Playwright and poet DEREK WALCOTT won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. The native of St. Lucia in the West Indies will visit Xavier University's campus this weekend in conjunction with the world premiere of DEREK WALCOTT: CARIBBEAN BLEND at the Gallagher Student Center Theater on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The show, directed by DARYL HARRIS, assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University, combines texts from Walcott's plays (he's written more than 20) that reflect the conflict between the heritage of European and West Indian cultures; the excerpts from his writings will be accompanied by singing, dancing and the rhythms of calypso. Local actor REGGIE WILLIS will portray Walcott in the production. Tickets to the performance: 513-745-3939. Walcott will speak as part of Xavier's 2006-07 Ethics/Religion & Society Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Schiff Family Conference Center in Xavier's Cintas Center. His speech is free and open to the public.
The SHOWBOAT MAJESTIC has just finished swabbing the deck following its 2006 season (it dropped the curtain on its final 2006 production, Sweet Charity, Oct. 1), but already they've announced the shows that will be on board during 2007, the historic craft's 84th year. The lineup includes Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (April 18-May 6), a reminiscence about Rosemary Clooney (May 16-June 3), the classic Gilbert & Sullivan operetta Pirates of Penzance (June 13-July 1), a thriller called I'll Be Back Before Midnight (July 11-29), a send-up of Broadway shows, Ruthless (Aug. 8-26), and Rodgers & Hammerstein's landmark musical, Oklahoma! (Sept. 12-30). The Majestic is an intimate space and the stage is tiny, but its audiences are loyal and return year after year for enjoyable fare. If you'd like to be among them, subscriptions are available now: 513-241-6550. ...
The Cincinnati creative team of writer MARK FRIEDMAN and composer JANET YATES VOGT continue to find audiences for their charming musical GREEN GABLES, which premiered at Ensemble Theatre in a concert staging back in June 2000. The story of high-spirited Anne Shirley, an orphan accidentally delivered to a brother and sister who run a farm in Nova Scotia, was staged professionally at Dayton's Victoria Theatre in 2005. It's presently in a long run (it opened on Sept. 22 and continues through Nov. 18) at Barter Theatre in Abindgon, Va. Info: www.bartertheatre.com and www.greengablesmusical.com
Shakespeare Company's AS YOU LIKE IT (through Sunday) is quite simply a splendid work by a company of pros who have found their feet and their mission and are settling in as serious contributors to Cincinnati's cultural landscape -- and joyful, funny and enormous fun to see and hear. The execution by the largest, most polished and best balanced cast CSC has ever fielded is sprightly and virtually flawless. And the show looks terrific. Corrine Mohlenhoff's exuberant embodiment of Rosalind keeps pace with the show's buoyancy. She's winsomely girlish, even a little silly, without losing sight of Rosalind's intelligence. (Tom McElfresh) Grade: A
The Cincinnati Playhouse opens its 47th season with the timeless classic OF MICE AND MEN (through Friday), John Steinbeck's transcription of his 1937 novel. If this handsomely designed production (especially Paul Shortt's rugged, functional backdrop) only begins to scratch the surface, at least it knows how important surfaces are. It's about George (Marc Aden Gray) and Lennie (Brendan Averett), migrant workers in Depression-era California, homeless in every sense of the word and bound to each other by mutual pipe dreams and a need to belong somewhere and, most importantly, to someone. This production has a slightly perfunctory, taken-for-granted feel, but it still works. The script is "built," and even this less-than-perfect rendering retains its uncanny ability to move audiences. (Alan Scheidt) Grade: B
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