Saturday, April 30, 2016

JERUSALEM @ ENSEMBLE THEATRE



Through May 21, 2016
216-321-2930

Bob Abelman

Ensemble Theatre’s dark comedy strikes the perfect balance.

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

Roy Berko


JERUSALEM is an award winning play that gets an Ensemble production which tries hard but simply doesn’t reach the performance level the script deserves. Unfortunately, the feeling of “who cares about these people and what happens to them,” permeates.  That’s not what the author intended.

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

Mark Horning

“Jerusalem” is another in a line of socially reflective productions highlighting the downfall of civilization through an overwhelming hedonistic society that is standing toe to toe with the old guard who is there to resist the downward spiral of decadent change.  Depending on your point of view you will either love it or hate it.  No matter what, see it for the excellent performances and fascinating patter and word play. 

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

Christine Howey


While it doesn’t entirely succeed, due to a multiplicity of factors, there are some sparkling moments that are swept along on the sheer bravado of attempting the piece in the first place.

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

Andrea Simakis


With 14 characters (plus a fish and a turtle) and running almost three hours, "Jerusalem" delights in its heft and size.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE@NONE TOO FRAGILE



April 22 through May 7, 2016
330-671-4563

Roy Berko


THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE is a first-class Irish play, by a very talented modern “Mick” writer.  The none too fragile production is finely-directed and performed.  This is one of the top area productions of the season and is a definite must see!

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

Kerry Clawson

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh is a master at bringing to life petty power struggles between family members, often over the most mundane issues.  None Too Fragile has embraced his extreme black humor repeatedly in the last several years, currently with the dark comedy THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE. The play features fiery Equity actress Derdriu Ring in her None Too Fragile debut as the lonely, plain Maureen Folan, who is in her 40s.

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

Christine Howey

It’s a nearly perfect little, bruised world these four talented actors create, brimming with disappointment, small-minded carping, startling cruelty and shattered dreams. And it’s staged in None Too Fragile’s intimate space, where you can feel every jab and jolt. 

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


Friday, April 22, 2016

MARIE ANTOINETTE @ DOBAMA THEATER



April 22 through May 22, 2016
216-932-3396

Bob Abelman

Dobama’s ‘Marie Antoinette’ promises cake, provides breadcrumbs.

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

Roy Berko


MARIE ANTOINETTE tells the tale of a king and queen who are totally unsuited for their roles and the part they seemingly played in inciting the French Revolution.  The author’s adaptation of the dialogue to include modern language and idioms opens the door to drawing a parallel between that period and today, for those interested in probing beyond the historical story.  The production is well done and makes for good theater.

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

Mark Horning


At the beginning of the show everything is light, funny and rock and roll.  As the play goes on it turns very dark very fast.  While well acted and truthfully reflecting the life and times of two historical figures from an unfortunate time in human history this would not be a show for the delicately minded and especially not for children.  

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

Christine Howey


From the staging angle alone, Dobama’s Marie Antoinette is a blockbuster. But the playwright’s pro forma discussion of weighty issues at the end feels a little too pat and entirely out-of-synch with the rest of the script. 

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

Andrea Simakis


Dobama Theatre's vapid 'Marie Antoinette' is missing style, substance, along with those royal heads.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

TALLEY'S FOLLY @ ACTORS' SUMMIT



Through May 1, 2016
330-374-7568

Bob Abelman

Olmsted Falls-born, Catholic-raised, Actors’ Summit-based Keith Stevens sure makes a convincing Latvian Jew.

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

Roy Berko

TALLEY’S FOLLY is a fine play that gets an excellent production.  The cast (Keith Stevens and Shani Ferry) create real, accessible characters.  The story showcases the kinds of prejudices that often cause problems in people’s lives and gives a hopeful glow that there is hope, even in light of hate and gossip mongering.  This is a go-see evening of theater!
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

David Ritchey

A good, old-fashioned love story provides an interesting night in the theater and something to talk about on the way home. “Talley’s Folly” is such a story and, now, it’s lighting up Actors’ Summit Theater.  Lanford Wilson (1947-2011) (playwright) provides the audience with a brief look into life in Lebanon, Missouri, where he lived as a child.  Set in 1944, at the peak of World War II, “Talley’s Folly” reflects the fears and hopes of mid-westerners as they prepare for the end of the war.  Will the country fall into an economic recession when the soldiers return home from the war?  Will people become more accepting of others, who might not be like themselves?

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST @ GREAT LAKES THEATER



Through April 24, 2016
216-664-6064

Bob Abelman

In her program notes for Great Lakes Theater’s current production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” director Tyne Rafaeli calls the play “a polyphonic explosion – a feast of style and language.”  An explosion it is, but the writing is more smorgasbord than feast.  

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

Roy Berko

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST is a lesser Shakespearian comedy.  It gets an over-the-top farcical production under the direction of Tyne Rafaeli.  The liking or disliking of the show is going to depend on your reaction to lots and lots of shticks and gimmicks replacing letting the script speak for itself.  The opening night audience seems to have been evenly split…many stood and cheered at the final blackout, others sat politely clapping or silently looking on. 
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Mark Horning


Forget the Shakespearian experience you had in High School.  An evening of the Bard as produced by Great Lakes Theatre is easily understood and appreciated.  In this production in particular you will find yourself caught up in the story as you try to predict the ending during the intermission. (Spoiler Alert: Don’t read the program notes.)

