What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

07 December 2016

Oh, That He Were Here: My First Trip to Cincinnati Theatre

On one of my trips to Cincinnati before I moved here, I was wandering downtown when I happened to walk past the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. I stopped to read the season lineup of shows, saw Much Ado About Nothing on the list... and may have started jumping up and down on the spot, possibly squealing in delight. It's a blur, sir.

The set was gorgeous, and so is
the playbill, and as you can see
I had a hard time getting both
into the pic.
So getting my hands on a ticket was high on my to-do list once I had a job and a place to live, and I chose the night of the first preview just for grins. First: the theatre itself is a great space, and while this is Cincy Shakes' last season in this building before they move to their new theatre, it's easy to see why they describe it as their beloved home.

Second: this company. WOW, this company. Much Ado is my favourite for good reason, because it's outrageously hilarious in addition to teaching us a little something about the destructive power of slander, and no two shows that I've seen have taken the same direction with any of the jokes, which keeps a 400-year-old show fresh and delightful every time. Which is why I've bought another ticket to closing night this Saturday. (This is my non-musical equivalent of Les Misérables. I'll never not see it.) One of the best things about this show is that the characters are so distinctive, the audience ought to be able to tell which character is which just by how they carry themselves, before they ever say a single word. And I did, no problems at all. This company is fantastic, and I'm so happy that they were my first introduction to Cincinnati theatre.

Highlights:

The Yip-Yips: During the scene when they're tricking Benedick into thinking Beatrice is in love with him, Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio channel the Yip-Yips. This whole scene is absolutely priceless, complete with Benedick roaming through the audience and diving off the stage to avoid being seen by his friends. I'd have bought a ticket just to see that again. (And did, basically. I got closer to the front so I can be in the middle of the action.)

Geoffrey Warren Barnes II (who got his MFA at UT! Woo-hoo for a fellow former Austinite!): Fabulous as the scheming Don John. His facial expressions alone got him as many laughs as the more comedic, less broody characters.

Jeremy Dubin & Miranda McGee (Benedick & Beatrice): I've seen raves for these two all over the local theatre reviews & Facebook pages where I've been poking around for a couple weeks. And every bit of praise is 100% deserved. They're so believable as the witty frenemies-turned-lovers that you get the impression they just keep right on going once the show ends. Can't wait to see them in whatever's next. Also! Benedick's line, "If I do not love her, I am a Jew," is generally omitted from modern productions, for obvious reasons. However, since Mr. Dubin is Jewish, this show kept it in--and right after saying it, he got that "Hey, wait a minute" look on his face before dashing offstage. Brilliant.

Justin McCombs & Maggie Lou Rader (Claudio & Hero): Totally adorable as the sweet and (mostly) innocent couple who's head-over-heels in love. (Probably doesn't hurt that they're also in love off stage. Yes, I read all the bios this time, in case you were wondering where I'm getting all this information.) Claudio is always a dumb-dumb, alas, but Ms. Rader's Hero has more fight in her than most during the wedding scene. Mr. McCombs gets a special mention because he got the scene when Claudio mourns for Hero beautifully, heartbreakingly spot-on. I've rarely seen grief so well acted, so much so that I had to look away at anything else happening on stage. It was too painful to watch.

Sylvester Little Jr. (Don Pedro): Absolutely perfect as the Prince. When he asks Beatrice to marry him and she turns him down, he looked like he might actually start crying--only to recover in a hurry and suggest bringing she and Benedick together. He's such a great character, played by an excellent actor.

I'm just gonna stop there before I get any more carried away. Such a brilliant, brilliant show. So looking forward to seeing it again.

Post title is from Dogberry's line, "Oh, that he were here to write me down an ass!" after Conrade quite correctly shouts at him, "You are an ass!" Which, incidentally, is one of my favourite lines from the show.

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