Saturday, January 16, 2021

ROY BERKO: THEATER HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE—BECK CENTER/BWU, GLT, CVLT, OHIOSHAK and more…

 


 

TENTH COLLABORATION OF BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY MUSIC THEATRE PROGRAM AND BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Beck Center for the Arts announces its tenth collaboration with Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre Program, in the form of virtual world premieres of five fifteen-minute brand new musicals, chosen by National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

This limited virtual engagement runs February 12 to February 28, 2021 on any device in the comfort of your home. 

For more information on this world premiere musical theater project please visit beckcenter.org. Tickets, priced at $20 for one viewer, and $30 for two or more viewers, and $40 for arts lovers who want to support Beck Center can be purchased at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/44593.

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GREAT LAKES THEATER’S 2021-22 SEASON

 
GLT will commence in the fall with the jazzy musical celebration of Fats Waller, Ain’t Misbehavin,’ presented in repertory with Shakespeare’s sublime battle of wits and wills, Much Ado About Nothing (September 24 – November 7, 2021). The annual production of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, A Christmas Carol (November 26 - December 23, 2021) will bisect the season. The winter/spring of 2022 will feature Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee, a Hercule Poirot thriller, (February 11 – March 6, 2022) followed by Shakespeare’s enchanting romantic comedy, As You Like It (March 25 – April 10, 2022) and Off-Broadway’s effervescent ‘50s jukebox musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes (April 29 – May 22, 2022).   

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CHAGRIN VALLEY LITTLE THEATRE WILL PRESENT ELLIOT & ME - A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY - ONLINE IN FEBRUARY

CVLT, in conjunction with Hudson Theatre Works of Weehawken, NJ, will offer a special online presentation of ELLIOT & ME - a new musical comedy by Steven Willensky and Scott Coulter with music by Elliot Willensky.  The musical is filled with humor, colorful personalities, unexpected situations, and uplifting musical moments in a heartfelt story of brotherly love. 

The production will be available to stream for a $20 admission from Thursday, February 18 at 6 PM through midnight on Sunday, February 21 at CVLT.org.

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DR. FAUCI’S BELIEF ABOUT THE THEATRE SEASON

During a virtual conference presented by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals January 9, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said he believed that theatres could be safe to open for business sometime in the fall, according to The New York Times.
That prediction, however, depends on the rollout of the vaccine and the country reaching herd immunity, vaccinating between 70 and 85 percent of the country.


“If everything goes right, [herd immunity] will occur sometime in the fall of 2021,” Dr. Fauci said, “so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience.”

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OHIO SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS LIVE RADIO PLAY

Lady Molly is perhaps the most brilliant detective mind of her time; but the “lads” of Scotland Yard have a hard time recognizing that. In their very first adventure, she and her Watson-esque partner Mary Granard are called in as a last resort to solve a seemingly unsolvable mystery. Based on the 1910 story by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (who also wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel.) 



 

Just tune into our Facebook page. Live radio plays appear as the most recent post on the page.


Not a Facebook person? You’ll be able to hear it anytime thereafter at this link or listen as a podcast on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

ROY BERKO: HERE AND THERE---BWU, CPH, BLANK CANVAS, KARAMU, and more CPH

 


Baldwin Wallace University revives acclaimed SPRING AWAKENING

If you didn’t have a previous opportunity, check out the profile of BWMT’s SPRING AWAKENING in 
American Theatre Magazine. 

(To read my review of the show go to:  
http://www.royberko.info/ and scroll down to the review.

Thursday – Saturday, December 17-19, 8 p.m. EST
Sunday, December 20, 2 p.m. EST 
Tickets on sale now at 
conversation.bw.edu/Spring-Awakening

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CPH Presents:  Songs from THE FIRST NOEL

Sunday, Dec. 20 | 7:30 PM EST
 

With pop, gospel, and reimagined classics, The First Noel tells the story of a family that must confront the grief of the past in order to reunite and celebrate the joy of the present. Join Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb and CWRU/CPH MFA alum Lelund Durond Thompson for a special behind-the-scenes look of their musical The First Noel. This holiday concert will feature performances of select songs and exclusive interviews with the creative team. A moving and uplifting gift for the entire family!

Registration is required in advance. Viewing access is $10 per household. This special event will be streamed online through your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
 
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Blank Canvas Theatre presents DRIVE-IN IN A WINTER WONDERLAND
(A LIVE Multimedia, Drive-in Theatre Experience)

 
TWO NIGHTS ONLY!    DECEMBER 19 & 20    Saturday at 6pm & 8pm  Sunday at 6pm 
Rated: G (Bring the whole family)
Run time: 60 mins (no intermission)
  
No-contact, socially responsible, multimedia performance in the 78th Street Studios parking lot. 
 
