An Ideal Husband, Oscar Wilde’s witty, classic comedy, opened Friday, October 1 at the Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. The show is part of Great Lakes Theater Festival’s Fall Repertory, along with Shakespeare’s Othello, which opened the 2010-2011 season on September 23. The Fall Repertory will run through October 31.
An Ideal Husband is a play of blackmail and political corruption among the high society of 1893 London. In Wilde’s traditional literary style, An Ideal Husband incorporates both satire and farce as it presents social commentary on the “privileged class” and issues of the day. And as with many of his works, it includes two of his most popular themes: marriage and the morals of Victorian society. Adding all of these elements together provides a hilarious good time at the theatre.
Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) would become one of London’s most popular playwrights of the 1890s. Among his most famous works are Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). His one and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was published in 1891.
For nearly 50 years, Great Lakes Theater Festival has been presenting classic theatre of the highest standard in the Greater Cleveland Area. An Ideal Husband is no exception. The acting is first-rate, the sets and costumes are beautiful, but above all, the company presents yet another great evening of theatre.
For any fan of Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband is the perfect show to see. And don’t forget Othello, one of Shakespeare’s most famous and gripping tragedies. Up next, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dicken’s holiday classic, will return to the Ohio Theatre from December 3 to 23, 2010. And Great Lakes Theater Festival’s Spring Repertory will include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (March 11-27) and Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (April 8-23).
The Great Lakes Theater Festival began in July of 1962, at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium in Lakewood, Ohio. As the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, the company presented six Shakespeare plays in rotating repertory. In 1965, the repertory was expanded to include non-Shakespearean classics, although they have always remained an important part of the company. Twenty years later, in July of 1982, the Great Lakes Theater Festival moved to the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. And then in 2008, the company moved again to the beautifully restored Hanna Theatre.
With eight theatres, PlayhouseSquare is the nation’s second largest performing arts center (after Lincoln Center in New York). The five oldest theatres date back to 1921-1922, and all have been gloriously restored. In 2011, another important Cleveland institution, The Cleveland Play House, will move to PlayhouseSquare in a renovated and reconfigured Allen Theatre. Two additional theatres will be built for this venture, bringing PlayhouseSquare’s theatre count to ten and making Cleveland’s Theatre District busier and more vibrant than ever.
For more information about the Great Lakes Theater Festival, please refer to its website at www.GreatLakesTheater.org. For more information about PlayhouseSquare, its website is www.PlayhouseSquare.org. – Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger
Groups witnessing a performance at one of the opulent stages of PlayhouseSquare might be surprised to know the history behind the nation’s second largest performing arts center’s theater district. All five major theaters (the Hanna, Allen, Ohio, State and Palace) opened in the early 1920s and remained active until shutting down at the end of the ’60s. Since renovations began in the 1970s, the theaters have returned to their former glory and now rank among the busiest in the country.
In addition to showing a selection of hit Broadway plays, PlayhouseSquare offers an interactive experience. After select Thursday evening Broadway Series performances, you can attend a “post-show chat” with cast members and learn what it’s like to audition, tour and perform in a Broadway show. And, the first Saturday of the month, there’s a free, behind-the-scenes tour. “The first thing we always tell everybody is that PlayhouseSquare is the largest theater restoration project in the world,” says marketing and promotions manager Jeannie Emser. “When I give tours, it’s not a bricks and mortar tour. There are little things that I find interesting. When the Palace opened, for instance, it was a big red carpet event and people came from Europe and film stars from New York and Los Angeles. When they walked in that night there was more than a million dollars worth of artwork on the walls and on the floor was the largest carpet ever woven in one piece.” Although some of the original pieces disappeared when the theaters were boarded up, PlayhouseSquare did recover one painting that’s now in the State Theatre and the big blue urn that’s in the Palace. Emser says, “It was too heavy for anyone to move and we’ve been told it has a sister urn in the Louvre.”
