Sunday, January 27, 2008

Groundworks and Verb Ballets (1/25, 1/26)

Area’s premiere dance companies perform same dates, next to each other

For a period of time our area’s dance aficionados felt lost when The Cleveland-San Jose Ballet ditched us for the west coast. C-SJB’s place was taken by some small companies, several of whom have matured to the point of gaining recognition by local and national dance critics for excellence.

Interestingly, the two premiere companies, Verb Ballets and Groundworks, performed this past weekend on Playhouse Square, each to near sold out audiences. Groundworks performed in the Idea Center, Verb in the Ohio. Both gave their followers, many of whom saw Groundworks on Friday and then Verb on Saturday, fine evenings of entertainment.

GROUNDWORKS (seen 1/25)
The Idea Center at Playhouse Square is a perfect venue for David Shimotakahra’s up-close and personal philosophy of dance.

The program opened with yet another staging of ‘ALWAYS’ as choreographed by Gina Gibney. The piece has became a staple in Groundworks performances. Well danced by Amy Miller, Sarah Perrett, Mark Otloski and Damien Highfield, it uses the music of Patsy Cline to create a country music meets contemporary dance mélange. Clever transitions between dance segments, interesting lifts, creative hand movements, creative carries and touches led to a pleasant program opener.

‘KNOW,’ choreographed by Shimotakahara, was performed to the music of Leonard Bernstein played live by the talented Solaris Woodwind Quintet. Originally conceived for two men—Michael Medcalf and Shimotakahara, it has recently been danced by Amy Miller and Felise Bagley. Though different when performed by two women than by two men, the visual effect is very positive. Strong and powerful Miller is balanced nicely by the cool and delicate Bagley. The two create a mood in which music and movements blend together to create a very appealing action-reaction cohesive piece of dance.

A musical interlude, “The Golden Cannon,” performed by the Solaris Woodwind Quintet, was met with very appreciative reaction by the audience.

‘DELAYED,’ a world premiere, was choreographed by Israeli choreographer, Zvi Gotheiner, who has been in residence and was present at the performance. The piece, which was too long, was performed to the abstract atonal music of Terry Riley. The sound, after a while, becomes unnerving. The bodily movements interpreted well Gotheiner’s concept of established and lost connections, opportunities not fulfilled and interactions never resolved. The company danced effectively, but the music and the choreography did not always grab and hold attention. The audience’s response was polite applause.

VERB BALLETS (seen 1/26)
Verb opened its program with Heinz Poll’s sensual, precise, mesmerizing ‘BOLERO,’ danced to the music of Ravel. The choreography, which was restaged by Amy Miller, ironically of Groundworks, ended with the audience screaming appreciation. Strong dancing by Catherine Meredith was supported by an inspired corps.

‘DUET,’ another Poll piece, was beautifully danced by the lovely Danielle Brickman and Brian Murphy, who seems to have emerged from the shadow of the now departed Mark Tomasic, to become the powerhouse performer among local male dancers. The duo’s partnering was point perfect. Their control and flow, as they moved to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Adagio for Organ,’” which was played with artistic perfection by David Fisher at the piano and cellist Greg Fiocca, was wonderful to watch.

‘SONGS,’ originally created by the company’s artistic director Hernando Cortez in 2007, has been reworked. The German vocalization of Gustav Mahler’s heavy Symphony just doesn’t help the audience understand the tone-poem’s message. Though well performed, the piece became ponderous after a while. Highlights included solo performances by Robert Wesner, Brian Murphy and Sydney Ignacio.

The final piece of the evening, ‘FRONTROW,’ was in its world premiere. Also choreographed by Cortez, it was a compelling visual creation. Trad Burns’ iridescent Mylar columns and creative lighting made the stage shimmer. Brittney and Gina Dudek’s brief Mylar costumes added to the visual excitement. The well conceived and danced piece left both the audience and the dancers happily exhausted. This is a fine addition to the Verb repertoire.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Very Hungry Caterprillar

Children’s theatre—a wonderful opportunity to educate the young

Taking a child to a theatrical production especially geared at youth is a wonderful way to introduce future theatre audience members to the wonder s of live entertainment.

Recently, Playhouse Square Center brought to the Ohio Theatre the Mermain Theatre of Nova Scotia to perform three one-act plays based on the stories of Eric Carle. The presentation was part of the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Discovery Theatre Series. The plays included the ‘LITTLE CLOUD,’ ‘MIXED-UP CAMELEON’ and ‘THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR.’

