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Cleveland Stage Alliance – Reviews and Previews

Eric Fancher – Founder/Administrator/ Webmaster/"CSA Presents" Co-Producer

Big Fish is Big Family Fun at Mighty Goliath Productions

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Mighty Goliath Productions
Community Theatre
Mighty Goliath Productions has been providing family entertainment for 59 years and counting. And based on its most recent production, no chance of stopping anytime soon. MGP, as it is affectionately referred, has brought families and community together by a very unique formula. Their emphasis is on family involvement, which is what pure community theatre is all about. Bringing people together to create a memorable experience for all involved. If you show up and have the heart to perform, there is a perfect chance your dreams will come true. After the company is formed, then the individual parts are auditioned for and selected. Also, and bravely, they only rehearse on Friday nights, up until the week leading up to the production opening. This way the time commitment can fit into family lives without undue pressure for scheduling. As a result, this is pure community theatre at its best, which in turns inspires the audience and cast members alike.
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The current production is the musical Big Fish, The Musical, which is based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton. Book by John August, Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa. BIG FISH tells the story of Edward Bloom (a lovable Michael Snider), a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest… and then some! Edward’s incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra ( engaging Maggie Stahl). But their son Will (powerful Johnathan Telepak), about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales.
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Snider leads the production with extreme charm portraying Edward Bloom. Taking on an older personae, he has a blast sharing his childlike and wild stories, while backing it up with a beautiful. He is adept at creating crazy and tender moments. When he plays the younger version of himself, he gets to interact with his own son, literally. Colin Snider takes on the role of Young Will, and does a great job doing it. He must have a blast because of his sassy one-liners back to his dad are hilarious. He also displays some dancing chops, as he joins his Dad in the barn burner dance Alabama Stomp. An MGP family story indeed. It is wonderful seeing Stahl on this big stage bringing heart and gifted vocals to the role of Sandra Bloom. She is a delight to see cavorting ages and nailing every scene.
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Certainly, a force of nature is Telepak as Will Bloom. He has a terrific voice and brings a well thought out character arc. He creates many special moments throughout the performance. Kate Nolan provides a beautiful partner as Bloom’s wife Sandra. She also creates a delicate presence that enhances all of her scenes.
Then interspersed throughout the show are the fabulous character creations in Bloom’s mind. BJ Colangelo is fierce and a hurricane of pizzazz as The Witch. She high-kicks her way on the dance floor, and belts out the bejesus of her song. Kevin Myers defies gravity in his own right portraying Carl the Giant. Just amazing. How he does it on those stilts is not something you were expecting, and he nails it, along with some great comedic delivery, and he hoofs as well. Alex Craig serves up some Greatest Showman fizz as Amos Calloway, and offers an energetic Ringmaster appeal to great effect.
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Special shout out to Gabbi Capello as Jenny Hill. Representing one of the surprising stories in the show, her scene as the older Hill is excellent and very touching. And just when you thought it was safe to cross the street, here comes Jessica Atwood as the Red Fang. Looking like Judy Garland after a cross fit dance session, Atwood comes out and rips the stage up with some classy and sassy dance moves.
Notable contributions to the evening are Ian Atwood as Don Price, David Rusnak as Zacky Price, Bill May as Dr. Bennett, and The Alabama Lambs company which includes Christine Bomberger, Maria Steffas, Kaleigh Velette, and Emily Jane Zart.
When you check out the rest of the company, which is quite impressive, you will notice quite a few last names that are repeated. Families. Just the way it should be for this impressive MGP journey over the years.
Director Douglas F. Bailey II has done a great job of combining seasoned and novice artists and creating a pure theatre experience for the community. Everyone gets a chance to experience the joy of theatre. Musical Director Matthew Grittner provides an adept musical background to the proceedings. Choreographer Nicci Cassara Billington does a great job of creating the movement for all levels and stomps up a fiery hoedown. Stage Manager Sarah Lynne Bailey keeps things moving at a brisk pace.
Cleveland Stage Alliance
February 9 – February 17

Showtimes:
7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays (added 2pm show on 2/17)
2pm Sunday

Tickets:
$8-$15 General Admission

Order Tickets Online
Location:
Avon Lake High School
175 Avon Belden Road
Avon Lake, OH 44012

Love Letters starring Dorothy Silver and George Roth at Theatre in the Circle is hard not to love.

