Favorite

Capsule reviews of current area theater presentations. 

Midnight Martini Show -- There is a strange attraction in Frank Sinatra's loosely organized Rat Pack and their infamous, loopily disorganized Las Vegas shows that ran for a few golden years back in the 1960s. Frank, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. mixed pop songs, corny jokes, and Johnnie Walker into an irreverent, hip evening that seemed so easy. What the Midnight Martini Show at Pickwick & Frolic proves is that it ain't easy at all. This one-hour set attempts to capture the bored-with-it-all sophistication and the slightly inebriated intimacy that the Rat Packers achieved, but it fails on several counts, from the overly eager performers to the florid songs and lame drinking jokes. Which is not to say that this no-cover show doesn't provide a convenient glide path for those downtown on a Friday or Saturday night. Indeed, some of the American standards are sung well enough. Now the task is to find directors and performers who understand that being casually funny while delivering classic tunes takes a lot of work. Fridays and Saturdays at Pickwick & Frolic, 2035 East 4th St., 216-241-7425. -- Christine Howey

Night Bloomers -- Now that a few years' worth of salve has been layered on the wounds of 9-11, more artistic interpretations of that day are finding their way into production. With Night Bloomers, talented playwright Sarah Morton has imagined an America after a future terrorist attack, a place where personal restrictions abound, head counts are conducted by low-flying helicopters, and anyone can be imprisoned for any trivial reason. In short, it's a Dick Cheney wet dream, minus the toxic-waste dunk tank for Stephen Colbert. Lilia is an older woman who has spent the past six months since "the incident" locked away in her home. But she has a passion for a certain flower, the imaginary persinnium that blooms once a century and only at night. So she has contracted with Nathan, an ex-military pilot, to fly her to the desert, where she can witness the blossoming of this botanical metaphor and encounter hope in a world gone mad. While the plot engine of this play may seem a bit precious, Morton's skill at crafting detailed moments sweeps you easily into her world. Presented by Dobama Theatre through June 4 at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Ave., 216-932-3396. -- Howey

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