Friday, December 28, 2018

SPAMILTON: AN AMERICAN PARODY (National Tour) @ Hanna Theatre



December 24, 2018-January 6, 2019
216-241-6000 or www.playhousesquare.org

Roy Berko

Spamilton: An American Parody” can be a fun evening of theater if you don’t set the bar of pleasure at the “I have to understand everything that is sung.” Just grab what you can and enjoy the cleverness of the writer, the talent of the cast, and appreciate the homage being paid to Lynn-Manuel Miranda, who has created a musical masterpiece by the name of “Hamilton,” changing the American theater forever.      
     
To see a full review of this show, read Roy Berko's blog here.

Howard Gollop

Relax.  "Spamilton" is not some sophomoric cash-in on the unbridled "Hamilton" craze, trying to stretch a few middling jokes into a two-hour had one  This is the work of Gerrard Allessandrini, Broadway's foremost lampoonist who's best known for his constantly updated cabaret revue, "Forebidden Broadway."

Mark Horning


Will you be able to catch each and every small nuance of reference sprinkled throughout the show? Probably not and that is the fun of the show. It is like reading a book by fanning the pages. It will most probably be the fastest 63 minutes that you have ever experienced in the theater.

To see a full review of this show, read Mark Horning's Review here.
 
Laura Kennelly

Say what you will about Hamilton, Hamilton,/ but ya gotta see it before Spamilton, Spamilton,/ or you’ll be:/ lost. /So study what you can/ (YouTube is your best friend)/ then you can laugh a little/or a lot and say:/ “I gave it my best shot.”

As with Hamilton, the Broadway hit it’s based on, Spamilton ricochets an abundance of wit and words right at the audience. It seemed impossible to hear every nonstop word over the laughter from the previous riposte, especially (and paradoxically) since the sound was loud where I sat. But even though it was impossible to catch every allusion, the ones that were clear poked good-natured fun at musicals and the theater world in general. It helps to be a Broadway fan (hand raised here) and it helps (see above) to review Hamilton: The Musical.

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


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Cleveland Critics Circle 2018 Theater Awards



The Cleveland Critics Circle each year honors local theaters, performances, writers, performers and technicians of plays staged by Cleveland area professional theaters during the January 1-December 31 year.

Award Committee Voters: Bob Abelman, Roy Berko, Kerry Clawson, Howard Gollop, Mark Horning, Christine Howey, Laura Kennely and Andrea Simakis.  Participation in these awards does not preclude individual critics from preparing their own recognitions.

Those recognized for Superior Achievement are listed alphabetically, not by order of achievement.

Best Musical Production:  Passing Strange, Karamu
Superior Achievement:
            Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre
            Memphis, Cain Park
            Next to Normal, Porthouse

Best Non-Musical Production: The Royale, Cleveland Play House
Superior Achievement:
            Boogieban, None Too Fragile
            Freak Storm, None Too Fragile
            Grounded, Dobama
            Pride and Prejudice, Great Lakes Theater
            Sunset Baby, Dobama
            Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Beck Center
           
Best Actor Musical:  Douglas F. Bailey, Memphis, Cain Park
Superior Achievement:
            Eric Fancher, Merrily We Roll Along, Lakeland Civic Theatre
            Justin C. Woody, Passing Strange, Karamu
            Matt Bogart, Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre
            Thom Christopher Warren, Next to Normal, Porthouse
           
Best Actor Non-Musical: (tie) David Peacock and Travis Teffner, Boogieban, None Too Fragile   
Superior Achievement:
            Ananias J Dixon, Sunset Baby, Dobama
            Lynn Robert Berg, Macbeth, Great Lakes Theater
            Michel Mauldin, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Beck Center
            Prophet D. Seay, The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, Karamu
            Ryan Zarecki, Scapin, Ohio Shakespeare Festival       
           
Best Actress Musical:  Amy Fritsche, Next to Normal, Porthouse
Superior Achievement:
            Kelvete Beacham, Caroline or Change, Mercury Theatre Company
            Nicole Sumlin, Memphis, Cain Park
            Trinidad Snider, A Little Night Music, Lakeland Civic Theatre

Best Actress Non-Musical:  Anjanette Hall, Grounded, Dobama
            Superior Achievement:
            Catherine Albers, John, Dobama
            Derdriu Ring, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Beck Center
            Jeanine Gaskin, In The Blood, Convergence Continuum
            Mary Francis Miller, Sunset Baby, Dobama
            Tess Burgler, Shakespeare in Love, Ohio Shakespeare Festival
            Tracee Patterson, Appropriate, Dobama
                       
Rising Stars
            Male
            Justin C. Woody, Passing Strange, Karamu
            Warren Egypt Franklin, Mamma Mia, Great Lakes Theater

