PlayhouseSquare launches the national touring production of Anything Goes with the sexy, sultry, and sensational Rachel York as Reno Sweeney. Cole Porter’s classic and madcap voyage on the high seas was the winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. With so many modern musicals coming into town these days, no matter how wonderful they might be, it is so nice to see a good revival of a great classic, once in a while. And like South Pacific and West Side Story two seasons ago, Anything Goes provides for this happy diversion.
Anything Goes takes place aboard the S.S. American. By a chance encounter, Billy Crocker has fallen in love with the beautiful Hope Harcourt. And when Billy sees off his boss, Elisha Whitney, on a business trip to London, he happens to see Hope again. Hope is also traveling to London with her mother, Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, and her fiancé, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, a stuffy British nobleman. Despite the fact that Hope is engaged to Lord Oakleigh, Billy stows away on the ship with the hope and intent of winning Hope’s heart.
Billy’s old friend Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer, is traveling aboard the same ship, as are Moonface Martin, “Public Enemy 13,” and his man-crazy friend and moll Erma, who are disguised as a minister and a missionary. And when all of these crazy characters come together, nothing but fun, and funny, chaos ensues. Featuring some of Cole Porter’s most classic and beloved songs, Anything Goes is an absolutely delicious treat.
Although I was already familiar with Anything Goes, this newer, modern take is like nothing I have ever seen or could ever have imagined. The story still takes place in 1934, but with today’s high technology and 21st century theatre conventions, this old-time classic is given a vibrant new life in the most beautiful, innovative and magical way possible. Everything from the sets and costumes to the choreography and dance numbers are top of the line. And did I mention that Anything Goes features some of Cole Porter’s most classic and beloved songs? Oh, I did? Well, it’s worth repeating! Two thumbs up for this exceptional touring production. You may not see anything better all year… but then again, this is Cleveland and PlayhouseSquare!
Anything Goes will run through October 14 in the Palace Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. The 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series will continue with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (November 6–18, 2012), Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (January 15–27, 2013), Sister Act (March 5–17, 2013), War Horse (April 9–21, 2013), Guys and Dolls (May 1 – June 23, 2013), and The Book of Mormon (June 18 – July 17, 2013).
PlayhouseSquare is the 2nd largest performing arts center in the nation, after Lincoln Center in New York. And it continues to bring the best of Broadway to Cleveland, in addition to a wide array of concerts, comedians, special events, and other programming. For more information about PlayhouseSquare or the 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series, please visit www.PlayhouseSquare.org.
– Christopher S. Musselman
Cleveland Play House presents one of the most ambitious productions of the year. In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, CPH’s last main stage production for the 2011-2012 season, is now playing in the Second Stage theatre at PlayhouseSquare. In the Next Room also serves as the anchor production for this year’s New Ground Theatre Festival (formerly FusionFest)
Written by playwright Sarah Ruhl, and directed by Laura Kepley, CPH’s associate artistic director, In the Next Room is a very powerful play of great humor, great emotion, and great intellect. It is 1880’s America, in a prosperous town near New York City, where a new “medical instrument” is being used to treat female hysteria. Sabrina Daldry arrives, with her husband, to the home of Dr. and Mrs. Givings for treatment. Over the course of the play, Mrs. Daldry’s condition improves dramatically, in many senses of the word. But this “medical instrument” also evolves into something much more… something that speaks to a woman’s heart, not just to the “hysteria” of her mind.
The 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare has been announced. As always, PlayhouseSquare will offer some of the very best shows from the Broadway stage for theatre patrons of all ages.
The spectacular 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series includes:
Anything Goes: Winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Cole Porter’s classic and madcap voyage on the high seas. October 2-14, 2012 in the Palace Theatre.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The story of Belle and her beastly prince, based upon Disney’s 1991 animated classic. November 6-18, 2012 in the Palace Theatre.
