Category Archives: Audience

‘Superstar’ in sign language, Thu., Dec. 4

The HeArd, "Godspell, 2005

The HeArd members Merry Beth Pietila, Vince Reddy and Erin LaFountain interpret Godspell at Near West Theatre in 2005.

It’s a Near West Theatre tradition since 2003: One performance of our fall show is dramatically interpreted in American Sign Language. It’s an art unto itself that you should check out whether you know sign language or not. Members of a Cleveland-area dramatic signing troupe, The HeArd, will interpret the regular 7:30 p.m. performance of Jesus Christ Superstar this Thursday, Dec. 4. Tickets are priced as usual ($20 Star Seat, $10 general adult, $8 general child); just indicate when ordering or arriving that you want to sit in the sign-language section. The interpreters sit near the front, face the audience and deliver much more than a translation of sung and spoken words. Not only has the troupe learned the show, but each member has learned specific roles to play throughout the performance. They take their own emotional journeys, exchange dialogue, sign together in ensemble moments — presenting, in essence, an additional version of the play at the same time as the main-stage show. You can focus on either one, or, as I’ve experienced it, amazingly, pick up aspects of both at the same time. At the end of the business day on Dec. 3, about 120 tickets were still available for the Thursday performance. You can reserve online anytime or by phone, 216-961-6391 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. Any unsold tickets are available at the door, 3800 Bridge Ave., starting 1 hour before show time. — Hans Holznagel


Our ‘Superstar’ venue: what to expect

West Side UCC is on the same side of Bridge Avenue as our former home, the St. Patrick's Club Building. Photo by Hans Holznagel

West Side United Church of Christ viewed from Bridge Avenue, with our old St. Pat’s home in the background. Photos by Hans Holznagel

Our Nov. 21–Dec. 7 performances of Jesus Christ Superstar are at West Side United Church of Christ, West 38th Street and Bridge Avenue, Cleveland, across from our longtime home, the St. Patrick’s Club Building. While the church is familiar to some of us – its basement has hosted our children’s programs and many benefit rehearsals – this is our first time upstairs, in the sanctuary. Here are some tips about what to expect.

  • Free parking is available in the St. Pat’s lot at West 38th Street and Bridge Avenue and on neighboring streets. Nearby spaces will fill up rapidly, though, so allow yourself time to find a parking space and walk.
  •  Come in at the church’s Bridge Avenue entrance. There you’ll be welcomed at our ticket table. If you bought tickets in advance, simply give your name there and your tickets will be waiting. Any unsold tickets will also be sold there at the door. Cash, check, VISA and MasterCard are accepted.

    Look for this banner at the corner of West 38th and Bridge. That parking lot in the background is available, but expect it to fill up fast.

    There’s a “Superstar” banner on the corner of the West Side UCC building at West 38th and Bridge. The parking lot in the background, across West 38th, is available, but expect it to fill up fast.

  • Seating is in wooden church pews. If you have a reserved Star Seat, you will find a specific pew marked with the name of your party. All other seating is general admission. Please work with our ushers to make room for everyone!
  • The site is accessible to wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties. Patrons needing to use the chair lift leading to the sanctuary should mention it when entering. Our house management staff will assist you.
  • Food and drink will be limited. We’re grateful to the people of West Side UCC for hosting us and we support them in preserving the beauty of their historic worship space. That’s why we’re offering only bottled water at our concession stand before the show and at intermission – and why we ask you not to bring other food or beverages into the space. We’ll all miss the wonderful baked goods that have been offered at our concession stand for decades. They’ll be back next year!

Tickets are available in advance online; or by calling 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; or by coming to our business office, 6516 Detroit Ave., Suite 9, during those hours.

— Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.

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Near West Theatre’s community theater production of

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Lyrics by Tim Rice       Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber


‘Superstar’ and age appropriateness

JCSshowimagelargeWe at Near West Theatre have cautioned that Jesus Christ Superstar contains intense scenes that may be disturbing to young children. Here is more information for those deciding whether their young people should be in the audience.

