FOTOFOCUS set to make its mark on Cincinnati's arts scene
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
FOTOFOCUS, which gets fully underway in
October, is one of the most ambitious visual-arts events ever attempted
in Greater Cincinnati — maybe the most ambitious.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The god in Manifest Gallery’s Deus Ex Machina does
not arise from the traditional machine (that crane elevating a Greek
actor of ancient times to meet a plot need for divine intervention), but
instead from our handy modern device, the camera.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:21 AM | Permalink
Your best bet for theater this weekend, based on several
enthusiastic recommendations, seems to be Daniel Beaty's one-man
performance at the Cincinnati Playhouse in Through the Night. Harper Lee gave it a Critic's Pick in her CityBeat
review this week, and the League of Cincinnati Theatres panel described
Beaty as a "brilliant showman and interpreter” whose “beautifully and
powerfully acted” performance “weaved in, out and through real people —
multifaceted people.” The show was praised as “moving and full of hope —
an evening of pure joy, celebration and a mournful reminder as well.” Through the Night
“shatters the stereotypes of the ‘African American’ plight and shows
beautifully that these predicaments and life choices are ‘human’ ones." I
caught a performance this week and found Beaty's ability to shift from
character to character quite astonishing — he plays six men and boys, as
well as numerous other figures in their lives, each well defined and
believable. It's a tour de force performance in the Shelterhouse,
presented simply with some projected images and nothing more, not even
costume changes. Box office: 513-421-3888.
College theater has good choices for you at both UC's
College-Conservatory of Music and Northern Kentucky University. Each is
presenting a classic, although from very different eras. NKU continues
its run of
You Can't Take It With You (through Sunday), a
classic comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart that won a Pulitzer
Prize back in 1937. It's about a wacky family that marches to the beat
of several different drummers and how their "normal" daughter and her
boyfriend (the product of truly straitlaced parents) try to figure out
how to make a relationship work in the midst of a lot of craziness. At
CCM there's another form of craziness in Michael Burnham's staging of
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a tale of
mistaken lovers and magical transformations. In both cases, there's a
happy ending and most of the right people end up with suitable partners.
Both shows are sure to offer offer a lot of laughs, as well as plenty
of opportunities for young actors to take on entertaining roles. Either
show should make for a fun outing that doesn't require much serious
thought. CCM Box Office: 513-556-4183; NKU Box Office: 859-572-5464.
Finally, on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. you have a very
special opportunity to see a brand-new musical as a work-in-progress at
the Carnegie Center in Covington. It's a one-night-only presentation of The Sandman, a creepy musical created by Cincinnati native and Cirque du Soleil
maestro Richard Oberacker and his creative partner Robert Taylor. Using
a wildly imaginative story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (the guy who wrote the
wildly imaginative story of battling mice and toys coming to life that
became The Nutcracker), Oberacker and Taylor have crafted a show
that's getting a workshop locally with some serious star power. Narrated
by Van Ackerman (who turned in a great performance as the Man in the
Chair in CMT's recent production of The Drowsy Chaperone), the
performance will feature Tony nominee (and early CCM grad) Pamela Myers,
always watchable Bruce Cromer (fresh off his powerful turn as Atticus
Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincy Shakes), Charlie Clark
and Sara Mackie. While it's a "reading," it will have sound effects and
some slide projections to set the eerie scene. You can call 859-957-1940 for tickets, or order them online at www.thecarnegie.com. General admission is $25 (theater professionals and students can get in for $15). Sounds like a don't miss event.