Pricilla, Queen of the Desert: Put on your platform heels! Produced by the Divine Miss M, herself, Bette Midler brings us this fun and colorful musical, based upon the 1994 Australian film and featuring popular hits of the 70’s and 80’s. January 15-27, 2013 in the Palace Theatre.
Sister Act: Whoopi Goldberg is the producer of this high-spirited musical, based upon the 1992 comedy film in which she starred. March 5-17, 2013 in the Palace Theatre.
War Horse: Winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Play. The touching story of a boy’s search for his horse during the turmoil of World War I. April 9-21, 2013 in the Palace Theatre.
Guys and Dolls: Produced by Cleveland’s very own Great Lakes Theater, a resident company of PlayhouseSquare, Guys and Dolls is a Frank Loesser classic. May 1 – June 23, 2013 in the Hanna Theatre.
The Book of Mormon: Winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Musical. A raucous new musical from the creators of television’s South Park. June 18 – July 7, 2013 in the Palace Theatre.
And the 2012-2013 U.S. Bank Star Performance Series includes:
Les Misérables: The spectacular 25th Anniversary production of theatre’s longest-running musical, still playing in London’s West End for nearly 27 years. February 5-10, 2013 in the Palace Theatre.
Blue Man Group: The blue men return! If you did not catch them during last season’s Broadway Series, now is your chance. February 12-17, 2013 in the Palace Theatre.
More shows will be added to the U.S. Bank Star Performance Series, at a later date. And with PlayhouseSquare’s “Swap-a-Show” program, if you do not care for one of the shows in the KeyBank Broadway Series, you can “swap” that show with other eligible shows, including those in the U.S. Bank Star Performance Series.
And do not forget all the great shows at Cleveland Play House and Great Lakes Theater! Both are resident companies of PlayhouseSquare, and both have announced their 2012-2013 show schedules. And as always, CPH and GLT will offer another great line-up for the 2012-2013 theatre season.
Cleveland Play House presents Lombardi (September 14 – October 7), The Whipping Man (November 2-25), A Carol for Cleveland (November 30 – December 23), 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).
Great Lakes Theater presents Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (September 28 – November 4) in repertory with Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid (October 5 – November 3), the annual holiday production of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol (November 30 – December 23), Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit (February 22 – March 10), Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (March 29 – April 14) and Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls (May 1–19).
With ten 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, the Allen Second Stage, the Allen (Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky) Lab Theatre, Kennedy’s Cabaret and the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre, located in the Idea Center. With the addition of Cleveland Play House this season, Cleveland’s Theatre District has become even 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 www.PlayhouseSquare.org. Information on the Cleveland Play House can be found at www.ClevelandPlayHouse.com, and Great Lakes Theater’s website is www.GreatLakesTheater.org.
- Christopher S. Musselman
Life can be so cruel sometimes. Just ask Alexandra, an elderly widow living in Brooklyn, New York, as no one knows this better than she. The regional premiere of The Velocity of Autumn is now playing in the intimate Studio Theater at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, and it is definitely a play worth seeing.
The Velocity of Autumn is the story of Alexandra and how she comes to terms with getting older while still maintaining her dignity. This wonderful new play is an entirely “Cleveland” production. It was written by Greater Cleveland’s own Eric Coble. And it stars local theatre legend Dorothy Silver, as Alexandra, and local actor and playwright David Hansen, as Chris.
Despite her children’s attempts to move her into a nursing home, Alexandra refuses to leave her Brooklyn brownstone. And just wanting to be left alone, she barricades herself within the brownstone and threatens to blow up the building with her in it! Her estranged son Chris arrives through an open window. And although their reunion starts out a bit “rocky,” they eventually, reach an understanding as they walk down memory lane and reconnect.
The Velocity of Autumn is a touching play that will warm your heart and just might bring a tear to your eye. And anyone who has ever had an elderly parent or grandparent will relate to this very poignant story of family and the ties that bind. The Velocity of Autumn is an excellent production, and it comes highly recommended.
