If you enjoy musical theater, I'm sure you know the name of composer and lyricist Meredith Willson. His big claim to fame is The Music Man, the winner of the 1957 Tony Award for best musical. (It beat out West Side Story, in fact, and won five additional Tonys.) If you're a bit more of a musical theater geek, you might know his second work, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, a musical about a woman who survived the Titanic disaster, which was a modest hit in 1962. But I'd wager you've probably never seen HERE'S LOVE, Willson's 1963 musical adaptation of the classic Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. You can rectify that situation this weekend thanks to Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), which is staging a production of the show.
It includes familiar tunes -- "It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas" is one of the songs from the score -- and there are great dance routines and a re-creation of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. SCPA is doing it in a big way, too: For the first time ever, a local school is presenting a major musical on the stage of the Aronoff Center's Procter & Gamble Hall, the mainstage where touring Broadway shows are typically seen. There are 78 kids in the cast, from grades 5-12, a live student orchestra, plus sets, costumes and lights designed by more kids who are studying tech theater at the much-admired magnet school. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are reasonably priced ($10-$20), with admission set at $5 for those ages 6 and under. It will be a few more years before SCPA's new building is ready for its students, but it's not too soon to enjoy their marvelous work onstage. Think of it as a preview of things to come -- and evidence that Cincinnati Public Schools can indeed do impressive things with hardworking students. Tickets: 513-363-8100. ...
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has a busy December in the midst of its 14th season, with productions running simultaneously at two locations. Starting Friday, they're offering A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM on their mainstage at 719 Race St., Downtown. It runs through Jan. 6. This production is directed by Cincinnati native AARON TODD DOUGLAS, who was part of the theater's acting company a decade ago and who today is a working theater professional in Chicago. Since we're actually on the verge of winter, Douglas is presenting the magical story in a wooded wonderland where ice fairies and snow-covered sprites play magical games with four young lovers. Given the company's increasing skill with scenic design, lighting and sound, you can expect this to be a captivating production. While that's happening on Race Street, several other company members will be entertaining guests in the courtyard at Arnold's Bar & Grill (210 E. Eighth St., Downtown) with a 90-minute romp, EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD! It's a quick trip through a dizzying array of BHC's (that stands for "Beloved Holiday Classics"), including Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, A Christmas Carol and many more. It's a perfect outing for a group of friends -- you can make reservations for dinner at Arnold's. The performers are CSC company members JUSTIN MCCOMBS and SARA CLARK, with guest artist NICK ROSE, a founder in 1994 of the company that became CSC; the director is JEREMY DUBIN, an eight-year CSC veteran. Every Christmas Story opens Sunday night at 7:30 and continues on a Sunday-Tuesday schedule through Dec. 18. Tickets for both shows: 513-381-2273.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com