Monday Matinee 1.20.14

Photograph by Julian Wasser/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Photograph by Julian Wasser/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and with that, its important that I remind you that Ensemble Theatre is producing the regional premiere of “The Mountaintop,” opening on March 19th.  This groundbreaking drama is set in a hotel room the night before the assignation of the civil rights leader.  Here’s what Ensemble’s web site says about the show:

On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cools down in a lonely Memphis hotel room after delivering the speech of a lifetime. When a feisty, young hotel maid makes an unexpected visit, an unlikely relationship is forged that ventures into the political and personal, compelling King to confront his destiny and the fate of the nation on the eve of one of the most critical moments in American History. Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Play, this powerful new play is a gripping re-imagining of events the night before the iconic civil rights leader’s assassination.”

You can get tickets for this exciting new work now by clicking here.

I had the privilege of attending the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s annual fundraiser, “A Moveable Feast,” last Friday.  This annual event features a sampling of food from Jeff Thomas Catering but more importantly showcases what the amazing arts programs at CCM.  The opening ceremony featured an exciting rendition of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” featuring the amazing Brad Myers on guitar, a very talented young saxophone player who’s name I do not know, and Musical Theatre singer (and one of the upcoming Jean ValJean’s in “Les Miserables”) Blaine Krauss on vocals.  It got the crowd in the spirit before both Dean Peter Landgren and Aubrey Berg, the chair of the musical theater program, praised Otto M. Budig Jr. for his contributions to the arts community in Cincinnati.  The ceremony was capped off by a rousing version of “Wings of a Dream” sung by all 75 musical theatre majors and spotlighting lead vocalists Krauss, Julian Decker, and Hannah Zazzaro.

The CCM Class of 2014 (top row) Dane Becker, Stephanie Cain, Max Clayton, Connor Deane, Julian Decker, Jordan DeLeon (middle row) Hannah Freeman, Catherine Helm, Jennifer Hickman, Matt Hill, Collin Kessler, Blaine Krauss, Stephanie Park, (bottom row) Noah Ricketts, Emily Schexnaydre, Kimber Sprawl, Adrienne Tang, Erica Vlahinos, Katie Wesler
The CCM Class of 2014 (top row) Dane Becker, Stephanie Cain, Max Clayton, Connor Deane, Julian Decker, Jordan DeLeon (middle row) Hannah Freeman, Catherine Helm, Jennifer Hickman, Matt Hill, Collin Kessler, Blaine Krauss, Stephanie Park, (bottom row) Noah Ricketts, Emily Schexnaydre, Kimber Sprawl, Adrienne Tang, Erica Vlahinos, Katie Wesler

I had some delicious gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup while waiting for the 8:30PM Musical Theatre showcase, which was an abbreviated version of this year’s senior showcase (which will be performed in its entirety at CCM on Thursday, March 14th).  There are some amazingly talented folks in this graduating class.  I was especially impressed with Max Clayton and Katie Wesler, who’s dancing is out of this world.  I also thought Jenny Hickman and Jordan DeLeon performed quite well and both Emily Schexnadyre and Matt Hill gave just a taste of what we know they can do.  In fact, those two will be highlighted in “Les Miserables” (tickets on sale here) as they portray the Thenardiers.  I can’t wait.

After the super talented seniors took the stage, the sophomore class then performed their showcase and I’m excited to see how they develop and grow over the next two years.  All in all, it was a great evening celebrating some of the stars of tomorrow and next year’s Feast will be on my calendar for sure.

Also this weekend, I caught “Joan The Girl of Arc,” produced by the Playhouse in the Park as part of their Off the Hill series.  You can read my review of it here.

This coming week is going to be chock full of great plays.  Tomorrow evening I am scheduled to photograph a dress rehearsal of “Revelation” produced by Untethered Theatre at the Clifton Performance Theatre.  This end-times dark comedy features Carol Brammer, Paul Morris, Ben Dudley, and Leah Strasser and is directed by Kevin Crowley.  I’ll have thoughts on it once I see it so stay tuned. Here’s a video Q&A with the cast.  The show opens on Friday and runs through February 8th. Tickets are available here.

The cast of 'The 39 Steps' at Covedale Center for the Performing Arts'includes, from left: front, Elizabeth Chinn Molloy (Annebelle/Pamela/Margaret) and Michael Schlotterbeck (Richard Hannay); back, Sean P. Mette (clown) and Daniel T. Cooley (clown)
The cast of ‘The 39 Steps’ at Covedale Center for the Performing Arts’includes, from left: front, Elizabeth Chinn Molloy and Michael Schlotterbeck back, Sean P. Mette and Daniel T. Cooley

Also opening this weekend is “The 39 Steps” at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts.  This Hitchock-inspired frenetic comedy features a cast of four (two of whom play dozens of characters).  The Covedale is such a comfortable theatre and this show should be a fun night out at the theatre. The show opens on Thursday and runs through February 16th. You can buy tickets here.

Also opening on Thursday is “Clybourne Park” at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.  I already previewed this show in a previous blog and you can read more about it here.  I’m seeing the show on opening night.  The play runs through February 16th.  Be sure to stick around for the talk back after every show (with a couple of exceptions).  Tickets are available here.

Friday I’ll be seeing the rolling world premiere of “Pluto” at the KNOW Theatre.  I previewed it here and it looks to be full of imagery and symbolism and I am excited about seeing how it all comes together after attending their special preview event last week.  The show opens on Friday and runs through February 22nd.  Tickets are available here (get them early and save $5).

As you can see, the 2014 theatre season has kicked into high gear and there’s LOTS of great theatre happening in and around the city.  Be sure to check out Rob Bucher’s “Behind the Curtain Cincinnati” blog for a more detailed listing and check back here for my thoughts on the great shows I’m seeing this week and in the future.

What are you going to do to support local theatre this week?

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