Hardly a day goes by that we don't read that Americans (or Ohioans or Cincinnatians) are overweight. It's not only an issue of health; it's also a societal obsession. So it should come as no surprise to find a play that deals with the issue. And if anyone is going to address it head-on in a story that will make audiences squirm, it's likely to be playwright Neil LaBute. His play FAT PIG, opening Thursday in a production by New Edgecliff Theatre (NET), is about a good-looking young professional man who finds himself attracted to a "generously proportioned" woman. He's mocked by his best friend and his former girlfriend, and he struggles with the pressure. There's a lot about this story that's politically incorrect, and that's part of the energy that drives LaBute's 2004 script. He's written 19 plays, several of which have become provocative, hard-edged films -- In the Company of Men (1997), Your Friends & Neighbors (1998) and The Shape of Things (2003) are memorable examples.
If you mention Tony Award-winning director Michael Bennett, most people who love musicals will recall A Chorus Line, the long-running, much beloved hit he directed in 1975. But what did he stage as a follow-up to his blockbuster? The answer is BALLROOM, a sweet story about a lonely widowed grandmother who visits a dance hall for companionship. It's the next production by Footlighters, Inc., one of our area's fine community theaters; they perform in a renovated church, The Stained Glass Theater, in Newport. Directed by DAN DOERGER, the play features Cincinnati Entertainment Award-winner DEE ANNE BRYLL in the central role, in addition to MATT DENTINO, CATHY LUTTS and JON VATER -- plus an ensemble of more than 25 singers, dancers and musicians who recreate a big band sound. Opening Thursday, Ballroom continues through Oct. 21. Tickets: 513-474-8711. ...
Another good choice for musical entertainment in Northern Kentucky is at NKU, where a production of the classic GUYS AND DOLLS opened last week and continues through Sunday. Based on a series of stories by Damon Runyon written in the 1920s and 1930s about Broadway during Prohibition, it was a hit in the early 1950s. It's just as good today -- great tunes and a great vehicle for young performers training to be musical theater professionals. NKU's theater program gets stronger every year, and their offerings are varied and interesting: This season includes well-known works like The Taming of the Shrew (Feb. 21-March 2, 2008) and Cats (April 17-27, 2008), classics like Strindberg's Miss Julie (March 21-April 6, 2008) and less familiar works audiences will enjoy such as Lanford Wilson's The Rimers of Eldritch (Nov. 29-Dec. 9). There are some newer works, too, including Darkside (Oct. 25-Nov. 4), a great script by NKU theater chair KEN JONES and Hugh Whitemore's Breaking the Code (in repertoire with Miss Julie next March-April), directed by community theater stalwart ED COHEN. Tickets: 859-572-5464. ...
Dayton's Human Race Theatre Company (HRTC) has created the STEPHEN SCHWARTZ MUSICAL THEATRE SCHOLARSHIP, funding designed to support singers and actors in the Dayton area who are training for careers in musical theater. Schwartz is the composer of numerous hit shows including Godspell, Pippin and Wicked -- and a new show, SNAPSHOTS: A MUSICAL SCRAPBOOK, currently premiering at HRTC through Sunday. For scholarship details and an application: www.humanracetheatre.org. For tickets to Snapshots: 937-228-3630.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com