Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall 2010 Dance and Theatre Calendar

And….more theatre and dance previews for Fall 2010

Earlier this week I produced a list of some of the Fall theatre offerings in the Greater Cleveland area ( There is even more dance and theatre than were listed. So, don't overlook…………..


Sept 24 - 26
Performance times to be announced
Sneak Preview of the Cleveland Flats Symphony, in collaboration with Pearlwinds Energy. Free admission.

Breen Center for the Performing Arts, St. Ignatius High School
Oct 1 & 2
Cleveland Flats Symphony, composed by Cleveland composer Richard Rinehart
Myth and the Madness of Edgar Allen Poe, an abstract re-telling of the life of Edgar Allen Poe by choreographer Christopher Fleming.
Tickets: 216.961.2560, or


Akron's Historic ICE HOUSE
Sept 3-4, 8 pm and Sept 5, 2 pm
Tickets: 216-691-3180, ext. 2
Split Stitch by Jill Sigman with original score by Gustavo Aguilar
DnA by David Shimotakahara and Amy Miller
Akron Premiere of Just Yesterday by Dianne McIntyre, set to an original score by Olu Dara


DANCECleveland and The Cleveland Orchestra present
Joffrey Ballet
Blossom Music Center
Sept 4-5, 8:30
Tickets: 216-231-1111

DANCECleveland, EJ Thomas Hall and The U of Akron Dance Program present
EJ Thomas Hall
Saturday, Oct 2, 8:00 pm
Tickets: 330-972-7570

DANCECleveland and Tri-C present
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Ohio Theatre
Nov 6, 8 pm
Tickets: 216-241-6000 or

DANCECleveland and Oberlin College present
Fly: Five First Ladies of Dance
Dec 3-4, 8 pm
Hall Auditorium, Oberlin College

Dance Showcase
Palace Theatre
Sept 10, 7 pm
Free, no tickets required
Celebration of dance featuring The Dancing Wheels Company, Dance/Theater Collective, Inlet Dance Theatre, MorrisonDance, Ohio Dance Theatre, Shri Kalaa Mandir, Travesty Dance Group, Verb Ballets Sara Whale and a sneak peek dance performance from Billy Elliot the Musical.

French Creek Nature Center
430 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village
Tickets: 440-949-5200 or 1-800-LCM-PARK
Friday, Saturday and Sunday the first weekend and Thursdays the following two weekends.
Altar Boyz!
Sept 17-Oct 3
A musical comedy about a fictitious Christian Boy Band on the last night of their national “Raise the Praise” tour.

Little Shop of Horrors
Oct 22-Nov 7
A rock musical about a nerdish florist that finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed!

Steel Magnolias
Nov 26-Dec 12
A comedy-drama about the bond among a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana who believe that they are as delicate as magnolias, but tough as steel.

Brooks Theatre of the Cleveland Play House
For Tickets: call 216-321-2930 or email
Dividing the Estate
Nov 19th - Dec 12th
A touching and timely portrait of a Southern family wrangling over the future of the family home during an economic downturn.

St. Patrick's Club Building, West 38th Street and Bridge Avenue in Ohio City.
Tickets: _(216) 961-9750 or
Willy Wonka
Nov 19 - Dec 5
The story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fall 2010 Theatre Calendar


Fall is coming and the theatres of Northeastern Ohio are about to raise their curtains on what should be an exciting season. Support the arts!

Greystone Hall, 103 S. High Street, Akron (note the theatre's new venue)
TICKETS: 330-374-7568, info:

October 14-Nov 7
A Mark Twain inspired folk musical.

Nov 26-Dec 29
A touring troupe of players uses mime, imagination and storytelling to bring Dickens's famous holiday tale to life.

17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood
Tickets: 216-521-2540 or

Sept 17-Oct 17
Lerner and Loewe's award winning musical based on George Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION.

Oct 8-Nov 7
Dorothy Silver, Cleveland's grande dame of theatre, stars in Arthur Kopit's play about a woman who has a life-shattering stroke.

Dec 3-Jan 2
The rock/western/country musical that retells the biblical story of Joseph.

Kennedy's Down Under-Playhouse Square
Tickets: 216-241-6000 or

Sept 10-Oct 16
Samuel Beckett's psychological and physical one-day journey of an elderly man which takes place in a radio studio enhancing the aural technical requirements of storytelling.

6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland
Tickets: 216-631-2727

PANDEMONIUM 10: The Wild Side
Saturday, Sept 11, 7pm
Tickets: $125
Cleveland Public Theatre's annual fundraising extravaganza! Features dozens of the areas' theatre, dance, and visual performers, along with fabulous food and drink.

