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.

Adam Pascal Bound for Wright State

adam pascal

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 musical theatre … [Read more...]

‘Steel Magnolias’ Review – Human Race Theatre Company – Salon Sisterhood


Those immensely engaging ladies of Truvy’s Beauty Shop tug the heart and tickle the funny bone as evidenced in the Human Race Theatre Company’s excellent production of Robert Harling’s touching 1987 comedy “Steel Magnolias,” the third presentation of the play the Race has produced in 26 years.   The gossipy chit-chat flows effortlessly and with great charm in this quaint, relatable tale set in Chinquapin, Louisiana over the course of two years concerning friendship, family, loyalty, illness, and the innate bonds of sisterhood. It’s hard to completely erase memories of the play’s 1989 … [Read more...]

‘Bullets Over Broadway’ Review – Victoria Theatre Association – Don’t Speak!

bullets over broadway

Woody Allen’s 2014 Tony Award-nominated adaptation of his 1994 Academy Award-winning film “Bullets Over Broadway” has great charm but lacks melodic heft and consistent laughs as evidenced in its regional premiere at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.   In this mildly amusing ode to theater and the Roaring Twenties, originally co-written by Douglas McGrath, struggling playwright David Shayne is thrown for a loop when his Broadway debut is upended and his artistry is called into question. Gangster Nick Valenti financially … [Read more...]

‘Chicago’ Review – Wright State University – How to Get Away with Murder

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Long before Annalise Keating displayed tremendous legal savvy, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly knew how to get away with murder in the Windy City of the Roaring Twenties. And it’s a lot of fun seeing these merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail compete to the hilt behind bars and in the press while enticing with delicious decadence in Wright State University’s marvelous production of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s cynically satiric 1975 musical “Chicago.” Deftly directed by Joe Deer with a striking emphasis on the show’s original vaudevillian framework, expertly heightened by … [Read more...]

‘The Wiz’ – Sinclair Community College – Ease On Into the Groove

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A delightfully soulful retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “The Wiz” presents a refreshing African-American spin on the universal tale of friendship, self-discovery and inner strength. Thankfully, director Chris Harmon doesn’t shy away from embracing the plentiful R&B vibes permeating nearly every inch of the peppy, marvelously tuneful material performed by an over 40-member cast.

‘Pippin’ Review – Victoria Theatre Association – All the Right Moves


  Exhilarating acrobatics and fantastic choreography catapults the outstanding national tour of “Pippin” to marvelously magical heights at the Schuster Center as the launch of the Victoria Theatre Association’s 2015-2016 Premier Health Broadway Series. Based on its 2013 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival and originally staged and choreographed by the legendary Bob Fosse in 1972, “Pippin,” featuring a book by Roger O. Hirson and score by Stephen Schwartz, tells a humorous and fanciful tale of the titular son of Charlemagne. Following college graduation he boldly pursues a quest for … [Read more...]

‘The Columnist’ Review – Dayton Theatre Guild – Power and Secrecy Inside the Beltway


The intriguing double life of prominent Republican syndicated columnist Joseph Alsop (1910-1989) provides the thought-provoking basis for David Auburn’s engrossing 2012 drama “The Columnist,” currently receiving an excellent local premiere at the Dayton Theatre Guild. As he ascended in fame and influence in Washington, D.C. from the 1940s through the late 1960s, Joe hid his sexuality, a fact Auburn frankly details at the outset which depicts the legendary writer awakening from a tryst with a handsome tour guide in a Moscow hotel circa 1954. Afterward Joe is busted by the K.G.B, but his … [Read more...]

‘The K of D, An Urban Legend’ Review – Magnolia Theatre Company – Captivating Storytelling

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An outstanding Annie Pesch inhabits 17 colorful characters in Magnolia Theatre Company’s terrific local premiere of Laura Schellhardt’s humorous and gripping 2008 ghost story “The K of D, An Urban Legend” continuing through Sunday, Oct. 4 inside the black box Mathile Theatre of the Schuster Center.   One-person shows always demand immense versatility, energy and breadth of scope, particularly when the material requires the actor to embody multiple ages and personalities. Thankfully, Pesch, having already proven her worth in this realm years ago in Dayton Theatre Guild’s “The Belle of … [Read more...]

‘The Great Gatsby’ Review – Wright State University – Man of the Moment


Frank Loesser had it wrong. There’s wonderful music in the very sound of Gatsby, a name immediately conjuring images of power, prestige, wealth, infatuation, and mystery. As the seductive, titular focal point of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel, widely considered one of the greatest ever written, millionaire Jay Gatsby’s transformative history and romantic obsession is not lost in Wright State University’s current presentation. However, there are moments of detachment that could use a jubilant Jazz Age lift. Breezily adapted by Simon Levy and directed by W. Stuart McDowell, “The … [Read more...]

‘Carousel’ Review – Dayton Playhouse – You Love Who You Love


In the Rodgers and Hammerstein repertoire the governess with the cute kids always seem to grab the most attention. But what about their darker, practically forgotten collaboration about the ill-fated New England couple unable to make the most of their life together? Yes, it’s time to become reacquainted with or introduced to “Carousel,” the heartrendingly beautiful 1945 musical drama enjoyably mounted by the Dayton Playhouse with vocally impressive flourish.   Based on Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play “Liliom,” “Carousel” primarily examines romance from the sheer … [Read more...]