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Theatre in the Circle
Professional Theatre
Over the last couple of years, Theatre in the Circle is marching along at a rapid pace establishing themselves as a viable professional theatre in Cleveland. Mark and Bill Corcoran are the powerhouse duo igniting this bright new light in University Circle.
Their latest offering is Love Letters, starring two legends of the Cleveland theatre scene. Dorothy Silver and George Roth.
love letters cast and team
Sitting left to right: George Roth, Mark Corcoran, and Dorothy Silver
Standing: Bill Corcoran
Love Letters is a play by A. R. Gurney that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play centers on two characters, Melissa Gardner (Silver) and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. (George Roth), They sit side by side at tables and read the notes, letters, and cards – in which over nearly 50 years, they discuss their hopes and ambitions, dreams and disappointments, victories and defeats – that have passed between them throughout their separated lives.
There is a lot of laughter throughout the play, a sentimental ending, and also a lot of truth about relationships and self. Some are pretty, and some are definitely not. These two actors bring the play to life with incredible interpretation, and the ability to speak volumes by just listening. How they both question, and analyze each letter, note, and card from each other is a fabulous ride that you just must take.
Directed by Mark Corcoran, the play has a perfect pace and genuine quality throughout the entire performance. Both actors are at the top of their game, and the audience let them know last night with a standing ovation. Well Earned, and not gratuitous. Lighting Design by David Palmer/Network Sound was especially effective. Sound Design was perfect. Every word, every vocal nuance heard clear as a bell.
At the present time, productions run one long weekend at Theatre in the Circle. So check out the ticket information provided below and try to see the show if possible. The shows are technically Sold Out, but you never know if a ticket will become available.
Bravo to a spectacular evening with two fabulous actors. A love letter indeed.
Cleveland Stage Alliance
February 11 – February 12

Showtimes:
2pm and 7:30pm Saturday
2pm Sunday

Tickets:
$18 General Admission
All Performances SOLD OUT

(216) 282-9424

Order Tickets Online
Location:
Judson Manor
1890 East 107th Street
University Heights, 44106

“Merrily We Roll Along” does just that at Lakeland Civic Theatre

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Lakeland Civic Theatre
Professional Theatre
Production runs through Feb 18th

Merrily We Roll Along is an understatement. It’s merrily we kick some ass. And for so many reasons, thank God there is a doctor in the house. In this case Director Dr. Martin Friedman. Under the precise and inspired direction, this production absolutely soars.

Merrily We Roll Along is a musical with a book by George first and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim. It is based on the 1934 play at the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.. In theatrical circles, it is common knowledge that when this musical hit the boards on Broadway, the reviewers were not kind and after many delays the production closed after 16 performances.

Merrily We Roll Along follows the career of Franklin Shepard backwards in time, from successful movie producer to his humbler beginnings as an idealistic and youthful songwriter who, with his best friends Charley and Mary, sets out to shake up Broadway and ‘change the world.’ Frank writes the music, Charley writes the words, and Mary writes the stories. As the years go by, they each became very successful professionally,  but drift apart as friends.

When you first come into the theater, you are taken in with the scrim that is eerily lit and shows many pieces of crumbled paper. And immediately it makes you wonder what those represent. Obviously if you are familiar with the musical, all it might be pages of a book, pages of the score, pages of song lyrics, or maybe letters that might be an attempt of sharing truths. And then, the orchestra begins to play.

Musical Director Jordan Cooper leads an amazing orchestra in this production. One of the finest that I have heard in quite a while in Cleveland. They immediately charge your batteries and jolts you into realizing that this is going to be a fierce production. The musical artists behind the scrim are incredible.

