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Resident Critic for www.ClevelandStageAlliance.com www.tpography.com – Kevin Kelly

TPOGraphy.com Editor: Robert Kowalewski

Month

December 2014

ANNOUNCING THE CONVERGENCE-CONTINUUM 2015 SEASON

If you haven’t experienced the work of this theatre, please put it on your to-do list for 2015.This place thinks outside the box and bun, as it serves riveting theatre. For the coming season, an expanded repertoire of “What the sam hill was that?” and “Now, that was cool”, will penetrate your theatrical hearts.

convergence-continuum
The Liminis
2438 Scranton Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44113
216-687-0074
For further information or to
schedule interviews, please contact
Artistic Director Clyde Simon at 216-401-3099
or csimon@convergence-continuum.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANNOUNCING THE CONVERGENCE-CONTINUUM 2015 SEASON
Starting Feb 12 and running through Dec 19, convergence-continuum will present a jampacked
season of innovative, cutting-edge theatre at the intimate Liminis theater in
Cleveland’s historic Tremont neighborhood.
SPECIAL PRE-SEASON EVENT: NEOMFA PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL – Feb 12-21
one new full-length play and two new one-act plays by three different local MFA playwrights.
Produced in collaboration with the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) in Creative
Writing and Cleveland State University.
SERIES ONE: TAKING RISKS. In this three-play series the styles vary significantly, but the
common thread is that in each play the characters purposefully take action on extreme, risky
choices, either to greatly rewarding or disastrous results. The plays themselves are also all
edgy, risky choices in terms of subject matter, form and presentation style. All three plays will
be Ohio premieres.
ISAAC’S EYE by Lucas Hnath – quirky, funky send-up of historical dramas
March 20-April 11 – Directed by Clyde Simon
WOLVES by Steve Yockey – sharp, darkly funny urban fairy tale
May 8-30 – Directed by Cory Molner
THE TRAIN PLAY, or The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge of It by Liz Duffy Adams –
comic-poetic collision course with time, history and a supernatural climax – June 26-July 18 –
Directed by Clyde Simon
SERIES TWO: MAKING IT UP AS YOU GO. The plays of the series take provocative,
thoughtful and amusing looks at the frequently risky choices and the resulting adjustments
that people make in fashioning their lives and relationships.
TEAR IT OFF by Mike Geither – reality-bending world premiere by Cleveland playwright –
August 14-Sept 5 – Directed by Karen Randoja
THE HAPPY SAD by Ken Urban (regional premiere) – comedy with songs looks at tangled
romantic attachments – Oct 2-24 – Directed by Tyson Douglas Rand
BOB: A LIFE IN FIVE ACTS by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (Ohio premiere) – comic mix of epic
theatre and vaudeville takes on the American Dream – Nov 20-Dec 19 – Directed by Geoffrey
Hoffman

PLUS!!!!!!

