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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

There comes a time in any dynamic evolution, where the need to stretch and grow becomes a necessity. Such is the case at the Coach House Theatre with the creation of the Artists Choice: Black Box Series.  As Nancy Cates, Co-Artistic Director, explains “This series will enable Coach House Theatre to flex their artistic muscle and attract a younger audience, new young-adult actors, and directors.” This program enables play selections that are not part of traditional programming. To start the series off, the offering is the wildly dynamic “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” by John Patrick Shanley. Mr. Shanley has quite the resume which includes the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning “Doubt.” With good material to jump start a new series, the next job is to cast the show with solid performers to prove the point that different can be a good thing. And director Sarah Coon does just that, while guiding the piece in terrific form and execution.

The story involves two damaged people that find comfort in one another. The setting is a rundown bar in the Bronx, where two of society's rejects, Danny (Joe Pine) and Roberta (Tess Burgler), strike up a halting conversation over their beer. This is a raw, funny and poignant romantic tale with adult language and sexual content--just what the Series ordered. This is a 70 minute ride without intermission delving into the lives of two souls who have not had a good day in a long time.  Pine and Burgler inhabit these two shattered lives with intensity and sharp focus. These two actors are amazing. To be honest, I want to wear them as clip-on earrings and just go around and act. Thank you.

In the beginning, Roberta is a woman who states, “Sometimes, I just start screaming,” while Danny shares that, along with his anger issues, “It never seems like enough.” Both characters live at home and are struggling to make a life for themselves. Roberta is haunted by a past sexual encounter, and Danny is struggling with panic attacks that can completely shut him down. But this is visceral acting that we witness. Both actors convey their character’s faults and tortured connection with great acumen. And when the two decide to spend the night together, the entrance into the bedroom generates more heat than watching the movie “Body Heat” on fast forward. It wouldn't be a bad idea to have ice water available for the faint of heart. Then we journey through what real emotions these two can garner. Watching Danny’s tender moments is a scream. The resolution is touching. The physicality in the play was both excellent and disturbing. These are two actors that trust each other explicitly and, as a result, the purest of truth resides.

Congrats to Coach House Theatre on an exciting new journey. I know that I will be there supporting the next production.

Kevin Joseph Kelly

Monday, March 31, 2014


Near West Theatre empowers young people to believe in themselves through the process of theatre.
No greater an example will be the upcoming production of Once On This Island.
This is the second to the last show at the St. Pats location, before Near West Theatre moves into it's brand new theatre in the Gordon Square Arts District.
Come see what transformational theatre is all about.

Diverse kids from city, suburbs offer Once On This Island Jr. April 10-13
Musical about class, culture and love features cast of 31, ages 9 to 15

Boys and girls in Near West Theatre’s “Kids Loud and Musical Organic Revue” program are preparing a lively, mystical musical about two young people who cross lines of class, culture and race and how the communities around them react.

Caribbean-themed song and dance are featured in Once On This Island Jr., on stage Thursday, April 10, Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, April 13, at 3 p.m. Performances will be at the theater’s longtime home in the St. Patrick’s Club Building, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland. It will be the next-to-last production in that location before Near West makes a transition to its new home, now under construction in the Gordon Square Arts District.

Like the original Once On This Island, which received nine 1991 Tony nominations on Broadway, this “junior” version – shortened and modified for young actors – follows the orphan girl Ti Moune and the wealthy boy Daniel through journeys of beauty and struggle as they challenge boundaries that separate two cultures on a Caribbean island. The cast includes 17 girls and 14 boys, ages 9 to 15. They are African American, Euro-American, Hispanic American, and of multiracial heritage. Seventeen are from Cleveland; the rest are from Avon, Avon Lake, Berea, Euclid, Lakewood, Mayfield Heights, Olmsted Township, Sheffield and Westlake.

Tickets can be purchased at, or by calling the box office at 216-961-6391 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. Reserved Star Seats with special benefits are $20; general admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under.

Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Greater Cleveland Community Shares and the Ohio Arts Council.

Cast of Once On This Island Jr.
Near West Theatre, Cleveland, April 10-13, 2014
Felix Albino (Papa Ge)
Tatiana Ally
Kylie Colvin
Cole Emerine
Abby Golden
Lindsay Hajostek
Mary Halm
Corinne Howery (Asaka)
Rakim Huff
Rachel Johanek
Louis Johnson II (Tonton Julian)
Bryen Kilbane
Sabrina Kim
Jonas Kukelhan
Christine Larson
Elliot Lockshine
Madelyn Lockshine
Finn O’Malia
Phil Pantalone
Joceyln Perkins (Ti Moune)
Diana Popa
Stellina Scacco (Mama Euralie)
Grace Schumann
Cole Tarantowski (Daniel)
Christian Toth
Nora Van Lier
Rafael Velez III
Colin Wheeler (Agwe)
Elijah Whitt
Morgan Williams (Erzulie)
Allison Yellets (Andrea)

Production Staff
Director: Kelcie Nicole Dugger. Musical Director: Evie Morris. Assistant Director: Anthony Williams. Choreographer: Andrea Belser. Technical Director and Production Manager: Josh Padgett. Assistant Technical Director: Perren Hedderson. Scenic, Properties and Costume Designer: Laura Carlson Tarantowski. Stage Manager and Assistant Production Manager: Ryan Wolf. Assistant Stage Manager: Anthony Williams. Lighting Designer: Tobias Peltier. Sound Designer: Joshua Caraballo. Properties Master: Jessica Rosenlieb. Artistic Director, NWT: Bob Navis Jr. Executive Director, NWT: Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek.

Suggested performance listing:
Near West Theatre. St. Pat’s Club Building, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland. 216-961-6391 or Once On This Island Jr. April 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.; April 13 at 3 p.m. Star Seat, $20; general admission, $10 adults, $8 children (12 and under).

NOTE: Near West Theatre’s 3rd-floor performance space is accessible only by stairs. It is not accessible to persons with certain disabilities. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our future home in the Gordon Square Arts District, which will be fully accessible.

Once On This Island Jr.
Book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Based upon the novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy
Originally directed and choreographed on Broadway by Graciela Daniele
Playwrights Horizons, Inc. produced “Once On This Island” Off-Broadway in 1990

Originally produced on Broadway by The Schubert Organization, Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.
Suntory International Corporation and James Walsh, in association with Playwrights Horizons


“Directed by Sarah May.” Those words alone tell you the production you are about to see is going to be great. Actors turn out in droves to audition when she is directing, and her meticulous method of making the set look as authentic as possible is part of the artistic charm that exudes in her productions. Well, May has done it again with a terrific production of “Life With Father” at Weathervane Playhouse. Debuting on Broadway in 1939, it holds the distinction of being the longest running non-musical play in Broadway history. May does the production justice, transforming all of us back to a time when family entertainment was indeed just that -- laughter coming from actual events and conversations that we all have experienced in our own family dynamics. The play was dramatized by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, based on the stories by Clarence Day. These stories were first run in The New Yorker magazine. It tells the true story of Clarence Day, a stockbroker who wants to be master of his house, but finds his wife and his children ignoring him until they start making demands for him to change his own life -- the major change being his wife’s insistence that Clarence be baptized to avoid going to Hell. There are other family dynamics as well that seem to keep everyone on their toes. May even stays with the original story and all the boys in the household are redheads. That is an eye for detail.

Jim Fippin as Father, Clarence Day, Sr., is a bombastic blast. So set in his ways, Fippin does a great job at making this pompous father lovable and exasperating at the same time. He creates a textured father with a good heart but an overbearing way of expression. Tari Lyn Bergoine as mother Vinnie Day is spectacular. She owns this character and this time period in a beautifully nuanced performance with deft comedic choices. Watching Mother manipulate Father is a joy to behold.

The kids are terrific. You really feel that they are part of an actual family, with each inhabiting their character with resilient charm and presence. Clarence Day, Jr. is played with great effect by Eric Lucas. As the older child, he does a great job conveying the yearning of trying to become an adult with financial independence, and handling the ups and downs of a first love. Will Price is a hoot as John Day. Price has a great playful charm that he uses with great skill throughout the production. As a salesman, he has some great comic moments. The Desberg brothers, Owen and Spencer, are scene stealers as Whitney and Harlan Day, handling the roles with great focus and cuteness, and generating plenty of smiles along the way, red heads and all.

