Tag Archives: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Annie Baker’s CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION Brings Playhouse Season to a Close, May 9-June 7, 2015

ANNIE BAKER’S CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION BRINGS CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK’S 2014-15 SEASON TO A CLOSE, MAY 9 – JUNE 7, 2015

PIP_Circle Mirror Transformation logo(CINCINNATI) – Annie Baker’s charmingly comic off-Broadway hit CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION wraps up the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s 2014-15 season May 9 through June 7 in the Playhouse’s Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre. When a random group of small-town strangers come together for a six-week community center acting class, real-life drama results. While Baker’s quirky characters are definitely not Broadway bound, they are transformed in surprising and unexpected ways over the course of the class.

“I believe the characters in CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION are all people we as humans can relate to — they all share this intense experience together that allows them to make progress in their personal lives and they do so with an incredible sense of humor and grace,” says director Wendy C. Goldberg, who previously directed Leveling Up, Doubt and Durango at the Playhouse. “I believe everyone can identify with the loss, love and personal growth in the play whether they have been in a class like this or not.”

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION received its world premiere off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2009. It was awarded the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play, which was shared with Baker’s play The Aliens. Also nominated for a Drama Desk Award, CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION was named one of the top 10 plays of 2009 by The New York Times, Time Out New York and The New Yorker. Baker’s most recent play, The Flick, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2014.

“As a person who has experienced these sorts of acting classes, the idea of gathering a group of talented actors, all of whom have had even more experience with this sort of class than me, is really exciting,” Goldberg adds. “This is a gifted group of people, actors from all regions of the country I have worked with on other productions.”

The CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION cast features Charlotte Booker as Marty, Sam Gregory (Arms and the Man) as Schultz, Mattie Hawkinson as Theresa, Ronete Levenson as Lauren and Andrew May as James. The creative team, in addition to Goldberg, includes set designer Kevin Depinet, costume designer Gordon DeVinney, lighting designer Josh Epstein and sound designer/composer Joshua Horvath. Andrea L. Shell is the stage manager.

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION is sponsored by Bartlett & Co.

Ticket prices for CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION start at $30. Prices are subject to change, and patrons are encouraged to buy early for the best seats at the best prices. The show is appropriate for adult and older teenage audiences.

New for the 2014-15 season is Sunday College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. Sunday performances priced at just $10 with a valid student ID. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances. In advance, student tickets are $30.

Previews for CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION are at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 9; 7 p.m. Sunday, May 10; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 13. The official opening night is Thursday, May 14, at 8 p.m. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays. Free Meet the Artists programs that allow audiences to interact with the cast and others associated with the production will be held after the following performances: 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27; and 8 p.m. Thursday, June 4.

The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs and complete wheelchair access are available. Tickets to CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION are on sale now. For more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit www.cincyplay.com. Call 513-345-2248 for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf accessibility. The 2014-15 Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre Series is presented by the Heidelberg Distributing Company, and Humana is the Thompson Shelterhouse season design sponsor. The season sponsor of new work is The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation. The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of the community contributors to the ArtsWave campaign.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION Runs May 9-June 7

PIP_Circle Mirror Transformation logoCIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION
Presented by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
May 9-June 7
Eden Park

Directed by Wendy C. Goldberg

Cast: Charlotte Booker as Marty, Sam Gregory as Schultz, Mattie Hawkinson as Theresa, Ronete Levenson as Lauren and Andrew May as James

In this charmingly comic off-Broadway hit, unanticipated revelations result when five people enroll in a community center adult acting class. Over six weeks, seemingly silly theatre games unwittingly expose their innermost hopes and fears. Secrets are disclosed. Relationships begin and end. Real-life drama supplements the make-believe.

  • In preview Sat, May 9 at 8pm & Sun, May10 at 7pm. $30 seats available.
  • In preview Tue-Wed, May 12-13 at 7:30pm. $30 seats available.
  • Thu-Fri, May 14-15 at 8pm
  • Sat, May 16 at 4pm & 8pm
  • Sun, May 17 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Wed, May 19-20 at 7:30pm
  • Thu-Fri, May 21-22 at 8pm
  • Sat, May 23 at 4pm & 8pm
  • Sun, May 24 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Wed, May 26-27 at 7:30pm
  • Thu-Fri, May 28-29 at 8pm
  • Sat, May 30 at 4pm & 8pm
  • Sun, May 31 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue, June 2 at 7:30pm
  • Wed, June 3 at 1pm & 7:30pm
  • Thu-Fri, June 4-5 at 8pm
  • Sat, June 6 at 4pm & 8pm
  • Sun, June 7 at 2pm

Official page |

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Cincinnati CityBeat Best of Cincinnati Performing Arts-ish Winners

MISC_2015 Citybeat Best of CincinnatiHey Gang

Cincinnati CityBeat announced their 2015 Best of Cincinnati Winners. I’ve scanned through the list and pull the ones I thought would be of interest to you. -Rob

Click here for the complete list of 2015 Arts and Nightlight Staff Picks.

