Raise the curtain this holiday season on festive theatrical fun. Absorb the magic of the bright lights and the nostalgic feelings that come with an evening at the theater. Whether it’s surrounded by the opulent restored décor at the nation’s second largest theater district, PlayhouseSquare, or the nation’s oldest African American theater Karamu House, be sure to catch all the acts in these holiday performances during their limited run. For more holiday info and to book your stay in CLE visit www.holidaysincle.com.
- Based on the story by David Sedaris and produced by Cleveland Public Theatre, “The Santaland Diaries” at PlayhouseSquare’s 14th Street Theater from Nov. 28 – Dec. 22, is sure to bring a smile to any Grinch’s face as the now fifty-year-old Crumpet recounts his experience as a Macy’s Christmas Elf in 1989.
- From Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 audiences “meet” more of Steve Solomon’s family, friends and the other folks whose sole purpose is to drive him into therapy during a holiday dinner at Grandma’s in “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, I’m Home for the Holidays” at the Palace Theatre.
- Brimming with memories of old-time Cleveland, in the spirit of Dickens, “A Carol for Cleveland,” presented by the Cleveland Play House at the Allen Theatre from Nov. 30 – Dec. 23, tells the story of how one desperate act becomes a catalyst to forgiveness and change.
- The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without an authentic presentation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol, performed annually by Great Lakes Theater from Nov. 30 – Dec. 23 at the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.
- One part music, one part comedy, “Jingle Babes” at the Palace Theatre brings audiences the shtick and stories of friends and family, malls and mayhem, and ultimately the joy that lies within it all from Four Bitchin’ Babes on Dec. 2.
- From Cleveland Public Theater and the artists responsible for the wildly popular “Conni’s Avant-Garde Restaurant,” comes “The Secret Social,” a play that offers new characters who are your hosts in a lively dance hall complete with cabaret seating, a light supper and a cash bar available through the show, running from Dec. 6 – 23.
- Join the nation’s oldest African American multicultural arts center Karamu House’s presentation of “Black Nativity,” a contemporary retelling of the birth of Christ through gospel music, dance and songs, Dec. 7 – 30.
– April Ingle, Communications Coordinator
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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
The Winter’s Tale opens Great Lakes Theater’s 51st Season and this year’s Fall Repertory. I took in a viewing of Friday evening’s preview performance, and it was nothing less than magical. The Winter’s Tale is Great Lakes Theater at its very best and William Shakespeare at his most ingenious.
The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s romance plays, also called tragicomedies. It is considered, by many, to be one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” because despite the intense psychological drama in the first act, the second act is quite comedic and offers a happy ending. And The Winter’s Tale is also unique in that it is the only Shakespeare play to skip sixteen years between acts.
For the most part, is a story of insane jealousy and vengeance. Leontes, King of Sicilia, and Polixenes, King of Bohemia, are childhood friends. But when Leontes suspects his pregnant wife, Queen Hermione, of having an affair with Polixenes, he takes dire steps to exact his revenge. He orders that Polixenes be poisoned, Hermione imprisoned, and the baby exiled. The second act continues with the story of what becomes of that baby, a daughter named Perdita.
The Winter’s Tale is a neat play. It starts out with a dark, intense mood, continues with some bizarre, yet humorous, scenarios, and ends on a much happier note with hope for a brighter future. Shakespeare tends to be known most for his tragedies and his comedies, but in The Winter’s Tale, we get a good mix of both.
In typical GLT fashion, the set is absolutely magnificent. It’s like a beautiful, giant time piece that seems to come to life, in its own way. The costumes are beautiful and very elegant. And the actors are as professional, mesmerizing, and convincing, as always. You just don’t get theatre this good in many cities, but this is not just any city… this is Cleveland, home of Great Lakes Theater. If you have never seen The Winter’s Tale, now is your chance. If you have, come see it Great Lakes Theater style. I highly recommend it.
