Friday, October 24, 2014

THE NORWEGIANS @ Dobama

October 24-November 16, 2014@ Dobama
October 20-24, 2014@ MOCA Cleveland
216-932-3396 or dobama.org

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.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD @ Blank Canvas




October 17-November 1, 2014


Roy Berko

It’s the Halloween season, the traditional time of the year to pay homage to ghosts, goblins, and of course, zombies.  Pat Ciamacco and his merry band of performers give the audience a chance to wallow in stage blood, feign fear of the denizens of the dark, and enjoy themselves by watching the “Night of the Living Dead.”  Just remember, “Hamlet” this ain’t!

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

MAKING GOD LAUGH @ Actors Summit

October 9-November 2, 2014
330-374-7568 or go to www.actorssummit.org

Bob Abelman
No review yet.

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

Roy Berko
 

“Making God Laugh” is one of those nice escapist evenings of theater that will induce laughter, cause nostalgic trips to yesteryear for the more mature members of the audience, and incite awareness of the fears of some as they look forward to the “golden” years.   
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

The play has plenty of explosive family dynamics and a running gag about a special holiday “fantasia dip,” but it also has its share of serious moments. For all the zingers playwright Sean Grennan has created for this family to insult each other with, when the going actually really gets rough, they’re there for each other.

To see a full review of this show, read Kerry Clawson's review at http://www.ohio.com/entertainment/kerry-clawson.

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

SPIRITS TO ENFORCE @ Cleveland Public Theatre

October 9-October 25, 2014
216-631-2727 or go to www.cptonline.org




Bob Abelman

This play is the stuff as dreams are made of and should not be missed.

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

Mark Horning
While novel in its concept there is something lacking comically in the delivery.  Some of the jokes had the audience erupting in laughter while others fell flat.  In comedy, timing is everything but the show is worth seeing if you have a free evening.

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


Friday, October 10, 2014

[title of show] @ Beck Center for the Arts

October 10-November 16, 2014
216-521-2540 or http://www.beckcenter.org

Bob Abelman

Broadway is currently abuzz with the star-studded backstage comedy “It’s Only a Play,” by four-time Tony Award winner Terrence McNally.  Do you see what I did?  This is a review of Beck Center's“[title of show],” but I have yet to actually review “[title of show].”  Do you see what I am doing now?  I am writing about my writing of a review.  And now I am writing about my writing of my writing of a review.  So goes the wonderfully performed but very tiresome self-referential meta-musical “[title of show].”

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

Roy Berko

During the performance, when the cast of “[title of show]” are reading the show’s opening night reviews, it is revealed that Broadwayworld.com panned the show.  The Beck Center doesn’t have that problem.  This review (yes, it will appear on Broadwayworld.com, one of the sources that carries my show reactions) will be stating, ”[title of show],” now on stage at Beck Center for the Arts, in Lakewood, Ohio,  is a delightful theatrical experience, that audiences should enjoy!”).
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning
If you are really really into theater, you may get a mild kick out of [title of show] otherwise at the very least you will catch a few minutes of nap time to prepare for the after theater festivities. 
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
But you couldn’t revive this show with the world’s most powerful defibrillator. Though [title of show] won an Obie Award in 2006, it now needs to be taken behind the barn and shot—so Bowen, Bell and the rest of us can move on with our lives.

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

Art Thomas

This lightweight show has achieved a cult following. There are dozens of clever lines and very funny bits of business in the hands of Beck's talented cast and director. The audience for [title of show] are theater fans.
  
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

MOTOWN-THE MUSICAL @ STATE THEATER/PLAYHOUSE SQUARE

October 7-19, 2014
216-241-6000 or www.playhousesquare.org

Bob Abelman

“Ain't no mountain high enough; ain't no valley low enough” are more than just lyrics from a Diana Ross hit single for the once great Motown Records label.  They pretty much sum up “Motown: The Musical,” currently on tour and on stage at PlayhouseSquare.  The production's songs and showmanship soar, but the show's writing falls well below the low expectations set for jukebox musicals.

