Arts District

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ohio Light Opera Does Cole Porter's 'Anything Goes' Plus All the Other Classical Music Events to Hit This Week

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 10:57 AM


ChamberFest Cleveland, ENCORE Chamber Music, and Ohio Light Opera continue to fill out your calendars for this week.

Diana and Franklin Cohen’s imaginative ChamberFest Cleveland continues its cycle of concerts on June 22 at 7:30 at CIM’s Mixon Hall. “Fin de Siècle” features Johannes Brahms’s Clarinet Trio, Maurice Ravel’s La Valse for Two Pianos, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Suite for Strings and Piano Left Hand.
On Friday, June 23 — also in Mixon Hall at 7:30 — will be “Hommage,” featuring J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 209, Sofia Gubaidulina’s Reflections on the theme “B-A-C-H” for String Quartet, Gyorgy Kurtág’s selections from Játétok, that composer’s take on Bach’s Sonatina from Cantata No. 106, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in d.

On Sunday, June 25 at 2:30 in Dunham Tavern Barn, “Youth” will include Wilhelm Popp’s Rigoletto Variations for Flute and Piano, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio in G, and Bela Bartók’s Piano Quintet.

“Pierrot” on Monday the 26th at 7:30 in Mixon Hall will bring to life Guillaume Connesson’s Techno Parade for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Waltzes for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Kaija Saariaho’s Sept Papillons for Cello, Carlo Gesualdo’s Vocal Selections, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Tickets for all ChamberFest concerts available here.

ENCORE Chamber Music continues with two performances at the Gilmour Academy’s Tudor House. First, on Friday, June 23, the Cavani String Quartet (Annie Fullard and Mari Sato, violins, Eric Wong, viola, and Si-Yan Darren Li, cello) performs Joaquín Turina’s La oración del torero, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8 in c, and Franz Schubert’s Quartet No. 14 in d (“Death and the Maiden”).

The Cavani return on the 25th at 2:00 for “Sunday Unplugged No. 2.” They will be joined by violinist Jinjoo Cho and violist Kim Kashkashian for Mozart’s Divertimenti in B-flat and F, K. 137 and 138, and Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 in B-flat.

On Wednesday, June 21 at 2:00 pm at Freedlander Theatre at the College of Wooster, Ohio Light Opera adds Cole Porter’s Anything Goes to Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. Five more openings will follow until all seven musicals and operettas are playing in repertoire, including H.M.S. Pinafore, Primrose, The Student Prince, Countess Maritza, and The Lady of the Slipper (a modern Cinderella). Tickets available online.

For details of these and many other events, visit the Concert Listings page.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Free Al Fresco Shakespeare Fun With "The Taming of the Shrew" Presented by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 8:50 AM


Ever since the original Shakespeare companies used boys and young men to play women’s roles, the layering and twisting of gender has been a substantial part of old Will’s entertainments. But it’s doubtful even The Man himself ever considered having the key men’s roles in The Taming of the Shrew played by women—since the dominant and submissive roles among men and women were so set in stone in the 17th Century. And (ahem) still are, in many ways.

But women do play men in the lively production of Shrew, now touring around Cleveland and Northeast Ohio under the banner of the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival. This hardy troupe, now celebrating their 20th season of presenting free Shakespeare al fresco, has taken this classic play and turned it on its head. As director Lisa Ortenzi notes in the program, “I wanted to see how Shrew would play out if mostly women took on the male roles.”

How does it work? Well, it depends how you look at it. Since women also play the main female characters, the gender switch is only half complete. From one perspective, it’s fascinating to watch capable female actors spout the words of the sexist Petruchio (a boisterous and entirely dominating Kelly Elliot), comical Tranio (Grace Mitri, continually swiveling and posturing), elderly Gremio (Samantha Cocco, adopting an old man’s manner and gait), and blue-balled Hortensio (a coiled and eager Hannah Storch).

But from another perspective, the gender flip can seem a bit of a gimmick, like having women play Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple. Ever since Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet in a prose version of that play in 1899, we’ve been intrigued by the idea of women playing men. (God knows we’ve had enough of the reverse). But those examples—Glenn Close playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan along with countless other gals playing Peter himself, Laura Welsh Berg playing the title role in Hamlet in this year’s Great Lakes Theater production—don’t readily come to mind. The reason for that should be the subject for another treatise.

In any case, this CSF production is often witty and quite enjoyable. That is the case, even though actors in a few of the roles need to be zapped with a taser to chill out a bit and consider the value of throwing a line away now and then.

