Thursday, March 17, 2011

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” The Great Lakes Theater Festival at the Hanna Theater

Like thousands of other theater lovers I read the review in Ohio’s largest paper of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” now being performed by the Great Lakes Theater Festival at the Hanna Theater, and wondered if the reviewer saw the same show as I did. We were both at the Hanna last Saturday for Opening Night, so I assume we did.
The play is a good night of theater, and was enjoyed by most, but obviously not all, members of the audience. The play revolves around three characters as they rip through all of Shakespeare’s work, especially “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet.” Paul Hurley, M.A. Taylor, and Jason O’Donnell do a good job keeping the play moving. Hurley and O’Donnell are Great Lakes rookies, while Taylor has nine years at Great Lakes on his resume. Director Charles Lee is also in his ninth season with the Festival.
The reviewer calls the production “occasionally funny, often vulgar, rarely edifying.” He also refers to two elderly patrons sitting by him who did not return for the second act. I don’t know what section he was sitting in, but in my section everyone found much humor in the play, yes, some of it bawdy (just like a lot of Shakespeare’s works), and everyone returned for the second act and enjoyed it as much as the first. And the audience participation parts in the second half were a hit, with most in the crowd playing right along.
Why is it that whoever reviews a play at the Play House or at Great Lakes for Ohio’s largest newspaper too often comes across like he was watching a completely different production? Even though the reviewer was different, the attitude of the reviewer for this production was the same for the recent Ginger Rogers musical at the Cleveland Play House. The audience loved that one on Opening Night also, but you would have never gotten the message if you read their review.
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” is playing at the Hanna Theater until this Saturday, March 27. Go see it, it’s a great night of theater, no matter what you read else where. For more information visit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring 2011 Concert Preview

There are so many great shows scheduled for this spring at area venues, a music lover could find something to do almost any night of the week. Nighttown has a full schedule mixed with local born artists returning home and national touring jazz acts including on St. Patrick’s Day two shows from The New Barleycorn; Saxophonist and Smooth Jazz Star Walter Beasley and his band play March 18 & 19; Cleveland raised, Reno based vocalist CeCe Gable on March 20 for a matinee show; On March 25 versatile singer/actress from NYC and the soap opera All My Children Joan Crowe performs; April 5 finds the 22 Piece Senior Big Band TOPS Swingband under the direction of Arranger, Composer, and Trombonist Dick Wooley doing a show; from Austin, Texas, The Hot Club of Austin performs on April 11; the legendary vocal group The Four Freshmen return to Nighttown on April 15 &16; on Friday, April 22, is the return of the Sammy DeLeon/Jackie Warren Latin Jazz Sextet; and on April 21 is the return of Jen Chapin, daughter of Harry and a fine talent in her own right. For information on these shows and all the other great things going on at Nighttown visit
The Winchester will be hosting s diverse line up of shows over the next few months including indie rockers the Trashcan Sinatras on March 18; Michael Jackson’s former lead guitarist Jennifer Batten on March 25; Columbus, Ohio, country rock legends McGuffey Lane on April 2; Jefferson Airplane founder Marty Balin on April 7; and original member of England’s the Faces Ian McLagan on June 7. Check out for more information on this great Lakewood venue and their shows.
The Kent Stage hosts the quietly legendary David Linley on March 27; local guitar virtuoso Neil Zaza performing his new CD “212” on April 15; and the lovely and ageless folk diva Judy Collins on May 6. For more info go to
Downtown at the House of Blues there is a full slate of shows including the Saw Doctors on March 18; a pretty good version of Yes on March 22; the ageless Willie Nelson and Family on March 25; and Scottish hipsters the Average White Band on April 13. Go to for more information.
The Beachland Ballroom gets its twelfth year off to a good start with the Blasters appearing on March 18; local legends Pere Ubu come in on March 19; Paperboy Reed plays on March 24; there is a Big Band Brunch on March 27 featuring Ernie Krivda and the Fat Tuesday Band; on April 6 Kent’s Jessica Lea Mayfield makes an appearance; blues women extraordinaire Candye Kane will play on April 20; Terri Clarke appears on April 27; Youngstown’s favorite trio Glass Harp does a show on May 7; Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks return on May 13; and on Sunday, May 15, is the lovely and terrific blues pianist and vocalist Marcia Ball and her band. Go to for information on these shows and a whole lot more.

10 Reasons to Hop on the Cleveland State Basketball Bandwagon

1. A genuine alternative at the fraction of the cost to several certain underachieving professional sports franchises: Real collegiate cheerleaders and dance team; a great spirit band; genuine audience interaction; no “narcisstic” pro athletes in sight.
2. Norris Cole: The senior guard is one of twenty finalists for the Bob Cousy Award for the best point guard in the country.
3. The women’s team: Fighting for another league championship in a rebuilding year after going to the NCAA’s two out of the last three years. Coach Kate Peterson Abiad’s team is in the running to make it three out of four. Guard Shawnita Garland is always the smallest person on the court, yet leads the team in minutes played.
4. Big Stuff: An opportunity to check out the campus and the new student center, the new rec center, the new law library, and the new education building; and, yes, dormitories with real college students living in them.
5. Gary Waters and staff: The best coach and best staff in any sport on any level in Ohio.
6. Anton Grady from Cleveland Central Catholic: The best high school player in the city, who will be a part of a great recruiting class coming to CSU next fall.
7. Junior Big Men: Aaron Pugh and Joe Lantas, tough defense minded inside players.
8. Jeremy Montgomery and Trevon Harmon: CSU’s defensive stalwarts/3 point shooting junior guards.
9. Tim Kamczyc: A local product from Strongsville, an over achieving walk on who now starts and is on scholarship. The 6’6’’ forward leads the Vikings defense.
10. Saturdays at the Wolstein Center: Cheap hot dogs, games for the kids, it can’t be beat.
Cleveland State has two big games this week that will play a big part in both winning the Horizon League crown and making it to the NCAA tournament. Check out the Vikings this Thursday, February 3 vs. Valparaiso at 7:00 p.m., and this Saturday at noon vs. Butler. For more info visit