Ovation Theatre Company

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Cincinnati native Richard Oberacker provides music and lyrics for Ace, winner of this year's Mickey Kaplan New Play Prize.

Most local theaters have announced their 2006-07 shows, but sometimes it takes a while to land the rights for scripts a group wants to present. That's been the case with OVATION THEATRE COMPANY, which will offer the regional premiere of the stage version of Mitch Albom's bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie. "We fought for those rights," says Ovation's new artistic director, ALANA GHENT. "I drove to Mitch Albom's office in Detroit." She also got on a first-name basis with the New York agent for Jeffrey Hatcher, the playwright who turned the book into a script. Ovation will present Tuesdays next March at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. "Our whole season," Ghent says, "is about finding joy. The joy of love, education, friendship and theater. We don't tell audiences how to think. We just ask that they do."

Additional shows in Ovation's ninth season: Paul Rudnick's comedy Valhalla (Oct. 13-23 at the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater) and William Gibson's classic drama about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, The Miracle Worker (Dec. 1-9 at the Jarson-Kaplan). Ovation's season wraps up in July with another regional premiere, The Musical of Musicals: The Musical. It's a funny work by Joanne Bogart and Erick Rockwell that lovingly parodies musicals by familiar Broadway creators, telling the same story five different ways — as if by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander & Ebb, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jerry Herman. I saw it in New York with Bogart and Rockwell (it's done with a cast of five), and it was hilarious. Ovation has created theatrical trailers to preview each show; they'll be online Monday: www.cincinnati ovation.com. ...

One more note from Ovation: They're kicking off their ninth season Sunday evening with a party at the 20th Century Theatre on Oakley Square. The event is free; drinks (beer and wine) are cheap ($1 each); and you'll be entertained by a cabaret presentation by Ovation's former artistic director, JOE STOLLENWERK. It's also a chance to preview Ovation's aforementioned trailers. ...

Before too long we'll be seeing the premiere of ACE at the Cincinnati Playhouse, the winner of this year's Mickey Kaplan New Play Prize. It opens Oct. 17, but it's already running in St. Louis (it will trade places with the Playhouse's production of Of Mice and Men in a swap of co-productions that's become an annual tradition between the Playhouse and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). Music and lyrics are by RICHARD OBERACKER, a Cincinnatian — Anderson High and CCM grad — who's made a career of conducting and composing. He and his collaborator Robert Taylor have created more than Ace: Their new musical JOURNEY TO THE WEST, based on a 12th-century Chinese masterpiece, has a complete Web site where you'll find a free download of the show's entire concept recording. The show — with a score featuring music inspired by Asian, Arabic, African and Rock traditions — has its premiere at this month's New York Music Festival. Check it out: www.journeytothewestthemusical.com. ...

If you've been debating whether to see the Playhouse's Shelterhouse opener, IN THE CONTINUUM, I have some further encouragement. The New York Times already identified the Off-Broadway show as one of the 10 best plays of 2005. That judgment has been seconded by The Best Plays Theater Yearbook: The venerable series, dating back to 1920, has named it one of its 10 selections for 2005-06. Written by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter, the play tells the story of two women with HIV, one a teenaged African-American and the other a newsreader for Zimbabwe Broadcasting. During a 48-hour period, both women learn they've been infected by the men in their lives. The play recently toured to South Africa and Scotland. Cincinnati is one of its first stops on a U.S. tour. Playwright Salter performs the show with Tinashe Kajese, seen locally in the Playhouse's 2004 production of Blue. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

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