by Stefanie Kremer
Twelve finalists to compete for seven $6,000 grants
After a long-established program that provided grants to individual artists was cut in 2009, City Council voted to re-instate and improve the program in an effort to show that Cincinnati is an art friendly city and to encourage artists to live and work here. Under the old system, grants of $3,000-$5,000 were awarded to local artists. Now, the Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship Committee will provide more impactful grants of $6,000 to seven different artists. The process kicked off at the beginning of the year when artists were invited to submit a letter and resume to City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan before Jan. 15. The invitation was open to artists of all different disciplines but they had to be residents of Cincinnati throughout the program (July 1, 2012-May 31, 2013). After more than 100 applications applied, twelve finalists were announced on Tuesday. “We were blown away at the number of applications,” Todd Wurzbacher, Chair of the Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee, said in a press release. He presented the list of finalists in Quinlivan’s Strategic Growth Committee today. The twelve finalists are Jesse Mooney-Bullock, Tatiana Berman, Pam Kravetz, Karen Heyl, Melissa Godoy, Guy Michael Davis, Tonya Matthews, Terri Kern, Casey Riordan Millard, Brad Austin Smith, Rondle West and Nathaniel Chaitkin. The finalists will be interviewed by the Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee members, who will then choose the final seven artists to receive awards. The final awards will be given to seven artists on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 11:30 a.m. on the steps of City Hall. “I’m excited we have visual artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, and even a puppeteer in our finalists,” Quinlivan said in a press release. Quinlivan got council support to create the CAAF program. “More than 125 Cincinnati artists applied for the newly created Arts Ambassador Fellowship, proof that Cincinnati is a strong arts city,” she said.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 01:45 PM | Permalink
OK, so it's MidPoint weekend and I know you're busy
running from bar to bar and band to band, but variety is the spice of
life, right? So wouldn't you enjoy it all the more if you took in a
show, just to break up the monotony of all that great music? Here are a
couple of theatrical ideas.
Shark Eat Muffin is a new Cincinnati theater company — with a name that
sounds like a band! They're breaking onto our local theater scene with
three short plays they're calling
Just Beyond Reach. For
one ticket ($10 in advance, $15 at the door) you'll get into Newport's
Monmouth Theatre (636 Monmouth St.) to see Abbie Doyle's It's a Real Shame, David H. Hughes Acapulco and Catie O'Keefe's The Noise Maker.
This is mostly young talent, so it's your chance to catch the theater
equivalent of the up-and-coming Midpoint bands: Doyle is a senior at
McAuley High School, Hughes is a recent UC theater arts grad and O'Keefe
is New Edgecliff Theatre's young playwright-in-residence (and Shark Eat
Muffin's artistic director). Their scripts are derived from the theme
of "just beyond reach," one of several suggestions posted on the
company's Facebook page two months ago. Sounds like fun: performances
are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets: www.sharkeatmuffin.com.
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park just opened its first Shelterhouse production of the season, Daniel Beaty's
Through the Night.
It's a one-man show that Beaty wrote and performs — it's already won an
Obie Award in New York City (that's "OB" as in Off-Broadway).
He plays six African-American males whose lives intertwine during the
course of one night. It's an exploration of the place of such men in
America today, especially how they influence one another. I chatted with
Beaty about his play in my CityBeat column this week, and I expect this
to be a thought-provoking performance. Box office: 513-421-3888.
If you want something more tried-and-true, head to the Northern Kentucky University campus for You Can't Take It With You,
a Pulitzer Prize winning comedy from 1937. It's about the wacky but
endearing Sycamore family and the oddball characters who fill their
lives. It's truly a comic masterpiece, with lots of opportunity for
actors to make their mark. Box office: 859-572-5464.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:39 AM | Permalink
Broadway Across America to produce Trey Parker and Matt Stone musical
The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming! No, not the one running for president (although he's showing up pretty often). It's the award-winning irreverent musical The Book of Mormon, which Broadway Across America announced this morning will be part of its 2013-2014 season at the Aronoff Center. The winner of nine Tony Awards (including the best musical of 2011) is a satirical look at two naive and idealistic Mormon missionaries who are sent to a remote Ugandan location where a nasty warlord is oppressing the villagers. Their clueless devotion, good-hearted but misguided — with a lot of very off-color humor — has made The Book of Mormon an unusual hit.It will come as no surprise to CityBeat readers that the guys behind this are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of animated South Park, another outrageously irreverent look at contemporary life. Also involved was composer Robert Lopez, whose Avenue Q was another Broadway hit, this one featuring Sesame Street-styled puppets in very adult situations.The Book of Mormon has been a big Broadway hit. It will be interesting to see how it plays at the Aronoff Center for audiences that tend to be very mainstream, if not downright conservative in what they'll line up to see. I'm eager to see this one! Broadway Across America has not announced specific dates for the engagement yet.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:03 AM | Permalink
The fall theater season in Cincinnati is off to a great
start, with well received productions on several stages. If you get a
chance to see Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of To Kill a Mockingbird,
I urge you to do so. It's onstage through Sept. 30, but almost all of
its performances (including several added ones) have been sold out. Good
news for the theater, but not for you if you don't have tickets yet.
