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 by Sheldon Polonsky of Matilda: Broadway in Cincinnati
Dan Chameroy as Miss Trunchbull with Paula Brancati as Miss Honey. Photo Joan Marcus
Matilda, the Musical starts this week at the Aranoff in Fifth Third Bank’s Broadway in Cincinnati Series, Presented by Trihealth. Matilda, based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book, is the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, Matilda dares to take a stand and change her destiny. Matilda is the winner of 4 Tony awards and a record breaking 7 Olivier awards (the London equivalent) including Best Musical. Having seen the production in London, I can assure you the awards were well-deserved and recommend it to every generation in your family–this is not just for kids!
I caught up with Dan Chameroy, who plays the jaw-dropping role of the malevolent Miss Trunchbull in the musical, who graciously responded to a few of my questions.
What brought you to this role? A press release of the tour. A phone call to my agent. A few auditions and the rest is history.
What are your favorite things about playing Miss Trunchbull, and what are the challenges? The physical and vocal demands can present challenges in a long running show. In terms of favourite things, what’s not to love? She lives without regret. Agatha is a bully. She’s rude, lives in an alternate universe, is suspicious of everyone, she’s never wrong and will most likely run for president in 2020.
How do you enjoy working with all the children in Matilda? The kids are fantastic, professional, consistent balls of energy. They drive the show forward. Without them we don’t have a play.
How long does it take you to get made up as Miss Trunchbull and what does it involve? It about a 20min process from head to toe. I do a wig prep. Apply make-up. Glue a few warts on my face. My wig is then attached to my head. I squeeze into my padded body suit. Toss on my costume and away we go.
Do you prefer playing villains or heroes in the theatre, and why? Villains are often the juicier parts but everyone needs a hero in their lives and I’ve had the pleasure of playing both.
If you had to do any other job besides performing, what would it be? Journalism. I think the truth needs to be reported and these days the truth is often altered.
What would be your dream role? Anything written by Mr. Sondheim. Sweeney Todd is on the bucket list.
What are some of your other favorite roles that you have had? Curly in Oklahoma (hero), Gaston in Beauty (villain), Cinderella prince/wolf in Into the Woods (scoundrel) to name a few.
Give the audience your three top reasons for seeing “Matilda the Musical” 1) It’s a fantastic novel by Roald Dahl that has been beautiful realized for the stage. Music/lyrics, choreography, direction and design are all top notch.
2) It’s a triumphant story about a young girl’s ability to overcome the bullies in her life and teach those around her in the process.
3) Miss Trunchbull–I know that answer seems self indulgent but I love this deliciously despicable woman.
Don’t miss out on your chance to see the musical that the New York Post says “restores your faith in Broadway”. Matilda runs April 4th through April. Tickets are available at http://cincinnati.broadway.com/
What is illness? Does society have an obligation to try to heal a sick person who has committed a heinous crime? How can religious confusion shape a person’s actions? These are some of the questions being asked in Peter Shaffer’s classic play Equus opening at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater on April 6 through April 23.
Equus tells the story of Alan Strang (played by Christopher Carter) a very disturbed young man who blinds six horses for seemingly no reason. Psychiatrist Dr. Martin Dysert (veteran Mike Hall) is asked to consult with Alan. This leads to a series of interviews with family and acquaintances as Dysert tries to determine Alan’s motivations. The mystery deepens as the play progresses. The good doctor is also fighting some demons of his own. Dysert is self-conflicted because he lacks the passion to conduct a proper investigation. When the circumstances of his actions become known, Alan risks being considered unlikeable and a pariah. But Alan must learn to “know himself” before coming to grips with the truth. Religious and ritual sacrifice themes are also present as Alan appears to confuse the horses with his vision of a deity.
Director Greg Procaccino was drawn to the play because of its creativity and dramatic content. It is an abstract “theater of the mind” with a minimalist setting and costumes. The classic tragic Greek themes are emphasized by the use of masks and all of the characters wear black. This is a thinking person’s play because, according to Procaccino, it gets into the audience’s head. He continues that, in this era of constant noise and electronics, the audience needs to use their imaginations and creativity more to help fill in the blanks.
The play has maintained its popularity because it is very vibrant with excellent dialogue. Greg is proud of the Incline Theater for producing the show. To quote Greg from the Director’s Notes in the playbill, “The play still maintains its power over the theater because of its dramatic and intriguing characters, the powerful use of language and storytelling and its mesmerizing display of theatrical spectacle.” Caution: the show strips the characters naked in a both a figurative and literal sense. There is a moment of full frontal male nudity in the show which is crucial to the story telling.
