Monday Matinee 12.29.14 – 2014 in Review

What a tremendous year 2014 has been, eh?  There have been so many amazing shows so far in this half of the 2014-2015 season that I thought today would be a great time to review a few of them.

0First, I really enjoyed the experience that was Know Theatre’s SERIALS!  Spending time with theatre lovers every other week enjoying brand new works was a lot of fun and helped advance the sense of community that we share in this city around the love of theatre.  Speaking of Know, I thought HARRY AND THE THIEF was really funny and it was great to see Piper Davis on stage!

Helen Anneliesa Raymond-Goers (Mrs. Lovett) and Justin Glaser (Sweeney Todd) / Photo by Mikki Schaffner
Helen Anneliesa Raymond-Goers (Mrs. Lovett) and Justin Glaser (Sweeney Todd) / Photo by Mikki Schaffner

How good was The Carnegie’s SWEENEY TODD?  I thought the use of the two pianos served that space well and I enjoyed the show very much.

Company of HANDS ON A HARDBODY / Photos by Ryan Kurtz
Company of HANDS ON A HARDBODY / Photos by Ryan Kurtz

Ensemble Theatre’s HANDS ON A HARDBODY captured the imagination of theatre-lovers all over town.  I saw it twice and it only got better.  Ensemble’s had a good year with the amazing Bruce Cromer tour-de-force performance in AN ILIAD, as well.

(From left) Miranda McGee as Myrtle Wilson, Caitlin McWethy as Mrs. McKee, Justin McCombs as Nick Carraway, and Josh Katawick as Mr. McKee in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” adapted for the stage by Simon Levy.  / Photo by Mikki Schaffner.
(From left) Miranda McGee as Myrtle Wilson, Caitlin McWethy as Mrs. McKee, Justin McCombs as Nick Carraway, and Josh Katawick as Mr. McKee in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” adapted for the stage by Simon Levy. / Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s THE GREAT GATSBY made me want to go out and read the book, which is high praise.  They’re having a great season, too.  I liked THE BIRDS and I loved THE COMEDY OF ERRORS and can’t wait for the rest of their season!  Of course, they sold out EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD and why wouldn’t they?  It’s my favorite.

Mike Hall and Kim Long / Photo by Mikki Schaffner
Mike Hall and Kim Long / Photo by Mikki Schaffner

Speaking of killer seasons so far, the Covedale has hit three home runs with the exceptional A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, the well-sung INTO THE WOODS, and the fun-tastic holiday show, FOREVER PLAID: PLAID TIDINGS.

Antoinette LaVecchia in I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. Photo by Sandy Underwood.
Antoinette LaVecchia in I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

The Playhouse in the Park has had two great shows in the Thompson Shelterhouse with I LOVED, I LOST, I MADE SPAGHETTI and TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY STORY.  I also really enjoyed SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE ADVENTURE OF THE SUICIDE CLUB and who doesn’t love A CHRISTMAS CAROL?  I have a feeling the best is yet to come in Mt. Adams this season.

IMG_5864-XLI caught two productions of the great play THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED.  New Edgecliff’s and Miami University’s were staged quite differently, but both had highlights!

speechanddebate2UC-CCM always produces great musicals and BLOOD BROTHERS and LEGALLY BLONDE were both examples of that.  But I very pleasantly surprised by the play, SPEECH AND DEBATE.  Katie Langham is a superstar in my mind.

Christine Dye in SARGE
Christine Dye in SARGE

Langham’s performance rivaled that of Christine Dye’s wonderful turn in SARGE for the best I’ve seen this year.  And also in that wonderful basement in Clifton was the terrific ALL NEW PEOPLE.  Jared Doren directed quite a fearsome foursome and I’m excited to see what he does later this season at Falcon Theatre with ASSASSINS.

IMG_2340-XLSpeaking of Falcon, I really loved Tara William’s directorial effort, THE EIGHT: REINDEER MONOLOGUES.  This intriguing premise wasn’t quite what I expected – and it exceed all my hopes.  I really thought it was well done all the way around.

Buddy (Daniel Patrick Smith) and Jovie (Daryn Harrell) in Elf The Musical. Photograph by Doug Blemker.
Buddy (Daniel Patrick Smith) and Jovie (Daryn Harrell) in Elf The Musical. Photograph by Doug Blemker.

At the Aronoff we were treated to some of the best vocal work I’ve ever heard live in DIRTY DANCING, incredible musicianship in ONCE, and a wonderful holiday romp with ELF. I’m very fortunate to be able to see so much great theatre in so many different venues.

Don’t forget about Human Race Theatre’s MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET, Xavier University’s BLACK FLY SPRING, Wright State’s THE HOT MIKADO, and Unity Productions double header of THE WAVE and NOTHING, which were all very good.  I am going to have a very difficult time selecting The Sappie Awards this spring, I think.

So, that’s just a brief recap.  There’s so much more to go.  I can’t wait for PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, SERIALS 2!, OUTSIDE MULLINGAR, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, WAITING FOR GODOT, THE LION KING, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, SPRING AWAKENING, WEST SIDE STORY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, PETER PAN (at both CCM and WSU), and so many more.  I hope you’ll keep reading and keep supporting local theatre as the season continues!  Up first for me will be CINDERELLA at the Aronoff Center, and I’m so excited to see Stephanie J. Park, a 2013 CCM graduate make her final stop here before she heads to THE KING AND I on Broadway!

More on that next week.  I’ll see you Monday right here and then I’ll see you at the theatre!

 

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