merrily the three leads
Trey Gilpin (Charley), Amiee Collier (Mary), and Eric Fancher (Frankin)
Leading this cast is Eric Fancher, who serves up a fascinating and intriguing Franklin Shepard. His voice is to die for, and the emotional journey is incredibly well-crafted. Especially, creating an arc that moves backwards. Handsome in stature, he provides a vulnerability that is palatable. When he begins Our Time, his voice melts every stick of butter in a 10 mile radius. In this reviewer’s opinion quite arguably one of his best performances given in memory. Alongside Fancher is Trey Gilpin who totally delivers as Charlie Kringas. This is another performance that I thought was terrific and never ventured into a caricature, which could happen at times because there are some silly moments. But Gilpin displays incredible timing and immediate control, which pay off big time in the number “Franklin Shepard Inc.”, which completely rocks. Rounding out the must see “ménage a trois” is Amiee Collier as Mary Flynn. Collier is firing on all’s cylinders. Her clarion voice is in full effect and her delivery, intention about painful and un-reciprocated love is an honor to watch it crafted so well.The second layer of fabulous to enhance this production comes from these four incredible performances. Danny Simpson as Joe Josephson is a hoot and also a pathetic soul that is perfectly played. His mustache definitely deserves a curtain call. Neely Gevaart provides a beautiful characterization, along with a remarkable voice to bring Beth Spencer to life. Her rendition of “Not A Day Goes By” is a gift. Kelly Smith kick some major ass as Gussie Carnegie. Her voice, her style, acting style are on point. She is a whirlwind of self-promotion and a perfect example of self-preservation at the expense of others around her.

The rest of the company kick some major butt themselves as well. Anna Barrett, Kyle Burnett, Sarah Clare, Carlos Cruz, Frank Ivancic and Kate Michalski help propel this production to its successful conclusion. Each displaying major acting chops and transcendent voices, but I have to say that my favorite moment is Michalski as the interviewer. That double-take is comedic genius. Jake Spencer (Frank Jr.) does a great job of stealing the hearts of the audience with a solid voice and endearing presence.

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Fancher, Gevaart (Beth), and Gilpin
Director Dr. Martin Friedman has put together a fantastic production. His knowledge and understanding of Sondheim is quite apparent, and lends itself to one of the finest productions I have seen at Lakeland. Musical Director Jordan Cooper establishes himself as being at the forefront of his craft, assembling an amazing troupe. Choreographer Jennifer Justice provides compact moves, and completely raucous detail, This becomes very apparent in the fantastic Bobby and Jackie and Jack. Insane choreography with brilliant execution. Scenic designer Austin Kilpatrick does an amazing job of a ethereal atmosphere, while lighting designer Adam Ditzel compliments the design with an effective range of emotions. Rooftop to Glitzy party rooms, all is good. Costume Designer Kelsey Tomlinson does a nice job, although it seems Mary could have had a few more outfits. Sound Designer Eric Simna serves up some great sound, and balances the fierce orchestra with the actors very well. Technical Director Craig Tucker pulls all of the elements together with a professional flair. Stage Manager Elizabeth Cammett calls a great show.
If you want to see a great production of this show, get yourself out to Lakeland. You will not be disappointed, unless you are always grumpy and judgmental.
Cheers,
Cleveland Stage Alliance

Production runs to February 18

 

Showtimes:
7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays
Tickets:
$7-$15 General Admission(440) 525-7134

Location:
Lakeland Civic Theatre

7700 Clocktower Drive
Kirtland, OH 44094

Ensemble Theatre presents Tony Kusher’s ANGELS IN AMERICA Part One: Millennium Approaches

