Monday, December 31, 2001
Times Theatre Tributes--2002
For many years the Cleveland Critics Circle recognized theatre directors, performers and technicians for excellence in providing top quality presentations to local audiences. Changes in personnel in the various media outlets has led to the elimination of those awards.
It is not the purpose of the “Times Theatre Tributes” to take the place of Cleveland Critics Circle awards. They are to recognize theatrical experiences that, in the mind of this reviewer, were excellent.
No attempt is being made to name the best in each classification. Actors were not separated by sex or leading or supporting roles. It is also recognized that I did not see all of the productions in the area. Selections are limited to locally produced performances, so none of the touring shows are recognized. Only plays performed during the year 2000 were considered.
Thanks to the following for making the theatre scene in the Cleveland area a vital and exciting place.
A Times Theatre Tribute 2000 for an Outstanding Production to:
INFINITE REGRESS OF HUMAN VANITY--Cleveland Play House
NEVER A SINNER--Halle Theatre of Jewish Community Center
SIDE SHOW--Cain Park
THE GUARDSMAN--The Cleveland Play House
THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH--Cleveland Public Theatre
TWELFTH NIGHT--Great Lakes Theatre Festival
A Times Theatre Tribute 2000 for Outstanding Performances to:
Catherine Albers in WIT--Dobama
Kirk Brown in THE TRESTLE AT POP LICK CREEK--Dobama
Bernard Canapari in NEVER A SINNER--HalleTheatre--Jewish Community Center
Hannah DelMonte in VIOLET--Cain Park
Keith Gerchak in BILOXI BLUES--Porthouse Theatre
Lissy Gulick in FUDDY MEERS--Dobama
David Hansen in CLOUD NINE--Bad Epitaph Theatre
Ken Jennings in CROSSROADS DANCING--Dobama
Nick Koesters in CLOUD NINE--Bad Epitaph Theatre
Jason Markouc in NEVER A SINNER--HalleTheatre--Jewish Community Center
Andrew May in DREAM PLAY--The Cleveland Play House
Andrew May in INFINITE REGRESS OF HUMAN VANITY--The Cleveland Play House
Andrew May in THE GUARDSMAN--The Cleveland Play House
Ernest Perry, Jr. In THE TRAGEDY OF PUDD’NHEAD WILSON--The Cleveland Play House
Scott Platte in VIOLET--Cain Park
Scott Platte in GROSS INDECENCIES: THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE--Cleveland Public Theatre
Karin Randoja in THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH--Cleveland Public Theatre
Craig Recko in DAMN YANKEES--Cain Park
Doug Rossi in NEVER A SINNER at HalleTheatre--Jewish Community Center
Reuben Silver in 2-1/2 Jews--Cleveland State University/Actors’ Summit
Chuck Richie in FUDDY MEERS--Dobama
Deidrium Ring in DREAM PLAY--The Cleveland Play House
Lori Scarlett in VIOLET--Cain Park
Dorothy Silver in CROSSROADS DANCING--Dobama
Dorothy Silver in COLLECTED STORIES--Halle Theatre of Jewish Community Center
Brian Anthony Wilson in TWO TRAINS RUNNING--The Cleveland Play House
Times Theatre Tribute 2000 for Outstanding Directing to:
Raymond Bobgan--THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH--Cleveland Public Theatre
Victoria Bussert--VIOLET--Cain Park
Daniel Fish--TWELFTH NIGHT--Great Lakes Theatre Festival
Joel Hammer--NEVER A SINNER--Halle Theatre of Jewish Community Center
Hegyi Arpad Jutocsa--THE GUARDSMAN--The Cleveland Play House
Reuben Silver--COLLECTED STORIES--Halle Theatre of Jewish Community Center
A Times Theatre Tribute 2000 for Outstanding Technical Work to:
Beverly Emmons--Lighting Design--TWELFTH NIGHT--Great Lakes Theatre Festival
Christine Jones--Set design--TWELFTH NIGHT--Great Lakes Theatre Festival
Elizabeth Novak--Costumes--THE GUARDSMAN--The Cleveland Play House
Vicki Smith--Set design--THE GUARDSMAN--The Cleveland Play House
Vicki Smith--Set design--THE TRAGEDY OF PUDD’NHEAD WILSON--The Cleveland Play House
Aubrey Wertheim--Program notes--THE GUARDSMAN--The Cleveland Play House
Saturday, May 26, 2001
'THE ALCHEMIST' self-destructs at Bad Epitaph
I have a self-imposed rule. I never leave a theatrical presentation before it’s over. If at all possible I try to follow that resolve. Several years ago I attended a nearly sold-out production of the musical 'ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.' After intermission I was the only reviewer and one of only a dozen viewers who remained.
I attended the opening night of Bad Epitaph Theatre’s 'THE ALCHEMIST.' I must publicly admit that I broke my cardinal rule...I left before the production was complete. I could no longer sit and listen to the incessant screaming, the high pitched wailing that after a while sounded like fingernails scratching on a blackboard, the misinterpretation of the script, the poor acting, the direction which intended to insight the audience to laugh at the antics rather than with the material. I left after two hours. There was still another act to go.
'THE ALCHEMIST' is a recognized theatrical classic. Written by Ben Jonson, who is considered, along with Shakespeare, the major writer of the early 1600s, he is most noted for his comedies which include 'VOLPONE, THE ALCHEMIST' and 'BARTHOLOMEW.' He uses comedy to highlight those who lie, cheat and steal from others. His language is fluid and, though dated by modern standards, evokes laughter. Well done productions of his works delight.
For some inexplicable reason director Lawrence Nehring decided that Jonson’s intent and writing was not enough. He decided to make the comedy into a farce. A farce with no restraint. Rather than let the words evoke audience reactions he added prat falls, exaggerated acting techniques, sexual innuendoes, confusing costuming, and lots of screaming and door slamming. The company’s publicity called this their third modern interpretation of a classic work. Modern interpretations can be fine. Great Lakes Theatre Festival, among others, has been successful in modernizing when they decide that a play has a contemporary message and by adjusting the setting, costumes and/or the language. The audience then gets the intent and purpose of the writing as it pertains to today. Why did Nehring modernize 'THE ALCHEMIST?' He made comedy into visual farce. Did any of this help the attender to get Jonson’s message? I think not.
The night wasn’t a total waste. There were some talented actors on stage who, with the right guidance, could have shown off their skills. Don McBride’s two-room set was beautiful and, in the real world, the Indians beat the Yankees!
After the first act many of the audience did not return. As I left after the second act, there was an additional parade down the stairs to the great out-of-doors. As one man said rather loudly to his wife on their exit, “I’ve had enough! This is bad theatre!” He echoed my thoughts.
Capsule judgement: Too bad, Bad Epitaph has done some marvelous theatre. Their 'CLOUD NINE' earlier this season was brilliant. Not so for 'THE ALCHEMIST.'