Arts District

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Space:ROCK Gallery to Host Special Dead Boys Photography Exhibit

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 4:41 PM

  • Dave Treat
The Dead Boys emerged from Cleveland in the late 1970s and would go on to achieve national (and even international) acclaim before quickly imploding.

Photographer Dave Treat captured the band during that time period. Dead Boys 1977: The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat, a book edited and designed by locally based writer and graphic designer Ron Kretsch, chronicles the group's early days.

In conjunction with the Dead Boys 40th anniversary concert that takes place on Friday, June 29, at the Beachland Ballroom, Space:ROCK Gallery will host a show featuring even more of Treat’s Dead Boys photos. Treat has added about 20 never-before-seen hand-printed images for this exhibit.

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ESU Cleveland to Host Annual Benefit at Acacia Reservation

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 8:48 AM

An organization that hosts a number of local arts education programs, ESU Cleveland aims to “celebrate English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, its members and the community.” It also provides workshops that focus on teaching through performance. 

At 6 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at the Acacia Reservation in Lyndhurst, it hosts its annual All-City Shakespeare gala. The event includes a production of Romeo and Juliet as part of a benefit that celebrates a series of 2017-2018 programs.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cleveland Museum of Art Announces the Schedule for Its Summer Concert Series

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 1:33 PM

  • Cleveland Museum of Art
Earlier today, the Cleveland Museum of Art and FRONT International announced the schedule for City Stages, CMA’s summer concert series that takes place in Ohio City.

This year, shows will still take place outside the Transformer Station in Ohio City on Wednesdays throughout the month of July, but they’ll also migrate to other parts of the city.

The series commences on July 14 with Jupiter Bonkodji, a Kinshasa musician who weaves Congolese rhythms into contemporary African music. That concert will be part of the FRONT Public Opening Celebration. It takes place at Uptown in University Circle.

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Apollo's Fire Does the “Greatest Hits of the 1720s” and the Rest of the Classical Music to Catch in Cleveland This Week

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 11:12 AM

  • Courtesy Apollo's Fire
The Cleveland Trombone Seminar continues this week with performances in Drinko Hall at Cleveland State University. On Wednesday, June 20 at 7:00 pm, Mark Lancaster Lusk brings members of his Penn State Trombone Choir and friends along for music by Bernstein, Vaughan Williams, and The Eminent J.J. Johnson. On Thursday, June 21 at 7, Blair Bollinger from The Philadelphia Orchestra will play a varied program including Anthony Plog’s Postcards. Ensembles rule the rest of the week, with chamber groups on Friday, June 22 at 7 playing Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, and massed trombones on Saturday, June 23 at 1:00 pm playing arrangements of music by Bach, Bruckner, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Strauss. Those last two performances are free, otherwise tickets will be available at the door.

Thursday, June 21 marks the annual, worldwide Make Music Day, locally presented by Credo Music. Check out the listings here for a variety of free performances around greater Cleveland.

Apollo’s Fire is getting ready to tour its “Greatest Hits of the 1720s” program to summer festivals and will give two at-home performances on Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 pm at Bath Church UCC and Friday, June 22 at 8:00 pm in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Virtuoso concertos by Bach and Vivaldi are on the docket, and you can order tickets online.

ChamberFest Cleveland moves into its second week with concerts featuring George Crumb’s Voice of the Whale on Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 pm and music by Handel, Ligeti, and Brahms on Saturday, June 23. Both performances are in Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and tickets can be ordered here.

The Classical Saxophone Project brings saxophonist Javier Oviedo and pianist Ron Palka to the Bop Stop on Saturday, June 23 at 8:00 pm. Tickets can be reserved online.

And another summer festival begins on Sunday, June 24 at 7:30 pm as the American Lute Society presents Paul O’Dette in the opening concert of LuteFest 2018 at Harkness Chapel at Case. You can enjoy a long list of performances into next week by world-class lutenists — many of whom started out as rock guitarists — including Crawford Young at 1:00 pm and Ayreheart at 7:30 pm on Monday, June 25, Xavier Diáz-Latorre on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:30 pm, and the duo of Paul O’Dette and Ronn McFarlane on Wednesday, June 27 at 1:00 pm. Tickets available only at the door.

Check out details of these and many other classical music events on our Concert Listings page.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Mercury Theatre Company Turns Cinderella on Its Head in 'Soho Cinders,' Featuring a Young Gay Man at the Center of the Ball

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 11:58 AM

  • Courtesy Mercury Theatre Company

Okay, sure, Jerry Lewis did it first in Cinderfella, turning the Cinderella story on its head and switching genders of the poor little heroine. But as inventive as Lewis was, he could never have anticipated Cinderella being turned into Robbie, a young gay man who is having an affair with a married (to a woman) mayoral candidate, James Prince, in London, England while diddling a Lord Bellingham on the side.

