The nominees for the CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS are awaiting your votes (citybeat.com/cea). If you want to meet the nominees before you cast your ballot, mark Oct. 11 on your calendar and head to Arnold's Bar & Grill downtown. From 6-8 p.mwww.leagueofcincytheatres.com. ... At the LCT Curtain Up! event on Sept. 20, it was announced that the Playhouse's Ed Stern and Buzz Ward have been named the recipients of the 2004 recognition for ongoing contributions to the local theater scene. (ETC's D. Lynn Meyers, introducing them, referred to the two Playhouse leaders as the "macaroni and cheese" of Cincinnati theater!) They'll get further recognition at the CEA presentation on Nov. 22 at Old Saint George when the results of this year's voting are announced in the annual celebration of theater and music. ... Hey, things are tough at The Cincinnati Enquirer these days, what with the thinning of the arts writing staff. Theater writer JACKIE DEMALINE now has two more beats to cover (dance and visual art). But on top of that, she's being called upon to file overnight reviews. If you live in some parts of the city (like Downtown), your Metro section provides critiques of selected productions the day after they open. I don't much cotton to Demaline's frequently savage approach to reviewing, but it's good to see the Enquirer pushing her to do something we can't manage at a weekly paper, i.e., provide a review in print that offers readers an opinion while a show is still fresh (Of course, we do our best, typically providing online reviews soon after a show opens.) ... Well, duh. I thought it sounded a bit strange when I reported that Broadway in Cincinnati would present a holiday show in the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater. I misread the news release: The ubiquitous Fifth Third Bank is also the underwriter of the mainstage series in the Aronoff's big hall. So fear not: There'll be LOTS of seats available for A TUNA CHRISTMAS, the sequel to Greater Tuna, during its Dec. 7-12 run.
THE CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE gives Shakespeare's Twelfth Night a glorious and showy production, justifying its 2004 Regional Theater Tony Award with a feast for the eyes, the ears and the emotions, from a breathtaking scenic concept -- water around an island -- to a cast of delightful and diverse actors. The Asian heritage of Angela Lin (Viola) and Keong Sim (Sebastian) makes them a good pairing as twins whose resemblance is the source of confusion and merriment. The show's wonderful comic ensemble captures the essence of Shakespearean wit and physicality. (Rick Pender) Grade: A
CINCINNATI SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL launches its 11th season with Love's Labour's Lost (one of Shakespeare's least accomplishments) with a production that's not merely amusing or dryly witty: It's kick-ass funny, with a feisty pace and a firecracker pitch, plus rocket-fueled performances from the 15-member cast. Sometimes it's almost too much, offering too little opportunity for contemplation. Nevertheless, this is one of the funniest evenings of Shakespeare you're likely to encounter. (Tom McElfresh) Grade: B