The show focuses on Jesus of Nazareth and the crowds and characters who surround him in the last seven days of his life. In Christian scriptures and in this rock opera, violence is part of the story: not only mocking, ridicule and verbal abuse, but also arrest, physical beating and ultimately execution and death. Near West Theatre’s version of Jesus Christ Superstar portrays this violence without visible blood or gore, but nonetheless just as fully and passionately as all other moods and aspects of the story. Like all parts of the show, the violent ones are supported and intensified by lighting, sound, video and other special effects (including a loud and realistic gunshot) and an energetic rock score played by a live, amplified band.

It is not a story without hope. Love, support, beauty and deep humanity are all part of Jesus Christ Superstar as well. Children as young as 7 years old are part of our cast, but we have spent significant time over a two-month period of community-building and rehearsals helping them understand the story and the reasons for what they are portraying. Is the show appropriate for your children? We leave that decision to you, the adults in their lives. For those wishing to do internet research, we recommend topics such as the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, and power and execution in the Roman Empire.

Tickets are $20 for a reserved Star Seat that helps support the theater’s art and mission, $10 for adult general admission, and $8 for children’s general admission (ages 12 and under). They are available online anytime; by phone at 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; or by coming to our business office, 6516 Detroit Ave., Suite 9, during those hours. Any tickets not sold in advance are available at the performance site, West Side United Church of Christ, 3800 Bridge Ave., starting one hour before each performance. — Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.

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Near West Theatre’s community theater production of

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Lyrics by Tim Rice       Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber


Ticket tips & info for ‘A Christmas Story, the Musical’

Tickets sales are brisk for A Christmas Story, the Musical, running Nov. 15 through Dec. 8, so here’s a refresher on Near West Theatre’s ticketing system: how to get a seat, what happens if there’s a sellout, what to do if you buy a ticket and then can’t come, and other helpful tidbits.

There are 220 seats for each of the 13 performances. As of the end of the business day on Thursday, Nov. 14, a day before opening weekend, it was clear that you shouldn’t wait till the last minute. For more than half the shows, at least two-thirds of the seats were already gone. Our leading sellers at that moment, in order,  were Fri., Nov. 29 (180 tickets sold); Sun., Dec. 8 (161), Sun., Nov. 17 (157); Sat., Nov. 23 (155); Sat., Dec. 7 (150); Sat., Nov. 30 (147) and Fri., Nov. 15 (142), with several other dates close behind. [UPDATE, Nov. 24, 2013 — All performances are now sold out.]

Lots of people want tickets, as these did for Children of Eden (2012). Call if you're not coming! Photo by Terry Schordock

Lots of people want tickets, as these did for Children of Eden (2012). Call if you’re not coming! Photo by Terry Schordock

Advance sales and walk-ins will only heat up further with the show now being listed in every “Friday!” section of The Plain Dealer and news coverage increasing. So far we’ve seen stories in the The Plain Dealer,  Cleveland.com and FreshWaterCleveland.com. A “Sound of Applause” segment is due Nov. 21 on 90.3 FM, and a “Reel Cleveland” feature is coming in a couple of weeks on Time Warner TV20.

And now, the tips:

Basic ticket info. You can buy: (1) online anytime; (2) by phone, 216-961-6391, weekdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; (3) in person during those same hours at our business office in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District, 6516 Detroit Ave., Suite 9; or (4) — if you want to take your chances — at the theater ticket table, 3606 Bridge Ave. in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, starting one hour before show time.  Prices are $20 for a reserved Star Seat (described below), $10 for adult general admission, and $8 for child general admission (12 years of age and younger). Tickets purchased in advance will be waiting for you at the theater ticket table. You can arrive up to one hour before show time, and please arrive no later than 10 minutes before show time so that everyone can get situated for an on-time start. If you arrive 30 minutes or more before the show starts, you’ll line up with all other ticket holders in order of your arrival at the theater. When the house opens, 30 minutes before show time, general-admission ticket holders are free to choose any seat that is not marked as reserved. For forms of payment and other information, click here.

How to find out if tickets are still available. [UPDATE, Nov. 24, 2013 — All performances are now sold out.] Calling 216-961-6391 during the designated hours above, or going online and trying to buy tickets, are two ways to know if seats are still available for the show you want to see. Whenever possible, we also use Facebook and Twitter (@NearWestTheatre) to let the world know when there’s a sellout.

