Votes are rolling in for the 2009-2010 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Already more than 1,000 local theater fans have checked off their favorite local theatrical performances. Results will be announced during the CEA event at Know Theatre on Aug. 29.
[Click here for all the nominees, photos from last year's CEA event and an archive of all the winners and nominees since 1997.]
Two new categories have been created for public voting, one for community theaters and another for university productions. I’ll start with the former, shows presented by volunteers who love theater and present productions in a committed, creative manner. Their efforts are recognized with four new CEA categories — actor, actress, musical theater and drama productions.
The drama production nominees often get less notice than musicals, although they’re just as entertaining. Two familiar works are on the list: The Drama Workshop’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the classic Southern drama by Tennessee Williams, and Footlighters’ The Miracle Worker, the story of Helen Keller by William Gibson, as well as another popular work, Mariemont Players’ A Tuna Christmas, a sequel to Greater Tuna, similarly using two men to play the quirky residents of a small Texas town, male and female, young and old.
Two more nominees are Beechmont Players’ Speaking in Tongues by Andrew Bovell, about two couples in failing marriages who inadvertently exchange partners, and another Mariemont production, The Dixie Swim Club by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten in which four women, friends from college, reunite regularly over a 33-year period.
Musical theater nominees by community groups include two other shows by Footlighters, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and the regional premiere of The Wedding Singer, and Beechmont Players’ presentation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Two groups offered noteworthy regional premieres of recent Broadway hits: Cincinnati Music Theatre presented Curtains, Kander & Ebb’s murder mystery in a Broadway theater, while Showbiz Players staged The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a clever ensemble piece about anxious adolescents.
The same four sets of nominations have been set for university productions and performers; nominees are drawn from work by two excellent training programs in Greater Cincinnati at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and UC’s highly respected College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). In the musical theater category, nominees include two NKU shows — a tongue-in-cheek production of Bye Bye Birdie and staging of the monumental Titanic: The Musical. CCM’s candidates are a revival of the original Rock musical, Hair (its 40th anniversary coincided with the 40th anniversary of CCM’s musical theater program), and two Off-Broadway works presented in the Cohen Family Studio Theater: William Finn’s Falsettos, a work about AIDS told with humor and poignancy, and Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again, a show tracing sexual relations in 10 interwoven vignettes.
University drama productions also have their own CEA category, singling out excellent plays. NKU offered the recent 9/11-inspired script Omnium Gatherum and Ionesco’s absurdist Rhinoceros, while CCM did fine work with two classic dramas, William Inge’s Picnic and Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending, as well as Kaufman & Hart’s classic screwball comedy You Can’t Take It with You.
I hope you saw some of these excellent productions. If you did, please play a role in deciding which of them should get special recognition via the 2010 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.
CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]