Over-the-Rhine

My new favorite shop, garden supplies & OTR Tour...

Jun
03
My new favorite shop is Park + Vine. It's a boutique that opened in the Gateway Quarter of Over the Rhine. They carry green products: backpacks with solar panels for charging your portable electronics, bamboo table accessories, vinyl records reshaped into bowls, etc. They also carry izze soft drinks and energy bars in case you need a tasty beverage/snack while shopping.

Urban Gardening is also a brand new shop in the Gateway Quarter. The shop owner was very nice and they just opened today for the OTR Summer Tour of Homes, so things were a little disheveled and the water feature in the back didn't have any water in it yet. They featured self contained herb gardens and starter plants for pocket gardens.

The OTR Summer Tour of Homes seemed pretty well attended for a first time program. The Duveneck Lofts were super nice and Penthouse 3 unit in the American Building would totally be worth the $1,050,000 if I had it.
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Fringe Review: Girlfight

Jun
04

First and foremost, I did not write this play. It would be rather strange to review my own play. Its odd enough that I share the name of the playwright that seeing my name in the program provides what maybe someday will be a farcical element to another play.

With "my" name in program it was befuddling when asked about it, but to the disappointment of some of my friends, I've not the ability (at least not yet) to pen a composition of this quality. Brian Andrews-Griffin had such an honor and I'll take the liberty to speak for him in saying that most of the honor goes to the four on the stage and the director (another Brian) Brian Robertson.

The Physicallity of this play gives a funny tone to the upstream motion of the play as it starts at the end and tells the story of three women who cross paths at a flower show where all three see an Owl in the daytime, believed to give good luck. Two of the three (the fighters Regina Pugh and Aretta Baumgartner) are self-absorbed with their own plight and material gain. They fight over the good luck. They see it as something they can own, and blame the other for their run of bad luck. They are the obsessed with each other. The third woman, played by Jodie Linver, has lost her husband at a young age. She’s introspective on life, but not her own, of her husband’s. In the end, the third woman has the good luck to two fighters battle over.

I was very impressed with this Performance Gallery production in their ability to use the time reversal and physical motion (almost cartoon like) as the source of much of the humor, but not in a clumsy over barring manner.

I saw “girlfight” the same day as I saw Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble’s “Public Espionage.” Both productions were part of what was billed a “CoolAberration” where each play incorporated 10 elements into each production. I think I come with some of them, but I am not sure: Rolling on the ground, Running/Chasing people, Man wearing a mask, Singing, playing a string instrument, bubbles, discussing killing people. Other than those, I missed the rest. If you want to incorporate this exercise, I suggest seeing both on the same day, which takes place Saturday June 9th. Get your tickets now!

UPDATE: I forgot the tongs!

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Fringe Review: Public Espionage!

Jun
03
Physical comedey is a challenge, but the La Petomane Ensemble pulled of many wonderful segments in their Fringe entry "Public Espionage!". Gregory Maupin ("the one with the furry hat) was the dead pan Russian spy and pulled off the two best routines of the show. His Mission Impossible style infiltration segment complete with a box of Thin Mints, sandwich, and stuffed bunny. His scary Russian version of the Linus meaning of Christmas speech from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Other highlights include a sexually charged Dutch Ninja, a fashion diva, and a cute opening with most of the cast sitting in the audience, intermixed with the crowd.

The only negative I would point out was that I felt I needed a better set up. I wanted a little more identifiable canvas that would have have made the references crisper and more relevant. I got that this was public class to become a spy, but I want just a little more premise.

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Fringe Review: Tommy Nugent’s The Show

Jun
03
This is by far most personally intense production at Fringe. As a member of the audience you are brought in Tommy's life, his struggle to escape his demons, with a suspense filled portion of the show that if you haven't read the synopsis catches you off guard.

