'Avenue Q,' which won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical, is more about the real world than almost any musical I can think of. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself at the Aronoff Center. The hilarious, raunchy show is 'Sesame Street' through a dirty lens.
Don't let the name of this production lead you to believe you're going to see a production by Cirque du Soleil. But if you've ever enjoyed one of their performances, you'll be very satisfied by 'Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy,' two hours of colorful showmanship and costumes and amazing acts of physical skill with a delightful dash of whimsy and humor.
Following last season's 'Baker's Dozen,' Cincinnati Ballet again presents a piece choreographed by Twyla Tharp and restaged by veteran Tharp company member Shelley Washington. This time it's 'Sinatra Suite' from 1984, a series of four duets and a solo set to well-known Sinatra standards. The program also features new works from the Ballet's Associate Artistic Director Devon Carney and New York City-based choreographer Jessica Lang alongside Balanchine's 'Tarantella.'
Before just about every theater performance I attend there's an announcement about turning off cell phones and unwrapping candy in crinkly wrappers. (The latter always seems to evoke a chuckle for some reason.) Despite these appeals, however, about half the time I'm at a theater a cell phone distracts me. Make no mistake: This is rude and thoughtless behavior. It breaks the concentration of others in the audience, and it could distract a performer.
The musical 'Grease' has been around for nearly four decades. It was fun and retro back in 1972, but 37 years later it's more like a cartoon, at least in the touring version currently at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.
As a kid, I watched "The Wizard of Oz" annually on TV. The 1939 film is a classic, and its stars, including Judy Garland as Dorothy, songs and lines are iconic. Now it's been turned into a stage musical. Unfortunately, a touring version, at the Aronoff for a two-week run, never gets beyond reproducing the film.
When done well, Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas can be a delightful blend of whimsical exuberance and lighthearted satire. Cincinnati Music Theatre's production of "H.M.S. Pinafore," directed by Rick Kramer, has a modicum of these qualities, but not enough.