Category Archives: Media coverage

Near West Theatre documentary at the film fest tonight

You’ve got one more chance tonight to see Ted Sikora’s energetic documentary about Near West Theatre at the 39th Cleveland International Film Festival. It’s at 8:45 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas. Advice to first-time festival-goers: Act now. Get on the Festival’s box office page, get your ticket, get downtown early to park (or better yet, take the RTA) and find the right color-coded line to stand in. The showing’s code is MOVE24.

Near West Theatre's Move On!, June 2014. Photo by Terry Schordock

Move On! on stage, June 2014. Photo by Terry Schordock

You’ll be glad you did. Ted started coming to rehearsals in the spring of 2014 for the musical Move On!, our farewell to the St. Pat’s Club Building, our home of 36 years. His goal was an 8- to 10-minute fundraising piece. He was so taken with our process and our people that he kept coming back for dozens of hours of shooting. The result was this 88-minute documentary that really does catch the spirit of how we use theater to bring people together, build community, and by the way, stage a darned good, professionally produced show with a huge cast of ordinary people. Theater critic Andrea Simakis gave the film an “A” in The Plain Dealer (March 23, Page A2) and online at

CIFF_39season_stampTonight’s screening follows a packed neighborhood showing at the Capitol Theatre in the Gordon Square Arts District on Sunday, March 22, and a screening downtown on Monday afternoon, March 23. Audiences seem to be liking it. If you do, too, don’t forget to tear off that little “excellent” corner of the CIFF ballot you’ll receive tonight. And say hi to Ted. He’ll be there for a director’s Q&A. — Hans Holznagel

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The film Move On! was made possible by special support from Char and Chuck Fowler and from The George Gund Foundation. Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares; for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences; and to our 2015 Presenting Sponsor, Thompson Hine.

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, and 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; 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


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.


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.

‘A spiritual dimension to this work’

The folks at the Cleveland Arts Prize are posting a series of videos about the lives and work of past winners. We just got a look at this gem of a piece on our own Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek, soon to be posted at the Arts Prize video page. Stephanie, our Executive Director and founder, won CAP’s 2009 Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts. Each year the prize goes to an organization or person whose “exceptional commitment, vision, leadership or philanthropy has made a significant contribution to the vitality of the arts in Northeast Ohio.” Filmmaker Ted Sikora interviewed Stephanie and documented her at work during dress rehearsals for our May 2013 production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. He’s done a nice job of capturing how, in Stephanie’s life, “musical theater pulled together all the things that I love.” “There is a spiritual dimension to this work that feeds me continually,” she says. — Hans Holznagel


Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.

Enjoying a little ink

We’re smiling today about a headline — “‘Hairspray’ staging gets cool support” — at the top of the Metro section of Cleveland’s daily paper, The Plain Dealer (Sat., July 28, Page B1). “Tipoff” columnist Mike McIntyre got interested in our air conditioning story when he came to Hairspray, the Broadway Musical opening weekend, saw the bodacious equipment attached to the side of the building, and, once inside, heard how hot it usually is and how much we’re enjoying the rare and generous treat of not sweltering through a summer youth production. (He enjoyed the show, too, by the way.)  The online version of his column is here, complete with the picture below, which we were happy and eager to let him use. It’s a fun column and we’re glad for it. We’re also grateful for a mention in Julie Washington’s “Pop Ten” in The Sunday Plain Dealer on July 22.

Ink is good as black gold to a nonprofit theater with a small promotional budget and almost no advertising dollars. Cleveland is theater-rich, and a daily like The Plain Dealer has to limit what its arts staff can cover and review. Our professionally designed and directed NWT shows offer a high quality of art that, we regularly hear, far exceeds audience expectations. But our actors are volunteers, so we fall in the community-theater category and thus outside arts coverage and reviews in Northeast Ohio’s largest daily. The “community” label is not bad; our mission, after all, includes building relationships and serving the community with transformational theater arts. It’s just that we’re doggoned proud of the art, too. We dream that someday we will less often hear a stunned first-time patron say, “That show was amazing.  You’ve been here almost 35 years? How come I never heard of you?”

But let us not gripe. The work of promotion is ours, not journalists’.  We need to make the quality of our shows and the social impact of our work with kids and adults from the city and suburbs better known. We remain extremely thankful for the valuable free listings we get in places like the PD’s “Friday!” sectionScene Magazine, and, which help theatergoers find us. Our spring production of Ragtime had a wonderful radio segment on WCPN’s “Around Noon.” We do our best to promote our art, mission and impact via this blog, our website, Facebook, an e-newsletter and so on. Advertising, and a budget for it, need to be in our future. Meantime, we’ll keep honing a mix  of social media, word of mouth, direct mail, neighborhood fliers, news releases, window posters and relationships — and smiling at every major column or feature story like today’s.

AC and generator, July 21, 2012

This picture of our rented Hairspray air conditioning system made the online edition of The Plain Dealer July 28. Photo by Hans Holznagel