CCM Review Round-Up: ‘Les Misérables’ and ‘El Niño’

The critics can’t stop talking about CCM’s productions of Les Misérables and El Niño! Catch up with the latest “buzz” in today’s review round-up!

CCM proudly presents a new production of the iconic musical "Les Misérables," playing Feb. 27 - March 9, 2014. Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM proudly presents a new production of the iconic musical “Les Misérables,” playing Feb. 27 – March 9, 2014. Photography by Mark Lyons.

  • Rick Pender calls CCM’s new production of Les Misérables “magnificent” in his CityBeat review, concluding, “Peeled back to its raw essence, CCM’s staging of Les Misérables is powerful and memorable, one of the best musical theater productions on a Cincinnati stage this season.” Read the full review here.
  • Paige Malott reviews the production for iSPYCiNCY and observes, “Capturing the larger-than-life Les Misérables with perfection, CCM put on a better-than-Broadway performance that is guaranteed 2-4-6-0-fun.” Read the full review here.
  • In his Talkin’ Broadway review, Scott Cain explains, “Musicals presented at… CCM always feature splendidly talented student performers who rarely disappoint. Their current production, Les Misérables, is no exception and does showcase many stunning voices and meticulously detailed acting.” Read the full review here.
  • In his review for The Sappy Critic, Kirk Sheppard suggests, “I’ve seen a lot of shows in Cincinnati over the last couple of years… [and] CCM’s Les Misérables just might be the greatest production I’ve ever seen.” Read the full review here.
  • Rafael de Acha reviews the production for Seen and Heard International and writes, “Keeping the entire undertaking tightly reined in and mercifully devoid of any Broadway clichés, [Aubrey] Berg delivers a fresh and finely-wrought production.” Read the full review here.
  • Emily Begely reviews Les Misérables for UC’s News Record and concludes, “An exemplary cast, a familiar plot and simple props created an unforgettable work of art.” Read the full review here.
Earl Rivers leads the CCM Philharmonia in a rehearsal for John Adams' EL NINO. Photography by Lisa Ventre/University of Cincinnati.

Earl Rivers leads the CCM Philharmonia in a rehearsal for John Adams’ EL NINO. Photography by Lisa Ventre/University of Cincinnati.

  • Janelle Gelfand reviews CCM’s “powerful” performance of John Adams’ El Niño for the Cincinnati Enquirer, and observes, “[Earl] Rivers balanced the work’s intimate emotions against powerful ones, propelled tempos well and drew excellent playing from the orchestra.” Read her full review here.
  • Mary Ellyn Hutton reviews El Niño for ConcertoNet and writes, “John Adams’ oratorio El Niño had its regional premiere in Cincinnati March 2, and it couldn’t have been in better hands. ” Read the full review here.

Performances of Les Misérables resume this evening (Tuesday, March 4) and run through Sunday, March 9. Learn more by visiting ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/lesmiserables.

CCM’s Mainstage Production of ‘Les Miserables’ Receives 5-Star Rating from the League of Cincinnati Theatres

CCM proudly presents a new production of the iconic musical "Les Misérables," playing Feb. 27 - March 9, 2014. Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM proudly presents a new production of the iconic musical “Les Misérables,” playing Feb. 27 – March 9, 2014. Photography by Mark Lyons.

Panelists for the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT) have recognized CCM’s production of the long running musical classic Les Misérables with a Five Star Rating! Congratulations to everyone involved with the show!

Panelists praised the production as, “Spectacular… an outstanding and phenomenal production… Bravo for everyone involved for taking a musical I have seen multiple times and making it as fresh, exciting and powerful as the first.”

Director Aubrey Berg was praised for his “seamless” direction: “Aubrey Berg said he had waited over 20 years to direct this musical at CCM and he could not have done it more effectively, with some masterful choices.” Musical Director Steve Goers also was commended for his, “direction of these fine voices and in the outstanding orchestral accompaniment;” he did a, “wonderful job with taking a beast of a show and making it sing beautifully”.

The panelists were impressed by the entire ensemble: “the show absolutely showcased the incredible depth of CCM‘s students… the talent level continues to amaze.” Blaine Krauss, as Jean Valjean, “gave a sensitive, true portrayal of the character… his voice was moving… he should go directly to Broadway.”

Panelists also singled out Colin Kessler, as Javert, for his “outstanding” performance and “remarkable voice”, as well as Matthew Paul Hill’s portrayal of Thenardier: “hilarious in an evil and unctuous manner. He almost stole the show.”

