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Cincinnati Playhouse

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · April 5th, 2006 · Curtain Call
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  Lee Blessing, winner of the 2006 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Prize.
Wendy Uhlman

Lee Blessing, winner of the 2006 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Prize.



GEORGE FURTH, who wrote the book for Stephen Sondheim's musical Company, said when he watches something he's written and people react positively he assumes the cast has done something right. When people don't react -- or react negatively -- he's sure it's because of his writing. I suspect he felt pretty good watching Company at the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE March 25, when he visited to see the production everyone is talking about. (Entertainment Weekly recently praised it, giving it an A; in the same issue the $27-million production of Lord of the Rings in Toronto got a B.) Furth spoke for 45 minutes to an audience that included about half the cast of the show plus Cincinnatian Pam Myers, who played Marta in the original production of Company back in 1970. Several actors asked questions, including Raul Esparza, who plays Robert, the leading role. Furth, 73, was sharp and funny in his comments, noting that he doesn't consider himself a writer. "I simply write when something occurs to me." He's also a movie actor, having appeared in films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Blazing Saddles. Company, for which hardly a ticket remains, is on view through April 14. 513-421-3888. ...

Last weekend at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville (look for my commentary on six new plays presented there at

  Lee Blessing, winner of the 2006 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Prize.
Wendy Uhlman

Lee Blessing, winner of the 2006 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Prize.



GEORGE FURTH, who wrote the book for Stephen Sondheim's musical Company, said when he watches something he's written and people react positively he assumes the cast has done something right.

When people don't react -- or react negatively -- he's sure it's because of his writing. I suspect he felt pretty good watching Company at the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE March 25, when he visited to see the production everyone is talking about. (Entertainment Weekly recently praised it, giving it an A; in the same issue the $27-million production of Lord of the Rings in Toronto got a B.) Furth spoke for 45 minutes to an audience that included about half the cast of the show plus Cincinnatian Pam Myers, who played Marta in the original production of Company back in 1970. Several actors asked questions, including Raul Esparza, who plays Robert, the leading role. Furth, 73, was sharp and funny in his comments, noting that he doesn't consider himself a writer. "I simply write when something occurs to me." He's also a movie actor, having appeared in films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Blazing Saddles. Company, for which hardly a ticket remains, is on view through April 14. 513-421-3888. ...

Last weekend at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville (look for my commentary on six new plays presented there at citybeat.com), the American Theatre Critics Association handed out its annual Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Prizes, which this year are worth more than ever -- a total of $40,000 from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. The winner was LEE BLESSING for his play A Body of Water, a meditation on the links between memory and identity. Blessing, who took home a $25,000 check, has frequently worked with ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI, where his plays The Winning Season and Cobb had their world premieres. Citations (accompanied by checks for $7,500) went to the late August Wilson for his final play, Radio Golf, and to Adam Rapp for Red Light Winter. ...

There's a new artistic director at OVATION THEATRE COMPANY. After nine years, Joe Stollenwerk is stepping down (he's just written a book, This Day in History: Musicals, which he's busy promoting), and he'll be replaced by ALANA GHENT, a professor of theater at Thomas More College. Ghent has worked with Ovation, having appeared in last season's production of The Water Children. "Alana's experience and passion make her exactly what Ovation needs right now," Stollenwerk says. Ghent was born in Canada and earned a bachelor's degree from Montreal's Concordia University; her M.F.A. is from the University of Mississippi. Ovation's next production, directed by Stollenwerk, is Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (April 28-May 6). ...

Congratulations to JACK LOUISO, artistic director of CHILDREN'S THEATRE OF CINCINNATI. On March 29 he received a 2006 Governor's Award from the Ohio Arts Council. At a ceremony in Columbus he was one of seven individuals recognized; Louiso's recognition was in the "arts in education category." During his 12-year tenure with Children's Theatre, he's increased audiences from 22,000 to more than 80,000 annually. He was artistic director of the School for Creative and Performing Arts from 1975 until 1992; he began his career as a dancer in the ballet company of the Cincinnati Opera and served as that organization's choreographer for 35 years, from 1964 to 1999. ...

COVEDALE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS has a family-friendly season in store for 2006-07. The musical about the Founding Fathers, 1776, kicks things off Oct. 19-Nov. 5. The season will also offer Neil Simon's autobiographical comedy Lost in Yonkers (Jan. 18-Feb. 4, 2007); a new musical revue, Route 66 (Feb. 14-March 4); the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music (March 22-April 7); and a reprise of a musical version of A Christmas Carol (Dec. 7-23). Shows are presented in the 400-seat Covedale facility at 4990 Glenway Ave. Subscriptions: 513-241-6550.



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