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2011 Highlights in Theater (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Posted January 3, 2012 in Articles

We're proud that three of our productions from calendar year 2011 made the Top Ten list of Cleveland's Plain Dealer. Click here for the full list.

(as excerpted from Plain Dealer)

Change was in the air in 2011 for Cleveland's professional-theater scene. Great Lakes Theater Festival chopped off its last name to become Great Lakes Theater but added a fifth show to its regular season this spring. And the Cleveland Play House pulled up stakes from its storied Euclid Avenue complex and moved into the freshly renovated Allen Theatre downtown. One thing that stayed the same was a commitment to quality, whether the show was a world premiere, a summer-theater favorite or even a five-course feast with cross-dressing and Wild Turkey on the side. Here are 10 shows that prove it, in roughly chronological order, with selections from previously published reviews by former Plain Dealer theater critic Tony Brown, as well as comments from reporters Andrea Simakis and Joanna Connors, and freelance critic Christine Howey.

Cue the curtain.

"The Trip to Bountiful": This February production at the Cleveland Play House was the first play ever by Horton Foote to be produced by the company -- and the first time this play was done with an (almost) all-black cast. As directed by Timothy Douglas, it was also first-rate theater, a gently, languidly unfolding portrait of a woman who longs for a home that's no longer there. This "Trip to Bountiful" was the theater this theater can and should do, first, last and always. -- Tony Brown

"The Life of Galileo": The Cleveland Play House opened its season in September in its new home, PlayhouseSquare's Allen Theatre, with a splendid mounting of Bertolt Brecht's 1943 play, directed by Michael Donald Edward. In the title role, Paul Whitworth was the white-hot sun around which everyone else onstage revolved. His Galileo, a scruffy, bearish, Zorba of the 17th century, was a mess of flaws and virtues, fully human and blazingly alive. -- Joanna Connors

"The Game's Afoot": The Cleveland Play House found its "Christmas Carol" for the new century in this holiday whodunit by celebrated playwright Ken Ludwig. The world premiere of the snappy, clever drawing-room mystery in November generated so much buzz that its run was extended before the curtain rose on opening night. Murder and mayhem reign on Christmas Eve 1936 in Gillette Castle, home to acclaimed American actor William Gillette, known by theater patrons for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. A collection of actors, an irresistibly acerbic theater critic and a daffy, tweedy detective rounded out the roster of likely suspects. It was a live-action game of "Clue" that managed to be witty and wacky all at once. -- Andrea Simakis

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