Show will include actors dressed as iconic horror characters singing some of your favorite holiday songs. This drive-in show will feature a full live band, some of your favorite BCT performers, and the lighting and projection design that you have come to love. As well as our friends at NINJA CITY selling food and drinks!  What better way to get into the Holiday spirit? 
 $40 per vehicle (Please share a vehicle ONLY with those in your quarantine pod)
Advance sale only, so get your tickets NOW!
 
All audience members will remain in their cars during the performance. In addition to the speakers in our parking lot, the audio for our show will be transmitted directly to your vehicle’s radio. The show will be a one-act concert, allowing you to arrive and leave without ever exiting your car. We'll even be sending you a playbill digitally, as well as a special ticket to put in your windshield. This ensures that you don’t have to come into direct contact with any of our staff during your visit.  While the restroom facilities in the building will be available, please note that if you choose to use the restroom, you do so at your own risk and must wear a mask.
 
All parking is first-come, first-served.
Parking lot opens at 5:15pm for 6pm shows and 7:15 for the 8pm show.
To purchase tickets for this show 
CLICK HERE

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Karamu House Announces Virtual Holiday Show
 
“Joyful: A Karamu Holiday Celebration,” a virtual performance, is available to watch at home from now until January 9, 2021.  
 
The show, an hour in length, will feature joyful, festive songs from around the world, with dance performances.
 
For tickets, which are $24.99 for 48-hour viewing, go the Karamu website:  
karamuhouse.org
 
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Cleveland Play House Theatre Thursday

Theatre Thursday
Thursday, December 17, 2020 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
It’s movie night at CPH!  Join for a special screening of three original short films created just for CPH!

The 64 Keys
by Jeff Talbott and Will Van Dyke
A heartwarming tale of a kid, their beloved Christmas gift, and the joy of family and music. Inspired by a true story. Features Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin, award-winning audio book narrator (as well as Broadway actor), Graham Rowat, and their son Colin.

The Christmas House
story by D.M. Pulley, film by Jimmie Woody with illustrations by Sequoia Bostick
On Christmas Eve, a brother and sister take a journey inside and discover the secrets within. This is an entirely Cleveland production, including illustrator Sequoia Bostick, costume designer Melody Walker, actor Tina Stump, composer Obediya Jones-Darrell. 
 
"Home" for the Holidays
by Christopher Gerson and Tarah Flanagan
Facing their first ever holiday together at home, long-time married couple and regional theatre actors Christopher Gerson and Tarah Flanagan reach out to friends and family to hear about their holiday traditions and what “home” means to them. 
 
Important Viewing Details:

  • The live viewing begins December 17 @ 7:00 PM and will be recorded.
  • In the event you miss the show or are registering late, a recorded version will be made available to you until December 20 @ 5:00 PM.
  • Events are streamed through your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone via Zoom.
  • Registration is required in advance. Viewing access is $5 per household.
  • After registering below, you will receive a Cleveland Play House Receipt
  • Click here to learn more!

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Sunday, December 06, 2020

Roy Berko: Here and there and everywhere…Entertainment in the Pandemic 12.6.2020

 Roy Berko:  Here and there and everywhere…Entertainment in the Pandemic


ONE NIGHT ONLY, THE BEST OF BROADWAY

Tina Fey hosts NBC's One Night Only: The Best of Broadway, a primetime special celebrating the resilient Broadway community and featuring the Great Bright Way's top productions. The special airs Thursday, December 10, at 8 pm Eastern/Pacific. The two-hour show benefits Broadway Cares and features new performances from Ain't Too Proud – The Life and Times of The TemptationsChicagoJagged Little PillDiana: The MusicalJersey BoysMean Girls and Rent, with an appearance by the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, plus Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal, Billy Porter, Vanessa Williams and dozens more

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BWU grad talks about SPRING AWAKENING

Colton Ryan, who appears in a lead role on television’s “Girl from the North Country”  talks about an ambitious production of Spring Awakening from his alma mater, Baldwin Wallace University.  American Theater magazine just chronicled how the musical theater department pulled it off, masks and all.  (Read my review at www.royberko.info)

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CLE PLAYREADING GROUP

Imagine cozying up by your fireplace (or space heater) with a warm blanket, mug of cocoa or glass of wine on a cold evening, and reading a play with some really cool people. The authors range from William Shakespeare to Caryl Churchill, and topics from murder mystery to musical comedy.
The Cleveland Actors’ Play Date (APD) is a local play reading group that does this once a month. Read the whole story by clicking HERE.

