The summer festival season is finally here! Every weekend from June to September, Cleveland and the surrounding region plays host to some of the best artistic and cultural celebrations around.
July 3-September 1 – Blossom Music Festival
Families can grab a blanket and enjoy one of the best orchestras in the world under the stars. Each summer the Blossom Music Festival features intimate concerts by the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra including many beloved works from the orchestral repertoire. This summer, the orchestra will perform 19 concerts, including Pixar in Concert, which features not only the music from popular Pixar films, but clips from the films projected on large screens as well. Other highly anticipated performances are the Joffrey Ballet and the Orchestral Masterworks. Kick off the Blossom Music Festival with a variety of patriotic musical scores at the Salute to America concerts, the first week of July, celebrating the Independence Day holiday.
Guys and Dolls, is perhaps, one of the most American of all Broadway musicals. As part of the traditional American theatre repertoire, Guys and Dolls exemplifies a perfect mix of what makes a perfect show… comedy, romance, clever dialogue, and of course, classic songs, from beautiful love ballads to toe-tapping show stoppers.
With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950, and it continues to be performed more than sixty years later. Now part of the 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare, Guys and Dolls is a true classic that has been revived numerous times… from Broadway to London to Melbourne, Australia… and has become a major component of the American theatre canon.
The 2011-2012 KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare has been announced. As always, PlayhouseSquare will offer some of the best shows on Broadway for theatre patrons of all ages.
The spectacular 2011-2012 KeyBank Broadway Series will include:
Million Dollar Quartet: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins together on stage for one night in history. October 11-23, 2011 in the Palace Theatre.
La Cage aux Folles: The 2010 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival, La Cage aux Folles has become a modern Broadway classic. November 8-20, 2011 in the Palace Theatre.
Hair: The 2009 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival, Hair was the very first rock musical. January 17-29, 2012 in the Palace Theatre.
Memphis: The 2010 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical, Memphis is one of Broadway’s hottest shows. February 28 – March 11, 2012 in the Palace Theatre.
The Addams Family: They’re creepy and they’re kooky… they’re the Addams Family! April 10-22, 2012 in the Palace Theatre.
Come Fly Away: The music of Frank Sinatra and the choreography of Twyla Tharp come together in this enchanting musical. May 8-20, 2012 in the Palace Theatre.
Sondheim on Sondheim: Produced by Cleveland’s very own Great Lakes Theater Festival, a resident company of PlayhouseSquare, Sondheim on Sondheim is an evening of Broadway classics from the incomparable Stephen Sondheim, master of the American musical. May 30 – July 22, 2012 in the Hanna Theatre.
And the 2011-2012 U.S. Bank Star Performance Series will include:
The Wizard of Oz: The spectacular new national tour of a classic favorite. October 28-30, 2011.
Mamma Mia!: One of Broadway’s biggest hits and longest-running shows returns. Dates to be determined.
Tao: East meets West in this unique martial arts experience. March 29, 2012.
Lord of the Dance: Michael Flatley’s homage to Celtic culture and dance is back. March 30-31, 2012.
With eight theatres, PlayhouseSquare is the nation’s second largest performing arts center, after Lincoln Center in New York. The five oldest theatres (the Allen, Hanna, Ohio, Palace, and State) date back to 1921-1922, and all have been gloriously restored. The other theatres are the 14th Street Theatre, Kennedy’s Cabaret, and the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre, located in the Idea Center. In 2011, another important Cleveland institution, the Cleveland Play House, will move to PlayhouseSquare in a renovated and reconfigured Allen Theatre.
The new Allen Theatre Complex will be comprised of three theatres: A 500 seat Main Stage, a 300 seat Second Stage, and a 150 seat Lab Theatre. The two additional theatres will bring PlayhouseSquare’s theatre count to ten. As a resident company of PlayhouseSquare, the Cleveland Play House will join Great Lakes Theater Festival, Opera Cleveland, Dance Cleveland, and other companies, making Cleveland’s Theatre District busier and more vibrant than ever.
For more information about the KeyBank Broadway Series, the U.S. Bank Star Performance Series, or PlayhouseSquare, in general, please visit its website at www.PlayhouseSquare.org. Information on the Cleveland Play House can be found at www.ClevelandPlayHouse.com, and Great Lakes Theater Festival’s website is www.GreatLakesTheater.org.
– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger
EDITOR’S NOTE: We talked to a few notable Clevelanders and asked them what they liked about Northeast Ohio. Here’s Derek Hess, renowned music industry artist.
Were you born in Cleveland?
I was born in University Circle.
And what part of town do you live in now?
I live downtown off Superior in a warehouse close to the Plain Dealer building. I’m digging it. I’ve been three years now.
What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?