The Velocity of Autumn will run through April 29. (Note that there will be no performances Easter Weekend, April 6-8.) Up next at the Beck Center for the Arts is Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (May 25 – July 1) in the Studio Theater. And Legally Blonde: The Musical will close the 2011-2012 season (July 6 – August 12) on the Mackey Main Stage. Be sure to secure your seats for these much anticipated productions. And check out the Beck Center’s Flex Passes, a convenient way to enjoy multiple performances, and a great savings, too.
The Beck Center for the Arts is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. Convenient, free on-site parking is available. For more information on the Beck Center, The Velocity of Autumn, or Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, please visit the Beck Center’s website at www.BeckCenter.org.
- Christopher S. Musselman
Red, Broadway’s 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Play, is now playing in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Another exceptional Cleveland Play House production, Red is the story of a man, his assistant, and his art.
Red is the story of Mark Rothko, a Russian-American painter of the abstract expressionist style. In 1958, Ken, a young painter with a troubled past, comes to work for Rothko. At first, Ken is awestruck to work with the famous Rothko, a hero whom he greatly admires. But over the course of the play, Ken comes to realize that Rothko is human and has flaws like all of us.
Bob Ari, from Broadway’s Frost/Nixon, plays Rothko. And Randy Harrison, from Showtime’s Queer as Folk, plays Ken. Both are well cast as they tell this very personal story of two artists and the unspoken friendship that develops between them. One is much older, somewhat distant, quite arrogant and completely consumed by his art. The other is younger, open to new ideas and not afraid to ask why. As the two men work together over the course of two years, the master learns as much from his assistant as the assistant learns from the master.
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.
The Cleveland Public Theatre’s last main stage performance of the season will premiere this Thursday in the James Levin Theatre. Cut to Pieces, Chris Seibert’s haunting, tour-de-force, one-woman show, has returned for a limited run to end CPT’s 2010-2011 Season. Cut to Pieces will run through June 11.
Directed by Raymond Bobgan, CPT’s Executive Artistic Director, Cut to Pieces is “an ambitious theatrical experience that begins as a classic ‘whodunit’ and quickly takes a nose dive into the psyche of a fragmented individual. Blending live video, film and animation, Cut to Pieces is a poignant glimpse into one woman’s journey as she reconstructs her shattered life after a violent rape.”
Written by Bobgan and Seibert, Cut to Pieces is yet another CPT original that is sure to satisfy even the most critical theatre aficionado. The show originally premiered during the 2008-2009 Season to critical acclaim, and it is set to tour throughout 2011-2013.
Cut to Pieces will play June 2-4, 6, and 9-11 at 7pm with a 3pm Sunday matinée June 5. As with most CPT performances, tickets are a very reasonable $10 to $25. If you have the chance this weekend or next, be sure to take in a performance of Cut to Pieces.
And if you have not had the opportunity to see a DanceWorks 2011 performance, you still have time. Mikaela Clark & Mackenzie Clevenger: Without Words… Moving Against the Sex Trade will run Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm with a 3pm Sunday matinée in the Gordon Square Theatre. Tickets are $10 on Thursday and $25 Friday through Sunday.
The Cleveland Public Theatre is located in the Gordon Square Arts District of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland’s West Side. Although this season is coming to a close, stay tuned for CPT’s 2011-2012 Season announcement later this summer. And you can always find more information and a full schedule of CPT performances and events at www.cptonline.org.
– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman. guest blogger
What would you do if a wild coyote suddenly appeared on the stoop of your apartment building? Although this may sound like a very strange, far-fetched scenario, this is exactly what happens in My Barking Dog, now playing in the Cleveland Public Theatre’s Storefront Studio. My Barking Dog will run through May 28.