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CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE PRESENTS “THEATRE THURSDAY” 

Theatre Thursday is LIVE interactive virtual program focusing on CPH's core values of artistry, community, and life-long learning, presented on the third Thursday of each month, hosted by CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley and CPH Artistic Directing Fellow Stori Ayers. Theatre Thursday is a monthly interactive virtual event which will allow audiences to experience the artistry of CPH, connect directly with the makers of our work, and converse with staff and other audience members about the impact of our artistic work in our beloved community. 
 
Registration for Theatre Thursday is required in advance. Viewing access is "Pay What You Can," starting at $5. All events are live streamed via ZOOM and can be viewed on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. For more information about Theatre Thursday, visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com/theatre-thursday
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NEAR WEST THEATRE PRESENTS All Roads Lead to Home

Near West Theatre (NWT) announced the second show in its most unconventional season thus far: All Roads Lead to Home, a performance showcase of popular music, spoken word, and storytelling by local artists and five decades of NWT alumni.
Performances will be streamed exclusively on demand online from December 18, 2020 through January 3, 2021. Tickets will go on sale on December 18. The theatre employs a pay what you can feature for every performance, with a suggested donation of $15 per streaming. www.nearwesttheatre.org.

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RUBBER CITY THEATRE PRESENTS . . .

Rubber City Theatre will feature several new plays and adaptations of classic favorites in its 2020-21 season. The lineup of performances includes a new take on “A Christmas Carol,” a military couple love story “Love in Reserve,” and a musical version of Dante’s “Inferno” called “Heartbreakers in Hell.” Plus, a very-Akron show is included in the lineup — a rubber factory-themed adaption of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” called “On the Line.” 
 
Though the programming is set, the shows’ formats haven’t been determined. “A Christmas Carol” will be streamed online for ticketholders, but the troupe hasn’t determined if 2021’s shows will take place virtually or in person at the troupe’s playhouse, at 243 Furnace Street. That will depend on CDC recommendations based on the coronavirus pandemic’s spread in 2021
 
Tickets to each show will be available to purchase on Rubber City Theatre’s website for around $20 a show, along with memberships for the whole season. A $30-$40 membership will discount ticket prices to $15 per production, and a flexible traditional membership ($100) includes one ticket to each production, along with readings and other members-only events. Here’s the full lineup, and read more about each play at rubbercitytheatre.com
 
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VIRTUAL TOURS OF BROADWAY

Take a virtual tour of Broadway's ruins, learn more about Hamilton on HamilTour, and introducing Broadway's newest Trivia Night at Social Selects!  To find out more, go to:
View Selects!
 
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BAH, HUMBUG


A Christmas Carol: Radio Play by Nancy Cates.  Adapted from the classic tale by Charles Dickens.  Live and free on Facebook each Saturday of December at 7pm, beginning December 5.

Just tune into our Facebook page.   Not a Facebook person? You’ll be able to hear it anytime thereafter at this link or listen as a podcast on Soundcloud.

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Saturday, December 05, 2020

The Loush Sisters (2020) @ Cleveland Public Theatre


 The Loush Sisters return to Cleveland Public Theatre via cyberspace!

 

For a number of years, the holiday season meant a trip to Cleveland Public Theatre to participate with the Loush sisters, Jolly (Liz Conway) and Holly (Beth Wood) for their bawdy, boozy, over-the-top holiday celebration.

 

The important words in that sentence were “participate with,” for the interaction with the ladies (and that is using the words in the nicest sense).  Yes, the actresses would pick out members of the audience and interact with them.  They would also encourage you to join them in “drinking up,” as they slugged down glass after glass of happy hour liquid.

 

The duos sexual innuendos, often aimed at themselves as well as members of the assemblage, brought about a few red faces and lots of laughs.

 

Well, the Loush “sisters” are back again.  This time in the age of pandemic, it’s via Zoom.  

 

For those who expected the newest version of Jolly and Holly’s rowdy shenanigans and good ol’ sister love, to be like the up-close and personal shows, they will probably be disappointed.

 

Conway and Wood put out full effort, but the electronic divide, plus a weaker-than-usual script, fell rather flat.  They tried.  They did.  There was a segment where they did refer to members of the audience, flashing pictures of the “live” audience on the screen.  Unfortunately, verbally referring to the people in cyberspace isn’t the same as intimidating and barbing them in person. 

 

For 45 minutes, the ladies, with the musical accompaniment of Michael Seever, Jr., sang such ditties as “Sisters,” “Fever” “The Trolly Song,” “All by Myself,” and a holiday medley which included such favorites as “We Need A Little Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” “I Had a Little Dreidel,” and, of course, “That’s Why the Lady [my sister] is a Tramp,” while sloshing down the booze.