All CSF plays are free, all you have to do is bring a blanket or a low-slung chair and plug into the fun. Their second and final production of the summer, Macbeth, begins July 21. Presumably with a male in the lead role…although you never know.

The Taming of the Shrew
Through July 2 at various outdoor venues, consult the schedule at
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'Rock of Ages' Is a Mess on All Fronts, But Cain Park's Production is Impossible Not to Love

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 8:46 AM


Sometimes, a show comes along that will just not be denied. No matter how much you want to dislike it for a cavalcade of minor offenses—from desperately unfunny gags to a plotline that predictably creaks and groans—the damn show eventually wins you over.

The 2009 Broadway jukebox musical Rock of Ages is, let’s face it, a mess on several fronts. As created by book author Chris D’Arienzo and Ethan Popp, who arranged and orchestrated the mid- to late- ‘80s rock tunes made popular by established artists (ie. Bon Jove, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, etc.), the play is a rock concert with a storyline stapled clumsily to it.

But the performers under the dazzling direction of Joanna May Hunkins are so balls-to-the-wall energetic, you eventually set aside your carping and go with the flow—from the blinding stage lights to the equally blinding hairdos.

It’s all based on a love story between wannabe rocker Drew and Sherrie, a gal from Kansas who just landed on Sunset Strip looking for stardom. Their love match is contrasted with the dastardly Hertz Klinemann (Kevin Kelly, deploying a hilarious, borderline impenetrable German accent) and his swishy (but not gay!) son Franz (a campy David Turner). The Germans want to turn The Strip into a strip mall for profit, gutting the Bourbon Room where all the rockers hang out.

It’s the krauts vs. the kidz and if you can’t guess who wins you need to have your brain bleached and teased until it resembles the big hair that traipses across the Alma Theatre stage.

Even though the plot is threadbare and the jokes are lame (some names of bands playing the club are called Concrete Balls and Steel Jizz. Um, really? The book author couldn’t even nail the “funny band name” gag?), the show works because it never lets up in its desire to be liked. It tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to make fun of itself at times. But the things that really work are the songs, performed by a talented band under the direction of Jordan Cooper and a talented cast of singers and dancers.

Shane Lonergan and Lauren Ashley Berry kick out the jams as Drew and Sherrie respectively, sharing one thankfully tender moment in a park with wine coolers. It is all narrated by Lonny, a relentlessly entertaining Douglas F. Bailey II, who pulls the storyline along like dragging a dead elephant seal across wet sand.

For a while, Sherrie is attracted to the visiting rock icon Stacee Jaxx, played with arrogant hauteur by Connor Bogart O’Brien—when the lead singer isn’t barfing his guts out from his latest excesses with various substances. And Neely Gevaart as Regina (It’s pronounced to rhyme with vagina…stop, you’re killing me) and Trinidad Snider as the sultry strip club madam Justice each add kickass singing and clever character portrayals to the mix. The cleverest twist in the show is when Lonny and club owner Dennis (Phillip Michael Carroll) discover each other in “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”

To tell the truth, when it comes to rock/jukebox musicals “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” But if you want a show to “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and give it to you “Any Way You Want It,” just “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Rock of Ages at Cain Park is a big, juicy slice of “Cherry Pie.”

Rock of Ages
Through June 25 at Cain Park, 14591 Superior Road, Cleveland Heights, 800-745-3000,
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'How To Be a Respectable Junkie' at Dobama Theatre Addresses the Horrors of Addiction

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 8:44 AM

We’re Number One, We’re Number One!! Yes, the state of Ohio is at the top in the nation…when it comes to deaths from opioid overdoses (Ohio Department of Health, 2014). Abuse of opioids, those drugs derived from opium, has become a way of life for many here in Buckeye land. So it’s appropriate that a play addressing that particularly horrific and confounding problem should have its world premiere here.

Although it’s sometimes wise to steer clear of plays that have an obvious healthcare or public service message, local playwright Gregory Vovos has crafted a powerful piece of theater in How To Be A Respectable Junkie. This one-person, 90-minute piece is a journey through the woes of a white-collar fellow who’s become hooked and can’t (or won’t) give it up.

Brian is a 30-something dude who lives in his mother’s basement because he wants to spend every dime of his salary on the drugs he lives for. But he’s coming to the end of his rope, so he’s decided to share his hard-won knowledge, expressed in the title, on a video recorder he’s recently stolen.

