Sunday, February 28, 2021




According to Artistic Director Margaret Carlson, the purpose of Cleveland’s Verb Ballet’s recent streamed Going Solo, was to allow the audience to see the entire company through a series of dance sequences, mainly dancers in solo performances.  


Danced with pandemic appropriate masks, the dancers performed traditional, modern and folk compositions, accompanied by recorded music.  


The program included Paquita, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, and staged in the Verb program by Robert Carter.  


The six variations, with music by Ludwig Minkus, displayed classical movement, featuring dancers on pointe.  The performers, Elizabeth Schaeffer, Kelly Korfhage, Lieneke Matte, Julie Russel, Kate Webb and Emily Dietz, were clad in white tutus.  


The result was a lovely, often lively display.


Sometimes, Always, choreographed by associate artistic director, Richard Dickinson, was danced to music composed by Samuel Barber, who is noted with the tribute that "Probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim."


The first segment of this newly conceived dance was performed to the modern classical sounds by Sikhumbuzo Hlanhleni, Hunter Hoffman, Antonio Morillo and Benjamin Shepard.  Costumed in white, the quarter displayed strong muscular lifts, poses and spins.  


Part two found Morillo and Shepard displaying powerful athleticism, while featuring strong coupling.


Part three found the all-male quartet bringing the number to its climax.


Dances For Isadora (Five Evocations of Isadora Duncan) is choreographer José Limón’s tribute to the brilliant, but tragic Duncan, considered to be the mother of modern dance.  She encouraged a free form to the art form, incorporating skipping, running, jumping, leaping and tossing.  


The five segments were:  Primavera (performed by Lieneke Matte), Maenad (danced by the captivating Emani Drake), Niobe (executed by Emily Dietz), La Patrie (featuring the stunning Noe Iwamatsu) and Scarf Dance (spotlighting Kate Webb).  


Le Corsaire, the men’s variation from the Grand Pas de Deux, was a very brief interlude, proficiently danced by international cultural exchange artist, Sikhumbuzo Hlahleni.


The early 1700’s, Jota, a sample of Aragonese folklore dance, was performed with joie-de-vivre by the company’s male dancers.  It was followed by Ukrainian Dance, set to a medley of traditional music and featured the entire company in a joyous conclusion.


Capsule judgment:  Verb Ballet, in contrast to many local theatrical and dance companies, had continued, as evidenced by Going Solo, to hone its skills during the pandemic.  They, and audiences, should look to a time, hopefully, in the near future, to be performing before live audiences.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021



Beck Center has a sterling reputation of cultivating talented performers who go on to success in hit Broadway shows and associated tours.  Some of the theatre’s alums will perform in a virtual engagement which runs March 5 to March 28, 2021, as part of Beck Center for the Arts’ 87th Professional Theater Season.

Performers include Kathleen Rooney Faubel, Rory O'Malley, Max Chernin,  
Colton Ryan, Cassie Okenka, Rebecca Pitcher, Corey, Keri Rene' Fuller and Libby Servais.
For information visit  
Reservations are required. For complimentary tickets (contributions are encouraged) go to and click on “purchase tickets.”
Verb Ballets, Going Solo performance premiering on Friday, February 26, 2021 at 7:00pm ET. An encore recording of the performance will be available for 48 hours after the premiere.
Over the course of the season Dobama Theatre will release professionally produced short films featuring memorable monologues from Dobama productions and notable contemporary playwrights. These videos are initially exclusively available to 20/21 Members free of charge during the first weeks of each short film’s debut. Films are then released for general viewing with a Pay-What-You-Can donation. Featuring some of your favorite Cleveland actors. 

ON THE GRILL (starring Dorothy Silver)
GOODNIGHT, TYLER (starring Lisa Louise Langford)
GROUNDED (by George Brant, performed by Anjanette Hal)
THE LAND OF OZ (based on the book by L. Frank Baum book and lyrics
     by George Grant, music by Nathan Motta, performed by Calista Zajac)
Blank Canvas Theatre presents MAKE THEM HEAR YOU:  A Celebration of Black Artistry in Musical Theatre--A LIVE Multimedia, Drive-in Theatre Experience
 TWO NIGHTS ONLY!, FEBRUARY 26 & 27, Friday & Saturday at 8pm
Rated: PG-13
Run time: 60 mins (no intermission)

The safety of both our audience and actors has been and will always be our number one priority, so we invite you to join us for a no-contact, socially responsible, multimedia performance in the 78th Street Studios parking lot.