 

Capsule judgment:  Separated by a pane of plastic to protect themselves from spreading Covid, the Loush sisters referred to their sexual antics and skills, referred to the political and social world around them, sang with vitality, and tried to take their viewers on an escape from reality.  Part of it worked, part didn’t, but the duo can’t be accused of holding back.


November 27, 28 & December 2, 3, 10, 11, 17, 19 | 8:00pm (ET)

The virtual “house” will be limited to 65 “seats”

Tickets: $1.  Suggested Donation: $1 to $99

 

TICKETS

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Verb Ballet and Blue Water Orchestra combine for compelling music and dance performanc

 


In this pandemic era, where the best we can hope for are performances in Brady family-like shadow boxes, it is exciting to find arts companies going beyond the norm to bring about entertainment while still following the Covid protocols.
 
Compelling entertainment was certainly the result when Verb Ballets and BlueWater Chamber Orchestra joined forces to create Building Bridges Together, a collaboration designed, performed, and filmed specifically for virtual performance on November 21, 2020.
 
Verb Ballets, which was founded in 1987, is one of Northeast Ohio’s most respected dance companies. Verb Ballets has gained a reputation for artistic excellence and exemplary community engagement since 1987.  “Under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Carlson, former principal dancer for Cleveland Ballet, and Richard Dickinson, MFA, former Ohio Ballet dancer, the company is committed to the creation and mounting of dance works of the highest caliber. The company strives to act as a catalyst to promote learning, nurture wellness, and encourage dialogue about the dance art form. As a contemporary ballet company, the dancers combine classical ballet training with strong artistry.” 

Under the Artistic Directorship of native Clevelander, Daniel Meyer, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra “is a cooperative, professional chamber orchestra serving the NE Ohio region. Performance of great music, outreach program and educational endeavors are equal in their mission statement.  The musical ensemble is committed to expanding the boundaries of what a chamber orchestra can be.”

The forty-five-minute program, presented without intermission, opened with Heinz Poll’s Adagio for Two Dancers set to Albinoni’s “Adagio.”
 
The lush, slow, sensual neo-Baroque composition, is a gentle and ethereal work.  It was well interpreted by the orchestra.  
 
The ballet was originally choreographed in 1973 for Ohio Ballet and remounted with permission of Jane Startzman.


 
Kelly Korfhage and Benjamin Shepard, both in masks, danced in traditional balletic form.  Her toe-work and his strong partnering and flowing leaps, seamlessly flowed together.  The number was beautifully lit, accenting the duos shimmering costumes.
 
Anton Webern's “Langsamer Satz” is presumed to be a “musical love-letter, born of a relationship between the composer and Wilhelmine Mörtl.”  It is a romantic composition, with rich harmonies.  It well deserves its reputation as a fine example of how elegantly and unabashedly music can emerge from a compact format. 
 
The lush piece was beautifully performed by the all-string orchestra under the baton of Daniel Meyer. 



The program concluded with Broken Bridges, choreographed by former company dancer and choreographer, Michael Escovedo. It was set to the haunting sounds of Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in C minor Op. 110A.
 
According to program notes, “Escovedo choreographed this piece as a tribute to his grandmother, Bridgett Escovedo, who passed away in 2017. In the ballet, he honors his late grandmother who suffered from mental illness, which left the relationships in the family strained, especially the relationship between Escovedo and his mother after he became her caregiver when she developed Alzheimer's disease later in life. Broken Bridges explores this family dynamic.  
 
The introspective, emotionally-draining modern ballet piece, featured the masterful dancing and story-telling of Kate Webb and Lieneke Matte and showcased Robert Carter, Daniel Cho, Kelly Korfhage, Antonio Morillo, Noe Iwamatsu and Julie Russel, all masked. 



 
The emotions of the story were well told though impressive stage pictures, dramatic acting, powerful hand and body movements and impressive dance skills.
 
Capsule judgment:  Kudos to Verb Ballet and Blue Water Chamber Orchestra for creating a unique and fulfilling cinematic experience that was, indeed, “an evening of connecting to the heart; a perfect respite for those emotionally challenging times.”

Sunday, November 22, 2020

BWU’s SPRING AWAKENING confronts not only a powerful script, but the challenge of producing “live” theatre in a world-wide plague



In 2012, when Baldwin Wallace’s number one nationally ranked musical theater program, in conjunction with Beck Center for the Arts, produced SPRING AWAKENING, my capsule judgement read: “SPRING AWAKENING is an emotionally stirring, relevant, and well-staged production.”

