Saturday, September 16, 2017

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKCOO's NEST @ BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS



Through October 8, 2017
(216) 521-2540


Bob Abelman

Dale Wasserman’s 1963 stage adaptation of Ken Kesey's 1962 novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a celebration of a counterculture anarchy and rebelliousness that no longer exists in this country. But under William Roudebush’s astute direction and with an ensemble of superb performers, the Beck Center for the Arts’ production has mined and delivers all the many human moments this play has to offer.

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

Using every inch of the large Mackey Theater stage, this larger than life drama is must see theater for all. No matter how many times you have seen the play or the movie you will witness with fresh eyes this unfolding drama of a battle of the wills.

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

Laura KennellyNo review yet.
To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

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.

Friday, September 15, 2017

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE @ CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE



Through October 1, 2017
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

CPH’s ‘Shakespeare in Love’ finds its muse, and then some.

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

Roy Berko


A combination of farce, comedy, drama, tragedy and historification, “Shakespeare in Love” delights.  It makes for a joyful start to CPH’s 2017-2018 season.  And, yes, there is a dog!

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


From the opening salvo of the gang of actors taking over the theatre to the heartfelt finish where Shakespeare delivers an ending soliloquy this show has it all. Much like well done live Shakespearean performances it is a lively mix of comedy, romance, tragedy, pathos and lighting quick insults. This is great viewing for the entire family whether a fan of the Bard or not. 

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

Christine Howey

The handsome set and costumes designed by Lex Liang, the seamless choreography by David Shimotakahara and the lush sound by designer and composer Jane Shaw serve to make the entire production feel far more substantive than the script allows it to be.

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

Laura Kennelly

Well! What a dazzling season opener for the Cleveland Play House’s 2017-2018 season! Director Laura Kepley’s Shakespeare in Love is a delicious messy mélange: part love story, part musical comedy, part wordplay (with a little sword play thrown in for good measure), part shaggy dog story (including the dog), and overall, ambitious fun.

To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland.

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

Andrea Simakis

In terms of my heart, I'm in deep like with this show, a feeling puncturated by flutters of lust.  But you know what they say--you never forget you first.
To see a full review of this show, read Andrea Simakis' blog or visit Cleveland.com here.

SIMPLY SIMONE @ KARAMU


   Through October 8, 2017
   216-795-7077 
Or karamuhouse.org

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

Roy Berko


If you like the sounds and music of Nina Simone, enjoy well played, sung and performed jazz, gospel, blues, folk, R&B, and pop music, and want to know more about the Diva of Jazz, Karamu’s “Simply Simone” should be your entertainment destination.

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
Most of what made Nina Simone so different and wonderful is simply missing from Simply Simone.
.
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

Laura KennellyNo 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, September 13, 2017

BOOK OF MORMON @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through September 17, 2017
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

Parker, Stone and Lopez are men on a mission but, unlike the characters in their play, it is clearly not a mission from God.  They are purposefully pushing the acceptable boundaries of musical theater and having a great time doing it. 

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

Roy Berko


If you haven’t seen “The Book of Mormon,” or need a new shot of irreverent satire which skewers anyone and everyone, this is an absolute go see production. If you are a language prude, religious fanatic, or aren’t in the mood for ridiculous delight, stay away.  It’s everything a modern musical that is meant for pure entertainment, with a sip of philosophy, should be!

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

Howard Gollop

"The Book of Mormon” may no longer be the “it” show, thanks to the hip-hop “Hamilton” now ruling Broadway and the national touring scene (coming to Playhouse Square next summer). But “Mormon” hasn’t lost its edge, thanks in part to a remarkable new tour that opened Tuesday at Playhouse Square’s KeyBank State Theatre. The energy is palpable on both sides of the stage.

