Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2009 Dance Preview


Area dance presentations: Merce Cunningham, Verb Ballets, Ballet Hispanico,

Arts patrons will be happy to know that dance returns to the area with two internationally recognized companies and the “reconstituted” Verb Ballets. Presentations include:

MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE

Returning to Cleveland after 23 years, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company takes the stage on Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 8 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre.

Considered “the world’s greatest living choreographer,” American modern dance icon Merce Cunningham shows his remarkable genius with every performance of his company. Included is the highly lauded 1970s work, Second Hand, which advanced his reputation for exploring the relationship between dance and music through collaborations with contemporary visual artists and musicians. This influential work features costumes by renowned visual artist Jasper Johns and a score by John Cage, Cunningham’s longtime collaborator and close artistic colleague.

Admission to the performance ranges from $25 to $60. For tickets call 216-241-6000 or go online to playhousesquare.org or DANCECleveland.org. To purchase tickets as part of a subscription package for VIVA & Gala Around Town, contact the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Box Office at 800-CMA-0033 or online at Clevelandart.org.


VERB BALLETS

On Saturday, February 7, 2009, Verb Ballets performs at Chagrin Falls High School, in the beautiful new Performing Arts Center. The family-friendly program includes Pamela Pribisco’s Peter and the Wolf; Ulysses Dove's Vespers; Hernando Cortez’s Darkwood; and two works by famed Ohio Ballet founder Heinz Poll: Duet, a romantic pas de deux, and the propulsive, captivating Bolero.

Verb Ballets’ company of dancers includes Danielle Brickman, Ashley Cohen, Katie Gnagy, Michael Medcalf, Catherine Meredith Lambert, Erin Conway Lewis, Brian Murphy, and Anna Roberts.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students, and are available by calling the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre box office at 440-247-8955 or by visiting www.chagrinfoundation.org.


BALLET HISPANICO

Acclaimed New York City-based Ballet Hispanico comes to the Ohio Theatre in PlayhouseSquare for performances on Feb. 20-21 as part of a 16-city national tour.

This dynamic company, whose diverse choreography is infused with traditional Latin and Spanish movements, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday evening and at a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee, co-presented by DANCECleveland and Cuyahoga Community College. Prior to the Saturday matinee performance, a family festival at 1 p.m. in the Ohio Theatre lobby will showcase Latin culture with dancing, drumming and family activities. Tri-C will also host a free Showtime at High Noon on Friday for students from noon-1 p.m.

A highlight of the Friday evening repertory will be Tito on Timbales, accompanied by the sizzling Latin Rhythm Percussion Ensemble performing live on stage with the company. Other dances on the program include: Club Havana, choreography by Pedro Ruiz; Tres Bailes by Jean Emile; and Ritmo y Ruido by Ann Reinking.

The Saturday matinee will celebrate Ballet Hispanico’s 39th anniversary under the leadership of Founder Tina Ramirez with the revival of Stages. The company will also dance Tito on Timbales and Ritmo y Ruido.

For tickets call 216-241-6000 or go online at playhousesquare.org. For group tickets and for information about the Saturday matinee family festival call DANCECleveland at 216-991-9000

Monday, January 26, 2009

I LOVE YOU BECAUSE



Bouncy, spirited, charming ‘I LOVE YOU BECAUSE’ delights on 14th Street

Most productions presented as part of the Key Bank Broadway Series are touring companies of Broadway shows. Not so with ‘I LOVE YOU BECAUSE,’ the present offering. This show is home grown. The cast, the musicians, the director, the choreographer are all Cleveland based.

The story concerns obsessive compulsive Austin, a conservative greeting card writer, who discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him. In an attempt to get Austin out of his funk, Jeff, his not overly bright brother, takes him on a double blind-date. Enter Marcy, a free-spirited photographer, Austin’s exact opposite. At the same time, Marcy's best friend, the uptight actuary Diana, who is probably the logical choice for Austin, begins an unlikely affair with Jeff. And….well…their isn’t much mystery as to what’s going to happen, in spite of the numerous pitfalls. Emotional love wins out over logical logic!
The whole premise is well developed through Ryan Cunningham’s creative lyrics. For example, the last song of the show states, “I love you because you’re not the person I dreamed of at all. I love you because you make me feel like a fool.” Not exactly the usual lyrics of a love song. And, that’s the beauty of the show. In spite of the obvious conclusion, the whole thing works because it is logically illogical.
The show, in which Cunningham’s lyrics are set to sprightly music by Joshua Salzman, was first performed off-Broadway in 2006. The Big Apple run was followed by a British production.

