Monday, September 20, 2010

CSU Theatre Prof. Allan Byrne gets $20,000 Grant

Twelfth Night

Longtime CSU director and instructor Allan Byrne has been given the $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship grant by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, based largely on his work at the Factory Theatre. CPAC's award "are given as a resource to assist artists in researching, developing or completing a body of work. Each award can be expended for any purpose that advances the Fellow’s artistic work and professional development."
The Oresteia

Mr. Byrne is the second-longest serving faculty member at the CSU Department of Theatre and Dance, and has provided many of the highlights during the departments recent renaissance, including directing last year's The Oresteia (left) and performing in Oleanna in a joint production with Charenton Theatre Company (on whose board of directors he also serves).

Mr. Byrne is already making the best of his fellowship; this summer he directed Titus Andronicus for the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival and attended an international workshop on the Meisner acting technique.
Allan Byrne

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

James and the Giant Peach

The Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance's 2010-2011 season will commence with an adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel, James and the Giant Peach.  A modern day fairy-tale in the vein of Jack and the Beanstalk, Peach tells the story of the titular young orphan  living under the tyrannical heels of his aunts, Spiker and Sponge.  One day, James receives a bag of magic crystals from a mysterious old man, but on his way home, he trips drops them on the ground, where they enchant the nearby tree, causing its inhabitants, including a peach, a grasshopper, a centipede, and others to grow to enormous size. James befriends the insects and together they escape in the peach, rolling towards many adventures over land, sea and air.

The play is directed by Robin Pease, artistic director of the youth outreach program Kulture Kids, a  youth-outreach program that uses the arts to bring multicultural understanding to area schools.

More about Kulture Kids and Ms. Pease here:

The show runs October 7 through 17, and runs Th/Fr/Sa at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets can be purchased at 216.687.2109 or

Special matinées are also available for schools, libraries, and other youth programs. Call 216.687.2113 for details.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meet Dr. Michael L. Mauldin, Artistic Director of CSU Summer Stages

Changes are afoot at the CSU Factory Theatre.  What was once the Dramatic Arts Program will, as of tomorrow, be the Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance. Dr. Michael Mauldin will no longer by the Program Director, but the Interim Chairman of the Department. The Factory Theatre is likely not long for this world, being replaced by the North Campus Neighborhood, with the Department being relocated to the Allen Theatre, along with the Cleveland Play House.
But Michael Mauldin remains unperturbed by all of this activity. His focus right now is singular: mounting three shows at the Factory Theatre in rotating repertory, all set to open next week. He will be directing the third show to open, Curtains, a breezy musical by Kander and Ebb.
“Curtains was created by artists who were active in forming what’s known as the Golden Age of the American Musical, both in content and form,” says Mauldin, referring to music-and-words team Kander  and Ebb, the team responsible for shows like Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. “It lovingly references several clichés of American musical theatre form, the ‘star is born’ story, and backstage murder mysteries.”
The show takes place during the first Boston preview of a terrible new musical, Robbin’ Hood of the Old West, which the producer hopes to take to Broadway. But when the awful leading lady is killed onstage during the curtain call and several more company members are murdered, homicide detective and musical theatre aficionado Cioffi is brought in to pop the perp.
Mauldin entered this production imagining it to be a tongue and cheek spoof of the theatre, another in what is now an annual tradition of dedicating one Summer Stages show every season to theatre about theatre (following Booth, about the famous acting family, Tom Stoppard’s farce Rough Crossing, and last year’s award winning Chekhov in Yalta). But, “this show does not have a cynical bone in its body. They love the people of the theatre.” Of Lieutenant Cioffi, the homicide investigator who moonlights as a stage performer, “He is the true meaning of ‘amateur’”, which comes from the French, “to love”. “He is very good at his job, but leads a mundane life and loves community theatre. He exists to walk the boards on the weekends, and when he has a chance to be among the people he adores, he can remind them of why they do what they do.”
The show has not been without its challenges, however. Mauldin affirms that this show has been the most difficult musical Summer Stages has undertaken, both in terms of music and choreography. The cast, in an unusual move, spent most of the first few weeks in vocal and dance rehearsals, not moving onto staging until a few weeks in. The real challenge for Mauldin has been simply arranging large number of people on stage; “It’s all huge crowd scenes!” The actors face their own challenges as well. “I’m amazed at the process of how contemporary actors can truthfully and honestly play intentional clichés without sounding cynical.”  They have, Mauldin says, by not being cynical about these characters, by embracing a real innocence.
Curtains opens 10 July 2010 at 8pm followed by a champagne reception.
The show then runs:
July 11 (2pm), 15, 23, 31, August 1 (2pm), 7 and 8(2pm)
Tickets are $10-15 and can be purchased online at or by phone at 216.687.2109
Curtains is appropriate for most audiences. There is mild language, and numerous non-explicit deaths.

