Just like the economy, Cincinnati's theater scene runs in cycles. Ten years ago, summer was full of theater choices: UC's College-Conservatory of Music entertained us with new or seldom-seen shows at Hot Summer Nights and the Cincinnati Playhouse offered interesting fare. Those series dried up for budgetary reasons about five years ago, but suddenly summer theater has burst forth again.
Last weekend, we had four new productions to choose from in addition to New Stage Collective's Jerry Springer: The Opera, which opened in late June, and Commonwealth Theatre Company at NKU, where a dinner-theater production of Forever Plaid wraps up on Sunday.
Know Theatre recently premiered What's the Point? (through Aug. 12), a new musical revue. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company opened its production of a contemporary classic comedy, Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (through Aug. 10), a hit from 1963. A group of ambitious college students calling themselves Transit Five continue their third season with a new musical, Edges (through Saturday), about evolving from adolescents to adults. Jersey Productions has presented tried-and-true musicals for three summers; this year the company has migrated from Covington's Carnegie Center to the Aronoff for West Side Story (through Saturday at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater).
Edges is reviewed here and West Side Story is reviewed here, and both companies offer more in August: Transit Five stages Caryl Churchill's Cloud Tectonics Aug. 7-16, while Jersey presents Nunsense Aug. 8-17.
Don't forget about the steady series of offerings by the granddaddy of local theater companies, the Showboat Majestic, in its 85th season of entertainment. The current production of the classic comedy Cheaper by the Dozen closes this weekend; it's followed by Pete 'n' Keely (Aug. 6-24), a kitschy spoof of a 1968 TV variety show. Landmark Productions, which manages the "boat," also makes things happen at the Covedale Performing Arts Center, including the Cincinnati Young People's Theatre, now in its 26th season. This summer's show, which begins this weekend and features high school kids from all over the area, is The Pajama Game (through Aug. 3).
In a few weeks, The Carnegie Center will present Agatha Christie's venerable hit mystery, The Mousetrap (Aug. 15-31) at its lovely Otto M. Budig Theatre. If that's not enough, many community theaters have mid-summer productions. For instance, the Drama Workshop is presenting Steven Dietz's probing drama Fiction this weekend and next at the recently opened Madisonville Arts Center. Mariemont Players' Nobody's Perfect, a comedy, finishes its run on Saturday.
Our national economy might be struggling, but our local theater scene is a bull market. Most shows are affordable and don't require long drives, so you'll preserve your precious tank of $4/gallon gas. Look at CityBeat's onstage listings for details, pick a show that appeals and order a ticket. You'll be amazed by what you see.
CONTACT RICK PENDER: firstname.lastname@example.org