According to the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. So it's too bad that War Horse, Equus, or a yet-to-be-written musical adaptation of Mr. Ed aren't playing somewhere in Northeast Ohio this year.
But there are a bunch of other promising productions in the pipeline. And while we critics may say "neigh" to some of these offerings, now's the time to strap on the feedbag and chew on some interesting possibilities. Let's look at the next three months of theater in Cleveland chronologically.
January seems to have a focus on transgender issues. At the Cleveland Play House, a young woman poses as a man in Yentl, so she can study the Talmud while she argues and debates with other yeshiva scholars.
That gender coin is flipped in the one-person show Exact Change, a world premiere at Cleveland Public Theatre, in which a boy named Dick tries out many voices before finding her real identity as Christine. (The largely autobiographical piece is written and performed by me, your humble scribe.)
Also mounting the boards in January is a Eugene Ionesco double-bill at Ensemble Theatre: The Chairs and Exit the King, twisting and challenging scripts that explore the absurdity of life.
And at the end of the month Dobama Theatre opens Aliens, a play that has been dubbed a modern-day Waiting for Godot. Meanwhile CPT lifts the curtain on Air Waves (Part Three of the Elements Cycle), which looks at what humans are doing to that (mostly) invisible stuff we breathe.
February is Black History Month, and it will be celebrated at Karamu with the 1969 classic Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Lonnie Elder. Playhouse Square offers a nice counterpoint with the acclaimed Broadway production of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.
Ensemble contributes Knock Me a Kiss, a play inspired by the ill-advised marriage of W.E.B. DuBois's daughter Yolande to the Harlem poet Countee Cullen. And the Cleveland Play House plays a musical tribute to African-American tenor Roland Hayes in Breath and Imagination.
Lakeland Civic Theatre chimes in with the musical The Light in the Piazza, involving young love and a mother's hopes and regrets. If you want to relive your junior prom revenge fantasies, set to music, Beck Center is staging Carrie, the Musical. Then None Too Fragile Theater weighs in with Love Drunk involving two characters, 40 years apart, who muse on love and lies.
Mystery and skullduggery are snared in Deathtrap at Great Lakes Theatre while the Theater Ninjas produce (sic), a quirky comedy about the dark side of friendship.
March roars in like a lion (okay, a pretty tame lion) with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Playhouse Square, and Dobama lights up Made in America, a world premiere drama written by former Dobama artistic director Joel Hammer.
The talented students in the CWRU/CPH MFA acting program present Too True To Be Good, the Shaw work that involves a loquacious woman and a talking microbe.
Rock music and blood will rev up at CPT with Titus: A Grand and Gory Rock Musical based on Shakespeare's plasma-fest, then Karamu gets a headlock on the month with The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety, which deals with TV wrestling. And convergence-continuum wades into the surreal deep end with Lobster Alice.
March exits on the wings of the Pulitzer Prize-winning script by Marsha Norman 'Night Mother at Beck, featuring Dorothy Silver and Laura Perrotta. And the satirical and feisty Clybourne Park at the Cleveland Play House puts a stamp on the end of the first quarter of theater in these environs.
So don't complain there's nothing to do in these dark winter months!
In last week's 2013 awards issue we referred to a great performance by Pedden Hedderson as the homicidal maniac in Texas Chainsaw Musical. Of course, his name is actually Perren Hedderson. Please accept our apology and, you know, put down that chainsaw.