Cleveland Stage Alliance Reviews and Previews

Dobama's World Premiere Musical 33 1/3, A Beautiful Story of Finding Our Own Truth

posted Jul 1, 2019, 11:21 AM by kevin kelly   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 1:26 PM by Eric Fancher ]



Dobama's World Premiere Musical 33 1/3, A Beautiful Story of Finding Our Own Truth

Dobama Theatre
Professional Equity House Theatre

*World Premiere*

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli
Directed by Matthew Wright
Music directed by Matthew Dolan
Choreography by Holly Handman-Lopez


After watching the World Premiere of 33 1/3 on Friday night, I found myself experiencing a deep connection to the story, the music, and the incredible actors that had just presented what seemed to be the story of my life. As the show evolved, I emotionally transported over and over again. Each scene reminded me of the joy and pain of the journey to find my own self in a world that didn't seem to want to see, hear, understand or help me. Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli have put together a beautiful touching effective story. The Book, Music, and Lyrics provide realistic scenarios and creative music that offers each member of the cast to emotionally split open and expose the light and the dark. It is a beautiful evening of theatre. I really encourage you to experience this beautiful butterfly.


It's 1974 and Jules (Benjamin Richardson-Piche +) finds small-town existence stifling. He lives for listening to the latest records with his best friend Jill (Hanna Shykind +) but dreams of an exciting life in New York City. While Jules mother is in the hospital, his father (Jim Bray *) is trying his best at home to manage the weight of his wife, providing for his family, and finding connection with his only son. While trying to visit his mother in the hospital, Jules encounters Francis (Tyler Tanner +), an openly gay, Bowie-loving young man, who loves to identify as a "Candy Striper". In this connection, Jules starts to embark on a journey of self-actualization of identity, and along with it, a romantic connection. Jules has the security of his best friend Jill but also encounters Victor (Jay Lee +), an angry young man from a troubled home who tries to find relief, most noticeably on his drum set. It is this collection of magnetic characters that provide the framework for becoming woke.

This cast. This cast. This cast.

It is Bray that we first meet. He tells us the tale from the perspective of Older Jules, and then adeptly steps into the story as Jules father. Bray is a dynamic actor. From the very beginning, his confidence and easy manner bring you directly into the play before you know it. His charm is undeniable, as is his talent. He shifts between storyteller and father personae with graceful ease. His acting completely on point, and his voice is glorious in tone, and emotional clarity. 


                       Richardson-Piche is perfect as Jules. His portrayal is a beautiful mix of vulnerability, likability, and convincing duress. His presence and effective character propel this story by allowing connective tissue to the audience. HIs voice is a beacon of rich timbre that can make you smile, provide comfort, and allow a window into the tumultuous and sensitive journey of self-discovery. A wondrous performance.


 As Jill, Shykind had me at hello, but then embraced me with her powerful and textured singing. She gave the "best friend" vibe to the hilt while exposing raw emotion, and resilience at just the right moments. There were moments when she sang I was in tears. I have to be honest, I love that feeling. Her performance moved me. Personally, it was one of the more painful journeys to watch. The journey of how we duck and weave our love story to survive. She is simply fantastic.

 
Tanner served up Francis on a golden plate of fierceness that was a scream to watch. However, he also provided some of the most touching moments. Especially when those of us who are over the top, slow down, and connect on a very personal level. He did that with excellent precision. Knowing exactly when to unfurl the flag, when to fly at half mast, and when it wasn't time to move it at all. And each moment was matched with a solid and meaningful vocal performance that rang true the entire evening. And that bitch can run in heels. He is a tornado of truth and flamboyance.


Lee, who is also armed with a great singing voice, was great as a housebound sulk while finding many humorous moments in the darkness. Especially when family members yelled. He is key to presenting the reality of acceptance is not always an easy path. Hurt people hurt people. He deftly illuminates the physical vulnerability that fuels his unrest and anger. Lee gives his character a solemn depth, and in the end, creates a window that many do not want to look through.

Matthew Wright directs this show with tender care and a deep sense of emotional connection that permeates the production. Excellent casting choices. Wright creates a symphonic atmosphere where each character is guided passionately to create fully realized movements. Matthew Dolan leads a talented band that provides a beautiful soundtrack. His accomplished skills are on full display, along with Jesse "Shredder" Fishman on Guitar and Pat "Bang Bang" Boland on Percussion. Choreographer Holly Handman-Lopez gives us uplifting movement. The production team is on fire and provides the professional quality work that is associated with Dobama, and the individual artists themselves.

Production Design T. Paul Lowry provides an animated background that provides a vibrant accent and also designed to help the timeline of events. Lighting Designer Marcus Dana Lighting Design is deftly on point and enhances the production. Costume Designer Tesia Dugan Benson brings the era to fabulous reality with some shirts and pants that I think I actually wore. Sound Designer Jeremy Dobbins provides clear and balanced sound. Stage Manager Andi Radujkovic led a dynamic and athletic crew. Assistants Jenna Fink and Sarah Gielink were excellent.

This is a wonderful evening of theatre. The music and the story will move you. The actors will connect with you. You will connect with you.

Truth is the most powerful performance enhancement drug. And that is quite evident in the production.

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

June 26 - July 14

Showtimes:

7:30pm Wednesdays (No performance 7/10)
7:30pm Thursdays (No performance 7/4)
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays 

Runtime: Approx. 2h 15m (Plus a 15m intermission)
Content Advisory: Adult Themes, Adult Language

Tickets:
$27-$35 Reserved Seating

(216) 932-3396
Order Tickets Online
Location:


Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Broadview Heights Spotlights Presents a Vocally Powerful Production of The Who's Tommy

posted Jun 26, 2019, 10:39 AM by kevin kelly   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 1:29 PM by Eric Fancher ]


Broadview Heights Spotlights Presents a Vocally Powerful Production of The Who's Tommy

Broadview Heights Spotlights
Community Theatre

Music and Lyrics by: Pete Townshend
Book by: Pete Townshend & Des McAnuff
Additional Music and Lyrics by: John Entwistle & Keith Moon


The classic concept album comes alive on stage at Broadview Heights Spotlights Theatre! The imitable showcase is highlighted by the powerful teen voices that permeate the theatre. Boasting one of the strongest vocal and theatrical development programs in North East Ohio, Ryan Bergeron and Tim Anderson have created a perfect environment for empowerment. Through adept directing and vocal coaching, Anderson and Bergeron are perfect examples of inspiration and instilling hard work.