As he talks and rants to the camera, he exchanges “dialog” with his dog Hope, given to him by his mother on the off chance a pet might alter his doomed trajectory. We never see the yapping dog, which is kept in a crate covered with blankets, but we see plenty of Brian as he decomposes before our eyes.

Playwright Vovos clearly knows his way around this territory, and the details he uses to explain how druggies shoot up, avoid detection, and deal with relatives is brutally precise. The amazingly talented actor Christopher M. Bohan brings Brian to painful life, as Brian confesses his weaknesses and rages at “earthlings” for not understanding how difficult it is to fight this addiction.

The play is nearly perfect right up until the last ten minutes, when Vovos surrenders to that bugaboo of many playwrights: over-explaining. As a result, the show limps to a conclusion as the eventually healthy Brian delivers a mini-seminar on how he has a new purpose in life, all to the tune of “Amazing Grace.”

The ending, well-meaning though it is, is way too pat. But most of Junkie is right on the mark, showing us earthlings how it feels to be stuck on the business end of those deadly needles.

How To Be A Respectable Junkie
Through July 2 at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396,
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Waterloo Arts Fest Highlights the Street's Best Qualities This Weekend

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 10:16 AM

Looking for a little fun in the sun this weekend? Don’t miss the Waterloo Arts District’s hottest day of the year. The 15th Annual Waterloo Arts Fest takes place from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, on Waterloo Road, between East 161st Street and Calcutta Avenue.

This year’s Waterloo Arts Fest features more than 100 artists, 40 bands and DJs, 20 food vendors and food trucks, children’s activities, entertainment, roaming street performers, parade puppets, stilt walkers and more. Performances will take place on multiple outdoor stages and inside local businesses throughout the district all day. This year’s fest includes several new elements, including a storytelling stage, DayGlo Playscape, hula hoop workshop, yoga, chalk mandalas and a pop-up natural playground by Humans to Nature.

Although the Waterloo Arts Fest is in its 15th year, Waterloo Arts executive director Amy Callahan describes a newfound understanding of the event’s true purpose: “We have guiding principles and a kind of flavor we were going for, but this year I realized the real purpose of the event. For seven hours every year, we are modeling the best qualities of a bustling city street. We are trying to create the feeling you have when you visit any great urban area around the world: a place with a mix of people — young, old, every shade and every style — all working and playing together with interesting things happening all around you.”

The Waterloo Arts District includes several arts and cultural organizations, such as Waterloo Arts, Praxis Fiber Workshop, Brick Ceramic + Design Studio, Zygote Press’ Ink House, the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, Loren Naji’s Satellite Gallery, Article Gallery and several individual artist studios.

Again this year, Waterloo Arts presents its annual Waterloo Arts Fest Juried Exhibition. Open to anyone over the age of 18 residing in the U.S. or Canada, this year’s competitive show is selected by Anderson Turner, director of the School of Art Collection and Galleries at Kent State University and art critic for the Akron Beacon Journal. New this year, the exhibition has expanded to three venues: Waterloo Arts, Praxis Fiber Workshop and Brick Ceramic Studio + Design. Be sure to stop by all three sites to see the entire exhibition and all the award-winning entries.

(Waterloo Arts) 15605 Waterloo Rd., 216-692-9500,

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Beachland Hosts First of Three Summer Rockin' Flea Markets

Posted By on Sat, Jun 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The Beachland Ballroom and Tavern's annual Rockin' Flea Market provides a great opportunity to pick up some local arts, crafts and vintage wares. This summer, the club will host three such events.

Several vendors will be on hand for today's event, which takes place in the club's large ballroom, and food and beverages will be available in the tavern.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Cleveland Museum of Art Announces the Schedule for This Year's Ohio City Stages

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 3:25 PM

  • Scott Shaw Photography
For the past couple of summers, the Cleveland Museum of Art has hosted Ohio City Stages, a weekly summer block party that takes place in front of the Transformer Station during the month of July.

Acts slated to play this summer include the following: steel string bachata icon Joan Soriano (July 5), a guy who plays a genre of Dominican music that draws upon influences from Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean; Totó la Momposina (July 12), a cumbia group that recently received the WOMEX Lifetime Achievement Award and the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; El Septeto Santiaguero (July 19), a Latin band that has performed in more than 30 countries; and Mokoomba (July 26), a Zimbabwe band that blends traditional Tonga and Luvale rhythms with funk, ska and soukous.

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