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.
If enjoy theatre, are a good writer and would love to see more productions this year and review them, then LCT is looking for you! We are searching for additional contributors for our “Stage Insights” reviewing panel for the 2016-17 season. You do not need formal reviewing experience, but a passion for theatre, commitment, responsibility and effective written communication skills are a must. Multimedia or social media skills are a plus. If you are interested, contact Sheldon Polonsky at email@example.com for more details. We’d love to have you!
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.
Sneak Peek of by Laurel Humes of Next Fall: Falcon Theatre
Brian Anderson and Mathew Wilson in Falcon’s “Next Fall”
Luke and Adam are in a committed, five-year relationship in Next Fall, opening at Falcon Theater May 6. Luke is 12 years younger than Adam, but that is not their biggest difference: Luke is devoutly religious and Adam is an atheist.
Further, Luke’s parents do not know he is gay. That becomes an important plot point when Luke lies in a coma after an accident and family and friends gather at the hospital.
Geoffrey Naufft’s play, which made its New York debut in 2009, takes on big issues of religion and sexual orientation with wit and warmth.
“The challenge of the play is to not feel we are taking sides, but presenting both sides,” said co-director Tara Williams. “The play is more about people with different beliefs than about a same-sex couple. It is a bit of a period piece already, being first produced in 2009. If it was today, they would be married.”
The action of the play moves back and forth between the hospital and vignettes to show how Luke (played by Mathew Wilson) and Adam (Brian Anderson) met and how their relationship exists despite their religious differences. Rounding out the cast are Allen Middleton and Tracy Schoster as Luke’s divorced parents and Lauren Carr and Michael Monks as friends.
Co-directing the Falcon production with Williams is Clink Ibele, head of the theater’s Falcon Takes Flight community outreach program.
“The philosophy at Falcon is a working man’s theater – we give training to others in theater,” Williams said. “Clint had never done a full production all the way through, and this is an opportunity to have him ride alongside. We are making decisions together. And he brings things to the show I don’t have – he grew up with a religious background and he’s a man .”
Williams is a Falcon board member and production and costume coordinator. “We each wear a lot of hats at Falcon,” she noted. Last year, she directed The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at Falcon. Most recently, she and Schoster played the leads in Falcon’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
Sneak Peek by Grace Eichler of Silent Sky: Know Theatre
Maggie Lou Rader as Henrietta Leavitt in “Silent Sky”
Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s season continues, and the theme of examining the “often overlooked” seems to prevail, with Silent Sky, directed by Tamara Winters. Silent Sky retells the true story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, a “human computer” hired by the Harvard Observatory to perform complex calculations for the male astronomers.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s works are not unfamiliar to the Cincinnati stages — Know produced Toil and Trouble several years ago and Playhouse in the Park just closed The Revolutionists this season. Silent Sky ties together themes of scientific discovery, feminism, romance and the bond of sisterhood, and a star-studded cast brings together an intensely promising performance.
Maggie Lou Rader heads the ensemble as Henrietta Leavitt, flanked by Annie Fitzpatrick and Regina Pugh, two additional “computers” at Harvard. Miranda McGee returns to the Know Mainstage as Henrietta’s sister, Margaret, providing a fierce sisterly love and support. Justin McCombs joins the cast as Peter Shaw, the rival-turned-romance who pushes Henrietta’s quest for discovery.
Equally exciting is the show’s director & Know’s Associate Artistic Director, Tamara Winters, who has brought highly regarded productions to the Know stages in the past: Bureau of Missing Persons, Hearts Like Fists, and, most recently, All Childish Things. Winters believes the show is incredibly timely, as women are still underrepresented within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields. “Henrietta Leavitt’s role in the history of astronomy has largely been forgotten, and overshadowed by the men whose work would later be made possible by her discovery–a fate sadly familiar to many high-achieving women. The time is right for us to shine a light on her work, and by extension, shine a light on the fierce and brilliant spirits that drive trailblazing women to succeed,” says Winters.
Know Theatre is combating the gender inequalities within STEM by inviting tri-state students to special performances of Silent Sky, preceded by a panel of Greater Cincinnati women working in STEM fields. Know is also collaborating with & bringing attention to The Cincinnati Observatory, the Birthplace of American Astronomy.
Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford also serves as scenic & lighting designer for the show. With the entire realm of space & astronomy as the backdrop for the production, it is very interesting and promising to note that Hungerford himself studied astrophysics in undergrad. Hungerford notes, “the synthesis of art and science in this show is beautiful and compelling,” and those who have come to know his creations can expect something inspiring.
Silent Sky is presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati from April 15-May 14, 2016. Tickets are available by calling 513-300-5669