That’s the essence of the musical Soho Cinders now being produced by the Mercury Theatre Company. Robbie shares his confusion with his girlfriend Velcro during their frequent meetings at the local laundrette, Sit and Spin. And that relationship actually turns out to be the most affecting and resonant one in the show

The music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe range from acceptable to downright wonderful. Although the book by Drewe takes some enormous leaps of logic, eschewing reality when it comes to a political candidate having such dalliances.

As with Cinderella, the story comes to a climax during a ball, when the three men meet awkwardly. Robbie has managed to get to the fancy-dress affair despite the shenanigans of his evil stepsisters Dana and Clodagh.

Under the direction of Pierre-Jacques Brault, the cast is quite competent with a couple standout moments. The duet between Mason Henning as Robbie and Kennedy Ellis as Velcro is drop-dead gorgeous. And Amiee Collier and Kelvette Beacham as the sisters spare no calories in making the women as nightmarish as possible. That comes to a head in the song “I’m So Over Men” which, as you might expect, is so wrong.

As Prince (who is, you know, the “Prince”), Brian Marshall dials back the attitude he often brings to character roles, playing a fairly straight (though gay) character with a bracing degree of honesty. And Joe Monaghan as Prince’s campaign manager adds a dash of sarcastic edge to the proceedings.

Even though the overall pace of the show seems a bit lethargic, and the British colloquialisms and accents are incomprehensible at times, the music shines forth. That makes Soho Cinders a must-see for those who relish new musicals that are willing to take chances.

Soho Cinders
Through June 23 produced by Mercury Theatre Company, Notre Dame College, Regina Hall, 1857 S. Green Rd., South Euclid, 216-771-5862,
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'Memphis, the Musical' Deftly Captures How Rhythm and Blues Gave Birth to Rock

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 10:39 AM

  • Courtesy Cain Park

There are a few good reasons to see Memphis, the Musical now at Cain Park. But none of them have to do with the story and how it rolls out. This is not to say that the tale of a white man who actively promoted African-American “race music” in the 1950s isn’t interesting. It is quite intriguing, since it’s based on the real story of a man named Dewey Phillips, a Memphis disc jockey.

It’s just that his story, along with that of Felicia Farrell, a dazzling young black singer, is related in such a predicable manner you could write it in your sleep. And that may be what Joe DiPietro did, who also co-wrote the lyrics, since every dramatic curve and plot turn can be seen coming from a mile away.

But none of that was enough to keep Memphis from winning the 2010 Tony for best musical, and it shouldn’t be enough to stop you from visiting the Alma Theater on the Cain Park campus and delving into this professional, virtually airtight production directed by the estimable Joanna May Cullinan.

The original music composed by David Bryan, keyboard player for Bon Jovi, is a blessed relief from so many of the jukebox musicals that are often employed to tell the story of the beginnings of rock ‘n’ roll. While not every one of his songs is memorable, there are certain pieces that definitely rock the house. But more importantly, the entire score deftly captures the essence of how black rhythm and blues songs were “sped up” and became what we know as rock music.

It all begins in a Beale Street dive, owned and named after a black man named Delray that is frequented by many in the Memphis black community. And in walks Huey (who is the Dewey character. There is no Louie, sadly.), and this unassuming white guy stands out like, well, a white guy in a black bar. Remember, this was the early-to-mid 1950s, a time when racial separation was the rule of the day.

After some initial resistance, Huey warms up the patrons by singing “Music of My Soul,” a tribute to the black music that is overwhelming the bland white music dominating the pop charts at the time. Soon, Huey wrangles his way into a temporary gig at a local radio station, a white music station sitting securely in “the middle of the dial.” (Note to young people: who listen to music on their phones: Radios once had dials that you turned to select different stations. And the primo stations were in the middle of that dial. What’s a radio? Oh, forget about it.)

Along the way, Huey meets and is smitten by Felicia Farrell, Delray’s sister and one of the featured singers at the club. The white man’s attentions and intentions are noted by Delray and others in the bar, much to their consternation. But Huey is not a man who is easily put off.

That idea comes through with powerful clarity due to the performance of Douglas F. Bailey II as Huey. Sporting a posture that is best described as a perpetual slump and a speaking voice that makes every sentence sound like a whiny question, Bailey’s Huey always seems like a mangy dog that has just been beaten and left out in the rain. But as this whole show demonstrates, you shouldn’t judge people by how they look. It turns out that Huey has a will of iron when it comes to defending the music he loves and pursuing the woman of his dreams.

