Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has been celebrating its year-long 50th season with a remarkable number of premieres. Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern will sustain that commitment to new work with a world premiere to kick off the 2010-11 season in September. High will feature movie and stage actress Kathleen Turner in a drama already designated for a move to Broadway early in 2011.
Turner will star in the three-character show by Matthew Lombardo as tough-talking Sister Jamison Connelly, a reformed drinker working in a church-sponsored rehab center. She is persuaded to sponsor a 19-year-old drug addict and male prostitute but has a tough time breaking through. Her battles with him lead her to question her own beliefs as she struggles with issues of truth, forgiveness, redemption and the courage required to change.
Turner is best known for her many film credits, including Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, Marley & Me, The War of the Roses, Prizzi's Honor and The Accidental Tourist. She’s had recurring roles in several TV series (Friends, Californication), but recently her creative energy has been devoted to live theater. She received a 2005 Tony nomination as Martha in a Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
Playwright Lombardo is already in the spotlight with another new play, Looped, featuring Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead, bad girl actress from the 1930s, opening today (March 14) on Broadway. High will be staged by Rob Ruggiero, also the director of Looped. Ruggiero, who previously directed Ella and Last Train to Nibroc at the Playhouse, is senior artistic associate at TheatreWorks in Hartford, Conn. (He’s also a former student of Stern, who spent part of his pre-Playhouse career teaching at Rutgers University.)
After its presentation in Cincinnati Sept. 4-Oct. 2, High will travel to St. Louis Repertory Theatre for a subsequent run before it moves to Broadway. The Cincinnati Playhouse revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company moved to Broadway in 2006 (and won a Tony Award for best revival), but that transition came about after New York producers came to Cincinnati to see the production. The move of High is a done deal, with producers already attached to it, one more sign of the Playhouse's prestigious reputation.