Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC) announced its 37th season on Friday, June 17. For its 2022-2023 season, the city’s “premiere theatre” will present a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, a Tony-nominated comedy, a witty and honest story of connection and a world premiere dramedy by a veteran Cincinnati actor and director. The season also features another of ETC’s family-friendly holiday musicals with a message.
According to producing artistic director D. Lynn Meyers, the coming season “is about thriving after we have spent so long trying to survive. So much has changed for all of us over the past two years that I feel we need these shows to demonstrate our ability and tenacity to move forward. Each of these plays brings to life essential stories for this essential time.”
Here’s the lineup:
Sweat by Lynn Nottage (Sept. 17-Oct. 9), a Pulitzer Prize winner, opens the season. This powerful drama will take audience in the heart of America, where old friends come together at their favorite bar as they struggle with life in a fraying economy. For decades, they’ve shared secrets and laughs on the factory floor, but now layoffs pit them against one another as inequities of race and class fan the flames. Nottage’s play is based on the playwright’s extensive research and interviews with real residents of Reading, Pennsylvania.
The Dancing Princesses (Nov. 30-Dec. 30), book by Joseph McDonough and lyrics and music by David Kisor. McDonough and Kisor have created ETC’s whimsical adaptations of classic fairy tales for more than two decades. This one is about a kingdom where an overprotective king locks his castle doors each night to keep his five daughters safe. Nevertheless each morning, their shoes have been curiously worn to tatters. Keen to get to the bottom of this mystery, the king resorts to drastic measures of royal proportions. It makes for a humorous tale about the varied princesses embarking on journeys of the imagination.
Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl (Jan. 14–Feb. 5, 2023). For the New Year, ETC presents the amusing story of a quiet dinner for two as Bill and Nancy serenely decide to divorce after 50 years of marriage. She feels liberated, he seems unfazed. But their adult sons Brian and Ben don’t take it well and descend on the Grand Horizons senior living community to mediate. The show was a 2020 Tony nominee.
Morning Sun by Simon Stephens (Feb. 25–March 19, 2023). Receiving its first regional production after its New York debut in November 2021, this script by the award-winning playwright of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is set in Greenwich Village a generation or so ago. It’s a lively place as friends and lovers come and go, and the regulars change at the White Horse Tavern. As 50 years pass, one woman’s life is revealed in all its complex mystery.
Who All Over There? by Cincinnati actor and director Torie Wiggins (April 8-30, 2023) When it comes to relationships, things aren’t always black and white. When Dean, a young professional, and Danya, an aspiring singer, go on a refreshingly candid first date, they consider the dynamics of a potential interracial relationship. As they grow comfortable, the real world brings a whirlwind of inflammatory race relations, opinionated family and friends, and troublesome pasts that threaten the possibility of colorblind love. Wiggins’ play was commissioned by ETC, and this is its world premiere.
Maytag Virgin by Audrey Cefaly (May 27-June 18, 2023). The season closer is a regional premiere dramedy about whether good fences actually make good neighbors. When unflappable Jack Key moves in next door to endearingly neurotic Lizzy Nash, sparks fly. Over time a deeper connection emerges between the two high school teachers. Cefaly’s play, The Last Wide Open, was presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park early in 2019.
Season subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets will be available on Aug. 8. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is located at 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. More info: ensemblecincinnati.org.