Cousin Cora is colorfully played by Jenny Barrett, bringing great charm and bubbliness to the role. You are happy to see her when she visits. As her daughter, Mary Skinner, Erin Moore brings an endearing quality that makes it easy to see why Day, Jr. would fall head over heels for her. Reverend Dr. Lloyd (Richard Worswick) is very fun. Under the character antics supplied by Worswick, the Reverend is a pleasure to watch as he looks for the right moment to encourage the baptism of the ages. Dr. Humphreys (Steve Boardman) reminds me of the Sean Connery of the medical profession -- great job, along with his back up physician, Dr. Somers (John Grafton).

The maids are kept busy in the show. Margaret (April Deming) is a scream to watch as she tries to make everything perfect and manage the staff.  Watching her get a bit rattled is delightful. Annie (Kay Caprez), Delia (Sasha Desberg), Nora (Madelyn E. Francis), and Maggie (Jennifer Desberg) do double duty during the show, not only playing their parts and trying to serve the meals without setting the alarm off inside Mr. Day, Sr., but also being involved in the scene changes, making them interesting to watch.  There is also an easel to the side that the maids switch with each scene, following the play’s timeline like we were watching in an old silent movie theatre.

The creative team does a tremendous job: Stage Manager Scott Crim calls a terrific show. Sound Designer Michelle Conner does a great job at blending the spoken word with the fabulous song choices. Properties Designer Jennifer Maxson Draher must have worked overtime on a marvelous set with incredible detail. Costume Designer Jasen J. Smith knocked it out the park with his designs. The family looked amazing, and the woman to die for. But leading the charge were the designs for the Mother. Bravo. Scenic/Lighting Designer Alan Scott Ferrall continues his streak of incredible professional work. The set is incredibly impressive and lit to highlight the action with a loving embrace.

This is what family theatre is all about.  Weathervane kicks some creative butt with this production.

Kevin Joseph Kelly

March 27 - April 13
7:30pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays

$5-$21 Reserved Seating
(330) 836-2626
Order Tickets Online
Weathervane Playhouse
1301 Weathervane Lane
Akron, Ohio 44313


Handle With Care

Currently at Actors’ Summit is the very funny romantic comedy “Handle with Care” by Jason Odell Williams. The play ran Off-Broadway recently and was the vehicle for the return of Carol Lawrence, who first struck Broadway gold as Maria in the original “West Side Story.” The story involves Ayelit (Natalie Sander Kern), who is visiting America with her grandmother Edna (Marci Paolucci). Edna unfortunately dies on Christmas Eve morning, and Ayelit is left with the task of shipping the body back to Israel for a prompt burial. Unfortunately, the delivery man, Terrence (Arthur Chu), loses the box with the grandmother inside. So he calls his best Jewish friend, Josh (Keith Stevens*), because he is sure he can speak Hebrew. Well, if it was only that easy! The results are comedic and surprisingly romantic, and a hot mess of characters navigating a crazy situation.

Constance Thackaberry* (director) does a great job with this piece, with great casting and keeping the pace cooking while knowing exactly when to dim the lights and let the moment simmer.

Kern (Ayelit) is FANTASTIC! If I were Actors’ Summit, I would rent a furnished apartment upstairs, install a fire station pole, and let her slide down into every show I produced. Kern is on full cylinders from the second the play begins and she never stops. A recent transfer from Pensacola, FL, she is an incredible addition to the acting chops in the area. She also handled the Hebrew with deft accuracy, while learning the language phonetically, and assisted by Hebrew Coach Oudi Singer. Both are masterful at what they do, as teacher and student. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Stevens embodies Josh with great comedic timing and one-liners to die for. With charm and a solid lovable character, he kills it in the role. He shows a beautiful arc of letting the past go and enabling himself to understand it is ok to have a future and love again.

Arthur Chu’s Terrence reminds me of Tom Arnold, if he graduated from Animal House--not the sharpest tool in the shed.  Chu brings sublime dysfunction to his character. I would not be surprised if her had to use his own delivery GPS to get home. Playing it over the top with his amazing summations of life and intellect, he certainly is an audience favorite. Marci Paolucci brings a warm and loving quality to Edna. Without bravado, she establishes a great connection with the audience and with her on-stage daughter.

The production staff supports this production with aplomb. Kevin Rutan+ (Technical Director) does great work, as well as Anna Bose (Stage Manager) calling a great show.

There are a lot of laughs here, and some very impressive performances. I mean, seriously, where else can you see a Jewish Christmas play in the spring?

Kevin Joseph Kelly

*Member of Actors’ Equity, the professional association of actors and stage managers in the United States.
+Member of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

March 27 - April 13
8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$10-$33 Reserved Seating
(330) 374-7568
Order Tickets Online
Actor's Summit at Greystone Hall
103 High Street, Sixth Floor
Akron, OH 44308

Friday, March 28, 2014


Currently at the Cleveland Play House is the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, presented in association with Geva Theatre Center, Directed by Geva Artistic Director Mark Cuddy. Clybourne Park (2010) was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun (1959). This play will certainly generate discussion. One discussion point is about suicide and how family members and loved ones cope with and mask their emotions. But the major discussion will be about racism.

We journey to 406 Clybourne Street, in the near northwest of central Chicago. In Act One, we are taken to September, 1959, where an anxious group of white neighbors attempts to talk a couple out of selling their home to an African-American family. Seeing as this is a response to Raisin in the Sun, I was quite taken by surprise. Instead of a dramatic edge, we meet a cast of characters that could have lived in Pleasantville, with racist tones intact. There are a few liberals thrown in the mix, but they are dealing with their own son’s suicide. It is a bizarre ride. But what I began to notice is that the characters were caricatures of racist white people. It is disheartening to hear it thrown in your face, but after a while, you have to admit you actually know people like that.

Act Two is 50 years later in the same house, but now it is dilapidated. Once again sparks fly when a white couple presents a plan to knock down the house in order to build their dream house in the now predominately black neighborhood. The same actors assume new roles; some of the characters are direct descendants from 1959. This group is much more careful about stating racist remarks, which is our new found “political correctness.” Respecting the memory of what the house represents becomes important, and also forces frank conversation about racial issues. It seems to me that the black couple now has been empowered by their predecessors struggle and has found confidence in protecting the value of the past.

As I stated before, the cast does double duty. Roya Shanks (Bev) unfolds as a hilarious, emotional train wreck directly from the Pleasantville station. In Act Two, she (Kathy) turns into an uptight lawyer who obviously didn’t have to pass a geography lesson on her bar exam. Remi Sandri (Russ) is a knock out as the father, riding the emotional waves perfectly. And then is a very funny ‘Dwayne F. Schneider’ of Clybourne (Dan).

Kristen Adele (Francine) brings class and elegance even donned out as a maid, and then morphs into Lena, an Angela Bassett spitfire who has impeccable comedic timing and delivery. Daniel Morgan Shelley brings stature and grace to Francine’s husband (Albert), then transforms beautifully into Kevin, a modern day preppie with a wonderful connective energy with the audience.

Jessica Kitchens is a blast in both acts. We find her as Betsy, a deaf and pregnant wife. She handles the disability with such care that she is able to generate some terrific laughs. Then Kitchens becomes a confident mother-to-be who is an emotional rollercoaster handling the conversations around her, especially her husband. Along the way, she creates some great laughs and social commentary. Christian Pedersen has the assignment of issues throughout both ends of the play. As Karl, he comes across like a pre-superman uptight jerk as he attempts to convince the couple not to sell and ruin the neighborhood. Later, as Steve, he excels at being someone who just can’t keep his mouth shut.

Jim Poulos arrives to the party as Pastor Jim and must confuse bigotry with a religious freedom. Poulos is great. Later, he comes back “light in the loafers,” and contributes his sexual preference in a very funny moment. The final moment of the show features Bernard Bygott as Kenneth, the son who left their world way too soon. It is handled with beautiful honesty and is a very touching moment to end the show.
I am left with the theme of being in fear of others--the others that we don’t understand and who scare us. We must not remain in a bubble. One by one we must reach out and extend openness to what is uncomfortable and seek those who are based in truth. That is what I left with.

The technical elements were excellent.  Embellishing the beautifully restored Allen Theatre were Scenic and Costume Designer G.W.Mercier, Lighting Designer Ann G Wrightson, Sound Designer Lindsay Jones, and calling a great show was Stage Manager John Godbout.

