All that being said, in this week’s column, I’m alerting you to some good theater coming our way this spring as well as what you can expect over the summer and next fall. Let’s start with Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, which this week opens a new drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Donald Margulies. Time Stands Still (onstage through April 1) is the story of two adrenaline-addicted combat journalists whose lives change suddenly and dramatically. After that, it will be time for lighter fare at ETC, with Life Could Be a Dream (May 2-20), from the creators of The Marvelous Wonderettes, this time a group of boys singing Doo-Wop in a small town.
Here’s a summertime tip: If you missed next to normal, the audacious Tony Award-winning musical about a woman with bipolar disorder that jump-started ETC’s season last September, it’s coming back for a brief return engagement (June 15-July 1) with almost the entire cast from last fall.
Musicals are the order of the day this spring, starting with Know Theatre’s staging of the recent, rowdy off-Broadway hit Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (March 31-May 15).
Also coming our way are My Favorite Year at NKU (April 12-22), Pump Boys and Dinettes at the Carnegie (April 13-29) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Covedale (April 19-May 13). The Playhouse chimes in once more with a reprise of its bluesy 1999 hit, Thunder Knocking on the Door (April 26-May 20). The Playhouse’s Shelterhouse stage should be ringing with laughter for another round of hilarity by the folks from Chicago’s legendary Second City with Less Pride, More Pork, set for a nearly two-month run (May 3-July 1). They were recently in town to collect new material, so expect the show to be topical and targeted.
Just after the traditional theater season wraps up (around Memorial Day) and as summer seasons get rolling aboard the Showboat Majestic and at NKU’s Commonwealth Theatre, our annual injection of serious creativity will happen during the first two weeks of June: The Cincinnati Fringe Festival. No details until April 18, but discounted “Full Frontal” passes ($175) are for sale now through April 15. That’s a good deal for the multi-venue, offbeat performances entertaining audiences between May 29 and June 9.
The smart decision-makers at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company have a way of combining classic works with crowd-pleasing performers. They’ll entertain audiences this summer with a three-actor version of a Sherlock Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles (July 20-Aug. 5), and then kick off their regular season with a tried-and-true drama, To Kill a Mockingbird (Sept. 7-30), based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 1960. One of our best local actors, Bruce Cromer, will play the virtuous attorney Atticus Finch, fighting against ignorance and racism in an Alabama town during the Depression. Later in the fall Cincy Shakes will present Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet (Oct. 12-Nov. 11) as well as the Bard’s creepy tale of Titus Andronicus (Oct. 20-Nov. 11), the latter a fine choice for a Halloween freak-out. The Covedale Center starts its season with a classic, too, Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Sept. 6-30).
Although the productions presented by Broadway Across America are not assembled locally, they have plenty to offer to Cincinnati audiences. Following the upcoming run of cartoon-inspired The Addams Family (March 27-May 8) at the Aronoff, we’ll see one-week presentations of the tried-and-true, feel-good tunes of Mamma Mia (May 1-6) and the stirring tale of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (May 8-13). Next fall the series marks its 25th year in Cincinnati with something truly new and unusual: the raucous, rhythmic humor and musical creativity of the Blue Man Group (Oct. 16-28). Another surefire hit will bring audiences downtown right after Thanksgiving, when Jersey Boys is back for two weeks (Nov. 28-Dec. 9).
CONTACT RICK PENDER: firstname.lastname@example.org