Our show will include Blank Canvas actors singing some of the most influential music created by or performed by Black artists. This drive-in show will feature a full live band, some of your favorite BCT performers, and the lighting and projection design that you have come to love. As well as our friends at NINJA CITY selling food and drinks!  What better way to celebrate and honor Black History Month? Our last two shows sold out fast. So, get your tickets, drive in, experience something new, and help support LIVE theatre!    
$40 per vehicle*
Advance sale only, so get your tickets NOW!
All parking is first-come, first-served.
Parking lot opens at 7:15 for the 8pm show.
To purchase tickets for this show CLICK HERE

(patrons will be required to wear masks and encouraged to social distance)

“Ordinary Days” music by Adam Gown
June 4th, 5th, & 6th @ Lakeview Park – FREE show

Ordinary Days tells the story of four young New Yorkers whose lives intersect as they search for fulfillment, happiness, love, and cabs. 

“A Year With Frog & Toad”
July 30th, 31st, & August 1st @ Miller Nature Preserve-Ticketed Event

Waking from hibernation in the Spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding and learn life lessons along the way.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]”
August 20th, 21st, & 22nd @ Carlisle Reservation – Ticketed Event

Featured are all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, meant to be performed in 97 minutes, by three actors. Fast paced, witty, and physical, it’s full of laughter for Shakespeare lovers and haters alike.

“Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe”
September 17th, 18th, & 19th @ Vermilion River Reservation Bacon Woods Amphitheatre

Edgar Allan Poe stands alone in the flickering darkness of his mind, trying desperately to convince himself-and us- that he’s not mad. Enter the world of Poe and Check your heartbeat at the door.
The BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival announces a call for performing artists, street and circus performers, multimedia creators and more for the 2021 event, which will feature a fully outdoor program with virtual options, in downtown Cleveland on July 22 through 24, 2021. 
The "fringe" is the open submission part of the festival—application is free, deadline is March 5. As one of 100s of fringe festivals worldwide, the BorderLight Festival Fringe serves as a platform for independent artists and companies to showcase their work and engage new audiences as part of a vibrant festival environment. The festival is a paid opportunity; BorderLight provides venue and operations support, and artists are compensated through a box office split, with 70% of box office proceeds going back to artists.  
The festival seeks performances that are suitable for outdoor and open-air venues, as well as street theatre, buskers, and virtual productions from a wide variety of genres. These include (but are not limited to): Theatre, Physical Theatre, Dance Theatre, Circus, Cabaret, Children’s Theatre, Solo Performance, Performance Art, Puppetry, Immersive Experiences, Musicals, Multimedia work, Spoken Word, Roaming Performance, Stand Up Comedy, Streamed or live-streamed digital ­­work, Audio Plays, Site-Specific performances, and more! 
Application deadline is March 5. 
Learn more and apply at: 

Adapted from the 1910 story by Baroness Emma Orczy
Live on Facebook tomorrow, February 20, 7pm EST 
A man poisoned by hot chocolate. An unidentified woman in a large hat. A judgmental rich aunt. Two gossiping servants. A stunning foreign woman with a not-so-secret grudge. All ingredients for a mystery that only Lady Molly and Mary Granard can solve.

Click here for the Ohio Shakes Facebook Page


In Script Club, we examine three plays that touch on the themes of the Maltz Museum exhibition THE NOTORIOUS RBG. Participants will need advance copies of each script, to prepare for group (Zoom) discussion on the first Thursday of March-May. Sessions, moderated by Faye Sholiton, will begin at 1:00 p.m., running approximately 75 minutes. For Maltz Museum members, there is no charge. For non-members, registration is $5.00 per session.

THURSDAY, MARCH 4 1:00 p.m.: PHOTOGRAPH 51, by Anna Ziegler
Most people credit Watson and Crick for discovering the double helix in 1953. But it was British chemist Rosalind Franklin who years earlier illuminated their path.. Award-winning playwright Anna Ziegler pulls back the curtain to repair a long-ignored injustice. Scripts available on

THURSDAY, APRIL 1 1:00 p.m.:  THE GREEN BOOK, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Ramsey's thoughtful and thoroughly engaging play takes us to a troubled Jefferson City, MO, 1953, where the blows of race hatred meet the power of basic human decency. Scripts will be available through the Museum.