The company uses black lights, puppetry, and a policy of “no shushing” as they want children to yell out and interact and explore the stories as the production proceeds. The stagings allowed the viewers to see the hungry caterpillar munch his way to becoming a beautiful butterfly, the little cloud change shapes before their eyes, and the mixed-up chameleon teach the importance of being true to oneself. In the process, the kids learned numbers, counting, colors and the names of various beings.

As has been my custom with children’s theatre, or plays which are child friendly, I took Ian, my youngest grandson, who has recently joined the ranks of “The Kid Reviewers” to be my child’s eyes and ears regarding the show. Ian, at the mature age of 8 (or, as he reminded me, he was actually 7 and 364/365ths), said he had read the stories when he was “little” but was still engrossed by the puppetry techniques and black light effects. He rejoiced in figuring out the technique used by the puppeteers to allow the caterpillar to “eat” its way through apples and oranges. He was very interested when, during the question-and-answer session which followed the performance, the puppeteers explained how they made and manipulated the animated creatures. He discussed what he had learned all the way home.

Capsule judgment: Taking children to live theatre is a wonderful way of aiding young ones to realize the excitement of live theatre. Thanks to all of the theatres in the area who make these opportunities possible.

2 Man Kidnapping Rule

Disappointing opening at Fourth Wall Productions’ new venue

After giving Fourth Wall Productions’ ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’ several Times Theatre Tributes last season, including one for Outstanding Play, I was looking forward to seeing ‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE,’ the theatre’s first production of its second season.

Unfortunately, my positive expectations were dashed.

Joseph Gallo’s ‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE’ is a sophomoric script, obsessed with redundant sexual commentary, sexual innuendos and excessive references to body parts, for no obvious reason. In a well-developed piece of writing such references have a purpose in moving the plot forward. In ‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE’ they appear to be included for titillation and the author implying “I’m young and hip and can say whatever I want, and young hip members of the audience will love it.”

My view of the script may be a minority evaluation. According to the program, Gallo’s play had a reading at the Soho Think Tank in New York and was “really well-received.” (I have no idea who received it “well” as that wasn’t explained.)

Even if the script had been sterling, the level of directing, and much of the acting, left much to be desired.

The director, in his self-proclaimed directorial debut, did little to help the audience gain the intent and purpose of the writer. (Maybe he, like me, couldn’t figure out what Gallo was trying to tell the viewer.) The pacing was inconsistent, there was little action, some of the acting sounded like unexpressive statements of memorized lines, and the casting was confusing. Two of the three men were supposed to have been former college football players. One was a winner of the Heisman Trophy as the best collegiate player in the country, the other received a tryout with a pro team. Unfortunately, the Heisman winner looked like an undersized college freshman and the pro player more like a cross-country runner. Moral: if a show requires certain physical types, and you don’t have them available, don’t do the show. You can’t fake required physical descriptions.

Of the three actors, only Nate Bigger had the acting chops to make his character’s lines consistently believable.

Capsule judgement: If Fourth Wall is going to be taken seriously as a viable theatre it has to chose scripts that deserve production and stage them in a way that makes audiences want to return. They need to do more ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’-type productions. They’ve proven they are capable of that level of excellence. Let’s hope in the future they return to that level.

‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE’ is being staged by Fourth Wall Productions at their new home, Suite 221, the Enterprise Center of Glenville, through January 27. For tickets call 330-283-2442 or visit

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Orange Flower Water

Bang & Clatter’s ‘ORANGE FLOWER WATER, theatre at its best

Craig Wright, the author of ‘ORANGE FLOWER WATER,’ now being performed by The Bang and The Clatter, writes plays about people in families, people who question the course of their lives. He is a very talented writer. His ‘THE PAVILION’ was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His HBO series, “Six Feet Under,” was critically acclaimed.

In “ORANGE FLOWER WATER,’ he delves into the lives of two couples who, for many years, have each given the illusion of being happy. Unfortunately, the facade is a fraud. The charade comes to a head when one member of each couple unite in an adulterous affair. Through a series of scenes which take place around and in a single bed, which represents various beds, we watch as four lives unravel. Questions arise. What will happen to the children? Was the affair a mistake or a necessary intrusion to bring about needed changes? Was the action the pursuit of selfishness or a search for personal happiness? Will the results be like the fragrance of orange flower water, sweet but overpowering?