Sept 30-Oct 16
Suzan-Lori Park's multi-layered tale of terrorism, borders, families and the consequences of history.

DON'T CALL ME FAT-Gordon Square Theatre
Oct 7-30
A world premiere penned by artist-in-residence Ozen Yulai, an internationally acclaimed Turkish writer, which follows one man from obesity to celebrity.

KILL WILL-Storefront Studio Theatre
Oct 14-30
Back by popular demand! Murder, Revenge, Suicide, Cannibalism

Oct 22-24
A one-act operatic drama by master composer Giacomo Puccini tells the story of love, desperation and violence.

Dec 2-19
Hailed as 'dinner theatre of the absurd” it mixes the ingredients of fine food, wine and a send-up of avant-garde pomposity.

8500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
Tickets: 216-795-7000 or

Sept 17 - OCT 10-Drury Theatre
A quick-witted and acrobatic cast of four creates over 150 characters in this one part Hitchcock masterpiece, one part juicy spy novel, and a bit of Monty Python comedy.

Sept. 25
Ed Asner (Lew Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) stars in a one-man show as the 32nd U.S. president. Tickets for the CPH fund-raiser are $95 (including premium seating and a reception with Asner) and $50 for only the performance.

Oct 15-Nov 7-Bolton Theatre
Based on the acclaimed novel, the play goes inside an Afghanistan few of us know, and shows the human face beneath the headlines with a tale of friendship, family and redemption.

Nov 26-Dec 19-Drury Theatre
James Leaming stars in a one-man adaptation of Frank Capra's beloved classical film.

The Liminis 2438 Scranton Road, Tremont
Tickets: 216-687-0074

Sept 3-25
A comic tale of temptation by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Oct 15-Nov 13
Jose Rivera's drama in which a lonely heiress invites two strangers to a strange feast commemorating the death of her parents.
2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights
Tickets: 216-932-3396

Sept 9-Oct 3
A tender insight into what happens when we become stuck in the stories we tell about our lives.

Oct 29-Nov 21
A new play by award-winning Sarah Ruhl which traces one woman's accidental quest to make a few people feel just a little bit better about themselves.

Nov 22
A staged reading by Baldwin Wallace College students at Dobama.

December 10-January 9, New Year's Eve Bash on December 31
A Paul Rudnick comedy, which raises questions not easily answered.

Hanna Theatre
Tickets: 216-241-6000 or

Sept 24-Oct 31
Shakespeare's supreme villain meets literature's most tragic hero in one of the greatest classic tragedies.

Oct 1-30
Oscar Wilde's romantic, convoluted comedy of manners, which examines the crossroads where money, power and ethics collide.

Dec 3-23
Charles Dickens'classic tale of one man's redemption.

2355 East 89th Street
Tickets: 216-795-7077 or

Sept 17-Oct 10-Jelliffe Theatre
A performance piece which combines poetry and photography to examine the local foreclosure crisis.

Oct 29-Nov 21-Arena Theatre
A musical consisting of eleven stories of cancer survivors.

Dec 10-Dec 30
Clevelander and Karamu alumni Langston Hughes' gospel musical, told with dancing and verse.

Downtown Cleveland
Tickets: or 216-241-6000
Sept 29-Oct 31--14th Street Theatre
Dixie Longate returns to throw good ol' fashioned Tupperware parties filled with outrageous tales, giveaways and audience participation.

Oct 5-17-Palace Theatre
Escape the ordinary and surround yourself in an explosion of comedy, music, and technology with this high-octane theatrical experience. (Part of the Key Bank Broadway series.)

Oct 16-Ohio Theatre
A wickedly witty adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel about spiritual warfare from a demon's point of view.

Oct 22-24-Palace Theatre
A musical based on the hilarious MGM film which centers on Elle Woods, and why it's not a good idea to underestimate the mind of a “dumb blonde.”

Nov 4-21--14th Street Theatre
Features a comedic ensemble acting out the actual memoirs of a wide range of celebrities, in the celebs own words.

Nov 19-Dec 12-=-State Theatre
The winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, this_ is a joyous celebration of one young boy's journey to make his dreams come true. (Part of the Key Bank Broadway series.)

Nov 26 - Dec 19-- 14th Street Theatre
Cleveland Public Theatre presents David Sedaris' comedy about a 33-year-old slacker who takes a job as a Macy's Christmas elf and uses his position to teach parents and children the realities of holiday cheer.

