Stage Door: Local Theatre Overfloweth this Weekend

There are lots of good choices for theatergoing this weekend. Enjoy these newly opened productions and your last chance to see an excellent production at the Playhouse.—-

Billy Elliott The Musical is in town for a two-week run, through Jan. 29. This is probably the best touring show we’ll have at the Aronoff Center for the 2011-2012 season. It has some great dancing by a set of amazing boys who play the title role, a boy from a blue-collar town in northern England who shows an aptitude for ballet. His dad and his brother don’t get it, and their coal-miner friends think the kid must be a “poof,” but he sticks to it and rallies a downtrodden community suffering through an debilitating strike. The music is by Elton John. It’s a high-energy evening that comes pretty close to replicating the 2009 Tony Award winner’s Broadway production. Here's a link to my CityBeat review.

Dead Accounts is a world-premiere script by Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck, today a successful playwright and TV writer/producer. I interviewed her for the current issue of CityBeat and she said that her show at the Cincinnati Playhouse is a “love letter” to her hometown. A guy who grew up here but moved to New York for a financial career has retreated home from marital and money matters — and now he’s binging on Graeter’s and Skyline. Funny story, but with a point about what matters in today’s world.

The King and I is a classic musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Set in Siam (what we call Myanmar today), it’s not easy to produce because most of the characters are Asian. But Covington’s Carnegie Center has a great approach: A concert version with some Broadway veterans singing familiar numbers like “I Whistle a Happy Tune” and “Shall We Dance?” Adding to the festivities, they’re accompanied by members of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, conducted by that ensemble’s music director, Mischa Santora. Tonigh is the opener; two weekends, six performances in all.

Henry VIII: All Is True is definitely not William Shakespeare’s greatest play. Heck, it isn’t even completely written by him, although it’s counted among the “canon” of his works because he contributed quite a bit. It’s a patchwork story about England’s oft-married king and the political and religious intrigues that swirled around him. Cincinnati Shakespeare is doing a good job of portraying the pageantry within the means they can produce, and if you go you’ll se a moving performance by company regular Kelly Mengelkoch as Queen Katherine of Aragon, the wife Henry set aside to take up with Anne Boleyn. Here’s my CityBeat review.

Shakespeare’s Will is a new play, a one-woman work focused on Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, set on the day after the playwright’s death. She offers a different perspective on his life and hers — and might shed some light into why he willed to her his “second-best bed.” Veteran local actress Sherman Fracher is offering this work at Cincinnati Shakespeare in the spaces between Henry VIII performances. Check CSC’s website for details. Opens Saturday.

This weekend is your last chance to see Always, Patsy Cline, which started its Cincinnati Playhouse run through the holidays back around Thanksgiving.

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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