The University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) generates an astonishing number of musical theater performers who go on to noteworthy careers, often on Broadway. Once they graduate, we usually have to travel to New York to get a glimpse of them. ASHLEY BROWN, who graduated in 2004, spent a year as Belle in Beauty and the Beast; later this month she'll play the title role in the new Broadway production of Mary Poppins. AARON LAZAR, class of 2000, is in the revival of Les Misérables, which starts Nov. 9. A new production opening in December of the classic show The Apple Tree features 2006 grads MEGGIE CANSLER and ERIC SANTAGATA, class of 2003. Both were Cincinnati Entertainment Award nominees while students at CCM. But right now there's a critical mass of CCM grads back in town for the Cincinnati Playhouse's world premiere of the new musical Ace. Composer and co-creator RICHARD OBERACKER is a product of Anderson High and CCM, where he was a drama major (class of 1993). As a teen, Oberacker music directed shows for local community theaters. He learned about acting at CCM, but his subsequent career has been more music direction — including Cirque du Soleil shows and the national tour of The Lion King — and he's composed other shows staged locally, including Dracula: The Game of Love (CCM in 2002) and The Gospel According to Fishman (New Voice Theater in 2003).
Perhaps he was a magnet for others with CCM credentials: Ace's choreographer is ANDREW PALERMO (1995); music director is DAVID KREPPEL (1992); and orchestrations are by GREG ANTHONY (2003). The cast includes GABRIELLE STRAVELLI (2001) and husband-and-wife team JESSICA BOEVERS and MATT BOGART (both 1994). Boevers and Bogart have numerous Broadway credentials: She's performed in Oklahoma!, Les Misérables, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Rent; he's been in Aida, The Civil War, Smokey Joe's Café and Miss Saigon. To hear more from the two of them, show up at the Playhouse Monday at 7 p.m. "An Evening with Matt and Jessica" (get it?) will offer a look backstage and inside the lives of Broadway performers, in addition to their experience with playing leading roles in a new musical. It's a benefit for the League of Cincinnati Theatres; minimum donation at the door is $5. For another look at what goes into musical theater, stop by CCM's Baur Room on the UC campus Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for a TAKE 5 event, offered by the Young Friends of CCM, a group of supporters in their twenties, thirties and forties. This one costs $15; you'll get some wine and hear students and faculty talk about the nuts and bolts of musical theater. Info: 513-556-2100 ...
If wicked wit turns you on, NEW EDGECLIFF THEATRE is presenting a triple bill right up your alley: AN EVENING IN DURANG(O) offers three classic one-acts by one of America's best writers of biting, sardonic comedy and clever parody. First is The Actor's Nightmare, in which an accountant unwittingly finds himself trying to navigate through productions of Private Lives, Hamlet and more. Next is 'Dentity Crisis, about a young woman diagnosed as mentally ill who is surrounded by a deranged family. The evening concludes with For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, a parody of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. It's a chance to see a cast of six directed by NET's new associate producer NATHAN GABRIEL. Opening Thursday at the Columbia Performance Center, the show continues through Nov. 18. Tickets: 888-588-0137. ...
The Cincinnati Playhouse is seeking two children for its world premiere of Carson Kreitzer's new play, 1:23. They need boys between 4 and 6 years of age who are less than 4 feet tall. For more information: www.cincyplay.com/work/audition.php. Deadline to apply is Friday.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com