Nevertheless, it would be worth a call to CSC's box office (513-381-2273 x1)
to see if there's anything available. The chance to see Bruce Cromer
portray the virtuous attorney Atticus Finch is worth the effort.
If you can't score a ticket at CSC, you might try to get in to see Good People,
a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire, which
concludes its run on Sunday. The tale about an unskilled woman from
South Boston seeking work in today's world has the ring of truth and
reality to it, and Annie Fitzpatrick's portrait of hard-luck Margie —
who thinks of herself as "good people" — is touching and relevant to the
world we live in. Tickets are selling at a fast clip for this one, too,
so call to find out if seats are available: 513-421-3555.
Want to take some kids to a show they'll enjoy? It's
always fun to introduce them to live theater, and there are two great
choices currently onstage: The Cincinnati Playhouse production of The Three Musketeers (running through Sept. 29, 513-421-3888) is full of action and adventure, good guys and bad guys. And The Music Man, on the Showboat Majestic (through Sept. 30, 513-241-6550),
is a classic musical with a lot of humor — and a winning acting job by
charming Owen Gunderman as Winthrop, the kid who overcomes his shyness
when he gets a cornet to play in a boys' band.
Want something a tad more adventurous: Check out the Fringe
shows that Know Theatre has brought back from last June's festival for
several days. It's a sampling of some of the best work that drew big
crowds to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, including two "Pick of the
Fringe" offerings, On Her Pillow and The Screw You Revue,
and two solo performers, Tommy Nugent and Kevin Thornton, who always
draw a crowd. Probably no problem with ticket availability, but I
recommend calling in advance: 513-300-5669.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:22 AM | Permalink
Know Theatre offering two solid pieces from 2012 Fringe Fest
Does this late September weather make you wish you could turn back the clock? Know Theatre is ready to take you back to June and the 2012 Cincinnati Fringe Festival with a brief reprise of several shows and artists who pleased audiences three months ago. Today through Saturday you can stop by the theater on Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine for performances by Honour Pillow (her Audience "Pick of the Fringe" show On Her Pillow (review here) will be presented tonight and Friday evening) or Dewey Chaffee and Douglas McGeoch (whose Screw You Revue (review here) was the Producers' Pick of the Fringe in June and will be presented on Friday and Saturday). There will also be performances by two favorite Fringe solo performers on Thursday and Saturday — Kevin Thornton and Tommy Nugent. For the schedule and tickets, click here.
by Julie Mullins
Posted In: Dance
at 03:40 PM | Permalink
Contemporary new work's moments of stillness and quiet grab you and draw you in
The intense energy between Principal
dancers Cervilio Amador and Janessa Touchet is so palpable you can
feel it — even when their hands aren’t touching.
Their expressive duet in Heather
Britt’s world premier “Opus 5.5” provided an inviting opening
to Cincinnati Ballet’s annual Kaplan New Works season opener
last Thursday evening.
The production offers a rare chance to
see dance up close, as it takes place in the company’s home
performance studio at the Cincinnati Ballet Center.