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Ensemble Theatre
Professional Theatre
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Craig Joseph (Louis Ironson) and Scott Esposito (Prior Walter). Photo by Celeste Cosentino
In our republican led politics, it doesn’t surprise me that the issues addressed in this play are vital as ever, even painful to some extent. In the first part of Tony Kushner’s epic, set in 1980’s New York City, a gay man is abandoned by his lover when he contracts the AIDS virus and a closeted Mormon lawyer’s marriage to his pill-popping wife stalls. America in the mid-1980s. In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell. A time where people waited years for the President to even say the word AIDS, as thousands were dying or being infected.
Celeste Cosentino,  Ensemble Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director, take the helm of this important play which was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Award for Best Play, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. Cosentino conquers the task at hand with resilient pacing and powerful performances.
Some of the issues at hand make you want to SMH. A closeted gay Republican with moral issues. Pass the tissues and the handwritten note under the stall, please. And the fact that suicides rates are through the roof because, you know, some religions and Christian pulpits tell you that if you are gay, you are wrong, and will not enter the gates of heaven. That’s Bullshit. People should find redemption in their spiritual values, not exclusion and guilt. I digress.
Thus the journey of a thousand triggers.
Scott Esposito as Prior Walter is beautiful to watch. His performance is solid, along with an arc and range of emotions that is an engaging map of joy, fear, and despair that is difficult to watch. As it should be. There is never a moment disconnected or wasted. Truly wonderful. His partner Louis Ironson, as played by Craig Joseph, is a hyped up conundrum of please have a cup of shut the fuck up. Spewing lines with machine gun effect, all done with articulate diction that lets you understand every manic thing he is saying. But Joseph also offers another side of Ironson, beautifully displayed in the bench scene where he is conversing with his friend Belize (nicely and sassily played by Robert Hunter). When he makes his decision to stay or leave his partner, it is real and effective.
James Alexander Rankin is one of the finest actors in the area. Consistently providing solid characterizations and compelling performances. He is again at the top of his game as Joseph Pitt. Rankin embodies this tortured soul who is not only professionally challenged by the stink of politics, but also wrought over feelings that his religion will not let exist. The journey to awareness is beautifully portrayed.
Kelly Strand is a hot mess of delusional delight portraying Harper Pitt. Who hasn’t taken a cocktail or two to get through a rough patch, or in Harper’s case, enough pills to enable your curtains to talk back to you. Strand serves up damage on a silver plate, and turns in a performance that makes you ache with the simple reality of sometimes life really is too much to handle.
Roy Cohn was and is a dick. A contradiction with no moral compass. Jeffrey Grover has the skills to make this character a jerk and major foil. My only complaint is that Cohn wished he looked that good. Grover throws major bravado and defines the overcompensation for the weak internal ideas and truths that haunt Cohn from within.
Great work.
Derdriu Ring* is spectacular. In everything. Here she shares her talents in a myriad of smaller roles, each one dead on with astute focus and reason. Every character a work of art, and not a wasted moment ever. As stated, Hunter gives Belize that spark of humanity shaded with the deadpan delivery and the occasional “humph” that we all need. He peaks on the bench scene with Joseph. His listening face is incredibly giving to the conversation, beautifully balanced. Fully developed conversation with precision delivery. Slay Belize, Slay! Ines Joris creatively joins the festivities with a number of characters. She brings her accented spunk to the proceedings and has one of the most prolific curtain calls in recent memory. Don’t be afraid to wave back.
Stage Crew, Sam Langraf & Kyle Huff, did a great job of keeping the scene changes moving. Having both screen work and moving furniture and sliding platforms. Sound Design was on point, except a little tinny effect on the angel at times. Nothing major. Stage Manager Becca Moseley called a great show. The pace was commendable. Technical Director August Scarpelli brought all the elements together with professional care. Costume Design was well conceived by Kelsey Tomlinson & Kayla Davis. Set/Light/ Projection Design by Ian Hanz created an atmosphere that greatly complimented this historic play. Director Cosentino provided this play incredible pace. The evening flew by due to wonderful effective direction, and a clear understanding of how crucial the flow means to the telling.
In some of the more subtle moments, I found it hard to hear a bit of Belize’s words. It happened here and there, but just a tad more volume would fix. This definitely applies to Joris’s characters. Diction and Volume are imperative to understand what is being said. The only other moment for me to try to understand the moment when Pitt and Ironson “connect”. Was it physical, emotional, or both? I wanted more information. That’s just me.
This production offers a lot to the audience. There are some very fine performances to enjoy. This work is so profound. I lived through this error, and I distinctly remember the fear. The issues still live, although we have certainly grown a pair since then, still there is much work to be done.
Thank you for a wonderful evening.
Cleveland Stage Alliance
Kevin Kelly
*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association
Through January 28

Showtimes:
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

Runtime: 3h 20m (including two 10 minute intermissions)
Content Advisory: This production contains STRONG LANGUAGE and ADULT THEMES and may not be suitable for younger audiences.

Tickets:
$12-$25 General Admission

216-321-2930
Order Tickets Online
Location:
Ensemble Theatre
2843 Washington Blvd

Cleveland, OH 44118

Darkest Hour – Monday Night at The Capitol Theatre

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The Capitol Theatre has $5 dollar movie nights on Monday. What!?

One of our New Year resolutions is to utilize this year-round gift.

Darkest Hour is a 2017 British biographical war drama film directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten. The film stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and follows his early days as Prime Minister while Hitler closes in on Britain during World War II.

