As the calendar turns to fall, a dynamite year of Cleveland theater continues with options new and old, traditional and off-the-wall. Here are 10 that we're looking forward to.
Great Lakes Theatre Oct 4. – Nov. 3
Power. Greed. Envy. Pride. These are all things that describe the life of Caesar and his omnipotent reign and flashy exhibition, and it's all wrapped up in this thrilling modernization by Great Lakes Theatre, always one to take a classic tale and mix it up a bit. In the divisive political climate we have today, this might be one of the more timely productions on this list. Regardless, this production guarantees a conversation afterwards.
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Connor Palace Oct 8. – 27
Few musical acts embody an era or genre quite as well as the feisty yet elegant Donna Summer. Donna's journey from humble gospel singer to chart-topping diva promises to bring glitz and glam while showcasing a "greatest hits" playlist from the Queen of Disco. Don't be afraid to sing along as all your favorites will be reinterpreted under the bright spotlights of Playhouse Square — and then some. We almost feel inclined to dust off our old roller skates.
Dobama Theatre Oct. 18 – Nov. 10
Frequent attendees to Dobama's shows may recognize the unique tone of Will Eno's work, but for those who don't, be prepared for something ... different. Despite the play's focus on fairly morose topics — the reality and inevitability of death, the loss of loved ones, the finite time we have on this Earth— Wakey, Wakey expresses these feelings with a twinge of dark humor and a rare, profound wisdom that sticks with you long after the curtain is drawn.
Into The Woods
Presented by CSU Theatre & Dance at the Allen Theatre Oct. 24 – Nov. 3
As the recent film adaptation is still fresh in people's minds, this production by the Cleveland State theater department is sure to be an audience favorite and perfect for all ages. An atypical view of fairy tales and their characteristically happy tone — something that will reoccur in this list later on — Into the Woods deconstructs the stories of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, and CSU promises to showcase this story with their best and brightest.
The Band's Visit
Connor Palace Nov. 5 – 24
With universal acclaim and an unprecedented 10 Tony awards under the belt, the titular band has taken the right bus this time to Cleveland, to give eager theater fans a charming, sweet and emotional tale that tugs on every heart string. The Band's Visit proves that Broadway is not only a haven for opulent, showy performances with grand sets and costumes, it can also be an experience that promises to bring people together.
None Too Fragile Nov. 8 – 23
Considered by critics a comedic equivalent to the film Deliverance — which already piqued our interest — Tim Firth's introspection on the pain and sorrow beneath the surface of comedy and the concept of schadenfreude puts four bumbling city slickers in an isolated environment and dares them to fend for themselves. As one would expect, hilarity ensues. However, the play really starts to find traction in exploring these characters and digging deeper into the process of adjusting to one's surroundings.
Big FishNear West Theatre Nov. 22 – Dec. 15
This left-of-the-dial musical adaptation of the acclaimed Daniel Wallace novel — and the whimsical Tim Burton film that many may remember — is all about heart, and the folks at Near West are sure to inject this feel-good family drama with heart to spare. This production is bound to showcase some impressive practical effects and stage craft for a show that's larger than life. If you're looking for some light-hearted fun at the theater, look no further.
Yippee Ki-Yay, Merry Christmas: A Die Hard Musical Parody
Blank Canvas Theatre Dec. 6 – 21
Any play with a character named Arnold Schwartzen-Schnitzel is worthy of our attention. A newfound Chicago holiday tradition is making its way to Cleveland with help from the quaint charm of the Blank Canvas crew. If you're fan of the original Die Hard and you believe that it's indeed a Christmas movie (which it totally is), you'll love the antics that Bruce McClane, his wife and a My Buddy doll get into.
Convergence-Continuum Dec. 6 – 21
Sometimes in life, people seem destined to meet, no matter the situation. That's how the lead character in Nick Payne's Constellations feels, as the play follows a beekeeper and aspiring astronomer through their relationship, in this reality among others. The play promises a lot of inside baseball terminology about the multiverse and string theory while also displaying heart and the miracle of love and human connection. No telescope required upon entering.
Shrek: The Musical
Beck Center for the Arts Dec. 7 – Jan. 6
The DreamWorks modern classic is now a musical, bringing to the stage the brilliantly bonkers comedy and parody of classic fairy tale structure that Shrek started. The Beck Center promises its audience the same heartwarming yet hilarious story that charmed audiences all the way back in 2001. As the cult-like status of the movie has caused it to stay in the public consciousness for all these years, folks should have no problem diving right back in.