Dec 9-11-- Hanna Theatre
Comedian Steve Solomon arrives home to celebrate the holidays, and is thrown together with all of his dysfunctional relatives in a riotous celebration.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gilligan's Island, the Musical

See the musical GILLIGAN'S ISLAND and make a contribution to a good cause

Are you a 'GILLIGAN'S ISLAND' fan? If so, you will definitely want to see the hilarious musical based on that iconic television show. And, even if you aren't a devote of Gilligan, the Skipper, Ginger and the Professor, you'll be contributing to a good cause when you attend one of two local special fundraising showings.
In a spirit of helping the community, Cleveland's actors will be presenting their ninth annual event to raise money for the Community Aids Network and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.

"GILLIGAN'S ISLAND: THE MUSICAL" which was written by Sherwood and Lloyd J. Schwartz, has music by Hope and Laurence Juber. The plot involves the discovery of some hieroglyphics on the island, describing a visit from "creatures from the sky." While the castaways are working to build a rocket to launch an SOS message to civilization, one of the creatures -- a silver space alien -- makes a return trip to the island to observe the inhabitants. (Hey, what can you expect, this is the goofy fun cult Gilligan's Island stuff?)

The show begins with the theme song, which has been selected the #1 TV theme song of all time. Remember, ““Five passengers set sail that day/For a three hour tour….a three hour tour….” I defy you to sit there and not sing along. In fact, singing along at the performance is encouraged. Other songs are “Goodbye Island,” “The Professor's Lament,” “It's Good To Be Rich” and “Though Winds May Blow.”

The musical has received some very positive press. Katie Couric stated, “You've got to love it... Timeless."_ CBS MORNING NEWS stated, “, "A great time... Fabulous!" and PEOPLE MAGAZINE probably summarized it best when it stated, "Love and lust among the coconuts."

The local cast includes Nick Koesters as Gilligan, Kevin Joseph Kelly as The Skipper, Greg Violand as Thurston Howell III, Maryann Nagel as Lovey Howell, Tricia Bestic as Ginger Grant, Brian Bowers as The Professor, Eileen Burns as Mary Ann and Patrick Ciamacco as The Alien. The epic is directed by Curt Arnold with choreography by Allison Butler. The musicians are Gregory Cross, Tim Keo, Karen Langenwalter, and Phil Miller, under the leadership of musical director Butch Marshall. All performers and technicians are donating their time, services and materials, so that 100% of the ticket price is a donation.

Side bar: I have an iconic connection to Gilligan's Island. Years ago, while I was the public relations director at the Cherry County Playhouse, in Traverse City, Michigan, Natalie Shaefer, who portrayed Lovey Howell on the television show, came to star in a production. As a gimmick, I found there was an island, just off the city's shores, which was unnamed. I got a boat, which of course we named the Minnow, took out a TV crew, and with the permission of the state department of the interior, Shaefer officially dedicated and named the slip of land, “Gilligan's Island.” To this day, the maritime map of Grand Traverse Bay designates the area with its anointed moniker. Hey, maybe we can find an unnamed island in Lake Erie and do the same thing here. What a tourist attraction that would make.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel

‘SCARLET PIMPERNELL, a pleasant surprise at Mercury Summerstock

What happens when a small budget summer stock theatre, with one professional actor in its company, which performs on a postage stamp-sized stage, decides to produce a grand musical requiring numerous period correct costumes, a large male chorus that can sing, dance and act proficiently, a score that requires a grand orchestra sound, leads with very strong near opera quality singing voices, quality farce characterizations, French and English accents, and lots of scene changes? In the case of Mercury Summerstock, you get a very creditable production.

‘THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL,’ with music by Frank Wildhorn (‘JEKYLL & HYDE’ and ‘THE CIVIL WAR’) and lyrics and book by Nan Knighton (‘SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER’), is based on the novel of the same name by Baroness Orczy. The show is set in England and France during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. It concerns an audacious hero and his followers who use "tricks and games" against the cruel “citizen leaders.” They leave in their wake their calling card, the red, star-shaped wildflower known as the scarlet pimpernel.

The musical has a strange history. It originally opened in 1997. The production developed a cult following and, in June, shortly before the Tony Awards were announced, the show was slated to close. The show's fans known as "The League" decided it should have another try. So, new producers, rewriting, a new theatre, and two new leads (Rex Smith and Rachel York), stretched out the run until May 30, 1999.

The Mercury production, directed by Pierre-Jacque Brault, generally pleases. It moves along at a good pace. The singing, especially the male chorus, is excellent. The characterizations are appropriately broad, developing the right swash-buckling and farce feeling. The massive number of costumes are period correct, thanks to the designer Margaret Ruble. The orchestra plays well, backing up rather than enveloping the singers. The choreography is excellent and generally well done, especially considering the minute size of the stage and the required number of performers.