THURSDAY, MAY 6 1:00 p.m.: GLORIA – A LIFE, by Emily Mann
Gloria Steinem's life has been an open book for more than five decades. It began with her magazine feature as an undercover Playboy Bunny, ran through her advocacy in Ms. Magazine and continues with her ongoing activism in the women's movement. Scripts available on


Monday, February 15, 2021

BWU and Beck Center streams 5 X 15, five musicals of fifteen minutes each with mixed results

BWU and Beck Center streams 5 X 15, five musicals of fifteen minutes each with mixed results

Last November Baldwin Wallace University’s nationally ranked musical theater program produced SPRING AWAKENING on-line.   My capsule judgement of that production read: “Victoria Bussert and her BWU crew and cast avoided, as one of the songs from “SPRING AWAKENING states, being ‘Totally Fucked’ and took on the Covid-19 challenge, developing a thought-provoking production which turned out to be the first collegiate pandemic production of the script and further recognition of the college’s program.  Bravo!”


BWU, now in coordination with Beck Center for the Arts, a partnership that has existed for ten years, is streaming the world premieres of five fifteen-minute brand-new musicals, in a program entitled 5 X 15


The program is part of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s challenge “to celebrate the power of musical theatre and encourage continued creation of new music theatre pieces during the pandemic.” 


The five shows presented by BWU/Beck were all winners of the NAMT challenge.


The program opened with Monster on the Lawn in which we find Ricky, a six-year-old, playing on his front lawn.  When an incoming hurricane threatens to separate Ricky from his family and his home, he seeks comfort in the presence of a strange and seemingly-quiet monster. Obed De La Cruz wrote book, Latino-centric music, and lyrics.  


Mateus Cardoso was charming as the youngster.  He has a youthful presence, expressive eyes and a fine singing voice.


It was directed by Jon Martinez, the artistic director of Firebrand Theatre.


The second playlet was Holo.  Set in 2189, in a holograph museum, the curator (Bryanna Cuthill) and holographic Kyle (Mackenzie Meyh) have entered into a unique relationship which recounts the pandemic year 2020 and the happenings when the museum directors decide to close down the exhibit, thus erasing Kyle’s existence.


Both Meyh and Cuthill display strong pop music voices and were believable in their fantasy roles. 


The book, music, and lyrics are by Nico Juber, with BW grad and Broadway leading lady Ciara Renée (FROZEN, BIG FISH, PIPPIN) directing.


WHITE MAN’S BURDEN, also billed as “AN INFORMERCIAL:  A COON’S LIFE,” takes place in the world of sideshow “freaks” who have been killed because of the color of their skin.  Led by an emcee, the cast relates the tales that laid the foundation for the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movements. 


The cast, Dar’jon Bentley (James Byrd Jr.), Jack Hale (Andrew Goodman), Binden Harvey (James Chaney), Godia Hayes (Mikey Mike), Makay Johnson (Yusseff Hawkins), Will Lamb (Michael Schwerner), Zach Mackiewicz (Player), Charles Mayhew Miller (Emmett Till) and JT Snow (Player) create strong visual pictures.


Eric Jones wrote the book and lyrics with music by Joshua Davis.  Nathan Henry directs, with musical linguist, Edward Ridley, Jr., serving as musical director.


According to Dale Sampson, the writer and co-lyrists of RODEO CLOWNS, during these unusual times, he wanted to conceive a place the audience would be excited to return to every day.  The hope, of course, is that Rodeo Clowns could be a fun escape.


I wish his goal had been reached.  As is, in spite of a valiant effort by the cast (Nick Cortazzo--Butch, Danny Bó--Dill, Lee Price--Travis), the script and production make for a long fifteen-minutes.  The script and presentation well illustrate the theatrical concept, “Farce is hard to write and even harder to perform.”


Sara Brunner directs.


The highlight of the evening was the closing selection, PERPETUAL SUNSHINE & THE GHOST GIRLS, with music by Lynne Shankel, words by Sara Cooper, direction by Victoria Bussert and musical direction by Matthew Webb.


In the program notes Lynne Shankel writes: “Sara and I had this idea percolating for a while: a musical about the women who worked at United States Radium Corporation in the 1920’s. They worked with radium paint and were slowly being poisoned by it. When the company realized it was in fact the radium that was making them sick, they covered up their findings.” She goes on to say, “The central theme of the piece is that death is not noble. Workers shouldn’t have to put their bodies at risk for the economy. This piece will eventually be an 80-90-minute one act musical.”


The segment which was presented consisted mainly of one very well-written and performed song, “Tick, Tick, Lick,” which is a perfect opening for setting the story line.


Cast members included:  Katelyn Baughman, Piper Bruce, Colette Caspari, Audrey Hare, Autumn Key, Jessi Kirtley, Alexa Lopez, Eden Mau, Claire Marie Miller, Andie Peterson, Lauren Senden and Bella Serano.  


Based on what they have written so far, the longer version may well work as a musical drama, if the duo of writers can solve how to expand on the concept and use some of the newer staging electronics, such as presented in MEAN GIRLS and DEAR EVAN HANSEN.