The theater offers discounts for groups of 20 or more, providing priority seating and access to tickets before they go on sale. In addition, PlayhouseSquare staff can help you plan your visit and catering and banquet spaces are also available to rent. Contact Chris Meyers, Group Services Manager, at 800.888.9941 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Submitted by guest blogger Jeff Niesel
How long have you been living here?
My wife and I purchased a house here in September of 2008 on the west side of Cleveland. We live in a great neighborhood with a lot of families. It’s great to be here year-round and be able to come into the city and do charities and giveaways and anything I can to be a part of this community as much as possible.
How do you like Cleveland?
It’s a great city. There’s a lot of history here, especially with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I am a big fan of music myself. It doesn’t matter what genre it is or what decade it’s from, I love to listen to music. So playing here is great and the fans are great, everyone is always dying for baseball season to come around . . . it’s just a great place to be with great people.
What do you like about Progressive Field?
I love playing at Progressive Field. I have good career stats here and I just love environment, the action and everything about it. There is always a buzz in the crowd. The fans are always waiting for something to happen and when something does happen they are always really excited and ready to express their emotions—good or bad. Indians fans are definitely into the game, watch the game and care about how their team plays.
If you had someone coming for the first time to visit you in Cleveland what would you tell them to do while they were here?
I think The Rock Hall is a must. And, if there’s a good show in town, definitely catch a play at the theater because it’s a great experience to go through the main entrance to a place [PlayhouseSquare] that’s so original . . . you get the feel of how musical theater should be. Those are the two main things because other than catching a baseball game, football game or basketball game, you definitely have to take in some history of the city.
Do you have any recommendations on restaurants in the area?
I’m a big fan of the Blue Point Grille. I have been there numerous times. Whenever guys come back who have played here in the past we go over there and they always accommodate us. Especially if we have a large party, they invite us in, take care of us and make us feel welcome.
Any prediction for the season?
The only prediction I have for the season is that we are young and have a lot of great talent, so just to stay positive.
William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the classic, magical romantic-comedy, is now playing in the Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Performed by one of PlayhouseSquare’s resident companies, the Great Lakes Theater Festival, this show is another on my list of must- sees.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows four young lovers from Athens, a troupe of amateur actors, the Athenian aristocracy and magical fairies, as they find themselves crossing paths in the woods on a magical summer night. Spells are cast and lovers are mismatched with humorous results. It is no wonder that A Midsummer Night’s Dream remains an audience favorite after more than 400 years.
Great Lakes Theater Festival is known for its more contemporary staging and interpretation of Shakespearean classics, putting a modern spin on costumes, sets and props, while retaining the original Elizabethan text. A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues this tradition and even throws in some Beatles’ classics, to boot. The acting is first-rate, especially Eduardo Placer as Puck. And the sets are spectacular, taking the audience from Athens to the magical woods. Overall, the company presents an enjoyable evening of theatre.
There is still time to see this production (May 14 and 15). And don’t forget Bat Boy: The Musical, also playing (May 12, 13, 15, and 16). I highly recommend both productions in Great Lakes Theater Festival’s Spring Repertory.
If you cannot make it this week, be sure to see a performance by the Great Lakes Theater Festival next season. The 2010-2011 Season has been announced. The Fall Repertory includes William Shakespeare’s Othello and Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (September 24 – October 31, 2010). The Spring Repertory features The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (March 11-27, 2011) and Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (April 8-23). And as always, the holiday classic A Christmas Carol returns to the Ohio Theatre (December 3–23, 2010).
The Doubletree Hotel in downtown Cleveland recently underwent a full renovation (and flag change to become a Doubletree–it was a Holiday Inn) and I must admit I like their style. A new layout in the lobby opens things up and makes room for Starbucks. Dark wood floors and comfortable furniture fill the lobby offering a nice setting for travelers to check email, read or relax. Other hotel amenities include an indoor pool, free wi-fi throughout, an attached sports bar/restaurant, covered parking, workout facility, meeting rooms and a large ballroom.
The Doubletree is in walking distance to many downtown attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, PlayhouseSquare, Browns Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center, as well as examples of Cleveland’s flourishing culinary scene in the Warehouse District and along East Fourth Street. The Doubletree also offers shuttle service within the downtown area. (Oh, and warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies for its arriving guests!)
