You won’t find cutting-edge material
onstage at the Carnegie. The theater’s managing director Joshua Steele
has mastered two elements: He collaborates with a wide array of local
theater artists and companies, and he produces works that are, by and
large, familiar fare.
As CityBeat’s theater critic, I
write about plays and musicals, so I’m occasionally asked which I like
better. The truth is I appreciate both forms. But they are distinct, so
let me hold forth on some differences and similarities.
I love going to the movies, but I leave writing about them to others, especially my CityBeat
colleague tt stern-enzi, who routinely offers a perspective worth
reading. Nevertheless, I’m going to local cineplexes more often for
digital transmissions of theater from around the world.
Blake Robison wants the Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park to be at the forefront of Cincinnati’s cultural
conversation. “It’s our responsibility to bring the best theatrical
material, both old and new, to our community," he says.
With this week’s announcements of the 2014-15 seasons
for touring shows presented by Broadway in Cincinnati and by Cincinnati
Landmark Productions at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, you
have more than a dozen choices to consider.
Just a few more shopping days before
Christmas. Theater is a great idea for last-minute gifts. Start a
tradition that’s easy to repeat year after year. A trip to see a show is
a wonderful gift, especially for kids. My earliest memory of
theatergoing is my grandfather taking me to see the musical Brigadoon. I still remember it.
So it’s Thanksgiving week and I’m
wandering down memory lane to offer an insight into why I’m thankful to
be a theater critic. I grew up in a small town near Cleveland, acted
(poorly) in some high school productions and was infected with an
abiding love for theater. As a teenager I sought out productions at
places like the Cleveland Playhouse and summer seasons at Great Lakes
Know Theatre is typically the last of our
local professional theaters out of the gate in the fall. It takes the
small company a while to recuperate from the Fringe Festival, from being
a venue for the MidPoint Music Festival and from the numerous other
activities they host at their Jackson Street venue in Over-the-Rhine.
But they’re finally in the midst of the run of their first regular
production for fall 2013, Mike Bartlett’s Bull.
When I mention the Cincinnati Playhouse
in the Park, you likely think of the theater that sits on the hilltop
above Mount Adams...But the folks who run the
Playhouse know that new audiences must be continuously cultivated, and
for that reason, they deliver performances through a program they call
“Off the Hill,” which tours shows for young audiences to community arts
centers across the Tristate.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is partnering with the theater
program at Xavier University to stage Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
(Oct. 25- Nov. 3; tickets are $15-$30; 513-745-3939.) This came about
because Stephen Skiles, who heads XU’s theater program, is friends with
Brian Isaac Phillips, CSC’s artistic director. Skiles was an acting
intern at the Cincinnati Playhouse 16 years ago when Phillips was
recruited to fill out a cast.
in leadership is under way at Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre. Eric
Vosmeier, producing artistic director for the past half-dozen years, is
gradually handing over the reins to resident scenic and lighting
designer Andrew Hungerford. Know, an adventurous and occasionally
chaotic organization that began in 1997, is handling this evolution in a
surprisingly orderly fashion.
Occasionally I like to discuss where
plays and musicals come from. We have two interesting examples locally
this month: a touring production of Ghost the Musical at the Aronoff and the Cincinnati Playhouse’s regional premiere of Fly, a historical drama presented with imaginative staging.
As the season kicks off, it’s the perfect
moment for a few reminders about theater behavior. Attending a play
does not require dressing up or even being concerned about when to
applaud (that’s more complicated for symphony-goers). But it’s not the
same thing as watching TV at home. After all, you’re out in public, in
close proximity to other people who have paid to see live performers.