Sunday, July 27, 2014

OLIVER @ Porthouse

July24-August 10, 2014
or 330-929-4416 or 330-672-3884

Bob Abelman

Many stage productions of this beloved musical have dared to bring to the surface the depth, darkness and ethnic divide that Dickens intended.  The Porthouse Theatre production is not of that ilk.  It is, instead, a pleasant diversion meant to amuse rather than engage. 

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

Roy Berko



“Oliver!” is a wonderful musical theatre script which tells a well conceived tale, has marvelous music, and, in a good production, pleases an audience.  Unfortunately, Porthouse’s version left much to be desired.

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

Mark Horning

Summer is a time for lightness…clothes, music, temperatures, food and theater.  “Oliver!” is perfect entertainment for this time.  Take a drive out to Cuyahoga Falls for an enjoyable evening of musical theater. 

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

Christine Howey

This production goes even further in soft-pedaling the unpleasant parts of the original source material. As directed by Terri Kent, this Oliver! works hard to ear its exclamation point, even though there are a couple somewhat sour notes along the way.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST @ Blank Canvas Theatre

July 18-August 2, 2014
440-941-0458 or www.blankcanvastheatre.com
1305  West 78th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 

Bob Abelman

Blank Canvas Theatre – Cleveland’s primary provider of cultist comedies and wonderfully bizarre musicals – has also based its professional reputation on its productions of modern classics. Its current rendition of Dale Wasserman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” directed and designed by Patrick Ciamacco, does little to bolster that reputation. 

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

Roy Berko

“One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of America’s great plays.  The script gets an outstanding production at Blank Canvas. The cast is outstanding, the direction spot on, the pacing is excellent, the intimate venue lends itself to the audience being completely swept into the action.    It is a must see!

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

Mark Horning

“Cuckoo’s Nest” is what one might consider a “complete” play that touches on all of our emotions.  We experience laughter, sorrow, compassion, anger, fear and empathy as we see ourselves through the various portrayals of the characters.  While you may like or not like the ending, this is an intense night of theater that will leave you drained but in a good way.  Great cast with a great vehicle.    

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

Christine Howey

Things don’t start well in this production, as the first act is larded with so many long pauses, lingering beats and languorous low-volume line readings (other than McMurphy) that one begins to feel drugged. But the second act snaps into shape nicely under the direction of Patrick Ciamacco. 

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

Andrea Simakis

Unlike "Arcadia," Tom Stoppard's 1993 time-traveling masterpiece now playing in Tremont, Dale Wasserman's 50-year-old adaptation of the wildly popular novel by Ken Kesey feels slightly musty.

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

ARCADIA @ Mamai Theatre Company

 










July 13-August 3, 2014
Pilgrim Congregational Church
2592 West 14th Street, Cleveland
Information and tickets:  
http://www.mamaitheatreco.org

Bob Abelman


Extravagantly lengthy, opulently wordy and intellectually challenging, this play tests one’s endurance while this production of it – beautifully directed by Christine McBurney with particular attention given to the thread of frivolity that weaves its way through the script – makes the arduous journey well worth the while.  

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

Roy Berko

“Arcadia” is one of the English language’s great plays.  Tom Stoppard’s language is poetic and poignant.  His use of dichotomies is impressive. This is a play worth seeing and Mamai should be praised for selecting and staging the script.  That said, the almost three hour sit became frustrating as many lines could not be heard, echoes exceeded clarity, acting styles weren’t always consistent to their era. The theatre desperately needs to find another venue.  It’s a shame that their quality work and the efforts of the cast are spoiled by the blurring of the dialogue, which is the basis for understanding the playwright’s brilliant efforts.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning

With the new wall treatment lining the back wall, the effect of “Echo Theater” has been greatly reduced thus giving a very adequate cast the ability to project their lines without fear of reverberation.  In short it is a dramody that allows you to solve the mysteries by giving you enough clues to do so.  Good Theater and Good Fun.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

The talented Mamai cast delivers Stoppard’s brain-tickling words with musical rhythm and sly wit, under the direction of Christine McBurney. 

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


Saturday, July 12, 2014

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN @ Beck Center for the Arts

Mackey Main Stage
July 11-August 17, 2014
216-521-2540 or http://www.beckcenter.org

Bob Abelman

It’s alive, alright!

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's CJN review here or go to: http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local/article_6be3f0f0-0958-11e4-9a1f-001a4bcf887a.html

Roy Berko


“Young Frankenstein” isn’t a well-written script and it has a weak musical score.  Is the production bad?  Not really. Martin C├ęspedes’s choreography added a creativity factor, and the second act on opening night was funnier than the first, hopefully indicating an increased comfort level of the cast with the material and the ability to have more abandonment.   In spite of the negatives, audiences should have a fun time at Beck.

