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While We Were Bowling

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · April 20th, 2005 · Curtain Call
ETC unearthed a 1957 RCA Deluxe portable television for its production of the comedy, While We Were Bowling.
Geoff Raker

ETC unearthed a 1957 RCA Deluxe portable television for its production of the comedy, While We Were Bowling.

When you see a theater production set in another era, do you ever wonder where all that stuff comes from? Finding such "stuff" is a year-round task for SHANNON RAE LUTZ, resident properties manager at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC). To prepare for ETC's While We Were Bowling (opening Wednesday, through May 8), Lutz had to become an expert on 1957. Carter Lewis' play is about a family obsessed with the idea of breaking a bowling record. "I was on a quest to find anything and everything vintage and appropriate," says Lutz. Two major appliances had to be located -- a brand new 1957 RCA Deluxe television and a '57 refrigerator." Lutz located a Westinghouse fridge that belonged to a woman with a booth at the Grand Antique Mall (9701 Reading Road, Reading). The appliance was white, now it's turquoise.

Lutz hunted for bowling trophies, including scanning eBay for models that were "sculptural, architectural, and fabulous with a particular Sputnik flair." Several of the ones you'll see onstage were donated by ETC box office staffer Judi Wagner, whose father was a big time bowler in the '50s and '60s. "Judi has been storing them for years," Lutz says, "and was glad to be able to find a use for them." The cast surrounded by these and other tchotchkes includes ETC regulars SHERMAN FRACHER, who recently appeared in the theater's regional premiere of Sight Unseen, and GREGORY PROCACCINO, who creeps everyone out annually as Jacob Marley's ghost in the Cincinnati Playhouse's A Christmas Carol. To reserve a lane, er, a ticket: 513-421-3555 ...

The talented Miss Fracher is expanding her horizons next season: She'll head to Atlanta's Actor's Express, where she'll take on the central role of Agnes, a substance abuser with a graduate degree from the school of hard knocks, in Tracy Lett's powerful trailer-trash drama, Bug (Sept. 15-Oct. 29, www.actors-express.com). The production will be directed by JASSON MINADAKIS, former artistic director of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival. Wouldn't it be great if a Cincinnati theater decided to work with Minadakis and bring Bug here to local audiences? It would get my vote. ...

Local playwright PHIL PARADIS tells me that several of his scripts are lined up for public exposure: His play about 19th-century American novelist Stephen Crain, Red Badge, Black Riders, he says, has been accepted for a reading in the Theater of the Mind Series at ETC (which hasn't announced its full season yet). Paradis has been working on the play for 15 years; "I'm thrilled to have a week-long workshop opportunity at ETC to work on the script and prepare for a stage reading." Paradis is a regular with the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative's reading series. In March his play, Where There's Smoke, was his fourth piece presented by the New Voices Series. Finally, Paradis's A Bag of Groceries has been selected for production in the 2004 Cincinnati Fringe Festival in June. ...

The tour producers of Golda's Balcony, a one-woman piece about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, have dumped Patty Duke from the role in favor of another TV star from days gone by, VALERIE HARPER. The play by William Gibson will be presented at the Aronoff Center by Broadway in Cincinnati (Jan. 24-Feb. 5, 2006). Touring producers struggle to find the talent with enough name recognition to draw audiences to non-musicals. It's my guess that Harper is believed to have more star power, although the idea of the actress who once played the comic shlump Rhoda Morgenstern as a world leader sounds like a fantasy story line from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. ...

Composer Alan Menken is still alive; it's his partner, writer and lyricist, Howard Ashman, who's passed away. I made the mistake in my online review of Little Shop of Horrors, which wrapped up its run at the Aronoff Center on April 17.



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