Stage Door: Backstage, Musical Stage

Oct 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm

There are a ton of shows out there this weekend, so you can hardly go wrong when you buy a theater ticket. If you want a thoughtful, creative comedy, you should head to the Cincinnati Playhouse for The Understudy. On the surface, it's about some actors in a rehearsal — and there's a lot of shenanigans that theater lovers will connect with. But even if you're not so versed in behind-the-scenes machinations of the theater (and movie) world, you'll be entertained by this script. —-(It's by Theresa Rebeck, who happens to be a Cincinnati native.) It's ultimately about finding your passion and doing things that resonate with who you are — a message Shakespeare summarized as "To thine own self be true." The muse in Rebeck's play is Franz Kafka, so there's a lot about loneliness and frustration, but with a strong cast and some clever technology (it's in the Playhouse's Shelterhouse Theatre), this is a truly entertaining 100 minutes in the theater. (Read the CityBeat review here.)

If you prefer an evening of pure entertainment, march down to the Aronoff Center for the final weekend of the touring production of South Pacific. This is a faithful reproduction of the original, originating at Lincoln Center and translated into a road show that's one of the best to come our way in several years. Everyone I've talked to who's seen it has praised it, so if musicals from the Golden Age of Broadway are your thing, this is the show for you — great cast, big voices (baritone Jason Howard as Emile De Becque is a Welsh opera singer) and the most fully outfitted orchestra (25 musicians) you're likely to hear with a touring show. It's satisfying from the opening notes of the overture to the curtain call. (Read the CityBeat review here.)