The Cleveland offering is directed by Victoria Bussert, with creative staging and choreography by Martin C├ęspedes. Bussert, director of nationally praised Music Theatre Program at Baldwin-Wallace, is a magician in taking small musicals and making them shine. Think of her stagings of ‘BROOKLYN, THE MUSICAL,’ ‘BAT BOY,’ ‘SIDE SHOW,’ and ‘TICK, TICK BOOM.’ Her recent collaborations with C├ęspedes, such as Great Lakes Theatre’s ‘INTO THE WOODS,’ have a special sheen.

The entire cast of ‘I LOVE YOU BECAUSE’ shines. Especially endearing is young Corey Mach, he of “deer caught in the headlights” sparkling blue eyes, flushing face, and fine acting ability, added to a nice singing voice. He is wonderful as the obsessive, fidgeting, confused Austin. His “Maybe We Just Made Love” is charming.

Matt Lillo, as the well-meaning, but air-headed Jeff, is delightful. His many malapropisms are delivered with such natural sincerity, that the audience convulses as he tries to get “all his ducks in a line.”

Attractive Jessica Cope has a fine singing voice and gives just the right flair to Marcy. Her rendition of the ballad, “Even Though,” was charming.

Jodi Dominick (Diana), is properly “up-tight,” and develops the right nuances.

Kyle Primous and Ursula Cataan are mighty fine in multiple roles.

Matthew Webb’s musical direction is on target. He wisely keeps the instrumental sounds down, so that they underscore, rather than drown out the vocals.

Stan Kozak’s contemporary glass brick set looks good, but the constant shuffling around of furniture to represent the various settings gets tiresome.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘I LOVE YOU BECAUSE’ is a total delight, a perfect entertainment escape from the cold and depressing Cleveland winter. Go, enjoy, you’ll feel great, have a smile on your face, as you come out humming the songs.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blackbird

Must see, compelling, disturbing ‘BLACKBIRD’ at Dobama

Participating in the life changing experiences of the characters in Dobama’s ‘BLACKBIRD,’ in the intimate Studio Theatre of the Cleveland Play House, is a compelling and disturbing occurrence.

‘’BLACKBIRD,’ according to author David Harrower, was inspired, in part, by the real life story of Toby Studebaker, a former U.S. Marine who abducted a 12-year-old British girl in 2003. Though Studebaker seduced the girl via the internet, Harrower, in his play, changes the incident to a man who had a sexual experience with his pre-teen neighbor.

Harrower’s meticulous writing often consists of fragmented sentences, wordiness which signifies rambling of emotions instead of coherent thoughts, combativeness, conflicting ideas in the same speech, a slowly developing story that has the characters revealing details by describing incidents they seemingly know about, but really don’t. If you appreciate David Mamet plays, you’ll like Harrower’s works.

The play takes place fifteen years after the series of sexual incidents. Ray, the perpetrator, was convicted and sent to prison for six years, changed his name, and moved to another area. Una finds a picture of Ray in a trade magazine and traces him to his workplace.

The well-crafted script intentionally raises more questions than it answers. Why does she seek him out? Does she want to castigate him? Does she want to rekindle their “love?” Does she want to know why he abandoned her? Is Una mentally unstable, irrevocably damaged? Is it possible that a twelve-year old girl and a forty-year old man could fall in love with the adult not being guilty of abuse of power? Is Ray remorseful or a very clever criminal? Is he, was he, a pedophile? Did he take advantage of her, or was she wise beyond her years?

As Una tells the story of how she had to stay in the community as an object of public ridicule, Ray tells what he suffered in prison with the harsh treatment meted out by other prisoners to sex offenders. There is anger and hurt flying around as years of resentment are released and long unasked questions are answered.