What happens if there’s a sellout. If a show is sold out (see above about how to find out), you can come to the theater, 3606 Bridge Ave., as early as one hour before show time, speak to the people at the ticket table and get on a waiting list to see if any tickets become available. The only way we can release seats that have already been reserved is if the people who bought them tell us they aren’t coming and give us permission to re-sell their tickets. So…ACSTMproductionimage

If you can’t come, please tell us! We can’t offer you a refund, but with you’re permission we’ll free up the seats you won’t be using and sell them to patrons who can come to the show. You can let us know by calling 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; sending an e-mail to Kelcie Dugger (kdugger at nearwesttheatre.org); telling us in person at the theater as early as one hour before any show; or calling 440-665-1796 after 4 p.m. weekdays or anytime on the weekend.

What’s a Star Seat? Your $20 ticket is first and foremost a wonderful way to support Near West Theatre’s art and mission and help keep our general prices affordable. Thank you! It also gets you a reserved seat of your choice, a free item at our gift shop (window cling, button, or wrist band), a gift shop discount and a free soft drink at our concession stand. To choose your seating location, just call 216-961-6391 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any weekday before the performance you’re attending and tell us whether you want to sit in a front, middle or back row, and to the left, center or right as you face the stage. On the night of the show, you’ll find your chair marked with your name (or the name of the party you’re with).

See you at the theater! — Hans Holznagel

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Supporters of this production of A Christmas Story, the Musical, include the City of Cleveland, Department of Community Development, and a presenting sponsor, Hinkley Lighting. Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.

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A Christmas Story, the Musical

Musical by Joseph Robinette, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul,

 based upon A Christmas Story © 1983 Turner Entertainment Co., distributed by Warner Bros., written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark, and on the book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.

A Christmas Story, the Musical, is produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC., of Woodstock, Illinois. Produced with permission of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc.


Weekend ticket info by phone

You can now phone in over the weekend to see if tickets are available for Near West Theatre shows — or to tell us you won’t be using tickets you bought. Here’s how it works, in a new procedure we first tried in the spring of 2013:

Lots of people want tickets, as these did for Children of Eden (2012). Call if you're not coming! Photo by Terry Schordock

Lots of people want tickets, as these did for Children of Eden (2012). Call if you’re not coming! Photo by Terry Schordock

Ticket sales by telephone close for the weekend at 4 p.m. each Friday. After that you can still make advance purchases online. Or you can buy in person at the performance site starting 1 hour before show time. What’s new is that we’ll keep our box office phone line open over the weekend for two reasons:

  1. in case you want to ask about ticket availability; or,
  2. so you can tell us you won’t be using tickets you purchased in advance, allowing us to free up your seats and accommodate other patrons. We can’t offer refunds, but your courtesy in calling us is much appreciated. It authorizes us to resell your seats, and it means people who might otherwise be shut out can see a show on a sold-out night.

Just call our regular ticket line, 216-961-6391, and you’ll reach a mobile phone answered by cheerful, efficient Near West staffer Kelcie Dugger (or you’ll reach voice mail if she’s swamped or it’s the middle of the night). Please note: she can’t make reservations for you if it’s not 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a weekday. But she can help you with items (1) and (2) above. See you at the show!


Cool tips for hot-weather shows

Regular summer audience members at Near West Theatre know they need to come with a strategy, or many, for staying cool. Not that you can ever completely beat the heat in the third-floor ballroom of the St. Patrick’s Club Building, short of last year’s miraculous gift of generator-powered air conditioning, which we regrettably can’t repeat this year. If Side Show, opening for an eight-show run this Friday, July 19, will be your first experience with us, here are some of best hot-weather tips we know.

