Onstage 2017: Musicals, Classics and Premieres

Take a look at upcoming productions coming to local stages this year.

Jan 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm

click to enlarge "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder" is here through Sunday. - Photo: Joan Marcus
Photo: Joan Marcus
"A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder" is here through Sunday.
Half of the current theater season still remains and, regardless of what you enjoy watching onstage, there are multiple choices for you. Here is a selective guide in three broad categories to help you plan:


The Broadway Series already has gotten the New Year started at downtown Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical from 2014. It’s a sophisticated musical comedy about a guy who’s ninth in line for an inheritance and how he works his way to the top of the list — by love and murder! The local tour is here only through Sunday, so if you’re interested, act quickly. 

Three other touring Broadway shows to keep on your radar are Something Rotten! (Feb. 21-March 5), a hilarious send-up of musicals and Shakespeare (as a Rock star); Matilda the Musical (April 4-16) about a feisty girl with a vivid imagination; and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (May 2-14), featuring pop songs by King. 

Musicals are featured at numerous other Cincinnati theaters in the months ahead, including plenty of classics: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will produce The Little Shop of Horrors (Jan. 26-Feb. 19; previews start Jan. 21); The Carnegie in Covington is offering The Music Man (Jan. 19-29). Musical titles elsewhere include the regional premiere by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC) of First Date (Jan. 17-Feb. 5) about a blind date that takes on epic proportions; Mack & Mabel (at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, March 2-5), an ill-fated love story from the early days of silent film; and Disenchanted (March 25-April 9, The Carnegie), the fanciful intersection of a set of rowdy fairy tale princesses.

One more musical of note: Showbiz Players, a standout staple of community theater for three decades, is shutting its doors with a staging of The Civil War (April 28-May 6 at the Carnegie). This show, Frank Wildhorn’s tribute to American history, was the group’s most acclaimed show, an award winner in 2002 and 2006.

Classics and Great Works

If you prefer tried and true shows, start the New Year with John Patrick Shanley’s Tony Award-winning drama Doubt, A Parable when it’s produced by Cincinnati Landmark Productions at the Covedale Center (Jan. 19-Feb. 12). Cincinnati Landmark presents another Tony winner, Peter Shaffer’s psychological drama Equus (April 6-23) at Price Hill’s Incline Theater. The Cincinnati Playhouse offers a dramatic adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s much-loved romantic novel, Jane Eyre (March 16-April 8). Falcon Theater stages David Lindsay-Abaire’s tragic Rabbit Hole, a moving story of family grief, in Newport (March 24-April 6).

To enable a summer of construction and expansion on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, ETC wraps up its current season earlier than usual with Steven Dietz’s Bloomsday (April 4-23), inspired by James Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company brings down the curtain on its Race Street theater fittingly, with a production of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest (April 28-May 20). Cincy Shakes will launch its 23rd season in its new Over-the-Rhine theater at 12th and Elm streets in September.

Premieres and New Stuff

If premieres and new works appeal to you, the Playhouse has a trifecta of shows — not only new but by women writers. Up first is Summerland (Feb. 9-March 5; previews start Feb. 4) by Arlitia Jones, inspired by a real-life “spirit photographer.” Next up is Jen Silverman’s All the Roads Home (March 30-April 23; previews start March 25), a poignant coming-of-age story. The Playhouse’s season concludes with At Wit’s End (May 11-June 4; previews start May 6), a one-woman show about humor columnist Erma Bombeck by sisters Allison and Margaret Engel.

Also, Northern Kentucky University stages its biennial Y.E.S. Festival (April 20-30), featuring three world premieres.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]