Mark Horning
  
Even after six years of tours, Book of Mormon still has sold-out venues wherever it lands and once again is filling the State Theatre at Playhouse Square with some audience members who are viewing it for the third time. Whether you are a first timer or a seasoned viewer you are guaranteed an evening of absolute hilarity. The musical comedy offers a mixture of broad farce comedy with just enough facts to keep it glued together. Go to this show with an open mind and a penchant for comedy.

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

Christine Howey

In short, this show is a hoot and a half, and it is performed with superb professionalism by this touring company. Something that is not always true when a show visits for just a short time. So go, laugh, smile. You deserve it.

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



Saturday, September 2, 2017

LAST OF THE BOYS @ NONE TOO FRAGILE



Through September 30, 2017
(330) 671-4563

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

Roy Berko


War is hell and, as highlighted in “Last of the Boys,” its aftermath is often worse.  Kudos to Sean Derry and his cast for creating a compelling evening of theater.  This is must see theater for anyone interested in fine acting and a more real than life picture of the outcomes of combative and emotional wars on human beings.

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
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


The Viet Nam War shook this country, Viet Nam and most of the world.  Soldiers died and lives were destroyed.  The war didn’t end but goes on in memories.  Some of those memories are evoked by Steven Dietz (B. 1958) in his play “The Last of the Boys.”

To see a full review of this show, read David's posts at Westside Leader

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

BROWNSVILLE SONG @ DOBAMA THEATRE


Through September 24, 2017
(216) 932-3396

Bob Abelman

Despite a story that balances precariously on the tenterhook of tragic loss, director Jimmie Woody keeps his talented performers and their textured performances from sinking into and getting lost in that emotion. The heartbreak is obvious, omnipresent and all-encompassing, but by bearing the pain and moving forward, the survivors’ resilience and the harsh reality of the street are made even more poignant in this powerful play.

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

Roy Berko


Dobama, Cleveland’s fine off-Broadway professional theatre, opens its 2017-2018 season with a mesmerizing production of Kimber Lee’s “must see” script.  Generally well-directed, often superlatively acted, this is drama at its finest!  The opening night standing ovation was well-deserved.

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


Christine Howey

Director Jimmie Woody clearly has a deep affection for this material, and he has done the play proud by casting Jabri Little as Tray and Logan Dior Williams as Devine. 

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


Andrea Simakis

Though "Brownsville Song" is tinged with sorrow, it does not wallow.  Instead, everything about it, from its animated backdrop to its propulsive sound desigg, is aimed at celebrating the life of the boy who was.  

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

RHINOCEROS @ CONVERGENCE-CONTIUUM



Through September 16, 2017
(216) 687-0074

Bob Abelman


“Dying is easy,” said famed 1940s performer Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed.  Comedy is hard.”   Tragifarcical absurdism may be even harder judging from convergence-continuum’s well-intended by ultimately ungainly production of Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros.”

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

Roy Berko


The con-con production, under adept directing by Jonathan Wilhelm, is a very long sit, but can be worth the effort.  Don’t go expecting a clear plot with a nicely wrapped-up solution.  This is an absurd play which is intended to make you uncomfortable and forces you to be introspective and examine the world around you as you ask, “Why do we exist?”

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

Mark Horning

If you think that “fake news” alt right and mass hysteria are new ideas…think again. Eugene Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros still strikes a chord 58 years later. Before seeing this work, make an effort to read some online synopses of the play in order to better understand its relativity to today’s headlines. 

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

Christine Howey

The subversive power of theater is that it can make us laugh in the face of real existential threats. And that laughter, with any luck, can turn into change. So it is worth paying attention to this convergence-continuum production of the often wordy Rhinoceros.

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


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MOTOWN @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through August 20, 2017
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

For those seeking a reprieve from days like these, “Motown: The Musical” is the entertainment for you.  It will take you back to the 1960s as they should have been – when singing was as easy as breathing, dance was the preferred method of locomotion, and the 12th Street riot didn’t exist.   

