Springing Forward With the Stars

As Daylight Savings Time arrived last Sunday, local theaters began to turn the spotlight to their 2010-11 seasons. News is seeping out regarding what we'll see in the year ahead, and I want to share some newsworthy details about the Cincinnati Playhouse,

As Daylight Savings Time arrived last Sunday, local theaters began to turn the spotlight to their 2010-11 seasons. I used to get involved in a silly contest with other media to be first to announce things before I remembered that CityBeat’s readers care more about the week ahead than productions that are months away. That said, news is seeping out regarding what we’ll see in the year ahead, and I want to share some newsworthy details.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park won’t reveal its 51st season until March 21 (UPDATE: season details are here now), but anticipation surrounding one production necessitated an early announcement: Movie star Kathleen Turner (pictured) will be onstage in Eden Park in September for the world premiere of High, a show that will move to Broadway early in 2011.

Turner, whose film credits include Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, Prizzi's Honor and The Accidental Tourist, will star in a new play about a tough-talking nun who’s a reformed drinker working in a church-sponsored rehab center. When she grudgingly agrees to sponsor a 19-year-old drug addict, her battles with him lead her to question her own beliefs and explore the courage required to change.

High’s playwright Matthew Lombardo opened a Broadway production last weekend, the world premiere of Looped, featuring Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead, the bad girl actress from the 1930s and 1940s. It’s staged by Rob Ruggiero, who will direct High for the Playhouse, where he also directed Ella and Last Train to Nibroc.

Because movie and TV stars attract audiences, Broadway Across America’s 2010-11 season will likely include a few, most likely in a revival tour of Fiddler on the Roof. A revival of South Pacific (a Tony Award winner from Lincoln Center) did not feature stars, succeeding wonderfully with fresh talent, so don’t look for it there.

The balance of the Aronoff Center season — Rock of Ages, Young Frankenstein and Shrek the Musical — doesn't offer much opportunity for familiar faces. Rock focuses on ’80s Pop tunes by the likes of Journey, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake, while Frankenstein and Shrek focus on characters who are, well, monsters — more intriguing for make-up and special effects than great acting. The sixth show at the Aronoff will be Burn the Floor, a piece about ballroom dancing. Maybe Chad Ochocinco is available. (I have a bit more on the Broadway season here.)

If you like to see stars onstage, check out Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Their 2010-11 season has plenty of great talent, albeit local. In a September production of Much Ado About Nothing, the verbal sparring between on-again, off-again lovers Beatrice and Benedick will be enlivened by Sherman Fracher and Bruce Cromer. The frequently honored pair opened CSC’s current season with another adversarial couple, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II in A Lion in Winter.

CSC brings back another popular star in October when Giles Davies, a member of the company for nine seasons, returns to play the lead in Dracula. For the holidays, reliable comic actor Matt Johnson portrays the irrepressible Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. CSC’s 17th season also offers King John (for the first time), Pride and Prejudice, Julius Caesar and Two Gentlemen of Verona. (I have more CSC season details here.)

If you want to read more about upcoming seasons, check in occasionally with CityBeat’s Arts blog. It’s that time of year.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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