Stage Door: Four Things That Will Fade Away Quickly

Don't miss out on "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder," The Second City's "Holidazed & Confused Revue," event cinema presentation "The Entertainer" and a "trueNature"-themed installment of trueTheatre.

Jan 6, 2017 at 10:01 am

Kevin Massey as Monty and Mary VanArsdel as Miss Shingle in "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder." - Photo: Joan Marcus
Photo: Joan Marcus
Kevin Massey as Monty and Mary VanArsdel as Miss Shingle in "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder."
It’s a shame that the touring production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is onstage at the Aronoff only until Sunday. Most of the Broadway in Cincinnati presentations run for two weeks, but this one is in town for just one week. It’s a witty farce that won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical. Monty Navarro (played with lots of tongue-in-cheek panache by Kevin Massey) is a distant heir to a family fortune. He sets out to move to the head of the line — by any means necessary. He’s also juggling a demanding sexpot of mistress and a sweetly prudish and naive (or is she?) fiancée. The show’s funniest conceit employs one actor, John Rapson, to portray all eight of the D’Ysquith heirs, male and female, ahead of Monty. Rapson has to be a rapid change artist to keep up. There’s also some ingenious scenic design (Alexander Dodge) employing a tiny Victorian-styled music hall stage using animated projections (Aaron Rhyne) that make the dispatching of relatives — with falls from towers or through the ice, as well as pursued by bees — absolutely hilarious. If you’ve ever enjoyed the arch humor of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, this is the show for you, made contemporary and entertainingly zany in an inventively staged production. The final performance is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

No complaints about the length of the run for the Cincinnati Playhouse’s presentation of The Second City’s Holidazed & Confused Revue. It began performances on the Shelterhouse stage way back on Nov. 11. Initially planned to close on New Year’s Eve, the production proved to be an audience favorite, so it was extended through this weekend, wrapping up with a 7 p.m. performance. If you’re glad to have survived the holidays, you’re likely to enjoy this show — with lots of improv elements — which takes aim at the emotionally charged celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and everything in between. It’s performed by a talented cast from Chicago’s legendary comedy club. Lots of fun. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

A few weeks back I wrote a Curtain Call column about event cinema, streaming presentations of excellent dramas and musicals at cineplexes. There’s a fine one available Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Kenwood Theatre (7815 Kenwood Road): British stage and screen veteran Kenneth Branagh will be featured in John Osborne’s The Entertainer. This is an encore screening of a previously live event staged by Branagh’s own theater company — the 1957 play is set against the backdrop of post-war Britain. Focused on Archie Rice, a failing music hall performer trapped in a fading art form, it’s an explosive examination of public masks and private torment. (Sir Laurence Olivier originated the role.) Admission: $20 ( 

Only once a quarter can you savor some fine storytelling thanks to trueTheatre. One of their events is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday evening at Know Theatre. Each of these evenings features five storytellers from Cincinnati who tell true, personal stories pertaining to the evening’s theme. Each story is 10-15 minutes long, told on a bare stage at a lone microphone. This time the theme is trueNature: It’s man and woman vs. the great outdoors, as told by people who faced Mother Nature and returned with a story to tell. These intimate evenings are always worth attending — sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, always engaging. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.