            Female
            Brooke Turner, Bloomsday, None Too Fragile
            Christina Perrault, Beehive, Great Lakes Theater
            Emma McLelland, Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre         
            Kailey Boyle, Mamma Mia!, Great Lakes Theater

Best Director Musical: Jim Weaver, Next to Normal, Porthouse
Superior Achievement:
            Miles Sternfeld, Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre
            Nathan A. Lilly, Passing Strange, Karamu
            Patrick Ciamacco, Avenue Q, Blank Canvas Theatre
            Patrick Ciamacco, We Will Rock You, Blank Canvas Theatre

Best Director Non-Musical: Robert Barry Fleming, The Royale, Cleveland Play           House
Superior Achievement:
            Alice Reagan, Grounded, Dobama
            Donald Carrier, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Beck Center
            Greg Cesear, Plath and Orion, Cesear’s Forum
            Sean Derry, Boogieban, None Too Fragile
            Terry Burgler, Scapin, Ohio Shakespeare Festival
           
Best Choreographer: Martin C├ęspedes, Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre
Superior Achievement:
            Mary Ann Black, Anything Goes, Porthouse
            Jaclyn Miller, Mamma Mia!, Great Lakes Theater
            John E. Crawford-Spinelli, Oklahoma!, Porthouse

Best Musical Direction:  Jennifer Korecki, Oklahoma!, Porthouse
Superior Achievement:
Jonathan Swoboda, Next to Normal, Porthouse
Jordan Cooper, Memphis, Cain Park
Matt Dolan, Avenue Q, Blank Canvas

Best Scenic Design:  Cameron Michalak, John, Dobama and The Effect, Dobama
Superior Achievement:
            Aaron Benson, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Beck Center
            Inda Blatch-Geib, Sassy Mamas, Karamu
            Robert Mark Morgan, Sweat, Cleveland Play House
            Russell Mentheny, Macbeth, Great Lakes Theater
           
Best Lighting Design: Michael Boll, The Invisible Hand, Cleveland Play House
Superior Achievement:
            Alan C. Edwards, The Royale, Cleveland Play House
            Benjamin Gantose, Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre
            Marcus Dana, Freak Storm, None Too Fragile
            Rich Martin, Macbeth, Great Lakes Theater

Best Projection Design:  T. Paul Lowry, Ella Enchanted, Dobama
Superior Achievement:
            Kasumi, Hair, Beck Center
            T. Paul Lowry, Jane Eyre, Cleveland Music Theatre
T. Paul Lowry, Sunset Baby, Dobama
            T. Paul Lowry, The Effect, Dobama         

Best Costume Design:   Martha Hally, Pride and Prejudice, Great Lakes Theatre
Superior Achievement:
Inda Blatch-Geib, Sassy Mamas, Karamu
Marty LaConte, Romeo and Juliet, Ohio Shakespeare Festival
Tracy Christensen, Mamma Mia!, Great Lakes Theater

Best Sound Design:  Daniel Perelstein, The Invisible Hand, Cleveland Play House
Superior Achievement:
            Brian Kenneth Armour, Boogieban, None Too Fragile
            Jane Shaw, The Royale, Cleveland Play House
           
Best Touring Production:  Hamilton, Playhouse Square

Best New Play by a Local Playwright:  The Casual Tree Ward, Convergence-Continuum, Robert Hawkes

Best Ensemble in a Musical:  Oklahoma!, Porthouse
Superior Achievement:
            Mamma Mia!, Great Lakes Theater
            Avenue Q, Blank Canvas

Best World Premiere in the Cleveland area:  Boogieban, None Too Fragile
           
Special Mention:

Cleveland Public Theatre for taking the lead, in a major way, in providing theater arts education for under-served communities through initiatives such as Brick City Theatre, Cleveland Act Now, Y Haven Theatre Project, the Student Theatre Enrichment Program, Teatro P├║blico de Cleveland and Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi.

Dougfred Miller, Great Lakes Theater

Martin Friedman, 50th production at Lakeland

Roe Green, philanthropic contributions to Cleveland area theater organizations (Maltz Performing Arts Center, Kent State University, Cleveland Play House, Case Western Reserve, Jewish Community Center)

How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes, Cleveland Public Theatre, for bringing community awareness to poverty in Cleveland

Tony Silas for his efforts in leading the rebirth of Karamu as a viable theater program

Porthouse on its 50th anniversary and Terri Kent on her 18th season as its Artistic Director

Dorothy Silver’s five-minute monologue on why her character went crazy, in John at Dobama

Krumping Consultants, Javion Allen, Keith T. Benford and Fitness/Boxing Consultant KJ Johnson for the stylized boxing sequences in The Royale, Cleveland Play House

New World Performance Lab for a galvanizing and inventive production of a bilingual adaptation of Don Quijote by Argentine playwright Patricia Suarez


Thursday, December 20, 2018

TOURING PRODUCTION OF POTTED POTTER @ CROCKER PARK



Through January 6, 2018
(888) 729-4718. 

