Category Archives: Reviews

FINDING NEVERLAND Quick Review

FINDING NEVERLAND presented Broadway in Cincinnati through Nov. 19. I attended the opening night performance.

BIC_Finding Neverland promo

FINDING NEVERLAND tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever.

The incredibly strong and entertaining ensemble is led by Billy Harrigan Tighe who brings a beautiful voice and great physicality to the demanding role of J. M. Barrie. He shares a strong chemistry with the equally talented Lael Van Keuren as the widowed Sylvia who absolutely crushes her solo, “All That Matters.” Also very entertaining is John Davidson (yes THAT John Davidson) with a wonderful performance as theater manager Charles Frohman. Karen Murphy gives Sylvia’s mother, Mrs. du Maurier, a harsh exterior, and beautifully underplays the love she has for her daughter and grandsons. Speaking of the four young men (Connor Casey as Peter, Colin Wheeler as George, Wyatt Cirbus as Jack & Tyler Hennessy as Michael), they handled their roles incredibly well and their performance of “We’re All Made of Stars” was impressive.

Smartly directed, inventively and beautifully-staged, and uniquely choreographed, this charming and, dare I say, darling production un-cynically reminds us to embrace the child in all of us. A must-see for any Peter Pan fans.

My rating: 4.75 out of 5.

Click here for more information on the production.

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THE DROWNING GIRLS Quick Review

THE DROWNING GIRLS presented The Clifton Players through Nov. 11. I attended the opening night performance.

CPT_The Drowning Girls promo

Mindy Heithaus, Eileen Earnest & Carol Brammer.

Clifton Players open their new space, the Liberty Exhibition Hall, with a haunting production of THE DROWNING GIRLS.

Bessie, Alice and Margaret have two things in common: they are married to George Joseph Smith, and they are dead.  Surfacing from the bathtubs they were drowned in, the three breathless brides gather evidence against their womanizing, murderous husband by reliving the shocking events leading up to their deaths. 

Local favorites Mindy Heithaus, Eileen Earnest, and Carol Brammer excel in the production; both as an ensemble and in their strongest individual performances to date.

Director Bridget Leak continues to impress with her inventive staging and clear vision for the engaging script.

My rating: 5 out of 5.

Click here for more information on the production.

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CFF17: IS THAT ALL THERE IS? Review

IS THAT ALL THERE IS? presented by Cincinnati LAB Theatre as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

CFF_Is That All There Is“I have not plans to stop singing. What are you going to do when you love music? It’s a terrible disease. You can’t stop.” -Peggy Lee

Jaren Doren handles the role of Ronald/Rita well, but I think he could safely go bigger in personality without becoming a caricature. I would also encourage more stage drinking to better establish his issues with alcohol.

As Ronald’s sister Tess, Danielle Muething strikes a nice emotional balance between sibling and in a way, rival. Her relationship with childhood friend Chad also felt genuine and she handles his original song very well.

Sean Michael Flowers is fun as Chad, but he seemed more comfortable behind the piano. I thought his original song was a good fit for the show.

I did enjoy how the visit from his sister happened mid-transformation from Ronald to “Rita.” The half completed make-up added a surreal quality and really emphasized his/her facial expressions.

While I understand that the playwright was being purposefully vague, there were several instances where few more tidbits of information could have made the dialogue seem less repetitive. Overall though, a strong first effort from Sara Mackie.

Three performances remain through June 10.

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CFF17: GOD OF OBSIDIAN Review

GOD OF OBSIDIAN presented by Gideon Productions as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief. –Wikipedia

CFF_God of Obsidian

Mac Rogers as Nathan & Rebecca Comtois as Alice.

Gideon Productions ups the creep factor with a strong, engaging script from playwright Mac Rogers. I enjoyed the Brothers Grimm undertones to the story.

As Alice, Rebecca Comtois is fascinating to watch as her new and happy relationship descends into one of mental abuse and manipulation. Emotionally, her performance rings true and believable as she struggles to remember who she is and reassert her independence.

Mac Rogers is equally strong as congenial and earnest Nathan. Even though the character doesn’t change much superficially, the machinations under the surface are there and fascinating to watch. He pretty much embodies that “he was quiet and kept to himself, but always seemed so nice” serial killer quality.

Director Jordana Williams keeps the pacing strong and uses the play space effectively. The upstage use of the bridge worked very well. There was one point near the middle of the performance where I felt it was starting to lose momentum but the show quickly rebounded.

At the performance I attended, part of the “fun” of the performance was the audience’s physical and verbal reactions as the story unfolded. Very interesting, well-written and strongly performed, but I felt like I needed a shower after it was over. The final performance is tonight, June 5th.

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CFF17: LARRY 13:2 Review

LARRY 13:2 presented by Muwahahaha Productions as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

CFF_Larry 132“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers…”

As much as I enjoy a performance in the moment, it’s when I sit down in front of the computer to put my experience into words that I come to realize how much I enjoyed a production. Color me impressed with LARRY 13:2.

The script by Tracy Hoida is very smart, funny, engaging and succinct. Even though religion is a central conceit to the story, I did not find it to be preachy or condescending. I also appreciated that no attempt was made to pad the story in order to push the length closer to 60 minutes. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.

Katie Mitchell is a joy to watch as Larry. High energy, fast-talking and yet always in control of herself and the situation. I look forward to seeing her on stage again.

As Keagan, Rory Sheridan is committed and believable as his character deals with the world-altering information being thrown at him.

Director Rebecca Bromels shows a deft hand in staging and pacing. At times the show barrels ahead at almost break neck speed, but Bromels also allows important moments to have the weight and impact.

LARRY 13:2 is an extremely well-written story, with compelling performances by two talented actors, and expertly directed. The synergy of the three elevates the production. Best to buy your tickets sooner rather than later. Four performances remain through June 9.

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