This is a raw, painful and graphic tale. It is a challenging play which forces us to ask, “In the end, is a happy ending worth the pain?

B&G’s production, under the well defined direction of Sean McConaha, is compelling. The pacing is appropriately precise, the acting performances well-honed and the idea development clear.

Jean Klika (Beth) is excellent as the wife of a controlling, abusive husband. The actress has several monologues in which the character comes close to nervous breakdowns. Each is done with realism and elicits compassion.

Daniel McElhaney (Brad) is properly vile as Beth’s controlling husband. He paces the stage like a caged tiger, about to attack. He transforms himself into a character whom the audience comes to hate.

Teresa McDonough, as the uptight Kathy, draws sympathy as the perfectly organized mother and wife who is put upon by a husband who cannot accept her version of life and love. Her librarian glasses, coifed hair and prim clothing create the perfect visual image for her ice lady emotions.

Mark Mayo creates a completely etched character as David, the pharmacist who wants to escape his present life, but has an unrealistic view of the consequences that will be wrought by his pursing a married woman.

Written with assurance and constructed with drama and humor, the play is emotionally wrenching. The tribute to both the script and the production was the reverent silence at the play’s conclusion. There was nary an audible sound after the lights went off signally the end. When, after an appropriate pause, the lights came on, the audience was brought back to the reality of being in the theatre, and gave the performers a hearty ovation.

Capsule judgment: Bravo B&G! ‘ORANGE FLOWER WATER’ is a not-to-be-missed production. It should stimulate long discussions and encourage a replay in the viewer’s mind, long after the final bows. (Be aware that the play contains nudity and a sex scene.)

George Gershwin Alone

Hershey Felder & George Gershwin hit the right notes at CPH

Hershey Felder has done extensive research about George Gershwin, who many consider the greatest of American popular music composers. He has used that information to create an evening of song and narration entitled ‘GEORGE GERSHWIN ALONE,’ which is now on stage at the Cleveland Play House.

How biographically accurate is the script? Who knows. Gershwin died at age 38 of a brain tumor before he had reached a high enough level of fame for historians to document every phase of his life. So, we have to trust Felder as he gives us a picture of a person who felt passionately about his work. A character filled with pathos and humor and, as with many artists, self-centered.

In his brief lifetime Gershwin gave the world such songs as “The Man I Love,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” "Embraceable You," "Fascinating Rhythm," "I Got Rhythm," and "They Can’t Take That Away from Me." And, then there is “Summertime,” which many musical critics consider to be the most perfect song ever written. He also created the musicals ‘AN AMERICAN IN PARIS’ and ‘PORGY AND BESS.’

Though the show, which is filled with nostalgia and humor, is billed as centering purely on the story of George Gershwin, Felder, an accomplished classical pianist with a decent singing voice, abandons the Gershwin persona about two-thirds of the way through the performance, has the lights come up in the theatre, and proceeds to ask for Gershwin requests from the audience. He then plays and sings those requests, and encourages theatre-goers to participate. He goes as far as selecting audience members to sing solos.

Scenic Designer Yael Pardess has created a beautiful and appropriate setting and Michael Gilliam’s mood lighting creates the right atmosphere.

CAPSULE JUDGMENT: Before he switches to the audience-centered segment of the show, Felder concludes the historical Gershwin exposition playing “Rhapsody in Blue.” It was a perfect conclusion to an evening of musical education, entertainment and recognition of a great composer. Anyone who loves music and good theatre will thoroughly enjoy ‘GEORGE GERSHWIN ALONE.’

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Avner the Eccentric in Exceptions to Gravity


If you were not one of the fortunate theatre-goers who witnessed the performance of ‘AVNER THE ECCENTRIC in EXCEPTIONS TO GRAVITY,’ you missed one fun time. If you didn’t take your children or grandchildren to see Avner, you deprived them of an experience they would not quickly have forgotten.

As is the case with shows that are “child-friendly,” I took my grandsons (Alex—12, Noah—10 and Ian—7), who have picked up the tag-name “The Kid Reviewers,” to see the show presented by the Jewish Community Center and Playhouse Square Center. Their evaluation? A perfect 10 out of 10 from each of them. Noah wanted to know if he could give Avner a 12, but rules are rules, so 10 it is!