It’s a really wide street so it’s easy to make u-turns. Slyman’s Restaurant is a few blocks over and of course I dig Slyman’s.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
I like the Mad Greek in Cleveland Heights. I’m 46 and getting up there. I was going to that place in the sixth grade. That just shows that a good restaurant lasts. That place has been around for decades.
What do you like best about living in Cleveland?
I have a handful of things. Number one, we live on one of the Great Lakes. One thing that’s important is that they’re the largest source of fresh water in the world. That resource is going to be one of the most desirable things in the next 50 years if not in the next decade. Our water isn’t going anywhere. Houston is out of water, L.A. is out of water and Las Vegas is out of water. Deserts weren’t made to have millions of people living there. Also, the sports teams are great. I live and die by the Browns. They play right on the lake and it’s an open air stadium on a natural turf. I like all of that. I like the climate, the season changes. We’re blessed with that. Nothing gets stagnant. The location is great. We’re not too far from the East Coast. We’re close to Chicago. A lot of businesses can be run from Cleveland and be successful without the expenses of a larger metropolitan area. Those are a few of the things I really dig.
So, you accidentally left your visitors guide in the right field stands after the Indians game? Lost track of your local restaurant cheat sheet while you were starry-eyed at the Rock Hall? No worries–just check your pocket. Thanks to updated mobile-idealized websites and Cleveland-specific apps, your smartphone or iPod has the answers.
Take in the big picture on your small screen by starting out with a visit to www.cleplus.mobi, where Positively Cleveland has packed loads of information into a ridiculously easy-to-use format. Look up places to stay and eat, things to do and what to see throughout the region. Event schedules, one-touch weather forecasts and discount information is there with a finger tap.
Feel like strolling back in time while you’re taking in the sights? You’ll definitely want to download the Apple-friendly Cleveland Historical app developed at Cleveland State University. A GPS-enabled interactive map includes details on more than 100 sites throughout the city, along with links to archival images, audio clips and short documentary videos. You can even take curated historical tours with your iPod or iPhone as your guide, bringing the past to vivid life, and sharing secrets unseen by passersby.
Already known for its art and restaurants and general coolness, it figures that the West Side neighborhood of Tremont also has its own iPhone and iPod app – Experience Tremont. Providing quick links to local restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and museums, the app is perfect for making sure you’re on time for the gallery opening, keeping all your live music options open, and finding that perfect late meal you’re craving.
With all the things you could be doing on a given day in Cleveland, it’s good to know you can still keep everything at your fingertips.
– Submitted by John Booth, guest blogger
Rent and La Bohème are now playing in the John Patrick Theatre at Baldwin-Wallace College. Baldwin-Wallace is the first venue anywhere to present both the modern Broadway classic and its operatic inspiration, in repertory.
Rent is a rock opera with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. It tells the story of a group of young artists living in New York City toward the end of the 20th Century. Among the cast of more than thirty performers, there are eight principal characters. Four of these individuals are coping with HIV/AIDS. Several are living in poverty. And all are dealing with relationships of one type or another. Rent is considered by many to be a modern masterpiece of musical theatre. But above all, it is a timeless story of love, hope and enduring friendship.
I had seen the touring production of Rent twice before seeing this performance… the second time with Broadway’s original “Mark” and “Roger.” This performance was just as good, exuding the same passion, emotion, and inspiration as those of the touring companies. The actors are excellent and well cast. The rustic set conjures up the feel of the original Broadway production. And the overall staging is exceptional.
Never allow “college performance” to deceive you. They often are just as good as, if not better than, the original productions as the actors are performing with a true passion for their craft, outside of the commercial aspects of a “professional” production. This is very evident in Baldwin-Wallace’s rendering of Rent.
For anyone who has not seen Rent, and for those who cannot get enough of it, I highly recommend this show. It has everything that good theatre requires. I now look forward to seeing the parallels of Rent and its characters’ counterparts in Baldwin-Wallace’s production of La Bohème, upon which Rent is based.
Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy on February 1, 1896. As part of the standard Italian opera repertory, La Bohème has become one of the most frequently performed operas in the world. In the United States, La Bohème ranks second only to Madama Butterfly, also by Puccini. Now “fast forward” 100 years from late 19th Century Turin to late 20th Century New York.
Jonathan Larson’s Rent hit the Broadway stage in 1996, after a limited off-Broadway run. It won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical, among many other prestigious awards. And it is one of the few musical plays to be honored with the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show ran for 12 years on Broadway with 5,124 performances, making it Broadway’s 9th longest-running show to date. It remains a popular show with various productions being staged throughout the world. Rent and La Bohème will run through February 27.
Baldwin-Wallace College was founded in 1845 as one of the first colleges in Ohio to admit students regardless of race or gender. Presently, the college has 27 academic departments that lead to a bachelor’s degree. And it offers master’s programs in both business and education. Rent and La Bohème are presented through the Conservatory of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance.