The musical Tommy tells a harrowing, yet uplifting story. After witnessing the accidental murder of his mother's lover by his father, Tommy is traumatized into catatonia and, as the boy grows, he suffers abuse at the hands of his sadistic relatives and neighbors. As an adolescent, he's discovered to have an uncanny knack for playing pinball and, when his mother finally breaks through his catatonia, he becomes an international pinball superstar. Based on the iconic 1969 rock concept album, The Who's Tommy is an exhilarating story of hope, healing and the human spirit. The story of the pinball-playing, deaf, dumb and blind boy who triumphs over his adversities has inspired, amazed and puzzled audiences for more than 40 years. 

This five-time Tony Award-winning musical is a high-energy, one-of-a-kind theatrical event that is having its premiere production in the theatres new, 3200-square foot performance space!

The cast is a virtual whos who of local talent that has honed their skills at Broadview Heights for years. Most of them are ready to invade colleges, but what a joy to see them melt the audiences faces off with fierce vocals.

As Tommy, Dylan Grosh-Hoy is a commanding presence. One of the most talented young men in NE Ohio, Grosh-Hoy is lasered focused on every moment of the story. Supreme confidence, and infectious charm. Adding to his theatrical quiver is a fantastic voice that is both expressive and captivating. Mrs. Waker is adeptly played by Delia Brennan is a beautifully nuanced performance. Saving her belt for the provocative moments, but enhancing the storytelling with controlled precision. Beautifully sung. James Newton serves up some hot pipes at Captain Walker. His Walker is a stoic presence with concealed vulnerability but backed up by a strong and engaging vocal performance. Cousin Kevin comes alive with all the nastiness one would hope for in Nick Bender's performance. Strong vocals and a smart ass demeanor propel the characterization. Cole Tarantowski is a hot mess as Uncle Ernie. Providing a live version of Bernie, from Weekend at Bernie's, Tarantowski has a blast being a disheveled drunk inappropriate disaster. As the Acid Queen Gypsy, Zoe Douglas rips off the ceiling on the new theatre and turns it into a planetarium. Her vocals and controlled sexuality are on full display as she crushes her song with glorious infused chaos. Sally Simpson is brought into fine focus by Molly Molina. Once again, adding vocal power.

The ensemble of Abbey Brinkhoff, Clorise Busch, Nicholas DeAngelis, Kassie Schill, Josh Goodman, Lydia Greer, Mckenna Hassel, Olivia Krafcik, Celie Ostroski, Luke Underation, and Alexa Warmuth provide an engaging background to the story. This is not an easy show to stage. There are lots of orchestrated moments that are filled with action only. However, the ensemble is focused and determined in every moment to tell the story.

Providing the choreography is Maggie Majercik, who works with an ensemble of all levels, and makes them work together in seemless fluid movement. Charlie Jones provides striking and unsettling looks to engage the story. Costumer Charlie Jones is on point creating the costume parade of this wild adventure.

Broadview Heights Spotlights is ready for their closeup. The new theatre space has just opened, and to the delight of many, there are still so many good things on the horizon to continue to improve the theatrical experience the new theatre will provide. Tommy is just the beginning.

So get out to see the show and support this growing and unique theatre. And make sure you drink the lemonade at intermission because something is in the water out there that makes you dazzle when you sing.

Cleveland Stage Alliance
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

June 20 - June 30

Showtimes:

7:30pm Thursdays
7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
3pm Sundays

Content Advisory: Mature Themes, Strong Language

Tickets:
$14-$15 Reserved Seating

(440) 526-4404
Location:


Broadview Heights Spotlights
9543 Broadview Road
Broadview Heights, OH 44147

The Secret Garden at Fine Arts Association is Landscaped With Beautiful Vocals

posted Jun 13, 2019, 1:01 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 1:31 PM by Eric Fancher ]



The Secret Garden at Fine Arts Association is Landscaped With Beautiful Vocals

Fine Arts Association
Community Theatre

Book and Lyrics by MARSHA NORMAN
Music by LUCY SIMON
Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burn


Living in a lonely manor house on the Yorkshire moors in 1906, Archibald Craven (Ron Davis) yearns for his beautiful, late wife Lily (Lindsey Leonard). He blames his crippled son,Colin (Jackson Hodkey), for his wife’s death. Although he loves Colin, he cannot cope with seeing him, and has left Colin isolated and in the care of his doctor uncle Neville (Kyle Lorek). Their quiet routine is turned upside down when young Mary Lennox (Molly Kessler), a rich, spoiled child, is sent to live with them following the death of her parents from cholera in India. Mary is the late Lily’s niece, and has no relatives closer than Archie, whom she has never met. While living at the manor house, looked after by her maid Martha (Emily Stack), Mary discovers a secret walled garden hidden in the grounds and with the help of local child of nature Dickon (Stephen Sandham), releases the magic and adventures locked inside, changing all of their their lives forever.

As Mary, Kessler drives through the story with confidence, and quite a bit of required sass. She handles this major role with solid vocal chops that really come to life in Act Two. Davis is fantastic as Archibald Craven. He handles the dynamic score with beautiful tone and fabulous control. Emotionally charged performance. Countering is Lorek as Dr. Neville Craven. He cuts a fine figure as the villain, and delivers just the right amount of soullessness to allow us to root even more for Mary. His voice is electric as his operatic overtones cover his accomplished range and deliver the goods. The key to an excellent Lily, is to have someone who has a clarion soprano voice that has incredible control to highlight the emotionally piercing moments of the score. Leonard knocks it out of the garden and the ballroom. From the first notes sung in the show, she is spell binding. Her voice is a gift, and her presence is radiant. Stack as Martha is a hoot. Boundless energy, and serving character realness to the upmost degree. Her song "Hold On", is one of the highlights of the show. Sandham as Dickon, is a pleasant cacophony of charm and vocal entertainment. His Dickon is a pleasant soul, who wholesome presence becomes a beacon of hope and support to young Mary. You find yourself cheering him on, knowing he is on our side. His silky effortless voice is another gift to the production. Hodkey crushes the role of Colin Craven. This is one of the strongest performances in this role I have seen in a long time. Tremendous control of character and a heartbreaking voice. When he finds the strength he has needed, i felt like the world raised up as well. In the garden, Greg Gnau is an excellent Ben Weatherstaff. So damn likeable, and creates a charming presence. There are many Dreamers in the production who act like a greek chorus. I have to say the Jonathan Merechant and Carmen-Mariah Rey, as Fakir and Ayah, provided some quality character work, and looked fierce in their costumes. 

