On May 22, The Cincinnati Enquirer's "me-too" theater awards (aka the "Acclaims") were presented at Covington's Carnegie Center. You might ask, "Does Cincinnati really need a second theater awards program?" Well, apparently Jackie Demaline, the Enquirer's theater writer thinks so, despite the CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS, managed by CityBeat and marking its 10th anniversary in 2006. About a year ago, Demaline recruited a group of judges who viewed shows and made nominations; occasional announcements were published indicating a show had received an Acclaim, but only the show was announced, not the specific recognition. We had to wait until May 22 to be enlightened. Demaline writes that her awards are not a competition (someone should have clued in whoever wrote the Enquirer's May 21 headline about the awards, "And the Acclaim Winners Are?"), but we all know that those recognized feel like they've won something.
As well they should: Cincinnati has top-notch local theater, so I won't grouse -- not much anyway -- about this copycat effort, since it's one more endorsement. But pardon me if I ask a few irreverent questions: Why were presenters invited to make speeches about their theater experiences, while award recipients were instructed to remain silent? Why waste time recognizing touring Broadway shows, which have nothing to do with local theater, while ignoring Cincinnati's community theaters, which periodically stage productions every bit the equal of work at the semi-professional companies? Why didn't anyone check which musical numbers would be presented -- subjecting the audience of 300 not once but twice to the raunchy "Man" from The Full Monty? Did someone really think a sing-along was a great way to end the show? Why didn't anyone bother to time out the event, which was promoted as 90 minutes long but actually took two-and a-half hours -- with no break? Finally, why were Cincinnati's varied theatrical offerings represented exclusively by musical performances? How about some onstage work by some of the great actors who entertain us locally? Theaters were divided into two categories, one for professionals (Equity companies and those training Equity performers, which meant CCM) and one for alternative companies (or "ATLERNATIVE" as a projected image misspelled it). But the smaller companies didn't get much airtime. The evening's big winners were Company at the Playhouse and Crazy for You at CCM, each picking up seven awards. The Playhouse's Yellowman won for best play, while Cincinnati Shakespeare's A Streetcar Named Desire was recognized as the best revival. The evening had some nice moments, including recognition of retiring CCM designer Paul Shortt (named to the CEA Hall of Fame five years ago) and brief memorials for Playhouse stage manager Bruce Coyle critic, teacher and community theater director Roger Grooms; and puppeteer Jerry Handorf. It was also nice to see five "MVPs" singled out: actors Giles Davies, Chris Guthrie and Sara Goff; director and occasional actor Drew Fracher; and ETC scenic designer Brian c. Mehring. It would have been nice to invite them to say a few words rather than stand awkwardly onstage with nothing to do. If you care about theater, you'll have a chance in July to vote for your own choices -- something The Enquirer doesn't give you a chance to do -- when you'll find this year's CEA nominees listed in CityBeat. ...
The College-Conservatory of Music at UC recently announced its 2006-2007 Mainstage Season: two dramas (Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not for Burning, Oct. 26-29, and the 1893 comedy Charley's Aunt, April 19-22, 2007), two musicals (The Pajama Game, Nov. 16-19, and The Full Monty, Feb. 22-March 4, 2007) and two operas (Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, Feb. 8-11, 2007, and Massenet's Werther, May 10-13, 2007). CCM did not release the titles for its Studio shows yet, but based on a musical preview at the Acclaim awards it's apparent there will be something by Kander & Ebb -- tunes from Cabaret were part of the mix.