Take a creative elder statesman, add a broom, a sweater, an alarm clock, a hat, popcorn, paper cups, a ladder, a newspaper, toilet paper and napkins and you have all you need for a show of magic, illusion and audience pleasure.

Avner Eisenberg has the knack of knowing how to “play an audience.” He jumps off the stage, has the light person bring the illumination up and down to introduce his coming down into the audience, plays around with those in the front rows, and then sets the mood for his on-stage shticks. He “scolded” the late comers. He took a paper away from a man in the second row, proceed to rip it up, balance the pieces on his nose, and then put it back together. He made people change seats. He grabbed a purse from one woman and proceeded to pull out a roll of toilet paper, much to her embarrassment. He had some female in the first row kiss his “boo-boo” every time he did a prat-fall.

Avner balanced a 20-foot aluminum ladder on his forehead, ate 15 napkins, divided the audience into sections and had one group stomp on the floor while another moaned and yet another screamed louder and softer as he conducted his “human orchestra.” It was all totally delightful. And, he did the whole 90-minute show without saying one word!!!

Ian had difficulty staying in his seat. He wanted to be part of the action. His brothers had to grab him a couple of times as he vaulted toward the stage. Alex was laughing so hard at one point, he slipped off the chair. Even “cool and controlled” Noah was hysterical.

Capsule judgment: Avner the Eccentric was Avner the delightful in his recent Ohio Theatre performance. If you missed it, you missed a show that the Kid Reviewers called “great,” “terrific,” “funny,” “hysterical” and “my favorite play, ever!”

Avenue Q

‘AVENUE Q’ delights at the Palace

According to one of the songs in ‘AVENUE Q,’ which is now being staged as part of the Broadway series at the Palace Theatre, “life sucks on Avenue Q.” Don’t tell that to the near capacity audience who attended the opening night performance of the touring show. They loved life on ‘AVENUE Q’!!!

Known as the “porn puppet musical,” ‘AVENUE Q’ won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical.

The show, which was conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, opened off –Broadway in 2002, was transferred on-Broadway in 2003 and went to Las Vegas in 2005 instead of doing the usual touring production routine of major musicals. The Vegas run is why it has taken so long to get here.

The script is largely inspired by ‘SESAME STREET.’ Most of the characters in the show are puppets. In contrast to the tv show, the actors who operate the puppets are clearly seen. It’s delightful to watch the human facial expressions and body actions paralleled by the puppets. The set depicts several tenements on a rundown street known as Avenue Q, in New York City. Many of the characters are pure parodies of Sesame Street. The major difference is that the “Q” characters are young adults facing adult problems who sometimes use profanity.

The story is about a bright-eyed college graduate named Princeton who finds himself in a search for purpose. When Princeton moves onto Avenue Q, he encounters a group of delightful misfits including Kate Monster, a lovelorn kindergarten assistant, who falls in love with Princeton; Nicky, a good-hearted slacker who lives with Rod; Rod, a closeted gay Republican investment banker; Brian, an out-of-work comedian, engaged to Christmas Eve, a Japanese psycho-therapist; Gary Coleman, yes, the former child actor; Trekkie Monster, think a porn obsessed Cookie Monster; and, Lucy T. Slut – a slutty night club singer.

The songs are delightful. They include "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?,” "It Sucks to Be Me, " "Purpose," "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," and "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today."

Many of the topics and song lyrics brought sustained laughter because of their connection to the audience. For instance, during the song “For Now,” which lists things that are only going to be around for a short time, the name “George Bush” was sung. The audience broke out in prolonged applause and cheering.

What about the advertised porno inclusions? Yes, there is some swearing and the use of “those” words. And, yes, there are puppet sex acts. However, except for those with severe red state attitudes, the viewers will find the going-ons fun, not perverse.

The touring production is excellent. The cast is strong and the staging and special effects are well conceived.

Audience favorites included Robert McClure, who performed the roles of Princeton and Rod. This is a talented young man, who was in the Broadway production of the show, has an excellent singing voice, great acting skills and a compelling stage presence. Kelli Sawyer (Nicky, Trekkie Monster) has a strong singing voice and interacted well with McClure. Angela AI was delightful as Christmas Eve and Carla Renata made for a great Gary Coleman.