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

Roy Berko


If you like the Motown sound, dynamic singing, and a good history lesson, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL will be your “thing.”  It was definitely my thing!  As the silver-haired lady, standing several rows in front of me, jumping up and down and waving her hands from side-to-side, kept yelling during the curtain call, “That was cool!”

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

Kerry Clawson

I can honestly say I've never held hands with strangers at a musical performance. But I'm happy I did at MOTOWN THE MUSICAL.
It's a powerful moment that actress Allison Semmes creates as Diana Ross, striking out in her solo career with the seminal tune "Reach Out and Touch." Like Diana, she interacts with the audience, giving some a chance to sing at the microphone, and asks everyone to hold hands, sway and sing along.

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


Howard Gollop

Then again, this show never really makes a pretense of being anything other than a lavish jukebox musical — and that’s just fine for the audience savoring the electrifying talents bringing Motown’s halcyon days back to dazzling life.

Mark Horning

This show faithfully recreates the magic and energy of the MoTown live performances from long ago with all the costuming and special effects that made them “A Happening”.  Once the overly loud orchestra is toned down it will make for a great evening of entertainment.  Tickets will be scarce for this one so buy them now.     


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

Andrea Simakis

The orchestra, lead by conductor Darryl Archibald, sizzles all night long. The ridiculously good-looking cast is superb; ensemble members and headliners belt and hold notes longer than lungs should allow.

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



Art Thomas

This is an unrelenting assault on the eyes and ears. Close to sixty works tell the story of  Berry Gordy, his record label and the larger than life figures of Smoky Robinson Diana Ross and Marvin Gay. I enjoyed the ensemble pieces more, because of their joyous choreography. There'll be "Dancin' in the Streets" with this show. 
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, October 2, 2014

LES MISERABLES @ Great Lakes Theater

October 3-November 9, 2014
216-664-6064 or www.greatlakestheater.org

Bob Abelman


Is there a person left on earth who has not yet heard the people sing, singing the song of angry men?   “Les Misérables” has played over 48,000 professional performances and reached over 70 million people in over 40 countries, including two U.S. national tours that swept through Cleveland in 2011 and again in 2013. The question is not who has not yet heard the people sing; the question is whether it is worth hearing again in its current incarnation by Great Lakes Theater.  The answer is yes. Yes it is.

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

Roy Berko
 
Director Victoria Bussert and her production team fashioned  a marvelous and impressive “Les Misérables.” Besides the quality of staging, it’s worth seeing the show, to experience Stephen Mitchell Brown’s ownership of the difficult role of Jean Valjean. The GLT production is an absolutely must see!
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Kerry Clawson

Stephen Mitchell Brown is on fire as Jean Valjean in Great Lakes Theater’s production of 'Les Misérables', which captivatingly brings to life the epic sweep of Victor Hugo’s 1862 tale of the downtrodden and unjustly treated.


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

Howard Gollop


As recent productions of the 34-year-old-musical have proved, less is more — but not too much less.
... Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the huge cast (by regional-theater standards) is exceptionally good — rising to the occasion of star turns and ensemble synergy.

Mark Horning

This epic big stage production still packs a mighty punch even when done in a smaller venue.  Emotions run high as audience members realize that they are being witness to Cleveland Theater history.  Word of mouth will surely have this show become a sellout throughout its run.  It is great beyond description.  This is theater that will change you for the better.  See it!
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Art Thomas
 
The intimate setting of the Hanna Theatre puts the emotions of the passion driven characters right into the laps of the audience as they sing and talk to you. Combine that dynamic with a first rate cast and high production values. This is my favorite production of "Les Mis" and I've seen five.

 And GLT has finally solved the sound issues of past musicals in the space. 
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Sunday, September 28, 2014

ANNA CHRISTIE @ Ensemble Theatre

September 26-October 19
www.ensemble-theatre.com or 216-321-2930

Bob Abelman

To off-set all the melodramatic breast-beating and abundance of metaphors that fill this 1921 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, many modern stagings have accentuated all that is sexy and intense in it.  Ensemble Theatre has gone a different route, choosing instead to go for the heart.  And director Ian Wolfgang Hinz, his cast and crew hit it dead-on.

