Two shows that opened last week have been recommended by the Acclaim Awards: Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s production of Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s revival of Over the Tavern by Tom Dudzick, which was a popular work in its 1998-1999 season. A show earns a recommended designation when the panel members evaluating it for Acclaim nominations determine that it’s a show that audiences should make a special effort to see.
Next Fall uses humor and honest to portray the struggle of an unlikely contemporary gay couple — Luke is religiously devout and Adam is devoutly agnostic — in a five-year relationship. A serious auto accident changes many issues, especially in regard to Luke’s conservative parents. Receiving Acclaim nominations from a panel of local theater experts are D. Lynn Meyers who directed the production, Michael Bath, who plays Adam, and Regina Pugh, who portrays Luke’s complicated mother, a talkative conservative who seems not to know about her son’s gay lifestyle.here) continues through Feb. 13.
Over the Tavern is another work about religion and how it affects relationships, this time within a family — the Pazinskis, who live in Buffalo in 1959. Their son Rudy, a precocious kid approaching confirmation, has many questions about Roman Catholicism, and his doubts are making life tough with a stern nun. But the rest of his family — an angry dad, a loving but overtaxed mom, a horny older brother, a developing sister and a kid brother who’s mentally disabled — have their own issues. The ensemble of actors are nominated by a panel of local theater experts for an Acclaim as well as Paul Shortt for his design of the Pazinskis’ cramped apartment and Kelly Hilterbrand for the many period-appropriate props she and her team from St. Louis Repertory Theatre provided to make the Pazinski household all the more real. Over the Tavern (click here for my review) continues through Feb. 19.
The sixth annual Acclaim Awards ceremony is set for May 23 at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Winners drawn from nominations, such as those for Next Fall and Over the Tavern, will be announced, as well as the results of the Cincinnati Theater Awards (CTAs), which invite the public to vote for favorite performers and productions by community theaters as well as university theater programs. This season’s Acclaim nominations can be reviewed at www.CinStages.com.