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

Mark Horning


As the summer travels along, what better way to spend an August evening than listing to an entire collection of classic hits known by all. The costuming and sets will dazzle you and the feel good music will lift your spirits. This is one rockin’ show!

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



Saturday, August 12, 2017

EQUUS @ BLANK CANVAS THEATRE



Through August 26, 2017
(440) 941-0458

Bob Abelman

Blank Canvas’ production of “Equus” is a good one and when everyone learns their lines it will be a great one.

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

Roy Berko

“Equus” is not only one of Blank Canvas’s finest productions, but one of the best stagings of the script I’ve seen.  This is required attendance for anyone interested in experiences of marrying a well-written script with a superb staging.  If for no other reason, go to the theatre to experience the marvel of Antonio DeJesus.
 
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Christine Howey
There are moments in this production, when the horses are gathered together and moving in unison, that one gets the feeling of lift-off that Shaffer’s complex script can inspire. But too often, this version is a rather casual trot around a compelling theme.

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




Friday, August 11, 2017

A DOLL'S HOUSE @ MAMAI THEATRE



Through August 27, 2017

(440) 394-6353

Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

Currently playing on Broadway is Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” an imagined sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s landmark 1879 melodrama. Mamai Theatre’s revisiting of the original work – a smart and stirring turn under Christine McBurney’s fast-paced and quietly gripping direction – serves to remind us what all the fuss was about in the first place.

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

Christine Howey


Great theater often comes alive in the details, and there are gorgeous details aplenty in the outstanding production of A Doll’s House now at Mamai Theatre Company. This talented troupe has taken an adaptation by Thornton Wilder of the Henrik Ibsen script and turned that old Norwegian play into a fresh and compelling look at a restless and unfulfilled woman in a confining marriage.

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

Laura Kennelly

An excellent production in a perfect venue that should delight just about anyone — even those who are afraid of classic Norwegian drama or establishment feminism. This is neither — it’s just great theater.

To see a full review of this show, read Laura's posts at Cool Cleveland or on her blog at artstillmatters.comArtStillMatters.com


Andrea Simakis

It was as though I'd never seen the play before--the highest praise I can give to the revival of a towering classic.

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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

HAIRSPRAY @ MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY



Through August 19, 2017
(216) 771-5862

Bob Abelman

Last year's live TV broadcast of the musical “Hairspray” was a heavily promoted, overproduced and underperforming $10 million affair.  It was, in short, the artistic antithesis of the under-produced yet absolutely delightful Mercury Theatre Company rendition . 

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


Christine Howey
This is the final show of the Mercury summer season, with next season being their 20th anniversary. It will be hard to top this season, which has included fine productions of Carousel and La Cage Aux Folles. But I wouldn’t bet against them.

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





Saturday, July 29, 2017

DISNEY'S NEWSIES @ PORTHOUSE THEATRE



Through August 13, 2017
(330) 929-4416 or (330) 672-3884


Bob Abelman

Porthouse’s ‘Newsies’ performs above the fold.

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

Roy Berko


“Newsies,” which is based on a real tale of good versus evil, and a love connection of opposites attracting, has a multi-textured melodic score. The Porthouse production contains dynamic choreography and strong musical and vocal sounds, which adds up to a very pleasant evening of theater!

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

Mark Horning


A small army of professional caliber performers have been gathered to entertain who manage to take a formula musical and turn it into something very special. Bring the entire family together for a pre-show picnic and an outstanding evening of musical entertainment.

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

Christine Howey
It’s a stirring tale with several contemporary connections. And the large cast under the always-disciplined direction of Terri J. Kent handles it masterfully. 

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





Thursday, July 20, 2017

CARRIE @ NEAR WEST THEATRE


Through August 6, 2017
(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

If you are startled at things that go bump in the night then laugh this may be the perfect show for you. Elements of stagecraft, choreography, acting and song propel the story of a woeful waif trying to deal with two impossible situations in her life at home and school. This is scary drama at its best as only Near West Theatre can pull off.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE SOUND OF MUSIC @ PLAYHOUSE SQUARE



Through July 23, 2017
(216) 241-6000

Bob Abelman

Touring ‘Sound of Music’ bids a fond and fabulous so long, farewell at Playhouse Square.

