Fall Arts Preview: Live Theater

Season begins on a 'high' note at the Playhouse

September marks the beginning of Greater Cincinnati’s 2010-11 theater season. The Cincinnati Playhouse hopes to hit a “high” note with actress Kathleen Turner (pictured) in a story about a tough nun trying to tame an even tougher kid. High (Sept. 9-Oct. 2) is, in fact, Broadway-bound in early 2011, following its stop in St. Louis. The Playhouse starts up its Shelterhouse season with The Understudy (Sept. 23-Oct. 17), a hilarious backstage comedy by Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck, who’s a regular on New York stages (this show ran there a year ago).

Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC) opens its 25th anniversary season with an even more Broadway piece, Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories (Sept. 8-26), which last spring starred Linda Lavin. It’s about a New York writer and her evolving relationship with a protégé. It will feature two excellent Cincinnati actresses, recent CEA winner Amy Warner and Corinne Mohlenhoff, the latter a Cincinnati Shakespeare regular making her ETC debut. A one-man piece about civil rights attorney and Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall sounds promising, too. Thurgood runs Oct. 13-30.

Cincinnati Shakespeare has its own exploration of relationships (albeit more humorous) with fine local actors. Playing Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (Sept. 3-26) will be Sherman Fracher and Bruce Cromer. The tale of sparring lovers will be transported to the psychedelic summer of 1968 by director Drew Fracher. And if you yearn for thrills and chills, Giles Davies returns to haunt Cincy Shakes for Halloween in Dracula (Oct. 15-Nov. 7).

Drew Fracher will have a busy fall, following Much Ado with a directing assignment at Know Theatre, Skin Tight (Oct. 9-30), a contemporary tale about a passionate, painful love affair. And if powerful relationships turn you on, a whole evening of them happens at Wright State University, in collaboration with the Human Race Theatre Company, for the regional premiere of Tracy Letts’ prize-winning August: Osage County (Sept. 23-Oct. 10), a searing tale about a fractious family assembling for the funeral of their father.

The fall season has a strong musical score and tons of variety. Broadway Across America presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic South Pacific (Sept. 21-Oct. 3) with a big orchestra at the Aronoff Center, and then offers Rock of Ages (Oct. 26-Nov. 3) with a big ’80s Arena Rock soundtrack. Eva Peron manipulates her way onto two area stages with productions of Evita at the Covedale Center (Sept. 30-Oct. 17) and UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (Nov. 18-21). CCM also offers The Matchmaker (Oct. 28-31), the play that became Hello, Dolly.

For something more campy, you have Falcon Theater’s Evil Dead: The Musical (Oct. 22-Nov. 6) and Northern Kentucky University’s The Rocky Horror Show (Oct. 28-Nov. 7)

And don’t overlook community theaters. Two productions that look promising are FootlightersThe Full Monty (Sept. 23-Oct. 9) at Newport’s Stained Glass Theater and Cincinnati Music Theatre’s staging of Meredith Willson’s classic The Music Man (Nov. 12-20) at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater.

Put all these on your calendar, and by the holidays you’ll be singing the praises of Cincinnati theater.

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