In a Curtain Column in October 2006, I asked, "Wouldn't a FREE NIGHT OF THEATER be a great thing?" I was referencing a program that started in three cities in 2005 organized by Theatre Communications Group, a national association for not-for-profit theaters. This year on Oct. 18 the program expands to more than 50 cities, including Cincinnati. You have my permission to put CityBeat down right now and check out www.freenightoftheater.net. Among theaters across America, you'll find seven local presenters: Cincinnati Playhouse (Altar Boyz), Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (Cymbeline), Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (More Fun Than Bowling), Know Theatre of Cincinnati (The Pillowman), New Edgecliff Theatre (Fat Pig), Falcon Theatre (The Diary of Anne Frank) and Covedale Center for the Performing Arts (Over the Tavern).
BEST PLAYS THEATER YEARBOOK has issued its 87th edition, covering 2005-06, and several of the 10 plays named will be onstage in Cincinnati this season, starting with this week's production of David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (see To Do on page 27 and a long interview I did with Lindsay-Abaire at www.citybeat.com). Editor Jeffrey Eric Jenkins commissions insightful descriptive and analytical essays about each play. The commentary about Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole by Michael Sommers (a critic for New Jersey's The Star-Ledger) describes the play, about a family suffering from the accidental death of a child, as "a beautifully crafted study in the day-to-day aches of loss," noting that "a strong emotional undertow lurks in the play's subtext: the words these characters cannot say, the pauses freighted with hurt." Other "best plays" on tap for Cincinnati audiences include Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter (Know Theatre, Oct. 18-Nov.10) and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow by Rolin Jones (Queen City Off Broadway, Oct. 19-Nov. 4). The volume also discusses In the Continuum, presented at the Cincinnati Playhouse in October 2006 and Radio Golf, August Wilson's final script, which was honored by the American Theatre Critics Association and slated for a March 2008 staging at ETC. The 500-plus pages of Best Plays comprehensively overview the American theater scene. It's a must-have for theater lovers. ...
Ensemble Theatre has recruited local director DREW FRACHER to stage Steven Dietz's "grave comedy" More Fun Than Bowling (Oct. 17-Nov. 4). Fracher had several productions nominated for 2007 CEAs -- his staging of Opus was named last season's outstanding premiere. ETC has also engaged AUBREY BERG, who chairs the nationally respected musical theater program at UC's College-Conservatory of Music, to direct The Great American Trailer Park Musical (April 30-May 18, 2008). ...
Local audiences have twice enjoyed world premieres of plays by CARSON KREITZER from productions at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Her Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer was a CEA winner in 2003, and her recent 1:23 was a 2007 CEA nominee. Kreitzer was recently awarded the first annual Playwrights of New York fellowship by the Lark Theater Company in New York City. She'll receive free housing and a monthly living stipend, plus advice from veteran playwrights Tina Howe and Arthur Kopit.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com