DENNIS PARLATO has worked in a lot of theaters -- he's been on Broadway frequently and recently has been flying back and forth to London for the workshop of a musical based on Dr. Zhivago -- but he returns to Cincinnati for very simple reasons. "It's Lynn Meyers and great material," he told me recently. That's D. LYNN MEYERS, artistic director at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC), whom he met two decades ago when she worked at the Cincinnati Playhouse. In the 1980s she hired him for the leading role in Marsha Norman's Traveler in the Dark and used him again when she re-staged the show in New York. They've worked together several more times; he's back now for his fourth ETC production. In 2002 he did The Guys, a dramatic post-9/11 show that teamed him with CEA award winner AMY WARNER. Now they're reunited for Steven Dietz's play FICTION, opening at ETC Wednesday (through Feb.
18). The script is about a married couple, both writers. When Linda (Warner) is told her life will be cut short by illness, she asks to read diaries Michael (Parlato) has kept over the years. She reads things about his past, but the line between truth and "fiction" is murky. Meyers gave Parlato the script to read last fall, and he didn't especially like it, but she convinced him to give it more serious consideration. "She's ahead of me. She knows good material, even if the characters aren't especially likeable people. I read it several times, and it got better and better." Dietz is a creator of fascinating characters of whom Parlato says, "They makes you think about yourself." Tickets: 513-421-3555. ... We'll have a chance to see Dietz's versatility as a writer later this season when his script Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure shows up at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Producing Artistic Director ED STERN is staging it for two other theaters before it shows up here. It opened this week at Actors Theatre of Louisville and runs through Feb. 24. It leaves Louisville to make room for the Humana Festival of New American Plays and moves to Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (March 21-April 15), which often partners with the Playhouse. That's where it will end up, on the Marx Stage (April 24-May 25). Dietz's script is based on a wildly popular 1899 play by writer Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the Sherlock Holmes character, and actor William Gillette, who often played the master detective. If you can't wait until April to find out whodunit, Louisville isn't that far away. Info: www.Actors Theatre.org. ...
Here's an early (and exclusive) tip: Late summer is usually a dry spell for theater in Cincinnati, but Aug. 11 is guaranteed to be a date you'll want to circle. Local writer NANCY JONES' new one-woman show, Above the 37th Parallel, will be presented at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theatre. The 50-minute script, about her life before and after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, will be brought to life by actress SHERMAN FRACHER and director DREW FRACHER. That's a fine one-two punch, since the Frachers have been frequently recognized by the CEAs. More later, including whether the show might be presented for a second night. ... If you were dismayed when the musical DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS was canceled at the Aronoff Center in December, make note that it will turn up to open Dayton's 2007-08 Broadway Series at the Schuster Center next September. The Victoria Theatre Association will also offer a one-man show Say Goodnight Gracie (Oct. 30-Nov. 11), Mamma Mia (Nov. 29-25), Chicago (Jan. 29-Feb. 3, 2008), Blast! (Feb. 19-March 2, 2008), Monty Python's Spamalot (April 22-27, 2008) and Shenandoah, produced by the Human Race Theatre Company at the Victoria (May 6-18, 2008). By the way, it's less likely Scoundrels will make it to Cincinnati next season if it's landing in Dayton. Info: www.victoriatheatre.com
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com