Creative use of chairs to set up stage divisions and new settings is employed. Accents waver, but all in all it’s a good show, especially taking into account that this is mainly an amateur cast who put the show together in ten rehearsals.

Jennifer Myor as Marguerite, the female lead, has a fine singing voice and develops her character well. Brian Marshall, the only Equity member in the cast, had some vocal problems at the start, but warmed up well as the show continued. His characterization was enjoyably funny. Shane Patrick O’Neill, who possesses an excellent singing voice, was properly villainous in the role of Chauvelin. Ryan Bergeron, as Elton, one of the merry band of Pimpernel henchmen, who play affected dandies to cover their real identities, is delightful, as are most of the rest of the male chorus.

Show highlights included: “Into the Fire,” “When I Look at You,” “Where’s The Girl?,” “The Creation of Man,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” and “She Was There.”

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Mercury Summerstock’s ‘THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, while not perfect, is an excellent production of a very difficult show that should please most theatre-goers. You won’t confuse this with the touring production of ‘PHANTOM OF THE OPERA’ now at the Allen Theatre, but at one-fifth the cost per ticket, “The Pimp” is well worth attending.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Verb Ballets--8/10

Verb Ballets hits highs and lows at Cain Park

The night was warm with little humidity, the crowd was large, the setting perfect for an encompassing evening of dance. Verb Ballets presented its annual Cain Park program on August 6. The evening, which was populated by several world premieres and some reprisals of audience favorites, showcased both the strengths and weaknesses of Cleveland’s National Repertory Dance Company.

Program highlights included ‘TO HAVE AND TO HOLD,’ a 1989 piece, which was getting its 2010-2011 season company premiere. It was choreographed by Daniel Shapiro and Joanie Smith to the music of Scott Killian. The gymnastic piece, which was performed with the dancers moving on, over, beneath and beside a series of benches, included the entwining of bodies in vertical and horizontal interactions. The visual impact was excitement and wonder at the agility and daring of the dancers who often risked life and limb while performing the complicated moves.

Another audience pleaser was the well performed and conceived ‘AMBIGUOUS DRIVES’ in its world premiere. Choreographed creatively by Tommie-Waheed Evans, to the music of Greg Smith, the whirling dervish of movements fit the erratic sounds. The production was highlighted by outstanding performances by Katie Gnagy and Erin Conway Lewis.

‘THE FIDDLER,’ well performed to the Klemzer music of Samuel Matlowski, is a short piece based on stories by Sholem Aleichem, the Jewish Mark Twain, who mirrored his creations on life in the shettels (villages) of Eastern Europe. As is often pictured in the paintings of painter Marc Chagall, the fiddler represents Jewish tradition. Brian Murphy competently enacted the fiddler, who like the Jews in the Diaspora, are bent, but don’t break. Katie Gnagy as the mother and Erin Conway Lewis, as the daughter, were also excellent.

‘TARENTELLA,’ another season company premiere, was in need of dynamics. The Tarantella, a joyous Italian folk dance need to be exciting, filled with joy. Stephanie Krise sparkled, but Gary Lenington tromped around, unsmiling, creating the wrong visual and aesthetic illusion.

‘WINGS AND AIRES,’ the opening number, featured eye catching red costumes and many ill timed movements. The male corps was consistently out of step with each other. The highlight of the number was the second movement, nicely danced by Erin Conway Lewis and Brian Murphy.

‘CLICKS Crew,’ choreographed by Annalee Traylor, was an opportunity to showcase Verb’s Creative Liaisons Inspiring Cleveland’s Kids, a summer training program to engage teenagers interested in pursuing a career in dance. A combination of break dancing, modern movements and traditional ballet, it served its purpose of giving the kids a chance to show their skills.

The Cain Park program proved what has been known for some time. Verbs has a strong female corps, but is in desperate need of new male dancers. Except for Brian Murphy, none of the present group of male dancers is up to the task of dancing major roles or, in some cases, of displaying the concentration and skills needed to create sync in group movements. Though, at times Antwon Duncan, as he displayed in ‘TO HAVE AND TO HOLD’ can dance solo, he was consistently out of step when forced to coordinate movements with others. Lloyd Boyd Amir III just doesn’t have the training and control to be in a major company. Gary Lenington appears to be past his prime, often dancing flat footed. Why doesn’t Verb go on a search to find quality males? They are out there, they just have to be sought out.