The setting is a strewn lunchroom. Is the rubbish symbolic of the chaos of their lives because of the unfulfilled relationship? Is the trash representative of their messy feelings? Is the debris the residue of unfinished business?

The Dobama production, under the thoughtful direction of Scott Plate, is compelling. Plate has done his homework and seemingly understands the hidden underbelly of the author’s thoughts.

Both Joel Hammer (Ray) and Alyssa Weldon (Una) give exemplary performances. They inhabit their roles. The aren’t acting Ray and Una, they ARE Ray and Una. Uta Hagen, who portrayed Martha in the Broadway production of ‘WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF’ once said of portraying that role, “It’s like having a nervous breakdown every night.” The same must be true for Hammer and Weldon. They have to be psychologically and physically exhausted following each performance. These are portrayals that everyone should see.

‘BLACKBIRD’ is a dark and beguiling play which stays with you. I wish that Plate had let the audience sit in the dark, following the harrowing final scene, and think about what they had just experienced. The quick lights up and the curtain call broke the emotional involvement in the journey on which Harrower, Plate, Hammer and Weldon had taken us.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Dobama’s ‘BLACKBIRD’ is a must see production! That said, be aware that is not an easy play to sit through as the subject matter, the language, and the emotional closeness caused by the intimate acting area, makes the experience intense.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Good Doctor


‘THE GOOD DOCTOR’: Simon meets Chekov at Ensemble

Neil Simon, the king of American theatre comedy, is referred to as “Doc” because he is often called in to “cure” (doctor), scripts that just don’t seem to be ready for public acceptance. Anton Chekov, the well-known modern Russian playwright, is also known as doctor. But, in his case, he actually has a medical degree.

‘THE GOOD DOCTOR,’ now being staged by Ensemble, has the distinction of having been written by both of the doctors. Chekov wrote the original skits and stories, Simon glued them together and adapted them for the American stage.

‘THE GOOD DOCTOR’ is set in Russia during the 19th century. It is composed of a series of scenes in which the connecting thread is The Writer, who is obviously Chekhov. Topics covered include a sneeze, two old people who question whether it is too late for life, a non-assertive governess, the greatest seducer of other men's wives, the drowner, the inexperienced dental assistant, the con-artist, a woman at an audition, and a father taking his son to a prostitute so he can “become a man.”

Simon writes as Chekov, using Russian references and the verbal style that has made the Russian so identifiable.

The play, which is not often produced, opened on Broadway in 1973 to mixed reviews. A television movie was made with Edward Asner, Richard Chamberlin and Marcia Mason, Simon’s second wife, who he met during the making of the TV show.

The Ensemble production, under Jacqi Loewy’s direction, is pleasant. There are some hysterical moments and some that don’t quite develop. The problem is not Loewy’s. It is a combination of some of the material not being as good as other segments and some weak acting.
John Busser is wonderful as The Writer. He has a mobile face, changes his tone and body posture for each person he portrays, and has fun when fun is needed, and a serious tone when that is paramount.

Both Bernard Canepari and Dorothy Canepari are generally excellent. The former is hysterical in a scene in the dentist’s office, while the latter is a sheer delight as “the defenseless creature” who is the queen of the con artists.

On the other hand, Jon Gellott doesn’t have the acting maturity to carry the multiple roles that have been cast at him and Eileen Canepari is inconsistent in her interpretations.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘THE GOOD DOCTOR’ is a pleasant, but not captivating evening of theatre.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frost/Nixon

‘FROST/NIXON’ COMPELS AT PALACE

David Frost’s 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon, following the Watergate scandal and the President’s humiliating resignation, drew the largest audience ever for a television interview. What led up to, and the interview itself, is the lynch-pin of ‘FROST/NIXON.’

Frost, a lightweight entertainer with a playboy reputation, had no obvious political convictions and no special interviewing skills. Could he could get Nixon to admit something that none of the “real” media journalists could elicit? Much to everyone’s surprise, he did!

What motivated British dramatist, Peter Morgan, to believe that two people sitting and talking would be compelling enough to hold an audience spell-bound? He obviously accomplished the impossible as evidenced by the play receiving an Olivier Award, a Tony Award and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play.

