This season, LCT continues its program "Stage Insights". In place of our usual reviewing process, Stage Insights provides more in-depth, personal reviews from a select number of our contributors dedicated to each of the theatres they are reviewing. In addition, they will be providing exciting Sneak Peaks of upcoming productions. Look for our Sneak Peaks on the front page of our website and our weekly reviews on the Review Page.
Sneak Peek of by Charles Roetting of The Elephant Man: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
Brent Vimtrup and Giles Davies in “The Elephant Man”
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company continues its 2016-2017 season with Bernard Pomerance’s Tony Award winning The Elephant Man, directed by CSC Producing Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips. This marks CSC’s final season before bidding farewell to their location on Race Street. As a tribute to the early days of CSC, on-stage audience seating is available.
Set in the late 19th century, the play centers on the life of John Merrick, whose severe physical deformities earned him the nickname “The Elephant Man”. The story follows Merrick (played by Giles Davies) from his early life in a freak show to his time spent in and around a London hospital. With the help of Dr. Frederick Treaves (played by Brent Vimtrup), Merrick is shown pieces of the outside world. Through his various interactions, the notions of decency, beauty, and goodness are all challenged.
The Elephant Man originally opened in 1979 and while the principal character suffers from severe deformities, the role is portrayed using physicality, not prosthetics. The role of Merrick was originated by David Schofield and has famously been played by the likes of David Bowie, Mark Hamill, and recently Bradley Cooper. Merrick now finds a home within the exceptionally talented Giles Davies, whose mastery of movement promises a captivating take on The Elephant Man. Opposite Davies, Brent Vimtrup, who portrays the eager and sometimes morally ambiguous Dr. Treaves, will undoubtedly get to show off his uncanny ability of blending heart and soul with a complicated inner struggle.
The all-star cast also includes Miranda McGee, Geoffrey Warren Barnes II, Billy Chace, Kelly Mengelkoch, Barry Mulholland, Aiden Sims, Crystian Wilshire, Vanessa Sawson, Kyle Brumley, and Brandon Joseph Burton.
Director Brian Isaac Phillips’ vivid imagination and creativity promise a directorial vision that is both authentic and innovative. This will not be a production to miss.
Performances of The Elephant Man are scheduled from October 14-November 5, 2016, Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. There is no performance on Sunday October 16.
There is an added performance at 2pm on Saturday November 5. Preview performances are on Wednesday October 12 and Thursday October 13 at 7:30pm and tickets are $25.
The theater currently is located at 719 Race Street, downtown Cincinnati, two blocks west of the Aronoff Center. Single ticket prices range from $22-$38 on Thursdays and Sundays and from $26-$42 on Fridays and Saturdays. Previews are $25. If available, $14 student rush tickets may be purchased one hour before a show with a valid student ID. This production is a part of this season’s subscription package. Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted. Ticketing fees may apply. Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups as well as AAA members. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the CSC Box Office at 513.381.BARD (2273) ext. 1, or go online at www.cincyshakes.com.
Sneak Peek by Laurel Humes of [title of show]: Incline Theatre
Lindsey Augusta Mercer and Erin McCamley in [title of show]
Warsaw Federal Incline Theater opens its new season September 29 with a show about writing a show – [title of show].
The bracketed no-name comes from the application form for submission of musicals for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. In this mostly true story, friends Hunter Bell (book) and Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics) had three weeks to submit their entry. Their idea: document creating the show or, as one of them says, “a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical.”
[title of show] doesn’t end there, though. No spoiler to say the musical was chosen and went on to be produced in 2004, making it to Off-Broadway in 2006 and to Broadway in 2008. The joys and struggles of those successes also are part of the show.
This is a “minimalist” musical, says Incline director Mike Sherman – four cast members, no production numbers, one keyboard. The story is clever, and the songs range from witty to poignant.
“It is hard to find musicals that have a groundedness to them,” Sherman said. “These are real people. I think everyone will be captivated by the way these people interact. You’ll root for them from the start, when they sing ‘Two Nobodies in New York.’”
But when a cast of four carries the show, “you have to have compelling actors,” Sherman said. “Our cast is awesome. They have brought out so much truth and honesty. And they are amazing singers.”
The cast includes Noah Berry, Hunter Hendrickson, Lindsey Augusta Mercer and Erin McCamley.
[title of show] at Incline is Sherman’s first professional directing job, although theatre is his career. He is in his fourth year as Theatre Department Chair at Walnut Hills High School, following a five-year tenure as drama director at Colerain High School. Sherman also has directed Fringe Festival pieces.