Kevin Joseph Kelly



March 12 - April 13

7pm Tuesdays
7:30pm Wednesdays
7:30pm Thursdays (1:30pm show on Thursday, April 3)
7:30pm Fridays
2:30pm and 7:30pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays

$15-$61 Reserved Seating

(216) 241-6000
Order Tickets Online
Cleveland Play House
Allen Theater Complex
1407 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115

Monday, March 24, 2014


Today’s Adventure: Medina County Show Biz Company presents “The Importance of Being Earnest” directed by J.T. Buck. Once again, I am surrounded by a group of ladies who are local theatre fans, and this time they came from a pre-show talk at Miss Molly’s Tea Room. They filled me in on the theatre and they also did something else. When we were instructed to turn off our cell phones, I tried to do that but my cell phone was gone. The woman behind me offered to call it and when she did, lo and behold, one of the ladies was sitting on it. Oscar Wilde would have been pleased.

First produced in 1895, marriage is of paramount importance in the themes of this play, both as a primary force motivating the plot and as a subject for debate. Morality and the constraints it imposes on society are explored as well. However, in the hands of Oscar Wilde, the result is a comedic farce of infamous proportions. We take flight with John and Gwendolen, Algernon and Cecily, Rev. Chasuble and Miss Prism, with Lady Bracknell as the pilot and Merriman and Luke handing out the peanuts.

J.T. Buck (Director) has assembled a fine cast for this presentation. He certainly understands Wilde and goes right after the farcical elements of the play with a fever pitch.  Almost vaudevillian, the actors push themselves to find their inner over-the-top muscles and flex them onstage. The pace is mostly sprite with some lags in the scene changes and minor staging choices, but overall plows through the lengthy material with vigor and laughter for days. His style is clear and consistent.

Andrew Deike (John Worthing) plays the protagonist of the play with a full arsenal. He cuts a fine leading man persona and gives John a refined, educated, and well balanced richness. His accent is tight and he handles the part with supreme confidence and a classic gate. He also knows when to let go and have some fun. On occasion, as a result of low volume, some of the dialogue was lost. But overall, this was a strong turn with great comedic elements.

According to the program, Amanda Davis (Gwendolen Fairfax) states she is happy to share the stage with her dashing fiancé, Adam Vigneault (Algernon Moncrieff). Well, you have heard “misery loves company” -- in their case, “excellence loves company. “ Both of these entertaining actors knock it out of the Victorian era. Vigneault is a terrific Algernon. He is funny, wild, and has a great sense of connection with the audience and the material. He consistently is a firestorm of energy throughout. And complimenting that energy is Davis, who is beautiful, charming, and funny.  Hers is a great embodiment of the character with deft comedic choices.  Both Davis and Vigneault have clear voices with diction that is essential in the world on stage, but especially in the Wilde. (See what I did there?) Bravo to both.

Then we come to the masterpiece theatre. Patrick Michael Dukeman as Lady Bracknell is a scream, with a commanding presence, clear elegant diction, and a character that resembles Maggie Smith on steroids. Dukeman is all over this part, and thankfully so. Very funny!  And he owns what I call the comedic fade away jumper. He is dressed to the nines by designer Jasen Smith, who designed and built Bracknell’s costumes. I have to admit with the slender hips and the full bosomed look towering over the cast, I think Bracknell would easily go in the first round of the draft. Tremendous work! Lady Bracknell can steal the play, and in this case, she does.

Cecily Cardew (Katie O’Connor) was a crowd favorite. She brought bubbly dynamics and physical Burnett-esque chops to the role. One caution: diction was lost in some of the over the top moments. O’Connor was a frenetic entity and very enjoyable in her verbal duets with Davis. Diann Gorsuch brings a regal touch to Miss Prism. She is a hoot when being wooed by her suitor. Charles Cover brings a Burl Ives feel to Rev. Canon Chasuble. He is pleasant, enjoyable and lovable throughout the evening.

Kudos to Brett Agular for playing double duty with Merriman (Butler to Mr. Worthing) and Lane (Mr. Moncrieff’s manservant). These two roles could easily be thrown away but due to great character focus—and, in the case of Lane, bringing back the ghost of Tim Conway—were enjoyable and added to the proceedings.

Technical staff did a great job:
Stage Manager: Mary Smeltz
Set and Scenic Design: Kathy Elias (tremendous work with the garden and interior sets)
Lighting Designer: Manuel Aguiar (nice foot light effect)
Sound Design: Larry Mohler (good balance of music and spoken word)

One last note, I hope Wendy the poodle has insurance--careful with the luggage!

Kevin Joseph Kelly


March 20 - March 30

7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$10 General Admission

Order Tickets Online
Medina County Show Biz Co.
144 North Broadway Street
Medina, OH 44256

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Renaissance is a beautiful thing. And having never been to Coach House Theatre in the past, it was a treat to see what a new venue has in store. As I waited in my seat for the show, I was seated beside four wonderful ladies who were very happy to bring me up to date on the theatre, since I looked new. They talked about the Artistic Directors Nancy Cates* and Terry Burgler*. About how six years ago, when they learned about the new artistic directors, these ladies were thrilled because they knew the quality work that was about to begin. A Renaissance. Tonight’s performance of “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is a beautiful example of what inspired creations now exist in the coach house. As for the play?

“The play is memory,” he says.

In the Wingfield apartment in St. Louis, the mother, Amanda, lives with her crippled daughter and her working son, Tom. At dinner she tells her daughter, Laura, to stay nice and pretty for her gentlemen callers even though Laura has never had any callers and expects none. Amanda asks Tom to find some nice gentleman caller for Laura and to bring him home for dinner. A few days later, Tom tells Amanda that he has invited a young man named Jim O'Connor home for dinner. Amanda immediately begins to make rather elaborate plans for the gentleman caller. Later, Amanda sends Jim, the gentleman caller, into the living room to keep Laura company while she and Tom do the dishes. As Jim and Laura talk, she loosens us, but the evening ends with crushing honesty. The evening ends with all parties finding themselves at crossroads, and pathetically in the dark, without even light to cast brilliance on to the glass figurines that Laura loves so much. But within this evening’s outline lay secrets and unresolved pasts.

Director Nancy Cates has assembled a sharp and elegant cast to bring this classic to life. She has used the depth of the stage to move scenes with an ebb and flow that seem as natural as passing though your own house. She has created a world that lights up as the action goes, centering our attention in a stylistic way that is refreshing. Her underscored music choices gently provide emotional support for specific moments that seem to connect perfectly. Cates has guided her actors to fine tune their immense talents with excellent results.

Leading this dysfunctional family is Amanda Wingfield, explicitly played by Dede Klein. This is a role for the big leagues. You can’t step into this role without sharp focus, clear characterization, deft timing and the power to command attention without wearing out the spot light. Klein delivers on every level. Whether she is working in the pit crew for gentlemen callers for her daughter, selling magazine subscriptions, or wearing her killer dress that looked like a cotillion blew up on her, Klein nails Amanda Wingfield. Bravo!

Joe Pine is mighty fine as Tom Wingfield. From the first moments we see him, he has an immediate connection with the audience. You can sense the truth in his acting. His face reads like the face of an old friend with whom you just connected again. As he travels through the evening, he balances the internal struggles and his current responsibilities with an engaging edge. Letting us see the inner struggle of what responsibilities have landed in his lap, and eventually how to get out of it. Pine plays it like a pro. When he is happy, we are, when he is upset, we are, and when he blows up, we are concerned and disheveled, and that is a wonderful thing to experience from live theatre. Pine is damn good!

Tess Burgler (Laura Wingfield) broke my heart tonight with her performance. So much of what Laura gets to do is so understated, but Burgler empowered Laura with her own light that completely pulled you in. A stunning representation of less is more, and her reactive acting, without having lines, spoke volumes where there were no words.  But, we heard her. Her disability was handled beautifully and naturally, and never came out of focus. And when she transforms for her gentleman caller, she is radiant, still allowing her vulnerability to maintain the conversation she has waited for her whole life. Beautiful work.

And here comes the gentleman caller, Jim O’Conner (Jeremy Jenkins). From the moment Jenkins is waiting for the door to be opened, he is in character, even blocked by steps. Love it! Jenkins does a great job coming into the lion’s den, or should I say Amanda’s Den. Sporting a great look and manners that would charm any household, he imbues O’Conner with life, brevity, and eventually some incredible instinct that really becomes great advice. When the affection goes too far, Jenkins plays the scene deftly, letting us see the awkward without becoming a caricature. Jenkins is well worth the wait.

This is a tight cast in a tight production. You can leave your watches at home; you will never check them during this show.

Kudos to the technical staff. Set Design by Terry Burgler, great use of space. Costume Design by Michael James right on point. Lighting Design by Mark Stoffer was tricky and well executed. Sound Design by H. Jackman added lots of emotional levels. Stage Manager Jerry Mirman called a great show.

Congratulations to Coach House Theatre on 86 years. That is amazing and, according to the ladies in the seats with me, this place keeps getting better.

