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 2013-14 season.

Review Roundup – Friendships & Feuds

parallel lives

In the mood for sketch comedy, musical theater or classic drama? Here’s a rundown of a few offerings currently on local stages.

Landmark ‘Lion King’ centerpiece of Victoria’s appealing 2015-16 season

Tshidi Manye as “Rafiki”THE LION KING National Tour.  Disney.  Photo Credit  Joan Marcus

The lineup includes the exhilarating 2013 Tony-winning, circus-themed revival of Stephen Schwartz’s “Pippin,” 2014’s breezy and nostalgic Woody Allen adaptation of “Bullets Over Broadway,” the intimate 2012 Tony-winning adaptation of “Once,” the gorgeous 2013 Tony-winning revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” and composer Jason Robert Brown’s beautifully romantic, Tony-winning adaptation of “The Bridges of Madison County.”

And The Oscar Goes To…


The 87th annual Academy Awards salutes the best of 2014 cinema tomorrow night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Go ahead and anticipate one of the most predictable Oscars in recent memory considering most categories have been cemented since the Golden Globes.

‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ Review –Victoria Theatre Association – Giddy, Glorious Gershwin

Photo by Jeremy Daniel (www.JeremyDanielPhoto.com)

Nice Work” is a silly, summertime, Prohibition-era romantic farce that finds goofy criminals, sexy dames, handsome henchmen, and the haughty upper crust colliding on Long Island. As is standard fare for such zany stories, mistaken identity runs rampant nearly to the point of excess.

‘The Fantasticks’ Review –Dayton Playhouse – Love Is In the Air


Lyricist/librettist Tom Jones and composer Harvey Schmidt’s tender, intimate 1960 musical “The Fantasticks,” loosely based on Edmond Rostand’s 1894 play “Les Romanesques,” receives a visually engaging, strikingly designed presentation at the Dayton Playhouse. Matthew W. Smith spearheads his finest directorial achievement thus far by envisioning the material with nods to commedia dell’arte and vaudeville with particularly lovely sprinkles of whimsicality recalling Jones’ superb direction of the current off-Broadway production. Smith’s show-within-a-show concept is marvelously heightened by … [Read more...]

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Review – Cedarville University – Prolonged Exodus


Cedarville University is performing "Fiddler on the Roof" through February 8th. DMM's Russel Florence reviews the production.

‘Family Shots’ Review – Human Race Theatre Company – Matters of the Heart

HRTC FAMILY Prod Photo 2

Inside a suburban New Jersey hospital, the Baker family has come undone. Crisis brings them together, but what will keep them together? Playwright Michael Slade provides clues with wonderfully relatable authenticity and astute, unresolved ambiguity in his new original play “Family Shots,” an excellent, touching comic drama superbly presented in its world premiere at the Loft Theatre courtesy of the Human Race Theatre Company.

‘Flashdance’ Review – Victoria Theatre Association – The Maniac Returns


A 1980s pop culture explosion can be found at the Schuster Center with the presence of the national tour of “Flashdance – The Musical” courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series. It’s quickly apparent how important nostalgia is to the appeal of this middling adaptation of the 1983 film of the same name set in and around a steel mill in blue-collar Pittsburgh. The Schuster lobby contains various images of the Greed Decade from Culture Club to Cabbage Patch Kids and the show curtain recalls MTV’s glory days. But eye-catching distractions can’t disguise the … [Read more...]

‘Oliver!’ Review – Muse Machine – Pleasures, Large and Small

muse oliver

The Muse Machine’s incredibly entertaining, excellently cohesive production of Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical “Oliver!,” the arts education organization’s 31st annual student musical, touches the heart and radiates with joy at the Victoria Theatre.

‘4000 Miles’ Review – Dayton Theatre Guild – Someone to Watch Over Me

4000 miles

The Dayton Theatre Guild enters 2015 with a solid local premiere of Amy Herzog’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-nominated dramatic comedy “4000 Miles,” an emotionally awkward and surprisingly poignant depiction of two headstrong individuals in need of stability and protection.   Sharply directed by Kathy Mola with an excellent grasp of tone,”4000 Miles” concerns 21-year-old college student Leo Joseph-Connell who travels by bike from Seattle to New York’s Greenwich Village to visit his 91-year-old grandmother Vera. Grief, tragedy, uncertainty, and disillusionment cause Leo to seek temporary … [Read more...]