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

Mark Horning

“The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” now playing at the Beck Center for the Arts is a wonderful surprise.  It is a highly ambitious project that squeezes out every inch of stage area as well as every ounce of craft from a very talented cast.  This looks to be a monster hit for the Beck.

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

Christine Howey

There are plenty of entertaining riffs provided by the leads, even though one can see ways they could have gone farther with their characterizations. But the material is weak and wan (ie. "The Producers" it ain’t). 

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

Andrea Simakis

On opening night those little nitrous busts of cleverness were too few and far between to deliver a sustained buzz. 

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


Art Thomas

"Young Frankenstein" does not represent the best work of director Spence, choreographer Cespedes, or The Beck Center. There's some bouncy act I tunes, but the indomitable "Putting on the Ritz" is the show's bright spot. It takes a long time to get there, however. 

Click here to read the complete review at WestLife

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET @ Ohio/PlayhouseSquare

July 8-27, 2014
216-241-6000 or www.playhousesquare.org

Bob Abelman

In museums across the country there are security strips on the floor that trigger an alarm when patrons get too close to famous paintings.  In the presence of great art, human nature dictates that we get as close as possible – to see what genius saw at the time of its creation, to be in that same small space that genius occupied, to share the rarified air that genius breathed.


There are no security strips on the edge of the Ohio Theatre stage in PlayhouseSquare but, for this production of "Million Dollar Quartet," there should be.

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

Roy Berko

Though it doesn’t have the fidelity of the original staging of “Million Dollar Quartet”, if you are a rock and roll fan, you will enjoy the production now at the Ohio.  It is a  fun and enlightening evening of theatre filled with great music and some excellent performances.  Yes, “Memories Are Made of This!”
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Howard Gollop

"Playhouse Square's Ohio Theater, which is the size of a typical, smaller Broadway house, allows the "Million Dollar Quartet" to resonate as it never has before. The magnified impact of the recreated iconic hits  and up-close personal connection between the audience and living legends elevate "Million Dollar Quartet" into a whole new pay scale.

Mark Horning

Of all the musical reviews that I have seen this is absolutely the best one ever.  The cast hits the ground running and does not look back.  It is high energy rock and roll with healthy portions of pure heart.  I would pay to see this again.

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

Christine Howey

Directed by Eric Schaeffer, the production actually has plenty of energy, more even than the recent less-than-stirring visit of Jersey Boys. And they’ll get you to your feet at the end, with a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.

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

Andrea Simakis

It's hard to beat the irresistible idea for the show itself. On Dec. 4, 1956, Samuel Cornelius Phillips, a scrappy, upstart producer from nowhere Alabama (played with crackling energy and down home, Pied Piper charm by Vince Nappo) recorded four of his greatest discoveries in his cramped studio in Memphis.

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

STARMITES @ Porthouse/Kent State


July 3-19, 2014
 or 330-929-4416 or 330-672-3884

Bob Abelman

A very two-dimensional ‘Starmites’ gets a five-star treatment at Porthouse Theatre

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

Roy Berko


Artistic Director Terri Kent and the Porthouse staff, knowing their audiences, usually play it safe, producing the tried and true musicals (e.g., “My Fair Lady,” “Sound of Music.”)  Doing “Starmites” was a stretch.  It will be interesting to evaluate how the audiences respond and whether that encourages future stretching of the boundaries.  (I’d love to see them do “First Date” or “Bridges of Madison County,” recent Broadway shows.)  As for the production, I would have preferred that, as the powers that be had picked a ridiculous farce, that director Michael Mcintosh, had pulled out all the stops and created a staging that was parallel to the bizarre sci-fi plot.


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

Kerry Clawson

'Starmites' is an ultra-bright, fantastical, over-the-top musical comedy that’s fun for all ages at Porthouse Theatre.
This comic book story-come-to-life, nominated for six Tony Awards in 1989, is dominated by tongue-in-cheek humor and tuneful melodies. It’s a ridiculously fun Innerspace fantasy adventure that’s markedly different fare from Porthouse’s usual musical classics.

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

Mark Horning

If you're looking for a nice frothy summer time treat with a decent moral back story, this is a good show to share with the family.  It’s not Hamlet, but it doesn't try to be.  Enjoy the show for what it is…nice easy to listen to music, an easy to follow story and a fun campy cast.
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

You'd think that a Broadway musical that was nominated for six Tony Awards would have a lot going for it. But in the case of the regrettably titled Starmites, now at Porthouse Theatre, there's less to this show than meets the eye.

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