Director Sandy Kosovich Peck has vocally cast a winning ensemble and the results are a pleasure. She keeps the action moving well, and handles the myriad of Dreamers well. Music Director Edward Leonard provides a solid wall of emotional sound for the story. Choreographer Jill Tschetter provides appropriate movement that enhances the story. Technical and Set Designer Michael Roesch does an outstanding and efficient job providing the landscape. Lighting Designer Bradley Allan provides all the right atmosphere. Sound Designer Tom Linsenmeier is spot on in delivering clear dialogue and lyrics to the audience. Costume Designer Colleen Bloom deserves a massive round of applause for her creative representation. 

There are a few observations. Sometimes the Dreamers get a little off when executing their circle movements. Lily's Eyes was vocally dynamic, however, having each actor having to travel upstage in between lyrics seemed unnecessary. The biggest missed moment was at the end where Archibald tells Neville to basically hit the road. The scene is a most enjoyable diss as you usually watch Neville self destruct over being sent away. However, the scene was played straight, so Neville actually sounded thankful, instead of audience being able to ask "Do you need a ride to your car?"

The show is a vocal bouquet. Audiences will find the story and performance charming. This is a great family show, and kids will certainly be rooting for Mary, and Colin. It is the kind of story that we all need right now. So grab the kids and get out to the show!


Cleveland Stage Alliance
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

June 7 - June 23

Showtimes:

7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays (Sign interpreted performance 6/23, No performance 6/16)


Tickets:
$15-$25 Reserved Seating

(440) 951-7500
Location:


Fine Arts Association
38660 Mentor Ave.
Willoughby OH 44094

Ella Enchanted at Dobama Enchants Into the Final Week!

posted Dec 25, 2018, 2:16 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 1:33 PM by Eric Fancher ]




Ella Enchanted at Dobama Enchants Into the Final Week!

Dobama Theatre
Professional Equity House Theatre

By: Karen Zacarías
Music by: Deborah Wicks La Puma
Based on the novel by: Gail Carson Levine


There is no better time for a story about empowerment. The world around us is in a complete state of reevaluation of what is appropriate behavior and how people should be treated. Ella Enchanted, The Musical addresses the empowerment of an individual who eventually takes life and decision making into her own hands. As the story begins, Ella (enchanting Natalie Green*) is given the “gift” of obedience as an infant by a misguided fairy (fabulous Tina D. Stump*) and cannot disobey any order. The strong-willed Ella goes on a quest to rid herself of this horrible curse. During her mystical adventure she encounters an evil stepmother, hungry ogres, enormous giants, a magical bird, and her best friend. Along the way, she finds her own voice.

This story is indeed wrapped with some highly entertaining characters, and a production design that is incredible, highlighted by T. Paul Lowry's Projection Design.
Director Nathan Motta takes us on this journey filled with well defined fantastical characters. My personal feeling is that Motta let his hair down a bit, and presented a family-friendly evening of mystical fun.

Green leads this cast with her own empowerment of a triple threat realness. She is devastatingly beautiful and entertaining. Her antics are on point, comedic chops honed, and her voice needs to bottled and sold at intermission. It is tough to be the main character in a show, where everyone around you is some kind of over the top character, but Green shines brightly and anchors the story. Stump is a scream of Lucinda the fairy that is a hot mess of gift giving. She is animated and joyful and clumsy as you would want her. As Mistress Manners, she wields a heavy hand hilariously teaching the ladies how to catch a prince with the right manners. Amy Fritsche* as Mother and Dame Olga is on fire. She is beautifully sweet as the short-lived mother character, but when she inhabits Dame Olga, she charges down the theatrical runway at full comedic speed, her wheels are up, and in this case, one bent arm, and her fantastic light shines brightly as she two faces her way through this play with maniacal glee. Everything about her is a blast. Flanking her are Hattie (Kelly Elizabeth Smith*) and Olive (Neely Gevaart+). Both these ladies are hysterically on point. Smith delivering sass like its a cabinet position, and Gevaart making a bit about saying "Bye" one of the funniest creations in Cleveland history. They are a blast. 

The gentlemen of the piece add their own significant energy. Eugene Sumlin as Sir Peter is charming and fun as he navigates with silly aplomp. Joshua McElroy+ as Prince Charmont cuts a handsome figure, and perfectly embodies the spirit and soul of the grand prize in the kingdom. He is Velvet-voiced and filled with down to earth charm. Madeline Krucek+ and Arif Silverman+ fill out the company with a variety of roles that add to the evening tremendously. They also epitomize the talented depth of the performers in this cast.

There are a couple of elements of the production that hinder a perfect evening. One is the musical score. There isn't a lot of punch or relatability here. None of the songs really seem to pull on the heartstrings or fire up the senses. The performances make them work better with talent and charm. The musical is also a bit stretched out to incorporate some additional scene and puppet play that might have worked better with a stronger score to play around.

But those issues dissolve when Motta, not only lets his hair down but throws every banana clip he has ever known in the air and presents a curtain call that takes all the characters and blasts out a megamix of songs that send you out into the world a better person. If only for Stump singing "Think" by Aretha Franklin. Miss Stump blows the roof off the ceiling and turns Dobama into a planetarium. I found Jesus and about 10 pennies on the floor.

The production elements are off the charts. Douglas Puskas adds a wonderful, simple efficient set design. Marcus Dana lights the scene work with professional creative effort and result. As I stated earlier, if there was a show stopper, it would be the projection work. Very magical and added incredibly to the evening's enjoyment factor. Jeremy Dobbins is serving clear and well-balanced sound design. Colleen Bloom has a blast costuming this crew with engaging looks. Puppet Designer Robin Vanlear provides colorful creatures and some entertaining puppets that wouldn't fit through a toll booth once they left the theatre. Technical Director Kirsten Nicole brings elements together with professional flair. Stage Manager Joel Rathbone calls an excellent show. Providing Additional Choreography is the talented Caitlin Reilly. Adding just the right feel and bounce.

Musical Director extraordinaire Jordan Cooper delivers musical bliss. Following stage cues and action with precision. musical cohorts Assistant Music Director Rachel Woods and Percussionist Justin Hart deliver wholeheartedly. 

The last performances are coming up this week, so grab your kids, and head out to capture some enchantment for the whole family.