The play premiered in London in August 2006, starring Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon. It opened in New York on April 22, 2007 and ran 137 performances. In the touring production award winning Stacy Keach, known to many for his portrayal of TV’s Mike Hammer, takes on the role of Nixon. He is joined by the talented Alan Cox as Frost. They beautifully display the determination, the conviction, and the cunning of the two men as they square off.

The entire cast is excellent. The staging is well-paced by the director Michael Grandage. Even though the audience knew how the interview concluded, the climax brought a verbal gasp. The effect was heightened as we watched a close-up picture of Nixon, shown on a huge screen, with a series of black squares imposed upon his now unsmirking face, his hands folded, not in their phony double “V” for victory pose. It was as if jail cell bars had been superimposed over the ex-President, the man who lied and broke laws but got away with it via a pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford.

One of the local questions that was asked was, could a small cast play with a script which encompasses little physical action, emotionally fill the vast Palace Theatre. The answer, surprisingly, is yes! Another question was, “Would Key Bank’s Broadway Series attendees, who flock to musicals, be appreciative of a drama? Again, the much deserved standing ovation signaled another resounding yes!

For those who lived through this era, the reliving of the experience should be engrossing. For those who were too young to have been around, this is a must see historical document that makes history live.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘FROST/NIXON’ is a must see for those interested in a well-conceived script, which gets an excellent production.

Around the World in 80 Days

“AROUND THE WORLD’ well worth the trip at CPH; news from the CPH

Want to go around the world in eighty days? There are a couple of ways to do it. First, you could attend the Cleveland Play House’s production of the Jules Verne story. Or, you could go on-line to http://game.giveawayoftheday.com/around-the-world-in-80-days/ and play the free download of the game by the same name which takes you on the adventure. Or, you could attempt to accomplish the deed itself. Me? I'd prefer the real thing, but I'll more than happily settle for the CPH tour.

‘AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS’ is a classic adventure novel which was first published in 1873. In Verne’s story, Phileas Fogg of London, and his newly employed French valet, Passepartout, attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days brought about by a £20,000 wager set up by Fogg’s scoundrel friends at London’s Reform Club.

You will actually take part in the circumnavigation, complete with trains chugging along on tracks, an elephant being ridden, and ships sailing and being caught in a hurricane. I kid you not!

Mark Brown’s creative adaptation, is filled with delight, delight brought about by Bart DeLorenzo understanding the format of farce. His directing efforts are ably supported by Jean Zarzour, who serves as his assistant.

Farce, is a light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and slapstick elements are used for humorous effect. And Brown and his talented cast pull out all the verbal and nonverbal slapstick elements, exaggerate the characters to the point of the ridiculous, and point up and pounce on all the humorous situations. The result is sheer delight.

My grandson Alex, one of the now famous Kid Reviewers, was engulfed in giggles and verbal “ohs” and “ahs” throughout. He gave the production an 8 1/2 on his scale of ten. He loved the sets, the acting, especially Brian Sills as Passepartout, and the special effects. He stated that a member of his class had given a report on the Verne story, and that had gotten him ready for the show, and wondered if those who didn’t know the story might be at a disadvantage. Thus he warned that the production might not be totally kid friendly. He thought the musical bridges, which were used as transitions between scenes, could have done a better job of pointing up changing moods. He loved the “flying” train scene sequence and all the slapstick.

Keythe Farley is a perfect Phileas Fogg, he of stern, obsessive/compulsive, no-nonsense thinking, who fired his previous man-servant for bringing him shaving water at 84 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the regular 86. His transition to a man in love is charmingly developed.

Brian Sills inhabits the role of Passepartout. He was not only Alex’s favorite, but obviously the audience’s, as his entrance during the curtain call was met with screams of delight.

Anna Khaja is lovely as Aouda, an Indian woman whose life Fogg saves. Michael Weber plays the perfect fool as Detective Fix. Joe Foust portrays over fifteen roles, with skill. BTW….there are only five actors portraying the many, many roles. It’s hard to conceive, but it works, and works well.

