Well, the erratic LCT awards got this one right — even if the announcement arrives almost two weeks after the brief run of Oklahoma! at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. (Nov. 17-20). Three performers and the show’s director and choreographer have been cited by a judging panel from the League of Cincinnati Theatres. The recreation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s trend-setting musical from 1943 is certainly one of the best productions I’ve seen all season. It marshaled the forces of 35 and an orchestra of more than 40 musicians. It’s not likely that you’ll see such a production anywhere but at a school like CCM
Professor of Musical Theatre Diana Lala, the show’s director and choreographer, was recognized with an LCT award for the show’s outstanding choreography. LCT panelists praised the quality and quantity of dancing, based on Agnes DeMille’s legendary work for the original 1943 Broadway production, as well as its “flawless” execution.
Three student performers were cited for their contributions to the show. Senior John Riddle from Vermillion, Ohio, was awarded for his performance as a leading actor, playing the cowboy Curly McLain. Senior Julia Johanos from Louisville, Colorado, was similarly recognized as a leading actress in a musical for playing Laurey Williams, the object of Curly’s romantic attention. One LCT judge said the leads “knocked this one out of the park with depth, musical talent and romantic chemistry.” Senior Eric Huffman from Lenexa, Kansas, played cowboy Will Parker, a featured role for which LCT recognized him as a “confident dancer, good singer and truly gifted actor.”
More information about the League can be found at www.leagueofcincytheatres.info.
Les Waters, a British director who’s worked in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, has been named the next artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville. It’s only the third time in the theater’s 42-year history that a new artistic leader has been chosen. Jon Jory led the theater for three decades years, during which he established the highly respected Humana Festival of New American Plays, about to mark its 36th iteration. Jory was succeeded in 1999 by Marc Masterson, who left earlier this year to take over another proponent of new works for the American stage, South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, Calif.
For several years Joshua Jeremian seemed to be onstage everywhere in Cincinnati. He was a regular in opera productions at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, where he was pursuing a master’s degree and then an artist’s diploma (additional graduate-level training) as an opera singer. But he was glad to find performing opportunities with many Cincinnati perfroming arts institutions. In 2005 he played a pair of princes in Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s holiday musical, Sleeping Beauty. (In fact, the big-voiced baritone was nominated for a 2006 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for his performance at ETC.)
If you've ever wondered why musical theater fans think of Oklahoma! as the show that launched the "Golden Age" of musical theater, you need to get a ticket for this weekend's CCM performance of the 1943 classic by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. I attended the opening last night, and it's a stunning production firing on all cylinders. The cast is first-rate, especially senior John Riddle as handsome cowboy Curly McLain and Chris Blem as threatening Jud Fry. Julia Johanos is a feisty Laurey Williams, and CCM and Broadway veteran Pamela Myers comes back to where she got her start to play Aunt Eller, full of wisdom, piss and vinegar.
The 36th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville is set for Feb. 26 through April 1, 2012. The theater today announced the line-up of full-length works. (A bill of three ten-minute plays will be announced at a later date.) Here’s what’s in store for the festival that the theater world looks to every year for the hottest new plays and playwrights. (Maple and Vine by Jordan Harrison from the 2011 festival is getting rave reviews at Chicago’s Next Theatre Company and is about to open at Playwrights Horizons in New York City.)
Broadway musicals aren't always about song and dance. One of the best proponents of material that's quirky and idiosyncratic is composer and lyricist William Finn, whose earliest shows — eventually combined into the award-winning Falsettos — were about being gay in New York City. He's also created pieces like A New Brain (about a man contemplating surgery for a brain tumor) and the commercially successful show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Mea culpa. In a recent post, I
suggested I was disheartened by the lack of attendance at the “Meet the
Artistic Directors” event at Joseph-Beth Booksellers on Oct. 2 — six artistic
directors, moderated by the Enquirer’s
Jackie Demaline, with three people in the audience, each with some connection
to the speakers. Pretty sad. I mistakenly assumed that Demaline organized this
event as she has for several years; given her parting of ways with the
League of Cincinnati Theatres, I had offered to step in if needed, but was
never contacted. So I drew the conclusion that she had returned to her past
I was wrong.
A representative of LCT wrote this
to me today: “The
‘Meet the Artistic Directors’ was entirely an LCT event. Jackie had nothing to
do with it, other than to be asked to moderate. The fault lies with LCT, not
Jackie or the Enquirer. Cathy
Springfield led the LCT board to think it was all taken care of, when it
actually was not.” I apologize to Demaline for jumping to this conclusion. It’s
evident that she was not the organizer. In fact, it appears the event had no
The larger point of my blog post that LCT appears to be in disarray is underscored by this confusion. But let’s point the blame in the right direction. It was LCT’s fault, not Demaline or the Enquirer.
The League of Cincinnati Theatres LCT) continues its program of recognition for 2011-2012 theater productions with recently announced awards for productions of As You Like It at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Gruesome Playground Injuries at Know Theatre of Cincinnati. Nine shows have now been handed awards by panels of informed theatergoers.
My Curtain Call column about Know Theatre of Cincinnati from Wednesday’s edition of CityBeat was incomplete, since Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier was still wrestling for the rights to several shows. The picture is more sharply in focus today with the big announcement that Know will present the regional premiere of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which will wrap up the 2011-12 season between March 31 and May 12.
This weekend one of the finest actors in our area, Bruce Cromer, will conclude a run in A Man for All Seasons at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. He's handling the heady, demanding role of Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's 1962 Tony Award winning play. Cromer makes him witty, caring, sharp and cantankerous, an admirable verbal combatant — ultimately more fearful of being unfaithful to his conscience than to his king. It's a tour-de-force performance, worthy of praise wherever it might be presented. (Read my full review here.)