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It Came from Cincinnati

By Rick Pender · August 6th, 2008 · Curtain Call
Once in a while it's fun to look back at theater productions from Cincinnati that have had subsequent life in theaters elsewhere. The Cincinnati Playhouse's Around the World in 80 Days recently transferred to off-Broadway's Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City for an eight-week stint, opening on July 20 and running through Sept. 28. A New York Times reviewer described the show (which is nominated for a 2008 Cincinnati Entertainment Award) as "a lark, a summer entertainment that revels in simple theatrical artifice." The production, she added, "doesn't need expensive effects or projected backdrops. It's no-tech perfection."

This isn't the first time a Playhouse show has moved on to New York. The obvious example is the 2006 staging of Company that went to Broadway and won the 2007 Tony Award for best musical revival.

The Playhouse has a history of taking its productions elsewhere. Russell Lees' Nixon's Nixon (October 1997), a two-actor drama about the night before Richard Nixon's resignation, has been presented on the East and West coasts of the U.S.; it was also recognized at 1999's Edinburgh Fringe Festival and presented in Ireland, Toronto, Hong Kong, London, Australia and New Zealand.

The 2003 production of Syringa Tree, a one-woman play by Pamela Gien about growing up in South Africa, has been restaged around the U.S. and the world by Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Michael Evan Haney. In 2004, they took it to The English Theatre in Vienna, the longest operating English-language theater in continental Europe, and in 2006 it was presented at The English Theatre in Frankfurt, Germany. Haney also directed 80 Days here and in New York.

The Playhouse isn't the only theater to moved shows elsewhere. From Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC), D. Lynn Meyers' 2005 staging of Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife has gone on to productions in Kentucky, Florida and Vermont. Another ETC show, Souvenir (2007), was presented at Vienna's English Theatre. Oh, by the way, the Playhouse's Haney was Souvenir's guest director at ETC.

The popular 2006 Fringe Festival show The Catholic Girl's Guide to Losing Your Virginity by 2002 CCM grad Annie Hendy was well received by audiences in Los Angeles. Hendy is now writing a film script.

And while Calculus: The Musical didn't start locally, it was a hit during the 2007 Cincinnati Fringe. Now the merry review of mathematical principles has tied its fate to Know Theatre, the Fringe's annual producer. Sadie Bowman, who created and starred in the show with math teacher Marc Guttman (both hail from Minneapolis), has joined Know's staff and will manage a national tour of the show that begins on Oct. 20 (and more performances for area schools) during the coming season.

Not only do we get great theater here in Cincinnati -- we share it with the world.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: rpender@citybeat.com



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