Takeshi Kata’s set design makes the whole staging meld. Ann Closs-Farely’s costumes and Lap Chi Chu’s lighting designs help create the proper moods. Much praise has to go to Candace Brown and Caitie Martin, the behind the scene’s dressers, who are magicians of the fast costume change.

CAPSULE JUDGMENT: CPH’s ‘AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS’ is a total delight! It may be cold outside, but you’ll feel warm, comfy and delighted while watching this production. Applause, applause!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Rent: The Broadway Tour


RENT: THE BROADWAY TOUR’ will do well on its journey

Three shows are the trail-blazers of the American musical theatre. ‘OKLAHOMA,’ the first book musical, ‘HAIR,’ the tribal rock musical, and ‘RENT,’ the picture of “America at the end of the Millennium.” Each moved the musical format ahead and fulfilled the concept that art is representative of the era from which it comes. This means that by looking at the artistic productions of any time period, you get a glimpse of what the attitudes, beliefs, political and social movements were in vogue at the time.

In 1943, with WWII raging, ‘OKLAHOMA” mirrored the need for reality rather than just the mindless escapism of early musical stagings. It represented the attitudes of a changing world and started a trend to use the musical as a vehicle to examine society.

‘HAIR’ was an anti-war, anti-establishment, break the rules snapshot. The production included nudity, long hair, and other “against-the traditional-grain-of-the-times” attitudes.

The turn of the century show-cased ‘RENT.’ It staked out areas that were in “vogue” about ten years ago, like the death sentence of AIDS, drug addiction, homosexuality, transexuality, the plight of the homeless, and the search for purpose. Though some of the issues are presently in a different state, such as the development of the medical cocktail to treat those with AIDS, thus cutting down the number who die from the disease, and a somewhat altered view of homosexuality, the impact of ‘RENT’ can still be felt.

‘RENT,’ inspired by the opera, ‘LA BOHEME, has been to Cleveland five times. But the present production, which was rehearsed here, has a new moniker…’RENT: THE BROADWAY TOUR,” because this version is going to tour.

The excitement about this production centers on three names: Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp and Gwen Stewart. All three were in the original Broadway production, Pascal as Roger, Rapp as Mark and Stewart as the “Seasons soloist.”

The production is well developed by Michael Greif. It is tight, well conceived and nicely paced. Tim Weil, the music supervisor and Steve Skinner, who did the arrangements, wisely toned down the loud and pounding music. The first two times I saw the production in New York I couldn’t understand a word because the music drowned out the lyrics. In this production, fortunately, the music backs up the singers and the words are crystal clear!

The only flaw in this production is Lexi Lawson who portrays Mimi. She is beautiful and has a great singing voice. Unfortunately, she presently lacks the dynamism to grab and hold the role. Hopefully this will improve as she further plays the character.

Besides the three original Broadway cast members, others who stand out are Justin Johnston as Angel, Michael McElroy as Tom Collins and Nicolette Hart as Maureen.

Capsule judgment: The mostly young audience gave the show a standing ovation. They screamed with delight at such songs as “Without You,” “LaVie Boheme/I Should Tell You,” “Will I?,” and one of my favorite songs from any musical, “Seasons of Love.” Whether you like this musical may well be a generational thing, but, that is one of the points of the script.

Friday, January 02, 2009

REVIEW OF THE REVIEWER'S REVIEWS (Brian Zoldessy)



Dear Roy

I want to thank you for the awards; they really mean a
great deal to the Cleveland theatre community and we all appreciate your
hard work, covering as many productions as you do.

Thanks again and all the best,

bz (Brian Zoldessy)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Times Theatre Tributes--2008


TIMES THEATRE TRIBUTES--2008

Greater Cleveland is blessed with a vital theatre scene. It is the purpose of the TIMES THEATRE TRIBUTES to recognize theatrical experiences that, in the mind of this reviewer, were excellent and deserve special recognition.

Only shows performed in 2008 which I reviewed were considered. Selections were limited to locally produced stagings, so none of the professional touring shows are recognized, though actors, directors and technicians who were imported by local theatres were considered. Actors are not separated by gender or leading or supporting roles.