The Winter’s Tale will run through November 4 in the beautiful Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Great Lakes Theater’s Fall Repertory will continue with Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid (October 5 – November 3). The annual production of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol will return for the holiday season (November 30 – December 23). And 2013 will bring 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 – June 23).
Now in its 51st year, Great Lakes Theater continues to offer some of the highest quality theater in the nation. For more information about Great Lakes Theater, The Winter’s Tale, or GLT’s exciting 2012-2013 Season, please refer to its website at www.GreatLakesTheater.org. For more information about PlayhouseSquare, please visit www.PlayhouseSquare.org.
– Christopher S. 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
Put on your roller skates and leg warmers, Broadway’s musical comedy hit Xanadu has arrived at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. Based upon the campy 1980 movie musical, which featured Olivia Newton-John and the legendary Gene Kelly, in his final film appearance, Xanadu is silly fun and one of the most delightful shows that I have seen in awhile.
The original film version of Xanadu was mostly panned by critics. But over the years, it has become a cult-classic and retains a great legion of fans. Given new life in the 2007 stage production, Xanadu now shines… and brightly, because it never takes itself too seriously and can laugh at itself. In the same manner that 1995’s The Brady Bunch Movie parodied the original 1970’s television series, the stage version of Xanadu parodies the original 1980 film.
The Broadway production opened in 2007, quickly became a Broadway hit, and ran for more than 500 performances before embarking on a 2008 U.S. tour. Xanadu was nominated for several awards, including the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical. And the show was awarded the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical and the 2007-2008 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Musical.
1980, Venice Beach, CA: Down-on-his-luck chalk artist Sonny Malone has created a mural of Mount Olympus and seven muses. Soon they come to life, and one in particular (Clio, as Kira) inspires Sonny to reopen an old, dilapidated auditorium. With help from Danny Maguire, Sonny and Kira create a new roller disco: Xanadu.
The talented cast includes Sam Wolf as a handsome, naïf, and boyishly goofy Sonny Malone. The lovely Kathleen Rooney nearly embodies Olivia Newton-John, as Clio/Kira, while sporting an exaggerated Australian accent and performing the majority of the show on roller skates! And Greg Violand plays the older, mature Danny Maguire. In addition to the principals, we have six sister muses, a couple of them men in drag, who contribute to many of the comedic episodes. The set is a beautiful mix of faux Greek columns and bright, colorful, flashing lights.
And what is the most important element of a Broadway musical? The music, of course! Despite the unfavorable film reviews, the Xanadu soundtrack album was a great commercial success. And all of your favorite Xanadu songs are here! From “I’m Alive” and “All Over the World” (Electric Light Orchestra) to “Magic,” “Suddenly,” and the title song “Xanadu” (Olivia Newton-John), Xanadu is a smorgasbord of classic 70’s and 80’s hits.
In addition to songs from the original movie soundtrack, the stage version of Xanadu adds some other classic songs, not in the film, including ELO’s “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic,” as well as ONJ’s “Have You Never Been Mellow.” Xanadu will have you singing in your seat and dancing in the aisles. What more can we ask from a Broadway show?
Xanadu is the perfect production to open Beck Center’s new season, get audiences excited, and put them in the mood for all that is yet to come. Those who have never seen the film version are in for a treat; those who are fans of the film can rediscover Xanadu, all over again. But I warn you, you will never see the original movie in the same way… and that’s a good thing!
Xanadu runs through October 14 on the Mackey Main Stage. Up next is The Little Dog Laughed (October 5 – November 11) in the Studio Theater. And for the holiday season, Beck Center presents a classic American musical for the entire family, the one and only Annie (December 6 – January 7). 2013 will bring Next to Normal (March 1 – April 21), The House of Blue Leaves (March 22 – April 22), and The Pitmen Painters (May 31 – July 7), with Monty Python’s Spamalot (July 12 – August 18) closing the 2012-2013 Season.