Capsule judgment: ‘AVENUE Q’ is a total delight. Go, you’ll have a great time!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Proof (Actors' Summit)


Is there a thin line between genius and mental illness? Can a person “burn out” when s/he gets near the age of 40, no longer able to muster up the deep thoughts that appeared so easily in their early twenties? Can a woman be a mathematical genius? These are only three of the questions broached by playwright David Auburn in his prize winning play ‘PROOF.’

‘PROOF’ centers on Catherine, a young woman who has spent years caring for her father, Robert, who was a brilliant mathematician in his younger years. As he passed forty, he lost his acuity. He wrote continually, but the material was irrational. After he dies, Hal, a former student, probes into his ramblings with the hope of finding something worth publishing, thus pushing ahead Hal’s stalled career. With Catherine’s help, Hal discovers a paradigm-shifting proof about prime numbers in Robert's office. He assumes it was Robert’s work. Catherine claims the proof was conceived by her. Hal questions this conclusion, doubting that a woman with little in-depth knowledge of mathematics could create such brilliance. His reaction not only ends their relationship, but brings front-and-center Catherine's fear of following in her father's footsteps--mathematical genius and mentally ill.

‘PROOF’ was awarded the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play.

What’s interesting to many is that Auburn attended the University of Chicago where he studied political philosophy, not mathematics. In reality, it matters little as there is no actual inclusion mathematical concepts. This should relieve those who fear the show because it might be too abstract and technical.

Actors’ Summit’s production, under the guidance of Wayne Turney, is excellent. It is well paced and each of the actors develops a clear character.

Constance Thackaberry gives the right edge to her performance as Catherine. Is she a clone of her father…brilliant and on the way to insanity? Or, is she the product of her sister Claire’s attempt to control her out of guilt for the failure to provide aid to their father as she plotted her own life track? You’ll leave the theatre appropriately asking those questions.

A. Neil Thackaberry gives a meaningful performance as Robert. He walks the line between insanity and brilliance with surety.

Alicia Kahn is properly up-tight as Catherine’s sister, Claire. Her pronunciation, body language, clothing, hair style and attitude are character perfect.

Keith Stevens is on-target as Harold Dobbs, Robert’s former student.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Actors’ Summit’s ‘PROOF’ is a well conceived production of an excellent script. There isn’t a weak link in the production chain.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Thank you, Roy. Jack & I just got to see the production ['I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA'] last night & were similarly impressed & effected.

Best regards,
Blanche Valancy

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda

Dobama does it again: fine script, well performed and directed

Dobama’s ‘I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA,’ is typical Dobama. As it has done over and over, Dobama is showcasing yet another theatrical gem. The lightly financed theatre with no home, just keeps coming up with the right script, the right cast and the right director as it wanders the Cleveland landscape.

‘I HAVE BEFORE ME...’ is a touching, humorous, meaningful story of the emotional and intellectual relationship between Juliette, a young woman who was a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda massacres, and Simon, a British poet who tries to help her write her personal story. In the process, he finds his literary voice and psychological substance, and she finds a meaningful life.

The play has been called “A remarkable achievement…a stirring tale of human bravery in the face of adversity.” And, “an important, timely piece of theatre that manages to explore political issues and express moral outrage without ever once lapsing into moralizing and political rhetoric.”

Sonja Linden, the play’s author based the material on an experience she had while working at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. She met a young woman from Rwanda, whose impulse to write had started in a refugee camp shortly after the murder of her entire family. What began as a testimonial act became a journey of healing, which resulted in her feeling once again 'clean.'

As the daughter of refugees from Nazi Germany, Linden felt compelled to draw attention to the appalling situation in Rwanda so that holocausts like this “would never happen again.”

Dobama’s production is outstanding. Director Brian Zoldessy grasps the concept and has brought all the correct nuances into play. The production moves smoothly, accenting the humor and pathos in just the right ways.

Scott Miller develops Simon perfectly as the angst-filled and frustrated British poet. At the start we realize that Simon has lost his productive voice. As the play proceeds we experience his getting in touch with the emotions he needs to return to be his creative self. Miller does an excellent job of nonverbally transition from emotionally frozen to emotionally euphoric.

Andrea Belser makes Juliette live, she inhabits the role. We feel her terror, we experience her losses, we silently cheer for her to achieve her goal, we revel in her reattachment with a family member, we are driven to understand the horror of horror.