Performing arts-related winners include:

BEST ONE-MAN SHOW
You might think you know Bruce Cromer through his many years at the Cincinnati Playhouse as Ebenezer Scrooge. But he demonstrated his versatility and range in AN ILLIAD at Ensemble Theatre, a one-man retelling of Homer’s great epic of the Trojan War. Like a timeless reincarnation of the poet, Cromer bemoaned the devastation and futility of warfare, painting lurid pictures with words and dynamic physicality and bringing the story to life playing heroic Achilles, conscientious Hector, coy Helen of Troy and ambitious Patroclus. Cromer had a great script to work from, but he made it memorable with a stellar performance. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.

BEST OLD & NEW OPERATIC STORYTELLING
For its 2014 summer season, Cincinnati Opera showed how singing and storytelling have evolved across four centuries. At the School for Creative and Performing Arts, audiences had the chance to see a bawdy, laugh-out-loud piece of Baroque entertainment, Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto (1651). Back at Music Hall, audiences were transported to the First World War’s “Christmas Truce” with a moving production of Silent Night, the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for music. America’s second-oldest opera company has the formula for giving operagoers a memorable sampling of the art form. Cincinnati Opera, ensemblecincinnati.org.

BEST THEATRICAL HANDOFF
After a half-dozen years of artistic leadership at Know Theatre, Eric Vosmeier handed the keys over to Andrew Hungerford, a CCM master’s grad who has been designing sets for the Jackson Street company since 2007. Vosmeier was an energetic force there, especially pushing the annual Fringe Festival in creative directions and to new heights. The transition was announced late in 2013 and occurred seamlessly during the 2014 summer. Hungerford has brought a new kick of creativity with some new directors, staff and free performances on Wednesday evenings. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-300-5669, knowtheatre.com.

BEST VENUE FOR GETTING A MODERN DANCE FIX
If you’re looking to see modern dance in Cincinnati, you can count on the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater to deliver the goods. Several times a year, the mid-sized theater of the Aronoff’s trio of venues hosts performances from myriad companies across a broad range of contemporary styles. From local ensembles, such as the Jazz-tinged Exhale Dance Tribe and postmodern MamLuft&Co. Dance, to Contemporary Dance Theater’s Guest Artist Series (featuring national and international companies) and its annual Area Choreographers Festival, the 437-seat venue offers a rather intimate, no-bad-seat-in-the-house space to catch contemporary dance. Aronoff Center for the Arts, Jarson-Kaplan Theater, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-721-3344, cincinnatiarts.org/aronoff-center.

BEST CHANCE TO SEE BALLET DANCERS PUSH THE ENVELOPE
Catch Cincinnati Ballet at its most modern in the annual New Works season opener each September. As its name suggests, this program is designed to move dance forward, thanks to a broad range of big-name innovative choreographers, many of whom represent the cutting edge of the international dance scene. Of course, such boundary-pushing choreography demands top talent — enter Cincinnati Ballet dancers’ versatile terpsichorean prowess, which makes it all come alive. Audiences also enjoy the intimacy of these shows in a close-up space. (Until last year, New Works shows had been held in the Ballet’s home studios; now they’re in the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater.) Cincinnati Ballet, 1555 Central Parkway, Downtown, 513-621-5219, cballet.org.

BEST REASON FOR INDIE ROCK FANS TO GO TO THE SYMPHONY
It seems like only affluent old people attend the symphony, and one reason is because young people either can’t afford it or have no interest in listening to music that is 200 years old. But for the MusicNOW fest the past two years, Cincinnati-bred/Brooklyn-based group The National played an evening with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall. Yes, your fave Indie band appeared at the symphony — National member Bryce Dessner heads up MusicNOW — so suddenly it was cool to be seen among the olds, and tickets were as cheap as $25. MusicNOW,musicnowfestival.org.

BEST FLASH FROM THE PAST
Although Rosemary Clooney’s nephew George is the one making headlines today, the girl singer who grew up in Maysville, Ky., and Cincinnati made her own name back in the ’40s and ’50s. Her rise, fall and comeback were neatly documented in TENDERLY: The Rosemary Clooney Musical at the Playhouse. It was like a trip back in time at the Cincinnati Playhouse’s intimate Shelterhouse, where performer Susan Haefner wonderfully captured the essence of Rosie’s singing career. Local audiences flocked to see her through the holidays in a twice-extended run to the middle of January. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com.