Gary Oldman as Churchill is freakin amazing!

https://www.clevelandcinemas.com/movie/237959/Darkest-Hour-Trailer-and-Info

CSA – Cleveland Stage Alliance goes to the movies!

The Laughter League Super Spectacular Christmas Show! at Blank Canvas Theatre

Here is what you need to know!!!!!!!…………………………………………….

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  1. This shit is funny.
  2. This show contains all ORIGINAL material written by The Laughter League
  3. The Laughter League is composed of the following talented, insane, creative people: Joe Ciamacco, Patrick Ciamacco, Perren Hedderson, Noah Hrbek, Seth Hrbek, Luke Scattergood. (not appearing on this weekend’s crazy show are Leslie Andrews, Keith Cavey, and Billy DePetro)

In mine humble opinion, this is the funniest show they have produced and performed in the Blank Canvas Theatre space. It is very funny, and edgy, and also at times, makes you gag. But with all improv and sketch shows, there are always a few misses. However, there isn’t many at all and the pace is well-played. I laughed a lot. If you know the folks involved, you will have a blast. And if you don’t know them, it is still a blast, because the humor comes from the script, not from inside jokes, which results in solid work.

Laughter League Christmas Tickets

Here the link to the theatre, and get there Saturday night, the last show is at 8 pm. and Grab yourself a cocktail.

Cleveland Stage Alliance (CSA) Recommends.

http://www.clevelandstagealliance.com

 

 

 

 

Gift Of The Magi – Theatre in the Circle

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Theatre in the Circle
Professional Theatre
Once again, partners Bill and Mark Corcoran, this time as Director/Music Director and Producer, bring their Judson Manor magic to life. The current offering is the heartwarming musical Gift of the Magi.” The original material is a short story, written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. As a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been a popular one for adaptation, especially for presentation at Christmas time. You will see the ending a mile away, but it plays out nicely as if Hallmark and Lifetime, decided to make people cry, but with a musical kleenex. However, this production comes from Peter Eckstrom who provided the Adaptation, Music, and Lyrics.
gift of the magi cast
As the quaint and struggling love birds, Meg Martinez as Della, and Robert Kowalewski as Jim are wonderful in both voice, and their endearing characters. Martinez has a beautiful operatic tone and lands high notes as if she was throwing kernels of popcorn and effortlessly snatching them out the air. Kowalewski’s baritone finds a rich and fertile ground in the piece and shines throughout the production. Both of these artists blend beautifully.
The musicians brought together for this production are phenomenal. Piano and Conductor Elias Manos, McKinley Glasser on Cello, Elizabeth Root on Flute, and Grace Cross on Harp. They sound incredible. and may I say, what a pleasure to hear a piece where the Harp is so prevalent, and the musical is freaking amazing. What a joy!
Speaking of the sound, it was the best ever. I thought the lighting and sound were top-rate. Kudos to David Palmer/Network Sound. Walter Boswell did a very good job of turning the set into an intimate apartment setting. And along with the lighting, very nice moments were enhanced throughout the production.
To be fair, I have to say that this kind of show is not my personal favorite. First of all, I don’t think any pancake house will run out of syrup anytime soon. I was glad to have my insulin pen with me, so I didn’t drive off the road on the way home. But that is about the show. Not this production, in which talent was in full force on all fronts.
There is a matinée left Sunday, December 17th, at 2 pm. Bring your parents, grandparents out for a wonderful reminder of what the holidays should be about. Sharing love with each other, not a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. We all need to find the true meaning of life love and support, especially during these times.
Cleveland Stage Alliance
12/16/2017

Showtimes:
December 16, 2017
2pm Sunday

Tickets:
$12-$18 General Admission

(216) 282-9424

Location:
Judson Manor
1890 East 107th Street
University Heights, 44106

SHOUT! SISTER, SHOUT! CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE ANNOUNCES LEADING LADIES OF MARIE AND ROSETTA

CPH

NEWS RELEASE
For information contact:
Kristin Netzband, Audience Development & PR Manager
216.400.7086
knetzband@clevelandplayhouse.com

 

  

SHOUT! SISTER, SHOUT! CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE

ANNOUNCES LEADING LADIES OF MARIE AND ROSETTA

Miche Braden and Chaz Hodges to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight

CLEVELAND, OH (November 28, 2017) Cleveland Play House (CPH) is proud to announce the triumphant return of Miche Braden to CPH., where she will star as Sister Rosetta Tharpe alongside CPH newcomer Chaz Hodges as Marie Knight in The Atlantic Theater production of Marie and Rosetta.  Written by George Brant, and directed by Neil Pepe, Marie and Rosetta runs January 20 through February 11, 2018 in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square.  Marie and Rosetta is a co-production with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

“I am thrilled to be working with Miche Braden and Chaz Hodges,” says Marie and Rosetta Director Neil Pepe. “They are both outstanding actors and I have been a great fan of their work for some time. Some may remember Miche’s terrific performance as Bessie Smith in (the CPH Production of) The Devil’s Music, and Chaz has been doing wonderful work on the west coast and had originally played the role of Marie in two developmental workshops. I couldn’t be more excited to see them bring Marie and Rosetta to life in Cleveland.”

Miche Braden returns to Cleveland Play House after a successful run as Bessie Smith in 2013’s production of The Devil’s Music: The Life and Times of Bessie Smith. The Plain Dealer stated, “Braden commands the stage every moment and thoroughly enjoys the ride.” Star 102 Radio noted, “Not only was she vocally perfect, but her acting and stage presence are commanding from the second she takes the stage.” Braden will portray rock legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who is nicknamed “The Godmother of Rock-and-Roll” and influenced the careers of artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Little Richard.

Making her CPH debut is Chaz Hodges, who has appeared in such productions as In the Red and Brown WaterA Lie of the MindLittle Children Dream of God, all at La Jolla Playhouse, and received her MFA from the University of California San Diego. Chaz will take on the role of Marie Knight, the talented singer who toured with Sister Rosetta Tharpe. in the 1940s and helped pioneer ideas of what rock music could be, melding gospel and secular music together to form a hand-clapping, hip-shaking sound no one had ever heard before.

Additional casting for Marie and Rosetta will be released in December, complete with full cast and crew biographies.

CPH will hold a “Rock Like Rosetta!” Cover Song Contest now through January 5, 2018.  Open to all, participants are encouraged to showcase their talents by choosing one of five iconic Sister Rosetta Tharpe songs and submitting a video cover song for a chance to perform at the Opening Night cast party of the show on January 26, 2018. All entries will receive a discount code for tickets to a performance of their choice (based on availability). Select covers will be featured on the CPH Social Media channels, and the Top 3 covers will get tickets to a performance of Marie and Rosetta. All bands or performers entering the contest grant permission to CPH to use the band’s performance submission on its social media networks and for promotional purposes. No ticket purchases are necessary to win, and full rules and details can be found online at: https://goo.gl/iJ1vJxEntries will be accepted through January 5, and all contestants will be notified about the results on or before January 19, 2018.

TICKET INFORMATION

Marie and Rosetta will take place in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square from January 20-February 11, 2018. Tickets range from $25-$110 each, $15 rush tickets for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid student ID, and Young Professional discounts available with YP-CPH Membership.  To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.comGroups of 10+ save up to 50% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Subscriptions: Subscribers save up to 17%. Full and flexible season packages range from $262 – $440. To purchase subscriptions visit clevelandplayhouse.com

 

ABOUT CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE

CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. www.clevelandplayhouse.com

Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

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Kristin Netzband
Audience Development & Public Relations Manager
Cleveland Play House
1901 E. 13th Street, Suite 200
Cleveland, OH  44114
216.400.7086
knetzband@clevelandplayhouse.com


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Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape at Ensemble Theatre.

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Ensemble Theatre
Professional Theatre
Founder: Lucia Colombi
Executive Artistic Director: Celeste Cosentino
Belong.

The word has tremendous power. It seems to be a defining feature of most people’s psyche. The word can cause great euphoria, and a sense of achievement. But, on the other hand, the word can cause great strife and disconnection that even a Xanax bar would hardly make a dent. Thus, the journey of the human spirit to belong and connect is at the core of the protagonist, brought to life by the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning playwright Eugene O’Neill.

