Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

Mamaí reanimates the lost lampoon, ‘The Woman-Hater.’

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

Mark Horning

If your taste in theater leans toward more classical and traditional works, this is a play that will delight you to no end.  Although long in execution, the quality of acting nevertheless helps carry it through somewhat. 
    
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

SANS MERCI @ none too fragile



none too fragile
August 5-August 20, 2016
330-962-5547 or www.nonetoofragile.com

Bob Abelman

none too fragile’s ‘Sans Merci’ is a hard to watch, must-see drama. 

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

Roy Berko


none too fragile continues to astound with the high quality of their productions.  They tend to pick meaningful scripts and give them very proficient staging.  Sans Merci insures a roller coaster of emotion and is an absolutely must see!

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

Kerry Clawson

One of the main reasons why theater artists create is to connect with audiences emotionally. Sans Merci does so on such a visceral level, we come away from the show feeling emotionally wiped out.


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


Friday, August 5, 2016

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS @ BLANK CANVAS THEATRE


August 5 through 20, 2016
(440) 941-0458

Roy Berko

Glengarry Glen Ross was the first David Mamet play I ever saw.  Fortunately, it was on Broadway where each of the characters was so real that it was easy to react to each as a person, not a character in a play.  Unfortunately, this was not the case in the Blank Canvas production.  Too bad.  The script can be mesmerizing.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


Taking a break from the offbeat musical that is Blank Canvas’s bread and butter, this show is a dramatic summertime treat that shows what truly engaging theater can do for the imagination.  While the theater is still quite warm it is worth a light discomfort to see a truly exemplary performance.

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


Thursday, August 4, 2016

MACBETH @ OHIO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL



August 5 through 21, 2016
(330) 673-8761

Roy Berko


Macbeth gets an appealing, audience-friendly production by OSF on the magnificent grounds of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.  The evening was enhanced by a delightful Greenshow before the main production. 

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


Kerry Clawson

Bloodthirsty ambition, greed and treason propel Shakespeare’s murderous "Macbeth" in an eerily dramatic production at Ohio Shakespeare Festival.

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


THE LITTLE MERMAID @ MERCURY THEATER COMPANY



August 5 through 20, 2016
(216) 771-5862

Bob Abelman

While the Mercury production’s rented eye-candy costuming, imported set pieces, and purchased pre-recorded soundtrack are impressive, they amount to an unsatisfying, disingenuous and non-indigenous entertainment.  

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


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FOOTLOOSE @ PORTHOUSE THEATRE




July 28 through August 14, 2016
(330) 929-4416 or (330) 672-3884


Roy Berko


Artistic Director Terri Kent knows her Porthouse audience, and her show selection, casting, choice of support staff and directing all lead to a very happy full-house exiting the theatre on opening night of Footloose.   And, what delights will next season bring?


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

Kerry Clawson

Almost Paradise is a duet made in heaven between Lindsay Simon and Paul Schwensen. They not only sing this iconic number so beautifully they make you swoon, they also make a great-looking couple once Ariel finally lets her walls come down.

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

Mark Horning

This Porthouse Theatre production of “Footloose” is everything that outdoor summer theater is about.  A mixed aged cast putting together an exciting exhibition of song, dance and acting that makes for a delightful evening under the stars.

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


Monday, July 18, 2016

ASSASSINS @ NEAR WEST THEATRE



July 15 through 31, 2016
(216) 961-6391
http://www.nearwesttheatre.org/pages/tickets


WORTH NOTING: 

In order to bring attention to local productions of merit at theaters that are not on the Cleveland Critics Circle’s approved list, members of the Circle who attend a community or educational theater production that is perceived as of high quality will have the option of listing that production on the CCC blogsite.  This review falls into that category.


Roy Berko


Near West Theatre’s Assassins is an impressive production.  The cast shows maturity well beyond their years and well develops  the concept, “Everybody’s got the right to be happy,” even if the person is delusional.  Congrats to Bob Navis, Jr., the cast and crew for weaving a fine evening of theatre.  This is a production well worth seeing!

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN @ MAMAI THEATRE COMPANY



July 14 through 31, 2016
(440) 394-6353
Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

Mamaí’s delightful ‘Lady Windermere's Fan’ offers girls gone Wilde 

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


Saturday, July 9, 2016

FINIAN'S RAINBOW @ MERCURY THEATER COMPANY



July 8 through 23, 2016
(216) 771-5862

Bob Abelman

Mercury Theater finds gold at the end of ‘Finian’s Rainbow.’

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



Thursday, July 7, 2016

BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL @ THE BECK CENTER



July 8 through August 14, 2016
(216) 521-2540

Bob Abelman

Beck’s ‘Billy Elliot’ lands the grand jeté but falls short of expectations. 

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

Roy Berko

 As evidenced by the many bursts of applause following dance numbers and vocal solos, in spite of some questionable conceptual and execution aspects, audiences should appreciate the production.  Praise to Martin Céspedes for his choreographic concepts.

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

Howard Gollup

One, of course, is the young man in the title role — Seth Judice, a singing, dancing pre-teen powerhouse who grasps his character in dialogue, song and dance.
The other is Martin Cespedes, a frequent choreographer at Beck Center and other local professional stages. Known for his ability to squeeze every bit of Broadway pizzazz out of any show and its cast, he has ascended ably into the majestic realm of interpretive ballet.


Mark Horning

At times brilliant, at times not so, the show fortunately balances out slightly more on the plus than minus.  Some of the technical problems are solvable while those disconnects with the audience may take some additional work to overcome.

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

Art Thomas

The choreography and direction of this production have some intriguing departures from the touring production in Cleveland  a few years ago. The dynamic cast fill the Beck Center Stage with the emotional power of miners on strike and a child dancer who overcomes odds to feed his passion. The loud production also pulls off intimate moments thanks to the skilled leads.  

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife