Compelling, mesmerizing, poignant, riveting… all of these words describe Cleveland Play House’s exceptional, and very touching, production of Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man.
April 13-15, 1865: The American Civil War has come to a close. Caleb, a former confederate soldier, has returned to his Richmond, Virginia home to find it nearly destroyed by the war. His parents have fled, but he does find Simon and John, his family’s former slaves. What these men discover about their own pasts, and one another, will have you both in awe and in tears. This is one of the most powerful plays that you will see this year. It runs through December 2, so be sure to catch it before it ends.
Up next is A Carol for Cleveland (November 30 – December 23), followed by Bell, Book and Candle (January 11 – February 3), The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith (February 15 – March 10), Good People (March 22 – April 14), and Rich Girl (April 12 – May 5).
Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first and longest-running professional theatre company, continues to offer some of the very best professional theatre in the country. And this year will mark CPH’s 97th season entertaining Greater Cleveland audiences. For more information about Cleveland Play House, The Whipping Man, or the 2012-2013 Season, please visit the CPH website at www.ClevelandPlayHouse.com. More information about PlayhouseSquare can be found at www.PlayhouseSquare.org.
– Christopher Musselman
Who was Vince Lombardi? Before last Thursday evening, I would have answered simply, “some football coach.” But now, I could tell you a whole lot more. Lombardi opens the season at Cleveland Play House in the beautiful Allen Theatre. And it is well worth the ticket price for both the football fan and the “sports-challenged” individual, alike.
First, it is important to note that Lombardi is not a “football play.” It is a biographical play about a human being… a man, who just happened to be a football coach. Also, Lombardi is not a one-man show, but a traditional play with a cast of six bringing the story to life on the Allen Stage.
Based upon the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, by David Maraniss, the play was written by Eric Simonson. And this production is directed by the amazing Casey Stangl. Lombardi takes place during a week in November 1965, with some “flashbacks” to 1958, 1959 and 1964. A young reporter from Look magazine visits Vince and his wife, Marie, with the intent of writing an article about Lombardi and find out what makes him win. And as he learns more about the famed football coach, so do we.
Not only is this production an excellent choice to open the new season, but also very timely with the fall football season in full-swing. But again, it is not a “football play.” It is a rather clever and touching comedy-drama that allows the audience into someone’s heart and soul. The very talented cast is headlined by the great Bob Ari (notable for playing artist Mark Rothko in last year’s Red) in the title role. Other stand-out actors include Branton Box, in his stage debut, as Green Bay Packer Paul Hornung, and the delightful DeeDee Rescher as Marie Lombardi. Ms. Rescher steals every scene in which she appears. She is so endearing and so funny that you cannot help falling in love with her.
I am not a football fan… never have been, nor did I know anything about Vince Lombardi before I saw this play. Yet I very much enjoyed it, more than I might have imagined, and I found it to be a truly moving and enlightening experience. And this is one of the many things that I love about theatre, and Cleveland Play House, in particular. CPH opens one’s mind to new and unfamiliar themes, issues and stories. And the magic of theatre is always alive at CPH.
Lombardi is a play of great depth with a very personal, very human story. And anyone who might question his/her own personal interest in the play should take a chance. You might be surprised, but you will not be disappointed. Lombardi is a homerun… or uh… how about a touchdown? You get the point… it is a damn good production. Go see it. Lombardi runs through October 7.
Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first and longest-running professional theatre company, is in its 97th season of entertaining Greater Cleveland audiences. For more information about Cleveland Play House, Lombardi, or the 2012-2013 Season, please visit the CPH website at www.ClevelandPlayHouse.com. More information about PlayhouseSquare can be found at www.PlayhouseSquare.org.
– Christopher S. Musselman
The Cleveland Play House opens the Second Stage theatre with the delightful Ten Chimneys. Starring Emmy Award winning actress, Mariette Hartley, Ten Chimneys is a backstage comedy directed by CPH’s very own Artistic Director, Michael Bloom. The new Second Stage is part of the Allen Theatre complex at PlayhouseSquare, the new home of Cleveland Play House.
Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were theatre royalty. They were so revered that their names live on in Manhattan’s Theatre District at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Although they lived for the stage, they did have a provision in their acting contracts: they must be guaranteed their summers off to spend them at Ten Chimneys, their summer home in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin. And this is where the play takes place.
Although Ten Chimneys was a summer retreat, it was also a place for great artistic development. The Lunts would often invite fellow actors to their home to rehearse upcoming plays. In the play Ten Chimneys, famous stage actors Uta Hagen and Sydney Greenstreet arrive to rehearse Chekhov’s The Seagull. As the actors rehearse the play, they begin to see certain parallels between the characters in The Seagull and themselves. And this is the basic premise of Ten Chimneys.
Happy Holidays and Happy Homicide! The Cleveland Play House world premiere of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) is now playing in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. And I will tell you now… do not miss this show!
William Gillette may very well have been the greatest and most successful actor in modern theatre. Along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Gillette wrote the stage version of Sherlock Holmes, and he played literature’s most famous detective for more than thirty years on both New York and London stages. With the royalties from his plays, he built a magnificent mansion on the Connecticut River. This mansion, known today as Gillette Castle, serves as the setting for Ludwig’s delightful The Game’s Afoot.
William Gillette is starring as Sherlock Holmes at the Palace Theatre in New York, where during a curtain call, he is shot by a mysterious figure. Following this attempt on his life, Gillette recuperates at his beautiful Connecticut mansion. On Christmas Eve, he invites his friends and Sherlock Holmes cast members to the estate for an evening of dinner, drinks, and a bit of fun. But the evening takes a strange turn when murder ensues. And it is up to Gillette, channeling Holmes, to solve the case. This is like no holiday party you have ever attended.
The Game’s Afoot is one of Cleveland Play House’s most ambitious productions to date. And the elaborate set is the most expensive in ten years. When the curtain rises, you can’t help but applaud it. The detail taken to reproduce Gillette Castle is uncanny. The overall staging, costumes, and special effects take us back to a dark, snowy Christmas Eve in the early 20th Century. And the cast is one of the very best that I have seen assembled on a Cleveland Play House stage… truly exceptional, with each actor playing his part to ingenious perfection. Simply put, The Game’s Afoot is Cleveland Play House at the very top of its game.
With clever and witty dialogue, lots of laughs, and even a few screams along the way, The Game’s Afoot provides for a murderous good time. It may very well be the most fun that you will have at the theatre this year. The Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) will play the holiday season through December 24.
Up next at the Cleveland Play House is Ten Chimneys (January 13 – February 5) on the brand new Second Stage. Continuing the 2011-2012 Season, Radio Golf (February 10 – March 4) and Red (March 16 – April 8 ) will return to the Allen Theatre. And In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play (April 13 – May 6) will close the season on the Second Stage.
Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first and longest-running professional theatre company, continues to offer some of the very best professional theatre in the country. Now in its 96th season, it is located in the Allen Theatre Complex at PlayhouseSquare. For showtimes, pricing, and more information on The Game’s Afoot and the rest of the 2011-2012 season, please visit the Cleveland Play House website at www.clevelandplayhouse.com. For more information about PlayhouseSquare, its website is www.PlayhouseSquare.org. – Christopher S. Musselman
FusionFest is the only multi-disciplinary festival of new work at a regional theatre in the country. Conceived and presented by the Cleveland Play House, the 6th Annual FusionFest will run from April 13 to April 23.
As described by Michael Bloom, the Play House’s Artistic Director, FusionFest is “new theatre… music and dance in the same building… an opportunity to move from one performance to another… a unique collaboration of Cleveland institutions… major national artists.”
This year’s line-up includes:
Legacy of Light: The “anchor performance” of FusionFest 2011 and the Cleveland Play House’s last main stage performance of the 2010-2011 Season. Variety has called this play about two women, in two different centuries, questioning a woman’s legacy, an “entertaining new comedy.” Drury Theatre, April 8 – May 1, 2011.
Voices of Healing: A series of dramatic readings that “showcase locally-generated stories of strength, compassion and rejuvenation.” Brooks Theatre, Thursday, April 14.
Marigold Wars: “A world-premiere interactive performance event about the struggle to find reason, peace and beauty amid the ravages of war.” Baxter Stage, April 14–17.
Pollock: Based upon the life of artist Jackson Pollock. A multi-media presentation that will drag you “kicking, laughing, and screaming through the history, memories, desires, and influences that created this brilliant icon of art.” Baxter Stage, April 15-16.
Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto: Based upon the life of slain Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Brooks Theatre, April 15-16.
Take a Hard Ride: Presented by Karamu House. “An original trilogy written by three of Cleveland’s leading African-American playwrights.” Brooks Theatre, Sunday, April 17.
Stew and the Negro Problem: The touring production of Making It, “a multi-media, rock show collage of song, text, and video,” from the co-author of the Broadway hit, Passing Strange. Baxter Stage, April 21-23.
The Real Americans: A performance on American politics and “the disconnect between Obama Nation and Palin Country.” Brooks Theatre, April 22-23.
Dorothy Silver Playwriting Winner: A highly regarded international writing competition, presented by the Mandel Jewish Community Center. Brooks Theatre, Thursday, April 21.
Local Explosion and New Play Readings: Dates and titles, TBA.
Please see the Cleveland Play House website for more detailed descriptions of the FusionFest 2011 performances.
– 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
One of the decade’s most widely read best-sellers is this year’s spectacular drama at the Cleveland Play House. Hot off the heels of the Play House’s exceptional season-opening production of The 39 Steps, The Kite Runner is now playing in the Play House’s Bolton Theatre.
Based upon the highly acclaimed novel by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner will tug at your heartstrings as it recounts a touching story of friendship, brotherhood, betrayal, and triumph. This show is simply phenomenal and one not to be missed.
From Kabul, Afghanistan to San Francisco, California, The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a boy from Kabul’s privileged class, and his friendship with Hassan, the son of his father’s faithful servant. The boys are inseparable until a horrible event brings about a betrayal that one boy will regret his entire life. In order to redeem himself, he must return to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, many years later, in an attempt to make amends. There he learns a family secret that will change his life forever.
This play has the audience laughing one moment and wiping away tears in the next. It is a beautiful story of love, family, and redemption during dangerous times in a very misunderstood part of the world. Whether or not you have previously read Hosseini’s 2003 novel, The Kite Runner is an extremely enjoyable experience. And it offers a typical night of great theatre at one of Cleveland’s most treasured cultural institutions.
Also playing at the Cleveland Play House is An Orchard, a Graduate Ensemble production performed by the CASE/CPH MFA class of 2012. An Orchard is adapted from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s last play The Cherry Orchard. An Orchard will run from October 27 to November 6 in the Studio One Theatre. And coming in November, 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.
This is the Cleveland Play House’s last season in the historic complex on Euclid Avenue, its home for more than 80 years. Next season, the Play House will move to downtown Cleveland, taking up residence in a renovated and reconfigured Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. If you have never been to the Cleveland Play House, now, more than ever, is the time to go.
The Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first and longest-running professional theatre complex is in its 95th season. And as it has for nearly a century, the Play House 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
Winner of two 2008 Tony Awards, The 39 Steps is in its third year on Broadway, but Northeast Ohioans need not go to New York to see this amazing show. Broadway’s smash hit is now playing in the Drury Theatre at the Cleveland Play House. And what a spectacular show this is to open the Play House’s 95th season.
The 39 Steps, based upon the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock, is theatre at its very best. This hysterical farce will have you laughing in your seat and into the aisles. My viewing of The 39 Steps was one of the best evenings that I have had at the theatre in a long time.
During an evening at the London Palladium, protagonist Richard Hannay is drawn into a dangerous plot involving mystery, murder, and espionage. This leads Hannay across Great Britain, from England to Scotland and back again, where little by little he searches for clues to unlock the secret of The 39 Steps. But you will have to come to the Cleveland Play House to discover that secret for yourself. Four actors portray over 100 bizarre characters in this ingenious play where “Hitchcock meets hilarious.” A night at the theatre has never been so funny.
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was one of England and Hollywood’s most celebrated filmmakers. Often called the “master of suspense,” Alfred Hitchcock directed more than fifty films in his lifetime. Many of these set the standard for the mystery, suspense, and horror films that would follow to the present day. Among his most well known works are Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963).
The 39 Steps is considered by many to be his best film from the pre-Hollywood Era. Despite the critical acclaim given to Hitchcock during a career that spanned six decades, only his first American film, Rebecca (1940), earned the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture. But to this day, Hitchcock’s films remain classics of the silver screen as they continue to entertain a new generation of film buffs.
The 39 Steps will continue through October 10. Coming up next at the Cleveland Play House is The Kite Runner, based upon the highly acclaimed novel by Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner will play in the Bolton Theatre from October 15 to November 7. And the CASE/CPH MFA class of 2012 will perform a Graduate Ensemble production of An Orchard, adapted from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s last play The Cherry Orchard. An Orchard will run from October 27 to November 6 in the Studio One Theatre.
This is the Cleveland Play House’s last season in the historic complex on Euclid Avenue, its home for more than eighty years. Next season, the Play House will move to downtown Cleveland, taking up residence in a renovated and reconfigured Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. If you have never been to the Cleveland Play House, now, more than ever, is the time to go.
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 www.clevelandplayhouse.com. – Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger
FusionFest 2010 is in its second week, and will run through April 25th, at the Cleveland Play House. Tickets are still available for the remaining performances, and I highly recommend this wonderful multidisciplinary arts festival.
In addition to the Ohio premiere of Bill W. and Dr. Bob in the Drury Theatre, A Soldier’s Tale (with Catch and Release) is now playing on the Baxter Stage. A collaboration performance, presented by the Cleveland Play House, the Cleveland Orchestra, and GroundWorks Dance Theater, A Soldier’s Tale is a must see.
A Soldier’s Tale has been described as a “spoken opera with dance” and as a work “to be read, played, and danced.” With a score by Igor Stravinsky and an updated libretto by Kurt Vonnegut, A Soldier’s Tale is based upon the French L’histoire du soldat (1918). The original libretto was based upon a Russian folk tale in which a soldier loses his soul by trading his violin to the devil. But in 1993, acclaimed American novelist Vonnegut was commissioned to recreate the text. The new tale, based upon a true story, follows Eddie Slovik, who in 1945 became the last American soldier to be shot for desertion.
FusionFest is the only multidisciplinary performing arts festival at a regional theatre in the country. This highly regarded festival showcases a great sampling of all the wonderful arts that Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have to offer. In addition to the Cleveland Play House, the 5th Annual FusionFest will feature the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, Karamu House, GroundWorks Dance Theater and the Mandel Jewish Community Center.
The calendar includes:
- Bill W. and Dr. Bob, presented by the Cleveland Play House (Drury Theatre, April 9 – May 9).
- One-Man Lord of the Rings, presented by the Cleveland Play House, starring Charles Ross (Baxter Stage, April 14–18).
- Conviction, presented by the Cleveland Play House (Brooks Theatre, April 15–17).
- Full Contact Schools New Play Festival, presented by the Cleveland Play House (Brooks Theatre, April 15–18).
- Dusk Rings a Bell (New Play Reading), presented by the Cleveland Play House (Brooks Theatre, Sunday, April 18).
- A Soldier’s Tale (with Catch and Release), presented by the Cleveland Play House, the Cleveland Orchestra, and GroundWorks Dance Theater (Baxter Stage, April 22–25)
- From Cancer to Broadway (Staged Reading), presented by Karamu House (Baxter Stage, Saturday, April 24).
- Masters of the Universe (New Play Reading), presented by the Cleveland Play House (Brooks Theatre, Saturday, April 24).
- Dorothy Silver Playwriting Winner, presented by the Mandel Jewish Community Center (Brooks Theatre, Sunday, April 25).
The inspiring story of Bill W. and Dr. Bob is the “anchor performance” of this year’s FusionFest. Based upon true events, Bill W. and Dr. Bob recounts the story of the men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous. And the fact that AA was founded in Akron at Stan Hywet Hall’s gate lodge makes this show even more poignant for Northeast Ohioans.