My comments about the two Broadway productions of the show, and the Key Bank Touring version of the script also were peppered with positive comments.
 
This is a powerful piece of dramatic musical theater!
 
SPRING AWAKENING, the dramatic Steven Sater (book and lyrics)-Duncan Sheik (music), folk-infused rock music drama, is based on an 1892 play by German author Frank Wedekind.  

The subject matter, which centers on teenagers on the road to self-discovery, portrays abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide.  It was so controversial that its original source was banned for public view for over one-hundred years.

The play is an indictment of late 19th century Germany, where strict rules regarding right and wrong, and wide-spread hypocrisy were rampant.  Sex wasn't discussed, the reasons for actions weren't revealed, and adults held strict control.  It is relevant to modern day Americans where the religious and political right parallels the machinations of the adults and attitudes toward modernity in Wedekind's script.

The play consists mainly of spoken and sung dialogues among the children, with an interspersing of verbalizations of the adults.  

The author has given the voices the ability to open our eyes, in gripping ways, to the joys and sorrows, hopes and despair, and struggles and the resulting tragedies.  Tragedies in which the most promising children are sacrificed due to a lack of appreciation and understanding from their teachers and parents, and the closed-minded attitudes brought about by unthinking and unbending people.

We meet Melchior, intelligent and charismatic, who sees the corruption around him, but is powerless to change the events. 
 
There is Moritz, physically strong but psychologically frail.  He's the product of a harsh father, and is pushed to near insanity when he fails a rigged exam and eventually is led to suicide.  

Wendla is in love with Melchior, and naively becomes pregnant by him.  Her fall from grace is based on her lack of knowledge about human sexuality, still believing that "children are brought by storks" and are only the product of the married.  She, too, becomes a tragic product of her culture's rules regarding abortion and the absolute control by parents. 
  
We also view Ilse, who runs away from a sexually abusive home, another throw-away product of adult rules of the game of life.

We are left at the end of the epic with Melchior, his friends all destroyed, needing to find a reason to go on with his life.

This is a relevant play that should open the eyes of the hypocritically blind to the need for sex education, understanding of the teenage mind, religious and political hypocrisy, and the idiocy of developing unbending rules for the sake of tradition.

Victoria Bussert, the multi award-winning director of Baldwin Wallace’s musical theatre program, has in the past been confronted with many problems in producing plays—snow storms, cast members illnesses that stopped them from going on for a performance, parents pulling their son out of a play because they didn’t agree with the role he was playing, to name a few.  But probably none of the barriers were as daunting as putting on this edition of SPRING AWAKENING in the midst of a pandemic.

As brilliantly described by Andrea Simakis, in her “Masked and Raging, Ohio Students Make a ‘Spring Awakening’” (https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/11/16/masked-and-raging-ohio-students-make-a-spring-awakening/), Bussert, and her staff—Matthew Webb (Music Director and photographer) and Gregg Daniels (choreographer)--had to follow all the Covid-19 health regulations, find over 40 different settings for the staging, overcome calls to the police by a citizen who reported seeing “a boy with purple hair, in a mask, in a park, holding a gun,” as well as dealing with how to produce scenes containing kissing, hand-holding and sex acts without allowing the actors to unmask and remain six-feet part. 
 

Added to the complexity was the need to double-cast each major part so that the students could satisfy the staff’s obligation to give each of the evolving thespians a chance to hone their skills.

(Note:  The following comments are made about the Moritz Cast, which I saw streamed on November 20.  They were again seen on the 22nd.  The Wendla Cast performed on 11/19 and 21st.)

From Wendla’s opening song (Audrey Hare’s “Mamma Who Bore Me”), the concept of the script and the quality of the performances, are exposed.  The petite and lovely Hare exhibits a strong voice and a tenderness that makes her impending destruction heart breaking.  Her rendition of “Whispering” is haunting.  
 
Wendla’s mother, and all of the adult female roles are well-performed by Laura Welsh Berg, a BW grad and the Great Lakes Theater’s Artistic Associate.

We find Melchior (Eric Siegle), Moritz (Steven Huynh), Hanschen (Nick Cortazzo), Ernst (Andrew Nelin) and the boys of the town in class, powerless and cowed by a tyrannical teacher (Lynn Robert Berg, of Great Lakes Theater, who effectively plays all of the adult males).  

The plight of these young men is pictured as one in which they will have little control over their lives or thoughts.   They will be verbally and physically beaten and harassed into becoming “productive” and obedient citizens of society.  Choice, option and personal ideas are of no value here, which is clearly expressed in the powerful proclamation, “The Bitch of Living.”  It is creatively staged, as are all of the dance numbers, by choreographer Greg Daniels.


