Monday Matinee 03.02.15 – This Week in Cincinnati Theatre

This has been a newsworthy week!  With the release of a couple of seasons from the bigger players in town, I’m already looking forward to next year and today we’ll cover a few of those as well as talk about what’s coming up this week.

The Acting 2 class at Xavier
The Acting 2 class at Xavier

First, though, I had the privilege of attending the midterm performances of Stephen Skiles Acting 2 class at Xavier University.  Let me tell you something – there is some amazing talent tucked away in this underdog program.  It won’t be an underdog for long, I assure you.  If you haven’t been to see one of their productions yet, you should.  This acting exam was a last-minute decision to open up the class to an audience and I was honored to be part of the experience.  I especially enjoyed the performances of Sterling Shawn, Ellen Godbey, Alex Roberts, Maya Farhat, Sara Ringenbach, Sean Burlingame, Tatum Hunter, and Griff Bludworth.  Congratulations to all of these students for all their hard work!  I can’t wait for SPRING AWAKENING in April (directed by Skiles and choreographed by Dee Anne Bryll, who was also there supporting this class).

Coming up this tonight is Episode 3 of SERIALS 2: THUNDERDOME and if you want my unsolicited, completely personal opinion – the competitive aspect needs to go.  With all due respect to the three shows that have continued to proceed in the “competition,” (and believe me, I know how difficult it is to write and produce good theatre!) there is no fathomable reason why BARREL OF MONKEYS by Jon Kovach and UNHAPPILY by Becca Howell didn’t move on to the next round based on the quality of the writing and the performances.  “Quality is subjective,” I was reminded by a very talented, creative mind that I respect a lot . . . and I suppose that’s true but in my not-so-humble 92-productions-since-July-and-counting opinion, the voters got it wrong last week.

That said, this week’s debuting shows are going in with all guns blazing.  Chris Wesselman and John Bromels make an appearance in this video and they aren’t playing around:

I have high hopes for Wessleman’s piece, especially. I’ll be there tonight and will cast my vote and hope that my favorites move on!  Tickets are available here.  (Also, I heard that there are a few tickets available for tonight’s performance of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at the Clifton Performance Theatre after a sold-out weekend.  Or if you’d rather be on stage yourself, check out SHERRY-OKE across the street at Below Zero Lounge with Sherry McCamley).

Hannah Zazzarro (Peter Pan) Nate Irvin (Captain Hook) / Photo by Mark Lyons
Hannah Zazzarro (Peter Pan) Nate Irvin (Captain Hook) / Photo by Mark Lyons

Perhaps my most anticipated show of the season is CCM’s PETER PAN and it finally opens this Thursday (with a preview on Wednesday night).  Directed by guest artist Joe Locarro (Ragtime, Les Miserables) and musical direction by Roger Grodsky, from what I’ve seen of the set, lighting, and special effects this one is gonna be a doozy.  You can read a great press release featuring interviews with one of the “Peters,” Hannah Zazzaro and senior pirate-ensemble member, Dallas Padoven here.  You can also hear thoughts from Junior Tom Meglio (Lost Boy “Nibs”) on WVXU by clicking here.

K. Jenny Jones’s innovative fight choreography will feature ZFX Flying’s latest technology.  The costumes are said to be stunning, the orchestra will be gorgeous, and I’m telling you – you do not want to miss this production.  Tickets are available here.  I’m seeing it both Thursday and Friday so that I can see both Hannah and Clara Cox take on the leading role.

10422380_618429598257120_551325489007300696_nOn Sunday night, Unity Productions will present one of their Barebones: Staged Readings of a play called GRACE.  The cast features Zak Slemmer, Harper Lee, Billy Chace, and Michael Burnham.

Steve and Sara have relocated to Sunrise, Florida to pursue an unbelievably wonderful business deal, but as the deal slowly unravels and Steve finds himself afflicted with an itch that just won’t stop, Sara finds herself increasingly drawn to their next-door neighbor, Sam, a badly-scarred victim of a recent car accident who wants nothing to do with her or her Bible-quoting husband. In the end, with a little help from an old German exterminator who’s still angry about the Allied bombing of Hamburg in World War II, all three characters are confronted by a world that’s both better and worse than any religion can justify.

The show is free; no reservations are even required.  Just show up at the Know Theatre’s Underground and enjoy this 7:00 performance.

So, let’s talk 2015-2016 for a moment shall we?  First, Falcon Theatre announced their lineup and I’m very excited about their season.  We’ll see the following titles:

  • THE MYSTERY PLAYS by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa.
  • NEXT FALL by Geoffrey Nauffts
  • PRELUDE TO A KISS by Craig Lucas
  • GUTENBURG: THE MUSICAL by Anthony King and Scott Brown

There’s a nice mix of horror, comedy, romance, and drama and I have high hopes for these productions by “the little theatre that could” in Newport.

How about Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s lineup?

  • THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (Abridged) – Season Extra
  • Jane Austen’s EMMA

Bruce Cromer will play Willie Loman.  I’ll repeat – Cromer is Loman.  Can I go ahead and get my seat reserved now?  Plus, Jeremy Dubin will play Cyrano and Sara Clark will be featured in AS YOU LIKE IT.  This should be a tremendous season and you can get your subscription now by clicking here.

The Victoria Theatre Broadway Season for next year has been announced, as well.  I can’t believe their selections:

  • ONCE

That’s the regular season, plus they’ll have season extras that include THE BOOK OF MORMON, EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL, a night with Roseanne Cash and a Christmas concert featuring the music of MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER.  I mean… what?!  This is crazy good stuff.  Also, I’m hoping to attend a performance of their upcoming VANYA, SONIA, MASHA, and SPIKE that features locals like Sherman Fracher, Torie Wiggins, and Wright State/Oak Hills graduate Alex Sunderhaus.

Finally, let’s talk Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park‘s upcoming season.

THE Marx Theatre season:

  • THE SECRET GARDEN, a family musical
  • MAD RIVER RISING, adapted from the original to feature Cincinnati
  • A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the timeless holiday hit
  • NATIVE GARDENS, a world premiere
  • TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, my favorite book of all time adapted for the stage
  • SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWING, think “FLY” but about baseball

and in the Thompson Shelterhouse:

  • SEX WITH STRANGERS, a racy new play
  • LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES, a musical revue
  • THE REVOLUTIONISTS, commissioned for the Playhouse
  • MOTHERS AND SONS by Terrence McNally
  • BAD DATES by Theresa Rebeck
Blake Robison

Artistic Director Blake Robison has a real knack for choosing knock-out shows and he’s done it again with his fourth Playhouse season.  I want to see all of these!

You can subscribe now (and you can create your own season if budget prevents you from going to all) by clicking here.

So much great theatre this week, in the near future, and next season too… what are you going to do this week to support the arts in Cincinnati?



Thanks for Reading.

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