Richard Ingraham’s sound design adds great depth and. The sounds of Rwanda underscore the beauty of the country and the misery of yet another senseless destruction of precious human life.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: What a way to start a new theatrical season!!! ‘I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA’ is a MUST SEE production. Bravo Dobama!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Times Theatre Tributes--2007


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 2007 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, enter the blog and click on “2007 Reviews” or click on the name of the producing theatre and scroll through their performances. Reviews from previous years may also be accessed.

Thanks to the following for making the 2007 theatre scene in the Cleveland area stimulating and memorable:

DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Actors’ Summit)
EQUUS (Beck Center)
FAT PIG (The Bang and Clatter)
JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck Center)
LUNACY (Dobama)
MALICIOUS BUNNY (Fourth Wall Productions)
NINE (Cain Park)
QED (Actors’ Summit)
ROUNDING THIRD (Actors’ Summit)
TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
THE PRICE (Ensemble Theatre)
TWO HEADED (Titlewave)

Charles Fee, HAY FEVER (GLTF)
Constance Thackaberry, ROUNDING THIRD (Actors’ Summit)
Dorothy Silver, THE PRICE (Ensemble Theatre)
Greg Vovos, TWO HEADED (Titlewave)
Mark Alan Gordon, LUNACY (Dobama)
Scott Plate, TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
Scott Spence, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck Center)
Sean McConaha, FAT PIG (The Bang and The Clatter)
Seth Gordon, THE CHOSEN (CPH)
Vicki Bussert, NINE (Cain Park)
Wayne Turney, QED (Actor’s Summit)
William Roudebush, EQUUS (Beck Center)

A. Neil Thackaberry, QED (Actors’ Summit)
Amiee Collier, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck Center)
Andrew Pastides, THE CHOSEN (Cleveland Play House)
Aric Generette Floyd, NINE (Cain Park)
Bernadette Clemens, LUNACY (Dobama)
Brian Marshall, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Hanna/Playhouse Square)
Caleb Sekeres, TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
Carmen Keels, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Hanna/Playhouse Square)
Charles Kartali, THE PRICE (Ensemble)
Chris Seibert, OUR TOWN (CPT)
Chris Seibert, TWO HEADED (Titlewave)
Dan Folino, EQUUS (Beck)
Dan Folino, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck)
Dan Hammond, LUNACY (Dobama)
David Anthony Smith, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (GLTF)
Dedriu Ring, FROZEN (Beck)
Donald Carrier, LINCOLESQUE (CPH)
Emily Pote, PETER PAN (Porthouse)
Eric van Beers, SWEET CHARITY (Porthouse Theatre)
Fabio Poanco, NINE (Cain Park)
Fred Maurer, TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
George Roth, OLIVER (Cain Park)
George Roth, THE CHOSEN (GLTF)
Greg Violand, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Hanna/Playhouse Square)
Jason Markouc, FROZEN, (Beck)
Jason Markouc, A LOSS OF ROSES (Ensemble)
Jean Zarzour, CHRISOPHER COLUMBUS, Cesear’s Forum
Jeffrey Evan Thomas, OF MICE AND MEN (CPH)
Jeremy Rishe, THE CHOSEN (GLTF)
John Kolibab, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, Cesear’s Forum
Juliette Regnier, DEAR WORLD (Kalliope Stage)
Keith Stevens, ROUNDING THIRD (Actors’ Summit)
Kristin Netzband, JOLSON & FRIENDS (JCC)
Laura Theodore, REFLECTIONS (Beck Center)
Laurel Johnson, SOME GIRL(S) (The Bang and Clatter)
Mark Tomasick, SONG AND DANCE (Beck Center)
Marla Berg, DEAR WORLD (Kalliope Stage)
MaryAnn Black, SWEET CHARITY (Porthouse Theatre)
Matthew Wright, EQUUS (Beck)
Michael Reginer, LUNACY (Dobama)
Nate Bigger, MALICIOUS BUNNY (Fourth Wall Productions)
Nick Koesters, DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Actors’ Summit)
Patty Lohr, OLIVER (Cain Park)
Philip Hernandez, MAN OF LA MANCHA (CPH)
Rachel Warren, MAN OF LA MANCHA (CPH)
Reuben Silver, THE PRICE (Ensemble)
Sandra Simon, PASSION (Beck Center)
Scott Plate, THOM PAINE--based on Nothing (Dobama)
Stephanie Iannarino, WEST SIDE STORY (Carousel Dinner Theatre)
Tina Fabrique, ELLA (Cleveland Play House)
Tracee Patterson, SONG AND DANCE (Beck Center)
Tricia Bestic, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Hanna/Playhouse Square)