Kevin Joseph Kelly


*Member SDC, the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers


March 20 - April 6

8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays


(330) 434-7741
Order Tickets Online
Coach House Theatre
732 West Exchange Street
Akron, OH 44302

Friday, March 21, 2014


I can’t remember the last time I honestly cried while watching a stage production. But I did tonight. Currently playing in the Studio Theatre at the Beck Center for the Arts is “Night, Mother” written by Marsha Norman, and beautifully directed by Scott Plate. Recently, I have become involved in a suicide prevention project called Out of the Darkness. This organization reaches out to anyone in trouble and surrounding friends and family members. So my emotional reaction to the play has a deep connection. But I feel so blessed to have tonight’s story shared by such brilliant actors and brilliant direction.

“Night, Mother” is about a daughter, Jessie Cates (Laura Perrotta), who has come to a decision to end her life. From the very beginning of the play, she shares that information with her Mother (Dorothy Silver) in the middle of a routine conversation about what is on the agenda for today, and explaining lists that she has prepared. Jessie is epileptic and, coupled with numerous failed relationships and opportunities in her life, she has decided there really is no need to go on any further. As you can imagine, “Mama” (as she is called) spends the entire time trying to convince her daughter that she is wrong, and that there are many reasons to live. However, that conversation takes many twists and turns amid omissions, lies, and the truth. We spend 90 minutes, without intermission, in their world and it consumes us.

The play begins with the sound of clocks. Time is of the essence. The backdrop is just a living room and kitchen, giving space to two souls that will bargain about life and death. Laura Perrotta reinvents herself as Jessie. Her character seems numb and robotic as she goes about her business and, throughout the evening, we see the inner insight that comes through as the result of continuous conversation. Isn’t it true for all of us that, if we talk too much, we might share too much? Perrotta is magical as she continues her course of self destruction without missing a beat, but still managing to create humor, which is essential to the audience to provide some relief. She allows you to see into Jessie’s mind and have some acknowledgement of why it might be time to get off the bus. She is magnificent.

As Thelma “Mama” Cates, the elegant Dorothy Silver is compelling. Silver seems to know no boundaries in expressing emotion, will and connection. Watching her navigate through an unbelievable puzzle put in front of her, she is astonishing. Her timing is impeccable by asking questions that can incite laughs and then, seconds later, tenderness and the fear of loss. How does one battle talking to someone who has the feeling that nothing will ever get better? Silver embodies that fight. Her final plea to her daughter is heartbreaking and so real; I know that I felt like I had lost something very dear. She is magnificent.

And engineering this talent and this Pulitzer Prize winning script is director Scott Plate. Plate is an actor’s dream. He has the empathetic ear and Midas touch for crafting beautiful performances. Adjusting physicality where necessary, the play never loses its edge or purpose. He guides two powerhouses into an evening a stark realism, humor and tragedy. He is magnificent.

But I don't want to forget the technical aspects of the show that were just as on point. That includes the stage manager, which I believe should be mentioned whenever a show is called well. Those talented folks are:
Scenic Designer -- Aaron Benson
Costume Designer -- Tesia Dugan Benson
Sound Designer -- Richard B. Ingraham
Technical Director & Lighting Designer -- Joseph Carmola
Stage Manager -- Curt Arnold

Yeah. I liked it a lot.

Kevin Joseph Kelly


March 21 - May 4 (No shows April 18-20)

8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
3pm Sundays

$12-$29 Reserved Seating

(216) 521-2540
Order Tickets Online

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


My first venture into the mind of Clyde Simon was attending “Lobster Alice” by Kira Obolensky at convergence-continuum (con-con) at the enchanting Liminis theatre. Simon (Director) explains that in fact, in 1946, the surrealist artist Salvador Dali went to Hollywood and spent time at the Walt Disney Studios. He had been commissioned to create a short animated film – a ballet based on the then-popular song “Destino” or “You Tempt Me.” He spent most of his time with an animator who was part of the “Alice In Wonderland” project. Obolensky creates a fictional speculation on the happenings during his time at Disney.  That speculation involves Alice Horowitz, coffee-bearing secretary, who wants life to be interesting, and John Finch, an animator at work on Disney's “Alice in Wonderland,” who wants Alice. Then the great and outrageous Salvador Dali arrives at the studio to work on a short animated film. Dali scandalizes the conservative Finch; Alice, coffee-bearing secretary, becomes Alice, girl down the rabbit hole; and Finch and Alice both experience the very surreal whimsies of the human heart.

When I think about Alice Horowitz (Sarah Maria Hess) and John Finch (Tim Coles), it reminds me of Blondie and Dagwood, except that Blondie is a Stepford wife on adderall and Dagwood is as tight as a frog’s ass underwater. Throw in Dali (Grey Cross), who is his own drug, and a horny caterpillar (Beau Reinker) with a talent for smoke rings, and this has the makings of a tea party for the crazges (crazy and ages, see what I did there?).

Hess embodies Alice with stylized charm and gate. Her deft comedic skills are on full display, as she morphs into a woman who just doesn’t put her toe in the water but, eventually, her whole body. The result is a sharp, funny, and fully surreal trip down the rabbit hole and back. And what a brilliantly conceived rabbit hole it is! I can’t tell you or it would ruin the surprise.

Coles brings great angst and bumble-headedness to Finch, the lovelorn animator. As he is portrayed, my guess is the only action he gets is on the pages of his flip board animations. Coles presents an excellent arc of character, slowly dissolving layers, literally, right in front of us, until every repressed protective layer subsides and we are left with pure honest emotion. When these two reenact their first day, it is a scream to behold.
Bursting into the story with a flourish and dropping scarves to mark his territory is Grey Cross as Dali. Here is someone that would never get turned away from Studio 54. Cross knocks it out of the wonderland, delivering a hilarious raucous ride. He is the fecal Copernicus, judging everyone by how they must poop. Every time Cross enters, the stage becomes a hotplate of delight.

Rounding out the deftly-cast show is Beau Reinker, the workhorse of the production, portraying ex boyfriend Thorton, the Caterpillar, and quite literally “everyone else”. Adding to those skills, he also creates original music and accompaniment for “Dear Alice,” composed along with Bobby Coyne. But his highlight is the Caterpillar, donning a green skin tight suit that would make any speed skater jealous. Reinker makes the most of the seductive Lepidoptera, and creates cackles even when whimsically making scene changes.

Basically, this cast rocked. The technical crew should be applauded as well: Creative lighting design (Lisa Wiley) and Set/Sound design (Clyde Simon). Mucho meows to costumer sade wolfkitten. Video design (Tom Kondilas) was terrific and led us into underbelly of the rabbit hole with delight.

I am so happy I finally got my butt to con-con, but I am left with two burning desires. One, to go on a Martini Happy Hour tour headed by Dali. And the second, to have my life underscored.


Kevin Joseph Kelly


March 14 - April 5

8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays

$10-$15 General Admission

(216) 687-0074
Order Tickets Online
Liminis Theater
2438 Scranton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113


The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Now playing at the house of Karamu, in the Jelliffe Theatre, is “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety” by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Artistic Director Terrence Spivey. This satirical look at professional wrestling was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. The storyteller of the evening is Macedonio Guerra, or Mace for short. Mace is a professional fall guy who narrates and participates in explaining how professional wrestling is manipulated and manufactured. Mace lives in a world dominated by Chad Diety, the resident rock star of the league, who is managed by the smarmy manager Everett K. Olson. Mace eventually brings his own discovery, a young Indian-American Brooklyn kid, into the industry. Then things get crazy when the manager decides what their personas will be, created to illicit emotional responses from the crowd based on inflammatory characters, much to the delight of the box office.

Davis Aquila, as Macedonio Guerra, has the journeyman’s share of the dialogue for the evening. Aquila colorfully tells the tale of “the elaborate deconstruction of professional wrestling.” He presents himself as vulnerable; a man who is happy to lose to make the others look better.  Built like Thor, he has a very connective presence with the audience and a commanding presence in the ring. His final monologue is riveting, filled with passion and conviction.

Enter Reginald McAlpine as Chad Diety. Diety would book himself on his own cruise, and McAlpine plays his to the hilt. Donning a flashy suit and flanked by appropriately dressed ring girls (who should get a reward for walking down the ramped aisle in mile high heels), he struts and roars onto the stage and proceeds to seduce the audience with his bravado.  When he is talking about his refrigerator, it is a scream. He is a man definitely impressed with the size of his……crisper. Nicely overplayed and enjoyable as heck. Mark Seven is a smarmy mess of fun as Everett K. Olson. He reminds me of a twin peaks character come to life. Seven’s flamboyant and slimy motif is a captivating characterization.

