Playhouse earns a Tony

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Jymi Bolden


Ed Stern's artistic leadership has placed the Cincinnati Playhouse in the highest echelons of America's regional theaters.

When I talked with ED STERN about the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE discovering that they'd been named the recipient of the 2004 Regional Theatre Tony Award, he was still amused. An actor who attended the Tony news conference in New York phoned to congratulate Stern, who didn't quite believe it. In fact, he went online to see who'd really won — and was surprised to see that it was the Playhouse. "It's great being blindsided by this kind of news," he chuckled. The award puts the Playhouse, finishing its 44th season, in a league with Chicago's Goodman and Steppenwolf theaters, Arena Stage in D.C., Actors Theatre of Louisville (recognized way back in 1980) and the Mark Taper Forum in L.A. ...

One of this year's Tony-nominated plays is William Nicholson's The Retreat from Moscow; the Playhouse will present its own production of the show a year from now.

One more reminder that the Playhouse is a first-class place: Actor MANU NARAYAN, currently on Broadway in Bombay Dreams, got his lead role while appearing in the Playhouse's fall production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses. He had to depart Cincinnati early to join the New York cast; Bombay Dreams earned three Tony nominations.

If you can't make it to New York for the Tonys on June 6, you have another option to watch the Playhouse pick up its award. Get a ticket for the third annual TONY AWARDS LIVE BROADCAST PARTY, sponsored by ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI.

When I talked with ED STERN about the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE discovering that they'd been named the recipient of the 2004 Regional Theatre Tony Award, he was still amused. An actor who attended the Tony news conference in New York phoned to congratulate Stern, who didn't quite believe it. In fact, he went online to see who'd really won — and was surprised to see that it was the Playhouse. "It's great being blindsided by this kind of news," he chuckled. The award puts the Playhouse, finishing its 44th season, in a league with Chicago's Goodman and Steppenwolf theaters, Arena Stage in D.C., Actors Theatre of Louisville (recognized way back in 1980) and the Mark Taper Forum in L.A. ...

One of this year's Tony-nominated plays is William Nicholson's The Retreat from Moscow; the Playhouse will present its own production of the show a year from now. ...

One more reminder that the Playhouse is a first-class place: Actor MANU NARAYAN, currently on Broadway in Bombay Dreams, got his lead role while appearing in the Playhouse's fall production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses. He had to depart Cincinnati early to join the New York cast; Bombay Dreams earned three Tony nominations. ...

If you can't make it to New York for the Tonys on June 6, you have another option to watch the Playhouse pick up its award. Get a ticket for the third annual TONY AWARDS LIVE BROADCAST PARTY, sponsored by ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI. The evening provides funky food buffets themed to nominated shows; there's a silent auction with all kinds of theater items and Cincinnati products; and you can watch the CBS broadcast on the Stadium Club's big-screen TVs. Tickets: 513-421-3555 ...

Back in early 2003, I wrote about a controversy at the Playhouse over a production of a new script, Paradise, commissioned from writer Glyn O'Malley. It re-created the story of two teenage girls on opposite sides in the Middle East, one of whom becomes a suicide bomber. Protests from the Tristate Islamic community prevented the show from touring to area high schools. O'Malley's play had a recent reading at the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Fla., which launched Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize and a nominee for Best Play at this year's Tony Awards. ...

A recent item from Atlanta in the actors' newspaper Back Stage: "After an abysmal beginning last fall, Actor's Express Artistic Director JASSON MINADAKIS recoups to emerge as Atlanta's hottest new director." The former artistic director of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival was broadly praised for his recent staging of Edward Albee's The Goat.

Mini Reviews
THE KNOW THEATRE TRIBE is world premiering A Note on the Type, a fascinating Kevin Barry play about a cynical 15th-century monk who supports himself as a manuscript copyist. One rainy night he shelters at an abbey, where he develops an obsessive passion for a nun. He can't act upon his ardor, of course. So he tries his luck with three prostitutes who remind him of her. Once obsessed, thrice distressed. The show hinges on the emotive skills of Matthew Pyle (the monk) and Sunshine Cappelletti as all the women, but especially the nun, who is dry, ironic and in charge on the surface, angered and emotionally haggard underneath. (TOM MCELFRESH) Grade: A-

THE CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK is presenting Mr. Roberts, the script that won the first-ever Best Play Tony Award 56 years ago, back in 1948. That was a long time ago, and this reincarnation is a lusterless, tired and fragmented conclusion to the 2003-04 Marx mainstage season. The a play is about the terminal boredom that can beset men serving in the backwaters of a war. The script sounds perfect for a balanced, clock-worked, ensemble cast performance. But it isn't. It's a '40s script that needs a star and this production doesn't deliver. (TOM MCELFRESH) Grade: C

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