Melchior, bright and determined, is nicely portrayed by Siegle, whose strong voice is well displayed in “Totally Fucked” and the haunting “Left Behind.”
 
The sexual aspects of the play include not only the drive for heterosexual sexual acting-out, but also homosexual pent-up frustration in Henchen and Ernst’s coming of awareness.  The scene is nicely developed by the handsome Cortazzo and the shy Andrew Nelin.

One of the strongest portrayals is that by Allison Winkel, as Ilse, the product of incest, whose “Blue Wind” and the show’s closing number, “The Song of Purple Summer,” were vocally and emotionally well-interpreted.

The BW production is not without issues.  The actors, who are faced with doing interactive scenes without their partners not in the same environment, sometimes do not interact, just act as if they are doing solos.  Scenes which require intimacy, such as the sex scene between Melchior and Wendla, is somewhat sterile as the duo are divided by a visual screen line.  What should be a revealing scene of homosexual “seduction” is marred by the participants limited to finger touching at a six-foot distance and no kissing or body contact.  These are problems mainly caused by technology, not lack of talent.

Capsule Judgment:  Victoria Bussert and her BWU crew and cast avoided, as one of the songs from “SPRING AWAKENING” states, being “Totally Fucked” and took on the Covid-19 challenge, developing a thought-provoking production which turned out to be the first collegiate pandemic production of the script and further recognition of the college’s program.  Bravo!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

NICK KOESTERS IS "FULLY COMMITTED" IN BECK’S DELIGHTFUL ON-LINE PRODUCTION

 

 

Becky Mode, the co-creator of Fully Committed, the one-person play which was selected by Time Magazine as one of the top plays of 2000, is a producer, actor and playwright.  The play’s co-creator, Mark Setlock, is a native Clevelander and graduate of Kent State, who won the 2000 Outer Critics Circle Award for his solo performance in the off-Broadway production of their script.  

 

The show, which is now being streamed by Beck Center, under the direction of Scott Spence, was reviewed as being “…immensely entertaining, “…hilarious and touching, gallops along at a swift, almost frantic pace,” “…[a] sparkling one-man tour de force…very funny and very believable…” in its New York run.

 

Besides the original production, the script is noted for starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson, of Modern Family fame, in a 2016 off-Broadway revival.  Ferguson was awarded a Drama Desk Award for his Solo Performance.

 

Fully Committed centers on the life of Sam Peliczowki, an out-of-work actor who has trouble getting roles for which he auditions. As a result, he is forced to take the stressful job as a Reservationist in a top-tier Manhattan restaurant.  

 

We watch as Sam gets harassed by his coworkers, management, and numerous customers.  Life is made even more frustrating by the success of his friend who keeps getting cast in commercials and plays and the pressure put on him by his recently widowed father for him to come visit.


The show is a wonderful acting challenge as the solo performer has to create forty wildly diverse characters, complete with differenct accents, genders, personalities and idiosyncrasies, as well as memorizing hundreds of lines.   

 

Nick Koesters, who has had a 25-year relationship with Beck Center, including performances in such shows as Hair, The Greater Tuna, and Is He Dead?, is more than capable of handling the roll.  Koesters gives an award-winning performance.

 

He faithfully creates the threats, bribes, coercion, and histrionics of the desperate callers who will stop at nothing to get prime reservations and the right table, but he perfectly displays the angst of doing a job he doesn’t want, but has to have to pay the bills.

 

Capsule judgment: A funny one-man show, Fully Committed, which leaves the viewer exhausted from Koester’s near frenetic un-hinged tour-de-force performance. It is a wonderful way to spend an hour getting away from pandemic stress and the world of angst.  

 

FULLY COMMITTED runs November 13-29, 2020 (once you start the virtual production you have 48 hours to complete it).  Patrons are invited to enjoy this virtual production in the comfort of their homes for $20 for an individual viewer, $30 for two or more viewers and $40 for two or more viewers who want to donate $10 for additional support to the Beck Center.  

 

Click on this tab to order tickets. TICKETS

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

...OR DOES IT EXPLODE? @ Cleveland Public Theatre

Cleveland Public Theatre’s …OR DOES IT EXPLODE! provokes audience response to Black Lives Matter 

Roy Berko

 

In this age of Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights unrest, a performance piece such as, …OR DOES IT EXPLODE?, is both relevant and fulfills the obligation of the arts to produce works that reflect that era from which is comes.

 

A theatrical piece, which uses poetry, prose and other contemporary theatre forms, the script explores questions of what it means to be Black, male, and young in 21st century America.

