This week's issue of CityBeat discuss the 11th annual CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS, the only local theater awards program that's driven by critics and gives theater audiences a chance for their voices to be heard. Every year a panel of critics from Greater Cincinnati media come together to designate nominees in 20 categories; 12 of them are voted on by the public (many via citybeat.com), and the remaining eight are selected by the critics. The awards will be presented in a gala celebration at UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Aug. 27. This year's awards feature nominees from 34 different productions by 16 different Cincinnati-based theatrical organizations, a confirmation of Cincinnati's strong theater scene. (The CEAs do not recognize touring Broadway shows or other productions that originated elsewhere.) There's also balance: Our city's three professional theater companies each had comparable numbers of nominations -- Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (12), Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (11) and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (10).
Strong showings were also represented by CCM (10), Know Theatre of Cincinnati (9) and New Stage Collective (8). A year ago the Cincinnati Playhouse cleaned up with its Broadway-bound production of Company (which was nominated for three Tony Awards and landed one, for the best revival of the 2006-07 season); this year productions from several theaters are vying for outstanding productions. Opus, ETC's show about a dysfunctional string quartet, tied with Cincinnati Shakespeare's staging of The Tempest for most nominations. Both productions, staged by local director DREW FRACHER, earned seven CEA nods. Footlighters' community-theater staging of the dramatic musical Parade picked up six nominations, and New Stage Collective's searing presentation of Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? earned five, including outstanding acting nominations for its two leads, professionals AMY WARNER and BRIAN ISAAC PHILLIPS (who's also Cincinnati Shakespeare's artistic director). Other productions earning multiple nominations were ETC's Souvenir (4), Know Theatre's See What I Wanna See (4), CCM's Charley's Aunt (4), Know Theatre's Hamlet (3), CCM's The Pajama Game (3) and Jersey Productions' Ragtime (3). Between now and Aug. 27, I'll be writing more about these nominees. Find the CEA ballot on page 12 and at www.citybeat.com/cea. ...
When you're south of the Ohio, you might also want to catch the second production of the 2007 Summer Dinner Theater at Northern Kentucky University, the charming musical SHE LOVES ME. It's about eccentric co-workers with romantic pen pals who don't realize they're corresponding with one another. It's funny, smart and sentimental -- and not staged often enough. The show opens Wednesday and continues through July 29. Tickets: 859-572-5464. ...
If you enjoy She Loves Me, you might want to consider subscribing to NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY's recently announced 2007-08 season: Frank Loesser's classic musical Guys and Dolls (Sept. 27-Oct. 7); Darkside (Oct. 25-Nov. 4), a 1989 drama about astronauts stranded on the moon written by NKU theater department chair Ken Jones that had an early production at Ensemble Theatre; Lanford Wilson's The Rimers of Eldritch (Nov. 29-Dec. 9); Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (Feb. 21-March 2, 2008); a double bill in repertory of August Strindberg's Miss Julie and a biographical drama, Breaking the Code, about the man who broke the Enigma Code during World War II (March 21-April 6, 2008); and Andrew Lloyd Webber's big dance fest, Cats (April 17-27, 2008). Info: 859-572-5464.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com