Image for post
Image for post
More photos from this staycation are available here.

I need to have something to look forward to. Having an upcoming event or trip helps me keep moving forward in life. But the year 2020 has made planning things difficult, especially travel. We’d planned a Cedar Point trip, including overnight accommodations at Hotel Breakers, but we canceled that right before they announced they were only going to be open on the weekends. I’m going to Las Vegas in a few weeks, but Connie and I needed something.

Then we found this post from Cincinnati Refined, highlighting the newly renovated (and rebranded) Graduate Cincinnati hotel. We were intrigued, and as we do, we impulsively booked a night’s stay. Nevermind that the hotel is within walking distance of our jobs and no more than twenty minutes from our respective homes. …


Image for post
Image for post
Terry Gosdin, David Levy, Jay Dallas Benson, and Lisa Dirkes in “Daisy”

Despite COVID-19, Falcon Theatre, based in Newport, KY, has forged ahead with its first production this season. But you don’t have to go to their storefront theater to see it. Instead, it’s available from the comfort of your living room or computer screen or iPhone. Working with Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics, the ambitious team has produced a film version of the stage play, “Daisy.”

From their press release:

“In 1964, the New York advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach forever changed the course of political advertising with a 60-second television spot. Today, the ad is usually referred to simply as “Daisy.” The black-and-white ad featured a three-year-old girl in a simple dress standing in a sunny field. The girl counted aloud as she plucked the petals from a daisy. When the last petal had been plucked, the girl’s voice was supplanted by an adult voice ominously counting backward from ten as the camera zoomed to an extreme close-up of the girl’s eye. …


Image for post
Image for post

Unpopular opinion: I wouldn’t say I like Sondheim. I know I’m supposed to, and I can — objectively — recognize the level of talent and sophistication of his scores and lyrics. But I don’t love this show. And I don’t have to.

Nevermind that.

When CCM’s Sophomores and Juniors announced a student-led, socially-distanced outdoor production, I immediately clicked “Going” on the FaceBook invite. After all, it’s been months since I’ve seen any live theatre. And there’s something magical about watching the stars of tomorrow at CCM shine now, getting a glimpse of Broadway’s future.

Directed by Sammy Schechter and produced by Jake Waford (who also appeared in the cast as “Cinderella’s Prince” and “The Baker” respectively — and were terrific) took a minimal (probably zero) budget and managed to produce a professional-quality show despite the global pandemic. The professional lighting rig and sound system helped, but this fine cast's talent would have elevated any production to the stratosphere even without it. …


Image for post
Image for post

My host at my local casino, awkwardly and temporarily named the “Future Home of Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati,” reached out to me last week and offered me some comps at Prism Steak and Seafood. Since Connie and I were supposed to be at Cedar Point this week but canceled due to a COVID-related lack of activities, we decided this could be fun instead.

I have eaten at Prism many times before; Connie and I celebrated our birthdays here last year, but I also go whenever I get an offer for freebies. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ramiz Dedaković on Unsplash

I was mindlessly waiting for the light to change; I always hated this intersection. It was at an angle, and it was hard to see the traffic on either side. I wasn’t aware of any accidents there, but it still made me nervous.

Straight ahead of me was a Burger King. To my left was a Rent-A-Center. Forty-five degrees, either way, was one of the busiest streets in the neighborhood.

This community was a decent place to live. People were friendly. They knew their neighbors and families passed down homes from generation to generation. …


Image for post
Image for post

Ah, this is interesting. A filmed live performance — in front of an audience (back when that was allowed) — with crowd reactions. Palpable energy. This is good.

Martin Dockery is an interesting character; his rapid, almost manic-delivery packs a lot of storytelling into a relatively short amount of time. He’s savvy, too; he begins the performance by getting the audience on his side by giving a humble, self-deprecating peek behind the curtain. He shows us that he’s likable. We root for him. It’s good that he takes a minute to do that because once the show gets going, you gotta hold on for dear life. …


Image for post
Image for post

True confession: I’ve never seen a Pones show.

I know.

:::hangs head in shame:::

Pones is a popular dance troupe who’s Fringe shows get rave reviews every year. I always seem to find an excuse not to go. Sometimes its because I heard there was audience participation. (I hate that.) Sometimes its because there was a lot of walking involved. (I’m lazy.) One year it was because the venue was too hot.

Subconsciously, its probably because I don’t feel qualified to write about dance performance.

But this year, there’s no reason why I couldn’t sample it. After all, “walking out” of a digital show in my living room has no consequences. No one would ever know. …


Image for post
Image for post

Alexx Rouse is one of my favorite young writers. She has a distinct voice, informed by her quirks and doubts and self-consciousness, and seemingly doesn’t know how talented she is. I like that about a person.

She’s written a new play, QUIT WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD, that I would have pegged as hers (if I didn’t already know) at about the two and a half minute mark. The show goes dark quick, but comedically. I was instantly intrigued.

This show is a “filmed play” and looks to have been shot on an actual stage somewhere. Trevor Browning plays “Jason,” Nick Riley is “Chad, and Rachel Kazee plays “Janie.” The acting is mostly strong, with a notably distracting performance up top. …


Image for post
Image for post

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Walt Disney World. I can hold court with any group, relaying the history of the Disney company (especially the theme parks). I love it so so much.

And I love this show.

Rory Sheridan tells the story of Walt Disney through a mouse’s written memoir found by a space archeologist in the future. It’s irreverent, hilarious, weird, and spectacularly brilliant. He embraces the digital technology required of this year’s Fringe very well and kept my attention through the entire show. …


Image for post
Image for post

So, this year’s Cincinnati Fringe Festival is a unique one, for sure. One hundred percent digital, it’s been interesting to see how my favorite Fringers have adapted to the online platforms. Some have stuck with that they know — live theatre filmed (without an audience) for the screen. Others have wholly embraced technology and taken their work to a new level. The variety of offerings is intriguing, and it’s great to see that people have accepted the challenge.

Trey Tatum is such a prolific writer; it makes me a little angry. Other writers are equally or even faster content-machines, but few are as talented. …

About

Kirk Sheppard

Kirk Sheppard, LPCC-S, LICDC, is a counselor, helper educator, blogger, photographer, and playwright in Cincinnati. More at www.kirksheppard.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store