STAGE DOOR: This Weekend's Best Theater

Mark Twain, Groucho Marx and Rosemary Clooney

click to enlarge Cory Davenport as Tom Sawyer - PHOTO: Mikki Schaffner Photography
PHOTO: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Cory Davenport as Tom Sawyer

This evening, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company opens The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Director Sara Clark says, “I’m so excited to give audiences of all ages a chance to use their imagination and engage with this performance. It’s an exciting adventure for children and a smart, funny, poignant experience for adults.” She cites a remark from Mark Twain, who said, “My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Everyone drinks water.” Clark says, “It’s an accessible and friendly play for everyone.” It’s onstage on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 9. (No performance on Thanksgiving.) Need a diversion next week for family members sick of turkey and football? Check this one out. Tickets:

Another good choice for some light-hearted theater this weekend or next is An Evening with Groucho at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Frank Ferrante transforms into the legendary comic actor Groucho Marx, whose trademark on his radio and TV show, You Bet Your Life (1947-1961), was quick quips and improvised interactions with audiences. Ferrante has perfected Grouch’s shtick and has a blast offering it up for theatergoers at the Shelterhouse stage. You’ll learn about the life of this very funny man and you’ll be amazed by Ferrante’s performance of zany songs and nonsense patter. The announced closing date is Dec. 17; tickets are selling fast. It’s possible the production will be extended, but do you really want to take a chance? Tickets:

 Last Friday, I caught a performance of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical at The Carnegie in Covington. Kim Schroeder Long surely looks and sounds like the beloved “girl singer” from Northern Kentucky. This show offers insights into an emotionally difficult period in her life — and how the indomitable performer overcame some challenging demons. Along the way, there are lots of Pop tunes from the 1940s and 1950s that she turned into hits. Final performance is Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets:

 Another Kentucky venue is presenting a drama by respected playwright Theresa Rebeck, a Cincinnati native. Falcon Theater is staging Poor Behavior at its Monmouth Theatre stage in Newport. It’s a quarrelsome comedy about “functioning dysfunctional couples” that offers serious insights into the nature of contemporary love and marriage and what constitutes morality in today’s world. It’s onstage through Dec. 2. Tickets:

 Two entertaining musical theater productions are onstage this weekend at the Aronoff Center. In the big theater, the touring production of Finding Neverland wraps up its Cincinnati stop on Sunday with performances at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. It’s a jaunty show tale about the playwright who created Peter Pan — cute kids and unusual, well-performed choreography. Tickets: … Next door in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater you’ll find Cincinnati Music Theatre’s staging of the musical Sister Act, based on a Whoopi Goldberg film from 1991 about a Disco diva hiding out in a convent. The final performance is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets:

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

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