Everyone’s feeling a little pinched these days, including our local theaters and other performing arts organizations. Cincinnati Ballet canceled its Dec. 26 performance of The Nutcracker, citing weak ticket sales. The Cincinnati Playhouse has cut short the run of local playwright Joe McDonough’s Travels of Angelica, which opens Jan. 22, 2009, and was to be presented through Feb. 21.
The Playhouse’s Ed Stern explained that more time was needed to remove Angelica’s set and prepare for The Foreigner. But the latter doesn’t open until March 12, so the more pressing issue was that tickets were not being purchased for Angelica’s final week of performances, which typically rely on single-ticket buyers more than subscribers. The show’s run ends with the matinee on Sunday, Feb. 15.
If Cincinnati’s established arts organizations are being squeezed, you can be certain that smaller theater companies are nervous. More people are staying home, fewer are buying subscriptions and some are simply not buying single tickets. When times are tough, we all decide that such “extras” can be bypassed. But let’s think a little farther down the road: I suggest we each do our part to “bail out” a theater or two by buying a ticket.
If we don’t support Cincinnati’s theaters when times are tough, we might find some of them missing when the economy improves and we need to see a good show. Even if you can’t afford a subscription, why not pass up a few lattes so you can buy a ticket to Christopher Shinn’s Dying City, presented by New Stage Collective starting Jan. 8. The play explores how the Iraq War affects three people living in New York City in 2005 — an American soldier, his wife and his identical twin brother. NSC tickets are just $20; for students, they’re $12.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s January production is a new translation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull by Tom Stoppard, an admired playwright and the screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love. See a preview on Jan. 14 or 15 for $12; students pay just $16 for other performances, and adult tickets are $26. I’m looking forward to Know Theatre’s production of Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, the regional premiere of a script by an exceptional young playwright. It opens on Jan. 31; Know’s tickets this season are just $12, thanks to support from the Haile Foundation.
For a proven classic, call Ensemble Theatre for a ticket to August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, opening Feb. 4. It’s the first play in his “century cycle” — covering African- American life in the decades of the 20th century. Based on ETC’s powerful Radio Golf last season (directed by Ron OJ Parsons, who returns for Gem), this one will be worth seeing.
Each of these companies can produce memorable theater, stories that will stick with you long after our current economic distress has faded. Do yourself a favor and bail one of them out.
CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]