What should I be doing instead of this?


Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · December 26th, 2007 · Curtain Call
  New Stage Collective's The Goat, starring Amy Warner (left) and Brian Phillips, was 2007's most powerful local production.
Zachary Copfer

New Stage Collective's The Goat, starring Amy Warner (left) and Brian Phillips, was 2007's most powerful local production.

For a two-week stretch in mid-October, it was obvious that Cincinnati's theater scene had arrived. On three consecutive evenings, four of our best theaters opened new productions: More Fun Than Bowling at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC), Altar Boyz at the Cincinnati Playhouse, The Pillowman at Know Theatre and Cymbeline at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC). A week later New Stage Collective (NSC) launched Caroline, or Change, an expansive musical about race relations in 1963 by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner, and Queen City Off-Broadway presented The Intelligent Life of Jenny Chow. Both works had been selected for the 87th edition of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook 2005-2006. There were also excellent theatrical productions during that stretch at area universities: UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) presented Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical Assassins and Naomi Iizuka's experimental script Anon(ymous), Xavier University staged Elton John's Aida and NKU put up Darkside, a script written and directed by department chair Ken Jones.

On Oct. 19 the League of Cincinnati Theatres presented "A Night of Free Theatre," a program coordinated nationwide by Theatre Communications Group. Seven local theaters offered free tickets that were grabbed in a few hours. The program will repeat in the fall of 2008. …

The year featured more musicals than in past seasons, especially due to NSC and Alan Patrick Kenny. After several summer seasons, Kenny (who music directed two productions for Know, tick, tick …

BOOM! in 2005 and See What I Wanna See in 2006) established a new permanent space on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine, just a block from Know (on Jackson Street) and two blocks from ETC (on Vine). Kenny, a recent graduate of New York University's musical theater program, staged one of the fall's most talked about productions, Caroline, or Change. (Two of its actors are now performing in another production of the show in Arizona.) But music has been onstage elsewhere: Last spring ETC offered Opus, a show about a fractious string quartet, and followed it with Souvenir, portraying a tone-deaf woman who fancied herself an operatic star. Over the summer, Know presented Thrill Me, the twisted true story of two young men who killed a boy to see if they could get away with it. This fall the Cincinnati Playhouse entertained audiences with two musicals -- Altar Boyz, a parody of Christian boy bands, and The Musical of Musicals: The Musical, which satirizes musical stylings by five major creators of, well, musicals. And CCM continued its many productions featuring students bound for Broadway. NKU is surging, too, with an infusion of support from Lois and Dick Rosenthal. …

Classics are a staple at Cincinnati Shakespeare (its best of 2007 were Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and two by Shakespeare, The Tempest and Cymbeline). Cincinnati Playhouse's Othello was powerful and intimate in the Shelterhouse in October; Know Theatre presented a multimedia Hamlet in February and March. …

But new works are everywhere: ETC continues to offer great premieres, but NSC's searing production of Edward Albee's The Goat, with Amy Warner and CSC Artistic Director Brian Phillips, was 2007's most powerful production. Also memorable were Martin McDonagh's horrific The Pillowman at Know and Naomi Iizuka's mythic Anon(ymous) at CCM. The Fringe (managed by Know) continues to present fresh, inventive material to Cincinnati audiences -- during year four they loved Calculus the Musical; The Kid in the Dark (with great lyrics by local writer Mark Halpin); Mad (a moving piece about mental illness by Jen Dalton); and iLove, a group piece by a new company of university students and recent grads, the Satori Group. You can see new productions every week in Cincinnati -- and enjoy them.

contact rick Pender: rpender@citybeat.com


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