BEST EXTENDED THEATRICAL MONOLOGUE 
The one-person theatrical adaptation of Joan Didion’s acclaimed memoir THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, an anguished but poetic rumination of the death of her husband and extended (and ultimately fatal) illness of her daughter, is a tough, cathartic project to pull off. But Cate White, who starred in it in December as part of the Cincy One Act Festival of plays at College Hill Town Hall, was magnificent at portraying Didion as she addressed the audience in a small, intimate setting. She was assisted by director Lyle Benjamin, lighting designer Chris Carter and projection designer by Doug Borntrager. It deserved the revival it got this year. cincyoneact.com.

Click here for the complete list of 2015 Arts and Nightlight Readers Picks.

Performing arts-related winners include:

Local Theater Company 

  1. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
  2. Know Theatre of Cincinnati
  3. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
Local Actor/Actress 
  1. Annie Fitzpatrick
  2. Erin Ward
  3. Miranda McGee
Local Dance Group 
  1. Cincinnati Ballet
  2. Cin City Burlesque
  3. Exhale Dance Tribe
Local Vocal Arts Group 
  1. Cincinnati Children’s Choir
  2. MUSE Cincinnati Women’s Choir
  3. May Festival Chorus

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BUZZER Review

Links to all reviews can be found using the REVIEWS link at the top of the page. Blog postings, links and more are available on my Facebook fan page. You can also receive updates on Twitter from @BTCincyRob.

PIP_buzzer7

Jackson (Cincinnati native Eric Lynch) listens to the escalating tensions of his friend and girlfriend. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

BUZZER presented by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park through April 19. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.

Truth is an ongoing theme in BUZZER, Playhouse’s penultimate offering of the Shelterhouse season. Don, a recovering addict, is working through a 12-step program and tying to make amends. Taken in by his childhood friend, Jackson and Jackson’s girlfriend Suzy, the truths of their shared history come out, for better or worse, over the course of the play.

I really enjoyed the script by Tracey Scott Wilson. I found the characters to be believable and mostly-likeable. Their motivations are clearly defined and the way these unfold, as the layers peel away, is very engaging. There are some nice moments of humor spread throughout and a great intensity several scenes late in act two.

Jackson (Eric Lynch, center) tries to set ground rules with Don (Alec Shaw) and Suzy (Carly Zien) . Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Jackson (Eric Lynch, center) tries to set ground rules with Don (Alec Shaw) and Suzy (Carly Zien) . Photo by Sandy Underwood.

The three member cast is excellent. Eric Lynch’s Jackson has a rightfully-earned chip on his shoulder and a strong sense of compassion for those people important to him. Suzy, portrayed by Carly Zien, has a good heart but struggles with being honest about her vulnerability. Alec Shaw does an impressive job of bringing a likability and earnestness to recovering addict Don.

The three actors shine under the direction of Timothy Douglas. The character’s interactions are natural and ring true. Douglas finds a great emotional balance in the tone, where others could easily have over-emphasized the conflict.

PIP_buzzer4

Suzy (Carly Zien) and Don (Alec Shaw) discuss differing perceptions of their shared history. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Sound designer Matthew M. Nielson impresses with the sounds of the neighborhood intruding into the apartment. The outside confrontation worked extremely well, with the audience being able to recognize voices and intent, without being able to make out the entire conversation.

I thought the final short scene at the end of the play serves more as an epilogue, than the actual ending of the play. I found the last two scenes prior to this to be extremely well-done and intensely engrossing in different ways. A physical confrontation versus an emotional one. The damage done in the latter, with one character refusing to speak a truth that the other two characters obviously know, and which one begs to hear, leads to an ending that some audience members would see as less than satisfying.

Jackson (Eric Lynch) and his girlfriend Suzy (Carly Zien) share an affectionate moment. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Jackson (Eric Lynch) and his girlfriend Suzy (Carly Zien) share an affectionate moment. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Understandable in a way, but people don’t always make the right decisions, and the consequences of that can have a less than ideal outcome. For me, that lack of satisfaction shows that the production successfully pulled me in and and had me vested in the characters and the outcome.

A great production of an engrossing character-driven drama.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.

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Playhouse in the Park’s Marx Theatre Season Concludes with VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, April 25 – May 23, 2015

CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK’S MARX THEATRE SEASON CONCLUDES WITH CHRISTOPHER DURANG’S HIT VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, APRIL 25 – MAY 23, 2015

PIP_Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike logo(CINCINNATI) – The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s 2014-15 Robert S. Marx Theatre season comes to a riotous close with VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, Christopher Durang’s madcap comedy about melancholy people. A smash hit on Broadway, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE earned numerous critical accolades, including the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony awards for best play. It runs April 25 through May 23 in the Marx Theatre.

