It’s time for mistletoe and holly, when
theaters entice folks in search of holiday cheer (and occasional
parodies thereof) to celebrate the season. Many theaters need December
ticket revenues to present shows onstage for the rest of the year.
When Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest
back in 1895, he subtitled it “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.”
That’s an apt description for a show still produced with frequency 117
years later — and as funny as ever.
Collaboration is the byword for many
arts organizations today, especially theaters where financial support is
tough to obtain and ticket revenues are seldom enough to support the
cost of productions. By working together, economies can be achieved and,
in some cases, multiple constituencies can be activated.
When Know Theatre of Cincinnati was
launched in 1997, it was an itinerant theater company. In fact, it was
called the “Know Theatre Tribe” and its shows, touring productions and
readings directed by founder Jay Kalagayan, were presented at bookstores
and art galleries around town.
More often than not, I try to introduce CityBeat
readers to new plays and writers. We see quite a few such shows locally
thanks to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC), the Cincinnati Playhouse
and Know Theatre. In fact, looking at American Theatre’s list of
2012-2013’s “Top 10” most-produced plays, six have already been
Daniel Beaty spent his first 18 years in
Dayton. He considers that a blessing. “I’m a native Ohioan,” he said in a
recent phone interview, as he prepares to bring his one-man show, Through the Night,
to the Cincinnati Playhouse, where it begins a four-week run on Thursday.
What makes Bruce Cromer one of our
region’s best actors? He’s especially good at virtuous characters such
as Atticus Finch, the admirable, broadminded attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird, a role he’s currently playing for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC).
If you spent some of last spring watching the TV series Smash,
you learned that Broadway producers look for talent whose names attract
audiences. The commercial concerns of Broadway
producers are surely a big factor in their decision-making, especially
how much magnetism a star can bring. This led me to speculate whether we
have bankable stars in Cincinnati.
Rather than focus
on one venue, Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company delivers its Shakespeare in the Park Tour to more than a dozen parks
and outdoor venues throughout the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. The first of CSC’s touring performances will be on Saturday with the 7 p.m. opening of The Tempest
at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park.
This time of year there’s not much theater in town,
something I usually grouse about. But that scarcity pushed me in a
different direction this year: I bought tickets to the World Choir
Games, and, boy, was I glad I did. I saw as much drama in those 11 days
as I’ve seen in many theater seasons — entertaining, passionate,
talented and eye opening.
Opera always struck me as a strange,
overblown cousin to musical theater. I told people that I had to “turn
off my theater filters when I went to see opera.” But then I spent
several seasons working for Cincinnati Opera, and my eyes were opened to
the reasons people react so strongly to that art form.
Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati produced next to normal
last September with considerable success, selling out most of its
performances in one of the show’s first productions following its
Broadway success. Based on its strong audience appeal, ETC is giving its
production a brief revival, onstage through July 1.
As CityBeat’s June 6 issue goes to
press, the 2012 Cincinnati Fringe Festival is about half over. All 29
shows have opened and a few have concluded their runs. You still have several chances to see
some great shows before the Fringe concludes on Saturday.