So, whether you’re on a family vacation or traveling for business, the Doubletree will accommodate your needs. And all of this comes with an incredible view of Lake Erie.
Cleveland has many attractions that sparkle during the holidays. Visit the Cleveland Play House Festival of Trees, Winterfest at Public Square or famous venues like Tower City Center and the Arcade to see the lights, décor and majesty of the holiday season. Catch it all by taking a Holiday Lights Ride on a Lolly the Trolley tour.
“Our Holiday Lights Rides have become an annual family tradition for thousands of Clevelanders,” says Sherrill Paul Witt, president of Trolley Tours. “This is our 25th holiday season and people never seem to tire of riding comfortably on a heated and enclosed trolley to see the city lights and to learn about our wonderful city.”
When it comes to city explorations, the Trolley Tours of Cleveland and its famous cheery red Lolly the Trolley cars specialize in locating great local destinations, especially during the holidays. Take the Tinsel Tales and Trees Tour or the Silver Bells Tour (the two most popular) and enjoy great narrated, one-hour city sightseeing journeys featuring the past, present and future of Cleveland while viewing the area’s brilliant lights displays. Sign up for the Mark Klaus’ Hollywood Christmas Movieland Tour and enjoy the area’s coolest, new film museum of authentic props, costumes and production-still photographs from your favorite Christmas films.
And if you really like movies, consider “A Christmas Story” Tour too, visiting the famous house in Tremont where parts of the movie were filmed. Year-round, Lolly the Trolley navigates the nooks and crannies of Cleveland, touring downtown, North Coast Harbor, the Warehouse District, Ohio City, PlayhouseSquare, University Circle and nearly all of Cleveland’s must-see attractions. Public Holiday Lights Rides run from December 4 to the 27. Prices vary for each tour, but range from $14-$22 according to the public tour chosen. Private charters are also available. Just call Lolly the Trolley at 216.771.4484 or go online to www.lollytrolley.com. –Submitted by Keith Gribbins
Ingenuity, Cleveland’s Festival of Art and Technology
What do aerospace engineers at NASA have in common with a Cleveland psychobilly band like the Whiskey Daredevils? Well, you can find both at Ingenuity, Cleveland’s Festival of Art and Technology–a weekend-long celebration of art, music and technology, designed for audiences of any age, staged in the center of downtown Cleveland. More than 70 organizations and about 1,000 arts and technology groups (from UrbanArtz to the CSU Chemistry Department to Three Olives Vodka) come together for the unique festival that is celebrated throughout Cleveland’s streets, alleys, and performance venues. It has piano competitions, virtual entertainment, poetry readings, technology lectures, design contests, film presentations, tons of great bands, and a crazy amount of bizarre acts and exhibits. High technology firms and major colleges and universities are presented alongside acclaimed artists to create a dazzling display of exciting new work you won’t find anywhere in the country. Cost: Single day is $10, weekend $15, children 12 and under are free.
Italian-American Council Festival
Akron, Lock 3
The tastes and smells of Italy mix with the culture and atmosphere of Akron and its downtown Lock 3 Park at the Council of Italian-American Societies’ 62nd annual Italian-American Festival. Dabble in wine tastings, Italian cooking classes, bocce tournaments, car shows and plenty of people watching, scored to a background of bands like Hotel California (an Eagles tribute outfit) and the Sands Trio (a homage to the Rat Pack). The Budweiser Clydesdales even parade down Main Street on Saturday (3-5pm) and Sunday (12:30pm). For the bold, we suggest the pizza eating contents on Sunday (1:30-2:30pm), where pie and man fight for supremacy. A Catholic Mass is held on Sunday at 11am (where all gluttony is forgiven) followed by a spaghetti dinner (where all gluttony begins anew). Cost: Free
Wellington Cheese Festival
Slicing and dicing oodles of dairy delights, the City of Wellington cuts more cheese than any healthy Ohio town probably should. Luckily, it’s all in honor of the annual Cheese Festival–a celebration of crafts, rides, live entertainment and most of all Wellington’s cheesy history (throughout the 19th Century Wellington was known as the country’s Cheese Capital with 40 factories). Enjoy the grub–cheese on a stick, cheese hotdogs, cheese popcorn, cheese pizza and a variety of unique dairy blends–while participating in a bevy of activities (which in the past included) the Cheese Olympics (including a cheese shot put), Kids Cheesefest (mold chunks of Velveeta into . . . anything), and the Cheese Festival Parade (full of floats, marching bands and your favorite farm animals). Cheesecake bake-offs, kid rides, a petting zoo and a slew of food and beverage booths round out this tasty event.
