Around Cincinnati

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

 
Harlan Taylor


Lauren Dragon has found success as Janis Joplin, now playing in Cleveland



Although a few theaters continue presenting shows (for two recommendations look below), you might be sticking closer to home for the holiday this weekend. So let me recommend some spoken word performance that you might enjoy on Sunday evening between 7 and 9 p.m., after you've opened presents and had Christmas dinner. WVXU (FM 91.7) will offer a special two-hour edition of Around Cincin-nati, its weekly arts feature program. The show includes lots of great music by local musicians — but it will also feature Scrooge and Marley when BRUCE CROMER and GREG PROCCACINO bring their Cincinnati Playhouse roles to the studio. CEA Hall of Fame actor/director MICHAEL BURNHAM will read from Dylan Thomas' enchanting remembrance, "A Child's Christmas in Wales," and Cincinnati Vice-Mayor Jim Tarbell will bring "The Night Before Christmas" to life. (You can catch a preview of Tarbell on the Web at wvxu.org.) I'll be there, too, reading the 1897 editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." A great way to wind down on Christmas Day.

If you're feeling like something is missing this holiday season because no one staged David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries, you should tune to WVXU at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day for the This American Life "Holiday Spectacular." The broadcast will feature several brand new holiday stories — including one by Sedaris, a frequent contributor over the years.

Although a few theaters continue presenting shows (for two recommendations look below), you might be sticking closer to home for the holiday this weekend. So let me recommend some spoken word performance that you might enjoy on Sunday evening between 7 and 9 p.m., after you've opened presents and had Christmas dinner. WVXU (FM 91.7) will offer a special two-hour edition of Around Cincin-nati, its weekly arts feature program. The show includes lots of great music by local musicians — but it will also feature Scrooge and Marley when BRUCE CROMER and GREG PROCCACINO bring their Cincinnati Playhouse roles to the studio. CEA Hall of Fame actor/director MICHAEL BURNHAM will read from Dylan Thomas' enchanting remembrance, "A Child's Christmas in Wales," and Cincinnati Vice-Mayor Jim Tarbell will bring "The Night Before Christmas" to life. (You can catch a preview of Tarbell on the Web at wvxu.org.) I'll be there, too, reading the 1897 editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." A great way to wind down on Christmas Day. ...

If you're feeling like something is missing this holiday season because no one staged David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries, you should tune to WVXU at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day for the This American Life "Holiday Spectacular." The broadcast will feature several brand new holiday stories — including one by Sedaris, a frequent contributor over the years. This American Life is a quirky public radio program that picks an intriguing topic each week and builds 60 minutes of features around it. ...

If you're stir-crazy on Christmas Day and feel the need to go out, there's actually a theatrical performance available at 9:30 p.m. at the Northside Tavern (4163 Hamilton Ave.). It's Exiled, the fifth annual presentation of work by writer-performer MARK FLANIGAN. He ran the spoken word series for Volk/c.s.p.i. several summers ago, and he's been writing a column, "Exiled on Main Street" for several years. His show draws material from his writings and also features music by Steven Proctor. Info: 513-542-3603. ...

Back in September, Cincinnati performer LAUREN DRAGON wowed Playhouse audiences with her interpretation of Janis Joplin in Love, Janis. The show moved to Cleveland in November, where it's done very well, being extended several times — it's running until Jan. 15 at the Hanna Theatre there. Dragon, a singer who was performing in local clubs a year ago, seems on her way to greater recognition with her impassioned portrait of Joplin. Info: 216-771-1664.

Mini Reviews
Area residents will no doubt flock to the Aronoff Center for the rest of the month to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (through Jan. 1). And with good reason: It's a spectacular show, from the stunning changeover of the musty stage in 1911 to the grandeur of the 1881 Paris Opera House to the catacombs with a gondola and a sea of candles to the chandelier that ascends during the overture and crashes to the stage for the Act 1 finale. This touring production has a solid cast, and the character roles provide some relief from the maudlin melodrama and Andrew Lloyd Webber's repetitive melodies. The orchestra has a synthesized sound, but that's the reality of touring shows these days. Phantom is still running on Broadway after 17 years, and this production shows why. (Rick Pender) Grade: B

Local performers enliven Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati's CINDERELLA, a holiday musical based on fairytales. The show uses veteran performers (Tony nominee Pam Myers is shrieking stepmother Brunhilda; CEA winner Sherman Fracher is one of the ditzy stepsisters) and ETC interns, including Sarah Brandon as a smart, non-girly Cinderella and Adam Slemon is the introverted Prince Frederick. Their courtship is charming, not precious or sappy. Cinderella's message — that "appearances aren't everything" is neither patronizing nor silly. With D. Lynn Meyers' swift direction, ETC offers the best show of the holiday season for young audiences. (RP) Grade: A

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