The supporting cast at the Incline Theater includes Hannah Gregory (Jill), Rory Sheridan (Frank), Martha Slater (Dora), Kelsie Slaugh (Hester), Angie Alexander Nalley (nurse/customer), Jim Stumf (Dalton) and Peter Cutler (Nugget). Since the play is so character driven, the acting is very challenging and requires considerable effort from the cast according to Procaccino,
Equus runs April 6th through 23rd and tickets can be ordered at http://cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/Incline/Default.aspx.
A Sneak Peek by Alan Jozwiak of Rabbit Hole: Falcon Theatre
Ted Weil and Tara Williams in “Rabbit Hole”
Starting this week, Falcon Theater will be presenting the Pulitzer Prize winning play Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire. I had a chance to talk to Ted Weil, Falcon’s Artistic Director, who is getting a rare chance to trod the boards by acting in this production.
Alan: You could have chosen any number of plays for this slot in your season. So why Rabbit Hole?
Ted: I’ve always loved this show since it came out on Broadway 2006. It is a slice of life play calling for a hyper-realistic acting style. In shows like this, nothing is heightened—except for the subject matter.
Alan: Speaking of subject matter, Rabbit Hole deals with a topic most people would chose not to thing about—the death of a child from a senseless accident. Will the subject matter act as a turnoff for some audience members?
Ted: It might if we were showing the immediate effect of the accident. Insteada, Rabbit Hole takes place months and months after the accident. The play explores the reactions of each of the characters to the trauma of the experience after the initial shock has worn off. We see them trying to find a new normal after the event. This is what drew me to this play: it does not offer a formula for grief. Everyone deals with their grief in their own personal manner. The play becomes more of an ensemble piece as each character’s grief works off the other characters’ grief.
Alan: So audiences will not feel depressed when they see it?
Ted: Audiences will be affected by the play and it will hit people in different ways. However, there is no need to pass out razor blades at the door. This play is meant to be open-ended, not trying to solve all the problems of the characters by play’s close. We hope that people will feel like they have not been told a story, but more like they’ve been led into some people’s lives for a few hours.
Alan: So you are playing the role of Howie, the father dealing with his child’s death. It’s been a while since we’ve seen you on stage.
Ted: The last time I acted for Falcon was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [March-April 2014]. It’s been a while.
Alan: What has been your biggest challenge in playing the role of Howie?
Ted: Some of Howie’s anger I have found difficult to master. We see him getting very very angry and I have to find ways to get to that place. I myself have a long fuse, so it is a challenge for me to explode in the way that Howie explodes.
Alan: Since you are acting with other people, what is it like working together as an ensemble?
Ted: There is no room for error for something so real. It has to sound conversational, but you have to keep the dialogue among the characters from becoming boring. It is easy to have this play run slow. During last week’s rehearsal, we’ve hit our stride and the play is both conversational and flowing, it’s going at the right clip.
Alan: Anything else you want to tell our readers?
Ted: See this show! It is going to be one of Falcon’s must-see productions. The cast is strong and we work together to produce a moving evening of theater.
Rabbit Hole runs weekends March 24 to April 8, 2017 at their theater on 626 Monmouth Street in Newport, Kentucky. Visit the Falcon website for times and ticket information: http://falcontheater.net/
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company takes on one of the most pivotal plays of the 20th century as it presents Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun. Check out the
Sneak Peek below by Spenser Smith , an interview with director Christopher V. Edwards. The play runs March 24th through April 15th, and tickets can be obtained at the website www.cincyshakes.com or by calling the box office 513-381-2273.
Sneak Peek by Doug Iden ofDisenchanted: The Carnegie Theatre
Forget the Disney or Mother Goose versions of classic nursery rhymes about Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, or Sleeping Beauty when the Off-Broadway musicalDisenchantedwaltzes into The Carnegie Theater starting March 25 through April 9. Call it the Grimm version of these stories as the Fairy Tale Princesses let down their hair and tell it the way it really is.
The following is a question and answer interview with Sara Kenny who plays Snow White in the musical.
What drew you to the role of Snow White? What didn’t draw me to this role? As soon as I saw the character description for the audition notice, I felt like it was meant to be. It is everything I could hope for in a role and character. It felt very “me” in a sense. A very inflated me but nonetheless a character I feel like myself not only as a person but as a woman could relate to; I wanted to step into this character and help tell the story we so often forget, what lies behind the surface of what these perfect princess are known for in our society. This helps tell the REAL story and issues if you will.
While I have played Snow White before, this is a completely different character than the audience may have seen on film, in theme parks and story books. We all see Buzzfeed short clips of Disney princesses gone bad (or maybe I just have too much time on my hands). People love seeing a different side to what is so routine and well known to all of us growing up, or now have passed on to our own children. I remember watching the classic Disney movies and laughing…thinking, what would they REALLY do if this was real life in these situations? Or, more importantly, what happens after the show is over? So, being able to play one of these famous princesses who really do gets to tell her authentic story in front of an audience and explain how this has all played out in “their world” is a blast and a story that needs to be told!
