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Did you know? Interesting facts about John Coltrane and Miles Davis

Published August 31st, 2016 by | No Comments

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra: A Love Supreme
comes to Cleveland on September 10 featuring Joe Lovano. The group plays at the Hanna Theatre at 8 p.m. CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets now!

Joe Lovano returns to Cleveland with the Cleveland Orchestra to celebrate the 90th birthdays of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, climaxing in a joyous version of John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme. We found some interesting fun facts about legendary musicians John Coltrane and Miles Davis that we just had to share!

3 Little Known Facts about John Coltrane

– Coltrane joined the Miles Davis Quintet one year after being fired from Duke Ellington’s Orchestra. Davis was impressed by the raw talent and skill Coltrane had as a player so he brought Coltrane into the fold. Their collaboration produced some of the greatest jazz records in history.

– Coltrane created an impressive catalog in a short period of time. His discography includes 45 studio albums, 23 compilations albums, and 19 singles. His most acclaimed and well-received record was 1965’s, A Love Supreme.

– Coltrane was a member of many great jazz bands during the 1940s and 50s. This time was also the beginning of his relationships with musicians Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.

3 Little Known Facts about Miles Davis

– Elwood Buchanan was one of Miles Davis’s father’s dental patients—and drinking buddies—and became Davis’s trumpet teacher. On Davis’ 13th birthday, his father bought him a new trumpet. His mother, Cleota, wanted him to have a violin; it caused a great argument between the couple but, as Davis wrote, “she soon got over it.”

– He mainly played the trumpet. However, he also played a trumpet-like instrument called the flugelhorn.

– Davis attended the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1944 but dropped out after his first year. He left Juilliard with an impeccable playing technique and knowledge of music theory that would prove indispensable in developing pioneering jazz styles later in his career.

Don’t miss your chance to see this show! BUY NOW to experience this fantastic evening of musical collaboration Saturday, September 10 at the Hanna Theatre!

Go Behind the Scenes with Celtic Thunder

Published August 25th, 2016 by | No Comments

Celtic Thunder returns to Cleveland on August 31 with the Legacy tour. The group plays at the State Theatre at 8 p.m. CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets now!

Legacy features all new recordings from classic Irish folk songs and ballads such as “Danny Boy” and “Buachaille On Eirne” to the more contemporary hits “Falling Slowly” and “Ride On” and rousing anthems “Caledonia” and “Ireland’s Call”. Legacy finds Celtic Thunder soloists Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Emmett O’Hanlon and Neil Byrne reunited with guest artist Damian McGinty, an original member of Celtic Thunder who went on to win Fox’s “The Glee Project before landing a recurring role (as “Rory Flanagan”) in the hit series “Glee!” Legacy offers music lovers a wide variety of solo selections and fan favorites, all newly recorded to reflect the current cast. Backed by the amazing 8-piece Celtic Thunder band, it insures that Celtic Thunder Legacy has something special to offer everyone. Continuing their tradition of paying homage to the musical culture and traditions of Ireland, Celtic Thunder’s latest show is a depiction of both their musical footprint over the past 8 years, as well as their amazing heritage of Irish and Celtic music.

Watch this video to learn more about how musical director David Munro achieves that perfect Celtic Thunder harmony and sound.

Over the past eight years, Celtic Thunder has raised the bar for Irish music and theatrical productions worldwide. Since its inception, Celtic Thunder has thrilled audiences the world over with their signature vocal harmonies and ensemble productions. Celtic Thunder brings a new twist to an eclectic repertoire ranging from traditional Irish and folk music to adult contemporary, rock and classical crossover.

Don’t miss this show, Wednesday, August 31 at the State Theatre!