CAPSULE JUDGMENT:  It is always a challenge to perform works in progress.   It is more problematic when they are musicals.  That difficulty is expanded when the staging is restricted by the electronic medium.  The BW/Beck evening of one-act musicals proved to be both a pleasurable and frustrating evening.  It will be interesting to see if any of these efforts grow beyond their present form.


The limited virtual engagement runs from February 12 to February 28, 2021. Ticket purchase provides 48-hour access. For more information visit  For tickets, priced at $20 for one viewer, and $30 for two or more viewers go to:


Thursday, February 11, 2021




Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre Program  & Beck Center for the Arts presents the virtual world premieres of five fifteen-minute brand new musicals, chosen by National Alliance for Musical Theatre
Perpetual Sunshine and the Ghost Girls with music by Lynne Shankel and words by Sara Cooper, is an all-woman+ through-composed music theatre piece about the true story of women who fought United States Radium Corporation in the 1920s for knowingly poisoning them and subsequently changed United States labor laws forever. 

Holo, set in 2189 in a holograph museum, the curator and holographic Kyle enter into a unique relationship which recounts the year 2020 and the pandemic that came with it on an ever-repeating loop. Book, music, and lyrics are by Nico Juber, an 18-year survivor of cancer and mother of two children.

Rodeo Clowns is a queer, western epic about two eccentric outcasts who save the heart of their disintegrating town. This whip crack comedy act features a colorful musical-country score. Dale Sampson is the book writer and half the brains of “bits,” a street clown duo; Marc Campbell wrote the music. Marc is also known as a member of indie rock band MisterWives, dubbed by MTV as “the golden children of pop.”

Monster on the Lawn centers around Ricky, a six-year-old boy with a growing imagination, wakes up to see a whale-like creature laying on his front lawn. When an incoming hurricane threatens to separate Ricky from his family and his home, he seeks comfort in the presence of this strange and seemingly-quiet monster. Obed De La Cruz wrote book, music, and lyrics.

White Man’s Burden, an irreverently funny and powerful mini-rock musical, takes place inside of the world of sideshow "freaks" who have been killed because of the color of their skin. They are led by an emcee who is part ringmaster/part infomercial host. Eric Jones wrote book and lyrics with music by Joshua S. Davis.
This limited virtual engagement runs from February 12 to February 28, 2021.
For more information on this world premiere music theatre project, please visit Tickets, priced at $20 for one viewer, and $30 for two or more viewers can be purchased at



Beginning February 1, Karamu House and The Musical Theater Project (TMTP) present a multimedia concert of Shuffle Along, a legendary African American production that was the first-ever jazz musical and one of the first-ever Broadway productions to be written and performed by an all-Black cast. 

To read my 2019 review of the show go to:

While free to access, individuals must register on the Karamu website to view the program. 





Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) is proud to announce additional performances of the Zoom adaptation of …Or Does it Explode?, written and directed by John Dayo-Aliya (CPT 2020/2021 Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellow), performed by Austin Sasser, De Andre Hairston-Karim, and Dar’Jon Bentley. …Or Does it Explode? will perform live via Zoom at 7:00pm (ET) on February 11 and 12, and at 8:00pm (ET) on February 13.

This theatrical piece uses poetry, dance, and other contemporary theatre forms to explore questions of what it means to be Black, male, and young in the 21st century. …Or Does it Explode?, an unflinching portrayal of profound anger, hurt, and joy, blends stories gathered from men ages 16-35 in Akron, Ohio. Thought-provoking vignettes display social conditions. 


…Or Does it Explode? will perform live on Zoom at 7:00pm (ET) on February 11 and 12, and at 8:00pm (ET) on February 13. The run time is 60 minutes, and the virtual “house” is limited to 50 “seats”.
Tickets are $1; suggested donation $1 to $99. Patrons must use Zoom to see this work and will receive an email 1-2 hours before showtime with the meeting login information. Please note online sales for each performance will close 2 hours before each performance.


Savory Taṇhā (sixteen short plays performed by a rotating ensemble) is a virtual memory play of longing and loss, happiness and hopefulness, and navigating the pathways of human desire. An ensemble of five performers will play different roles from the same text each evening. This will be a LIVE performance via Zoom and will not be available as a recorded video.

Performed by Anne McEvoy, Zyrece Montgomery, Zach Palumbo, Brian Pedaci, & Hillary Wheelock

February 17, 2021 - March 06, 2021

For tickets and information go to:


60 min
The virtual “house” will be limited to 50 “seats”