Actors and stages and shows ... oh, my! April has offered Cincinnatians several unparalleled weeks of “We’re off to see the theater.” No matter which yellow brick road you followed, it likely led to a stage with an excellent production.
Let me recap....
Know Theatre of Cincinnati led off with Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches (opened April 3). It’s been selling well at the Over-the-Rhine theater (thanks particularly to $12 tickets, subsidized by the Haile Foundation) and with last week’s addition of Part II: Perestroika (pictured above), Know has extended Angels’ repertory run to May 15, a week beyond the original plan.
On April 8, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park opened its world premiere of David Bar Katz’s The History of Invulnerability, my pick as the best show of the Mount Adams’ theater’s 50th anniversary season. The tale of Superman and his comic-book creator runs through this Sunday; see my review here.
Invulnerability opened the same evening as a three-week run of Mary Poppins at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. It was a touring production, of course, but it enticed mainstream audiences to watch actors onstage. Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati added a choice for younger audiences with Tom Sawyer: A River Adventure.
Four more shows came online mid-month, including a collaboration between the drama program at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and Covington’s Carnegie Center to stage Bury the Dead, Irwin Shaw’s 1936 drama. The same week saw the local community theater premiere of the award-winning 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Showbiz Players at the Madisonville Arts Center and a delightful revival of Oscar Wilde’s less frequently staged comedy, An Ideal Husband., by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (Husband continues through May 16; see Tom McElfresh's review here.)
New Edgecliff Theatre offered Cyrano (Rehearsed) in a repurposed church in Columbia-Tusculum. For his final production as NET’s artistic director, Greg Procaccino staged an inventive take on Edmond Rostand’s tale of the swashbuckling poet, enacted by a cast supposedly rehearsing a stage version of the violent film Reservoir Dogs.
Local universities added to the avalanche of shows with the 1961 Tony award-winning musical Bye Bye Birdie at Northern Kentucky University and William Inge’s Picnic, the 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, at UC's College-Conservatory of Music. Both universities demonstrated how classic works can provide great training for aspiring professionals and appealing entertainment for local audiences.
Last week Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati launched the regional premiere of The Marvelous Wonderettes, a deliciously entertaining musical using Pop tunes from the ’50s and ’60s performed by a girl group of four excellent local performers onstage together for the first time. Advanced ticket demand led ETC to extend Wonderettes by a week (to May 16) even before it opened, and now it's been extended again to May 23. See my review here.
April isn't quite over and Know Theatre, in the midst of its successful run of Angels in America, adds one more option: The Eyes of Oedipus, a new two-actor adaptation of the Greek tragedy by actress Alison Vodnoy, a recent CCM grad. It’s onstage at Know when the hard-working Angels cast has a night off (except for Darnell Benjamin, who plays Oedipus).
By my count that’s a baker’s dozen shows — something for everyone, and every production worth seeing.
There might be more theater in New York or Chicago. But who needs more when it’s like this right here in Cincinnati?
CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]