Chasing the Wolf confronts issues of conformity and identity

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Chasing the Wolf, a new work staged by Performance Gallery, is about two people imprisoned in a moment in time.



If Cincinnati's recent Fringe Festival gave you an appetite for theater with an edge, you'll want to check out the world premiere of CHASING THE WOLF at the Columbia Performance Center (3900 Eastern Ave., Columbia-Tusculum), opening Thursday and running through June 20. Presented by Performance Gallery, the script is by playwright and novelist NATHAN SINGER. In fact, Chasing the Wolf is also a novel, set for publication in November 2005. It's about a white man and a black woman imprisoned in a moment in time between present-day New York City and Depression-era Mississippi. Singer uses the unorthodox love story to compare the differing values of the two periods and to confront issues of oppression, conformity, identity and racial violence. The cast includes TAREN FRAZIER, BRIAN ANDREWS-GRIFFIN and 2003 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards nominee CARRIE-ELLEN ZAPPA. Info: 513-333-8482.

In 1920, Cincinnati's own William Howard Taft was the first president of the English-Speaking Union of the United States (ESU), an organization committed to promoting world understanding through the effective use of English. Today there are 77 branches in more than 50 countries, but the Cincin-nati connection is still strong: JOE SOFRANKO, a junior at Walnut Hills High School, won ESU's NATIONAL SHAKESPEARE COMPETITION in New York City April 26 at Lincoln Center. He was selected during a Cincinnati competition involving 24 schools; in New York he was up against students representing 59 ESU branches.

If Cincinnati's recent Fringe Festival gave you an appetite for theater with an edge, you'll want to check out the world premiere of CHASING THE WOLF at the Columbia Performance Center (3900 Eastern Ave., Columbia-Tusculum), opening Thursday and running through June 20. Presented by Performance Gallery, the script is by playwright and novelist NATHAN SINGER. In fact, Chasing the Wolf is also a novel, set for publication in November 2005. It's about a white man and a black woman imprisoned in a moment in time between present-day New York City and Depression-era Mississippi. Singer uses the unorthodox love story to compare the differing values of the two periods and to confront issues of oppression, conformity, identity and racial violence. The cast includes TAREN FRAZIER, BRIAN ANDREWS-GRIFFIN and 2003 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards nominee CARRIE-ELLEN ZAPPA. Info: 513-333-8482. ...

In 1920, Cincinnati's own William Howard Taft was the first president of the English-Speaking Union of the United States (ESU), an organization committed to promoting world understanding through the effective use of English. Today there are 77 branches in more than 50 countries, but the Cincin-nati connection is still strong: JOE SOFRANKO, a junior at Walnut Hills High School, won ESU's NATIONAL SHAKESPEARE COMPETITION in New York City April 26 at Lincoln Center. He was selected during a Cincinnati competition involving 24 schools; in New York he was up against students representing 59 ESU branches. He prepared a speech from Hamlet and a sonnet; he also did a "cold reading" (that is, without preparation) from A Winter's Tale. His prize: four weeks of study this summer in London at the British American Drama Academy and a $1,000 local prize. ...

If you're impatient for Oktoberfest, perhaps you'd like a couple of beers this weekend. You'll find them (at least four of them) at Hamilton's Fitton Center, where THE MAD ANTHONY THEATRE COMPANY is presenting the Midwestern premiere of David Van Vleck's FOUR BEERS. It's about four middle-aged guys in a tavern for the weekly Monday night game. But the TV is broken, so they end up talking — something they haven't done very often. And what they learn about each other, well, it sounds like interesting theater. Info: 513-8;63-8873. ...

This weekend wraps up performances of THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE by the M.F.A. Acting Company at the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK. The 1732 script is a classic comedy of seduction and mistaken identity set in a mythical kingdom. Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux was the most influential playwright of his day; Triumph inspired a 1997 Broadway musical adaptation with Betty Buckley and F. Murray Abraham and a 2002 film with Mira Sorvino and Ben Kingsley. JODIE BEERMAN, JOHN HASHOP, MARIE HOWEY, KEVEN KADDI, MIKE MIHM and IRIEMIMEN ONIHA are members of the Playhouse's Acting Company, which has performed, understudied and toured all season. (Oniha also earned favorable reviews in Ensemble Theatre's productions of A Lesson Before Dying and Breath, Boom.) The production is directed by RON WILSON, head of the theater program at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University.

Mini Reviews
At the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE, Sing Hallelujah! will certainly cause the theater's CG&E bill to be above average well into June, given the electricity onstage. This Gospel music show, first created at the Playhouse in 1986, begins about eight notches above the energy most shows attain after two hours. Its director, former Playhouse Artistic Director Worth Gardner, is a master showman who knows how to build emotion, and he evokes performances from five talented singers that could teach lessons to most directors about grabbing an audience by the lapels and obtaining their emotional investment. Sing Hallelujah! is a carefully choreographed work of theater, but it's also a heartfelt religious experience with no false moments. (RICK PENDER) Grade: A

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