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

Roy Berko


 The little girl sitting behind me was on the edge of her seat throughout the show and, at the end, sleepily said to her mother, “I loved it!”  Yes, the touring production of “The Sound of Music,” is a very pleasant experience. “So long, Farewell,” Oy, how long will it be before I have to “Climb Every Mountain” again?  Guess as long as I’m a reviewer, “There is No Way to Stop It.”

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

Mark Horning


There is something quite comforting about enjoying a delightful summertime performance of The Sound of Music in the beautiful and perfectly temperature controlled Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square. Bring the entire family for an evening of familiar music that if it is not already will soon become one “of your favorite things.” With this short run, you are advised to get your tickets quickly.

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


Saturday, July 15, 2017

NEIGHBORS @ CONVERGENCE-CONTINUUM



Through July 29, 2017
(216) 687-0074

Bob Abelman


Intentionally discomforting, con-con’s ‘Neighbors’ is also compelling.

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

Roy Berko


“Neighbors” is a disturbing play with a well-intentioned message, but, as is often the case with first plays by an author, it lacks a strong center, is too long, and often shocks more than presents awareness reactions.  It is definitely not a play to be seen by everyone.

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

Mark Horning

Raw, visual, over-bearing and shocking but at the same time thought provoking are words that best describes this over blown sex act of a play that relies on shock rather than finesse to make its point. It is at heart a good story upon which too much extraneous baggage has been heaped. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. It is up for you to decide.

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


Christine Howey
The riveting con-con performances keep it all remarkably engrossing, and that’s quite an achievement in itself.

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





LA CAGE AUX FOLLIES @ MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY



Through July 22, 2017
(440) 394-6353
Or https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=mtco

Bob Abelman

What defines the Mercury production is that it is an unfortunate amalgam of other productions of this show -- farcical, campy, comedic and charming in spurts, and rarely finding the right balance or holding it for long.  This production works best – works brilliantly, in fact – when it addresses the dignity and resilience of its hero Albin, played by Brian Marshall, and when it does so in song. 

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

Christine Howey

The entire enterprise is saved and even elevated by a genuine fondness for the characters and indomitable energy for which MTC has become famous.

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



Thursday, July 6, 2017

AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' @ PORTHOUSE THEATRE


July 6 through 22, 2017
(330) 929-4416 or (330) 672-3884


Bob Abelman

Porthouse Theatre has found the perfect formula for a delightful evening’s escapism:  Take 30 of the best 1920’s and 1930’s jazz and swing compositions by Harlem nightclub legend “Fats” Waller, divide them among five extraordinarily entertaining performers, add a tight three-piece band, and subtract any semblance of a storyline. 

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

Roy Berko


“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is a musical-review which will be of interest to those who like 1920 and 30’s Harlem Renaissance swing music.  Be aware that the show, though nicely performed, has over 30 songs and no story line. 

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

Kerry Clawson

The musical revue "Ain’t Misbehavin’" is performed with style, humor, panache and great skill at Porthouse Theatre.  It’s a two-hour party where the joint really is jumpin’ as an excellent cast of five brings to life the spirit of jazz innovator Thomas “Fats” Waller.

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

Mark Horning


Bring along a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and whatever other picnic delights you wish for some open air theater that is the Porthouse tradition. This show will have you jumpin’ and jivin’ in your seat. It is the musical revue at its best.

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

Christine Howey


The Porthouse production sparks to life at times, particularly in the wonderful “Black and Blue” number that reveals the hurt behind the jazz and jive. But in general, Ain’t Misbehavin’ ain’t misbehavin’ enough.

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