Written in 1921, this iconic piece of expressionist drama is a searing social commentary on the divide between the rich and poor. Yank (riveting Joseph Milan), an unthinking laborer, embarks on a search for a sense of belonging in a world controlled by the wealthy. His journey from the bowels of a transatlantic ocean liner to the wealthy neighborhoods of New York society serve as a metaphor for the struggle between the working man and the industrial complex found at the heart of the play.

Joe Milan as Yank

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Director Ian Wolfgang Hinz has created a minimalist presentation of the play, which focuses the attention of the audience on the character study of each actor. The company moves well in tandem to present this particular journey. Overall, to great effect, but there are some performances that stand out.

The show is led by Milan, who turns in an excellent interpretation of Yank. I have to state that this performance is another solid acting turn from Milan, who consistently produces engaging theatre whenever he hits the boards. In fact, I think he is one of the most consistently solid actors in the city. Always engaging. Always professional quality. Watching the arc of his pursuit to belong is heart wrenching. Every hurdle he hits feels like a punch in the gut. His decline to a caged end, caps off a searing portrayal.

Joe Milan as Yank

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Allen Branstein, as Paddy, brings some drunken realness to the party. Representing the one guy at the party that launches into psychological tormented stories, and demonstrative monologues of astute interpretations of life. Right before you put him to bed. There is a defeated quality to the old man at sea, and it is presented with great precision, even though the accent is a bit hard to unravel at points. But, the feeling is not veiled at all.

Joe Milan as Hank, Allen Branstein as Paddy, Company

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James Rankin as Long, is serving up some major mustache, along with a precise and engaging personae. As he engages the company, he creates a dramatic presence and holds the stage with confidence and bravado, while providing just below the surface tension, that beautifully increase the dynamics.

Mary Alice Beck brings her superb sense of timing and comedic skills to the role of Mildred Douglas’s (Brittany Ganser) Aunt. She is serving major face during her scenes with Ganser, and the result is delightful. Providing a strong sense of righteous indignation, and also, “you will reap what you sow child” bravado. Beautiful work. Ganser brings her sass and attitude to set up the wounding encounter with Yank.

Joe Milan as Yank

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Out of nowhere comes Keith Kornajcik, playing the Secretary of the Labor Union and dismisses Yank’s ideas of violent rebellion in favor of peaceful strikes, and the passing out of pamphlets. He does this with a strong and confident poise. His commanding voice demands attention, and his scene is delivered with pitch perfect focus.

The rest of the company is dead on. Whit Lowell, Santino Montanez, Kyle Huff, Aziz Ghrabat and August Scarpelli all deliver the goods.

Steve Vasse-Hansell, August Scarpelli, Aziz Ghrabat, Kyle Huff, & Santino Montanez.

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Director Hinz has put together a great show. Bringing an American classic to the stage with focus and spirit. Walter Boswell’s Set Design is really interesting. A raked stage with inventive coal ovens, jail cells, city skyline, and a descending cage that enhances the dramatic ending. Costume Design by Meg Parish, certainly creates the worker, and the high society, which is key to understanding the pain of Yank’s journey. Andrew Eckert’s Lighting Design brings isolated energy to scenes that are strategically placed on the sparse set. Clear delineations of where we are physically in the play. Becca Moseley and Hinz’s Sound Design was on point. Moseley also added her artistic touch with designing the society masks. Technical Director Stephen Vasse-Hassell brings all the elements together with smooth and effective precision.

Bravo.

Photo Credit: Celeste Cosentino

Cleveland Stage Alliance – Kevin Kelly

http://www.clevelandstagealliance.com

Thru December 10

Showtimes:
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

Tickets:
$12-$25 General Admission

216-321-2930
Order Tickets Online
Location:
Ensemble Theatre
2843 Washington Blvd

Cleveland, OH 44118

 

Staff and Cast:

Director: Ian Wolfgang Hinz

Cast:
Joe Milan (Yank)
Alan Branstein (Paddy) 
James Rankin (Long)
Brittany Ganser (Mildred Douglas)
Mary Alice Beck (Mildred’s Aunt)
Keith Kornajacic (Secretary/Ensemble)
Santino Montanez (Ape, Yank Understudy, Ensemble)
Whit Lowell (Ensemble)
Kyle Huff (Ensemble)
August Scarpelli (Ensemble)
Aziz Ghrabat (Ensemble)
Steve Vasse-Hansell (Ensemble)

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