If you would like to read any of my reviews for the year, please go to www.royberko.info, enter the blog and click on “2008 Reviews” or click on the name of the producing theatre and scroll through their performances. Reviews from previous years may also be accessed.

Please excuse any errors in name spelling. If there is a mistake please let me know (royberko@yahoo.com) and I will correct it in the blog announcement and your certificate.

Certificates will be mailed to the sponsoring theatre by the end of January with a request to forward to the individual recognized recipients.

Thanks to the following for making the 2008 theatre scene in the Cleveland area stimulating and memorable:

PRODUCTIONS
ALICE (Porthouse)
ANYTHING GOES (Porthouse)
BROOKLYN BOY (JCC/CCC)
BROOKLYN, THE MUSICAL (BW/PHS)
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE (Karamu/Dobama)
COLDER THAN HERE (Dobama)
DOUBT: A PARABLE (CPH)
GOLDA’S BALCONY (Actors’ Summit)
GOLDSTAR, OHIO (CPT)
HAROLD AND MAUDE (Cain Park)
I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A
YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA (Dobama)
IN THE CONTINUUM (CPT)
INTO THE WOODS (GLTF)
MACBETH (GLTF)
ORANGE FLOWER WATER (Bang and Clatter)
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (CPH)
PROOF (ACTORS’ SUMMIT)
RAISIN IN THE SUN (CPH)
TALKING HEADS 2 (BECK)
THE CARPETBAGGER’S CHILDREN (Ensemble)
THE CRUCIBLE (GLTF)
THE HISTORY BOYS (Beck)
TWO ROOMS (Charenton/CPT)
URINETOWN: THE MUSICAL (Beck)

DIRECTORS
Amster, Peter PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (CPH)
Barr, Drew, THE CRUCIBLE (GLTF)
Bellamy, Lou, RAINSIN IN THE SUN (CPH)
Bobgan, Raymond, THE OTHER SIDE (CPT)
Bussert, Victoria, BOOKLYN, THE MUSICAL (BW/PHS)
Bussert, Victoria, INTO THE WOODS (GLTF)
Bussert, Victoria, HAROLD AND MAUDE (CAIN PARK)
Colombi, Lucia, THE CARPETBAGGER’S CHILDREN (Ensemble)
Earnest, Matthew, ALICE (Porthouse)
Fee, Charles, MACBETH (GLTF)
Gordon, Seth, DOUBT, A PARABLE (CPH)
Hammer, Joel, COLDER THAN HERE (Dobama)
Kent, Terri, ANYTHING GOES (Porthouse)
Loewy, Jacqui, TWO ROOMS (Charenton/CPT)
May, Sarah, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE (Karamu/Dobama)
May, Sarah, THE HISTORY BOYS (Beck)
McConaha, Sean, ORANGE FLOWER WATER (Bang and Clatter)
Paris, Andy, GOLDSTAR, OHIO (CPT)
Sias, Tony, IN THE CONTINUUM (CPT)
Silver, Reuben & Thackaberry, Neil, GOLDA’S BALCONY (Actors’ Summit)
Spence, Scott, URINETOWN: THE MUSICAL (BECK CENTER)
Turney, Wayne, PROOF (Actors’ Summit)
Zoldessy, Brain, BROOKLYN BOY (JCC/CCC)
Zoldessy, Brian, I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN
TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA (Dobama)

