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Issue Date: November 2006 Issue

Play Dates

Can’t get to New York this year to see high-quality off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway productions? Not to worry. Cleveland’s small professional theater community is strong enough that you won’t need a trip to the Big Apple biting into your wallet. Check out a great range of plays set in very intimate venues right here.

Christopher Johnston

The set: Though not a tony eatery or gallery, convergence-continuum serves some of Tremont’s tastiest art entrees from April to November in what could pass for a corner auto-repair garage.
The scene: Seating is never the same in this flexible, 45-seat space. This intense young company,  led by artistic director Clyde Simon, isn’t afraid to sit in your lap. Be prepared to feel like you’re part of the play.
The play: “And Baby Makes Seven” (through Nov. 18) by one of the theater’s favorite playwrights, Paula Vogel, is a bizarre peek into lesbian motherhood best described as a Gothic nursery tale gone awry.

The set: The theater is in the heart of historic Hudson just a couple of blocks west of the landmark clock tower.
The scene: A thrust stage with seating on three sides keeps every audience member in the thick of the action. Artistic director Neil Thackaberry, a former Cleveland Play House performer, draws on his colleagues to cast each show with full professional (Equity) actors.
The play: “Arms and the Man” (Nov. 2-19), George Bernard Shaw’s romantic satire of the ideals associated with war, is perhaps more timely than ever. Dorothy and Reuben Silver, Cleveland’s favorite acting couple, star.

Kalliope Stage
The set: Situated kitty-corner to the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights, the 80-seat venue is a converted storefront.
The scene:Kalliope is designed for musical-lovers who prefer to hear every lyric sung through the human instrument, rather than with microphones and speakers.
The play: “Nite Club Confidential” (Nov. 2-Dec. 9). Artistic director Paul Gurgol originated this “sassy musical cocktail” that features jazz classics such as “That Old Black Magic” and “Goody, Goody” to much acclaim in Philadelphia.

Cesear’s Forum
The set: Kennedy’s Down Under is a 100-seat space nestled amid the giant gem box theaters of Playhouse Square.
The scene: Descend the stairs from the Ohio Theatre lobby and enter a long, narrow cabaret space, where Greg Cesear’s intrepid company interprets obscure theater works with verve.
The play: “A Pack of Lies” (Nov. 3-Dec. 9) by Hugh Whitemore is a fictional account of a high-profile spy crime. Set in London in the early ’60s, two families struggle with deception and the choice of loyalty to country or friends.  — Christopher Johnston

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