*Member of Actors' Equity Association
+Equity Membership Candidate

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

November 30 - December 30

Showtimes:

Showtimes Vary.  Click HERE for a full schedule.

Runtime: Act I - 50 minutes, Act II - 45 minutes, One 15 Minute Intermission
Content Advisories: For Ages 6 and up, features fog, lighting effects

Tickets:
$20-$38 Reserved Seating

(216) 932-3396
Order Tickets Online
Location:


Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Avenue Q is Definitely The Show For You!

posted Dec 12, 2018, 1:50 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 12:21 PM by Eric Fancher ]




Avenue Q is Definitely The Show For You!

Blank Canvas Theatre
Professional Theatre

Book and Lyrics by: Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez
Book by: Jeff Whitty
Based on an original concept by: Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx



How can you not love a show that has a printed warning that reads: This Show Contains Adult Content and Puppet Nudity. Thank you.
And who is bringing the crazy to Avenue Q? These fabulous people......


P.S. Remember the two bears in the inner windows from the picture above. We'll come back to them.

This hilarious musical tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton (Shane Patrick O'Neill), who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that, although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life. Of course, the fact that almost everyone has a puppet partner makes this an insane ride. Although the show addresses adult issues, it does so in a humorous way. It is similar to a beloved children's show; a place where puppets are friends, Monsters are good and life lessons are learned. But this version doesn't always turn out the way the traditional TV shows do. In this interpretation, things really get real, and we can't get enough of watching it.


O'Neill is a great leading puppet, I mean, leading man. HIs voice is terrific and very expressive, which matches his puppet alter ego well. Great timing and his innocence really pay off when he experiences some mating rituals. Kate Monster is played to the hilt by Leah Smith. She has great chemistry with O'Neill, and has a powerful set of theatrical chops. She really nails her character voice and puppet work. She is a blast to watch.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Rod, an anal-retentive Republican banker is inhabited by a beautifully expressive Scott Esposito. He is serving mouth open realness.  He is full out everything, and the audience can't get enough of it. Wonderful solid character. Everyone probably has known a slacker roommate in their life, and Rod certainly has one in Nicky (Trey Gilpin). Gilpin is a delightful hot mess, with fabulous timing. His right arm sidekick (Kate Michalski) does well to bring their puppet to life and snag quite a few laughs.


I can't say enough about Neda Spears as Gary Coleman. What a great star turn. She commands the Colemanisms, in both physicality and vocal energy. She sings with soul-infused handyman realness and churns out phrases that keep you in stitches throughout the show.


One of my favorite performances is Brett DiCello as Trekkie Monster. Soooooooooo funny, Everytime that window opens, and that hot red haired mess comes out of the window, it is always for a killer reason, and a hilarious bit. Voiced with maniacal gusto, and working with his puppet partner David Turner, they turn in a show-stealing presence. 

Now we come to the hussy puppet of the show, Lucy. Katie Gucik arrives in full sass as the man killer Lucy. Equipped with a dynamite voice, and sultry acting chops, she makes her own star turn as the puppet gone bad. Really terrific fun. She really gives you a penny for your thoughts.

Remember those two bears from the first picture. David Turner and Becca Ciamacco play the Bad Idea Bears. From the name you can see that giving appropriate advice is not on the menu. Thank God because these two bears are a mess. Turner and Ciamacco just take their fuzzy little pastel-colored bears to the point of no return. When they introduce a drinking game to Princeton and Leah, it leads to some of the most violent puppet sex I have ever seen. Well, actually, I've never seen puppet sex, but wait, I did see Team America: World Police. That was on a movie screen, but this is right. up. in. your. face. I was convinced that oxygen masks were going to be dropped from the ceiling for the audience to breath. Hilarious. And in a featured puppet bit, Michalski is a scream as Mrs. T. When you hear with T stands for, make sure you aren't drinking something.

Director Patrick Ciamacco outdoes himself again. Directed with his unique gift of comedy, this is an all-out comedic puppet fantasy. He adds a few Cleveland references that enhance the local production. The projections, that have Ciamacco written all over them, are creative and many are new to the show. The EKG screen is completely out of control, The best is listening to the audience slowly get it. Amazing fun. He also contributes to Puppet, Projection, Set Design, and pulling all the elements together as Technical Director. Matt Dolan leads a kick-ass band and certainly brought some tight vocals to the company. The opening number is wrought with harmonic bliss. Katie Zarecki added just the right amount of movement on the stage. Well done since most actors have a puppet as well. Stage Manager Whitney Miller called a great show. Noah Hrbek added with additional puppet design and Projection Animations/Renderings. Costume Design on point by the fabulous Jenniver Sparano. Specific Puppet Design credited to Dave Haaz-Baroque for Kate Monster, Trekkie, and the Bad News Bears. Great Lighting Design from Jeff Lockshine.  Clear Sound Design by Richard B. Ingraham.

Great individual and ensemble work. Definitely worth putting yourself on the waiting list, since the entire run is Sold Out. 

All Photo credit: Andy Dudik
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

December 7 - December 22

Showtimes:
8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
7pm Sundays

Runtime: 2h 15m
Content Advisories: Rated R, This show contains adult language and content

Tickets:
$18 General Admission

(440) 941-0458
Order Tickets Online
Location:


Blank Canvas Theatre
1305 West 80th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 44102

Ohio Shakespeare Festival Presents a Glorious Production of Shakespeare in Love

posted Dec 12, 2018, 10:03 AM by kevin kelly   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 12:32 PM by Eric Fancher ]



Ohio Shakespeare Festival Presents a Glorious Production of Shakespeare in Love

Ohio Shakespeare Festival
Professional Theatre

Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall
Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
Music by Paddy Cunneen


Will Shakespeare (Joe Pine) is a known but struggling poet, playwright, and actor who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslow (Lenne Snively*) and Richard Burbidge (Jason Leupold) but now faces a far more difficult problem. He is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps (Tess Burgler). She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare's works. Dressing as a man and going by the name of Thomas Kent (Kent), she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon sees through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex (James Rankin). As the company rehearses his new play, Will and Viola's love is transferred to the written page leading to the masterpiece that is Romeo and Juliet.

Director Nancy Cates has made sure that everyone on stage has their own moment within the play. So many wonderful actors collaborating effortlessly to create laughs, entertaining stage fights, and moments of pure truth, all while telling a very clever story. Cates also has a statement of empowerment through casting. Females were not allowed to perform on stage during Shakespeare primary work production, but Cates has cast several women in male roles. Strong, entertaining choice.