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

Roy Berko


Ensemble’s “Anna Christie” is one of those special theatrical events that is required seeing for anyone who not only wants to appreciate the wonders of Eugene O’Neill’s masterful use of words, but see a flawless production!  Go see a show that actually deserves a standing ovation!
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning
While Cleveland is well known for its delving into experimental and avant garde theater, it is refreshing to see a true Pulitzer Prize winning classic, especially when done as well as this one.  This is theater that you experience rather than view and the effect will stay with you for a long time following the performance.  Get your tickets now!
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

Sure, we might wish that director Hinz had tried to infuse a bit more nuance into the smiley-face ending. But this is a production that gleams brightly throughout, so we won’t sweat the ending that much.

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


Friday, September 26, 2014

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR @ Great Lake Theatre

September 26-November 2, 2014
216-664-6064 or www.greatlakestheater.org



Roy Berko
 

Opening night audience reactions to “The Merry Wives of Windsor” varied greatly.  Many of the spectators generally sat in stony silence, not even giving the show the traditional Cleveland standing ovation.  A group in the theatre’s rear section laughed constantly and stood at the curtain call.  A fellow reviewer left at intermission stating, “I’ve never walked out of a show before!” Me?  Though there were some very entertaining segments, this was not one of my favorite evenings of Shakespeare.

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

Howard Gollop

The correlations between this bizarrely updated milieu contrived by director Tracy Young and whatever it was that Shakespeare had in mind are thin at best. The audience is left bereft of any context, responding only to the most superficial of stage antics drummed up by the reasonably talented but desperate cast.

Mark Horning

If you have never seen a Shakespearean play (especially one done by Great Lakes Theater) you simply must see The Merry Wives of Windsor.  It is literally a laugh riot throughout with easy to understand dialog and situations.  Get your tickets early for this is sure to be a sellout.

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

Christine Howey 

For silly stuff to work on stage, it has to have sharp and genuine wit, which is on display in plays such as Spamalot, Urinetown, and Avenue Q. Otherwise, it’s just a collection of old jokes lashed together loosely with mugging and forced gaiety. It's the "try to do something funny here" school of acting.

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

Andrea Simakis
 
Whatever the conceit, Young delivers a Shakespeare that travels at whiz-bang speed powered by pop culture riffs, broad physical comedy and modern slang. Purists might cringe, but "The Merry Wives" is hardly a sacrosanct masterpiece – legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I loved the character of Falstaff so much that she ordered the playwright to whip up another play featuring the chubby charmer in a mere 14 days.

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


Art Thomas
It's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" but it's not Shakespeare. That's fine, but in such a reworking, one would expect half of the changes to make the play more accessible or funny. Here, gross accents obscure meaning, and there are few laughs in the show's first hour. Production concepts are clever but sadly are an experiment with "no reaction".  

 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife


THE PILLOWMAN @ convergence continuum theatre

September 26-October 18, 2014
convergence-continiuum.org or 216-687-0074

Bob Abelman

Once upon a time, fairytales were a great source of pleasure, poetry and principles for generations of young children.  In recent decades, the Disneyfication of children’s stories has raised concerns that children are getting no message at all or, worse, a blatantly commercial one.  Playwright Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman” offers a different take on the worse-case scenario – one that is grimmer than Grimm and, in the hands of convergence-continuum, thoroughly enthralling.

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

Roy Berko


“The Pillowman” is a disturbing script which gets a mainly effective production at con-con.  It is not a play for those who go to the theatre for escapism, but it will be of interest to the type of theatre-goer that likes to delve into the world of motivations, philosophical decisions, and the effects of the actions of others on the psyche. 

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

Mark Horning

This is one of those plays that you will either love or hate depending on your point of view.  It is the epitome of dark comedy where you will find yourself laughing at odd times then questioning yourself about your response.  I found the work intriguing and well worth the effort.


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

Christine Howey


So, does art owe a debt to society or should it just follow its own instincts, wherever they lead? Should art be a humanizing force? Good questions. One way to find answers is to see The Pillowman, throw up in your mouth a little, then start thinking.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2014

AIIN'T NOTHIN' BUT THE BLUES @Karamu

September 16-October 12, 2014
216-795-7077 or www.karamuhouse.org


Mark Horning

 This is a nearly perfect show to take the entire family to.  While you are actually learning some history and getting a feel for the various eras you will find yourself superbly entertained.  See this show for the energy and excitement that the Blues can bring to your life.  It is the best two hours you can spend.