Tommy is on a journey, it ebbs and flows. His show takes you through his recent life. He is a former street magician and he keeps you guessing. He illustrates his act with a straight jacket and a deck of cards. This kind of puts you at ease. He then rehashes his first one man show he did here in Cincinnati in 2002, called Burning Man, which was done at the Know. Here you see the tension in him rise and you feel him be more uneasy.

Then he starts to take about how he wants (or wanted) to end the show. The show was supposed to end with him playing Russian Roulette. After a few minutes of discussing this and getting the gun out, one audience member actually walked out. It appears to have been too much for her to take. The tension gets to you. It feels like he is going to do it. I am not keen on having guns around, even more if they are loaded, so I was nervous.

Will he do it? Was he ever really going to do it? That is the bottom line question and it kept me thinking well after the show. Was he being real? Was he telling us a tale? The drama was real. The tension for the audience is real. The gasp was still real. Tommy Nugent is very real.
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Fringe Review: How to Fake Clinical Depression

Jun
03
Sometimes a morality play comes in sheep's clothing. Steven Marrocco's very humorous play has the subtle moral tone that condemns both drug companies for making profit on the backs of the ill, and society for looking for the quick fix to life's problems. Steve was his own example of looking for a quick fix to meet his need for a new bass. He see the impact of his quest for an easy answer. He sees what the drugs are doing to himself, and he sees that his greed is also holding back the development of the drugs for people who really need them. What seemed most interesting is he also sees what a crutch the drugs have become to his family. Morality wins out when he makes the choice to come clean. He learns his lesson that gimmicks are not going to land a TV deal, or buy him a quick fix to all of his desires.

Steve's stories are very funny, but if you know life as an actor in LA or you know the terminology used by actors (callbacks, dailies, etc) you'll get more of the excellent structure he lays on his story.

I would like to have seen him in a different space. The Art Academy is a difficult space to use for his type of show. The white walls there are hard to escape. That worked to help Calculus, but doesn't help here.

Finally, read his 10 ten in the Enquirer, hilarious.
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Fringe Makes YP Society Page

Jun
03
The closest thing Cincinnati has to a society page for the YP crowd is the weekly article usually by Pam Fisher. Today's article features Fringe, with a summary of Wednesday night's opening after-party. It even includes a nice picture of Liz Holt, Doug Borntrager and Emily Holtrop, even if two of the three names were spelled wrong.
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Go OTR

Jun
02
Small but enthusiastic turn out for the first Go OTR 5K Run/Walk. Run/Walk is the best description of my participation. I did make it to the finish in slightly under my predicted time of 33 minutes. Then dropped by Know Theatre for a post-race mimosa.
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Fringe Review: The Kid in the Dark

Jun
02
Fantastic. Stellar. I am at a loss for words at the talent on stage. "The Kid in the Dark" is in pure musical theatre style, but with a Fringe structure. The Music ties together wonderfully, but each song can stand alone. “Kid” has great music & lyrics are wonderful, great movement on stage, and stunning voices from the entire cast. What is amazing is the cast is not from a far way city, they are students at Cincinnati's own CCM. Using “Kid” as a short hand note for the production reminds me how young the performers are, but on stage you don’t seem to notice, outside of their everyday hip wardrobe.

Mark Halpin's lyrics to several of the songs are to my untrained ears as good as anything on Broadway today, the song "It's All Going to End" really showcased the lyrics, the incredible voice of Sara Sheperd, and the strong music by Andrew Smithson.

I will credit Director Richard Hess with adding a great flow between songs and action of the other performers who provided a layer of motion behind many of the solo pieces. It gave more depth and bolted the production as more of an ensemble, than troop of soloists.

If you are a fan of traditional theatre, this would be your best bet at Fringe. For those of us who love all theatre, it is a must see for Fringe.
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Fringe Review: I Take It Back

Jun
01
As a political blogger, I've come to know the standard political speak made by those who want to know about politics. It's the talk radio jargon that sounds like nails on the chalkboard to my wonkish ears. Stacey Morrison is a self-admitted sufferer of falling into the trap of the usual arguments. She represented well the thoughtfulness of people who want to know about politics, but find that the rest of their lives get in the way.