Laurel Johnson(Composite cast
EQUUS (Beck)
FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Hanna/Playhouse Square)
LUNACY (Dobama)
NINE (Cain Park)
TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
THE PRICE (Ensemble)

Aimee Kluiber, costume design, OLIVER (Cain Park)
Allison Garrigan, costumes, OUR TOWN (CPT)
Andromache Chalfant, set design, THE CLEAN HOUSE (CPT)
Charlotte Yetman, costume design, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (BW)
Don McBride, set design, FROZEN (Beck)
Don McBride, set design, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck)
Don McBride, theatre reconception, EQUUS (Beck)
Gage Williams set design, HAY FEVER (GLTF)
James Swonger, sound design, THE CHOSEN (CPH)
Jeff Hermann, set design, OLIVER (Cain Park)
Jeff Herrmann, set design, TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
Jeff Lockshine, lighting design, TAKE ME OUT (Dobama)
Jeff Merrmann, scenic and light designs, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (BW)
Jenniver Sparano, costume design, FROZEN (Beck)
John Konopka, set design, PERMANENT COLLECTION (Karamu)
Lydia Chanenka, set design TWO HEADED (Titlewave)
Michael Klaers, light design, MEASURE FOR MEASURE (GLTF)
Michael Lincoln, light design, THE CHOSEN (CPH)
Michael Raiford, scenic design, THE CHOSEN (CPH)
Molly Richard, costume design, SEUSSICAL! THE MUSICAL (Mercury Summer
Richard B. Ingraham, sound design, EQUUS (Beck)
Ron Newell, set decoration, THE PRICE (Ensemble)
Ross Borski, scenic and lighting design, NINE (Cain Park)
Russell Metheny, set design, MEASURE FOR MEASURE (GLTF)
Russsell Metheny, set design, ARSENIC AND OLD LACY (GLTF)
Sean Derry, set design, FAT PIG (THE BANG AND THE CLATTER)
Terry Pieritz, costume design, NINE (Cain Park)
Todd Rosenthal, scenic design, LINCOLNESQUE (CPH)
Trad A. Burns, lighting design, EQUUS (Beck)
Trad Burns, lighting design, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck)
Trad Burns, lighting design, JOLSON & FRIENDS (JCC)

George Caldwell, ELLA (Cleveland Play House)
Jodie Ricci, OLIVER (Cain Park)
Larry Goodpaster, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck Center)
Larry Goodpaster, REFLECTIONS (Beck Center)
Larry Goodpaster, SONG AND DANCE (Beck Center)
Marge Adler, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Hanna/Playhouse Square)
Nancy Gantose-Maier, NINE (Cain Park)

Martin Cespedes, EQUUS (Beck)
Martin Cespedes, OLIVER (Cain Park)
Martin Cespedes, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck Center)
Martin Cespedes, NINE (Cain Park)

Maryann Elder Goldstein for her authorship of BOTH SIDES OF THE FAMILY, an original play

Roe Green, financial and leadership support for the arts, including Fusionfest, Kent State University, Porthouse and the JCC theatre

Sandra Perlman, for her authorship of LUNACY, an original play

Matthew Sprosty, for his authorship of MALICIOUS BUNNY, an original play

Conceptual development of PETER PAN (Matthew Earnest), Porthouse

The mesmerizing “horses” of EQUUS (Beck): Franklyn Singley, Jose Ayala III, Bill DePetro, E. Ray Goodwin, Jr., Ryan Lahetta and Vincent Martinez


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:

EQUUS (Beck Center)
LUNACY (Dobama)

JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck Center)
NINE (Cain Park)

Bernadette Clemens, LUNACY (Dobama)
Dan Folino, JEKYLL & HYDE (Beck)
Dan Folino, EQUUS (Beck)
Dedriu Ring, FROZEN (Beck)
Jenna Messina, FAT PIG (B&C)
Michael Regnier, LUNACY (Dobama)