Monday, June 7, 2010

CSU and the Allen Theatre in the Plain Dealer

Kudos to Plain Dealer Theatre Critic Tony Brown for his trio of articles this weekend on the present, past and future of the Allen Theatre  and Cleveland State University's Dramatic Arts Program.
Cleveland will lose its third-largest theater -- PlayhouseSquare's 2,500-seat Allen -- in September.
The promised payoff, a year later: A three-venue, 1,000-seat complex for the flagship Cleveland Play House, which sold its outmoded facility, and forCleveland State University's undergraduate drama program.
All for a relative bargain -- under $30 million -- and preserving the 1921 Allen's architecture.
CSU's theater program, which has grown from seven majors in 2003 to 70 today under the leadership of Michael Mauldin, would become one of the few undergraduate programs in the country affiliated with a professional theater and could have a shot at national prominence.
Next door to the 81,500-square-foot Allen, in what is now a parking lot, Westlake has designed a 44,000-square-foot addition that would house two state-of-the-art theaters the likes of which Cleveland has never before seen.
The northernmost venue, called the "second stage" in the drawings, could be configured in just about any way a director wanted, up to 350 seats. It was inspired by Bloom's visit to the New Theatre, erected at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2002.
The southern end of the Allen addition would be a similarly flexible but smaller 150-seat laboratory theater, which Bloom called "the workhorse of the complex," for student projects, children's theater, readings and events in the Play House's annual FusionFest.
The firm retained for the transformation, Westlake Reed Leskosky, is the team behind the original renovation of Playhouse Square CenterIf you think CSU Summer Stages was amazing in the Factory Theatre, just wait until we move into a beautifully renovated, state-of-the-art downtown performance space.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Day in the Life...

Shop supervisor Aaron Benson raises a wall with studentsCSU Summer Stages 2010 season officially began rehearsals on Tuesday. Our student Apprentice Company begins every day with vigorous warmups, including yoga with company member Geoff Knox and intense cardio. As I write this, director Scott Spence is in the rehearsal studio with apprentice Eric Perusek (Jonathan) and Everett Quinton (Jonathan's mother, Madame Rosepettle) working on Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad.  Later this afternoon, Eric will be rehearsing The Elephant Man with Everett before he goes off to the gym to continue preparing himself for the physically demanding role of the grotesquely misshapen John Merrick. At that time (and until long after I've gone home), Dr. Michael Mauldin, the producer of CSU Summer Stages and director of Curtains, steps in with music director John Kroll to continue music rehearsals with the cast.  In the meantime, shop supervisor Aaron Benson works with his team of carpenters and electricians to build new CSU faculty member Russ Borski's elaborate set and lighting design, while costume shop supervisor Terry Pieritz and costume designer Ali Garrigan continue sewing, ordering, measuring and altering.

Apprentice and cast member Stephen FarkasIn the coming weeks, you'll get to meet the cast, directors, designers and crew and see three amazing shows come together for a truly spectacular summer of theatre.  Until next time...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Reviews for CSU Summer Stages

Check out some more fantastic reviews for CSU Summer Stages.

From Tony Brown at the Pee Dee:

Now in its third and strongest season, the mixed professional-student company succeeds best at its two extremes, the heart-rending death-drama "The Shadow Box" and the farcical outer-space musical "Return to the Forbidden Planet."

...Quinton's masterfully balanced reincarnation of "The Shadow Box,"... the extremely well-disciplined nine-member cast...

Mauldin pulls out all the nutty stops for his scatterbrained production of the wafer-thin but highly entertaining "Return to the Forbidden Planet"... Several students turn in exemplary performances, too, including dashing dork Lew Wallace as the Capt. Kirk hero, brawny Lawrence Charles as the Caliban-esque Cookie, John Paul Soto as a sweet-voiced, roller-skating robot version of Ariel and fresh-faced Melissa Crum as Miranda.

Christine Howey at Rave & Pan:

With the playwright borrowing liberally from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (on which the original flick was based) and his other works, the dialogue in Return ranges from elegant to glibly idiotic. And since it’s all played for maximum fun and minimum reflection, it all seems appropriate
And don't forget about this weekend's performances!
  • Thursday: The Shadow Box (Benefit performance for Hospice of the Western Reserve)
  • Friday: Chekhov in Yalta
  • Saturday and Sunday*: Return to the Forbidden Planet
All performances at 8pm except *2pm.
Box office: 216.687.2109

Saturday, July 18, 2009

CSU Summer Stages on NewsNet 5

WEWS NewsNet 5 came to last night's performance of The Shadow Box.
The Hospice of the Western Reserve, the Hospice of Cleveland Clinic, the Hospice of the Visiting Nurses Association and Malachi House will each receive half of all ticket proceeds on the night of their benefit performance.

The story behind "The Shadow Box" features three very different families, each facing an imminent death. Set in an experimental hospice facility, "The Shadow Box" gives a glimpse at love, courage and loss.

See us tonite at eleven!