My favorite is Prophet Seay as Vigneshwar Paduar. With comedic chops in tow, he has a Bill Cosby like style and relishes in his facial machinations. However, Paduar is also effective in displaying the tougher side that eventually refuses to conform. Chase Coulter has the task of playing the American wrestlers who are cheered on by the patriot crowd and whipped into a frenzy of America Rules. He certainly proves that white men can jump and bust out some smooth moves on the ring floor. The Ring Girls, Kristen Kozak, Courtney Marshall, and Dominique Paramore, ‘werk’ the aisles and stage with fearless energy.

Terrence Spivey has presented a fascinating tale of professional wrestling and how the ideals of America play into the story. Spivey puts together an intriguing cast who fit the mold perfectly. The functional ring is impressive, along with the very effective body slams. Kudos to all for their risk taking. However, this play lives and breathes through interaction with the audience. Its pace should be as intense as the wrestling itself. It needs a rocking house to become fully engaged. The night I attended, the crowd was thin, and the magic didn’t happen. As a result, the pacing and interactive moments suffered. Even the cues seemed off.  A show that is built for interaction has a tough time pushing forward without a Plan B. With a rowdy crowd, I suspect the show will be sure to ignite.

Richard H Morris, Jr. did triple duty as Scenic, Sound and Lighting Designer, all to great effect. Costume design was fierce--kudos to Malikah Johnson Spivey.

Kevin Joseph Kelly


March 14 - April 6

8pm Thursdays 
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
3pm Sundays


(216) 795-7070
Order Tickets Online
Karamu House
2355 East 89th Street
Cleveland, OH 44106

Monday, March 10, 2014


Neil Simon is one of America’s great comic playwrights. In 1991, his play “Lost in Yonkers,” currently running at Clague Playhouse, premiered on Broadway and garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Simon veered away from his usual route of sentimentality by concluding this piece with a dramatic confrontation that leaves each player involved with a fractured conscience, but new resolve. But as is stated within, everything hurts. All good comes with a price. These characters are rich and textured with identifiable affectations that fuel the storyline with great nuance.

The set design is gorgeous. Ron Newell continues his reign of excellence.  It is miraculous how Newell constantly changes the inner belly of Clague and the results are always stunning. D. Justin Bilewicz, III provides great period costumes.  However, the wig for Grandma Kurnitz does not cover her real hair and is distracting but, other than that, it is dead-on work. Lighting (Lance Switzer) and sound (Charles Hardgrave) design are right on target.

Tyson Douglas Rand (Director) casts the show well. Under his watchful eye, the play moves swiftly--sometimes too swiftly--but resulting in an enjoyable presentation of family dynamics at its best. Rand guides the younger actors to hold their own against the adult characters. Rand provides chaotic delight and slows the pace to accentuate the moments that break your heart.

Jake Ingression (Jay) and Elliot Lockshine (Arty) are state-of-the-art brothers. Each creates unique a persona but interacts with genuine care and compassion, with some brotherly antics thrown in for good measure. Ingrassia takes on the older brother with great finesse. Being the emotional core of the play, we get to watch his growth as a teenager moving to handle adult responsibilities, oh too soon, complete with humor and pathos. Lockshine, on the other hand, embodies Arty with machine gun like one-liners. He is hilarious and delivers a strong performance as the youngest contender on the boards. As younger actors, they just need to watch checking out the audience but, besides that, they are terrific.

Jeff Lockshine (Eddie) provides a terrific father figure. It might help that his real son is in the production, which is a delight to watch on another level. Mr. Lockshine lets us see brutal honesty, and provides levels of emotion that help us see the struggle that goes into those decisions that are not popular, but are “what’s best for the family.” His travel vignettes are deftly played and enable us to maintain an emotional bond while his character is away from the family. Meg Parish as Grandma Kurnitz is a blast--a demolition blast! Her presence is strong and commands attention. She could deflate a room full of balloons just by entering. But her crusty shell, hardened by years of struggle and loss, hides a heart that truly cares. She is a bitter pill, but forces others around her to rise to the challenge of being strong and self-sufficient.
Chris Bizub provides Uncle Louie with a brash “are you talking to me?” attitude. He is able to develop tangible sides to his crook demeanor. Always brash and self-consuming, he is still able to reveal a caring nature at the most critical moments. Well done! Lisa Margevicius as Gert is a psychosomatic hot mess. What a joy it must be to play a last-minute character and be a comic delight. Gert is a one trick pony, but Margevicius plays her to grand effect and looks beautiful while doing it.

Then we come to centerpiece of the evening. Elaine Feagler as Bella is a revelation--a beautifully constructed character that melts your heart at every turn. Feagler completely embodies Bella with warmth and charm, and handles the mental illness with such skill that it seems not so far from what we experience ourselves on occasion. When Bella finally takes a stand and resolves her ambitions with reality, it feels like we have traveled with her through the entire journey.

Clague Playhouse is a gem. Many talented actors, directors, and technicians have worked there over the years, and it strongly continues. Thankfully.

Kevin Joseph Kelly


March 7 - March 30

8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$10-$16 Reserved Seating

Clague Playhouse
1371 Clague Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145

Saturday, March 8, 2014


“The Most Lamentable Romaine Tragedie of Titus Andronicus.”  Sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it? So it should come to no one’s surprise that it screams to be made into a musical, said no one ever, except in the brilliant creative mind of Craig J. George.  Through the risk-taking birthing hips of Cleveland Public Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan, George takes the sickening tale of revenge and murder and surrounds himself with music wizards Dennis Yurich, Alison Garrigan, and Brad Wyner. Together they produce the world premiere of TITUS: A GRAND AND GORY ROCK MUSICAL, a rocking dramedy that will have you guessing what the hell you are in the middle of.  Just when you think it is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of the bard, comes a quick shift into a dramatic scene that holds you in Shakespearian delight, moved and enlightened with pitch-perfect diction and emotion. And just when your iambic pentameter is assuaged, shit happens! Oh, what a glorious night of theatre indeed!

Set designer Todd S. Krispinsky knocks it out of the coliseum. The set reminds me of a love child between “Game of Thrones” and “Thunderdome.” I half expected a leather-clad Tina Turner to open the show atop the haze covered glorious structure. All of this is stimulatingly lit by lighting designer Ben Gantose.

The first vocal moment of any musical is extremely important. It can be a beautiful hard cover edition, or a paper back novel found at a resale shop. Jon Conley, described in the beginning as the First Goth, delivers a haunting opening with a Sting-like quality that is breathtaking. It is an unexpected vocal and immediately dictates this will not be your mother’s Titus. Lawrence Charles (Aaron) is a self absorbed hot mess. With strong vocals and a presence that reminds me of Punjab on steroids, he wields his talent throughout the chaos.  Marcus is skillfully played by Amiee Collier. Her clarion voice and deft diction clearly provide her path as the lone survivor with a commanding presence that provides great range of emotion. Ryan Edlinger is a blast--a comedian that offers such varied characterizations (Quintus/2nd Goth/Nurse) to the delight of the audience.

Tamora is a complicated woman and has a siren song that apparently makes any man’s sperm count quadruple within a 10 mile radius. Empowering this gothic beauty of voice and look is Alison Garrigan. From her entrance, her commanding presence would make any waiter quit if they got her order wrong. Decked out in gothic chic, Garrigan is a “bardnado” of talent. Her voice is haunting and powerful, her acting chops pierce every scene, and her embodied characterization is a delight. Dana Hart (Titus) is the titan of the evening. Watching the journey of this loyal soldier, slowly realizing deceit and then self-actualizing in a picnic from hell, is magnificent. He is an actor that can command the language and dictate intense emotions and then, as a comedic fade away jumper, his “here, hold this” moment at the end of Act I has you howling with horror and delight. Hart is a master storyteller and excels at presenting this evening of Shakespearean chicanery.

Val Kozlenko (Lucius/Chiron) and Pat Miller (Bassanius/Demetrius) would be sure bets to win The Amazing Race. Watching these two traverse the evening is a complete success, with each in total control of his impressive talents, vocally rocking out as the brothers Grimm or as back-up singers to a trippy vision to screw up Titus’s head, which reminded me of Josie and the Pussycats on crack. Their moments are many, and their dedicated character work is grand. And then we come to Saturninus. Oh, Saturninus, who is adorned in a pantsuit that looks like China and New Orleans decided to blend the celebrations of the Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras. Matt O’Shea practically steals the show with his metro apparition of a cover model for Men’s Fitness. I can’t imagine a mirror that can hold all of that nebulousness at one time. O’Shea rocks the shit out of this role. His versatility is worth the evening’s “you go girl!” award. Tremendous work.