STARS student volunteers learn the value of theater

Published August 23rd, 2016 by | No Comments

Each year, high school students embrace the world of theater as Playhouse Square STARS Student Volunteers. Students 14-19 years old with an interest in theater head behind the scenes of KeyBank Broadway Series performances as volunteer ushers and learn what it takes to make sure the show goes on – but it’s not all work and no play. From touring the historic theaters, to engaging in play writing and acting workshops, STARS are given the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of areas of theater. But don’t take it from us. Hear what past STARS had to say about their time in the program.


Leah wholeheartedly embracing the world of theater…

“I’m 16 and a junior at Crestwood High School. We don’t have much of a theatrical community where I live. When I discovered how much I loved theater, I knew it would be difficult getting experience and seeing shows. Being a STAR is such a unique and unforgettable opportunity. To have this whole huge world of theater open up to you is an absolutely incredible feeling. Learning the ins and outs of the theaters, getting to show people to their seats and talking to other STARS/red coats has been so incredibly fun. I’ve learned so much from hearing about others experiences, and I would absolutely recommend the STARS program to other students.”

Grace relished exposure to Broadway professionalism…

“I’m a 16 year old sophomore at Lexington High School. I was inspired to join the STARS program after attending the Broadway summer camp last year. I realized that the opportunities offered at Playhouse Square were second to none. I definitely wanted to have experience working in a professional environment. I would absolutely recommend the STARS program to ANY student that even has the smallest interest in theater! The STARS program offered so much to me that I wouldn’t have been able to have through anything else, such as the opportunity to be exposed to Broadway theater and working with professionals in the industry! I’m so thankful to have found the STARS program! Musical theater has always meant the world to me and because of the STARS program I’m a little more prepared and one step closer to achieving my dreams!”

Debbie’s family affair…

“I am 16 years old, in the eleventh grade and enrolled in Westlake High School. I was inspired to join STARS because of my sister, who was also a volunteer in the program. She told me that I would get to usher at Playhouse Square, and since I’ve loved musical theater all my life I couldn’t see a reason to pass up this opportunity. Being a STAR at Playhouse Square means I get to see so many beautiful live performances. I get to hone my abilities with social work and helping other people, gaining experience to help me later. But it also means I get to take fun, engaging workshops about writing plays, acting, and my personal favorite, getting a tour backstage of Playhouse Square, learning the amazing history of Playhouse Square and how it was built. I’ve met so many interesting people and had countless conversations about different musicals with people that I never would’ve had otherwise I highly recommend that any high school student join this program as it’s one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had and given me so many opportunities to see, do, and learn things to help me in my life. I’m so glad I joined STARS and my only regret is that I didn’t join sooner. I would love to continue in this program and hope more people do as well.”

Interested in becoming a STARS volunteer? Click here for more information and to fill out an application.

Restoring the Legacy

Published July 1st, 2016 by | No Comments

Geoff Yaw, senior producer/director at Think Media Studios, takes us behind the scenes of “Playhouse Square: Restoring the Legacy,” a look at the re-creation of the Ohio Theatre’s Gund Foundation Lobby and restoration of the State Theatre.


What did you find particularly compelling about this project?

I think like most people I like rummaging around in old things – opening up dusty boxes and peering into the past. So the prospect of spending some time with the team that would be uncovering the bones of the Ohio lobby was a no brainer. I think it took a lot of guts on the part of Playhouse Square to commit to a project of this scope and difficulty. I had visions of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Usually when you start project like this you imagine lots of things and you are usually wrong, but in this case I wasn’t disappointed.

Fairly early in the process, you zeroed in on the festoon as a focal point. What drew you to that?

The festoons that you’ll find at either end of the Gund Foundation Lobby just below the domed ceiling are a prime example of this journey of discovery for Tom Einhouse, Jeff Greene and the crew from EverGreene Architectural Arts. To find just enough bits and pieces of original ornamental detail, then to take the scarification from smoke and fire and combine all of that in order to restore a smaller detail of the space to its original state was what we as filmmakers were expecting to witness. I zeroed in on the festoon because it was symbolic of the care and detail that went into this work. Casual observers may find these details and see them as just a small piece of this now amazing space, but when you know what went into those festoons you really start to appreciate the craft.

Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

What were the major challenges of telling this story?

The biggest challenges we faced were the same challenges that the men and women doing the work faced. Hard hats, dust and hauling equipment up scary flights of scaffolding steps. Once the lobby was stripped down to its bones, the work site was a place where you had to keep your head on a swivel. Not necessarily for safety reasons, but because there was so much going on that you really had to choose where to look and what to pay attention to.


What’s one thing that didn’t make it into the film that you would have liked to include if time permitted?

Whenever you have a time limitation you always have to leave things “on the cutting room floor” as the saying goes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to show the audience Jeff Greene’s extensive exotic musical instrument collection that he keeps in EverGreene’s NYC studio. He collects instruments from all over the world and knows how to play them all. He did so for our cameras. I’ve said more than once that if you talk to Jeff Greene for more than 10 minutes you will feel like a much less interesting person than you thought you were. The guy has stories.


What do you hope people come away with after watching this?

I hope that people will take away and recognize the dedication of people like Tom Einhouse. This was an extremely challenging project and without the hard work of Playhouse Square and people like Tom projects like this don’t get done, and they don’t get done with the level of care that this project did. In some ways this undertaking, on the part of Playhouse Square, is emblematic of what seems to be happening in Cleveland right now. The city is still buzzing over the Cavs victory, we’re about to host a major political event and people are noticing that Cleveland is on the upswing. The legacy that Playhouse Square is keeping alive is just as important to the future of the region and perhaps more lasting.

Watch “Playhouse Square: Restoring the Legacy.” (Run time: 23 minutes)

Learn more about the project at and read more from Geoff here.

Think Media Studios, Cleveland’s leading video and event production company, produces award-winning video, feature films and multimedia assets for a wide range of uses.

An Interview with Jovon E. Shuck

Published June 29th, 2016 by | No Comments

As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.


As part of the 2015-2016 KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square, Phantom of the Opera is making it’s mark on Cleveland once again.  In this interview, stage manager Jovon E. Shuck gives a behind-the-curtain look at the show.

phantom dress

Tell us about yourself.

My high school drama teacher encouraged me to be a stage manager as I had a flair for being organized… and also because I was a pretty terrible actor back then!  I went to Michigan State to be a veterinarian. As I was taking math and science classes, I was also taking a technical theater class. I quickly realized I liked one a whole lot better than the other. So I switched my major, became a theatre major, graduated and went on to work in summer stock and touring productions. I would eventually move to New York City, where I worked a lot, including at Radio City Music Hall and Shakespeare in the Park. There, I worked with a Broadway stage manager who connected me with a job opportunity that would set me up for all my jobs going forward.

This is my fourth time in Cleveland with a touring production. I was here almost ten years ago with Spamalot. We were here twice with that show – we played both the State and the Palace Theatres. I was here not too very long ago with The Lion King, and now back with the Phantom of the Opera.

Touring Phantom seems like an epic undertaking. Can you tell us the process of getting from the previous location to the next? What does this show entail that some others do not?

It takes us about 14 hours to load it out when we are done in one city and about three days to load the show into a new theater in the next city. Two of the trucks actually arrive with what we call our “advance package” while we are still loading out in the last theater in the previous location. It is a marathon for the crew!

We travel in 16 separate semi-tracker trailers. As you can imagine, moving 16 trucks means moving around a lot of stuff! There is one whole truck that is nothing but costumes. The two opera boxes that are on either side of the stage design – those ride in one whole truck themselves. They travel just as you see it on stage, as does the chandelier, so not everything breaks down into smaller parts. Our chandelier is one ton in weight. Our revolving stage wall is ten tons. We have mammoth pieces to move!