The story centers around three extremely eccentric siblings. Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live uneventful lives in the Pennsylvania farmhouse of their youth. Having spent the better part of their adulthood caring for their ailing parents, both Vanya and Sonia are filled with the bitterness and regret of missed opportunities and a longing for what their lives might have been.

But misery turns to mayhem when their oft-divorced sister Masha abruptly returns home. Masha escaped the caregiving responsibilities shouldered by her siblings. Instead, her contribution to their livelihood has come in the form of paying all of the bills they’ve accumulated with her earnings as a glamorous (if B-ranked) movie star. When she breezes back into town with her latest boy toy, a much younger actor named Spike, the resulting reunion turns into a weekend of outrageous rivalries and sidesplitting raucousness that USA Today called “hugely entertaining” and The New York Times hailed as “deliriously funny.”

“I love the way this play is extremely funny, but it’s also very real. It can turn on a dime to some very tender and beautiful and honest moments that are very moving,” says Playhouse Associate Artist Michael Evan Haney, who is directing VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. “It’s a play about siblings who are estranged (and rather weirdly stunted in their psychological growth) but who, over the course of the story, remember and rediscover what they really love about each other.”

The show’s potentially serious themes are melded with the twisted comedy of Durang, known for his full-length plays The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, as well as his short plays For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls and Desire, Desire — parodies of The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, respectively.

While the siblings have names taken from playwright Anton Chekhov’s characters and the play contains Chekhovian allusions, no one should expect a Chekhov lesson at VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. “I have written parodies, but this is not one,” Durang said prior to the McCarter Theatre Center premiere of the play in 2012. “It takes Chekhov themes and characters and mixes them all up, as if I’ve put them into a comic blender.” Audience members who know Chekhov will find humor in the references Durang makes to these classics; others will find the play easily stands on its own as a send-up of the absurdities, and sometimes unnecessary complexities, of modern life.

The VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE cast features John Feltch (The Three Musketeers, Pride and Prejudice and Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club) as Vanya, Suzanne Grodner (Much Ado About Nothing, The Smell of the Kill and Emma) as Sonia, Elizabeth Hess as Masha, Shinnerrie Jackson as Cassandra, Jefferson McDonald as Spike and Gracyn Mix (Pride and Prejudice) as Nina. The creative team, in addition to Haney, includes set designer Paul Shortt, costume designer Anne Kennedy, lighting designer James Sale and sound designer/composer Rusty Wandall. Jenifer Morrow is the production stage manager, and Andrea L. Shell is the second stage manager.

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE is sponsored by Leading Ladies. JRA is the design sponsor. David C. Herriman is the lead artists sponsor, and Joseph-Beth Booksellers is the script sponsor.

Ticket prices for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE start at $30. Prices are subject to change, and patrons are encouraged to buy early for the best seats at the best prices. The show is recommended for adult and older teenage audiences.

New for the 2014-15 season is Sunday College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. Sunday performances priced at just $10 with a valid student ID. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances. In advance, student tickets are $30.

Previews for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE are at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29. The official opening night is Thursday, April 30, at 8 p.m. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays.

The Playhouse will inaugurate an annual Pride Night at the Friday, May 15, performance of VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. Two levels of tickets are available, both of which will partially benefit Caracole, a Cincinnati organization that provides safe, affordable housing and supportive services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. Patron Pride Level tickets, $100, include a pre-show cocktail reception with dinner-by-the-bite and the opportunity to meet Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison, the performance of VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE and a post-show reception (including appetizers and cash bar) with the opportunity to meet members of the cast. Single Pride Tickets, ranging from $35 to $80, include the performance and the post-show reception, appetizers and cash bar with the opportunity to meet members of the cast. Playhouse Pride tickets are available through the Box Office with the promotion code Pride. Playhouse Pride is sponsored by David C. Herriman with additional support from Jeff Thomas Catering.

Free Meet the Artists programs that allow audiences to interact with the cast and others associated with the production will be held after the following performances: 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17; and 8 p.m. Thursday, May 21.

The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs and complete wheelchair access are available.

Tickets to VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE are on sale now. For more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit www.cincyplay.com. Call 513-345-2248 for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf accessibility.

The 2014-15 Robert S. Marx Theatre Series is presented by The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation, and Macy’s is the Marx Theatre season design sponsor. The season sponsor of new work is The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of the community contributors to the ArtsWave campaign.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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