Voting closed on Aug. 3 for the 13th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (CEAs) recognizing outstanding performances and productions from the 2008-09 theater season. The awards will be presented at Below Zero Lounge in Over-the-Rhine on Aug. 30. The event is open to the public and free, a big party (cash bar) attended by local theater performers, directors, designers and fans celebrating the work of 100 nominees. [See all the nominees here.]
Past CEAs are a meaningful guide to shows you should consider seeing during the coming season, kicking off less than a month from now. For example, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC) has a cast of current and past CEA nominees and winners for its regional premiere of Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations (Sept. 2-20), the winner of the 2008 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Award. The play is a fictional imagining of Beethoven’s composition, the 33 “Diabelli Variations” on a prosaic waltz, a subject that obsesses a terminally ill professor of musicology. The 2009 Tony-nominated play starred Jane Fonda on Broadway and it requires a cast of excellent performers. Director D. Lynn Meyers has brought them together.
Amy Warner plays professor Katherine Brandt. She’s a 2009 CEA nominee for her leading role as aging actress Desirée Armfeldt in New Stage Collective’s May production of A Little Night Music. She’ll be joined by Dale Hodges (nominated for a 2009 CEA as the elderly Big Edie Beale in ETC’s Grey Gardens last fall).
The cast of 33 Variations also includes past CEA winner Drew Fracher (both as a director and an actor) and multiple nominee Dennis Parlato, a New York professional who frequently performs at ETC.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company opens its season with another “CEA-accredited” cast in William Goldman’s The Lion in Winter. Bruce Cromer plays put-upon King Henry II and Sherman Fracher is his feisty queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Cromer (seen annually as Scrooge in the Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol) is up for CEAs for this season’s New Stage’s Night Music as prosaic attorney Fredrik Egerman and CSC’s Amadeus, where he portrayed the obsessed composer Antonio Salieri. Fracher won last season’s outstanding actress CEA as a drug-crazed prostitute in New Stage Collective’s Bug. Another performance of note: Longtime CSC favorite Giles Davies returns to Cincinnati around Halloween (Oct. 24-Nov. 8) to present his one-man show inspired by the creepy tales and strange life of Edgar Allan Poe. (Davies received many CEA nominations during nine years with CSC.)
[Photo of Amy Warner and Bruce Cromer in A Little Night Music; photo by Mikki Schaffer.]
New Edgecliff Theatre just announced its 2009-10 season, commencing with Peter Shaffer’s award-winning Equus from 1973 (Oct. 1-17). (CSC opened last season with Shaffer’s other great classic, Amadeus, from 1979.) NET’s Equus features three past CEA nominees: Michael Shooner as a psychiatrist, Cary Davenport as a teenage boy who has blinded a stable of horses and Aretta Baumgardner as a sympathetic court magistrate. It will be directed by Alan Patrick Kenny, who collected a shelf of CEAs during his tenure as artistic director of the now defunct New Stage Collective. (Kenny is also staging the regional premiere of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Carnegie, Sept. 4-20.)
The balance of NET’s new season includes a one-night, radio-theater version of two tales from The Twilight Zone (Oct. 24), a revival of David Sedaris’ popular Santaland Diaries (Dec. 4-19) and Cyrano [Rehearsed] (April 15-May 1, 2010), an adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac.
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