NEW ONE-WEEKEND EVENTS: TWEENER SOLOS
In between regular season productions we’ll be presenting special one-person shows
performed by some of the area’s outstanding actors.
FURTHER DETAILS of all the plays can be found in the following Background Information
and at our website http://convergence-continuum.org/
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
CONVERGENCE-CONTINUUM’S 2015 SEASON: CHOICES / RISKS
SERIES ONE: TAKING RISKS. All three plays will be Ohio premieres. Series One is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
ISAAC’S EYE by Lucas Hnath
March 20 – April 11
Directed by Clyde Simon
As a young man, Isaac Newton did an experiment in which he inserted a long needle through his tear duct to the back of his eye. No one now knows why or what he was trying to prove by this risky behavior. Lucas Hnath has used this weird factoid, along with actual historical events and a whole bunch of made-up stuff involving Isaac’s somewhat girlfriend and a lecherous Sir Robert Hooke, to create a highly original and truly quirky look at what drove the brilliant but troubled rural farm boy, Isaac, to become one of the modern world’s greatest thinkers.
WOLVES by Steve Yockey
May 8 – 30
Directed by Cory Molner
Wolves is a sharp, darkly funny urban fable that takes place during a long and terrible night at the apartment of Ben and his roommate and onetime boyfriend, Jack. Ben, clearly never the most stable of young men, has recently moved from a small town to the big city, where his vulnerability has turned into full-blown paranoia about the place where he lives, which he likens to a “deep, dark forest,” and an outrageous fear of the “wolves”that prowl it. To taunt the needy Ben and to prove that the city isn’t what he imagines it to be, Jack brings home a “wolf” from a bar one night. Things turn violent and it’s up to the icily glamorous and bitingly funny female narrator to guide us through to the end of this postmodern fracturing of the Red Riding Hood yarn.
THE RECKLESS RUTHLESS BRUTAL CHARGE OF IT OR, THE TRAIN PLAY by Liz Duffy Adams
June 26 – July 18
Directed by Clyde Simon
A comi-threnody. Late at night somewhere in America, on a train hurtling towards infinity, eight strangers meet. A twelve-year-old with the powers of a comic book heroine manipulates time and the lives of a jaded Earth Goddess, an unraveling physicist fleeing a terrifying truth she’s only glimpsed, an Irishman on the lam from predatory angels, a reluctant travel writer and three Russian brothers on a musical mission. While they ride,the destruction of the universe looms as they speed along a comic-poetic collision course with time, history, and a supernatural climax.SERIES TWO: MAKING IT UP AS YOU GO. The three plays of the second series take provocative, thoughtful and amusing looks at the frequently risky choices and the resulting adjustments that people make in fashioning their lives and relationships.
TEAR IT OFF by Mike Geither (world premiere)
August 14 – September 5
Directed by Karen Randoja
Two sisters pass the time by writing a romance novel. But when their handyman becomes their co-author, the line between reality and fiction blurs. In the guise of a handsome pilot, he inspires plane crashes, bear attacks, near drownings and rescues. Inhibitions get left behind in a pile in the Canadian wilderness and on the living room floor, as they find themselves living the hot and steamy clichés of their book. This world premiere by Cleveland playwright Mike Geither will be directed by guest director Karen Randoja, a founding member of Canada’s Primus Theatre and recognized as among Toronto’s most prominent experimental theatre directors.
THE HAPPY SAD by Ken Urban (regional premiere)
October 2 – 24
Directed by Tyson Douglas Rand
Armed with art and flowers, Stan brunches with his girlfriend Annie only to discover that she wants to take a break. Aaron suggests to his boyfriend Marcus that they make a change in their long-term relationship. In a city with too many options, the lives of these two couples become intertwined when Stan and Marcus meet online and hook up. Meanwhile all their other friends have their own complex interlocked love triangles. A comedy with songs, The Happy Sad takes on open relationships, sexual confusion and figuring out what you really want from life.
BOB: A LIFE IN FIVE ACTS by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (Ohio premiere)
November 20 – December 19
Directed by Geoffrey Hoffman
Born and abandoned in the bathroom of a fast food restaurant, Bob energetically embarks on an epic journey across America and encounters inspiring generosity, crushing hardships, blissful happiness, stunning coincidences, wrong turns, lucky breaks, true love and heartbreaking loss. Along the way, Bob meets a myriad of fellow countrymen all struggling to find their own place in the hullaballoo of it all. Will Bob’s real life ever be able to live up to his dream? Bob is a comedic exploration of American mythology and values, the treacherous pursuit of happiness, and discovering what it means to be truly “great.”
SPECIAL PRE-SEASON EVENT: The NEOMFA Playwrights Festival, February 12 – 21
For the fourth year, convergence-continuum continues its successful collaboration with Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Cleveland State University. This time we will be presenting one new fulllength play and two new one-act plays by three different local MFA playwrights. The full-length play will be presented on one weekend (Thu-Sat at 8 pm), and the two one-acts will be presented as a double bill on the other. These plays are the work of three of the playwrights undertaking three years of intensive study in the NEOMFA in Creative Writing program, a consortium of Cleveland State University, Kent State University, University of Akron and Youngstown State University.
Further details on the plays and playwrights will be sent in a subsequent press release and posted on the website (convergence-continuum.org) and our Facebook page.

                                            NEW, ONE-WEEKEND SPECIAL EVENTS: ‘TWEENER SOLOS                 In between regular season productions we’ll be presenting special one-person shows performed by some ofthe area’s outstanding actors.

April 23-25: Robert Hawkes in An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by
Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening by Mickle Maher. An ingenious one-man retooling of the Faust Legend.

