Sleeping Beauty

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Sandy Underwood

Deb Girdler's Wisteria lights up ETC's stage for another holiday fairytale musical, Sleeping Beauty.

If you've enjoyed a holiday musical at ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI (ETC), you've probably been spooked by DEB GIRDLER, who typically plays the villainess. It's happening again this year with the reprise of Sleeping Beauty, which world premiered at ETC in 2000. (It runs Dec. 1-28.) Girdler is Wisteria again, the cranky fairy with twigs in her hair who makes life difficult for everyone. Girdler isn't truly evil: In fact, the actress, who's 6 feet tall, says, "It's my height and my stage presence." This time around, she says, the story is even more focused: "The story's power comes from love, not from the prince who saves Sleeping Beauty. It's actually his love for her. She kisses him and brings him back to life. It's about the power of love versus hate and violence." Girdler talks with passion about the importance of live theater: "When I was growing up at Eighth and State (in Price Hill) and attending Oyler Junior High School, going to the theater opened the universe to me. When I saw a real show onstage, I suddenly realized that people do this.

I saw that I had choices." She adds, "I'd do it for free." But she'd appreciate it if you'd buy a ticket to Sleeping Beauty for yourself, and perhaps a few kids. ETC's box office: 513-421-3555. ...

As Girdler points out, this a great time to take kids to the theater. A live performance is always more memorable than watching TV or going to see a movie. The obvious choices are A Christmas Carol (Dec. 1-30, 513-421-3888) at the CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK and Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol (Dec. 1-23, 513-38l1-2273) at the CINCINNATI SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (CSF). This is the eighth and final year for Joneal Joplin to evolve from a greedy crab to a jolly philanthropist at the Playhouse; it's safe to assume that a new actor will be in the role a year from now, since the show is a perennial budget boost for Cincinnati's biggest theater. CSF will give Marley a rest after this season, they've announced. This year CSF veteran GILES DAVIES plays Scrooge's skinflint partner, charged with reaching back from beyond the grave to redeem the old crab. (For three years another CSF veteran, co-founder Nick Rose, played the role.) There's also a musical Christmas Carol onstage, too, at COVEDALE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (4990 Glenway Ave.), running Dec. 2-23. ...

Don't dawdle to get a ticket for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, presented again by OVATION THEATRE COMPANY — opening Wednesday, it's only onstage through Dec. 12. The show did well enough last year at the Aronoff's small theater that Ovation has moved the story of the trouble-making Herdman kids learning the true meaning of Christmas to the Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Tickets: 513-721-2787. ...

The CINCINNATI BLACK THEATRE COMPANY annually presents Black Nativity, a modern-day version of a Gospel play written by Langston Hughes. One day only, Dec. 11 (3 and 8 p.m.) at the theater at the College of Mount St. Joseph. Tickets: 513-241-6060. ...

For other seasonal fare, check out the Playhouse's PLAID TIDINGS, a funny musical with late '50s harmonies by a group of four singers — including some reminiscences of Ed Sullivan and Perry Como, if your memory goes back that far; in the Shelterhouse theater, through Dec. 31. Getting even farther afield, for the holiday cynics, the satire of The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, a tale of sexual harassment at the North Pole from the KNOW THEATRE TRIBE is a lot fun. It's at Arnold's Bar & Grill downtown on Dec. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21. Tickets: 513-300-5669. And NEW EDGECLIFF THEATRE is back with The Santaland Diaries at the Performance Gallery (3900 Eastern Ave., Columbia-Tusculum), with a new performer, PATRICK DOWNEY, presenting David Sedaris' wry reminiscence of working as a 33-year-old elf at Macy's Santaland. Tickets: 513-888-588-0137.

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