There are 65 people in the company: 30 of them are actors, 30 of them are crew and staff. We also travel with our own resident director to help maintain the show. When we get to a new city, we hire about 100 people to help us move the show into the venue. They are all locals. They are wardrobe people, as well as crew working on and back stage. Then about 30 will stay with us to help run the show every night. We really count on those local people. Same is true with our orchestra: we travel with five and we hire ten local musicians.  As you can see, there is a lot of logistics and time dedicated to moving the physical production pieces as well the people.

Phantom chandler

As a stage manager, one of your primary responsibilities during the show is to call cues. What are one or two examples of cues that you call each show that stand out to you?

The first that comes to mind is right at the top of the show with the start of the overture and those big organ cords. That cue starts a whole series of cues – in this day and age, some of those are computerized, taking some of the pressure off of me!  Calling that cue will give you goosebumps every night. The same is true at the end of Act I when the chandelier crashes. That is just fun to do! When you hear the audience scream when the lights go off, it is pretty great.

I first saw this show when I was 12 years old. I learned all of the words and music then. I have seen it more times than I can count, but the end of the show still gets me. I sometimes have to tune out what is happening on stage and just focus on my cues! If I am standing in the wing and get wrapped up in the story – sometimes that is too much to handle! The story will suck me in every time. I still get wrapped up in it, and that is not true for every show I have ever worked on.

Once the show is up and running in a new location, what is your average “day in the life” of a stage manager on this production?

I eat my way around every city that we are in, so I try to find the local specialties by asking all the local crew where they eat. It is my way of getting out and experiencing the city, so that is how I generally spend my afternoons, if there is not a rehearsal scheduled. The show just passed its 1000 performance so we are constantly replacing people, but also continue to keep up our understudies. We will have an understudies’ rehearsal every couple of weeks. Those sort of rehearsals will take up an afternoon or two each week.

We are in the theatre an hour and a half before the show every night. The crew comes in at that time to start the preset:  they will rig the chandelier before every performance, do all their safety checks, reload the pyro, etc. That all takes about an hour before the show every night. It is a pretty carefully choreographed hour – it is full of activity from start to finish. At 7:30pm, the actors are due. Lots of them are due earlier though. For example, Chris, our Phantom, is in at least an hour before curtain as it takes about 45 minutes to get him into his makeup. The company does a full company vocal warm up together, which is not typical for every show I have ever done. The ballet dancers are downstairs stretching during this time. We travel with ballet bars so they can do their whole ballet warm up pre-show.  That final half hour before the show is the most intense period.

Then at 8pm, we start the show. It takes about two and a half hours to run the entire piece. Even once we are done, there is about 15 to 20 minutes’ worth of post-show paperwork, safety checks and resets to complete. About 11pm, we are out the door, but we never go home and go right to bed! My wife always teases me, “don’t you ever go home and go right to bed?”  I say “well, when you get out of work at 5pm, do you go straight home to bed?”  We have that much more day to go! We are often night owls and late to rise the next day… which is why my day starts with lunch!

Out of all the shows you have been involved in over the years, what makes this production of Phantom of the Opera special to you?

People’s relationships with the show – it really is different and special and unique to this show. We have super “phans” – you will notice we spell fans with a “ph”! Certainly the other shows I worked on have their own fan bases as well, but this show gets a reaction that no other show does. I will see the same people in the front row all week sometimes, and I will see them outside the theatre before and after. That means a lot, especially to the performers, but also to all of us backstage too – we all certainly feel that love.

Phantom of the Opera runs June 15 – July 10, 2016 in the State Theatre at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website

Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is a local yoga teacher, event professional, marketer and proud Northeast Ohio arts supporter. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Caring for History

Published June 8th, 2016 by | No Comments

They are the words we never tire of hearing from the many guests we welcome each year. “Beautiful!” “Amazing!” “Gorgeous!” “The crown jewels of Cleveland.” “I can’t believe someone ever wanted to tear these theaters down.”