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, Xanadu, or the 2012-2013 Season, please visit the Beck Center’s website at www.BeckCenter.org.
– Christopher S. Musselman
God of Carnage, the 2009 Tony Award winner for Best Play and 2009 Olivier Award winner for Best New Play, is now playing at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights. A humorous and all-to-real look at modern day suburban life, God of Carnage offers a delightful romp at the theatre.
Written by French playwright Yasmina Reza, and translated by Christopher Hampton, God of Carnage presents a “slice of life” to which many parents can relate. Alan and Annette Raleigh visit Michael and Veronica Novak to discuss an altercation that has occurred between their sons at a community park. Soon the altercation transfers from the sons and the park to the parents and the Novak’s living room, resulting in trivial chaos. God of Carnage provides for a thoroughly entertaining night at the theatre with a great deal of bickering and a hell of a lot of laughs. Theatre goers haven’t had this much fun in someone’s living room since Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Not only is God of Carnage a well written play, which has enjoyed much success in its original French and English-translated incarnations, but this rendition is a very well acted production, too. Scott Miller and Derdriu Ring play the more “corporate-minded” Raleighs while John Hedges and Tracee Patterson give us the more “grounded” Novaks. In their respective roles, all four actors take a rather simple everyday situation (after all, what child hasn’t been in a playground fight at some point in his life?) and take it to new heights. They all present the epitome of a “crazy” and irrational parent while still remaining completely believable.
Joel Hammer, Dobama’s Artistic Director, is the director of this production. I had seen Mr. Hammer’s wonderful performance in Dobama’s stellar production of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer. He is an excellent actor, but now that I have seen his work as a director, it is quite obvious that he is a multi-talented force in Cleveland’s theatre scene.
The black box space where Dobama Theatre is located is perfect for the edgy and non-conventional productions that the company offers. It is a very warm and inviting space that provides for a very intimate theatrical experience. I had not seen a Dobama Theatre production until last December when I attended The Seafarer. And following that and God of Carnage, I realize that I have been missing out! God of Carnage runs through May 13.
Dobama Theatre is located in the Lee Road Branch of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library at 2340 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Convenient, free on-site parking is available. For more information on Dobama Theatre or God of Carnage, please visit the theatre’s website at www.Dobama.org.
- Christopher S. Musselman
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
“To see or not to see, that is the question”… or something like that, anyway. Regardless, the answer is a resounding to see! Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, and one of the world’s most quoted and most translated works of literature, is coming to Baldwin-Wallace College this April.
Hamlet is the prince of Denmark, and he is having one hell of a bad day. His uncle Claudius has murdered his father, the king; his girlfriend Ophelia has gone mad; and his mother Gertrude, the queen, has married his uncle… the very same uncle who murdered his father! Although this might sound like an old episode of One Life to Live or All My Children, this twisted “soap opera” is much, much older. After all, Shakespeare lived during the Elizabethan Age and many of his plays were performed before the Virgin Queen, herself.
A little bit of murder, a great deal of mystery, one of the world’s most celebrated writers and one of the nation’s greatest professional theatre companies make for an exciting night of entertainment in downtown Cleveland.
Great Lakes Theater celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season with a play marking its 60th. Celebrating 60 years in London’s West End, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is one of the stage’s most famous murder mysteries and the longest-running play in theatre history. The Mousetrap runs from March 9 to March 25 in the Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.
Based upon Christie’s 1947 radio play, Three Blind Mice, and its subsequent short story, The Mousetrap takes place in the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, during a snowstorm in 1952. A woman has been murdered in London. Meanwhile, Mollie and Giles Ralston have started a guest house at Monkswell Manor and are patiently awaiting their very first guests. How are these two events connected? You’ll see. A wide array of characters soon arrives, some invited and some not, and then the fun really begins. Will you figure out the identity of the murderer before the curtain falls? Come see The Mousetrap, and find out.
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