About Russell Florence, Jr.

Russell Florence, Jr. is a member of The American Theatre Critics Association and The Drama League. In addition to his role as arts and culture editor of Dayton City Paper and theater critic for Dayton City Paper and Impact Weekly, he served as a Dayton Daily News freelance writer and editorial page contributor. He has also written features for such theater publications as Spotlight Ohio and The Sondheim Review. He attended over 30 Broadway/Off-Broadway productions during the 2014-15 season.

‘Cinderella’ Review – Victoria Theatre Association – A Lovely Night

Marvelously inventive costumes, gorgeous vocals, terrific performances, and timely social themes fuel the outstanding national tour of the 2013 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” continuing through Sunday at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series. Fluidly directed with subtly substantive flair by Mark Brokaw and cleverly reconceived with contemporary flourishes by Douglas Carter Beane (“Xanadu”), “Cinderella,” originally written for television in 1957, is new and improved for all the … [Read more...]

‘The Glass Menagerie’ Review – Human Race Theatre Company – Dissecting Memory

Dysfunction reigns and happiness is fleeting within Tennessee Williams’1945 semi-autobiographical drama “The Glass Menagerie,” a powerhouse of a play currently receiving a lovely, attractively designed presentation courtesy of the Human Race Theatre Company at the Loft Theatre. Set in a St. Louis apartment in the 1930s, this potent saga of a disillusioned, regretful Southern belle stuck in the past and her two emotionally scarred children meandering in the present never fails to entice. In stark contrast to Williams’ equally marvelous “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a masterpiece primarily … [Read more...]

Review Roundup – ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ ‘Roar of the Greasepaint…’ and ‘Broadway Beveled’

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Wright State University respectably embraces the sexual heat and damaging dysfunction within Tennessee Williams’ splendid 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Streetcar Named Desire.” However, the action, directed by Jason Podplesky, occasionally glides off-kilter, specifically in Act 1 when character-conscious decisions are paramount to ground this searing tale of betrayal and pain.   When faded, fragile Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Ellie Margolis) enters the New Orleans home of her sister Stella Kowalkski (MacKenzie Stephens) and brother-in-law … [Read more...]

‘Once’ Review – Victoria Theatre Association – Intimate Magnetism

Musical theater romances are conceived in many shapes and sizes, but perhaps none more beautifully intimate than “Once,” the winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards including Best Musical currently receiving an outstanding local premiere at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series. Set in Dublin and based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning independent film of the same name, “Once” chronicles the unlikely meeting between a struggling Irish street musician/vacuum repairman (identified as Guy) and an inquisitive young Czech woman (identified … [Read more...]

‘Mary Poppins’ Review – Muse Machine – Wondrous Whimsy

In wonderfully uplifting fashion, the mighty Muse Machine has done it again. The arts education organization supplies an outstanding, heartwarming and smile-inducing presentation of the 2006 Tony Award-nominated adaptation of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins,” the Muse’s 32nd annual student musical continuing through Sunday at the Victoria Theatre. Featuring 150 Muse students from across the Miami Valley and based on the beloved 1964 Academy Award-winning film of the same name and the books by P.L. Travers, “Mary Poppins” absolutely shines due to the simple fact that cohesiveness … [Read more...]

‘Night Watch’ & ‘Trailer Park’ Reviews – Dayton Theatre Guild & Dare to Defy Productions – Madness & Mayhem

Night Watch It can be taxing and uncomfortable watching a character implode from mental illness, but there’s enough levity and genuine creepiness to ease the blow as evidenced in the Dayton Theatre Guild’s satisfying production of Lucille Fletcher’s 1972 suspense “Night Watch.” Inside her New York townhouse, the wealthy and extremely unnerved insomniac Elaine Wheeler (a terrifically distraught Debra Strauss) is at her wits end having adamantly believed she’s seen the dead bodies of a man and woman from a nearby tenement building. Prone to fits of unsettled frenzy, Elaine, emotionally … [Read more...]

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Review – Sinclair Community College – Love and Goodwill

Welcome back, Charlie Brown. You're still a good man and just as endearing as before as evidenced in Sinclair Community College’s delightful return engagement of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Eric Schaeffer’s faithful adaptation of Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson’s humorous, touching and inspiring 1965 Emmy Award-winning holiday special of the same name by “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz.   As the frenzy of the holiday rush escalates, it’s great to be reminded of the beautiful simplicity within this terrific tale frankly pinpointing the true reasons for the season. Disappointed and … [Read more...]

‘The Santaland Diaries’ Review – Human Race Theatre Company – Unhappy Holidays

Christmas can be a time of goodwill but also a living hell as perceived by Crumpet, the Macy’s department store elf at his wits end in David Sedaris’ humorous if thin holiday comedy “The Santaland Diaries” based on his 1992 essay made famous on National Public Radio.   Presented as a season extra by the Human Race Theatre Company and adapted as a one-act, one-man play in 1996 by Joe Mantello, “Santaland Diaries” admirably thrives on Crumpet’s naughty, grumpy perspective as a 33-year-old slacker on the verge of reaching rock bottom. “I was $40 away from walking dogs,” he admits before … [Read more...]

‘Really Really’ Review – Playground Theatre – He Said, She Said

Murky events surrounding an evening of partying and drinking dismantles relationships forever in Paul Downs Colaizzo’s riveting 2013 collegiate drama “Really Really,” currently receiving a terrifically compelling local premiere in the Mathile Theatre of the Schuster Center courtesy of emerging Playground Theatre.   Deftly directed by Playground co-founder/artistic director Jenna Burnette and set at a prestigious university, Colaizzo’s fascinating and often humorous look at Millennials navigating through an uncertain future riddled by their own insecurities centers on an intimate … [Read more...]

Adam Pascal Bound for Wright State

Tony Award nominee Adam Pascal, one of the finest pop/rock voices in contemporary musical theatre who garnered acclaim in Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking 1996 Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent,” will perform a special acoustic concert Wednesday, Dec. 2 at Wright State University.   Presented by WSU’s Musical Theatre Initiative, Pascal’s visit marks a yearlong celebration of contemporary musical theatre entitled “Musicals Rock!” The Musical Theatre Initiative is an international center at Wright State that celebrates and explores the history, culture and craft of the … [Read more...]