We take our responsibility as stewards of our beautiful, historic theaters seriously, and from June 2015 through January 2016, we put some serious work into caring for the State Theatre auditorium and lobby, which were first restored more than 30 years ago.

state_1State Theatre Ireland Lobby before 2015-16 restoration

State Theatre renovations.State Theatre Ireland Lobby after 2015-16 restoration

A new, cohesive color palette from the front doors to the proscenium showcases the craftsmanship and beauty of the nearly 100-year-old theater. Repairs were made to the plaster in some areas and new, historically accurate wall covering was added.

State Theatre renovations.

The dome of the auditorium was painted and re-done with thousands of sheets of metal leaf.

State Theatre renovations.

Three new chandeliers were installed in the Ireland Lobby. The center is a replica of a 1927 chandelier from the Sanger Theater in New Orleans. With 700 Baccarat crystals, this chandelier is 10 feet tall (or half as tall at the GE Chandelier) and weighs 1000 lbs. The two complementary fixtures are 6-foot tall Schonbek crystal chandeliers. All three feature LED lighting fixtures for energy efficiency.

State Theatre renovations.

Eight new decorative urns were created using an original found in a closet in the theater as a model.

State Theatre renovations.

The main level restroom facilities received a major overhaul and all of the lighting fixtures have been converted to LED bulbs, adding more light yet reducing energy consumption by more than 85%.

2015-16 State Theatre restoration by the numbers:

  • 25 painters
  • 12,500 hours of work
  • 15 paint colors; 4 glaze colors
  • 60 molds cast for ornamental plaster repair
  • 595 gallons of paint
  • 6000 sheets of metal leaf

State Theatre renovations.

This restoration project was made possible by the generosity of donors who have contributed to Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for Playhouse Square.

See the stunning results the next time you’re here for a show or take one of our free public tours, offered on the first Saturday of most months. The next tour is Saturday, July 9. Tours begin every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit

This week in theater news…

Published June 3rd, 2016 by | No Comments

Each week we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway and theater news. Check back next week to see what you missed this week, and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at Playhouse Square and beyond. Enjoy!


Hamilton-related happenings…

Hamilton’s Right Hand Ensemble
Meet the triple-threats who make up the ensemble in the Broadway show, and hear them talk about what makes Hamilton so meaningful to them. ( Read more…

Lin Manuel Miranda to lead Mary Poppins
You read that right. The man behind Alexander Hamilton is set to lead in the film Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt, which has been set for a December, 2018 release date. And just when you thought you were feeling better about the release of Beauty and the Beast getting closer… ( Read more…

In the Heights to become a movie
If you haven’t heard, Lin Manuel Miranda has had his hand in just about everything happening in the theater world these days, including In the Heights. The show, with music and lyrics written by Miranda, will be turned into a movie by Harvey Wienstein. (Hollywood Reporter) Read more…

A very Broadway Carpool Karaoke…
Mark your calendar. Broadway favorites Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Krakowski and, of course, Lin Manuel Miranda, will hop in the car with James Corden, host of the “The Late Late Show”, in a special Carpool Karaoke. Catch the show June 6. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings…

Partners Spanish Flight Night
Making a Murderer: A Conversation on Justice
Il Trovatore
Flight of the Conchords

A Phoenix Has Risen From the Ashes

Published June 2nd, 2016 by | No Comments


The phoenix. This handsome mythological bird serves as an apt metaphor for the Ohio Theatre’s George Gund Foundation Lobby. After perishing in dramatic flames, the phoenix is reborn from the ashes. The same holds true for the lobby.

Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

In 1964, the Ohio Theatre was badly damaged by fire. The auditorium was salvageable, but the lobby was completely destroyed. The murals, ornate ceiling, columns and decorative fireplaces you see today all were lost in the fire. During the early 1980s’ renovation of the space, funding and time would not allow both the auditorium and lobby to be fully refurbished. While the auditorium was restored, a simple, contemporary design was created for the lobby.