What begins as a “simple” story of two lonely, introverted people and a starving coyote takes a bizarre turn and becomes a social commentary on nature and the environment. And this is no Wile E. Coyote of the Looney Tunes series of cartoons. The coyote in this story, although never seen, is a real, living, breathing animal. And as the play progresses, we begin to see how animal behavior and that of humans are not all that different. My Barking Dog is a psychological drama of alienation, obsession, and environmental consciousness.
The Storefront Studio is the perfect venue for this show. It is a small and very intimate space, and this allows for the audience to feel as if it is right there, in the action, with the performers. The play, itself, is very entertaining, full of twists and turns and lots of surprises. And the performances are engaging, drawing the audience into the story as it unfolds.
Written by local playwright Eric Coble and directed by Jeremy Paul, My Barking Dog is yet another CPT production that pushes the limits of a conventional theatrical experience. And for those who enjoy pushing those limits, My Barking Dog comes highly recommended.
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
Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a 1936 A.A. Milne stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s most famous work, Pride and Prejudice, is now playing in the William Allman Theatre at Baldwin-Wallace College. Miss Elizabeth Bennet is yet another first for Baldwin-Wallace, as this is the first U.S. staging of this play. Miss Elizabeth Bennet will be performed Tuesday-Saturday, April 12-16 at 7:30 pm with a matinée performance Sunday, April 17 at 2:00 pm.
Elizabeth Bennet is one of Jane Austen’s most famous and most endearing heroines. Mr. Darcy has become a literary model for the perfect gentleman. Put the two together, and you get the humor, passion, and romance that are Pride and Prejudice. The play opens in 18th century England. Mrs. Bennet is adamant that she will find husbands for her five daughters. The family has found a suitor for Jane, the oldest. Elizabeth, the second of the five, is next on the list. Finding a husband for her, however, will prove a more difficult task. Elizabeth rejects Mr. Collins, the family’s choice. And although, at first, she is not impressed with the dashing Mr. Darcy, she eventually comes around, looks within, and begins to take an interest in him, as Mr. Darcy does her. The rest is history.
There have been numerous adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. From stage to film to various reinterpretations, Pride and Prejudice prevails as one of the most popular novels ever written. And it is, perhaps, one of the most adapted works in English Literature. To date, the novel has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. And Pride and Prejudice continues to be read by people of all ages, all languages, and all backgrounds.
Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Hampshire, England, the seventh of eight children. And although she had a different upbringing and lived a different life from those of Elizabeth, she lived comfortably on the lower fringes of English gentry. Among her many writings, are six completed novels, all classics of English Literature. The first was Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811, followed by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). Northanger Abbey, her second novel, and Persuasion, her last, were not published until 1817, the year of her death. With such timeless stories and such memorable characters, it is no wonder that people are still captivated by Jane Austen and are still reading her works nearly 200 years after her death.
For me, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is very reminiscent of the Cleveland Play House’s superb rendering of Emma last season. The play is well performed and executed on all levels. And the intimate William Allman Theatre is the perfect venue for the staging of this play with its arena-style seating and thrust stage. Above all, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is an absolutely delightful production. For those who are fans of Jane Austen and her novels, this is a perfect play for you. For those who are not familiar with one of England’s most famous and beloved authors, this is a good time to familiarize yourself with a great classic. And at a very reasonable ticket price of only $10 ($5 for students and seniors), it makes for an affordable night of wonderful theatre.
If you cannot make it to this performance, be sure to keep up with Baldwin-Wallace’s calendar of events (link provided below) and take in another great performance at one of Northeast Ohio’s premier educational institutions. And for those who enjoy classical music, the 79th Annual Bach Festival will take place this weekend, April 15-17, 2011.
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 more than 50 areas of academic study that lead to a bachelor’s degree. And it offers master’s programs in both business and education. Miss Elizabeth Bennet is presented through the college’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
The William Allman 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 more information on Baldwin-Wallace College and for its calendar of events, please visit the college’s website at www.bw.edu/news/calendars.
– Submitted by Christopher Musselman, guest blogger