June 11-13 and July 30-August 1: To be announced. Further details will be sent in subsequent press
releases and posted on the website (convergence-continuum.org) and our Facebook page.
September 17-19: Chuck Richie in Bloodline. Conceived and written by Chuck Richie and his ancestors.

The past is present, the present is past. Discovering identity and truth through the voices that came before.
The Company: convergence-continuum
Founded in 2001 by Clyde Simon (Artistic Director) and Brian Breth, convergence-continuum
presented its first production (Quills) in 2002. The company’s artistic home, in the Tremont
neighborhood of Cleveland, is the Liminis, an intimate, versatile, storefront performance space, with
maximum seating of 40-50 depending on the set-up for each show. The company produces
innovative alternative/experimental theatre work by living playwrights, and completely transforms the
Liminis for each show, immersing audiences into the world of the play in up-close productions.
The company seeks to create a core ensemble that continues to work together over the long term in
exploring and developing its artistic voice, and performance and production practices, to create upclose,
environmentally staged productions that challenge the status quo and extend the boundaries
of theatre. The 2015 Season will be its 14th
.

Theatrical Hot Flash – CoCo Smith at Night Town – This Tuesday Night at 7pm

High Fidelity, a musical at Blank Canvas Theatre

Blank Canvas Theatre
Professional Theatre
Ok, when you read this, there will be only one show left, which will be on Saturday, December 20th, 2014 at 8 pm. So, if you read this in time, you need to get your musical theatre ass to Blank Canvas Theatre, buy a beer, and get ready to laugh. A lot. The current show running is High Fidelity: a musical, which follows Rob (Shane Patrick O’Neill), the thirty-something owner of Championship Vinyl, a beloved Cleveland record store. When his current relationship with girlfriend Laura (Leslie Andrews) goes south, Rob enlists the help of his two quirky clerks, Barry (Patrick Ciamacco), and Dick (Pat Miller), to expound on the intricacies of life and music, while revisiting his former relationships to find out where he went wrong. The result of this exploration with his girlfriend, and his past, sets up a very funny musical ride. I mean, very funny. The creators of this fabulous journey: Lyrics by Amanda Green, Music by Tom Kitt, Book by David Lindsay-Abaire, all based on the Novel by Nick Hornby. The creators of the Blank Canvas journey: Director: Patrick Ciamacco, Musical Director: Lawrence Wallace
The set immediately gets you fired up, one of the best I have seen at Blank Canvas. The entire shop is vinyl records. On the floor are the album covers, and on the back wall are the vinyls themselves. And, you can buy the albums that are on sale on the set for $1 a piece at intermission. WHAT?!?!
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Pictured is O’Neill, who plays Rob, and the kick ass set. O’Neill turns in a tremendous fun performance. He is so incredibly connected to the audience. He has charm, skill and a voice that is liquid gold. He is able to show all of his talents in this show, and he nails it.
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Who is this woman? Well it is Rob’s girlfriend, Laura, played by Leslie Andrews. Andrews has a blast in this show. She is on fire, and is a comedic gift, while being able to wail with the best of them. Great performance.
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Then there are his two friends who work at the record shop. On the right is Ciamacco, a scream as Barry. Great comedic chops and fierce vocals. Wait until you see Sonic Death Monkey. And then in the middle, Miller is a hot mess of vocal delight, and a human doobie of fun, as Dick.
The following cast members are out of control:
Maggie Adler (Alison) awesome
Stephen Berg (Futon Guy and Bruce) As Bruce Springsteen, he brings the house down.
Tasha Brandt (Marie) fierce vocals
Tony Heffner (Mohawk Guy) hitting the high notes while looking like a son of anarchy.
Matt Majewski (Hipster) cracking me up.
Kayla McDonald (Sarah) a lesbian every mother would love.
Jillian Mesaros (Penny) terrific.
Kate Leigh Michalski (Liz) She is firing on all cylinders. Fantastic.
Kevin Myers (TMPMITW) Revved up like a nerd, he kills it.
Hayden Neidhardt (Charlie and Backup Singer) Who would believe she played Annie, well, this girl grew up fierce and a fine tuned musical theatre performer.
Aaron Patterson (Ian, Neil young and Middle Aged Man) I can’t tell you how funny this guy is in this show. “Who’s your Gandhi?!” should give you an idea.
Monica Zach (Jackie/Anna) fired up and solid.
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This is one show that needs to be remounted. Again and Again.
December 20th
Showtimes:
8pm Saturdays

