Tag Archives: Falcon Theater

THE COVER OF LIFE 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.

Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert, Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert & Tara Williams as Kate Miller. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert, Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert & Tara Williams as Kate Miller. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

THE COVER OF LIFE presented by Falcon Theater through April 25. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Saturday performance.

There is a famous notion that 90% of directing is casting, If this is the case, director Tracy M. Schoster definitely succeeded with her wonderful ensemble for THE COVER OF LIFE. Not only is every character well-defined and unique, but the dynamics among all the characters are as well.

Kristy Rucker as Addie Mae McGough. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Kristy Rucker as Addie Mae McGough. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Tara Williams deftly handles Kate’s journey from cynic to visitor to friend. Gretchen Reinersman shines as simple-spoken, yet wise beyond her years, Tood. Lisa Dirkes smartly finds the humor in dedicated-wife and dedicated-Christian, Weetsie. Holly Sauerbrunn’s smart-tongued, deadpan delivery of pragmatic, life-weary Aunt Ola is spot on. The moment Merritt Beischel throws out the first verbal barb, it speaks volumes to who Sybil is. Kristy Rucker makes busybody Addie Mae fun and endearing. Jared Earland as Tommy looks like he stepped out of a recruitment poster and handles the youngest-brother angst well.

Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert & Holly Sauerbrunn as Aunt Ola Cliffert. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert & Holly Sauerbrunn as Aunt Ola Cliffert. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Thanks to the director, there are many, very nicely-done moments in the show. Favorites include: Kate and Tood on the hilltop and their final goodbye. Todd and Aunt Ola’s private conversations. Sybil and Weetsie’s argument in front of company. Weetsie eavesdropping on Tood and Sybill and Tood and Tommy at the pond. I could mention a few more, but those would be spoilers. The show is well-paced, flows well and the Schoster creates great stage pictures.

Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert, Merritt Beischel as Sybil Harrist-Cliffert & Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert, Merritt Beischel as Sybil Harrist-Cliffert & Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

The costumes, designed by Tara Williams, evoked the time-period and complimented the personalities of the characters. Great work done by Prop Mistress Alecia Lewkowich as well.

This is the first production since the organization has completed some upgrades to their recently purchased venue. The raisers have been installed and the new seating is definitely more comfortable. Freshly repainted, the theater now has an intimate black box aesthetic that works well.

Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert & Jared Earland as Tommy Cliffert. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert & Jared Earland as Tommy Cliffert. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Overall an emotionally strong, heartfelt and heartbreaking production. Congratulations to all. The first weekend did sell out, so I recommend you get your tickets in advance.

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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LCT Review of THE COVER OF LIFE

This review has been reposted courtesy of the League of Cincinnati Theatres. For more LCT reviews click here to visit their reviews page.

FT_The Cove of Life promoThe current production by the cozy Falcon Theatre of Newport is a play written by R.T. Robinson titled The Cover of Life. Life is the famous Life magazine, yet the lives developed and enlarged in this play bring out the realities and the complex conflicts of the women of the  Cliffert family in 1943 Louisiana.

Tood, Weestie and Sybil are the three wives married to the three Cliffert brothers. All three brothers are away, engaged in World War II. To save on expenses, the three wives move into the Cliffert family home with Aunt Ola Cliffert, the mother of the three Cliffert boys. Life begins on stage at this point when Kate Miller, a journalist fresh from the frontline, is assigned by Life magazine to cover the story of these three brides of the military family. Kate Miller is supercilious and, therefore, reluctant to visit the rural Louisiana; yet she accepts the assignment, since this would present her with the opportunity to do a cover story for famous Life magazine.

From the very moment of Kate’s arrival at the Cliffert residence the lives of the women, including Aunt Ola Cliffert, continue to unfold. This is by no means just a flat story of wartime wives who are waiting for their husbands to return home while somehow surviving. The lives of these women gradually end up depicting the life stories of women in general. This is where the playwright crafts an extraordinarily powerful revelation through wisdom, insight, and humor which otherwise could have been a bland saga of overflowing emotion.

Though nowhere in the playbill, Falcon Theatre gave credit to the playwright. Through the penmanship of the playwright R.T. Robinson the story was covered in such a lively manner. There was an incredibly strong cast who worked well off of each other.  I give the praise for that to the director, Tracy M. Schoster.  She made certain the emotional core of each of the characters came through loud and clear. Although I wasn’t blown away by this production, I enjoyed it. The play has a powerful and empowering message that gender roles hurt everybody, not just women, and that only when we question what everyone else accepts as “the way it is” can we become awakened. I loved that aspect of the play and thought the actors did a good job of conveying the message.

The lighting and set were stark and didn’t add very much. Monmouth Theatre, though very cozy and intimate, poses some challenges for a very elaborate light design. The set was too busy for a small stage, however, it reflected the thoughtfulness of Tracy M. Schoster, who was also the set designer for the play. The production was well directed by her , skillfully moving between the set piece of the living room to various other scenes  on the small Falcon stage. One suggestion would be to be a bit more thoughtful about the smooth flow between the scenes, as they appeared to be somewhat abrupt.  The costume design by Tara Williams, who also enacted the character of Kate Miller, was appropriately dated for the period, although they seemed to have more clothes than their financial situation would allow.