After Huey sneaks some black music onto a white radio station, and the phones are jammed with positive white reaction, the storyline progresses just as you would expect. But that’s okay since Bailey is a kickass rock singer who is matched and then exceeded by Nicole Sumlin who plays Felicia.

Of course, Felicia has most of the good songs, but Sumlin turns each of them into gleaming gems. This is particularly true with “Someday,” the song she sings live on Huey’s radio show, at the moment when she and Huey bond and the black music takes over the Memphis airwaves. Huey’s radio show is soon number one in the market, and his relationship with Felicia is soon also #1 with a bullet. But that won’t last, as you knew it wouldn’t.

Bailey and Sumlin are supported admirably by a large cast and stellar performances in key roles. Among those are Anthony Savage-Williams as Delray, the fearsomely energetic Elijah Dawson as Huey’s black friend Bobby, and Chris Richards as Mr. Simmons, the white owner of the radio station who is won over by the money Huey’s black music is bringing in. Also, music director Jordan Cooper and choreographer Leilani Barrett keep the energy pumping—even through a second act that isn’t nearly as compelling as Act One.

Yes, eventually the familiarity of the story wears thin, particularly in the final moment of reconciliation between Huey and Felicia. But never mind, the performances are king in this show, and those are spectacular.

Memphis, The Musical
Through July 1 at Cain Park, Alma Theater, Superior Road between Lee Road and South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, 216-371-3000,
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Friday, June 15, 2018

Cain Park's 80th Season Kicks Off Tonight with 'Memphis: The Musical'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 3:59 PM

  • Courtesy of Theatrical Rights Worldwide
The heart of Cleveland Heights' summer experience, Cain Park, is celebrating its 80th season with a dynamic slate of events, kicking off tonight with the opening of Memphis: The Musical.

Directed by Cain Park Theater's Artistic Director Joanna May Cullinan, with musical direction by Jordan Cooper, Memphis: The Musical stars two of Cleveland's most talented vocalists, Nicole Sumlin as Felicia Farrell and Douglas F. Bailey II as Huey Calhoun.

"This piece is still all too relevant," Bailey, previously in the productions of Godspell and Rock of Ages at Cain Park, tells Scene. "It's important for today's audience to have the perspective of where we were as a society 60-plus years ago, but it is also important to remind ourselves that we have not come as far as time would make us think."

Inspired by actual events, Memphis: The Musical is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break. Audiences will be taken along on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves – filled with laughter, soaring emotion and roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll.

In speaking with actress Sumlin, she tells us the show truly surprised her.

"In developing my take on Felicia Farrell and diving into this era of our nation’s history, I revisited my own family’s history in the South and reflected on my own experiences as an African-American," she says. "In doing so, I found myself giving voice to some truths that I’d not shared before 'in the room' while developing a piece — specifically reflecting on a relationship I had with a Caucasian young man when I was a teenager, with the pain of the ignorance and racism we experienced from his family."

And to share the sentiment of fellow cast member Kate Michalski, Sumlin's performance is one you won't want to miss.

"You think you’re ready to hear Nicole Sumlin? You are not ready to hear Nicole Sumlin," Michalski says. "You will hear Nicole Sumlin, and when it’s done, you will not have been ready to hear Nicole Sumlin."

The cast of Memphis: The Musical features 23 actors across multiple races and generations, creating a sound as beautiful as it is diverse. Director Joanna May Cullinan explains that because Cain Park is owned and operated by the City of Cleveland Heights, it was really important to her to choose a show that represents this community. "Memphis celebrates love, diversity and the arts; it’s going to be personal for a lot of people," she says.

Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical and two 2015 Olivier Awards, Memphis features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro and a Tony-winning original score with music by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and Bon Jovi founding member, David Bryan. And Bailey and Sumlin both say they've learned so much working in this show.

"Building the world of this work allowed yet another opportunity to reiterate the importance of authenticity and integrity when portraying communities of color," says Sumlin. "This show let us shout out loud about how strong love actually is. Our society has come so far, but has so very far to go. I did not expect to be as challenged, impacted, and changed as I have been."

Continues Bailey, "I hope that this piece causes the audience to consider the current climate of our country. The events of the play occurred in the 1950s, and yet we have still allowed blind hatred to be so prominent. This story is ultimately one of love. Hopefully our telling of it will spread that love."

Memphis: The Musical
 plays at the Alma Theater at Cain Park until July 1st. Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are available here. Cain Park is located at 14591 Superior Road in Cleveland Heights.
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