Justine Kunstler Zapin (Lavinia) is very enjoyable. Her skill at a dead pan look to comment is my personal favorite. Her voice is luscious, and she handles the transformation to a retooled body with great skill. She is a pistol to revel in, but then she still shines when cruel intentions add a silencer. Christopher Sanders (Mutius/Young Lucius) and Justin Williams (Martius/Aemillus) round out this impeccably talented cast. Both actors are busy providing great energy, diction and characterizations that never are off track, with strong vocals and an unending energy stream that ignites every scene they are in.

Jenniver Sparano is a revelation. This is a costumer of exquisite talent. Sparano creates a dream production of leather, pleather, color, kink, chains, glitter and heels for days. P.J. Toomey adds his expertise to the blood and special effects of this production--a monstrous job executed with adept skill.  However, on review/opening night there was the rogue penis that wouldn’t go into the bucket, much to the delight of the audience. But then actors (and body parts) can be so temperamental.  Carlton Guc did a great job balancing the sublime rock band with the stage vocals. The entire evening was clear and crisp musical heaven. Martin Cespedes provides high energy excitement, executing ferocious manipulations with the staircase, and staging the rock cast with appropriate zeal and focus.

Dennis Yurich, Alison Garrigan and Brad Wyner have created a solid musical foundation. There is a great balance of ballads and rock-out jams that are interjected in a timely manner and certainly add to the arch of the evening. Brad Wyner, who provides musical direction, orchestrations, and arrangements, is a gold mine. This is a World Premiere. There is no bar for these incredible artists, except their own. Craig J. George should be applauded for gathering a perfect storm of talent.

Go see it. Cleveland Public Theatre is a phoenix in the national theatre movement, constantly being reborn.

Kevin Joseph Kelly

Staff and Cast:

Director: Craig George
Musical Director: Brad Wyner

Dana Hart
Alison Garrigan
Lawrence Charles
Amiee Collier
Jon Conley
Ryan Edlinger
Val Kozlenko
Justine Kunstler
Pat Miller
Matt O'Shea
Christopher Sanders
Justin Williams.

March 6 - March 22

7:30pm Thursdays
7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
7:30pm Mondays
3pm on Sunday, March 16. (THE ONLY SUNDAY PERFORMANCE)

$12-$28 General Admission

(216) 631-2727 ext 501
Order Tickets Online
Cleveland Public Theatre
Gordon Square Theatre
6415 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44102

Friday, March 7, 2014


A World Premiere is an exciting adventure. So many artists are to be congratulated on their perilous journey of creation. In this case, it is the fabulous case of “Made in America,” premiering at Dobama Theatre, under the artistic umbrella of Nathan Motta (Artistic Director). He has provided and supported the arena for the champions to enter.
                                                                                            Enter Dobama Artistic Director Emeritus Joel Hammer (Playwright) who has created a sales call from hell that delivers so many twists and turns that, at times, it reminded me of a blend of “House of Cards” and “Dangerous Liaisons”  A hotel bar. Esther, a savvy sales rep, and Barry, a buyer for a manufacturing company, finally meet to “seal the deal” after months of negotiating over the phone. Upon seeing each other, they begin a cat and mouse game that falls into dangerous territory. But all is not what it seems. As Hammer describes “Made in America,” he makes reference to one of the definitions in the Urban Dictionary for the word maid: “to have your cover blown, to have your real identity revealed.” This is the seed of “Made in America.” It is indeed that seed that blossoms into a terrific game of cat and mouse between just two characters, inhabited by actors at the top of their game. For anyone who has had a sales job, this is a smorgasbord of every tactic and underhanded move that everyone has used. But to the delight of many, Hammer creates a brilliant move that shocks everyone and provides a second act of epic proportions. But you can’t keep a good man down. In fact, you will lose count of who is winning, but it is so damn entertaining, it just adds to the party.

Scott Miller helms this piece with generous guidance shaping the events into a smooth delivery. With very creative use of the space, he manages to move the actors around one table and chairs and still maintain sharp focus. The technical staff provides exemplary work. Marcus Dana continues his streak of providing some of the best lighting designs in the area. Costumes (Tesia Benson) were great. I could have used a little more juice on the sound—hard to hear--but the music selections used were very cool and, lo and behold, held some observational content.

Now we come to the two actors that enter the ring of “Made in American:” Barry (Joel Hammer) and Esther (Colleen Longshaw). Both actors deliver tremendously rounded performances. Hammer makes you want to smack the hell out of Barry. He is the ultimate client that holds the cards and loves to watch you dance in order to get the sale. It is a sense of power that is insulting, and Hammer nails the slimy sales dance and the intellectual maneuvers. But then, everything comes with a price. Longshaw provides a stunning and surprising voyage into her character. With the hurdles of race and gender, she leaps over each one with deft choices that have you worried, scared, and then cheering for her. When she “goes to church,” it reminds me of running up the steps like Rocky, then turning around and yelling “F U”.  She is mesmerizing to watch. Their dance together is a masterful evening of hide and seek, using truth and intention as foils.

Congrats to all involved and best wishes for a great run.

Kevin Joseph Kelly

March 7 - April 6

Saturday, March 8 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. - Pay-as-You-Can
Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 23 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 28 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 30 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 4 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 6 at 2:30 p.m.

$10-$26 Reserved Seating

(216) 932-3396
Order Tickets Online
Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Monday, March 3, 2014


Bus Stop

There is a great production going on at Actors’ Summit. Described as local, professional, and exceptional, the current production of “Bus Stop” by William Inge is just that: locally performed in the majestic theatre that is located on the 6th floor of Greystone Hall at 103 High Street in Akron, fueled by local talent, professionally produced and directed, and the result is exceptional. Inge is a master storyteller of regular lives that survive by adjusting to and navigating what life has thrown at them. On the surface, so many lives seem to be fine, until the knots and wrinkles appear slowly. “Bus Stop,” beautifully directed by Ric Goodwin, is filled with a wonderful array of colorful characters that bear their inner linings in an attempt to acquire resolution to their own needs and dreams.

The theatre itself is stunning. The room reminds me of the House of Commons, and possesses a Masonic royalty. The thrust stage delivers a small town western diner that imbues a true sense of reality. “Bus Stop” has found a home worthy of the material. The play itself is set in the middle of a howling snowstorm, and a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a small roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers have to take refuge until morning. Cherie, a nightclub singer, has the most to worry about. She’s being pursued by a young cowboy with all the romantic finesse of a rodeo bull. The belligerent cowhand is right behind her, ready to sling her over his shoulder and carry her, alive and kicking, all the way to Montana. As a counterpoint, other romances evolve, such as the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last finding time to develop a friendship of their own, and a middle-age scholar coming to terms with himself, and a young girl who works in the café getting her first taste of romance. It is a classic character study.

The apex romance is between chanteuse Cherie (Liewie Nunez) and cowboy Bo Decker (Dean Coutris). Both actors are in top form. Nunez brings an emotional and nuanced performance that keeps you transfixed. She slowly reveals her doubts and fears, while keeping true emotions at bay, just like the hands of many of her patrons. You become emotionally invested in her happiness. Decker rides into the diner with hurricane force and quickly established a blind love Robocop with one pretty lady in his sights. He gives his character an awkward honesty and bullheadedness but then, through deft choices, unravels and grows right before our very eyes. Victories are found, not in great strides, but in little steps that culminate in being able to truly express rooted emotion. These two knock it out of the park.

Rebecca Ribley as Elma Duckworth, the young waitress, turns in a solid performance. She is so real that you want to protect her from your seat. Watching her skillful presentation of bringing naiveté to her character and navigating through the whirlwind of presented choices and yearning was incredibly enjoyable. Doug Hendel was remarkable in his interpretation of Dr. Gerald Lyman, the college philosophy professor who can’t keep a job for dubious reasons, masterfully providing a loving and likable façade that harbored a disturbing undertone of uncomfortable behavior. Elizabeth Lawson embodied Grace Hoyla, the owner of the diner, with commanding tone and diction, and a saucy side of attitude and kick. Her game of hide and seek with bus driver Carl (playfully and libidinously played by Jim Fippin) is a hoot.  Alex Nine brings in western justice just right with a strong performance and establishes true authority. Bill Hoffman excels at delivering a smooth, gentle performance that guides Bo in father-like fashion, providing heartbreaking realness to the process of making choices for the greater good. You couldn’t find a better friend or a better interpretation.
The costumes were excellent, with great choices in creating the western ambiance, by MaryJo Alexander. Lighting and sound design (Kevin Rutan) were extremely effective. And the set, with authentic props and decoration, reflected a clear vision and fine execution.

