Stage Door: Pre-Fourth of July Offerings

Although most local theaters are on summer break, there are at least three productions worth checking out this weekend.

click to enlarge "Blithe Spirit" - Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
"Blithe Spirit"
OK, we’re at the halfway point in 2017, and from my perspective that means we’re tiptoeing into the 2017-18 theater season. Of course, with the Independence Day holiday coming along on Tuesday, most Cincinnati theaters are on a summer break, but there are at least three productions you might want to check out.

Let’s start with one that just opened last evening: Cincinnati Landmark Productions’ staging of Noël Coward’s 1941 fantasy comedy Blithe Spirit at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. A séance by an eccentric psychic goes off the tracks, returning the ghost of an author’s annoying late wife to harass him — and his new wife — after seven years. Coward’s arch, witty dialogue doesn’t sit entirely comfortably on this cast, who push too hard at being witty and over-the-top when a few notches less could be more amusing. Grace Eichler as the bewildered and beleaguered rational second wife is the best of the bunch. CLP has put a lot of special effects — lighting and freaky set elements — into this production, and that keeps it entertaining, especially when everything goes haywire at the end. It’s a frothy piece of summertime entertainment. One word of warning: The theater was ice-cold on opening night — not because of the chilly ghost story, but because the air-conditioning was on high. Dress accordingly. Through July 23. Tickets: 513-241-6550.

Cincinnati Opera’s Frida, a compelling production about the feisty Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, has a performance on Saturday at 7:30, as well as next week on Thursday and Saturday. Staged in the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater, it gives a vivid portrayal of her vibrant, colorful and tempestuous life. This is an adult story — nudity, sexuality and outspoken values — about a woman whose passions were “love, sex, cigarettes and tequila.” I gave it a Critic’s Pick in my Curtain Call column. And it’s been a hot ticket with local opera fans. Call 513-241-2742 to see if any tickets are available.

Need a show for the kids? Take them to Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, staged by Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati at its new venue at 4015 Redbank Road. Performances tonight at 7 p.m., noon and 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 5 pm. Sunday. Stick around afterward for a Q&A with the cast and an opportunity for autographs. It’s onstage through July 9. Tickets: 800-745-3000.


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