Exhaustive research of the original drawings by architect Thomas Lamb, photo archives and a few remnants of burned ornamental plaster detail provided a thorough understanding of the space and informed the plan for re-creating the lobby.


The re-creation of the lobby design was a collaboration between EverGreene Architectural Arts (EAA) and Westlake Reed Leskosky. Construction management and contracting services were provided by Turner Construction and The Coniglio Company, working with a variety of local companies.

Artisans at EAA hand-sculpted prototypes using authentic, Old World techniques in order to make plaster reproductions of the ornamental detail. This hand-sculpting took 8500 hours to complete. When you visit, check out the lobby display featuring the plaster-making process.

Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

Six other artisans spent three months hand-painting the lobby’s three 10-foot x 30-foot murals on canvas at EAA’s studio in New York. The murals are “Birth of Venus” (west), “Triumph of Bacchus” (east) and “Muses of Poems and Music” (south).


Through careful examination of historic photos, the project team discovered that identical column capitals could be found in the Allen Theatre lobby rotunda and that the grand staircase balustrade was identical to the one in the State Theatre lobby. These discoveries made it possible for the team to take molds from the Allen and State and re-create what was needed for the George Gund Foundation Lobby.

Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square
Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

The original carpet design was re-created by Brintons in England.

Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

Great care was taken to ensure each element of the lobby was reproduced as faithfully as possible, while at the same time taking into consideration the needs and preferences of today’s audiences.

Lobby Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

This extensive project was made possible by a $3 million gift from The George Gund Foundation to Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for Playhouse Square. In recognition of the foundation’s generosity, the lobby has been named the George Gund Foundation Lobby.

While the re-creation of this lobby completes the restoration of Playhouse Square’s historic theater spaces, our work is never done. As stewards of these gems, we are working always to ensure they remain as beautiful as they are now for future generations.

See the re-created lobby the next time you’re here for a show or take one of our free public tours, offered on the first Saturday of most months. The next tour is Saturday, June 4. Tours begin every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit

An Interview with Allison Layman

Published June 1st, 2016 by | No Comments

As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.


As part of the 2015-2016 KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square, Steel Magnolias is making a stop in Cleveland.  In this interview, Allison Layman, who plays Shelby in the show, discusses her background and what it’s like playing a role in the story beloved by so many.

Tell us about yourself.

I am the only child of two professional actors and was raised in Teaneck, New Jersey. I grew up tagging along to commercial calls and seeing my parents in productions at regional theatres all over the country. I loved the smell of the buildings, playing with the wig heads and staying up late after performances to “wind down.” Being inside theatres was a normal part of life for me as a child.

Though acting is in my blood, I took a circuitous route to finding it as my path.  I majored in French Studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, moved to Vail, Colorado, for a year and after some time without acting in my life, decided that it was what I really wanted to explore.  I moved to New York City and studied with Bill Esper at his studio while acting in and around the city.  Then I studied at The Old Globe/USD program in San Diego where I received my MFA in acting in 2014.

My agents and the wonderful folks at Calleri Casting (James Calleri, Paul Davis and Erica Jensen), who cast this production, arranged for me to audition for Laura [Kepley, the director of Steel Magnolias], and I am honored she chose me to be a part of this production.

This story is well known to many thanks to the popular 1989 movie starring Sally Field and Julia Roberts. As an actor bringing the tale back to the stage, is there something that the stage version provides to (either you as an actor or to the audiences) that the film version did not?

I have to admit that I have never seen the 1989 movie of Steel Magnolias. I know that it is dear to the hearts of many people and I look forward to seeing it when we are finished with our run.

I can, however, speak to some of the differences without having seen the film.  The story is essentially the same, but in the film, the men in our lives appear and in the play the audience never sees the male characters.  To me, having only women tell their story is very important to the how the story is revealed.  Also, in contrast to the many locations in the movie, the play is set in one, intimate space:  Truvy’s Beauty Shop.  It is a women’s space, a place “where they can let their hair down” to reveal their truest selves.  The play invites the audience to eavesdrop on these women talking in the safest of places during important moments in their lives.

