Exciting news recently from ALAN PATRICK KENNY, who's performing Songs from an Unmade Bed at Know Theatre through Wednesday: NEW STAGE COLLECTIVE (NSC), his summertime project for four years, is taking up residence in Over-the-Rhine, adding to the area's theater scene. In addition to Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (1127 Vine St.) and Know Theatre (1120 Jackson St.), NSC will present a full season of shows on the second floor of 1140 Main St., formerly home of Jekyll & Hyde's, a billiard club. NSC continues to offer experience to pre-professional artists, according to Kenny. His 2007 season was chosen with advice from a set of young actors, directors and designers. "It's work that's galvanized the company," he says, "work that everyone has a vested interest in doing." Kenny's first production will be the Cincinnati premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (April 19-May 12), the 2002 Tony Award best-play winner, about a man who falls in love with, well, a goat.
For the Fringe Festival (May 30-June 10) NSC will present Alone, Together: A Party of the Night, inspired by a play by Charles Mee, who urges theater artists to re-create works based on his writings. Local actor Nick Rose will be featured. The New York Club scene in the '80s is the focus of Radiant Baby (June 21-July 14), a Rock/Punk/Pop musical by Stuart Ross and Debra Barsha about visual artist Keith Haring, who died of AIDS at age 31 in 1990. Kenny gained a ton of recognition when he music directed John Michael LaChiusa's See What I Wanna See for Know Theatre last fall; he'll stage that composer's La Ronde (Aug. 2-25), about a cycle of sexual encounters. The final production on NSC's 2007 schedule will be a "puppet play with actors," The Long Christmas Ride Home by Paula Vogel, whose best known script is How I Learned to Drive. CCM professor and CEA Hall of Fame director MICHAEL BURNHAM will direct. NSC's arrival on Main Street is a strong indicator that Over-the-Rhine's entertainment district is evolving beyond the one-time bar haven. Several Fringe Festival shows were presented in storefronts there in June 2006, and the League of Cincinnati Theatres now shares space with the Over-the-Rhine Foundation at 1317 Main St. LCT President Jim Stump has been urging groups to consider storefronts for readings and small shows. New Stage's new home is another positive sign. Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce President Brian Tiffany says, "This is going to help change the face of Main Street. This is going to stimulate a lot of activity. It's awesome." Info: newstagecollective.com. ...
One of my favorite recent shows is URINETOWN: THE MUSICAL, an unusually irreverent Broadway hit in 2001. It's been seen on tour at the Aronoff and in a local production by Showbiz Players. This week is its first appearance on a local college stage when Northern Kentucky University presents it, featuring two strong young performers: DENISE DEVLIN is Hope Cladwell, daughter of a greedy corporate executive who runs Urine Good Company; RODERICK JUSTICE portrays her idealistic boyfriend, Bobby Strong. Look for an evening of raucous entertainment. My review will be online on Friday. Info: 859-572-5464. ...
In a Jan. 31, CityBeat feature, contributor Alan Scheidt suggested that Cincinnati playwright Theresa Rebeck's cynical comedy The Scene (about to close in New York City after receiving mixed reviews) is "tailor-made for Ensemble Theatre's strengths." He also observed that I'm "just too damn nice for 'the (local theater) scene's' own good." If I were truly nice, I might not point out that when I reviewed The Scene in its world premiere at last year's Humana Festival in Louisville, I gave it the lowest grade (C) of any of the six shows I covered and wrote, "I suppose this is meant to be an angry allegory for the shallowness of the (entertainment) industry, but it didn't satisfy me." I hope ETC isn't considering The Scene. It's a dreadful, mean-spirited play.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com