Tag Archive | theatre

My Barking Dog

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.

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2011-2012 Broadway Series

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

Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves

Take a trip into the mind of an insomniac. Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves is now playing, through May 7, in the James Levin Theatre of the Cleveland Public Theatre. And this is a trip worth taking.

Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves explores the connection between dreams and the conscious state, reality and the imagination. What is real and what is unreal? What is concrete and what is imagined? For Ev, Zelda, and Evelyn, these questions are answered on one fateful night.

Written by Holly Holsinger, Chris Seibert, and Raymond Bobgan, Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves is a product of both CPT staff and long-time collaborators. The play stars Holsinger as Ev, Seibert as Zelda, and Anne McEvoy as Evelyn, with Bobgan serving as director. It is one of those “quirky” plays in which the audience is questioning the events both during the performance and long after it has ended. In short, it makes you think… but that is a good thing. And for those who enjoy some good “exercise for the mind,” this play comes highly recommended.

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Miss Elizabeth Bennet

(c)Ben Meadors

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

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Valentine and Proteus have arrived in Cleveland! Great Lakes Theater Festival has done it again with William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. A delightful romantic comedy from the world’s most famous playwright, The Two Gentlemen of Verona will run from April 8 to April 23 in the Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.

Valentine and Proteus are the two gentlemen of Verona who travel to Milan and become embroiled in a farcical scenario involving Julia and Silvia, the objects of their desire. As in many of Shakespeare’s comedies, The Two Gentlemen of Verona presents themes of friendship, infidelity, betrayal, and the foolish behavior of people in love. In fact, we see in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the foundations for many of Shakespeare’s later comedies.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is believed to have been written in 1590 or 1591. It is considered by some scholars to be Shakespeare’s very first play. And William Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest playwright in the history of English-language literature. His 37 plays are divided into four categories: Comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances (or tragicomedies). They continue to be performed all over the world, and many of them have been adapted into numerous film and stage incarnations. It would appear that Shakespeare’s works are just as popular today as they were when they were first written and performed more than 400 years ago.

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April 2011 at CPT

Two new shows have opened at the Cleveland Public Theatre. Fever/Dream is playing in the Gordon Square Theatre, and I Hate This/And Then You Die in the Storefront Studio. Both productions will run through April 23, and both come highly recommended.

Fever/Dream is a modern comedy about Corporate America. Written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Beth Wood, Fever/Dream showcases the type of unique theatrical experience for which the Cleveland Public Theatre has become known. Fever/Dream is based, in part, on La vida es sueño (Life Is a Dream), by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, one of the most celebrated playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age. But Callaghan’s setting the story in the present day makes it all the more familiar and relevant.

The play opens with Segis locked away in the basement of the Basil Corporation. We eventually learn that Segis is actually the son of company founder and president, Bill Basil. Why is he there? And what will happen when he takes the reins of control from his father? These are the questions to be answered in this very entertaining new comedy. Christian Prentice makes an excellent Segis, injecting a lot of physical humor into his performance. And the rest of the cast does a fine job in portraying a host of wacky supporting characters. Fever/Dream is a dark, yet humorous, look at today’s working world: low pay, under appreciated employees, and yes, corporate greed.

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FusionFest 2011

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

Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is now playing at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. And this production truly is amazing. A cast of 43 actors, including 15 school-age children in the youth chorus, brings this magical story to life with bright lights, vibrant colors and joyful song.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the Biblical story of Joseph of Canaan, found in the Book of Genesis. As the show opens, the narrator introduces us to Jacob and his 12 sons. Joseph’s brothers become jealous of their father’s favorite son after Jacob gives him a beautiful “coat of many colors.” In retaliation, they sell Joseph into slavery, and he is taken to Egypt.

Joseph passes several years as a slave, but after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he is promoted to the second most powerful man in Egypt.  Eventually, a happy ending comes about as Joseph reconciles with his family, and they join him in Egypt. The show incorporates a lot of humor and parody, especially in its menagerie of musical styles, including French ballads, the Charleston, country-western, reggae, disco, and even Elvis-inspired rock and roll.

Tricia Tanguy is superb as the narrator. Her facial expressions alone are priceless, and her interaction and rapport with the children of the youth chorus are very endearing. Connor O’Brien is the perfect Joseph, just as good as Donny Osmond or any previous actor to play the part. The other cast members, including the children, play their parts with a zest for life and storytelling. The beautiful sets and costumes, too, make this Joseph a stellar production.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has always been a Broadway favorite for community and school performances. It is a fun show, but also wholesome and appropriate for the entire family. Joseph, written in 1968, was the second collaboration by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This powerhouse British team would soon collaborate on another classic of musical theatre, the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1970). And Lloyd Webber and Rice’s rock opera Evita (1976) would arrive six years later.

This was my first viewing of Joseph, and I was thoroughly amazed by the show. For anyone who has not seen this modern Broadway classic, I highly recommend it. It is everything a Broadway spectacular should be. And although it is not a “holiday show,” it is perfect for the holidays. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will run through January 2, 2011.

Coming this spring to the Beck Center for the Arts is the regional premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera in the Studio Theater (February 18 – March 27) and The Underpants on the Mackey Main Stage (April 1-23). And coming this summer will be Hairspray, Broadway’s smash hit musical (July 8 – August 14).

The Beck Center for the Arts is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood.  Convenient, free on-site parking is available. For information on showtimes, pricing, and future productions, please visit the Beck Center’s website at www.beckcenter.org.

– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger


A Christmas Carol

Image courtesy of Great Lakes Theater Festival

Celebrate the holidays with A Christmas Carol. The Great Lakes Theater Festival’s 22nd annual production of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale opened Friday, December 3. This holiday tradition runs through December 23 in the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.

The timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been told numerous times from various film adaptations to a host of other media. By now, we all know the story, but its magic continues to enchant every holiday season. The play opens on Christmas Eve 1864. The Cleaveland Family is celebrating the season, and Mother is reading A Christmas Carol to the children. The story then comes to life on stage as we are “transported” to Victorian London where we, too, will learn the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a nasty, bitter, old man. He has little happiness in his life, and his only true love is money. On a Christmas Eve long ago, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts. The first is his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of the other three: The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. These three ghosts help Scrooge to see his life, and the lives of others, in a very different way, and in doing so, he learns the true spirit of the Christmas season.

Charles Dickens is one of the world’s most celebrated authors. Most of Dickens’ works were initially serialized in weekly and monthly magazines before being published in standard book formats. Among his many well-known works are The Adventures of Oliver Twist (February 1837 – April 1839), David Copperfield (May 1849 – November 1850), A Tale of Two Cities (April 1859 – November 1859), and Great Expectations (December 1860 – August 1861).  His novella A Christmas Carol was published in December 1843. It remains a classic of English literature, and it has never been out of print.

For nearly 50 years, Great Lakes Theater Festival has been presenting classic theatre of the highest standard in the Greater Cleveland Area. And A Christmas Carol continues to be a favorite production. The story is a true classic, the acting is superb, the special effects are spectacular, and the sets and costumes take us back in time to Victorian London. This production is first-rate and can be enjoyed by the entire family.

In the spring, the company will return to the Hanna Theatre with two productions from the most famous playwright of all time. 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). Tickets are available now.

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 would move 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 visit www.GreatLakesTheater.org.

– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger

Get the Backstage Story

Photo by (c)Jeff Greenberg

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 meyersc@playhousesquare.org– Submitted by guest blogger Jeff Niesel


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