Tickets:
$15 General Admission

(440) 941-0458

Order Tickets Online
Location:
Blank Canvas Theatre
1305 West 80th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 44102

Mary Poppins at Beck Center for the Arts

Beck Center for the Arts
Professional Theatre
There is no doubt, that Mary Poppins is the reigning queen of the Holiday theatrical season. Especially, when it comes to the Beck Center for the Arts. Mary Poppins has left Annie and the Orphans, Joseph and his Technicolor Coat, and any other holiday production that dared enter the holiday race, in her dust. In fact, this production has made history by being 90% sold out for the entire run, as of opening night. There is power in the title, and kudos to Artistic Director Scott Spence for securing the rights for the mega musical, and also, adding more enticing titles to the Beck Center season, that are not the usual fare.
For those of you who have been struck by lighting and have a memory loss, Mary Poppins is the lead character in a series of eight children’s books written over the period of 1934 to 1968, by P. L. Travers. The books center on a fabulous magical nanny, Mary Poppins, as she is blown by the East wind to Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, London, and into the Banks’s household to care for their children. Encounters with chimney sweeps, shopkeepers and various adventures follow, until Mary Poppins feels it is time to leave after the Banks have learned valuable lessons. You may remember that the books were adapted by Walt Disney in 1964, into a musical film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. For the stage musical, Original Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Book by Jullian Fellowes. New Songs and Additional Music and Lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

In the current show, Chimney sweep extraordinaire Bert (Matthew Ryan Thompson), introduces us to the troubled Banks family, headed up by George Banks (Curt Arnold) and Winifred Banks (Katherine DeBoer*). Young Jane ( Anna Barrett) and Michael (Joseph Daso), have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins (Rebecca Pitcher*) arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family how to value each other again. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones she has a profound effect upon. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that “anything can happen, if you let it.”

Esteemed Director Scott Plate has done an excellent job of casting a very talented cast. I was especially impressed with the children, Barrett and Daso. Their characterizations were wonderful and on point, as they held themselves up against a plethora of Broadway talent and local veterans. They were a central connection with the audience, and created a lot of enjoyment. Another energetic connection came from Aimee Collier, while playing Miss Andrew, the cruel nanny who has and addition with castor oil as a tool for obedience, and Mrs. Corry, a big haired cartoon who sells conversations. The rest of the characters in the play do a fine job of inhabiting their characters, but they almost do it too well. They play the dysfunctional aspects of their character consistently, without allowing themselves to have any element of comedic embellishment. So in Act One we are introduced to Arnold, expertly playing an emotionally shut off father and husband. We meet DeBoer, expertly playing an emotionally abused wife, who has to listen to her husband say “It’s your job to be Mrs. Banks.” And then we meet Pitcher, who expertly plays Mary Poppins with spit spot, almost military focus. I say expertly about all of these actors, because they are really good, I just wanted them to be more fun. At the end of Act One, I was a little depressed thinking how this family needs so much love to empower all of them to heal themselves and each other, because the amusement level of the piece didn’t seem to be at the forefront of the direction. Thompson expertly played Bert. He is a splendid triple threat, and one of the most engaging performers in the area. But even he was given or took a path that didn’t spark and dazzle, it just was really pleasant, but not care free. So my overall feel about the show is that I wished there was more joy throughout the show.

Now, having said that, the ticket sales tell their own story, and I can tell you that the little girl who was sitting two seats over from me had an aneurysm every time Mary Poppins appeared on stage. And that is the joy of this piece, as you sit in the audience. Hearing these kids go nuts for Mary Poppins is a gift to the soul which is incredibly empowering and wonderful. It was also great to see Peggy Gibbons performing as the Bird Woman. Her voice is a gift, as she tenderly sang “Feed the Birds.”

Some of my favorites observations were listening to Pitcher unleash her elegant and powerful vocals. When she starred in “She Loves Me” at Beck previously, the songs were gorgeous, but here, there are some tunes where her vocal prowess is astonishing (I am a sucker for belting), and would certainly make The Phantom invest in an umbrella himself. The travelling bag was a fantastic sight gag, which was beautifully executed. It was so much fun to watch endless items of length and size come magically out. The “flying technique” that was invented for this production was very original and fun. I loved how the nasty nanny ended up in a bird-cage. The set design of a backdrop of umbrellas was very cool, and the projections were impressive.