Leading this parade of talent are Pine as Will Shakespeare and Burgler as Viola DeLesseps aka Thomas Kent. Both actors have their burners on full throttle. Such a wonderful grasp of storytelling, making each moment count, and entertaining as hell. Burgler moves about the stage like translucent power, spreading her powerful and textured essence through every scene, while letting us see through her beautiful glow, to her core of truth and emotions, and making us laugh at well. Pine also cuts a fine figure as he starts the performance exuding confidence, and sets the tone for this hilarious tale with adept skill. He embraces his "Will" and drives the storyline with professional flair. He also makes me want to hop on Amazon.com and order a Bowflex and a shock collar that is triggered by carbs. (Sorry, I just self-destructed, as I did when I was holding my snickers bar during Act One and it melted in my hand). This is a terrific performance from an incredible partnership.

But that is just the beginning of the fun and moments to remember. Lara Mielcarek* is a scream as Kit Marlowe, who helps Will along the way by making very good suggestions about how to end phrases, titles, and the "How about this?' gift. Scott Shriner is a blast as Fenneyman, the money man. So many fun moments. Snively plays Henslowe, the owner of the Rose with comedic aplomb. Playing the male role, Snively has a blast managing the Rose, and provides lots of jolly.  Leupold adds not only his acting chops but his beautiful voice to the journey. Adding many moments of mirth, and skillful swordplay. He is also the Music Director, which under his guidance creates beautiful and dynamic harmonies. Ryan Zarecki is a master of swordplay and confidence on stage, and also handles the duty of Fight Director. He is fierce in his fight choreography, incredibly entertaining and real. Watching him perform, please remind me not to piss him off, as I watched him flip a cast member over his shoulder like he was a one pound kettlebell.  He exudes charm and presence. James Rankin makes for a glorious villain of love. His folly is our gold. Well done. Holly Humes was AMAZING as Queen Elizabeth I. Her stage presence is extraordinary. I would like to nominate her for UN Ambassador. If she walked into the UN like she does a stage, she would become the Security Council all on her own. Amiee Collier makes for a hilarious Nurse. Her comedic timing is gold. I could not get enough of her traversing through her scenes. And it was nice that her doggie Buckley was able to show up and perform the ever important Spot. Nailed it. 

Katie Zarecki brings her acting chops and her top-notch choreography to the stage. Minuet dancing can be simple and blah, but Zarecki adds much detail and unexpected small moves and formations, that make an engaging movement. And, she is very at home with swordplay. Also, Elise Pakila is a fireball of energy and bravado as John Webster. Her confidence is compelling, and her fearlessness in her scene work is highly rewarding to watch. The rest of the cast fill in for so many characters and each of them are on point. Nothing is wasted EVER. There are many more talented performers in the show. Every one of them adds to the craziness of the evening and helps create a fantastic entertaining show. The Company work is some of the best I have seen in a long time. Great work from all.

If you have never been to The Ohio Shakespeare Festival, or not comfortable with Shakespearean adventures, this is the show that you really should see. It is an excellent introduction to the company members, their new home at the Greystone Hall, and allowing Shakespeare to be so accessible and fascinating for nonscholars like me. 

Pine's Set Design served well and provided smooth transitions. Mark Stoffer provided the Light and Sound Design. Well done. The sound was clear, and only took a moment of adjustment in the high ceiling hall. Lights are hung high, so there was some shadow play, but not enough to impede the action. Costume Design was to die for. Marty LaConte and Kelsey Tomlinson threw themselves a party and provided fabulous looks. And the pieces that were constructed by Nancy Humes, bravo on the intricate and period work that added so much to this success. Stage Manager Michelle Elyse Levinson called a great show.

I am a big believer in the energy of a production, and the energy of a theatre. When I walk into a lobby, my Spidey sense usually detects drama or excitement. In the case of OSF, I felt joy.

Take the trip to check out this show. I promise you will not be disappointed. it rocks on every level.
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

LAST WEEKEND THRU December 16

Showtimes:
8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

Content Advisories: Some mildly adult language/content; use discretion

Tickets:
$15-$33 Reserved Seating

(330) 673-8761
Location:


OSF Greystone Hall
103 High Street, Sixth Floor
Akron, OH 44308


Fine Arts Association Presents a Charming Annie for the Holidays

posted Dec 5, 2018, 8:00 AM by kevin kelly   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 12:34 PM by Eric Fancher ]


Fine Arts Association Presents a Charming Annie for the Holidays

Fine Arts Association
Community Theatre

Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Martin Charnin

ANNIE is based on Harold Gray's popular comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The comic strip premiered in the 1920s in the New York Daily News and became one of the most widely read strips in the 30s and 40s. Lyricist-director Martin Charnin bought a coffee table book called “The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie” as a Christmas gift for a friend in 1970. The clerk at the bookstore was too busy to wrap the book, so Charnin took the book home to wrap it. Instead, he read it and fell in love with the strip, and set out to secure the rights, Christmas week of 1970. The friend never got the book.

Charnin championed the idea to colleagues Charles Strouse, a two-time Tony-winning composer, and Thomas Meehan, a short story writer for The New Yorker. It took a great deal of campaigning to get them interested, but the team was finally formed in 1971 when they began to write the musical.

Leapin’ Lizards!

The world’s best-loved musical returns in time-honored form. Featuring book and score by Tony Award®-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, ANNIE includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

In the depths of the 1930's, Annie (Makenna Hagan) is a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan (Emily Stack). Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected by Grace Farrell (Colette Siddle) to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy industrialist, Oliver Warbucks (Dave Peck). Quickly, she charms the hearts of the household staff and even the seemingly cold-hearted Warbucks cannot help but learn to love this wonderful girl. He decides to help Annie find her long lost parents by offering a reward if they would come to him and prove their identity. However, Miss Hannigan, her evil brother, Rooster (J.J. Luster), and his female accomplice Lily St. Regis (Haley Gagnon) plan to impersonate those people to get the reward for themselves which put Annie in great danger. And we're off!

Hagan is wonderful as Annie. Her presence is engaging and makes the process of the audience fall in love with her effortless. She also has a strong commanding voice and handles her solos with depth, clarity, and clarion precision. She is a delight. She heads up a group of young orphans that are quite a lot to handle, but they handle us with wonderful characterizations, and charm oozing from every part of the orphanage. They ham it up with the best of them and create many laugh out loud moments. Those fabulous orphans are Emma Kovach-Uzi as Pepper, Haylie Kalina as Duffy, Noelle Molnar as July, Ella Gifford as Kate, Noni Arndt as Tessie, and Maddie Halapy as Molly. This troupe sings and dances with wild abandon and put a smile on every face in their path.