Howard Gollop

Yet, in the vein of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” and the stage version of “The 39 Steps,” it is fun to see how a small cast — in this case, a duo — can take a dozen or so seemingly benign props and set pieces and churn out so much engaging fun.

The result doesn’t have to be a great evocation of popular literature or cinema — nor even
70 minutes of promised "nonstop hilarity" — just a great evening out after a bit of shopping.
Mark Horning


This show is a perfect treat for the entire family but will be especially delightful for those who have read the books or seen the movies. Even if you do not know the difference between a Horcrux and a Hufflepuff feel free to bring the entire family (young and old) to be swept away by the magic of Harry Potter for a fascinating evening of rapid fire humor, slapstick and silliness.

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



Sunday, December 16, 2018

BLACK NATIVITY @ KARAMU THEATRE



Through December 30, 2018
(216) 795-7070


Mark Horning


With all of the staid traditional offerings of holiday theater in Cleveland it is nice to spend an evening witnessing. You will find yourself caught up with the emotion of the show as you clap, hoot and holler along with the rest of the audience that ends with a well deserved screaming standing ovation. Let us hope that this Cleveland tradition continues for years to come.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ GREAT LAKES THEATER



Through December 23, 2018
(216) 241-6000


Mark Horning


This is a show that is a must see for the entire family and should be a part of a yearly holiday tradition for all residents of Northeast Ohio. If you have never seen the show or have not seen it recently you owe yourself this holiday treat. It is one of those productions that no matter how many times you view it you still find yourself laughing and crying at the same time. 

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

AVENUE Q @ BLANK CANVAS THEATRE



Through December 22, 2018
(440) 941-0458

Bob Abelman
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Wrong hands, warm heart defines Blank Canvas’ ‘Avenue Q’. 

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's blog here
or go to www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko


“Avenue Q” is a well-conceived, delightful, must see production that shows how entertaining and purposeful a play can be with the right director and talented cast.  Most performances are sold out, but it’s well worth the effort to try and get a ticket!

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

Mark Horning

Need a break from all the holiday pressures? Pack up your problems and take them to Avenue Q for a raucous evening of adult humor and potty mouth puppets. This two and a quarter hour show will reset your reality meter in a thoughtful yet humorous way.

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

SHREK THE MUSICAL @ THE BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS


Through January 6, 2018
(216) 521-2540

Bob Abelman

Vocals, not visuals, win the day for Beck’s ‘Shrek: The Musical.’

To see a full review of this show, read Bob Abelman's blog here or 
go to www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/bob_abelman/

Roy Berko

“Shrek The Musical’ should be an irresistible mix of adventure, laughter, romance and zaniness.  In spite of creative appropriate choreography, and at least one standout performance, the production is less than it should be. 

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

Kerry Clawson


The musical “Shrek” is a quirky, splashy, bright, fun comedy at Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood this holiday season.

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


Laura Kennelly

The spirited Shrek at the Beck (isn’t it cool that it rhymes?) mixes a perfect combination of fairy tale
characters, monsters, and music to kick off the holiday season. In this well-executed production
(well, maybe not opening night since there was a brownout and a 45-minute wait before things got
started), Director Scott Spence and his merry crew offer a treat for children and the adults that bring
them

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

Andrea Simakis

"Shrek" isn't bad.  It just isn't nearly as delightful or diverting as it should be.

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

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS @ Ensemble/Shahrazad Theatre


November 30-December 16 2018
216-321-2930 or www.ensemble-theatre.org


Roy Berko

“Around The World in 80 Days” is an inventive, enjoyable and family-friendly little show.  To truly go along for the ride one has to abandon theatrical etiquette and let loose and have a good time and participate in the involving audience experience.


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

Christine Howey

It’s a highly stylized and frequently engaging production, with actors racing about, pratfalling, and generally behaving like kids amped up on too much Pepsi and gummy bears. 

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



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Monday, December 3, 2018

RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN @ convergence-continuum


November 30-December 15, 2019
216-687-0074 or convergence-continuum.org

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

Roy Berko    

Rapture, Blister, Burn” is a very relevant play in this #MeToo age. The writing is good and the production clearly develops the author’s intent and purpose.  
 
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 Review here.

Christine Howey

This is a well-performed, thoughtful play that covers a whole lot of ground as it diagnoses, with large dollops of wit, the state of women and their relationships. It’s like Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles from a couple decades ago, but with an intellectual, feminist-oriented dissection of torture-porn and slasher movies thrown in. Now there‘s an unexpected holiday treat for you!

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