The drive from Cleveland to Actors Summit is not that bad at all, and what waits for you is a great place to perform and a great place to watch quality theatre. Check it out.

Kevin Joseph Kelly



February 20 - March 9

8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$10-$33 Reserved Seating
Order Tickets Online
Actor's Summit at Greystone Hall (6th floor)
103 High Street 
Akron,OH 44308

Saturday, March 1, 2014


“We are architects of out-of-the-ordinary experiences.” Theatre Ninjas is most definitely that, and tonight did not sway far from the runway with Melissa James Gibson’s play titled [sic], opening at the 78th Street Studios. Theatre Ninjas has performed in more places than I have left my wallet over the years, morphing themselves in material, artists and interpretations to create stimulating, pulsating theatre. Annie and her orphans will never sing here, but what is created and guided by Jeremy Paul (Artistic Director, Producer), who has helmed since 2006, is a poetic convolution of artistic stimuli to the delight of his audience.

[sic], directed with breakneck speed and crafted timing by Pandora Robertson, holds the audience by allowing us to shadow the main characters in and out of their apartments. Sic is a Latin term, when appearing in writing, as a signal to the reader that an apparent mistake is, in fact, an accurate statement. Characters exist at arm’s length from their own situations.  [sic] is a hilarious look into three interrupted lives characterized by Gibson's singular insight into conversational idiosyncrasies and keen playwriting talent. If only Babette can get this book deal, if Theo can finish his roller coaster theme song, and if Frank can launch his auctioneer career their dreams will come true... or so they think. [sic] is about friendship; about giving it your all and not getting a lot back; and about how when things are at their darkest, your friends will be there for you, if only because they need to borrow money...or want to hook up.

We physically see this with a divine scenic design by Val Kozlenko, angled floors, naked apartments, working windows, and a  back lit screen that allows the shadows artistically executed by Courtney Nicole Auman and Michael Prosen to tell the story of a diminishing relationship so well that Attraction Shadow Theatre would be proud. To compliment the design, another level of artistic interpretation is provided by lighting designer Gregory S. Falcione. He deftly illuminates the action with pinpoint accuracy, mobilized moments, and a haunting rooftop crescendo.

Our protagonists are Babette, Frank, and Theo, portrayed with neurotic love by Rachel Lee Kolis, Gabriel Riazi, and Ryan Lucas. Kolis delivers such a beautiful (literally) and complex woman that it reminds me of a human Jenga tower, and if the wrong section is taken out, the whole damn tower is going to fall in a heartbeat. The tension of her decisions, struggles with her craft, and her handling man love is wonderful. Riazi is a glorious hot mess. He imbibes his character with an appealing nuance as he comically navigates through literally losing his boyfriend and pursuing his dream of an auctioneer. Riazi takes the fruitcake as Frank rehearses his auctioneer speech, turning slowly into a pulsating, body shifting experience to behold. And his tongue deserves its own curtain call for getting through the verbal twisters thrown at him from the script. Lucas creates a mistaken lover in his own mind, which propels Theo to emotional roller coaster status. Of course, he has the gift of creating music that turns into the journey from hell to hilarious effect. Empowered by an eyebrow that Sparta would be proud of, Lucas takes us on a great ride of neurotic delight.

Original Music by Michael Bratt blends into the evening’s success. Stephanie Fisher provided a costume design that enables multiple looks that engage.

There are many types of theatre, and they are all important. Theatre Ninjas is a tremendous source of artistic expression. I hope you get out to see the show and check out their season. 

Kevin Joseph Kelly



Staff and Cast:
Director: Pandora Robertson

Courtney Nicole Auman
Rachel Lee Kolis
Ryan Lucas
Michael Prosen
Gabriel Riazi


February 27 - March 15

8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
8pm Mondays

$10-$20 General Admission at the Door
78th Street Studios (2nd Floor)
1300 W. 78th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44102

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


If you would like me to visit your theatre and review your production or special event, please leave contact information in the comment section.

I appreciate all of the positive feedback so far.

Kevin Joseph Kelly

Monday, February 24, 2014


There is a very special community theatre in Avon Lake that is celebrating its 55th season. Mighty Goliath Productions, more popularly known as MGP, has produced for 55 years, infusing community, spirit, empowering young people, providing family entertainment, and contributing proceeds toward the performing arts programs of the Avon Lake City Schools. Quite an accomplishment. The current production of “Once Upon A Mattress” is dedicated to the memory of Betty S. Dingledy who, together with her husband Ed, was responsible for what is known today as MGP, when she created the 1959 Minstrel Show.

MGP has a unique approach to casting and rehearsing. The ensemble is open to everyone, regardless of experience. They look for singers/actors, but if you show up, you're in, thus eliminating a high pressure audition process that might dissuade someone from participating in the show. The lead roles are cast in a more traditional manner. Also, they only rehearse on Friday nights. But the magic is pulled together during the final week before opening night. Truly a remarkable feat. On this, MGP stands alone.

The current production of “Once Upon A Mattress” is pleasantly directed by Ian Atwood, and skillfully produced by Jessica Atwood, who concurrently produced an Atwood heir, Neil Francis. “Once Upon A Mattress” is the hysterical tweaking of the fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea.” The kingdom is an unhappy one because Queen Aggravain has ruled that none may marry until her son, Prince Dauntless, marries a princess of royal blood. However, she has managed to sabotage every princess that comes along. When Sir Harry and Lady Larken learn that they are going to be parents, wed or not, Sir Harry goes off to the swamps and brings back an ungainly, brash Princess Winnifred, ("Fred" to her friends). The queen is horrified and immediately begins to scheme. However, Winnifred, with some help from Sir Harry, the King, and the Jester, isn't going to be quite so easy to get rid of. The original show was the break out vehicle for Carol Burnett as Winnifred.

The 21 piece orchestra, led by its director Jim Lucas, starts the evening off with delicious instrumentation flowing from a formal pit, that saturates the space with energy and anticipation. Atwood updates a more modern approach, which is reflected in the costumes (designer Joann Sarvas) and references to modern media like Facebook. The same conundrum of "first impressions" and the resistance of our kids leaving the nest are relevant in any time period.  

Kristen Jones as Queen Aggravain delightfully chews more scenery than a flood of carpenter ants. With comedic chops in tow, she dominates her family, struggles to let go, and eventually gets her comeuppance. Winnifred the Woebegone and Prince Dauntless, Brittney-Jade Colangelo and Lucas A. Scattergood, remind me of Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman. Colangelo deftly handles the prime role with chaotic charm and a set of pipes that commands attention. Scattergood plays the mama's boy well, infusing laughter everywhere in his quest for a wife. There is a great connection between these two that evokes rooting for the jocular couple. Lady Larkin and Sir Harry, Amanda Isula and Brett Hall, utilize their good looks and strong voices, to enhance their fertile love story with great chemistry and Disney moments for days. 

At one moment during the show, it clicked. Three Stooges. Three Musketeers. Minstrel, Jester, and King Sexitmus (Douglas F. Bailey II, Steve Schuerger and Jerry Popiel). Three actors who should always travel together and create havoc as a job. Their shtick is ineffable. Bailey provides gorgeous vocals, blessed with clarity and control. Schuerger utilizes his physicality to great aplomb with comedic skills. Popeil is a beautiful hot mess of vocal distress. Unable to speak as a result of a curse, he gesticulates a lot, creating a hilarious interpretation of the birds and the bees along the way. 

Matthew Cuffari as the Wizard, Aggravain's sidekick, provides deleterious delightful moments, while possessing a strong voice that gets to glimmer once but, unfortunately, not more in the script. As the Nightingale, Grace Penzualto is a flapping, operatic, feathered creation of paradise, working the cage like a pro, and providing hilarious results.

As chorographer, Jessica Atwood moves the ensemble well by providing steps for the novice, and slick moves for the hoofers, managing the large cast in good order. Nice work is done by Musical Director James Kotora. The ensemble voices provide luscious vocals. Kudos to Scenic Designer Gary Fischer for the multi-colored cracker jack bed, that holds quite a surprise.

MGP is pure community theatre at its best, standing the test of time and providing the community and the actors with boundless rewards.

