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OCTAFEST

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · June 29th, 2005 · Curtain Call
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Mariemont Players' production of Pump Boys and Dinettes is one of four community theater productions selected for statewide competition.
Mariemont Players

Mariemont Players' production of Pump Boys and Dinettes is one of four community theater productions selected for statewide competition.



June 24 and 25, I watched many excerpts presented by local community theaters at the annual OCTAFEST, presented at Parrish Auditorium on Miami University's Hamilton campus. One of the best parts of the process -- at which four productions are selected for a statewide competition -- is that three "responders" offer brief commentary after each 30-minute performance. Community theaters have a lot to do with camaraderie, meaning objective feedback can be scarce. The responders' candid evaluations (they're community theater veterans and academics from other parts of Ohio) often are about the finer points of staging (when to push a particular line or how to arrange actors most effectively onstage), so I was surprised to hear BONNIE FROELICH, a director at northwest Ohio's Fort Findlay Playhouse, suggest that Falcon Theater's production of Once On This Island had ignored a key element of the show, a tragic Caribbean love story framed in racism and classism. Falcon's production featured talented people (although all three responders objected to costumes more suited to a Jimmy Buffett audience than island peasants) who sang and danced with enthusiasm. But Falcon's cast had only one African-American, and there was little acknowledgment of the social issues underlying the story. Froelich asked why a group would stage this show and overlook the big issues. If a group can't cast such a production, perhaps it should look for another script. On the other hand, Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre presented an admirable cutting from A Lesson Before Dying with some able African-American actors. Community theater tends to be a very white -- although certainly not intolerant -- pastime for many, so I was encouraged to hear Froelich's comments and see GHCT's stretching to present challenging material. ...

The excerpts selected to head to Toledo in September were the Drama Workshop's DELIVER US NOT, Mariemont Players' PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, Stagecrafters' LATER LIFE, Village Players' OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS.

Congratulations to each of them, and to Tri-County Players' THE CURIOUS SAVAGE, named as the alternate, if one of the others is unable to go. ...

For 2005 the annual CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS will have a new approach: The 2004-2005 theater season will be celebrated on August 26 at CCM's Corbett Auditorium. (The CEA Music Awards will continue to be presented in November.) Beginning on July 13, you can vote for outstanding theatrical performances and productions using ballots published in CityBeat or found at

Mariemont Players' production of Pump Boys and Dinettes is one of four community theater productions selected for statewide competition.
Mariemont Players

Mariemont Players' production of Pump Boys and Dinettes is one of four community theater productions selected for statewide competition.



June 24 and 25, I watched many excerpts presented by local community theaters at the annual OCTAFEST, presented at Parrish Auditorium on Miami University's Hamilton campus. One of the best parts of the process -- at which four productions are selected for a statewide competition -- is that three "responders" offer brief commentary after each 30-minute performance. Community theaters have a lot to do with camaraderie, meaning objective feedback can be scarce. The responders' candid evaluations (they're community theater veterans and academics from other parts of Ohio) often are about the finer points of staging (when to push a particular line or how to arrange actors most effectively onstage), so I was surprised to hear BONNIE FROELICH, a director at northwest Ohio's Fort Findlay Playhouse, suggest that Falcon Theater's production of Once On This Island had ignored a key element of the show, a tragic Caribbean love story framed in racism and classism. Falcon's production featured talented people (although all three responders objected to costumes more suited to a Jimmy Buffett audience than island peasants) who sang and danced with enthusiasm. But Falcon's cast had only one African-American, and there was little acknowledgment of the social issues underlying the story. Froelich asked why a group would stage this show and overlook the big issues. If a group can't cast such a production, perhaps it should look for another script. On the other hand, Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre presented an admirable cutting from A Lesson Before Dying with some able African-American actors. Community theater tends to be a very white -- although certainly not intolerant -- pastime for many, so I was encouraged to hear Froelich's comments and see GHCT's stretching to present challenging material. ...

The excerpts selected to head to Toledo in September were the Drama Workshop's DELIVER US NOT, Mariemont Players' PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, Stagecrafters' LATER LIFE, Village Players' OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS. Congratulations to each of them, and to Tri-County Players' THE CURIOUS SAVAGE, named as the alternate, if one of the others is unable to go. ...

For 2005 the annual CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS will have a new approach: The 2004-2005 theater season will be celebrated on August 26 at CCM's Corbett Auditorium. (The CEA Music Awards will continue to be presented in November.) Beginning on July 13, you can vote for outstanding theatrical performances and productions using ballots published in CityBeat or found at citybeat.com. With the focus exclusively on theater, 13 theater categories will expand to 19, including separate awards for musicals and plays, more technical categories, and a special new category for alternative productions, such as the recent Fringe Festival. ...

Speaking of awards, have you figured out the new "Acclaim" awards dreamed up by The Cincinnati Enquirer? After nine years of CEAs, we're not certain why Cincinnati needs another awards program. But, hey, the morning paper prefers to be the alpha dog or not play at all, so it's not a surprise. But I'm still wondering how the "Acclaim" awards are judged: 11 people make secret recommendations to the Enquirer; if enough agree (the threshold is rumored to be around 70 percent), an "Acclaim" is announced for the production. But it's given no specifics or category. You'll have to wait until next June, when all will be revealed at a party. In the meantime, you're asked to take the panel's star-chamber recommendations on faith and go see shows they've blessed -- without really knowing why. Pardon us for furrowing our brows, but we think this is all secretive. Nominations for the CEAs, by the way, are invited from all the Cincinnati-area theater critics. Guess who's not at the table, despite annual invitations? The organizer of the Acclaim Awards. Oh, well. The more recognition of local theater, the better, we suppose.

 
 
 
 

 

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