What should the audience be looking for in the show to enhance their experience? Come in with a clear open mind and allow yourself to giggle and have fun. There are hidden messages throughout the show, so you just have listen carefully to the clever lyrics. Keep your eyes open and your ears as well. Some comments about set design? Tyler Gabbard always blows me away with a slightly cabaret style set and a princess themed twist. We are so fortunate to have Tyler and his talents here in this city.
Costumes: Cheyenne Hamberg’s sketches are unbelievable. She brings a modern twist to your traditional Disney princess ensemble. Colors are key to recognizing the princesses but the usage of different fabrics and details will really be eye catching and help these ladies tell their story.
Direction: Jodie Meyn is the perfect lady to be directing this show. She is relaxed; she is hilarious; she gets it. She helps us tune in on the funny and guides us through the scenes with ease. Erin McCamly’s music direction has been divine. She helps us find the levels in the songs and reminds us of how important the lyrics really are. Maggie Perrino brings the perfect amount of choreography yet gives us the freedom we need and what this show calls for to really make our characters stand out as individuals in the songs. What is your past experience? I grew up on the West Side of Cincinnati (I now live in Newport, Kentucky). I got into theatre in high school after I got cut from the dance team and couldn’t stand to compete as a swimmer anymore. I attended NKU and graduated in 2011 with my BFA in Performance. I completed a year-long internship at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, lived briefly in NYC, and have worked at numerous professional theatres here in town as well as gigs in Louisville, Kentucky and The Old Creamery Theatre in Iowa. Other credits at The Carnegie includeplaying Amy “Not Getting Married Today” in Company as well as playing Ethel Toffelmier in The Music Man. And, of course, anything that you think would be pertinent? It really is a great “girls night out” at the theatre. But any adult would have a great time. I promise. Come to the theatre and forget your real life troubles and enter these princesses’ world. Enjoy their story and maybe even learn a quick lesson or two from it. I promise we don’t bite too hard. Come play with us at The Carnegie and enjoy the run of theDisenchantedRegional Premiere. Let us tell you what really happens after “The End”.
Other cast members include Allison Evans as Cinderella, Blair Godshall as Sleeping Beauty, Gabriella Francis (Little Mermaid, Belle, Rapunzel), Mikayla Renfrow (Pocahontas, Mulan, Princess Badroulbador) and Brittany Hayes as The Princess who Kissed the Frog.
Emily Celeste Fink as Mabel Normand in CCM’s “Mack and Mabel”
Occasionally in theatre and film, someone will appear and everything else pales in comparison. That is Emily Celeste Fink, who effortlessly commands the CCM stage as Mabel Normand in Mack and Mabel, playing only through March 5 at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.
Mack and Mabel is a bittersweet love story that explores the highs and lows of the Golden Age of Comedy, focusing on the tumultuous relationship between director Mack Sennett (who created the Keystone Kops) and his star, Mabel Normand. Mack narrates the story, from his first encounter with Mabel, to their love story, and their missteps in between.
In the play, Mabel accidentally comes on set as a sandwich seller, instantly capturing the focus of the film crew. Mack immediately signs her. When performer Fink enters the stage, you immediately know she is going to have a powerful career as an entertainer. If she was an NCAA basketball player she would sign early with the NBA. She starts big with “Looks What Happened to Mabel,” and hammers it home in “Wherever He Ain’t, ” the memorable and difficult “Time Heals Everything” and, of course “When Mabel Comes in the Room.” Fink has a rich voice and the power to belt. She also has charm, charisma, and an effortless joy in performing for you. Her multidimensional portrayal makes other performers pale in comparison, and with the rich talents of all CCM students, that is hard to do. Alex Stone as Mack Sennett has one of the best voices of the evening. Kyra Christopher as Lottie, is a great hoofer, with the subtlety of Jinkx Monsoon. The chorus is filled with talented, singers, dancers, and actors of every shape and size selling it, however, it is not ethnically diverse. They beautifully perform the choreography by Patti James, in a variety of dance styles, and sound great due to musical direction by CCM graduate student Evan Roider.
The costumes are another star of the evening. So many rich, beautifully cut, luxurious clothes! My favorite could be the top of the Second Act, but the hits keep coming! From the tap outfits to the kimonos to the suits—Costume Designer Reba Senske shows the phenomenal talent of the CCM Faculty Staff, and student workers.
CCM’s seamless delivery of scenery (as well as the musicians) is always exciting, adding to the magic of the evening. Thanks to Mark Halpin, scenic designer, the set is an appropriately ancient sound stage, with multiple beautiful pieces flying in from above and below, including beautiful Art Deco draperies and accessories.