I enjoyed her characterizations of her family, her friends, her priest. Sex as a political weapon is a new concept to me. Sex can trump nearly everything. Sex couldn't have made me vote for Bush.

Redemption is the tone I got from the play. Writing and performing it sounds like Stacey's penance for allowing the basics of life to trump her principles. The point I think she didn't get across was that it wasn't about which party you believe too, it was that you believe what you believe, not just because someone else wants you to believe it. That at the core was her message and I think the standard political views of the audience got in the way of it sinking in. The easy way is to believe the hype, not to dive into the facts.

Parts of the production could use a little more of a pick up. I was not impressed with the staging. I liked her use of motion, but the props added nothing to her message.

If you believe in ideas, but you don't really care much about politics, I believe you will relate to this play. If you are a political wonk like me, well, it will not sink in as much.
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Day Three Is Upon Us

Jun
01
Getting down to Fringe early has a calming effect. I get to see everyone running around getting everything ready and I have to do is sit and stare at large, yet old TV screen showing the Fringe/Know slide show.

I've got my ticket for "I Take It Back," a play from Odds & Ends Productions, the folks who brought "Running My Ass Off" at last year's Fringe.

As a political wonk, of sorts, I'm very interested in the take this play has on changing your political views. There are plenty of people who are regretting their vote for Bush, but not as many would changes their political view points that drastically.

Side note: Main Street/The Quarter needs more quick places to get food.
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Fringe Review: iLove

May
31
It is ironic, I think, that a guy who is known as blogger is writing about a play about the lack of connection in the modern Internet world. If you think it's so ironic that the computer screen you are reading this on will burst into flame, logoff and come down to Fringe, ASAP. Anyway..... Love is a mystery. Technology tries to remove the mystery out of everything it touches. ilove shows love both inside and outside the on-line world. This new work shows off some of the great local talent in Cincinnati

The cast works hard, with a streamlined, but complicated staging. A few of the technical effects had some small timing issues, which can be chalked up to opening night.

The most noticeable elements of the performance's structure, which I will not ruin by mentioning. Watching people react is interesting. Oh, and there are naked people on stage, so don't get your panties, or lack there of, in a bunch.

On some levels iLove is totally conceptual, but not in the same way a Matt Slaybaugh play does. In stead you have character, you have concept, you have emotion, and you have beautiful motion.

Go see it.
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The Best Part of Vacation...

May
31
The most exciting part is going, but the best part is coming home. Just in time for the OTR Extravaganza of Fringe, 5K & Tour of Homes.
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Fringe Review: Calculus: The Musical!

May
31
Smart people are funny too. When a math teacher and an actor get together the fun ensues, seriously, it does! The smart wit forms a right angle with the warm music, tongue-twisting its way through math formula history.

Marc Gutman has a soft voice, but he knows his calculus. Sadie Bowman has the humor, charm, beauty, and timing to carry forward the motion.

Now, you might ask, do I need to know anything about calculus to enjoy this show? The answer is no, but it helps to have had at least taken one calculus class. If you don't know who Issac Newton is, you will be a little lost.

The hilarious part of of the show is the setting of one of the driest subjects ever to some of the most popular melodies throughout the last 100+ years. The lyrics set to "Closer to the Heart" were especially good. Now, it is not a brilliant musical production, but it is fun. Fun makes a show worth seeing. The smartness makes up for the journeyman musicality.

I loved the film. The silent era style depiction of the apple falling on Newton's head is worth expanding on it own.

I don't think you can have a better set. The show takes place in a large classroom at the Art Academy. There are even folded down arms on the chairs like you remember from college. I was tempted to fold mine up and start taking notes.
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CityBeat's Fringe Blog Is Up

May
31
For daily reviews of Fringe shows, check out CityBeat's Fringe Blog.