Musical Director Larry Goodpaster’s orchestra knocks it out of the park once again. Such a beautiful strong sound, and expertly in tune and in sync with the show. Goodpaster has assembled an amazing array of deft musicians. As far as the Choreography in the show, for the first time ever, I thought Martin Cespedes dance was played very safe. There were no barn burners here, just pleasant movement, but nothing that seemed bright and inventive and surprising. Cespedes is one of the kings of dance here in Cleveland, but his work here seemed uninspired. He is known for having the talent to make any group of dancers, no matter what their talent level, look good, They did look good, but not electrifying. Jeff Herman created a fabulous Scenic Design. The scenes were effective, fun and interesting. The Lighting Design by Dennis Dugan had its ups and downs. A major distraction was there seemed to be no front lighting, just side lighting, so every time cast members came downstage, their faces had shadows. Also, there was a lot of green light in the bedroom all the time. But that also spilled over to Mr. Banks office, since there seemed to be a green light that would catch him. However, having a stage with a tremendous amount of open space and solid background, makes it difficult to light colorfully. But, lighting the umbrella backdrop, made up for a lot. Costume Designer Aimee Kluiber did a nice job creating some beautiful looks. It seemed off that Collier’s costumes and make up, were so different from everything else in the show, but that just may be me. Sound Designer Carlton Guc produced an excellent experience. Video Designer Mike Tujaj did great work on the umbrella canvas. Technical Director Joseph Carmola did an excellent job of bringing the elements together. Stage Manager Libby White called a great show.

Overall, this is a nice production. All through this production, Mary Poppins clasps her hands together in a tight position, as she dispenses her magic. I just hope that as the run progresses, it doesn’t take itself so seriously, and Poppins and the main characters can unclasp themselves a bit.

** Member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

*Member appears courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

December 5 – January 4

Showtimes:
7:30pm Fridays
2:30pm and 7:30pm Saturdays (no 7:30pm Show on 12/20)
2:30pm Sundays

Tickets:
$12-$29 Reserved Seating
(216) 521-2540
Order Tickets Online

Location:
Beck Center for the Arts
17801 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107

Please credit Tpography.com when using quotes.

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration at Dobama Theatre.

Dobama Theatre
Professional Equity House Theatre

At a dinner table, Pulitzer Prize winning author Paula Vogel was talking with Molly Smith, the Artistic Director of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., sharing her dismay about the Arena producing A Christmas Carol once again as a Holiday nugget. Vogel was emphasizing her frustration over why American theatres love to highlight Victorian England and the plights of poverty in that era, instead of telling an American Christmas Carol. One could argue that the play It’s A Wonderful Life fits that bill, but Vogel wanted to tell a new story rooted in history. The fact that she grew up in Washington, D.C. and visited numerous museums, and historical places many times, influenced her tremendously. Currently, at Dobama Theatre, Artistic Director Nathan Motta is presenting A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration, which is the result of that dinner conversation. The musical is embellished with wonderful selections by Composer Daryl Waters.

As you enter the theatre, the set design is impressive. A wooden turntable rests in the middle, that will be powered by actors. A beautiful wooden background creates side stages, and a back wall where projections illuminate the space. (Unfortunately, at the performance I saw, a projection bulb had burnt out minutes before the show. Hopefully, in the future, there will be a replacement bulb on the premise.) You immediately get a sense that we are connected to the past, and the characters are just waiting to tell their stories. At the beginning of the show, we literally meet all the characters, or at least one set of characters, as a subset of the cast play multiple roles. They sing “All Quiet/Silent Night”. It is haunting and beautiful. Then, the stories begin.

Christmas Eve. Washington, D.C. 1864. It’s the coldest December in memory and the country is in the last throes of war. In and around the nation’s capital an escaped slave searches for her daughter, the first lady searches for a Christmas tree, a Union officer’s character is challenged by a young confederate, conspirators plan an assassination, and the President prepares his inaugural address while riding on horseback to retrieve a Christmas gift for his wife. This musical weaves together many characters, story lines, and pieces of music including spirituals, carols, and a setting of the Kaddish. The show reveals the universal and unifying themes of hope, joy, and the beauty of the human spirit.

