No bad luck for this Friday the 13th: The Showboat Majestic is presenting The Nerd, a great 1981 comedy by Larry Shue, who also wrote The Foreigner.
Theresa Rebeck's hilarious comedy The Understudy kicks off the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's Shelterhouse season next month (Sept. 23-Oct. 17). The Cincinnati native is a frequently produced playwright nationwide — her show Bad Dates was a big hit for the Playhouse and other regional theaters some years ago. I learned yesterday in a conversation with the Playhouse's Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern that we'll get another dose of her work a year from now in the form of a world premiere.
Public voting for the 2010 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Theater ends at midnight tonight. The public determines winners in 18 categories, while a panel of local theater critics chooses recipients in eight addition "Critical Achievement" categories.
See Rick Pender's Curtain Call column from last week for an overview of the nominated shows and theater companies, including information on new categories introduced this year.
Kind of a lazy Saturday. The hustle and bustle around Manhattan’s theater district subsides somewhat on the weekends, at least on Saturday morning before the tourists wake up. Wandered down to 40th Street to browse in the Drama Book Shop, an historic hangout for actors and writers, but a wonderful store for anyone who loves theater. I bought a script for Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, August Osage County, which is coming to southwestern Ohio in September when it will be co-produced by Dayton’s Human Race Theatre and Wright State University.
Other than that excursion, I had a double-header theater day with a matinee of David Mamet’s new play Race in the afternoon and an evening performance of the ’80s Arena Rock musical Rock of Ages in the evening.
Before heading to South Pacific, I took a Friday morning excursion to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (better known today as BAM) and toured some of their historic facilities, including an old theater repurposed by dividing it into four small cinema spaces and a nearby building, dubbed The Harvey (for administrator Harvey Lichtenstein, who ran BAM for more than three decades), which was once a vaudeville theater.
It’s hot and humid in New York City. Even a walk through Central Park didn’t offer much respite. I found a few stores and public spaces I could duck into to cool off and I met a friend who writes for the TheaterMania Web site at a Starbucks, so I had a few escapes. Early in the evening, after a meal at a little Italian bistro, I walked through Times Square — now closed to vehicular traffic for several blocks, so it’s become a big pedestrian mall — where a movie shoot was being set up. But the sea of people never stops washing along Broadway. That meant the coolest part of my day on Thursday was an evening performance at the Booth Theatre.
If I were in Cincinnati this weekend (I'm in New York catching up on a few Broadway shows), I'd probably make two stops at local theaters.
(CityBeat contributing editor/theater critic Rick Pender is in New York City for a few days, checking out the latest Broadway has to offer. Below is his first report from the frontlines of the Great White Way.)
The historic Showboat Majestic is in the midst of its 88th season at Cincinnati's Public Landing (it opens The Nerd later this week), but today it's announcing the 2011 season. There are five shows, three musicals and two plays, an entertaining lineup that seems designed to please its older demographic.
The season opens with Li'l Abner (May 4-22, 2011), based on the famous comic strip by Al Capp, full of down-home nonsense and political humor. It's not much staged anymore (I've never seen it), so I'm glad to have it produced locally. Neil Simon's God's Favorite (June 1-19) is up next, a funny play inspired by the trials and tribulations of Job in the Bible.
Well, here it is, the end of July and you're probably gasping for onstage entertainment. There's not much to go around from our local theaters, although Cincinnati Shakespeare is doing its level best to keep us entertained with Blithe Spirit on its mainstage and performances in area parks of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I've checked them out, and they're worth the effort to see them. Check out the "Shakespeare in the Park" schedule here.
Here's one more: If you're a fan of Les Misérables, I suggest you check out the current production by Cincinnati Young People's Theatre at the Covedale Performing Arts Center. Yes, it's being done by teens, and there are nearly 100 of them storming the barricades. But these are talented kids from all over the Tristate who are passionate about theater. Many of them will end up in theater careers based on this experience, which has been happening every summer for almost three decades. It's a Cincinnati arts phenomenon that's worth checking out. The production runs through Sunday. Head here for ticket info.