Kevin Joseph Kelly


Staff and Cast:

Director: Ian Atwood
Music Director: Jim Kotora

Winnifred the Woebegone…Brittney-Jade Colangelo
Prince Dauntless…Luke Scattergood
Lady Larken…Amanda Isula
Sir Harry…Brett Hall
Minstrel…Douglas F. Bailey II
Jester…Steve Schuerger
King…Jerry Popiel
Queen…Kristen Jones
Wizard…Matthew Cuffari
Nightingale…Grace Penzvalto


February 21 - March 1
7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
2pm Sunday

$12-$15 General Admission

Order Tickets Online
Avon Lake High School
175 Avon Belden Road
Avon Lake, OH 44012

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Roland Hayes (June 3, 1887 – January 1, 1977) was an American lyric tenor. He is considered the first African-American male concert artist to receive wide acclaim both at home and internationally. "BREATH AND IMAGINATION" by Daniel Beaty, opened downtown at the Allen Theatre, produced by the first professional regional theatre in the country, the Cleveland Play House. It is a soaring tale of Roland Hayes and his rise from the fields of Georgia, to performing at Fisk University, Buckingham Palace, and then on to international acclaim.

Author Marva Carter summed up Hayes' life and career:
"Hayes' life of almost ninety years reveals a remarkable story of a man who went from the plantation to the palace, performing before kings and queens, with the finest international and American orchestras, in segregated communities before blacks and whites alike. He was of small stature, dignified manner, and non-violent persuasion. He chose to overcome racism by example and in doing so became a trailblazer. When he sang, art became more than polished excellence. It appealed to something universal, something beyond the emotions, and something beyond the intellect, something one could call the soul."

This production, beautifully crafted by director May Adrales, delivers one powerful moment after another, illuminating Haye's spirit, drive and resolve. The story is set upon a stage (brilliantly designed by Rachel Hauck) adorned with classical columns, a piano, and a grandiose tree that glows with the essence of wisdom, illuminates divinity, and with its metallic puffs of leaves, provides comfort for the turbulence of a ground breaking life.

At first, we find Hayes announcing a decision to close a music school, as a result of his family being arrested for sitting in a white-only section of a shoe store, and  then being beaten while trying to defend them. Flashbacks allow us to follow Hayes' (magnificently embodied by Cleveland native Elijah Rock) journey from a young child, being reared by his mother Angel Mo' (beautifully played by Daphne Gaines), as he transcends the racist south to become a role model for young blacks everywhere. It is a fascinating story of courage and drive as he faces his father’s death at 11, moving to Chattanooga at 14, and then, at 16, experiencing self-actualization of purpose listening to Caruso for the first time. At 18, Hayes is at Fisk University, receiving the professional training that will transport him to eventual international acclaim. There are many lessons to be learned. Watching them be taught, lived and interpreted is mesmerizing.

Rock and Gaines turn in spectacular performances. They create a tremendous love story that enters your heart and continues to grow through the entire performance. Hayes, who is equipped with an instrument from above, sings with adept passion, interpreting  the storytelling and performance pieces with classical aplomb. Gaines provides her own sizzle by providing enough soul and vocal comfort food to placate the hardest of hearts. Each one delivers over and over again, but I will admit that "Over My Head" by Rock, and "Don't You Weep When I'm Gone" had me emotionally raw. 

Throughout the play, there is another actor and musician (the clever and accomplished Tom Frey), knocking it out of the park. He takes on a myriad of roles that include: Accompanist/Officer/Preacher/Pa/Mr. Calhoun/Miss Robinson/Frenchman/ King George V. Quite an undertaking, but Frey makes each character different and entertaining, whether providing levity, racism, or unsettled emotion, and his deft musicality comes across loud and clear from the keyboard.

Watching this play, I realized I was watching several love stories unfold: The love between a mother and her son, constantly reinforcing him to "Keep Your Focus.” The love between a son and his mother, so strong he takes her with him when he moves to Boston so she won't be alone. The love between an artist and his craft, an undying passion driven by the soul to embrace a melodic expression that only music can provide. 

It is a grand evening supported by great designers of Sound (James C. Swonger), Projections (Jared Mezzocchi), Costumes (Jennifer Moeller), and Lighting (Jeff Nellis), and Music enhanced by the proficient work of Arranger Mike Ruckles and Musical Director Rahn Coleman.

Embrace Playhouse Square, visit Cleveland Play House at the Allen Theatre. You will leave enlightened.

Kevin Joseph Kelly


Staff and Cast:

Director: May Adrales

Daphne Gaines: Angel Mo'
Elijah Rock: Roland Hayes
Tom Frey: The Accompanist


February 14 - March 9
7:30pm Tuesdays
8pm Wednesdays
8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
2:30pm and 8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays

$15-$55 Reserved Seating

(216) 241-6000
Order Tickets Online
Cleveland Play House at Playhouse Square
Allen Theater Complex
1407 Euclid Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44115


Friday, February 21, 2014


                                                                                                                                                             At the height of my tennis career, if I watched a professional tennis match on TV, I immediately would want to grab my racket and head for the courts, filled with energy and inspiration. That is how I felt after watching Great Lakes Theatre’s production of “Deathtrap” written by Ira Levin and directed with robust insanity by Charles Fee. No, not to play tennis, but hit the boards and act my face off.

Great Lakes Theater is Cleveland, Ohio's professional classic theater company. Founded in 1962, Great Lakes is the second-largest regional theater in Northeast Ohio. It specializes in large-cast classic plays with a strong foundation in the works of Shakespeare and features an educational outreach program. The company performs its main stage productions in rotating repertory at its state-of-the-art new home at the Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square, which reopened on September 20, 2008. The organization shares a resident company of artists with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, which current Artistic Director Charles Fee engineered. Great Lakes Theater was formerly known as Great Lakes Theater Festival, which continues to be its legal name. “Festival” was dropped from the classic theater company’s business name to better reflect its September through May season, and programming format.

Written in 1978, “Deathtrap” holds the record for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway, and was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. Cunningly clever and comically twisted, “Deathtrap” is a murder mystery masterpiece that keeps you on the edge of your seat, trying to figure out where the madness ends. When a once successful Broadway playwright struggles to overcome a dry spell that’s resulted in a string of flops and a shortage of funds, anxiety ensues. His fortunes turn when one of his students shares a brilliant new script with blockbuster potential. Resolved to resurrect his collapsing career, the covetous playwright conceives of a treacherous trap to snare the script and take credit for its creation. Murderous machinations result, springing to a surprising conclusion.

The technical and creative elements of this production deserve strong accolades. Scenic Designer Russell Metheny knocks it out of the park with his single set masterpiece. Sound and Lighting Designers, Richard B. Ingraham and Rick Martin, provide razor sharp effects to greatly enhance this journey of whodunit and what the……! Costume Designer Alex Jaeger provides terrific visions of town and country, popped collars, psychic eccentricity, and dwindling wealth.

The professional actors of this company deserved, and received, a standing ovation. The cast is a classic exhibition of great casting and actors at the top of their game. Watching Sidney Bruhl (the delightful Tom Ford) navigate through his plotting and chicanery, is like hopping on a mechanical bull and just holding on for dear life. Tracee Patterson (Cleveland’s answer to Meryl Streep), brings emotional chaos, conniving realness and misplaced loyalty to Myra Bruhl. Nick Steen enters the picture as Clifford Anderson, the student/secretary, with superhero looks and acting chops that deftly create a sense of innocence, greed, cunning, and eventually horror. Helga Ten Dorp, the neighborhood psychic, is played with comedic bliss by Lynn Allison. She inhabits Helga with a dramatic sense of “ah ha” moments, that would certainly move her to the front of the line for “the next AHS supreme”. Aled Davies adds just the right touch of classic and comedic flair to the suspicious, and opportunist attorney Porter Milgrim.

This cast is a blast. I felt like I had only been in the theatre for a half an hour, because the pace is excellent. I wish I could have joined them for happy hour for act three. Get yourself out to see this show. It is a delightful whodunit which serves up an evening of artists to cherish.

Kevin Joseph Kelly

Staff and Cast:

Director: Charles Fee

Lynn Allison - Helga Ten Dorp
Aled Davies - Porter Milgrim
Tom Ford - Sidney Bruhl
Tracee Patterson - Myra Bruhl
Nick Steen - Clifford Anderson


Tickets and Press
February 21 - March 16

7:30pm Wednesdays
7:30pm Thursdays
7:30pm Fridays
1:30pm and 7:30pm Saturdays (no matinee on 2/22)
3pm Sundays

$13-$70 Reserved Seating

(216) 241-6000
Order Tickets Online
Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square
2067 East 14th St.

Cleveland, OH 44115