Their day 1 reviews includes a Grade A for The Kid in the Dark and a Grade D for Extreme Puppet Theatre.
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The Myth is False

May
31
There is a god and his name is Zeus. He has provided us proof that Luke and Adam are not the same person.
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Fringe NOt Angry

May
30
It is almost 10PM and no one has taken the stage yet to sing. I'm disappointed. I think Jeff is a little ticked off too that he 's been banned from singing his favorite N'Sync song.
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Fringe Review: Mad

May
30
Jen Dalton has more courage than any playwright in Cincinnati. Putting part of her life on stage with the subject of mental illness is something few would do as openly.

I can't express in words the level of emotion put into this play. The "voices" made you feel like you know how being schizophrenic feels, but not really. I can't imagine anyone can know what it is like to have voices in your head, unless you have voices in your head.

New Stage Collective has a great space, there is just no other way to put it. The transformation to deal with the open window design was well done, along with reducing the seating.

It was interesting to see Michael McIntire in the cast. He is likely better known as the main person behind the Marmalade Brigade. He's formerly of Foxy McCoy, another good local band that ended before its time.

The crowd was older than I expected, it was close to being mostly over 50 years old. That isn't bad, but where is young crowd? I guess seeing the 7PM show on a Wednesday may have thrown the younger set off? I'll judge that based on who comes out to Fringe Karaoke tonight.

UPDATE:I was a bit rushed last night in posting this and I neglected to add some more comments. Hats off the entire cast for a great performance, especially to Andrew Bernhard and Sue Breving who portrayed the love of a son and mother with a warmth wrapped inside a cover of pain.

Also a little advice to those going to the show, I would sit in the upper sections. Make sure you can see around the people in front of you. The second row on the audience left is not a good place to sit. I think I would have been able to appreciate the lighting affects more if I had been sitting up higher.
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Day One Off to a Start

May
30
Got my press pass, got my first beer, working on the second as I sit here in Courtyard Cafe using Lily Pad (Yea Lilly Pad). Well this is my first post after my first show. I'm out of my first show and I am excited! It was a great show and I'm working on writing up a review on, so look for that post soon.

I'm working on how this blogging fringe thing is going to work out. I am glad I have place where I can blog and eat. Eating is very important at Fringe. I'll be eating often here.
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Fringe Venue Change

May
29
Via the Cincy Fringe website we learn that Mr. Pitiful's is no longer a venue for the Festival and the performances of the two shows scheduled there, Contains Adult Themes & Think Fast, Go Slow, have been moved to the 1201 Jackson Street Theatre. What is that space? I think I know the building, but not sure about the space. Check out the location on Google Maps.

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First Glance - My Shows To See At Fringe

May
30
Below is my tentative list of shows to see at this year's Fringe. It is a long list. I don't know if my ass can take sitting in uncomfortable chair that many times, so I seriously doubt I will make all of them. After the reviews start to come in, I'll be switching things in and out. Not everything is going to be good, so with time an issue, I have to trim the fat at some point.

I have no great science to what shows have caught my eye. My picks are based on word of mouth, past history of the performers/companies, and the descriptions. At this point I don't know if there will be any run away hits like Catholic Girl's Guide was last year. This year's schedule has several shows that are placed well to fill the seats if the momentum can work in their favor.

Well here are my picks, in alphabetical order:
  1. Alone Together
  2. Calculus: The Musical!
  3. Christmas in Bakersfield
  4. Extreme Puppet Theatre
  5. Girlfight
  6. How to Fake Clinical Depression
  7. I Do… I Think
  8. I Take it Back
  9. iLove
  10. Mad
  11. Public Espionage!
  12. The Kid in the Dark
  13. Tommy Nugent's The Show
  14. True + False
  15. Wet Dream
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