Peck presents quite a different quality to Warbucks that I haven't seen before, but I really liked it. Normally, Warbucks is gruff and self-centered by still in a comic book way, but what Peck does is actually make the billionaire very real. Warbucks seems colder than normal. But I think this works beautifully as an arc because it becomes even more of a journey for Warbucks to accept Annie and eventually want to adopt her. I loved this choice. He also sings with honest and pure depth. Great job.

Emily Stack is a hot mess of delightful fun as Miss Hannigan. Perfect casting. What a delight to watch her grumble, and wobble all over the stage and face off against the orphans. True delight. Also, her singing voice was totally on point in characterization, and comedic acumen. Now let's add two of her accomplishments in the scheme of the play to get Annie back to claim a reward. J.J. Luster and Haley Gagnon as Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis are the brilliant cherries on top of the already fabulous Hannigan. These two are on fire from the moment they enter. Both of these actors have brought a fresh approach to their roles. Luster feels like he stepped out of a gangster film after just having lunch with Al Capone. Gagnon is a tightly packed comedic car bomb that goes off in precision timing. When the two of them go to kiss, which thankfully happens more than once, Gagnon approaches Luster with machine gun precision using her "upper body" in a rapid-fire fashion that had me spitting out my soda. And when the two of them kiss, they really commit. So much so, their mouths remind me of throwing bread in a codfish pool and watch all the fish go after the bread. There is so much going on between these two, I wanted it to stop, but I really didn't. Pure comedic gold.

Then when the three of them get together and present "Easy Street", they literally blow the roof of the theatre. I was screaming in delight. And I can honestly say since I am older than a redwood, that this is the best "Easy Street” I have ever seen. The actors are on fire. And I need their resumes so I can direct them in the future. ha.

I have to mention that at the beginning of the show, the apple seller comes out. The moment I heard him speak, my attention peaked. his voice, acting, presentation immediately set him on a higher plane. It turns out that actor is Stephen Sandham. Now I know he comes from an esteemed theatrical family, but I didn't know that when he performed, but I wasn't surprised to learn that. This is such a great example for anyone auditioning. you may not get the role you wanted, but make the role you get as important to you as possible, and people will notice your dedication and execution, and not throwing away a smaller part. Plus, he sings and dances his face off.

The Cabinet scene is one of my favorites, and all did not disappoint. Steve Ingrassia as Ickes, Nick Grimsic as Howe, Paul Hagan as Hull, Jonathan Sweet as Morganthau, and the lovely Janice Troha as Perkins. I have to mention the essential Christopher Fortunato as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

The first role I ever had in a theatre was Bert Healy, and I am very happy to report I thought Paul Hagen did a great job, as did his crazy accomplices.

The rest of the cast was a wonderful balance of experience, which is the perfect blend for community theatre. They were enjoying themselves immensely, and that translates well to the audience. 

Production Team: Director Sandy Kosovich, Music Director David A. Thomas, Choreographer Jill Tschetter helm this wonderful holiday show. Technical Director Michael Roesch does a great job. Scenic Designer Dave Peck, Lighting Designer Nora Dlugo, Sound Designer Tom Linsenmeier, Costume Designer Colleen Bloom, Production Stage Manager Michael Richmond, Props Master Sandi Fink, Scenic Artist Maria Lister Lyons, Wigs by Winn Douglas, Set Painting Michael Richmond, Props Assistants David Fink & Nate Fink.

I had some observations: There were a few times where I felt some lead characters were upstaging themselves, especially when the Smudges come in towards the end. In the mansion scene, the staging could have opened up more on the sides, especially on the couch/tree side for sightlines. Having a scene change between the "Fully Dressed" song hurt the pacing a bit. Hannigan took a lot of sips from the flask. Annie's hair at the end seemed too big in some way, more of a Lana Turner style, which causes her face to be blocked when she was sideways.


All Photos: Prelude Photography

Kosovich has cast well, thus putting together a very fun evening of characters to entertain the masses. Overall, the show moves well and delights the audience.  Thomas led a great pit, and the sound was well balanced and played. I always feel sorry for the opening trumpet solo, because it’s just you all alone, but that was nailed. Tschetter did a great job providing movement for this crew. There are different levels of dancing experience, and I thought she did a great job of giving people what they could do, and then she had this core group of 6 or so that could really bust out some more intricate movement. Well Done.

This is a great show. I have to say Annie is my favorite musical, probably because it was my first musical ever.
I would come to see this again!
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

November 23 - December 16

Showtimes:
7:30pm Fridays
2pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays (Sign interpreted performance 12/16)

Tickets:
$15-$25 Reserved Seating

(440) 951-7500
Location:


Fine Arts Association
38660 Mentor Ave.
Willoughby OH 44094


The Final Week for Dobama's Critically Acclaimed John

posted Nov 5, 2018, 4:56 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 12:37 PM by Eric Fancher ]




The Final Week for Dobama's Critically Acclaimed John

Dobama Theatre
Professional Equity House Theatre

By: Annie Baker


Under the Artistic Direction of Nathan Motta, Dobama Theatre is expanding its vision to end up in a self-actualization that will set it apart from other theatres in town.  The theatre is now a Professional Equity House Theatre. That in itself is a statement of power and influence all on its own. But by calling or upgrading yourself, also means you have to deliver. And deliver big. Previously, Motta directed a profound production of "The Flick" by Annie Baker. In fact, the American Playwright won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for this work. So it makes perfect sense to offer another helping of Baker's work. The current production of "John" is that offering.

One cold November night, Elias (Luke Wehner) and Jenny (Cat Shy), a young couple struggling to stay together, stop at a bed & breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. During their visit they encounter a cheerful innkeeper Mertis (Catherine Albers), her blind friend Genevieve (Dorothy Silver), and an eerie world crammed with toys, figurines and one very odd American Girl doll. This mystic puzzle of a play is full of surprises, both human and supernatural. 

This production will test you for many reasons. One is the length, as it takes a little over 3 hours to spin this tale. Audiences are not used to this amount of concentration in general, so any production of that length has to be packed to the gills with stimulation of senses, or at the very least and not less important, intellectual intensity. This production offers much to be enjoyed with incredibly detailed production values, and a cast that offers some severe acting chops.