The John Patrick Theatre is located at 95 East Bagley Road in the Kleist Center for Art & Drama on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. For showtimes, pricing, and more information on the productions of Rent and La Bohème, please visit the Baldwin-Wallace College website at www.bw.edu/news/rent-laboheme. – Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is now playing at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. And this production truly is amazing. A cast of 43 actors, including 15 school-age children in the youth chorus, brings this magical story to life with bright lights, vibrant colors and joyful song.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the Biblical story of Joseph of Canaan, found in the Book of Genesis. As the show opens, the narrator introduces us to Jacob and his 12 sons. Joseph’s brothers become jealous of their father’s favorite son after Jacob gives him a beautiful “coat of many colors.” In retaliation, they sell Joseph into slavery, and he is taken to Egypt.
Joseph passes several years as a slave, but after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he is promoted to the second most powerful man in Egypt. Eventually, a happy ending comes about as Joseph reconciles with his family, and they join him in Egypt. The show incorporates a lot of humor and parody, especially in its menagerie of musical styles, including French ballads, the Charleston, country-western, reggae, disco, and even Elvis-inspired rock and roll.
Tricia Tanguy is superb as the narrator. Her facial expressions alone are priceless, and her interaction and rapport with the children of the youth chorus are very endearing. Connor O’Brien is the perfect Joseph, just as good as Donny Osmond or any previous actor to play the part. The other cast members, including the children, play their parts with a zest for life and storytelling. The beautiful sets and costumes, too, make this Joseph a stellar production.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has always been a Broadway favorite for community and school performances. It is a fun show, but also wholesome and appropriate for the entire family. Joseph, written in 1968, was the second collaboration by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This powerhouse British team would soon collaborate on another classic of musical theatre, the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1970). And Lloyd Webber and Rice’s rock opera Evita (1976) would arrive six years later.
This was my first viewing of Joseph, and I was thoroughly amazed by the show. For anyone who has not seen this modern Broadway classic, I highly recommend it. It is everything a Broadway spectacular should be. And although it is not a “holiday show,” it is perfect for the holidays. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will run through January 2, 2011.
Coming this spring to the Beck Center for the Arts is the regional premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera in the Studio Theater (February 18 – March 27) and The Underpants on the Mackey Main Stage (April 1-23). And coming this summer will be Hairspray, Broadway’s smash hit musical (July 8 – August 14).
The Beck Center for the Arts is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Convenient, free on-site parking is available. For information on showtimes, pricing, and future productions, please visit the Beck Center’s website at www.beckcenter.org.
– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger
The Cleveland Play House is now “3 for 3” with its excellent Graduate Ensemble production of An Orchard. Adapted from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s last play, The Cherry Orchard, this show is performed by the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House Master of Fine Arts class of 2012. An Orchard will run through November 6 in the Studio One Theatre.
An Orchard opens with Madame Ranevskaya’s returning from Paris to her family’s estate in the provinces of Russia. Upon her arrival, she learns that the mortgage and other debts have not been paid; therefore, the estate will be auctioned in August of that year. Throughout the play, Madame Ranevskaya and her family reflect on life at the estate and the beautiful cherry orchard at its heart. An Orchard presents life in turn of the 20th Century Russia as only Chekhov can.
This performance was exceptional. The staging for this production is presented in a “theatre in the round” format, but it goes even beyond that concept as the audience actually sits within the set. This provides a unique ambiance and an “immediacy” to the characters and action of the play that one does not experience in traditional theatre.
The student actors are superb. But do not let the term “student actors” deceive you. These actors are as professional as they come. Dan Hendrock, as Lopakhin, and Kelli Ruttle, as Madame Ranevskaya, especially, stand out. Last season’s tour de force production of Cloud 9 was performed by this same group. And I look forward to seeing the class of 2012 again in their spring production of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter, coming March 2011.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) is one of Russia’s most well known playwrights. The Cherry Orchard, his final play, was first performed in 1904. His other major dramatic works include The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1899), and Three Sisters (1901). He is also highly acclaimed for his short stories and considered by many to be among the greatest short story writers in world literature. After seeing An Orchard, I am inspired to explore more works by this classic Russian writer.
For an entertaining night of theatre, I highly recommend An Orchard. And do not forget The Kite Runner, now playing in the Play House’s Bolton Theatre through November 7.
Coming up next at the Cleveland Play House is This Wonderful Life, a one-man show based upon the Frank Capra Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. This Wonderful Life will begin November 26 and run through December 19 in the Drury Theatre. While attending this performance, be sure to stroll the lobbies of the Play House and enjoy the Festival of Trees, a holiday tradition.
The Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first and longest-running professional theatre complex continues to offer some of the very best professional theatre in the country. It is located at 8500 Euclid Avenue in the Midtown Corridor of Cleveland. For showtimes, pricing, and more information on the 2010-2011 season, please visit the Cleveland Play House website at http://www.clevelandplayhouse.com. – Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger