Broadway in Cincinnati is Movin' Out with its new season

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Anna Thomson


Tony award-winner Patti LuPone will be part of next season's Broadway in Cincinnati.



This weekend I'll travel to Louisville for the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre. But Cincinnatians need to know that our city has more plays earning recognition than any other American city, at least according to the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). Six finalists have been announced for ATCA's prestigious national playwriting prize, the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award, and two originated here in Cincinnati. (Nothing from the Humana Festival made the list.) The plays, both staged last spring, are Warren Leight's JAMES AND ANNIE, produced by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and Carson Kreitzer's THE LOVE SONG OF J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER, presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse (and the winner of 2003 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for best local premiere and best production play). Other nominees are August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, Nilo Cruz's Lorca in a Green Dress and Rolin Jones' The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. The awards (a $15,000 prize and two $5,000 citations) will be presented at the Humana Festival on Saturday evening in Louisville.

Don't look for much in the way of new material from BROADWAY IN CINCINNATI, which this week announced its 2004-2005 season. Some shows will be fun to see again, but that's what this season is largely all about — seeing tried-and-true titles ... again.

This weekend I'll travel to Louisville for the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre. But Cincinnatians need to know that our city has more plays earning recognition than any other American city, at least according to the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). Six finalists have been announced for ATCA's prestigious national playwriting prize, the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award, and two originated here in Cincinnati. (Nothing from the Humana Festival made the list.) The plays, both staged last spring, are Warren Leight's JAMES AND ANNIE, produced by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and Carson Kreitzer's THE LOVE SONG OF J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER, presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse (and the winner of 2003 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for best local premiere and best production play). Other nominees are August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, Nilo Cruz's Lorca in a Green Dress and Rolin Jones' The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. The awards (a $15,000 prize and two $5,000 citations) will be presented at the Humana Festival on Saturday evening in Louisville. ...

Don't look for much in the way of new material from BROADWAY IN CINCINNATI, which this week announced its 2004-2005 season. Some shows will be fun to see again, but that's what this season is largely all about — seeing tried-and-true titles ... again. That includes CHICAGO (Sept. 21-Oct. 3) and MISS SAIGON (Nov. 23-Dec. 5), not to mention such old chestnuts as LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (April 5-17, 2005) from 1982, OLIVER! (Jan. 11-23, 2005) from 1963, and WONDERFUL TOWN (March 15-27, 2005) from 1953. I should note that Little Shop and Wonderful Town (a lovely show with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics and book by the great team of Betty Comden and Adolph Greene) are both getting good reviews in revival productions in New York, so they should be freshly conceived. But the only truly new work at the Aronoff will be MOVIN' OUT (Feb. 22-March 6, 2005), a dance piece by brilliant choreographer Twyla Tharp, using Pop tunes by Billy Joel. (The show was announced for last season in Cincinnati, then canceled.) The other "new" piece will be MATTERS OF THE HEART (Oct. 19-31), featuring Tony Award winner PATTI LUPONE (she originated the title role in Evita) in a theatrical concert with music from Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman to Rodgers & Hammer-stein and Stephen Sondheim. Cincinnati is one of only six cities where LuPone will be presented. The season also includes three "extras" — all of which we've seen before — Mamma Mia (Aug. 3-8), Riverdance (Nov. 16-21) and Rent (Feb. 4-6, 2005). "We are committed to bringing Cincinnati the best tours of the best shows that are available," says spokeswoman Nancy Parrott. "We do not discriminate on the basis of the actors' union status, and we consider both Equity and non-Equity productions." An affiliation with Equity, the professional actors union, is considered by some to be the gold-standard for touring production. Of the shows presented next season, Miss Saigon, Oklahoma, Oliver! and Rent are non-Equity tours.

Mini Review
Grief can overwhelm, and all the characters in The Women of Lockerbie, at ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI, have been changed by it. In 1988, 270 people died when Pan Am Flight 103 was exploded by terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland. Seven years later, the survivors still suffer in Deborah Brevoort's 90-minute play. The town's women hope to commandeer 11,000 articles of clothing held in a warehouse, wash them and return them to families as a gesture of love and healing. The play's message, "Hatred will not have the last word," resonates powerfully in a post-9/11 world. The play's emotional power is undeniable, but I wanted more subtlety. (RICK PENDER) Grade: B+

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