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Anton In Show Business

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · March 28th, 2007 · Curtain Call
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  Sam Womelsdorf (left) and Aretta Baumgardner star in local playwright Nathan Singer's Good Evening, Pigtown.
Performance Gallery

Sam Womelsdorf (left) and Aretta Baumgardner star in local playwright Nathan Singer's Good Evening, Pigtown.



If you like Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (I did; check out my review on page 44), you might be interested to know that its director, BRIAN ISAAC PHILLIPS, is undertaking another production that offers a lot of laughs and a direct link to the Russian playwright. It's Jane Martin's ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS, which will be produced by Actors Guild of Lexington (April 18-May 13).

The 2000 comedy about a misguided production of Chekhov's Three Sisters originated at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville; it won the top prize from the American Theatre Critics Association as the best new play of that year. Anton follows Three Sisters in a twisted way; the gentle parody of the world of theater is generally believed to be Jon Jory's valedictory to audiences. The one-time Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director is thought to be the writer behind the never-seen-or-interviewed Jane Martin; the play was produced during Jory's final Humana Festival. Phillips tells me he thought it would be fun to follow his staging of a real Chekhov play with this humorous tribute. Info: www.actorsguildoflexington.org. Speaking of the Humana Festival, now in its 31st iteration, it's at its zenith this weekend, with six shows in rotation on Actors Theatre's three stages. I'll be in Louisville to see them all; look for coverage on CityBeat's Web site on April 3.

Info: www.actorstheatre.org.

If you like Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (I did; check out my review on page 44), you might be interested to know that its director, BRIAN ISAAC PHILLIPS, is undertaking another production that offers a lot of laughs and a direct link to the Russian playwright. It's Jane Martin's ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS, which will be produced by Actors Guild of Lexington (April 18-May 13).

The 2000 comedy about a misguided production of Chekhov's Three Sisters originated at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville; it won the top prize from the American Theatre Critics Association as the best new play of that year. Anton follows Three Sisters in a twisted way; the gentle parody of the world of theater is generally believed to be Jon Jory's valedictory to audiences. The one-time Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director is thought to be the writer behind the never-seen-or-interviewed Jane Martin; the play was produced during Jory's final Humana Festival. Phillips tells me he thought it would be fun to follow his staging of a real Chekhov play with this humorous tribute. Info: www.actorsguildoflexington.org. ... Speaking of the Humana Festival, now in its 31st iteration, it's at its zenith this weekend, with six shows in rotation on Actors Theatre's three stages. I'll be in Louisville to see them all; look for coverage on CityBeat's Web site on April 3. Info: www.actorstheatre.org. ... More theater comes to Main Street in Over-the-Rhine this weekend, beginning on Friday at 8 p.m. -- in conjunction with the monthly Final Friday Gallery Hop. Stop by 1319 Main St. for THE NUCLEAR WINTER CIRCUS, assembled by The Performance Gallery, with warm-up acts featuring dancer BILL DONNELLY in "I Have a Chair," KEVIN FRISCH's marionettes and singer BET STEWART. The evening's featured performance is a one-act play, GOOD EVENING, PIGTOWN, written by playwright and novelist NATHAN SINGER. It's a darkly comic work set in a mysterious, post-nuclear world that's uncomfortably similar to Cincinnati. Pigtown's cast includes ARETTA BAUMGARDNER, JODI LINVER and SAM WOMELSDORF. There's a second performance Saturday evening at 8 p.m. This is a great chance to see what "storefront" theater is all about, but don't be late -- one standard dimension of this kind of production is that seating is extremely limited. We'll see more on Main Street in the months ahead, thanks to encouragement by the League of Cincinnati Theatres. Tickets for the Circus are $10 (cash or check), payable at the door. Info: www.performancegallery.org. ... I wonder if AARON LAZAR learned about the real demands of acting in musicals when he was a student at UC's College-Conservatory of Music (he's a 2000 grad). In New York recently, I picked up a copy of a newspaper, amNY, and found a brief interview with him about his work as playing Enjolras, the hot-blooded student revolutionary in Les Miserables. Asked about the stresses and strains of his part, he said, "I'm just now feeling the show in my body. I've already herniated a disc in my neck, if that gives you an idea of how physical it is -- climbing up and down big barricades with guns. The singing itself, specifically for my character, is very physical. It's a workout. You need to take care of yourself -- and do physical therapy." Lazar played the romantic young Italian lover in The Light in the Piazza about a year ago. Two current CCM drama students will have busy summers: JAKE JONES (who graduates in 2008) will be part of the Next Stage Company of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey handling roles in Twelfth Night and Henry IV, Pt. 1, while JONATHAN SILVER (class of 2009) has been accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts for an eight-week summer intensive training program in London.



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