Quick, grab a random person off the street and ask them what they think about Cleveland's theatre scene. Did they immediately mention Playhouse Square? Did they talk about the Hamilton lottery? Good. If you want to talk about those things there are no shortages of places to do so. Playhouse Square is a wonderful thing to have here in Cleveland. It's the 2nd largest performing arts center in the country. We should be proud to have raised it from the ashes.

To be clear: Even though I never talk about Playhouse Square here on this site it doesn't mean I have anything against it. But 'round here we like to talk about literally everything else. Because there are a ton of great shows coming to Cleveland's small stages in 2018. Don't believe me? Here's one for every month of the new year:

January: Entry Point

Let's start off by saying that there are a lot of shows coming to Cleveland that aren't of Cleveland. Some of them are below. But forget about them for a second, because Cleveland Public Theatre's Entry Point is about making art for Cleveland in  Cleveland.

To be clear, Entry Point isn't just one show. It's more of a three-day festival of works in progress. It includes staged readings, short performances, panel discussions, and a chance for the artists to get feedback from the audience. There are a bunch of Cleveland-based artists showcasing their work in one form or another. 

Oh, and their site says something about free beer.

Here's a video from last year:

February: Grounded

This 90-minute solo show has been done by Anne Hatheway in New York. It's been through Cleveland. But this year Dobama Theatre is rolling it out for its first Cleveland-produced premiere. Anjanette Hall, who has a handful of other Dobama shows under her belt, including The Night Alive, and An Octoroon, plays the pilot in the play that won the Smith Prize for Political Theatre in 2012.

The play is about a fighter pilot who gets grounded after becoming pregnant, and returns to work as a military drone operator, from the safe confines of Las Vegas. From there, we get a look at what it means to go to war for your day job, and what it means to come home from work, when your work is dropping bombs.

Here's a taste of what Dobama calls a 'poem that crafts an experience that is timely, human, and vital':

It would be a different book
The Odyssey
If Odysseus came home every day
Every single day
A very different book

Written by George Brant, Directed by Alice Reagan

March: The Effect

Sex and drugs! Well, except that the drugs are part of a clinical trial, and the sex is maybe triggered by dopamine adjustments. And so we embark on our quest to understand love in the age of the laboratory. Lucy Prebble wrote the play that won the UK Critics' Circle Award for Best Play in 2012. Laley Lippard directs it's Midwest Premiere at Dobama this Spring. 

Olivia Scicolone makes her Dobama debut alongside Derdriu Ring (who just wrapped up Marjorie Prime), Ananias J. Dixon (An Octoroon), and Joel Hammer (who's been at Dobama for 25 years).

April: The Oldest Profession

As Ronald Reagan enters the White House, five aging practitioners of the oldest profession are faced with a diminishing clientele, increased competition for their niche market, and aching joints. With wit, compassion, and humor, they struggle to find and learn new tricks as they fight to stay in the Life.

The Oldest Profession was written by Paula Vogel, who won a Pulitzer for 1998s How I Learned to Drive and the show at Convergence Continuum is being directed by Amy Bistok and runs from the last week in March through April 14th.

May: DanceWorks 2018

CPT's Danceworks is a 5-week showcase of contemporary dance companies from across Northeast Ohio. There aren't a lot of details yet for the 2018 lineup, but tickets go on sale January 12th, so we can expect to know more than. You can read about last year's performance here.

June: In the Blood

Based on Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter, Susan Lori Parks' In the Blood was written in the late 90s and premiered at The Public Theater in NYC. Parks won the Pulitzer for her work Topdog/Underdog (In the Blood was shortlisted to win as well in 2000). 

In The Blood (directed by Corey Molner at Con-Con) tells the story about a mother, Hester, and her five fatherless children, trying to find help to make her children's lives successful. Living in poverty and having the reputation as a "slut" on her, her children and her future begins to grow dim. Hester seizes the opportunity to receive help from her children's fathers, with hopes that one may help them. The play moves to other characters' stories (confessions) such as the doctor, welfare, and her friend, who is involved with Hester's struggling predicament.

July: And All the Dead Lie Down

When an unexpected phone call upsets Alvin and Foss' usual Saturday routine, the couple must navigate a minefield of long suppressed resentments, past histories and hurt feelings. AND ALL THE DEAD, LIE DOWN is a portrait of a sero-discordant couple at a crossroads, a couple pondering the questions: Is Love enough to sustain a relationship? And is it worth the risk?

And All the Dead Lie Down, written by Harrison David Rivers, was an O'Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist in 2016 and is being directed by Ismael Lara.

August: The Casual Tree Ward

The world premiere of The Casual Tree Ward will be at Convergence Continuum late August and into September. Written by Robert Hawkes and directed by Susan Soltis.

The Goddess Freyja (or is she?) is tending Yggdrasil, the World Ash Tree (or is it?), trying to protect it from increasing drought. An itinerant water-bearer tries to pursuade Freyja to go with him to where the water is plentiful. She refuses. Does the world really depend on this single tree, or is this a self-generating myth? All is made clear (or is it?).

September: Cannibal the Musical!

From the co-creator of South Park and The Book of Mormon, comes the “All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!” Trey Parkers’ Cannibal! The Musical live on stage.

Cannibal! The Musical is the true story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America - Alfred Packer. The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Pry as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs!

Additionally, it gives me great pleasure to say that the Blank Canvas Theatre synopsis of the show makes it clear that there will be a splatterzone at this performance.

October: This Much (or An Act of Violence towards the Institution of Marriage)

Ohio premiere! Gar can't decide between the man who plays games and the man on one knee with a ring. In fact, Gar can't decide on anything because every choice seems like a compromise. Everyone wants answers, but nothing lives up to the image he has in his head. Facades start crumbling as his world implodes around him, but Gar just wants to dance with his friends.

Written by John Fitzpatrick
Directed by Clyde Simon

November: Rapture, Blister, Burn

After grad school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rockstar academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later, unfulfilled in polar opposite ways, each woman covet's the others life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs - the prize being Gwen's husband. This comedy is an unflinching look at gender politics.

Rapture, Blister, Burn was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Written by Gina Gionfriddo
Directed by Geoffrey Hoffman

December: Avenue Q

The laugh-out-loud musical tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton, who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that, although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life.

Filled with gut-busting humor and a delightfully catchy score, not to mention puppets, Avenue Q is a truly unique show that has quickly become a favorite for audiences everywhere. Although the show addresses humorous adult issues, it is similar to a beloved children's show; a place where puppets are friends, Monsters are good and life lessons are learned.

Directed by Patrick Ciamacco, Music Direction by Matthew Dolan