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.
by Jac Kern
The thought of an
“underground” party might conjure up images of a chic 1920s speakeasy or perhaps
a creepy warehouse rave. Neither is true of Saturday’s Scion Exposed tunnel party,
which is literally underground, at 220 Central Ave. beneath the Second Street overpass.
Part car show, part concert, Scion Exposed features a pop-up skate park, food
trucks, drinks and more, all free from 2 p.m.-midnight. RJD2 headlines the
music stage with support from Chairlift, DAAP Girls and more performing
throughout the day. RSVP here for free admission; Scion
owners get advanced entrance at noon.
to St. Patrick’s Day during the Cincinnati Celtic Festival
Saturday and Sunday. The free fest moves from Fountain Square to Washington
Park this year, but continues to celebrate all things Celtic with plenty of
music, food and entertainment. Knock back some Guinness, cheer on Irish dancers
and get jig-y to the sounds of bagpipes between noon and 10:30 p.m. both days.
With local Celts
taking over the park, this month’s City Flea moves up the street to the lot at
Twelfth and Vine. Vendors will be hawking everything from clothing and
accessories to home goods and fine art from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The City Flea is a fun one-stop spot to
support local artisans and sellers all under one roof. Sans roof.
hogging all the fun this weekend — Milford’s Longstone Street Festival brings
more than 15 area bands to the ‘burbs Saturday. Area musicians will perform on
two stages along Main Street where kid-friendly activities await (we’re talking
a Velcro wall, bungee joust, rock climbing and more). Saunter through historic
downtown Milford, stop in a few shops and restaurants and enjoy the music from
11 a.m.-11 p.m.
The fun continues
west at the Westwood Art Show, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. More than 70 artists,
crafters and DIY-ers will be selling goods including photography, re-purposed
jewelry and accessories, woodwork, sculptures, pottery, edibles and more.
theater offerings include Ensemble Theatre’s Good People, The Three Musketeers
at Playhouse in the Park, To Kill a
at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Covedale’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Peep the links for our reviews of each.Browse our calendar for other events, art exhibits, volunteer opportunities and more to do this weekend.
Manifest Gallery welcomes its first artist-in-residence
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Manifest’s latest addition is the
Manifest Artist Residency. Annually, beginning in July each year,
Manifest will host a working artist in the studio facility inside the
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 11:25 AM | Permalink
After a long hot summer (well, it's still feeling like a
long hot summer), we have a full array of shows onstage in Cincinnati
for you to choose among. I've seen two of them so far: Good People at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and The Three Musketeers at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
ETC's production of Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire's 2011 piece (this is the regional premiere of Good People,
which was nominated for a Tony a year ago) about a woman who falls off
the bottom of the employment ladder has enough humor to be entertaining
(especially with Annie Fitzpatrick in the central role of Margie and
Kate Wilford and Deb Girdler as her gossipy friends and bingo-night
comrades) and enough contemporary relevance to be thought-provoking.
ETC's D. Lynn Meyers is at her best staging naturalistic shows with
social meaning, and that's exactly what this one offers. It has a great
cast and flexible, attractive scenic design by the ever-creative Brian
c. Mehring. I gave it a Critic's Pick. Through Sept. 23. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3555.
I wanted to love The Three Musketeers at the
Playhouse (through Sept. 29), but its balance of humor and heart is out
of whack to my tastes. There's lots of adventure, hilarity and laughter
— especially some no-holds-barred swordplay — but the show tries to
hard to entertain that it misses out on the true emotion that should lie
beneath. I suspect many people will love this thrill-a-minute tale of
political intrigue and valor, loyalty and royalty in 17th-century
France, and perhaps it will evolve to deeper feelings as it runs. I love
new Artistic Director Blake Robison's desire to put appealing,
family-friendly work onstage, and he's using this production to show
what he means. I hope his approach gets a tad more texture and depth as
his tenure continues. Review here. Box office: 513-421-3888.
I haven't yet seen To Kill a Mockingbird at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and their publicity says it's already
sold out its first-two weekends. So you might want to put that one on
your calendar for sometime before it wraps up (Sept. 30). In the
meantime, you might want to head to Washington Park on Sunday evening at
7 p.m. for a special free presentation of CSC's touring production of The Tempest.
It's a perfect piece for outdoor performance, set on an island with a
sorcerer and his lovely daughter and some shipwrecked nobles who are
responsible for his exile. Audience participation will be a key
component of this event, with the audience asked to create large-scale
effects by blowing bubbles, making waves with silk and generating sound
effects. Sounds like great fun. Music (by The Young Heirlooms) begins at
6 p.m. This is a good one to bring kids to see.
Also off and running this weekend is Cincinnati Landmark's production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
It's a classic drama of sexual tension and family strife, a bit heavier
fare than is usually found at the Covedale Center. It's a sign of the
company's ambition to be a full-fledged theater offering a wide range of
material. (Through Sept. 30.) Box office: 513-241-6550.
Playhouse production has lots of laughs but could use more heart
0 Comments · Friday, September 7, 2012
Director Blake Robison's first production is jam-packed with rousing non-stop action, hearty laughs and big
storytelling as well as beautiful scenic and costume elements.
