The 2007 CINCINNATI FRINGE wrapped up its fourth festival on June 9 with a big party at Know Theatre. The late-evening series at Know's "Underground" bar capped off a run of big crowds with more than 200 enthusiastic people jammed into the space. They were treated to the announcement of the three "Pick of the Fringe" winners. To no one's surprise, Calculus: The Musical was the "audience pick." That work featured Marc Gutman and Sadie Bowman from Austin, Tex., in a tongue-in-cheek if heartfelt musical explication of math that most of us don't understand, and it was the runaway favorite of audiences this year. Fringe organizer Jason Bruffy tells me that before the second of the five scheduled performances of Calculus, all remaining tickets had been sold. A performance was added, a Fringe first (it sold out quickly, too). The "producers pick" went to iLove:, presented by the Satori Group for New Stage Collective, a piece about love and sex in today's electronically connected world.
Bruffy delegated the producers' pick to a set of interns because he didn't have time to see all the shows. I suspect the demographics of this group (mostly college or just-out-of-college students) favored this show over several other works that audiences also flocked to see, including the musical theater piece The Kid in the Dark. Kid and iLove, both of which featured students from UC's College-Conservatory of Music, had sold-out performances at Know Theatre's space during the Fringe's final days. The "critics pick" went to True + False by Big Picture Group from Chicago. This show consisted of monologues and voting by audiences as to which were real and which were made up. In five performances, audiences got but three right (although not the same three) each time. But no one was fooled about the quality of the storytelling. Bruffy says more than 6,000 tickets were sold this year, about a 20 percent increase over 2006. This year had more sold-out shows than any past Fringe. For reviews of all shows, go to blogs.citybeat.com/fringe07/. ...
The 61ST ANNUAL TONY AWARDS were handed out June 10 in New York City. Representatives from the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE were at the Radio City Music Hall and glad of it, as the revival production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company -- which debuted locally in March-April 2006 -- was recognized as the Broadway season's outstanding musical revival. Company had earned three nominations in all, including one for star RAUL ESPARZA for best leading actor in a musical and another for JOHN DOYLE as best director. Esparza lost out to TV star David Hyde Pierce (in Kander and Ebb's final musical, Curtains). Doyle, nominated for the directing award last year for his staging of another Sondheim show, Sweeney Todd, lost to Michael Mayer, whose Spring Awakening earned eight 2007 Tony Awards, including best musical. The Tony Award for best play went to Tom Stoppard's eight-and-a-half hour, three-play blockbuster, The Coast of Utopia, which earned seven Tonys, the most ever bestowed on one theatrical work. Atlanta's Alliance Theatre was recognized with the 2007 Regional Theatre Tony Award, an honor accorded the Playhouse in 2004. The Alliance has been an occasional co-producer with the Cincinnati Playhouse. ...
Since this column is all about awards, I'm way overdue in mentioning the local Cappies, a program that recognizes excellence in high school theater productions. In a program at the Aronoff Center on May 13, outstanding productions were cited: Sycamore High's staging of The Secret Garden was selected as the most noteworthy musical, while School for Creative and Performing Arts' David and Lisa was cited as best play. ADRIANNE EBY (Miss Saigon at St. Xavier High), JOE MOELLER (Crazy for You at Ursuline Academy), TESS TALBOT (David and Lisa at SCPA) and MAX LOTSPEICH (Death of a Salesman at Campbell County High) earned the top performers' recognitions. For a list of all nominees and winners: cappies.com/ ccn/gala_2007/galanominees.htm
contact Rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com