Coincidently, Sherman met [title of show] co-creator Hunter Bell this summer at an Educational Theatre Association conference (Bell is on the board).
“He confirmed we are taking the right approach,” Sherman said of his conversation with Bell. “The show is about the relationship of these four people and their struggles and changes through the creative process.”
[title of show] runs through October 16 at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, in the Incline District of East Price Hill. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or go to www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.
Check out Spenser Smith’s wonderful Sneak Peek of NKU‘s Grapes of Wrath here. Grapes of Wrath opens September 29th and tickets can be obtained at the NKU box office, https://artscience.NKU.edu/departments/theatre/boxoffice.html or by calling 859-572-5464
Sneak Peek By Laurel Humes of Chicago: Incline Theatre
It is impossible to separate the iconic musical Chicago from the equally iconic choreographer Bob Fosse. He co-wrote, directed and choreographed the original Broadway production in 1975, and the 1996 revival (still playing!) was produced “in the style of Bob Fosse.” So what should a theater company today do with Chicago? Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, where Chicago opens August 10, has chosen “Fosse-esque,” said choreographer Angela Kahle. “It is hard to look at the show without what Fosse did,” Kahle said. “It can be intimidating to be compared to that. What we needed to do, though, was make this version our own but still give a nod to the original show.” Audiences expecting to see the familiar Fosse style will be rewarded in two major production numbers, “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango.” The Incline show, directed by Matt Wilson, “has a strong cast that I am excited to choreograph,” Kahle said.
As a hardly-needed reminder, here’s the plot: In 1920s Chicago, vaudevillian Velma Kelly and chorus girl Roxie Hart find themselves sharing space in the women’s block of Cook County Jail, both on murder charges. They become competitors for lawyer Billy Flynn’s time and for press’ attention, which is turning criminals into celebrities.
There are several reasons for the long-lived popularity of Chicago, Kahle believes. “First, there are so many wonderful, fun production numbers,” she said. “And the show explores celebrity, which can be fallacious but primed by the media. That theme is still relevant today.”
Kahle, a native of Lima, Ohio, has been in Cincinnati for three years, following a career as a dancer. She toured with the Rockettes for five years, then was part of the New York Rockette company at Radio City Musical Hall for five years. Kahle also was in the first national tour of 42nd Street.
She had lived briefly in Cincinnati previously, then came back to be part of the city’s vibrant theater and arts scene. In addition to choreography, Kahle teaches at Dancefix and Revere Dance Studio.
In Cincinnati, Kahle has choreographed Chorus Line for Covedale Center for the Performing Arts and Beauty and the Beast for the School for Creative and Performing Arts.
“I have discovered that choreography is really where my heart is, especially musicals,” Kahle said. “I loved performing, but this is my passion.”
Chicago runs Wednesdays-Sundays, August 10 through September 4, at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre, 801 Matson Place. Call 513-241-6550 for tickets.
For its second summer show, the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater features the musical Baby about three couples with very different life experiences while expecting new family additions. Baby opens July 6 and continues through July 31 with evening performances on Wednesday through Saturday and a Sunday matinee.
In their own ways, the three couples experience the exhilaration and emotional stresses of desperate lows and comic highs as they anticipate the upcoming births. Lizzie and Danny (played by Lauren Magness and Danny Hooper) are college sweethearts who have recently moved in together while athletes Pam and Nick (portrayed by Jessica Steuver and Charlie Harper) had difficulties conceiving. The third couple, played by Danielle Muething and Matt Dentino, are having second thoughts about the pregnancy.
The show is directed and choreographed by Karie-Lee Sutherland with Music Director Katie Personke and Production Stage Manager Emily Bernstein.
Although the 1983 show is not a household name, Baby was successful on Broadway and garnered 8 Tony nominations including best musical, score, book and direction and won two Drama Desk awards for best actor and actress. Composer David Shire wrote the movie scores for “All the President’s Men” and “The Conversation” and Broadway shows including “Big”, “Closer Than Ever” and “Starting Here, Starting Now” (with lyricist Richard Maltby). Maltby, who directed and wrote the lyrics for Baby, was also the co-director and co-lyricist for the American versions of “Song and Dance” and “Miss Saigon”. Baby features the songs “I Want It All”, “Two People in Love” and “The Story Goes On”.
For show times and ticket information, go to the Cincinnati Landmark Productions website.
The Warsaw Federal Incline Theater wraps up its summer program with the Kander and Ebb classic musical Chicago which runs from August 10 through September 6.