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Jackie Demaline: These Are the Shows You Should See (Or Maybe Not) in December

If you’re looking for more than ho-ho-ho on stage this month, here are some possibilities to lure you away from an evening of online shopping. And if you’re stuck for a gift idea for the friend-who-has-everything, how about a pair of tickets to your favorite local theatre
 
Part Two of RCN’s December stage preview looks at everything but the holidays. Not a jolly old soul, mug of eggnog or holiday wreath in sight. (But if you're into that sort of thing, click here for our holiday show guide.)
 
As always, in chronological order:
 
Bureau of Missing Persons, through Dec. 20. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20.  $10 rush tickets at the door 10 minutes prior to curtain (when available; cash only). Wednesdays are FREE as part of Know’s Welcome Experiment initiative, subject to availability. knowtheatre.com and 513-300-5669. 
 
 
In this regional premiere, former elementary school teacher Angela (Kate Glasheen) is still recovering from losing one of her charges on a school trip. Angela embarks on a fantasy-infused adventure which carries her from her New York apartment to a cave in Russia in search of – a way to forgive herself? A road to her future? 
 
This is the second production for Bureau and it will be interesting to see what kind of future this one-act has. The Know production is adept, but Lila Rose Kaplan’s script is thin. Kaplan is taken with the concepts of myth and loss, but the play feels like a story she thought of one night and didn’t think about how to make it meaningful. It will be fine for audiences who are satisfied with whimsy and don’t ask for more.  
 
The Comedy of Errors, through Dec. 13, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race. St, Downtown Cincinnati. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Additional performance 2 p.m. Dec. 13. Tickets $22-$32 on Thursdays and Sundays and from $26-$36 on Fridays and Saturdays.  513-381-2273 ext. 1 and www.cincyshakes.com.  
 
You know what makes me nutsy? You set Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors in an Atlantic City-type resort in the early 1930s, a high concept that doesn’t fit the play but does fit guest director Patrick Flick’s bawdy vaudeville approach. Or might if he knew what to do with it.
 
 
Flick parades sideshow characters – a bearded lady, snake charmer, and sundry others – down the side aisles to the stage. And does nothing with them. They sit or stand to the side and watch the action rather than doing their sideshow thing. Then you bring the show to a stop every time you need to reinforce the high concept which doesn’t fit the play. I confess, Scrooge-like, I gave up after the first act. 
 
Good job by the company, who do what they’re asked. Flick is executive director of the Shakespeare Theatre Association and Comedy suggests those who administrate cannot necessarily direct. For the record, the show is about two sets of identical twins (masters and servants)who of course don’t know of each other’s existence, endless comic misunderstandings ensue en route to a happy ending.  
 
Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, through Jan. 4. Playhouse in the Park Thompson Shelterhouse. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $35-$80 adults, prices subject to change. Teen and student tickets $30. Sunday College Night: tickets to 7 p.m. performance $10 with valid student ID. 513-421-3888 and www.cincyplay.com
 
 
Cincinnati playwrights Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman chronicle Rosemary’s triumphant journey to stardom and defeat and back again. The show features 17 of her signature hits, including “White Christmas,” “Tenderly” and “Come On-A My House.” Susan Haefner, whose Broadway credits include State Fair, Thoroughly Modern Millie and 42nd Street, makes her Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park debut as Rosemary Clooney.
 
Failure: A Love Story, through Dec. 7. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 7. Corbett Theatre, Fine Arts Center, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights. Tickets: $14 adults, $11 seniors, $8 students (with valid ID). 859-572-5464 and theatre.nku.edu
 
(See the review of Failure by clicking here.)
 
“Failure” is a captivating little fable with music with a great big problem. The fragile and fanciful tale of a trio of sisters in the 1920s who all die in the same year would be a glass-slipper-fit for NKU’s Stauss Studio space. Instead it’s being produced in the much larger Corbett Theatre where the able company has to push far too hard.  
 
Still, the script is inventive, filled with talking animals and clocks which speak to the inevitable march of time; the student cast is charming and you’ll find the play’s central truth spoken by a loyal, ailing dog. 
 
“Just because something ends don’t mean it wasn’t a success.” Truly words to live by and an invitation to look up instead of down.
 
Black Fly Spring, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4-7. Xavier University, Gallagher Student Center Theater. 513-745-3939. Tickets $17 adults, $12 students.  www.xavier.edu/theatre and 513-745-3939.
 
If you love new scripts and the process of creating new work, check out this new script by playwright Nick Gandiello. A year after her sister is killed while working as a war photographer, a young woman is set to present those photographs at a memorial. When she and her fiancé retreat to a lakeside mountain town to reflect and prepare, they find themselves at odds over their secrets, desires and their place in the world -- and how we move forward during times of despair. Regina Pugh directs. 
 
Stay after the show Thursday-Saturday for talk-backs with Gandiello. The show contains adult language and situations.
 
The Year of Magical Thinking, Dec. 5-28. The Cincy One Act Festival, College Hill Town Hall/Contemporary Dance Theater Studio, 1805 Larch Ave., College Hill. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20. www.Cincyticket.com and 1-888-428-7311. For info: www.CincyOneAct.com.
 
If you love taking a chance, try this regional premiere of the one-woman stage adaptation of Joan Didion’s bestselling memoir, about the year following the sudden death of her husband of 40 years, writer John Gregory Dunne, and the subsequent hospitalization of her only daughter Quintana Roo.  It packs an emotional wallop and then some. Cate White stars, directed by Lyle Benjamin.
 
There were rave reviews for the Broadway debut in 2007: "A haunting portrait of a four decade long marriage" -The New York Times.  "A play that is as intensely intimate as it is universal" - Daily News.  
 
"Poignant and wry.....beautifully written play, the emotions are so deep we can't help but be deeply affected” - Newsweek.
 
The Cincy One Act Festival marks the return of theater for the first time in years to College Hill Town Hall (home of Contemporary Dance Theater Studio). The festival is the longtime dream of area theater artist/producer Benjamin, who’s done memorable work in town over the years (including at his Queen City Off Broadway), but he hasn’t been producing lately. It’s good to see him back and, at the website, promising more to come in winter and spring 2015.
 
If it sounds interesting, but where the heck is it – get out the GPS. Town Hall is just off Hamilton Avenue, halfway between two terrific restaurants – Ruth’s Parkside Café in Northside and Swad Indian in North College Hill. Make an evening of it.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
 
Photos provided (Shakespeare Company photos by Cal Harris)
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