PERFORMERS
Andres, Barbara (Doubt, A Parable)—CPH
Besler, Andrea (I Have Before Me…Rwanda)—Dobama
Black, MaryAnn (Anything Goes)—Porthouse
Boll, Heather Lea Anderson (Colder Than Here)—Dobama
Budin, Noah (Brooklyn Boy)—JCC/CCC
Clarke, Gerald (The Wiz)—Cain Park
Cope, Jessica L. (Into the Woods)—GLTF
Cross, Chaon (Pride and Prejudice)—CPH
Culler, Kathleen (Main-Travelled Roads)—Actors’ Summit
Davies, Aled (All’s Well That Ends Well)—GLTF
Davies, Aled (The Crucible)—GLFT
DiBlasi, Stephen (Brooklyn, the Musical)—BW/PHS
Dooley, Sheffia, Randall (Caroline, or Change)—Karamu/Dobama
Dorn, Franchelle Stewart (Raisin in the Sun)—CPH
Elliott, Kelly (Boom)—CPT
Emerick, Sandra (Anything Goes)—Porthouse
Felder, Hershey (George Gershwin Alone)—Cleveland Play House
Flaherty, Christian (Caroline, or Change)—Karamu/Dobama
Folino, Dan (The History Boys)—Beck
Ford, Tom (Into the Woods)—GLTF
Frederic, Michael (Doubt, A Parable)—CPH
Grover, Jeffrey (TWO ROOMS—Charenton/CPT
Gulick, Lissy (Carpetbagger’s Children)—Ensemble
Hart, Dana (The History Boys)—Beck
Hawkes, Robert (Talking Heads 2)—Beck
Joyce, Daniel Damon (Glass Menagarie)—CPH
Kahl, Betsy (Urinetown: the Musical)—Beck Center
Kartali, Charles (The Christmas Story)--CPH
Kartali, Charles, (Brooklyn Boy)—JCC/CCC
Kimberly Brown (In the Continuum)—CPT
Klika, Jen (ORANGE FLOWER WATER—Bang and Clatter
Kusak, Doug (This Is How It Goes)—Bang and Clatter
LaVonn, Erika (Raising in the Sun)—CPH
Lewellen, Hester (Carpetbagger’s Children)—Ensemble
Mach, Corey (Harold and Maude)—Cain Park
Matthew Wright (Urinetown: the Musical)—Beck Center
May, Andrew (The Crucible)—GLTF
McElhaney, Daniel (ORANGE FLOWER WATER—Bang and Clatter
McEvoy, Anne (Between Life and Death)—CPT
McEvoy, Anne (Colder Than Here)—Dobama
Miller, Scott (I Have Before Me…Rwanda)—Dobama
Morton, Sarah (TWO ROOMS—Charenton/CPT
Nagel, Maryann (Harold and Maude)—Cain Park
Nottage, Mary Jane (Carpetbagger’s Children)—Ensemble
Patterson, Tracee ((The Breakup Notebook: The Lesbian Musical)—Beck Center
Petty, Malika (Brooklyn, the Musical)—BW/PHS
Petty, Malika (The Wiz)—Cain Park
Pote, Emily (Alice)—Porthouse
Riddle, John (Altar Boyz)—Beck Center
Roth, George (The Fantastics)—Ensemble
Silver, Dorothy (Golda’s Balcony)—Actors’ Summit
Silver, Dorothy (Talking Heads 2)—Beck
Snow, Charene (Doubt, A Parable)—CPH
Stefanko, Joey (The Christmas Story)—CPH
Thackaberry, Constance (Proof)—Actors’ Summit
Thomas, Matthew Martin (The History Boys)—Beck
VanBaars, Eric (The Breakup Notebook: The Lesbian Musical)—Beck Center
Violand, Greg (Urinetown: the Musical)—Beck Center
Wells, Ker, (Living Tall)—Cleveland Public Theatre
Wright, Mathew (My Favorite Year)—Beck Center
Wyse, Alex, (Honk)—Mercury Summer Theatre

COMPOSITE CASTS
Colder Than Here (Dobama)
Doubt, A Parable (CPH)
Goldstar, Ohio (CPT)
Into the Woods (GLTF)
Orange Flower Water (Bang and Clatter)
Proof (Actors’ Summit)
Talking Heads 2 (Beck)
The Carpetbagger’s Children (Ensemble)
The History Boys (Beck)