There’s nothing like watching live
performance, but there’s something even more exciting and visceral
about seeing the dancers glowing and their muscles flexing.
Full of emotion, Britt’s sweeping
contemporary new work has the dancers really moving all over:
across the stage in sculptural lifts, through the air in expansive
leaps and extravagant extensions. But it’s really the rare moments
of stillness and quiet that grab you and draw you in closer.
New Works’ stock in trade has
always been pushing stylistic boundaries.
R&D,” says Cincinnati Ballet CEO/Artistic Director Victoria
Morgan. “We need to scare ourselves, to try things we’ve never
But this year is noteworthy for another
reason: For the first time, all of the choreographers featured are
Dance-wise, the women also stand out in
the spotlight this year more than usual. Though, as always, there are
plenty of equally fine turns by the men as well.
Paige Cunningham Caldarella’s
“Without Consideration,” the program’s most offbeat piece,
presents a topsy-turvy look at social media and its pleasures and
Its five short sections comprise a
modern dance piece cut with classical ballet. It’s by turns
satirical, ominous and oddly compelling.
Clad in a lime green tee-shirt and a
short, ruffled floral skirt, Corps de Ballet dancer Courtney
Hellebuyck shines in her solo.
She attacks each movement with
ferocious intensity. Her dramatic facial expressions and stage
presence are spellbinding. She and the other four dancers appear
equally comfortable switching between styles — instant, by instant — in
this mash-up of ballet and modern. The women even manage to perform
modern floor drops in pointe shoes.
A physical wall (think social media)
covered in paper provides the backdrop and set piece. The dancers
write on it, hurl themselves against it, and press into it. They
connect and disconnect, or nearly connect with each other. But at
times, they just miss, undulating away from each other. Individual
gestures are repeated, such as one’s own hand suddenly turning the
head and face away in a slo-mo sideways “slap.” It seems to
suggest the struggle to turn one’s attention away from staying
online all day.
Amy Seiwert, San Francisco-based
Resident Choreographer for Smuin Ballet (where she was also a
longtime dancer), has created a thoroughly delightful getaway world
in her world premier modern ballet ,“Think of You Often.”
The weather is balmy. The light-colored
clothing, designed by the Cincinnati Ballet Wardrobe Department, is
carefree and casual. The women collectively become an ocean tide,
even in their pointe shoes. Its feel-good soundtrack, music by the
Swedish group Koop, delivers effusive swing and a touch of Latin
Principal dancer Sarah Hairston warmly
embraces her role, full of flirtation and feline sassiness. First
two, then four men lift and sway her — and no doubt cater to her
But don’t let the piece’s escapist
playfulness belie its underlying choreographic sophistication. The
partnering throughout is highly complex, original, and technically
In a most striking duet, Zach Grubbs
and Jacqueline Damico make the most intricate sequences look as easy
and natural as an ocean breeze.
Jessica Lang’s contemporary
neoclassical work “La Belle Danse” (2007) presents a slightly
quirky court dance of sorts. Set to a score of the likes of Handel
and Mozart, it’s the sole work here that the Ballet has presented
previously, in 2009.
It’s the most classical piece on the
program — relatively speaking — yet unexpectedly it marks the only
one where the women wear soft shoes.
Displaying a very different, more
sacred type of passion in this role’s solo, Hairston demonstrates
her versatility as dancer, and a performer.
The large cast brims over with
expressive dancing, filled with plenty of leaps, turns, waltzing…
and conducting gestures.
Amador and Touchet rapid-fire their way
through pirouettes and petit allegro galore. Although their
style here sharply contrasts their opening duet, this superb pairing
brings this production — one of the best New Works in recent
years — full circle.
Showboat production is a celebration of America
0 Comments · Saturday, September 15, 2012
My historic experience with The Music Man makes me a serious judge of whether a production of this iconic show succeeds. As a one-time mayor of River City, I pronounce this one a success.