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The young women photographed in Another Me: Transformations from Pain to Power have
all been victims of kidnapping or outright sale of themselves into sex
slavery. One is as young as 8 years old, none are more than 22. Rescued
and placed in the Sanlaap Shelter in Kolkata, they found returning to a
self they had lost hard going.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I first met Matthew Shelton in the bottom of a swimming pool. It was a program in which musicians performed on the floor of the empty Ziegler Pool in
Over-the-Rhine. Shelton, with his deep resonant voice and wry, smart
songs, made an immediate impression playing guitar in the pool’s deep
end. He towered above — or, rather, below — his surroundings.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:12 AM | Permalink
Star-studded cast to perform darkly comic musical one-night only
There's a new piece of musical theater in the oven, and you'll be able
to get a peak and a listen on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m., when it has a
one-night-only public performance at Covington's Carnegie Center. The
evening will feature several local theater veterans including two with
national reputations, so it's a very promising event. The Sandman is a new musical by Richard Oberacker and his writing partner Robert Taylor. They teamed to create Ace (which premiered at the Cincinnati Playhouse back in 2006), and Oberacker was the creative force behind Don't Make Me Pull This Show Over, a hit at the Cincinnati Fringe in 2008 and returned for a full production at Ensemble Theatre the following season.The Sandman
is strange and darkly comic musical, drawn from a nightmarish fantasy by E.T.A. Hoffman, the author of the story of The Nutcracker and the personal inspiration for the opera The Tales of Hoffman.
Oberacker, whose day job is as a music director with Cirque du Soleil
in Las Vegas, will spend a week here to workshop the show about a month
from now, and he will play piano for the performance on that Sunday
evening. A star-studded cast has been recruited, topped by Broadway veteran, Tony nominee and nationally respected musical performer
Pamela Myers. She'll play Frau Kaeseschweiss, an unusual nanny recruited to serve as a nanny the children of the Strauss family. Charlie Clark and Sara Mackie
(both Cincinnati veteran theater professionals and familiar to ETC and
Carnegie theater audiences) will play the parents, with Clark as an
ingenious German clockmaker who sets in motion a series of bizarre and
unnatural events when he meets the strange Dr. Copelius, played by Bruce Cromer. (Cromer is spending this month at Cincinnati Shakespeare as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird).
The devilish deal between them to save the Strauss's daughter's life
takes a strange and chaotic turn and sinister forces at play are
revealed — forces from which only the children may be able to save their
parents. Another piece of good news: Busy local director Ed Cohen will be involved in staging the piece, which will utilize a number of projected illustrations to evoke the mood and setting.Oberacker is excited by the quality of the cast assembled for the
performance, especially with Myers' involvement. (Like him, both are
Cincinnati natives and grads of UC's College-Conservatory of Music. She
was the first musical theater grad in 1969; although he was a musical
prodigy, conducting shows for community theaters while still in high
school, he excelled in CCM's drama program, graduating in 1993.) In a
recent email, he told me that Myers is playing "a titanic role that
narrates the whole show" and added that it's "huge to have Pam in a role
tailor made for her."
The Carnegie's website has the performance listed but no further
information. If you want to be there, I suggest you call the box office
and make your interest known: 859-957-1940.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 09:44 AM | Permalink
OK, it's the last day of August and the last true weekend
of summer. That typically means there's almost no theater, since most of
the stages in town are readying their season openers. But you do have a
At the Clifton Performance Theatre you can see the last few performances of
a production brought back from this year's Cincinnati Fringe Festival.
It's a one-man show about bullying and autism, told with lots of
illustrative video. It was a popular item during the Fringe in June, so
it's certainly worth checking out. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
Another Fringe-like option this weekend is a mash-up of
OTR Improv and True Theatre,
happening at Know Theater, which is kind of like the crazy uncle of
these two groups that make the Over-the-Rhine venue their home. On
Saturday evening at 8 p.m., they'll present another installment of The Chronicle,
a long-form improvisation based on the real-life stories of special
guests. Dave Levy and Jeff Groh, the guys who make True Theatre go, are
the starting point for the evening's fun and games. They'll tell
stories, and then the improv folks will turn them into something more.
You can get tickets (for $5) at the door — located at 1127 Jackson
Street in OTR.
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park opens its new season (with a new artistic director) next Thursday with
The Three Musketeers.
But here's a tip: You can see previews starting Saturday, and tickets
are more affordable than during the actual run of the show. You might
know the story of D'Artagnan and his three swashbuckling buddies, Athos,
Porthos and Aramis — but I bet you've never seen such a rollicking,
have-a-great-time production as this one. I just finished reading the
very conversational and funny script, and I suspect that audiences will
love this show, especially if it's pulled off with visual panache. It's
our first chance to see a work directed by Blake Robison, the new guy in
charge. He says this is the kind of work he wants to bring to the stage
regularly. Be among the first to see what he's up to. Box office: 513-421-3555.
Other theaters opening shows next week include Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati on Wednesday (Good People is about unemployed folks dealing with the "new normal") and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company starts its production of To Kill a Mockingbird on Friday. Both productions have fine casts: Annie Fitzpatrick is playing the hard-pressed central character in Good People; Bruce Cromer is the virtuous attorney Atticus Finch in Mockingbird. Both are among our most watchable actors.
My Curtain Call column in
CityBeat this week offers more about these shows and others that are opening this month.