Snow is not in the forecast, so take a cue from this 2010 "Rent, School Edition" audience: dress cool and casual. Photo by Rob Wachala and Terrii Zernechel

Snow is not in the forecast this summer, so take a cue from this 2010 Rent, School Edition audience: dress cool and casual. Photo by Rob Wachala and Terrii Zernechel

Light clothing.  This is no time for formal theater attire. Tank tops, shorts, sun dresses, sandals, flip-flops –whatever works for you works for us. Wear the coolest clothes you can.
Lots of water. Feel free to bring a big container of water or whatever will keep you hydrated. You can take it right to your seat. Our concession stand sells chilled water and soft drinks before the show and at intermission, too.
Ice in your lap. One creative trick is to freeze a big jug of water or a blue freezer pack in advance and bring it in a plastic grocery bag or other drip-free wrapper. Hold it in your lap during the show. One patron we know even slips off her sandals and puts an ice pack under each foot!
Fan in your hand. We’ve seen old-fashioned church fans, new-fangled, battery-powered fans that also spray mist, and plain-old, trigger-operated spray bottles. We’ll have hand-held electric fans for sale at our gift shop, too, by opening night, we hope. It’s all good. If you’re spritzing, just don’t hit your neighbor without permission. (You might get requests, though.)

…And bring an adventurous attitude! You’ll see sweat pouring off this cast of 13- to 21-year-olds, but more than that you’ll be amazed at the energy they’re pouring into the story, action and music of this engaging, dark, endearing musical. Advance tickets and information are available online anytime; by phone weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (216-961-6391); or by visiting our business office during those same hours (6516 Detroit Ave., Suite 9). Any remaining tickets are sold at the theater, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, starting one hour before each show. It’s $8 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under, and $20 for a reserved Star Seat that offers special benefits and supports our art and mission. — Hans Holznagel

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SIDE SHOW

Book and Lyrics by Bill Russell

Music by Henry Krieger

Vocal and dance arrangements by David Chase

Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler

Side Show is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

Near West Theatre is grateful for regular program support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the Ohio Arts Council and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.


New: weekend show info by phone

You can now phone in to check ticket availability on Near West Theatre show weekends — or to tell us you won’t be using tickets you bought. Here’s how it works. For the final three performances of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (May 17, 18, 19), telephone ticket sales will end as usual, for the weekend, at 4 p.m. Friday. After that you can still make advance purchases online. Or you can buy in person at the theater, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, starting 1 hour before show time. What’s new is that we’ll keep our box office phone line open all weekend for two reasons:

  1. in case you want to ask about ticket availability; or,
  2. so you can tell us you won’t be using tickets you purchased in advance, allowing us to free up your seats and accommodate other patrons.

Just call our regular ticket line, 216-961-6391, and you’ll reach a mobile phone answered by cheerful, efficient Near West staffer Kelcie Dugger (or you’ll reach voice mail if she’s swamped or it’s the middle of the night). Please note: she still can’t make reservations for you if it’s not 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a weekday. But she can help you with items (1) and (2) above.

Brel, by the way, is a sight to behold, reviewed well by Thomas Mulready at CoolCleveland.com. The show is by turns raucous, tender, irreverent and touching. Here are pictures from a few scenes. We hope to see you there.

Kevin Kelly (foreground) with (in background, L. to R.) Roberta McLaughlin, Quin Galvin (partially obscured), John Thobaben, Coco Smith and Eric Thomas Fancher during a Jacques Brel rehearsal. Photos by Terry Schordock.

Kevin Kelly (foreground) with (in background, L. to R.) Roberta McLaughlin, Quin Galvin (partially obscured), John Thobaben, Coco Smith and Eric Thomas Fancher during a Jacques Brel rehearsal. Photos by Terry Schordock.

Brel's director, Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr., is himself on stage -- a rare occurence at Near West.

Brel’s director, Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr., is himself on stage — a rare occurrence at Near West.

Actors hit the stage and start warming up just about as soon as the audience starts to arrive.

Actors take stage and start warming up just about as soon as the audience arrives.

Musical director Jordan Cooper channels Edith Piaf.

Musical director Jordan Cooper channels Edith Piaf.

Joy and irreverence gives way at times to war, death and mourning -- here, with Cory Markowitz and Colin Bigley.

Joy and irreverence give way at times to war, death and mourning — here, with Cory Markowitz and Colin Bigley.