TECHNICIANS
Borski, Russ, costume design (The Wiz)—Cain Park
Borski, Russ, set design ((The Breakup Notebook: The Lesbian Musical)—Beck
Brassard, Gail, costume design, (Pride and Prejudice)—CPH
Burns, Trad, lighting and set design (Goldstar, Ohio)—CPT
Burns, Trad, lighting design (Altar Boyz)—Beck Center
Burns, Trad, set and light design (The History Boys)—Beck
Center
Coates, Norman, lighting design (Into the Woods)—GLTF
Davis, John, sword fight sequences (My Favorite Year)—Beck Center
DiBernardo, Dale, costumes (Damn Yankees)—Carousel
DiBernardo, Dale, set design (The King and I)—Carousel
Gilliam, Michael, lighting design (George Gershwin Alone)—CPH
Herman, Jeff, scenic design (Into the Woods)—GLTF
Ingraham, Richard, sound design (I Have Before Me…Rwanda)—Dobama
Johnson, Pat, costume design (Alice)—Porthouse
Koharchik, Robert, set design (Pride and Prejudice)—CPH
Kovach, Robert, set design (The King and I)—Carousel
Kozak, Stan, sound design (Into the Woods)—GLTF
Leonard, Joy James, set design (Noises Off)—CPH
Lincoln, Michael, lighting design (Glass Menagerie)—CPH
Moxley, Star, costume design (Macbeth)—GLTF
Needham, Ben, set design (Brooklyn Boy)—JCC/CCC
Needham, Ben, set design (Peter Pan)—Beck Center
Ostaszewski, Michel, projections (Two Rooms)—Charenton/CPT
Pardess, Yael, scenic design (George Gershwin Alone)—CPH
Parkman, Russell, set design (Doubt: A Parable)—CPH
Patton, Fritz, original music and sound design (The Crucible)—GLTF
Pauna, Steve, set design (Alice)—Porthouse
Smith, Vicki, set design (Raisin in the Sun)—CPH
Thackaberry, Neil, visual effects(Golda’s Balcony)—Actors’ Summit
Tulenson, Nathan, sound design (Two Rooms)—Charenton/CPT
Williams, Gage, scenic design (Macbeth)—GLTF
Yetman, Charlotte, costume design (Into the Woods)—GLTF

MUSICAL DIRECTION
Andersen Wolfgang, Nancy (Anything Goes), Porthouse
Espino, John Jay, (Into the Woods)—GLTF
Maier, Nancy (Brooklyn, the Musical), BW/PHS
Morris, Evie (Main-Travelled Rloads), Actors’ Summit
Ricci, Jodie (Harold and Maude), Cain Park
Ridley, Ed (Caroline, or Change,) Karamu/Dobama

CHOREOGRAPHY

Black, MaryAnn (Anything Goes)—Porthouse
Cespedes, Martin (Into the Woods)--GLTF
Cespedes, Martin ((Urinetown: the Musical)—Beck Center
Cespedes, Martin (The Breakup Notebook: The Lesbian Musical)—Beck Center
Cortez, Hernando (Altar Boyz)—Beck Center
Merckx, Ken, (Macbeth)—GLTF (fight choreography)
Pesce, Vince, (The King and I)—Carousel

SPECIAL RECOGNITION
Joyce Casey, for her continued dedication to making Dobama a high quality entity.

Sean Derry and Sean McConaha of The Bang and Clatter for having the “chutpsa” to open a new theatre in downtown Cleveland with no parking!

Gina Vernaci and Victoria Bussert for their new collaboration between Playhouse Square and Baldwin-Wallace College.

Gina Vernaci for her continued excellent coordination and program development for Playhouse Square Foundation.

Great Lakes Theatre Festival for the creation of a superb new theatre space in the reburbished Hanna Theatre.



THE BEST OF THE BEST

I have been asked why I don’t select my “best of the best” for each season. So, to satisfy those requests, I present my selections:

2008 BEST OF THE BEST DRAMAS:
Golda’s Balcony (Actors’ Summit)
I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from
Rwanda (Dobama)
The History Boys (Beck)
Two Rooms (Charenton/CPT)

2008 BEST OF THE BEST MUSICALS:
Brooklyn (BW/Playhouse Square)
Caroline, or Change (Karamu/Dobama)
Into the Woods (GLTF)

2008 BEST PERFORMANCES:
Andrea Belser (I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a
Young Lady from Rwanda (Dobama)
Dorothy Silver (Golda’s Balcony)—Actors’ Summit
Dorothy Silver (Talking Heads 2)—Beck Center
Mathew Wright (Urinetown: the Musical)—Beck Center
Sheffia Dooley (Caroline, or Change)—Karamu/Dobama