 

Written by John Dayo-Aliya, an Akron based Kent State University graduate, playwright, actor, and musician, the piece reflects the author’s writing goal of exploring various aspects of the Black experience.  He looks at “modern Black lives and the questions arising out of the challenge of holding on to faith, love, community, and familial ties while living against a backdrop of structural racism.” 

 

He aims to “provoke audiences to call out to their higher humanity in order to face social and cultural issues with intelligence, clarity, and empathy.”

 

The piece, which is performed in a Zoom format, features Austin Sasser, Benjamin Black, De Andre Hairston-Karim, & Dar'Jon Bentley.  Each of them gives portrayals of the anger, hurt and joy of real reactions of age 16 to 35 Akron Black men in order to “display social conditions and contradictions, and what it means to do justice to one another.”

 

Some of the language, including excessive use of the “N” word and profanities, are often difficult to listen to, especially for those not used to the “in your face” words and vocal styles of the young men.  That direct startling directness is part of the purpose of the piece.  If not for this confrontative manner, the message would not be presented, the effect sanitized and watered down.  

 

If presented in a theater, the words and ideas would probably have evoked vocal reaction from audience members, much like the words of preachers and speakers do with African American audiences.   Unfortunately, with that missing element, some of the emotional effect is lost watching in a home environment on an electronic device.  

 

The mechanics of the presentation also cause problems as the microphones, and the physical settings of the actors, are uneven, sometimes causing words to be lost and images to be blurred and out of focus.  Whatever, the anger, frustration and powerlessness of the speakers is clear.

 

Several vignettes stand out.  Among them is one that centers on the ridiculousness of the academic community, usually researchers who are white men, who analyze Black young men as if they are lab animals, making pronouncements that are irrelevant to the subjects they are trying to describe.  

 

Another talks about television shows that don’t reflect the real lives and experiences of Black youth, but models for them a type of fake reality, that they can never achieve or characterizations that make fun of or demonize them.  

 

$10 dollars an hour is the pay afforded by the “good” jobs available to these men who are often castigated because they aren’t interested in taking those jobs.  The piece asks, in reality, what can be purchased with that less than $500 a week, minus taxes, health care, and the cost of getting to work?

 

Capsule judgment:  The script and the performances were often compelling, sometimes off-putting, and will offend some and empower others.  Both the script and the performances are uneven in their clarity and professionalism.  With that said, ...Or Does it Explode? Is well worth the time watching…it is an eye opening experience, especially for those who are not part of the community who are unaware of the motivations behind Black Lives Matter.

 

...Or Does it Explode? Will be performed live on Zoom at 7:00pm (ET) on November 6, 7, 12, 13, 19, and 21. The run time is 60 minutes, and the virtual "house" is limited to 35 "seats".

Tickets:  suggested donation $1 to $99. Patrons must use Zoom to see this work and will receive an email 1-2 hours before showtime with the meeting login information. Please note online sales for each performance will close at 5:00pm (ET).  TICKETS

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

BERKO HERE AND THERE: CPH LOOSES MANAGING DIRECTOR, KEVIN MOORE, Managing Director of CPH, has died, Theatre in the Circle, TMTP and Beck go virtual, Dorothy Silver to brighten the small screen and more…..



BERKO HERE AND THERE:  CPH LOOSES MANAGING DIRECTOR, KEVIN MOORE, Managing Director of CPH, has died, Theatre in the Circle, TMTP and Beck  go virtual, Dorothy Silver to brighten the small screen and more…..

 

Passing of Kevin Moore of Cleveland Play House

 

It is with great shock and sadness that Cleveland Play House shared the news of the passing of Managing Director Kevin Moore.  On Saturday, October 24th, Kevin tragically died possibly due to a pulmonary embolism or heart attack. He was 59 years old.

 

(Side comment:  Kevin was a warm and caring person.  I, personally, will miss him, as will the entire CLE theater community.)

 

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“STEERING INTO THE SKID” COMING VIRTUALLY ON NOVEMBER 24 @ 7 P.M

 

Theatre in the Circle presents STEERING INTO THE SKID, a free online theatrical event that helps family members, caregivers, local businesses, and the broader community be in a conversation around the subject of dementia.

 

In 12 short, clever scenes the audience comes to know a loving couple and bear witness to the early progression of dementia. 

 

“Our goal,” said Theatre in the Circle’s Mark Corcoran “is to assist community members and leaders consider new ways to think about memory loss and to become aware of local resources that support families who are dealing with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. 

 

Presented by Theatre in the Circle, the program is co-hosted by Judson Services, Judson Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area. 

