In the good news/bad news department: Once again Lynn Meyers' good judgment in picking plays with a future for her audiences at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati has been affirmed. Michael Hollinger's OPUS this weekend earned a Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association citation worth $7,500 to the playwright as one of the outstanding new plays of 2006. Hollinger was in Louisville to pick up his award, which was handed out on March 31 during the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre. (The top Steinberg prize, worth a heady $25,000 went to Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's dark comedy, Hunter Gatherers, about two seemingly civilized couples descending into the chaos of primal urges. In addition to Hollinger's Opus, Jeff Daniels' comedy Guest Artist earned a citation. It's about a burned-out playwright who visits a small-town theater company to stage what might be his last play. Daniels, a well-known film actor, also manages and writes for the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Mich.) OK, so what's the bad news? Well, you've missed seeing Opus.
Its final performance was on April 1. One more reason why you should trust Meyers to select a season that's worth seeing, even if you haven't heard of the titles before. Typically, more than half of ETC's subscribers have renewed before Meyers announces her next season -- that's a real vote of confidence. Not to mention an eagerness on the part of serious theatergoers to see high-quality new plays. ... By the way, if you're interested in new plays, go to CityBeat's Arts & Music blog (citybeat.wordpress.com) to read my assessment of the new works that were presented at Actors Theatre of Louisville's 31st annual FESTIVAL OF NEW AMERICAN PLAYS. It's generally thought of as the most important showcase of new stage works annually. ...
I often write about graduates of UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) who go quickly from Cincinnati to Broadway. If you're interested in a sneak preview, stop by CCM's Patricia Corbett Theater on Thursday, Friday or Saturday for TIME & TIDE, a new revue created by the 2007 graduating class of musical theater majors. It offers a whimsical look at the passage of time, including Broadway tunes like "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King (a touring production of which is onstage at the Aronoff center right now with CCM grad DAMIAN BALDET in the cast). Showcases have become an annual vehicle to present the talented performers to casting directors and agents in New York City. According to musical theater department chair AUBREY BERG, "The showcase provides a valuable start for young performers. In a single day, they are seen by more industry professionals than they could meet in a year." The showcase in New York is April 12, but to prepare the students will perform for Cincinnati audiences this weekend. Thursday evening it's a benefit for the Friends of CCM. (Tickets for this event, obtained by calling 513-556-2100, are $75; pricey, but the Friends support students significantly with scholarships and grants). Friday and Saturday evening performances are free, although seating is limited and reservations are necessary: 513-556-4183. ...
CINCINNATI SHAKESPEARE COMPANY recently announced its 14th season. The first show of the 2007-08 season will be Romeo and Juliet (Sept. 7-Oct. 7), followed by the seldom seen Cymbeline (Oct. 19-Nov. 11). For the holidays, we'll see A Midsummer Night's Dream (Nov. 30-Jan. 6, 2008). The CSC Studio (Jan. 25-Feb. 10, 2008) offers two existentialist classics, Beckett's Endgame and Sartre's No Exit featuring veteran actors GILES DAVIES and JEREMY DUBIN. DREW FRACHER will direct Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (Feb. 22-March 16, 2008). And then two actors known for playing Scrooge at the Playhouse will be featured: BRUCE CROMER takes a run at King Lear (March 28-April 20, 2008); and then JONEAL JOPLIN portrays actor/tyrant father James Tyrone Sr. in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night (May 2-25, 2008). He'll be joined by local favorite DALE HODGES. It's a powerful season. Info: www.cincyshakes.com
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