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

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTRY @ Lakeland Civic Theatre (Lakeland Community College)

September 19-October 5, 2014


Roy Berko
 
The Lakeland production of AUGUST:  OSAGE COUNTY is a well-conceived staging of an award winning script, and though not for everyone, makes for a well worth drive to Lake County.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Christine Howey
 
The first act seems to build tension a bit too slowly, with the actors often tucked up stage in little corners of Keith Nagy’s necessarily complex set. But the second act is mostly a downhill rush to destruction, with the actors and the audience hanging on for dear life.

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


OCCUPANT @ Cesear's Forum in Kennedy's Down Under

September 19-October 25, 2014
216-241-6000 or go to http://www.playhousesquare.org


Roy Berko


“Occupant” is one of those special plays and theatrical presentations that will be greatly appreciated by the serious theater-goer who likes to be exposed to a well-written, thinking person’s play, which gets a fine staging and interpretation.
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Christine Howey

With apologies to Mr. Albee, the best thing about this production is the acting. Under the precise direction of Greg Cesear.

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

Andrea Simakis

In this engaging, ethereal Q & A, [Edward] Albee both eulogizes his friend [artist Louise Nevelson] and fans the flame of her legend.

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



Friday, September 19, 2014

THE LITTLE FOXES @ Cleveland Play House

September 12-October 5, 2014

Bob Abelman

It is near impossible not to like everything there is about Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes” and Cleveland Play House’s delectable production of it.  Southern-fried family dysfunction at its finest.

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

Roy Berko

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

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


Kerry Clawson
 
Lillian Hellman’s 1939 drama "The Little Foxes" presents an intriguing series of character studies in this tale of greed and betrayal among family members.

This chilling production at Cleveland Play House dives into the dark, ugly side of human beings as we watch the ruthless Hubbard siblings — Regina, Oscar and Ben — in their efforts to manipulate and even destroy one another. ... Cleveland native Maggie Lacey is fascinating as Regina Hubbard Giddens, who’s heartless at best as she uses both her invalid husband Horace and her daughter Alexandra (Megan King) for her own selfish plans.


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

Howard Gollop

Cleveland Play House artistic director Laura Kepley infuses a lot of energy and muscle into Lillian Hellman's wicked parlor drama "Little Foxes." Unlike traditional productions or the film version with the cooly demure Bette Davis, the Play House production seems like an altogether different show.

 As the play begins and the wicked Regina commences to battle her conniving brothers for a boost to the family fortune, this Regina (Maggie Lacey) comes across less like Miss Davis and more like Debbie Reynolds in  "Unsinkable Molly Brown." I half expected to see the company break out into a rousing rendition of "I Ain't Down Yet."


Mark Horning

“The Little Foxes” brings together the finest that Cleveland theater has to offer; an excellent work combined with superb acting by an exceptionally experienced and professional cast, a great set, elegant costuming, superb lighting and sound.  In short, it made the Allen Theatre seem bigger that it actually was.  This is great a theater as you will find anywhere in the world.     
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey
 
Sure, this particular nasty nest of vipers happens to be from the Deep South, and they’re pursuing their ambitions in the year 1900, but we see the same type of people every day in our world. That’s what makes this admittedly melodramatic and formulaic play so compelling.

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

Andrea Simakis
 

Bristling with sexy malice and life, Laura Kepley's production of "The Little Foxes" is fleet-footed, lean and mean, just like the Hubbards, a rapacious Southern family hell-bent on righting the wrongs of Reconstruction by getting rich. (They are the proverbial foxes of the title that "spoil" vines bearing tender grapes.)
 
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

Art Thomas 

Kepley's direction has a winning style that makes the period piece relevant to today's audiences. Greedy, feuding siblings in the faded elegance of the deep South are even more deplorable in the mansion that is their lair. 
 
Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE SUNSET LIMITED @ none too fragile theater

September 12-September 27, 2014


Bob Abelman

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

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

Roy Berko
 

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

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

Kerry Clawson

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


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


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