This cast is formidable.
Matthew Wright* (LINCOLN) His performance is a beautifully structured and convincing honest portrayal, along with a gifted voice. Someone being Lincoln, must handle the assignment like a pro, as to not to make it a caricature. We are not disappointed. Wright is incredibly on point and impressionable.
Juliette Regnier* (MARY TODD LINCOLN) Brilliant performance. Just south of crazytown, she handles Mary’s dysfunction with dignity, and with that journey, is able to make us laugh as normal family dysfunction can, but also break our heart, as in her interaction with the dying Moses Levy (Gombas)
Sally Groth* (CLARA BARTON) Fabulous character, with incredible stage presence, and was a gifted presence to the story.
Nicole Sumlin* (ELIZABETH KECKLEY) Sumlin was on fire. Her characterization was fierce, matched by powerful vocals that moved through your soul with direct emotion. She lit up the stage without any projections, she didn’t need it.
Nathan A. Lilly+ (BRONSON) Watching this tenor voiced actor delve into a darker character and voice was interesting and rewarding. Although, the musical numbers would have benefited with more of a bass tone, Lilly created a solid personification of his journey of “take no prisoners”
Natalie Green+ (RAZ) Green is a fearless performer, and she once again shares her confidence, and unrattled personae to create this male character. At first, I was confused, but after research, realized that a female character playing Raz, a boy, is a traditional “Breeches role.” Meaning it is a male character played by a female actress, which was a custom that was very popular at the time of the Civil War. Nicely done.
Matt O’Shea+ (JOHN WILKES BOOTH) This actor is incredibly talented, and always delivers a masterful performance. O’Shea once again presents fascinating looks at complex and colorful characters.
Katrice Headd+ (HANNAH) Heartbreaking performance. I literally felt the pain of this woman, as she led her character through a journey of love and devotion to her daughter. Their journey is one of the strongest connectable story lines in the show. thanks to Headd’s acting chops.
Vincent Briley (WILLY MACK) Spirited performance. Confident, and engaging, while held beautifully in truth and story.
Tim Tavcar (ROBERT E. LEE), BobKeefe(ULYSSESS.GRANT) These gentleman literally inhabit their characters with stark reality, and seem to be mirror images of the famous men they are portraying.                                           Lashawn Little+ (JIM WORMLEY) Another beautiful character, completely developed and connectable.                                        Andrew Gombas+ (MOSES LEVY/ CHESTER SAUNDERS) Gombas is blessed with an incredible stage presence, but even more, a connectivity with the audience, which, by the way, is one of the strongest I have seen in Cleveland theatre for quite a while. A master of being so open, honest and charming, but then being able to find deeper levels of truth within the character, and the results are golden nuggets of acting. Watching someone die on stage is tough, but it is even more dramatic and powerful, when you connect with someone so much, you actually FEEL a loss as an audience member. Fabulous performance.

Brian Mueller+ (JOHN SURRAT) What i really remember about you is your musicianship, and a gorgeous voice. You fit perfectly into this cast of historical characters.
Caris Collins (JESSA) This young lady held her own and then some in the show. Strong, fearless, and not afraid to push herself physically to embody what her character had to go through. She was right on target.

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, +Equity Membership Candidate

Act One of this musical is not as aspiring as Act Two. There are too many characters, and too many scene snippets to become connected. But, there were moments. The song “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, was the first real power moment of the show. This song is often described as an American folk song that was used by members of the Underground Railroad to secretly communicate directions to runaway slaves. Telling them to follow the Big Dipper. It was very moving. As we meet the characters, vocals abilities run from serviceable to strong, but dips are overcome with deft character portrayals.

Act Two spends more time on the storylines and familiar characters, and thus, becomes incredibly more engaging. Several of the musical numbers moved me.  My favorites: Lilly leading “Yellow Rose of Texas”, Sumlin and Heaad “There is a Balm in Gilead”,  Regnier and Gombas in a spellbinding “Silent Night”, and Sumlin took us all to church in a Mega-Bus driving “Ain’t that A-Rocking”.

Director/C0-Music Director Nathan Motta. Nice Work, and the staging was crisp. Also, kudos for bringing Co-Musical Director/Keyboard Jordan Cooper on board. He is a talent.