27th Annual Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Festival
Over a quarter of a century of great and green Cleveland-Irish heritage are honored this July in Berea. The Annual Irish Cultural Festival celebrates Northern Ohio’s lively and historic Irish traditions with more than 20 bands on nine stages, dancing schools, live theatre, a children’s area and tons more. Irish and American specialties like bangers, bridies, boxty, Irish stew and corned beef are available in the food court. Then relax to the high-spirited magic of musicians from Ireland and America like the Hedge Band, the Irish Descendants, Cherish the Ladies and the Screaming Orphans. Outdoor Mass on Sunday is always a festival highlight, with renowned Celtic harpist Dennis Doyle. Cost: General admission is $10 and parking is free; kids under 10 are free too.
Balloon Classic Invitational/Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks
July 31-August 2
Kent State Stark Campus
More than 75 excitingly slow and lumbering hot air balloons compete for big money ($19,000 and other prizes) at the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic Invitational in Canton. And while these inflatable aircraft compete for your love and cash, the Jackson-Belden Food Fest will win over your stomach next door. Around 25 vendors (both from in and out of state) cook up first-rate foods for balloon gawkers–sausage and pulled pork sandwiches, homemade ice cream, ribs, apple and cherry cobblers, wine and beer, and yes, even corn dogs. Some 100,000+ people will come to enjoy the exquisite fair food while watching balloons like “Piggles,” the floating piggy bank, “Touchdown,” an enormous flying football, and “Off the Wall,” a Humpty Dumpty balloon. Plus the festival will have its share of fiery explosions — at the Saturday night fireworks display for sure, but also at the Friday Night Glow, when the balloons tether to the ground and fill their envelopes with propane. Cost: Admission is free; $5 for parking after 3pm.
Britain’s most famous governess only needs an umbrella to arrive in Cleveland for her eponymous musical Mary Poppins (July 17-August 9, 2009) at the State Theatre. But this summer Ms. Poppins has choices. On Continental Airlines she can fly nonstop from Heathrow between May and September. Her fans may fly from anywhere to spend the weekend enjoying one of America’s largest performing arts complexes, PlayhouseSquare. Between East 14th and 17th Streets are five theatres, a half-dozen resident companies ranging from Opera Cleveland to the Tri-C Jazz Festival, plus top touring productions such as Young Frankenstein and In the Heights via KeyBank’s annual Broadway Series. The area also boasts enough first-class hotels, restaurants and enlightening excursions to make any nanny smile.
What are you doing on February 29? Nothing this year! It’s not leap year, so there’s no 29th day in February this year (so, no birthday for my college friend Kim), but that’s no reason to let the end of February and beginning of March pass you by.
Wondering if March will come in like a lion or a lamb? Well, you can visit the lions, lambs and the six young Mexican wolves now on the prowl at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The three year-old wolves are on exhibit from 10am – 5pm daily at the Zoo’s Wolf Wilderness. This is the first time the Zoo has ever displayed Mexican wolves – the rarest and most genetically distinct of all the gray wolves in North America. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109, 216.661.6500.
It was an unusually cold one–about 9 degrees Fahrenheit–but I managed to tear myself away from warm micro-fleece blanket on the home couch to see the Tony Award-nominated play by Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen) on opening night. I have to admit, it was worth braving the cold temps.