Overall, it was a warm presentation by the Falcon team and the entire cast and crew are to be given appreciation. Barring a few silly mistakes in dialogue delivery the characters did a superb job in making the audience believe in their authentic southern accent through and through. The cast demonstrated great team work from a small team where many wear more than one hat, promote and to spread value in theatre. The Cover of Life is to be highly recommended for all audiences because of the message it conveys and the energy from the actors onstage.

For more information on the production, click here.

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THE COVER OF LIFE Runs April 10-25

FT_The Cover of Life logoTHE COVER OF LIFE
Presented by Falcon Theater
April 10-25
Newport

Directed by Tracy M. Schoster

Cast: Tara Williams as Kate Miller, Holly Sauerbrunn as Aunt Ola Cliffert, Kristy Rucker as Addie Mae McGough, Gretchen Reinersman as Tood Cliffert, Lisa Dirkes as Weetsie Cliffert, Merritt Beischel as Sybil Harrist-Cliffert & Jared Earland as Tommy Cliffert

When the 3 Cliffert brothers go off to fight in World War II, their young wives move in with the boy’s mother to keep the home fires burning for the duration of the war. When Life Magazine decides it would make a good cover story, their lives are invaded by up and coming reporter Kate Miller. As Kate collects information for her story all the women learn more about themselves and each other. Warm, affecting and funny, this is a play that offers plenty to talk about and will send audiences home feeling like they’ve gotten to visit another time in American history.

  • Fri-Sat, April 10-11 at 8pm
  • Fri-Sat, April 17-18 at 8pm
  • Fri-Sat, April 24-25 at 8pm

Official page |

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THE BREEZE BENDS THE GRASS on March 5-7

FT_Breeze Bends the GrassTHE BREEZE BENDS THE GRASS
Presented by Falcon Theater
March 5-7
Newport

In 1915, there were a handful of women artists. Four of them changed the rules: Painter Marie Goth; Metal Artist Janet Payne Bowles; Landscape Artist Selma Steele; and Ceramacists, The Overbeck Sisters.

At turns poignant and hilarious, THE BREEZE BENDS THE GRASS is a musical and visual pastiche of the lives and struggles of women artists amidst the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century and is the collaboration of three award-winning writers: composer, Krista Detor; author, Arbutus Cunningham and playwright T.K. Lee. The director, Danielle Bruce and cast of performers are stellar and this traveling show is funded, in part, by the Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artists Grant and Women’s Way.

  • Thu-Sat, March 5-7 at 8pm

Official page |

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LCT Review of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT

This review has been reposted courtesy of the League of Cincinnati Theatres. For more LCT reviews click here to visit their reviews page.

Michael Hall as Gillespie & Derek Snow as Tibbs. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Michael Hall as Gillespie & Derek Snow as Tibbs. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

“They call me MISTER TIBBS”

So says black Pasadena Homicide Investigator, Virgil Tibbs, strongly played by Derek Snow in the Falcon Theatre’s production of In the Heat of the Night.

It’s the early sixties, and Tibbs is traveling in the deep South. He is waiting for a bus in Argo, Alabama when he arrested by the local hayseed cops for a murder. Virgil confronts racism and prejudice while helping the local sheriff solve the murder mystery.

This production of In the Heat of the Night is outstanding. Small intimate spaces like the Falcon put the audience close to the action of the stage. Director Ed Cohen smartly places all the actors behind a scrim, reminding the audience of the ensemble, which is very good. Each actor of the 10-person troupe was well-prepared for their roles. Derek Snow was solid throughout, commanding each scene. He needed a good counterpoint for his strong, laconic role of Mr. Tibbs and he got it in Michael Hall’s interpretation of Sheriff Gillespie, an outsider hired to be sheriff. Hall’s performance matched Snow’s, and you really felt his transition from desiring to be accepted in a bigoted town to accepting the new world where a black man could be equal.

Cohen used the actors to change the set and this technique moved the play along at a brisk pace. Simon Powell and Dan Maloney played police officers and both were very fine. I like when actors project their voices toward the audience! Tom Peters also stands out, playing two crucial roles.

Special mention must be made for the production music provided by two actors on stage, Rich Setterberg and Allison Evans. Rich played three roles, and played bass lines of popular tunes from the era (and harmonica). Allison provided a drum beat and did a good job playing her character.

The lighting in this show was also very fine. The Whiskey Shambles Band played some blues tunes before the show. This was a great way to set this fine period piece by John Ball.

Falcon is celebrating its 25th season. Falcon Producer Ted Weil wears more hats than the inventory of Batsakes Hat Shop downtown. Lighting design, set design, set construction, sound design. In addition, Falcon Theatre has successfully purchased the building and have made serious improvements to the theatre space.

Greater Cincinnati theatre lovers are lucky to have the Falcon Theatre as one of the many theatrical treasures available. Go see this show!

For more information on the production, click here.

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