Life Could Be a Dream

The Ensemble Theatre is going through a transformative period right now, they've launched a new website and the facade has been painted. Gone are the faux marble columns and period paint in exchange for a very clean and modern look.
To help get the word out they invited Ms.5chw4r7z and I out to opening night of Life Could Be a Dream.

I hate it and cringe when a review begins with the line, I'm not a fan of..(insert your favorite genre here) but I have no choice in this review of the Ensemble Theatre's newest show Life Could Be a Dream but to admit that I'm not a fan of musicals and 60's music.
Ms. 5chw4r7z, who does love this stuff assured me the show was very good, so I'll just add that from a technical point of view, the actors were all talented singers. The stage did a creative interpretation of Denny's mother's basement. Everyone but me was having a good time so I'd say if you like these types of shows, most likely you'll like this one too.

Ensemble Theatre
Ensemble Theatre

An empty theater is a promise unfulfilled ~ unknown

Sitting for two hours through an awkward (for me) musical lead my mind to random and not so random thoughts on the current and future state of the stage. The first thing is the subject itself. Sixties music. It attracts to an older segment of the population that actually spends money on the arts. It puts butts in seats, I get it and understand but it seems short-sighted. The vast majority of the audience was old, they all had a good 20 or so years on me and ok, there was a small amount of people younger than me in attendance, and they laughed and enjoyed the show, but what happens in 20 years? No way 30 or 40 people support the Ensemble. I know there are smaller stages out there taking risks, is that the key I'm missing, they are small? Will there be consolidation down the road or will the theaters relying on equity actors become a thing of the past?

One more thing bothering me and I wonder if its because of this PC era where everyone gets a gold star just for showing up.
Ovation inflation.
The past five or six shows I've attended have received a standing O. So now how do we acknowledge a truly moving performance?
One thing I do know for certain, The Lackman is only a block away and the beer is cold the wine sweet and the company delicious.
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  1. I recently attended the patrons appreciation event for the CSO and had many of the same thoughts about the future of the arts. As a 26 year old YP engaged in the community married w/o kids, I am very interested in the future of the arts in our community as the arts themselves create a vibrant culture here in Cincinnati.

    My dad and I were discussing the over-abundance of white hair at the CSO concert and concluded that the answer is likely two-fold; first, arts organizations must be innovative (obvious), second, an older audience will continue to attend these events. That doesn't mean that 20 years from now, no one will be in the seats, that just means that different heads of white hair will fill the room.

    Tastes change as we age and as we grow wiser, priorities change, life slows and nests empty, I imagine more, different and new people will find their way into the theater to appreciate the wonderful arts Cincinnati has to offer.

    As to your point about the standing O, I'll refer to a recent NPR story at for some interesting perspective and only add that at the end of a show, some people just need to stretch. :-)

  2. Good points, thanks. You're most likely right about the changing of the guard.
    And somehow I never got that the applause was all part of the show, I won't feel guilty either way from now on, I'll just grin and go with it.

  3. I'm SO GLAD they changed those faux marble columns! I give them a standing O just for getting rid of those eyesores. Seriously.

    I also appreciate your honest and thoughtful post, Bob. Conversations like this need to happen in order for things to move forward.

  4. Ahh, the tyranny of applause. I couldn't agree more. As one who normally appreciates cheap stuff, cheap applause isn't on my list of favorites. It always reminds me of a room of hotsy totsy types at a party giving each other those air kisses on each cheek and faux fawning over the "delightful" this-or-that.
    Ok. I'm starting to sound like a grumpy old man. I'll shut up now!

  5. Andy! HAHA we're in the same boat, I don't like being judged on how I show appreciation.

  6. Cincinnati is known for giving standing O's at pretty much every performance, whether it's deserved or not.
    We think it's the polite thing to do.

  7. When I used to get out and about, I only gave standing "O"s for OUTSTANDING performances. Otherwise, it dilutes the validity of them.

    Your review, Bob, reminded me of a very nice lady who went on to found Soap Opera Weekly, years ago before it was taken over by idiots. Ms Mimi Torchin (also via internet gave me a lot of darkroom stuff I can no longer use but I digress) She was also a theatre critic for many of her younger years in NYC. She HATED to be mean & hurt ticket sales, or hurt a starving actor's/writer's feelings on the theatres of Broadway, off Broadway, & off-off Broadway.

    Story she shared years ago about a play she attended one opening night. She wrote "I'd rather have pins stuck in my eyes than to sit through this play again, but everybody around me seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves." :-D

    She told me that story over 12 yrs ago and it's still stays with me. Funny how your blog post reminded me of that :)

    She's now a photographer & liberal tweeter when she's not at her apt in Manhattan or House on the Vineyard (Soap Opera Journalism was very very good to her!!) @mimiTorch

  8. i totally agree with Jackie. There are now at least two people giving standing O's for getting rid of that tacky, faux marble. that looks so much better!