Watching Wehner and Shy slowly unveil the arc of their story is fascinating to watch. The story itself is certainly spread out over the evening, but seeing these two, in what feels like real time, requires immense concentration, endurance, and focus. Wehner is serving up coffee shop realness with expresso character detail, and a well measured emotional performance. Shy is fantastic. She is a visual seductress of acting that entices you to spend time listening and watching her every move. She has an incredible connectivity with the audience and delivers constantly throughout the evening. Both have the ingredients for formidable careers.

Joining these two performers are two actresses that are a culmination of every theatrical ingredient that exists, refined, and brilliantly presented. Catherine Albers leads the parade as in innkeeper who seems to present a question whether there are more skeletons in her closet or her mind. Her accomplished Mertis gives us two sides of crazy for our enjoyment. One is the sweetest woman you will ever meet. Taking care of her husband (that you never meet), and taking care of her guests. She has an octave lower self that makes a visit once in a while, and the transition is enjoyably weird and indicates that the Time Warp probably happened at some party here in the past. Albers is excellent. Then at the top of the theatrical mountain offering us the greatest view an actor could hope for is Dorothy Silver as Genevieve. Her character is blind, but she is able to see into everyone's soul and enables us to laugh, question, and most importantly listen. She is a living master class. A Sensei for all that know her and study her acting choices like they are B-12 shots of life-giving intrinsic career enabling bolts of lighting. Her monologue describing her descent into insanity is a gift.

The production team was up to the challenge of creating a remarkable canvas for this story to unfold. Scenic Designer Cameron Caley Michalak serves up a fierce bed and breakfast, Dred Geib props abound in distraction and purpose, Marcus Dana lighting the space with professional flair, Jeremy Dobbins giving us clear sound, and Inda Blatch-Gieb costumes this piece to attractive detail and sensitivity. 

Will you like this production? I truly think the answer lies in an age-old question that happens in an art gallery. There is a piece hanging on a wall. A group of individuals feast their eyes on it and take in what they are seeing and feeling. When you ask them what they think of the painting, some will say "It was brilliant", some will say "it was ok", and some will say "I didn't get it". I think that is what we may have here. You alone will determine if you enjoy the experience. It is strongly directed, strongly designed, and strongly acted. So the answer will be if you found the pauses in the dialogue empty, or full? The intrigue created but never resolved, fascinating to watch or disappointing that there wasn't a brazen answer to the tension? Or was it just too long?

There were some observations. I thought the play tried too hard to create something scary by just simply staring at something. I never was scared, but I felt I should be because people were staring at an object. Also, the pauses in dialogue is an acquired taste, especially when you ask the audience to spend over three hours with the characters. From my own personal experience, I only felt cheated when the last line of the play was uttered, which resulted in a voice in my head saying. "I waited three hours for this?". Then I was ashamed of myself by thinking I suck as an artist because I didn't get it the more ethereal message that was being sent by the play.

So what a great review right? The production value is strong. There are many gifts within, and one of the greatest is Dorothy Silver. There is always magic when a living legend takes the stage. I know I feel more fulfilled having that memory to pull from for inspiration.
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

LAST WEEKEND!

Showtimes:
7:30pm Wednesdays
7:30pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays (10/21 at 7:30 instead)

**$15 Preview Performances 10/16 and 10/18 at 7:30pm**

Runtime: 2h 20m (two 10m intermissions)
Content Advisory: Adult Language, Adult Situations


Tickets:
$10-$29 Reserved Seating

(216) 932-3396
Order Tickets Online
Location:


Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118


Little Women The Musical Shines at Western Reserve Playhouse

posted Oct 19, 2018, 1:27 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 12:40 PM by Eric Fancher ]




Little Women The Musical Shines at Western Reserve Playhouse

Western Reserve Playhouse
Community Theatre

Book by Allan Knee
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Music by Jason Howland
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott


Based on Louisa May Alcott's classic 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, “Little Women” follows four sisters—the independent, aspiring writer Jo (Kaity Poschner), the romantic Meg (Kayla Lehman), the pretentious Amy (Tenley Stitzer), and the kind-hearted Beth (Abigall Lyman), all under the watchful eye of their beloved mother, Marmee (Bernadette Hisey). while their father is away serving as a Union Army chaplain during the Civil War. Intercut with the vignettes in which their lives unfold are several recreations of the melodramatic short stories Jo writes in her attic studio. Each sister follows a different path but not necessarily what is expected. This coming-of-age tale is filled with drama, romance, humor, and music.

Poschner, as Jo, does a wonderful job leading the sister pack with zest. Her acting chops are the anchor for this characterization, along with a pleasant singing voice. Lehman brings her radiant looks and voice to the role of Meg. Setting sail on the Love Boat and providing a textured performance. Stitzer as Amy does a great job and pushing every trigger in the family. Her contemptuous behavior is great and adds a well-appreciated level to the proceedings. Lyman is the vocal powerhouse here providing a deft characterization and textured vocals to her interpretation of Beth. She made me cry. That’s a good sign.

Hisey leads the adult brigade with a beautiful performance as Marmee. Armed with a beautiful voice which revels in interpretation, an acute sense of timing and environment, and her confident aura, she is a textured delight. One of my favorites memories is the performance of Shelly Palumbo as Aunt March. Now, this stuff is great. Complete command of the period, time, and a sense of comedic timing which ranks up there with the best in the area.

Jay Sigler is quite charming as Professor Bhaer. His characterization is straight on and very enjoyable. Creating a character that makes you want to root for him in the end, and makes you delighted when life finally hands him his due. Well done. Michael Knobloch serves up some romantic lead realness as Laurie, and is ridiculously charming and armed with a beautiful musical voice. Steve Schuerger brings Mr. Brooks to life with subtle acting choices and a great centered focus.

The rest of the company provide solid trimmings to the event. Walt Kaminski as Mr. Laurence, Molly Kessler, Christina Worchester, and Dorota Zarzycka as Mrs. Kirk. I have to throw out some major love the story players within the story. The actors that act out Jo’s story creations are a blast. They are as follows: Clarissa (Shipley) A sweet young women fleeing the evil villain Sir Braxton Prendergast (Schuerger). Rodrigo (Knobloch) The determined and brave hero. The Hag (Palumbo) A mysterious creature who shows Clarissa the way through the forest in return for her combs. The Troll (Kessler) A greedy monster who takes Clarissa across wild rapids in return for her necklace. The Knight (Kaminski) A tired and lonely old man who gives Clarissa his sword in return for her kindness to him. Rodrigo II (Lyman) The real hero of Jo’s operatic tragedy – Clarissa’s long-lost sister. This is so much fun and staged incredibly well.

