The byword on the local theater front this week is NEW. Let's start with the Madisonville Community Arts Center, a "new" performance facility. It's actually the former Madisonville Senior Center, but it's being given a whole new identity by three performing arts specialists ED COHEN, DEE ANNE BRYLL and DAN DERMODY. (If Cohen and Bryll's names sound familiar, it could be because they're nominees for this year's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards as the co-directors of Cincinnati Music Theatre's production of Ragtime. To vote, by the way, you can go to
CCM grad Scott Coulter, who has a big following at Manhattan bistros, brings his act to Cincinnati Monday for a benefit for New Voice Theater in Oakley.
The byword on the local theater front this week is NEW. Let's start with the Madisonville Community Arts Center, a "new" performance facility. It's actually the former Madisonville Senior Center, but it's being given a whole new identity by three performing arts specialists ED COHEN, DEE ANNE BRYLL and DAN DERMODY. (If Cohen and Bryll's names sound familiar, it could be because they're nominees for this year's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards as the co-directors of Cincinnati Music Theatre's production of Ragtime. To vote, by the way, you can go to citybeat.com/cea or use the ballot on page 60.) The three of them have been working on a dream to create a broad-based venue that's affordable to performers and audiences. The Madisonville facility, located at the intersection of Sierra Street and Whetzel Avenue, just north of Madison Road in Madisonville, will include an art gallery (managed by Litsa Spanos of Art Design Consul-tants, Inc.), a theater, a studio shop, classrooms and more. Cohen et al. have leased the building for $1 annually for five years, and Jim Tarbell's City of Cincinnati Arts & Culture Committee awarded them a $75,000 grant for capital improvements. Cohen estimates it will take $400,000 to create the facility they've envisioned, but he anticipates lots of interest from Greater Cincinnati's community theaters and aspiring semi-professional groups. Indeed, in conjunction with the center's first public viewing on Monday, NEW VOICE THEATER will announce its first set of scheduled productions, to be presented next summer at the Center.
New Voice, the brainchild of community theater director SKIP FENKER and Cirque du Soleil conductor and CCM grad RICHARD OBERACKER (himself a one-time Cincinnati community theater performer who's now works on an international level — he conducted The Lion King during its Cincinnati tour stop in 2003), has conducted several one-night fund-raisers — see To Do, page 30. The fledgling group, which has lots of talent and connections to back up its enthusiasm has set its sights set on an ambitious summer season of work for 2005. Plans are in the works for the area premiere of Adam Guittel's FLOYD COLLINS next July, and perhaps a second local premiere of a recent dramatic work, which Cohen has been asked to direct with a cast of noteworthy professionals (rights are still being negotiated). For more information about the Madisonville facility: 513-831-3904; for information about New Voice Theater: www.newvoicecincy.com. ...
In a more immediate "new" vein, this is the week when Dayton's HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY presents the world premiere of WAS, a musical about a search for the "real" Dorothy Gael, the central character in The Wizard of Oz. The show, developed at Lincoln Center Theater, is the work of composer/lyricist Barry Kleinbort; it's already won several awards, even before receiving a full staging. Based on Geoff Ryman's popular novel of the same title, this is not a kid's show — in fact, Human Race is saying it's not recommended for children under the age of 13. Opening Thursday, the show runs through Oct. 31. Look for Tom McElfresh's review later this week. Tickets: 937-228-3630. ...
And one more "new" item on the theater horizon: Spring-boarding in part from a fine new theater facility in the Gallagher Center, XAVIER UNIVERSITY has created a new theater minor under the department of classics. Formerly called "performance studies" in the department of communication arts, the minor combines academic training with hands-on experience in various areas of theater, emphasizing acting and directing. The new minor will work in association with the student-run Xavier Players, which stages productions, and their "Theatre of Conscience" philosophy, an outgrowth of XU's programs in ethics, religion and society. The Cincinnati area is already blessed with several excellent theater training programs, including the nationally renowned College-Conservatory of Music at UC, plus Northern Kentucky University's ambitious program. Xavier's new minor is a welcome addition.