Director Aubrey Berg ties all this talent together and brings out the best of this musical, which has strengths and flaws as written by Jerry Herman (music and lyrics) and Michael Stewart (book). Inherently it proceeds in a series of starts and stops for the video clips, which aren’t as clear or as funny as they used to be. (Reflecting the relationships of Mark and Mabel, as a series of stops and starts and not what it used to be?) It also ends too abruptly, finishing one story, but not the other (perhaps one more slide with Mack’s dates on it could have made it feel more complete.) These are not reasons to keep you away.
Get your tickets TODAY to Mack and Mabel: http://CCM.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/mack-and-mabel
Sneak Peek compiled by Liz Eichler of Broadway in Cincinnati’s Something Rotten, from their press kit.
Most Broadway newcomers don’t get their first show produced by Tony Award-winner Kevin McCollum, and they don’t typically land Tony-winner Casey Nicholaw as their director-choreographer. But brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and British comedy writer John O’Farrell, the creators of the Tony Award-nominated Something Rotten!, aren’t like most Broadway first-timers.
Growing up in Louisiana, the Kirkpatrick brothers fell in love with musical theater, appearing in high school shows and going to what’s now the Baton Rouge River Center to see touring productions of Broadway hits. In 1983, Karey Kirkpatrick saw his first show on Broadway, My One and Only, starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, at the St. James Theatre – the theater that’s now home to Something Rotten!.
Careers took the brothers and their Something Rotten! collaborator O’Farrell in different creative directions – Karey to success as a screenwriter, songwriter and director, with credits including The Rescuers Down Under, James and the Giant Peach and Chicken Run; Wayne to acclaim as a Grammy Award-winning songwriter (Eric Clapton’s Song of the Year “Change the World” and Garth Brooks’ “Wrapped Up in You” are his); O’Farrell to multifaceted success in the UK as a comic novelist, columnist and TV/film writer.
The seeds of Something Rotten! were sewn in the mid-1990s when Karey, who now lives in Los Angeles, and Wayne, who calls Nashville home, would get together for holidays or catch up by phone.
“We were big history buffs. It started with, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if Shakespeare’s London were a lot like what Broadway was in the 1930s?’” Karey says. “Then it was, ‘What would it be like to be writing plays in the shadow of William Shakespeare, after Romeo and Juliet just opened?’”
“We thought of two writers,” Wayne says. “What if one went to a soothsayer? Then somewhere along the way it was, ‘What if the two writers were brothers? What if the soothsayer’s name was Nostradamus, but he wasn’t the Nostradamus? What if he was a senile, bad soothsayer, his nephew?’ Eventually it was, ‘If we’re going to do this, we should really get serious about it.’”
The brothers buckled down, and in 2010, Karey reached out to his friend Kevin McCollum, producer of original hits like Rent and Avenue Q.
“We called Kevin and said, ‘What do you need?’ He said that Avenue Q was three songs and an idea,” Karey says. “He came to my house and we pitched him five songs and the idea. He said, ‘I think you’ve got something here.’”
Karey brought in O’Farrell, whom he’d met on Chicken Run, to help write the show’s story. The brothers crafted the music and lyrics, eventually writing more than 50 songs. What they had, after plenty of revisions and a multi-year developmental process, is a buoyant musical set in Shakespeare’s day that imagines the creation of the very first musical.
Something Rotten! centers around Nick and Nigel Bottom (the last name comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), brothers desperate for a hit in Elizabethan London, where William Shakespeare is a rock star-like god of the stage lately given to cribbing plots.
Nick’s wife Bea, a can-do gal in the style of Shakespearean heroines who cross-dress to get things done, tries to help. Nigel falls for a pretty Puritan named Portia, whose daddy strongly disapproves. Unreliable soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, nephew of the Nostradamus, looks into the future and tells Nick that theater’s next big thing will be – tahdah! – “musicals”, where people sing, dance and act all at the same time!
Something Rotten! is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical theater geeks.
But as O’Farrell observes, “If it works as a musical for people who don’t know musicals or Shakespeare, then I’m happy. It’s about show business and putting on a show. Just doing that in Tudor times gives it an extra spin.”
“I think it doesn’t matter how much you know,” says director-choreographer Nicholaw, whose other current Broadway shows are Aladdin and The Book of Mormon. “My nieces and nephews say it’s their favorite show that I’ve done, and they don’t know any of the references.”
For the no-longer-green creative team, Something Rotten! has been a challenge, an education and a joy, an experience they still savor as the touring production plays cities all over the United States.
“This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but [it was] so rewarding to sit in a theater and watch all these amazing contributions from people who took it beyond our idea to create this magical, happy experience,” Wayne says.