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

Christine Howey

In this Great Lakes Theater production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a play filled with heightened language and topical references, it’s pretty easy for many details of the story to get lost. To remedy that, director Tyne Rafaeli has turned the whole thing into a fairly non-stop game of Chutes and Ladders. And much of it is diverting while not exactly serving the play’s story and theme.

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

Andrea Simakis

Rafaeli [director Tyne Rafaeli] has delivered one of the smartest, freshest interpretations of Shakespeare at Great Lakes Theatre in years.

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


Monday, April 4, 2016

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



April 5 through 17, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

Touring jukebox musical ‘Beautiful’ is aptly named

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

Roy Berko

BEAUTIFUL THE CAROL KING MUSICAL is a solid script which gets a superior production that should delight local audiences.  Every element of the juke box show, the performances, the visual effects and the musical sounds are appropriately “beautiful!” 
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.


Kerry Clawson


 Music legend Carole King wrote scores of chart-toppers for other artists in the ’60s and produced more than 100 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout her career. But deep down, she was a normal, down-to-earth Brooklyn girl who was devoted to her family.

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

Howard Gollop

Vocally, everyone rises to the occasion, at least achieving the recognition level of a good cover band As the curtain falls, we really don’t learn much more about King than a casual fan might have already known or imagined ...   But sometimes, just spending a couple of hours with a nice Jewish girl and her and her exceptional music is more than enough for a fulfilling evening of theater.

Mark Horning

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” gives a truthful and unblinking look at the musical maturing of one of the greatest composers ever.  Fans of Carole King will love the show with new fans being made as well.  The show is Beautiful, indeed.    
  
To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's blog.

Christine Howey

The result is a bead-stringing process of covering a whole bunch of hits from the past while injecting some humanity into the proceedings. And even though you can see the show straining to touch all the bases, the music and some interesting performances win the day.


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

David Ritchey

 “I didn’t know she wrote THAT,” seemed to be the echo heard round the Connor Palace Theatre, in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.   “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” took the stage and filled the Connor Palace Theatre with 26 hit songs by Carole King.  The songs link the life story of Carole King from a 16-year-old girl,  in the mid-1950s, who takes her first songs to an agent and concludes with  her concert in Carnegie Hall after her award winning album, “Tapestry.”

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


Friday, April 1, 2016

MR. WOLF @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



April 2 through 24, 2016
216-241-6000

Bob Abelman

Surely you followed the real-life drama of Michelle Knight who, in 2002, was abducted by Ariel Castro and finally rescued from his Tremont home after spending 11 years in captivity.  Leave it to Cleveland-born playwright Rajiv Joseph to find poetry in such pathology.

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

Roy Berko

MR. WOLF is a study of a girl, a man and a family in turmoil.  The dark drama leaves many unanswered questions that should tweak after-production discussions.  It is a play which will confound some, and exhilarate others (including me).  It is the kind of script that CPH should do more of in order to stretch the audience to be exposed to a wide range of theater. 

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

Mark Horning


While abounding with a variety of unanswered questions, “Mr. Wolf” gives you just enough information to answer what in some cases may be rhetorical.  The amount of thinking effort post play is up to you but at the least it will make for a lively discussion on the way home.  Well done.

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

Christine Howey


After an opening scene that pulses with intrigue laced with heady discussions about infinity and the cosmos, the play slowly devolves into a domestic drama with snatches of a police investigation. It is indeed rare to see a play begins so promisingly and then meander away from glorious possibilities to settle for a handful of mundane clich├ęs.

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

David Ritchey


Playwright Rajiv Joseph tackled an almost impossible subject in “Mr. Wolf.” I went into the performance in Cleveland Play House’s Outcalt Theatre with no knowledge of the subject of this drama.  Now, I have nothing but admiration for Joseph and the cast for dealing so openly with this topic.

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

Andrea Simakis

MR. WOLF, like Joseph's BENGAL TIGER, works on our hearts as its' messing with our heads.  If also refuses to offer pat answer or an ending tied up in a neat, bright bow, all reasons to celebrate this finely wrought production.

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


SHINING CITY @ BECK CENTER


April 1 through May 1, 2016
216-521-2540

Bob Abelman

Beck Center’s yarn inspires a yawn.

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

Roy Berko


SHINING CITY is a well-written script which tells a compelling set of stories.  Past productions of the play were praised for their emotional development and wit.  Though the Beck production had some excellent performances, the pace, staging and some shallow character connections, left some of the over-all effect missing.  Hopefully, as the show runs, the performers will add some of the missing or muted elements.

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

Mark Horning


Shining City is a show of subtle nuances where close attention to stance and inflection are needed to understand the purpose of the plot.  The opening night production was one of those rare instances when the show surpassed the reach of local theater and went into the realm of Broadway worthy.  The writing is smart and concise and the acting (under the direction of Bernadette Clemens) well balanced.  This is a great date night debate show to see.

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

Christine Howey


It’s a fascinating construct in theory, but at the opening Saturday performance the balance was ever so slightly off-kilter, turning McPherson’s naturalistic dialogue into a procession of truncated affectations and half-finished thoughts.

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