Poor Little Lulu:
It's Sexy Time!
Oh, Cleveland Public Theatre: You had us at "vintage circus of comic debauchery." That's the tantalizing hook being tossed around in regard to Poor Little Lulu, a "cautionary tale" of greed, lust, and assorted sexual hijinx making its world premiere this week at the James Levin Theatre. Lulu is the newest creation from freelance director and playwright Matthew Earnest, who was last in town with Wanderlust: A History of Walking. That play made its world premiere at CPT in 2010. At the time, our venerable house critic Christine Howey had good things to say, including this: "Earnest's thrilling theatrical chops should make you kick your heels in glee." Produced in association with the playwright's new company, The Lunar Stratagem, Poor Little Lulu debuts Thursday, March 8, and runs through Saturday, March 24. Performances are 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays. Tickets are $10 to $25 by phone, online, or at the box office. And don't forget: Friday is free beer night — your post-performance chance to mingle with the cast and enjoy a brew or two on the house! — Elaine T. Cicora
In the James Levin Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727, cptonline.org.Antebellum: Performed for only the second time in the U.S., this unconventionally engrossing romance merges tales of circa-1930s discrimination — racial, religious, sexual, and otherwise — amid the backdrops of an American plantation, a German concentration camp, the premiere of Gone With the Wind, and cabaret theaters. Confused yet? It's presented by Cleveland Public Theatre Thursday through Saturday, March 10. Tickets are $10 to $25. CPT is at 6415 Detroit Ave.; call 216-631-2727 or visit cptonline.org.
The Colombi New Plays Festival: Ensemble Theatre presents three new works by local playwrights, running in repertory March 8 through April 1. The festival opens with Dancing With N.E.D., written and directed by Tyler Whidden; performances are set for March 8, 11, 17, 23, 29, and April 1. Next up is Destroying the Light by Sasha Thackaberry, directed by Peter Voinovich; performances run March 9, 15, 18, 24, 30, and April 1. And opening March 10 is Grounds for Dismissal by Cindy Dettelbach, directed by Celeste Cosentino; additional performances are set for March 16, 22, 25, 31, and April 1. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students with valid ID. Or snag a three-show pass for $30. Get them at 216-321-2930 or online at ensemble-theatre.org, where you will also find showtimes. Ensemble Theatre is at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.
Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man: One of the best stage shows of 2011 returns to Cleveland Public Theatre through March 17. Conceived and written by Glen Berger and his sole actor, Brett Keyser, the one-man show is funny, fast-paced, and intellectually rich, leading audiences through amusing yet remarkably cogent explanations of Darwin's theories. Tickets are $10 to $25 at 216-631-2727 or cptonline.org. It happens in the Storefront Studio at 6415 Detroit Ave. in the Gordon Square Arts District.
Flanagan's Wake: Part improv, part scripted, this interactive Irish wake is back again at Kennedy's Theatre at Playhouse Square. Performances are set for Fridays and Saturdays through April 28. Tickets are $22 at 216-241-6000 or playhousesquare.org. Kennedy's is beneath the Ohio Theatre lobby at 1501 Euclid Ave.
Middletown: Amid the smallville charm of Middletown, there exists a lesser known and mysterious side. Dobama's production of the play by Will Eno explores the culture of America's li'l communities — a culture that's complex, mysterious, and often surprising. Prior to select shows, a chat will take place. Staged by artistic director Joel Hammer, the action continues every Thursday through Sunday through March 18. Tickets range from $10 to $26 at 216-932-3396 or dobama.org. Dobama Theatre is at 2340 Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights.
The Mousetrap: Great Lakes Theater kicks off the second half of its 50th anniversary season at the Hanna Theatre with this murder mystery from Agatha Christie. Besides the chance to see the longest-running play in theatrical history — it's been in continuous production in London for 60 years — GLT offers plenty of other incentives, including pre-show discussions, post-show music, Friday happy hours, and Sunday ice cream socials; check out the website for selected dates. Performances run March 9 to 25 at 2067 East 14th St. Tickets are $13 to $70. Get them at 216-241-6000 or online at greatlakestheater.org.
Memphis: This Tony Award-hogging musical rocks the boards at Playhouse Square's Palace Theatre through Sunday, March 11. See Christine Howey's review in this issue.