Capsule judgement: VERB BALLETS’ Cain Park program had many highlights, but desperately needs to shore up its male dance corps.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Broadway Swings

BROADWAY SWINGS’—a special evening of show tunes at Blossom

What happens when you combine the talents of the Cleveland Orchestra, the amazing singing abilities of Ann Hampton Callaway, the theatre knowledge and conducting skills of Jack Everly and an absolutely gorgeous evening of weather at the Blossom Center? You get a marvelous evening of music and knowledge.

Ann Hampton Callaway, a Tony award nominee for her performance in ‘SWING!,’ is a song stylist, composer, and pianist. She scats, uses her voice as a musical instrument, has a charming personality, and that special quality to mesmerize an audience.

Everly explained the backgrounds of many of the Broadway selections and conducted the orchestra with skill and verve.

CAPSULE JUDGMENT: ‘BROADWAY SWINGS’ on August 1 was a special evening at Blossom.

The Elephant Man & Curtains


‘THE ELEPHANT MAN’ gets acceptable production at 2010 Summer Stages

‘THE ELEPHANT MAN’ is a 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance. It centers on John Merrick, an Englishman with severe deformities who was exhibited as a human curiosity. Because of his thick and lumpy skin, enlarged lips, and heavy legs, he was nicknamed The Elephant Man.

Merrick became well known in London society after he went to live at the London Hospital after being removed from a freak show.

The play opened on Broadway in 1979 after being produced in London.

One of the staging difficulties of the script is Pomerance’s insistence that no prosthetic makeup be used on the actor portraying Merrick. The actor must, before the eyes of the audience, transform himself into a twisted grotesque being with malformed face and body.

The CSU 2010 Summer Stages production, under the direction of Everett Quinton, is acceptable. This is a difficult show to stage. Not only must the lead actor transform himself, but he must keep in physical character throughout. Because the play does not contain much physical action, concentrated pacing and clear characterizations need to be developed. In addition, the setting is England, so consistent British accents must be maintained throughout. As is, the pacing dragged in parts and the cello interludes, which were effective at the start became tedious after a while. The accents came and went.

Eric Perusek did a nice transition into the ill-formed Merrick and generally held it through out the play. The changeover to his being “normal” would have been helped by his being difficult to understand at the beginning and then improving. Ursula Cataan was excellent as Mrs. Kendall, who became Merrick’s friend and tutor, and Geoff Knox did a nice job as Frederick, Merrick’s doctor.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘THE ELEPHANT MAN’ got an acceptable production, but would have been improved by a faster pace and some attention to the development of clearer characterizations by some of the cast.

Misselected, Misdirected ‘CURTAINS’ at CSU’s 2010 Summer Stages

‘CURTAINS,' the musical that CSU’s 2010 Summer Stages chose to present, was probably DOA (dead on arrival) at the Factory Theatre. Peter Stone, who wrote the original book, died just before the play opened leaving it unfinished. Fred Ebb, who wrote the lyrics, also died before the musical was completed. So, is it a coincidence that the ridiculous piece was a disaster?

New York reviews stated, “’CURTAINS' lies on the stage like a promisingly gaudy string of firecrackers, waiting in vain for that vital, necessary spark to set it off," "It's not so much a whodunit as a whydoit" and “A somewhat clunky, piece of entertainment."

Well, not quite a total disaster. David Hyde Pierce, who played the major role did get the Tony for his leading actor performance.

The story centers on a detective who is called in when the untalented leading actress is killed on the opening night of ‘ROBBIN' HOOD OF THE OLD WEST.’ The play within the play is a western musical. The detective, who is an amateur actor “saves the show” with some “spiffy” suggestions, falls in love, and catches the killer. The entire production is filled with unmemorable music including, “In the Same Boat 1,” “In the Same Boat 2,”“In the Same Boat Completed,” “Coffee Shop Nights,” “Kansasland,” and “The Woman’s Dead.”

Under the direction of Michael Mauldin, CSU’s production stumbles along. It is poorly paced, few songs are well interpreted, the acting is generally flat, actors stand in straight lines often having to duck out behind other performers in order to say their lines. Even Martin C├ęspedes, the crown prince of local choreographers, couldn’t save this debacle. He tried hard, but the cast wasn’t up to carrying out the movements.

Jessica Duer as Nicki, who adorably looks like she is right out of a 1920s musical, and Jean Kauffman as the comedic producer, do themselves proud. Most of the rest of the cast have problems with inconsistent accents, weak singing, and weak character development.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘CURTAINS’ misses on almost every count….weak script choice, poor directing, undistinguished performances. ‘nuf said!