Ben Needham created a great Scenic Design, as did Marcus Dana on his Lighting Design. Tesia Dugan Benson did some fine work on the Costume Design. Great looks. Richard Ingraham does his excellent work once again on Sound Design. From what I hear, Jennifer Sherman’s Projection Design is great, sadly, I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it. Big shout out to the horse, designed by Mark Jenks. David Tilk once again kicks ass as Technical Director. Stage Manager Megan Mingus* called a great show.

Tpography.com

12/17/2014

Please credit any quotes as Tpography.com

 

December 5 – January 4
Showtimes:
7:30pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays

Tickets:
$10-$28 Reserved Seating

(216) 932-3396

Order Tickets Online
Location:
Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

 

 

 

Theatrical Hot Flash – High Fidelity, a musical at Blank Canvas Theatre

American Falls at Cleveland Public Theatre

This past week, I got to take a trip to American Falls, Idaho, courtesy of Cleveland Public Theatre’s production of “American Falls” by Miki Johnson. It was a very rewarding adventure. Director Raymond Bobgan took a personally unique approach to creating this piece, by setting aside his usual complex, intense, and layered creation process, and imbued a more traditional approach. In doing so, the play evolved directly from the pre-written script, adept direction, and utilizing trusted actors who embody these characters with clear, precise, and emotional depth.

What is incredible about the play, is that it is Miki Johnson‘s first play, which received its 2012 world premiere at The Catastrophic Theatre. The play follows 8 characters that reveal themselves and parts of their life stories in a series of monologues, albeit three of those characters are in a scene together. The stories do cross at some point, which lends itself to some moving juxtaposition. When you consider any town or neighborhood, there are also stories to be told, and secrets to be revealed.

The actors are tremendous in their execution. Some of their personifications touched me deeply. Darius Stubbs, as Billy Mound of Clouds, is a gracious narrator of sorts. Stubbs creates an affable and engaging storyteller, who has a sublime sense of comedic timing. He is the Garrison Keillor of American Falls. Stubbs is real, down to earth, and an artist of the highest caliber. And once again, I am a hot mess about the performance of Chris Seibert. Every time I see Seibert perform, I continually get blown away by her craft. Here, she transforms herself into Samantha, who has taken too many swigs of the bottle, and bore too many children for her own sanity. Speaking from a celestial place, Seibert is funny, tough, and physically and vocally morphs into a dramatic and fascinating portrait of a damaged woman. Adam Seeholzer creates the dramatic arc of Eric, by emotionally layering himself during a tragic journey of coping with reality. Seeholzer gives a beautiful performance, as he slowly guides us through his character’s dysfunction. I thought this was a beautifully paced reveal, with a nuanced dance of illumination.

Faye Hargate, as Lisa, demonstrated a strong communication of grief, and despair. Her entire performance, as was Seibert’s, is delivered from a stool, with powerful results. Hargate is a master of becoming a complete emotional communicator.  Lovely work. The characters Eric, Matt and Maddie (PJ McCready, Ryan Edlinger, and Dionne D. Atchison) handle their scene work with sharp focus, and relaxed normalcy. Anthony Sevier did a great job staying in focus, and handling the odd scene with Seeholzer. Impressive work from one so young.

Bobgan did a great job of casting and guiding this production. All the actors had clear and focused communication with the audience. Scenic Designer Aaron Benson created a pleasing set. Excellent use of the space, and I thought that the circled couch area, reminded me of a monument circle in the middle of a town, except the monument was Billy Mound of Clouds, as master narrator. Jakyung Seo created a wonderful aura of lighting design. Angelina Herin costumed beautifully, and killed it with Specialty Makeup. Stage Manager Sarah Lynne Nicholas called a beautiful show.

Another fascinating experience at Cleveland Public Theatre, as characters are inhabited with unrestrained focus and depth.

Tpography.com

12/12/14

Please credit an quotes as Tpography.com.

December 4 – 20
Showtimes:
7pm Thursdays
7pm Fridays
7pm Saturdays
7pm Mondays

Tickets:
$12-$28 General Admission

(216) 631-2727

Order Tickets Online
Location:
Cleveland Public Theatre
James Levin Theatre

6415 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44102

 

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