There were just a couple of observations. The turntable was a very unique addition to the set, but it did result in some close quarters during some of the scenes. There were a few pitchy moments throughout the evening. But, those moments were minimized by secure acting underneath.

Director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski has assembled a great cast and moves the action with great pace. The staging of the play within the play was a blast. Musical Director Dave Stebbins provided great support and sound. Jennifer Justice added some fun and energetic movement to the mix. Stage Manager Brianna Laybourn called a great show. Set Designer Todd Plone surprises the WRP crowd with a well-designed turntable. Well Done. Costumer Kelsey Tomlinson provided period perfect looks to add to this classic tale. Sound Designer Justin Herman supported with clarity. Light Designer Kevin Rutan provided a sold lighting palate for the story.

This show is a respectable creation of the musical based on a classic book. My observation of the room was one filled with enjoyment. That’s a winner.

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Through October 20

Showtimes:

8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays (10/14 only)


Tickets:
$15-$17

(330) 620-7314
Location:


Western Reserve Playhouse
3326 Everett Rd
Richfield, OH 44286


Cannibal, The Musical Serves up a Delicious Meal at Blank Canvas

posted Oct 14, 2018, 1:45 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 12:28 PM by Eric Fancher ]




Cannibal, The Musical Serves up a Delicious Meal at Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas Theatre
Professional Theatre

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Trey Parker

From the co-creator of South Park and The Book of Mormon, comes the “All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!” Trey Parkers’ Cannibal! The Musical, live on stage. This is based on the true story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America - Alferd Packer (Yes, Alferd, not Alfred, calm down). The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Pry (Meg Martinez) as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs and a couple of showstoppers, or should I say snowstoppers. Thank you.

Sometimes you just have to let your hair down. Sometimes a theatrical piece is not going to win the Nobel prize, but sometimes it is fun to just be silly. Director Patrick Ciamacco, the brainchild behind the Laughter League, a renowned comedy sketch group, dives in head first to create a hot mess of fun. We are living in some tense times. But, if you need a break from watching the ice caps melt, get your behind to see Cannibal! The Musical at Blank Canvas Theatre NOW! Warning, this is definitely some silly stuff, but if you don’t get that from the title, then you need to experiment and sit in the splatter zone. Yes. Splatter Zone. Yes. Blood.

Every actor in this show is a firkin scream and has some kind of moment that is a beautiful hot mess. The ensemble work going on here is among the best I have seen. Everyone is completely immersed in this insane world. The characterizations are all on point, and beautifully funny.


Noah Hrbek as Alfred Packer leads this cast of crazies with confident aplomb. His voice has never sounded better, and his projected innocent quality of humanity works perfectly in this piece. As the love interest, he charms his way into your hearts, and well as ending up eating them. Stephen Berg has a fantastic time playing Shannon Bell, the Mormon Priest who tries his best to contribute spiritually to the journey, but ends up a bit “stressed out”. Berg plays his character's arc to the hilt, and provide plenty of humor as a result. Antonio DeJesus pretty much delivers a puberty driven George Noon to the proceedings. His country-fried twang is a hoot, and the way in which he handles having his privates disheveled is pure joy.  


David Turner turns in one hell of a tap number, and one of the show stoppers, by kick-ball shuffling his way into our hearts as the Optimist Isreal Swan. What a scream. Danny Simpson gives us James Humphrey, a reluctant participant. Humphrey’s character seems to be the love child of Pee Wee Herman and Linda Belcher, the result being a delightful hot mess of idiot hall of famery. Joe Kenderes brings his manly nature to Frank Miller, the butcher. He adds mightily to the journey, providing lots of delightful stress and bravado. Reporter Polly Pry is beautifully played by Meg Martinez in both person and character. She is the perfect confidant to Packer, packs a clarion voice, and surprises everyone with a penchant for horseplay. Logan Honsaker, as the leader of the bad pack Frenchy Cabazon, not only shaves the pelt off of trapped animals but also his chest, as his bad guy personae is a frickin delight. His voice and dance moves are a joyful combination of surprise entertainment. Jay Lee as the Chief is a hoot and a half. Beautiful character hilarity.


Some of these folks play multiple roles in the show. Starting us off is Venchise Phillips, she is certainly highlighted when she gets her hoofs in an uproar as Liane, the horse. Yes. This is quite the love story interest, and Phillips carries it off with great humor, and physicality. She carries Packer around like he weighs 10 pounds, so don’t piss her off. Donnell James is serving up multiple roles as well, but he peaks as Nutter, a member of the bad trapper gang. Within Mark Majercik’s multiple personalities, the Doomed Guy is brought to over the top to hilarity. Grace Mitri was a blast in every role she inhabited. Whether Noon’s Mom, Clerk, or the Judge. She was serving up massive amounts of fun.


Director Ciamacco, who also serves as the Artistic Director, brought a script that had nothing but lines and no orchestrations to life with blissful design and by creating a comedic romper room. The show moves well, and the blood effects are not overdone, but just enough to let the “splatter zone” get covered in washable blood. Musical Director Matt Dolan creatively birthed orchestrations and a band where none existed. The music greatly adds to the fun. Choreographer Zac Hudak did a tremendous job bringing the show numbers to life. The tap number will be giving me life for days. Stage Manager Tiffany Trapnell called a great show and kept this cattle call of insanity in line. Costume Designer Jill Kenderes hit all of the marks with relish. Also, Ciamacco added his skill to the production end as well by providing Special Effects (along with Hrbek and P. J. Toomey), Sound, Lighting, Projection (Hrbek), and Set Design, as well as Tech Director. I find this amazing since I can’t even rotate my wardrobe by season without assistance. Hrbek also painted the Scenic Back Drop. Again, I can’t rotate.


Soooooooooooooooo, just get the heck to the theatre and laugh. It’s like theatrical silly string, it won’t change the world, but it is a hell of a lot of fun!

Photo Credit: Andy Dudik

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Runs through October 27

Showtimes:

8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
7pm Sundays

Runtime: 1h 35m
Content Advisories: Adult Content, SPLATTER ZONE

Tickets:
$18 General Admission

(440) 941-0458
Order Tickets Online
Location:


Blank Canvas Theatre
1305 West 80th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 44102


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