The relationships between the characters are the highlights of this piece. Can you speak to the process of the development of those relationships as you rehearsed with your fellow actresses?

Laura’s vision for Steel Magnolias has guided an incredibly talented and experienced cast to discover the surprising depth of character and relationship Robert Harlan, the playwright, forged into a very entertaining play.  Many of the relationships are initially obvious (mother/daughter; childhood friends; etc.) but Laura has led us to deeper places in the situations presented, helping us to clarify and focus our characters and the story.

The piece features an all-female cast. What is the dynamic of the group on and off the stage?

We laugh a lot.  I think it’s lovely how bits in the show reflect things we do in real life.  Harlan is expert at capturing learned feminine communication.  We recommend products to each other, articles that we’ve read and helpful things to share and borrow.  Where the characters are talking about southern recipes and radios, we tend to chat more about political articles and Cleveland grocery deals.

This group is excellent at communicating – on and off stage.  On stage, we are always listening and aware of nuances and changes in the evening’s dynamic.  Off stage, we are usually group texting or grabbing a bite to eat.

I love to watch and learn from the work of my cast mates and when hang out after shows I relish listening to their stories about working in this business.

This production runs for three months at the Allen Theatre. What are the pros and cons of such an extended run like this one?

Often regional theatre productions (which last from 3-5 weeks) close as soon as we feel we are getting into the groove.  With a contract this long, we will have the opportunity to really play with each other and live in the rhythm of doing this play in front of the audience.  It will be lovely to see how the show and how our performances evolve.  I am also looking forward to performing for the different subscription bases – Cleveland Playhouse and Playhouse Square.  The audience is an essential part of this play; we listen and respond to an audience the same way we do with another actor. I hope we all have the chance to see some of the sights in Cleveland as well.  I guess the downside is being away from friends and family as it always is when you go away.

Out of all the productions you’ve been involved in over the years, how does this production of Steel Magnolias stand apart?

For me, the great thing about every theatrical collaboration is that I have the opportunity to explore different elements of humanity.  This is my first time working on this play and I have fallen in love with these women.  Every production is an opportunity to learn, make new friends and grow as an artist and human being.  At its best, a theatrical collaboration will contribute as deeply to the audiences’ life benefit as well.

Produced by Cleveland Play House, Steel Magnolias runs May 21-August 21, 2016 in the Allen Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website

Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is a local yoga teacher, event professional, marketer and proud Northeast Ohio arts supporter. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

This week in theater news…

Published May 27th, 2016 by | No Comments

Each week we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway and theater news. Check back next week to see what you missed this week, and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at Playhouse Square and beyond. Enjoy!

Theater happenings…

Hakuna Matata
Some days it seems like the whole world is talking about James Corden, host of The Late Late Show, and we totally see why he’s so loved. He produced another crosswalk musical – this time was The Lion King. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne co-star in the show, which takes place in the middle of a busy LA street. Trust us, you have to see it to believe it. (Entertainment Weekly) Read more…

Leona Lewis takes the stage in Cats
There’s a new cat in town! Leona Lewis has been tapped to play the role of Grizabella in the Broadway revival of Cats. This means she will also be playing the role which takes on the show’s hit, “Memory.” See her when the show opens August 2. ( Read more…

Some big names at the Tonys
A list of presenters for the 2016 Tony Awards has been announced, and it includes some big names like Cate Blanchett, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Martin, Carole King and more. Plus, with a host like James Corden, the star-studded show is sure to be entertaining. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings…

Bill Maher
Sweet Summer at the Square

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A not-for-profit performing arts center that presents and produces a wide variety of performing arts, advances arts education and creates a destination that is a superior location for entertainment business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.


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