Note: this review was based on the opening night cast. On alternate nights, the roles of Jean Valjean and Javert are also played by Julian Decker and Noah Ricketts, respectively.

Final LCT awards will be determined at the end of the season and announced at the LCT gala in the spring. You can learn more about CCM’s production of Les Misérables here.

About the League of Cincinnati Theatres
The League of Cincinnati Theatres was founded in 1999 to strengthen, nurture and promote Cincinnati’s theatre community. LCT provides its member companies and individual members with education, resources and services to enhance the quality and exposure of the theatre community in Cincinnati and increase community awareness, attendance and involvement. Learn more about the LCT here.

CCM Slideshows: Les Misérables

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Tonight through March 9, CCM’s Mainstage Series proudly presents production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical Les Misérables. In honor of opening night, we present a stunning preview slideshow courtesy of photographer Mark Lyons!

Aubrey Berg, CCM’s Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre, directs this new production.

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‘Hear the People Sing’ in CCM’s Highly Anticipated Mainstage Production of ‘Les Misérables’

Seniors Blaine Krauss as Jean Valjean and Kimber Sprawl as Fantine in CCM's Mainstage Series production of 'Les Misérables.' Photography by Mark Lyons.

Seniors Blaine Krauss as Jean Valjean and Kimber Sprawl as Fantine in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of ‘Les Misérables.’ Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM’s Mainstage Series presents the CCM debut production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical Les Misérables. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, this iconic show runs Feb. 27 – March 9 in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are on sale now.

Set in France in the early 19th-century, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean and his quest for salvation after serving 19 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his starving sister’s child. Relentlessly tracked and hounded by police inspector Javert, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a student revolution, as a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.

Les Misérables was first presented at the Palais des Sports in Paris in 1980. Its English language adaptation opened at the Barbican Centre in London in 1985, overcoming bad notices through word of mouth and launching the beginning of what has turned out to be a global sensation. The Broadway production opened in 1987 and ran until 2003, closing after 6,680 performances. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

Aubrey Berg, CCM’s Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre, directs this new production. He explains, “I have been waiting not-so-patiently to present Les Misérables with the students at CCM for over twenty years, since I first saw it at the Barbican Theatre in 1985. It is an ideal vehicle for our talented students and production staff. We are extremely excited to bring a ‘local’ production of this master work to Cincinnati audiences.”

With a score by Schönberg that has risen to pop-culture status, Les Misérables presents an incredible learning opportunity to CCM students. “Needless to say,” continued Berg, “the musical theatre majors were thrilled at the prospect of working on these meaty parts.” In order to involve as many students as possible, the notable roles of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert are double-cast. The cast for a particular performance will be displayed in the lobby prior to each show.

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CCM Slideshows: The Threepenny Opera

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CCM proudly presents The Threepenny Opera, running tonight, March 1, through Sunday, March 10, in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are on sale now. This production contains mature subject matter.

Learn more The Threepenny Opera here.

“[Stage Director Robin] Guarino fearlessly goes back to the musical satire’s socio-political roots in 1920s Berlin,” Jackie Demaline writes in her review for the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Everything about The Threepenny Opera carries out Guarino’s vision, as the cast prowl scenic designer John Arnone’s industrial set of catwalks, with the small orchestra (in costume) perched at the top. Musical director Roger Grodsky as always asks much and gets all from singers and musicians.”

Read Demaline’s full review here.

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A New Sneak Peek at the Scenic Design of ‘The Threepenny Opera’

Assistant to the Scenic Designer Alexandra Kuntz provides these previews of 'The Threepenny Opera.'

Assistant to the Scenic Designer Alexandra Kuntz provides these previews of ‘The Threepenny Opera.’

CCM’s acclaimed Mainstage Series resumes this week with Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s epic musical The Threepenny Opera. Today, we are happy to provide a preview of the show’s set, courtesy of Alexandra Kuntz, a sophomore in CCM’s Scenic Design program and Assistant to Guest Scenic Designer John Arnone on this production.

Learn more about this dynamic new production, which features set designs by Tony Award-winner John Arnone.

“Set in the mid-19th century, Macheath (otherwise known as ‘Mack the Knife’) runs the town with his rag tag band of ruffians and gets what he wants,” Kuntz explains. “His latest want just happens to be Polly Peachum, daughter of the Beggar’s Lord of London (Johnathan Jeremiah Peachum), who doesn’t take too kindly to Mack the Knife’s interest in his daughter. Doing anything to keep them apart, Peachum uses broads, bribes and blackmails to get Mack out of the picture, while Macheath’s life hangs in the balance.”