 

To learn more or register (starting November 2) for the free event go to https:skid-cleveland-112420.eventbrite.com Reservations are required. Attendance is limited. 

 

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TMTP's First VIRTUAL Cabaret!

 

Imagine being a songwriter who must tell an entire story in song--and pull it off in 3 minutes! But our songwriters are great storytellers. Think of Frank Loesser's "The Ugly Duckling" from Hans Christian Andersen. Or Hamlisch & Kleban's "Nothing" from A Chorus Line

 

Concert will be available ON DEMAND November 5-8, 2020. Pay as you can.

Once you register, a personalized link will be emailed to you along with instructions and you'll have access to the show for 48 hours. Links are for single screen use only and cannot be shared.

 

CLICK TO ACCESS

 

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DOROTHY SILVER IN ON THE GRILL

Pay-What-You-Can and receive a private link!

As part of the 2020/21 season, Dobama Theatre presents The Soliloquy Project, a series of short films featuring memorable monologues from Dobama productions and notable contemporary playwrights. To watch part one, simply click on the red button above and Pay-What-You-Can to view.

This world premiere short film, the first in the series, features a performance by Dorothy Silver of the opening monologue from On the Grill, a play which had its American/English language premiere at Dobama Theatre.

To read the recent article in American Theatre magazine about Dobama's alternate programming for this unconventional 20/21 season and future plans, 
click here.

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VERBS BALLET AND BLUEWATER CHAMBER ORCHESTRA:  BUILDING BRIDGES TOGETHER

Verb Ballets and BlueWater Chamber Orchestra have joined forces to create, Building Bridges Together, a captivating collaboration designed, performed, and filmed specifically for virtual performance. 

 

Featured repertory includes Heinz Poll’s Adagio for Two Dancers set to Albinoni’s Adagio and Broken Bridges by Michael Escovedo set to Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony

 

BlueWater will also play Anton Webern's Langsamer Satz in a stand-alone performance.

 

Building Bridges Together
GET TICKETS>>

 

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FULLY COMMITTED streamed by Beck Center starring Nick Koesters

Fully Committed, by Becky Mode, is a hilarious one-person comedy. Ideally suited for a virtual production, this theater piece solves the issue of how to keep a performer, crew, and the audience safe during a pandemic, all the while delivering great laughs. For the safety of the star, Nick Koesters, the crew, director, and audience members, this production will be filmed and distributed online. 

Opening November 13 and running until November 29, 2020, patrons are invited to enjoy this virtual production in the comfort of their homes for $20 for an individual viewer, or $30 for two or more viewers, or a super fan price of $40.  View this production during November 13 to November 29, at your convenience.

Some adult language. 


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THE DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE AND DANCE AT BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY PRESENTS MUSES ANONYMOUS

 

Ever wonder where your ‘muse’ is when you most need them? If you search hard enough you can find all nine of them at their monthly, family gripe sessions, which can occur almost anywhere…this fall they’ll be holding court to vent, compare notes, act out, and share their histories in the Tressel Street parking lot, on the Baldwin Wallace University campus. Grab a ticket and ‘drive-in’ to join the nine muses as they reflect, dance, and share their most memorable ‘inspirations’!!!

 

Thursday-Sunday, October 29 – 31, 2020 at 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM

November 1, 2020 at 2:00 and 3:30pm

 

Ticket Information:

Tickets are free but reservations and an ID that identifies you as the ticket-holder are required (one ticket per vehicle) for entry. There will be space for eight vehicles per show, each vehicle may have up to four passengers who must be masked. The performance is 40 minutes long with no intermission. Audience vehicles must arrive at the venue at least ten minutes before the show begins (absolutely no late parking permitted) and will be required to exit the venue as soon as the show is over. Audience must stay in their vehicles at all times.

 

See ticket website for full details and information on attending.

www.bw.edu/tickets  (440) 826-2240

 

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RADIO ON THE LAKE RESCHEDULES THE BIRDS

 

Due to an uncertain weather forecast, and out of an abundance of caution for the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, Radio on the Lake Theatre’s presentation of the radio play version of The Birds has been moved online. The performance will now take place via Zoom on Friday, October 30 at 7 pm.

 

Adapted from the Daphne DuMaurier short story, that served as the source material for the iconic Hitchcock film, this performance will feature one of the radio play genre’s richest sound designs, brought to life to ROTLT’s Artistic Director John Watts. 

 

To receive a link to the October 30 performance, please email Caroline Breder-Watts at caroline@radioonthelaketheatre.org. To learn more about the company, visit https://radioonthelaketheatre.org/