|"Everything Is Okay (and Other Helpful Lies)"|
by Melissa T. Crum & Caitlin Lewins
Cleveland Public Theatre
Photo by Steve Wagner
It’s been a huge month for theater, which is usually the case for October as traditional season cycles begin. The difference this year is that I have actually had the opportunity to attend several of them, which is not often the case.
I actually had the chance to begin the month by attending the Dark Room, Cleveland Public Theatre’s monthly playwriting “open mic.” It’s free, it happens every second Tuesday, and there is beer. In addition to several ten minute plays written by about a half dozen writers, I threw in a few odd pages from a new piece I have started. They didn’t go anywhere, but people laughed, and so I am encouraged.
See you there November 13th.
The KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square has begun. First up, Hello Dolly! Featuring the incomparable Betty Buckley. She really was delightful and made a warm connection with the audience.
|Waiting for the show to begin.|
Everything Is Okay (and Other Helpful Lies)
Last weekend I had the opportunity to witness a preview performance of Everything Is Okay (and Other Helpful Lies) at Cleveland Public Theatre. Written by Melissa T. Crum and Caitlin Lewins and under the powerful direction of Matthew Wright, this Millennial musical is a breathtakingly ambitious and brilliant event.
It has been very inspiring to watch and listen as Missy and Caitlin first presented this piece as a cabaret of songs at the first Entry Point, later performing an uncompleted version of the book at this year’s Entry Point (there was a point in the second act where character was broken and one announced, “Okay, we’re not sure how we’re wrapping this all up yet, but it may go like this ...”) to this fully-realized performance, executed with urgency and style. And may I say the band is fucking incredible?
The show opens to a sold out crowd tonight!
|Colin Holter speaking before "Mamma Mia!"|
Great Lakes Theater
The company for whom I am employed, Great Lakes Theater, is currently presenting Mamma Mia! and Joseph Hanreddy’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in rotating repertory, and these productions are each a smash. The Jane Austen play is entirely sold out, with Mamma Mia! which runs an additional week, almost to capacity. Tickets are still available, especially on Halloween.
As a member of the education department, I often host GLT’s weekly pre-show event, Playnotes, where we engage an area expert to provide historical background to that afternoon’s performance. Last weekend our guest was Colin Holter, composer, teacher, and writer on music. He described to a packed salon the origins of ABBA’s original success in the mid-1970s, the particular techniques they use in their singing to catch the ear and the heart, and their enduring popularity.
Holter brought a guitar and was able to play and sing a few verse to better illustrate these techniques, and the assembled were rapt and impressed. He will speak again before matinee performances on Saturdays November 3rd and 10th, which currently have a limited number of available seats.
|"When the Tiger Sneezed" by Toni K. Thayer|
Talespinner Children's Theatre
Every year, in addition to their main stage work at Reinberger Auditorium, Talespinner Children's Theatre produces a shorter program, designed for touring. For 2019 that production is When the Lion Sneezed (Tales of Ancient Assyria and Beyond) written by Toni K. Thayer, a beautiful artist, educator, and my spouse.
It is a tradition that this touring show debuts at the annual Harlequinade gala in the fall and this year was no exception. What was unusual was the storm which blew through and knocked over powerlines across the city last Saturday night. The electricity went out roughly an hour and a half before guests were due to arrive, but thanks to smart thinking and a team of volunteers who just kept working by battery-operated lanterns (we have kinds of crazy things in theaters) they were able to procure a generator which lit up the party room upstairs.
The stage downstairs was still dark, however, but as this play was designed to be produced anywhere, they swiftly adapted it to the party room and we had the opportunity to witness and enjoy Toni’s delightful tale of the origin of cats -- and the diverse ways we feel about them.
|"Sweat" by Lynn Nottage|
Cleveland Play House
Photo by Roger Mastroianni
Earlier this week, Chennelle and I saw the Cleveland Play House production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat. If there is a contemporary play that deserves a Pulitzer Prize, it is this play, and this local production, directed by Laura Kepley, is outstanding.
It is also a thrill to see that half of the cast consists of Cleveland actors, namely Bob Ellis, Chris Seibert, Jimmy D. Woody and CPH Associate Artistic Director Robert Barry Fleming.
Sweat is an epic take on the decline of American manufacturing jobs and an even-handed observation of the events which led to the election of Donald J. Trump. Not that Trump is the answer, as it is evident that he is absolutely not, but is a clear-eyed explanation of how we arrived at this present moment.
|"MST3K Live 30th Anniversary Tour"|
Last night the boy and I attended the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Live 30th Anniversary Tour at the Agora. My goodness, I have not been to the Agora in years and years and years. The movie being taken apart was Deathstalker II, and during the first few minutes the ‘bots made a GWAR joke, which was striking to me because that may have been the last concert I attended there!
Jokes flew fast and furiously, and there is really nothing like laughing together in a packed house. Robots Tom Servo and Crow were joined by both Joel Hodgson and Jonah Ray.
I’ve been enjoying MST3K since the early 90s, so Joel is my favorite, but the Netflix reboot featuring Jonah is also hilarious and the pop culture references are fresh so my son can enjoy they, too. The old episodes are practically Dada-esque to him, most satire is … which may be why his generation loves nonsense humor. It’s good pushback and it irritates the grown-ups.
It’s time. We announced auditions for this weekend a few days ago, and the available slots filled up pretty fast. There is a company in there somewhere and I am very excited to discover who they are.
Cleveland Public Theatre presents "Everything Is Okay (and other Helpful Lies)" in the Levin Theatre through November 10, 2018.
Great Lakes Theatre presents "Mamma Mia!" at the Hanna Theatre through November 11, 2018.
Cleveland Play House presents "Sweat" at the Outcalt Theatre through November 4, 2018.