This production contains mature subject matter.

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The Epic Theatre of CCM’s ‘The Threepenny Opera’

Sophomore Hannah Zazzaro as Sukey Tawdry and junior Max Clayton as Macheath. Photography by Mark Lyons.

Sophomore Hannah Zazzaro as Sukey Tawdry and junior Max Clayton as Macheath. Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM’s year-long Kurt Weill Festival resumes this month with a dynamic new production of the iconic musical The Threepenny Opera. Composed by Kurt Weill with book and lyrics by dramatist Bertolt Brecht (adapted into English by Marc Blitzstein), The Threepenny Opera weaves the riveting tale of notorious bandit and womanizer Macheath (“Mack the Knife”) and his seedy companions in London’s underworld. Weill’s innovative score invented a new form of musical theatre, leading the way for such shows as Chicago and Cabaret.

CCM’s Mainstage Series production of this jazz-infused musical is directed by Robin Guarino, with musical direction by Roger Grodsky, choreography by Patti James and scenic designs by Tony Award-winning guest artist John Arnone. The Threepenny Opera runs Thursday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 10, in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are on sale now. This production contains mature subject matter.

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CCM’s ‘Chess’ Receives Four League of Cincinnati Theater Nominations

"Chess" runs Oct. 25 - 28 in UC's Corbett Auditorium. Photography by Mark Lyons.

“Chess” runs Oct. 25 – 28 in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. Photography by Mark Lyons.
Tickets on sale now! Visit ccm.uc.edu for more information. Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM’s production of Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice’s Chess has earned four nominations from the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT)! The LCT also distinguished the rock musical as a recommended production: Outstanding Production (musical), Ensemble, Lead Actor (Julian Decker) and Lead Actress (Aubrey Ireland). Congratulations to the entire creative team!

Loosely based on the lives of chess grandmasters Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov, Chess involves a romantic triangle between two top players (an American and a Russian) and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other.

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CCM’s ‘Chess’ Features ‘Great Singing, Great Dancing, Jaw-Dropping Costuming, Superb Orchestral Support, Sharp Techno Scenic Design’ Raves Enquirer

"Chess" runs Oct. 25 - 28 in UC's Corbett Auditorium. Photography by Mark Lyons.

“Chess” runs Oct. 25 – 28 in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. Photography by Mark Lyons.
Tickets on sale now! Visit ccm.uc.edu for more information. Photography by Mark Lyons.

In her review of Chess for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jackie Demaline writes, “It’s easy to be swept up in the spectacle conjured by director Aubrey Berg – great singing, great dancing, jaw-dropping costuming, superb orchestral support (led by Stephen Goers), sharp techno scenic design (by Mark Halpin and Alan Hanson).”

Chess runs through this Sunday, Oct. 28 in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are still available by calling 513-556-4183, visiting CCM’s E-Box Office here!

Read more of Demaline’s review after the jump.

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CityBeat’s Stage Door Blog Reviews ‘Chess’

"Chess" runs Oct. 25 - 28 in UC's Corbett Auditorium. Photography by Mark Lyons.

“Chess” runs Oct. 25 – 28 in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. Photography by Mark Lyons.
Tickets on sale now! Visit ccm.uc.edu for more information. Photography by Mark Lyons.

Theatre critic Rick Pender reviews Chess in today’s CityBeat Stage Door blog: “The story is set in Bangkok and Budapest during a mid-1970s world chess championship — and it’s driven by gamesmanship between nations, between lovers and, of course, between chess players. I saw the opening on Thursday, and it’s a BIG show with a gigantic cast. Several leading roles are double cast (with more juniors than seniors, in fact, which bodes well for CCM productions for this season and next). In particular, Matthew Paul Hill, playing the Russian grand master Anatoly, lifted the roof of Corbett Auditorium with his powerful baritone voice singing the stirring ‘Anthem,’ the Act 1 finale.”

Read more here. 

Chess tickets are still available by calling 513-556-4183, visiting CCM’s E-Box Office here!

Directed by Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Stephen Goers, choreography by Diane Lala, scenic design by Mark Halpin and costumes by Rebecca SenskeChess runs Oct. 25-28 in UC’s Corbett Auditorium.

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