MUST-SEE theater and dance: fall 2018

Sara Clark in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s “1984” (photo: Mikki Schaffner)

Sara Clark in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s “1984” (photo: Mikki Schaffner)

Our intrepid category specialists waded through hundreds of events, handpicking the ones they find most intriguing for the Autumn of 2018. Below, find dance and theater, courtesy of David Lyman.

Ray Cooklis also offers his picks for music and opera.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company – ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ and ‘1984’

These two plays looked so good that we just had to include them both. Stephen Sondheim’s “Forum” is Cincy Shakes’ first-ever musical. They already owned enough togas to stage the show. Now they have a theater big enough to stage it with some pizazz. But can they sing? (Hint: Yes, some of them are very good.) “1984” is at the other end of the spectrum. The play – written by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan, and based on the novel by George Orwell – is grim and ominous. It’s regarded as one of the 20th century’s most masterful cautionary tales. It’s no coincidence that it closes three days before Election Day 2018.

Sept. 7-29, “A Funny Thing” and Oct. 12-Nov. 3, “1984,” Otto M. Budig Theater, Over-the-Rhine.

“Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” (Photo by Jonathan Gibson)

“Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” (Photo by Jonathan Gibson)

Xavier University – ‘Mr. Burns, a post-electric play’

What are they doing over at Xavier? Answer: Some pretty interesting theater, that’s what. The season-opening show is so far-fetched and so zany that we’ll use Xavier’s own words to describe the show. “After the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors share a campfire and begin to piece together the plot of ‘The Simpsons’ episode ‘Cape Feare’ entirely from memory. Seven years later, this and other snippets of pop culture have become the live entertainment of a post-apocalyptic society, sincerely trying to hold onto its past.” There’s more. But you might not believe it. Written by Anne Washburn.

Sept. 7-9, Gallagher Student Center, Xavier University.

Cincinnati Ballet dancers Maizyalet Velázquez and David Morse (photo: Peter Mueller)

Cincinnati Ballet dancers Maizyalet Velázquez and David Morse (photo: Peter Mueller)

Cincinnati Ballet – The Kaplan New Works Series

Year after year, the Kaplan New Works Series is filled with choreographic surprises. And since it’s the first production of the Cincinnati Ballet season, it’s always a chance to see the new mix of dancers and what member of the corps de ballet is ready for the big-time. This year’s offerings are particularly intriguing since the program includes works by a pair of company members, David Morse and Taylor Carrasco. 

Sept. 13-23, Aronoff Center, downtown.

Playhouse in the Park’s “Miss Bennet” (photo: Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates)

Playhouse in the Park’s “Miss Bennet” (photo: Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates)

Playhouse in the Park – ‘Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley’ and ‘Cincinnati King’

How can you possibly go wrong putting Jane Austen on the stage? Even if it’s not really Jane. This is the Mary Bennet tale by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon that we’re sure Jane would have written if she had lived long enough. And “Cincinnati King,” written and directed by KJ Sanchez, is another sentimental favorite. Based on hundreds of interviews, this is the story of Cincinnati’s very own King Records. Jubilant, tragic and filled with super music, it is a must-see for any devoted Cincinnatian.

Oct. 13-Nov. 10, “Miss Bennet,” Marx Theatre and Nov. 3-Dec. 23,“Cincinnati King,” Shelterhouse, Playhouse in the Park, Eden Park.

“The Play That Goes Wrong” (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

“The Play That Goes Wrong” (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Broadway in Cincinnati – ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ 

Zany, silly and slapstick-ish, this bit of British backstage hilarity took London’s West End by storm in 2015 and ran away with the Best New Comedy at the Laurence Olivier Awards. It is, in many ways, the spiritual heir to the deservedly adored “Noises Off.” Funny, funny, funny. And we all need some funny in our lives. Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company.

Nov. 27- Dec. 2, Aronoff Center, downtown. 


Leslie Odom Jr.

Sept. 14-16 – Cincinnati Pops, Music Hall, Over-the-Rhine. Odom is a supremely gifted actor and singer who starred as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s “Hamilton.”

CCM Musical Theatre 50th anniversary gala

Sept. 16 – Patricia Corbett Theater, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, UC campus. The first of many 50th anniversary celebrations this year. The title says it all. CCM celebrates a half-century training generations of musical theater stalwarts.

IF Cincy: Improv Festival Cincinnati

Sept. 27-29 – Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine. Improv. Lots of it. From Chicago and New York and Portland, Oregon and, of course, from the center of the Improv Universe, Cincinnati.

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Oct. 18 – Aronoff Center, downtown – RuPaul will not be with the show. But best guess is this is a production people will talk about for years to come.

“A Small Fire”

Nov. 16-Dec. 1 – Falcon Theatre, Newport. A small show about a very happy marriage, until the 60-ish wife starts a slow and extraordinarily painful decline into dementia.

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