Summertime theater in Cincinnati offers more in the way of pure entertainment with July’s offerings.
Don’t rule out the possibility of entertainment by teenagers. The Commonwealth Artists Summer Theatre (C.A.S.T.) brings together high school kids from all over Greater Cincinnati. They put on shows that are wholly produced by the students. I’ve seen one of these a few years back (The Addams Family) and it was quite impressive. This year’s production is Monty Python’s Spamalot, opening tonight. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek retelling of the legend of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail, from the zany minds responsible for the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail — featuring dancing girls, killer rabbits and flatulent Frenchmen. This production is ably assembled by Jason Burgess, who oversees theater productions at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky. He has the skill to bring out the best in his young, eager performers and the result is likely to be a lot of family-friendly fun. Through July 17. (Highlands’ theater is located at 2400 Memorial Parkway in Fort Thomas). Tickets: 866-967-8167.
Professional grown-up performers constitute the Commonwealth Theatre Company, producer of Northern Kentucky University’s summer dinner theater shows, which just opened Some Enchanted Evening, a show full of songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. These guys created shows that pretty much defined the Golden Age of Musicals: Oklahoma, South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I and The Sound of Music. Every one of them is considered a classic, and the songs from these shows are revered members of the American Songbook. This show rounds up the best of the bunch. A surefire indication of good work is the fact that Some Enchanted Evening has been staged by Ed Cohen and Dee Anne Bryll; Bryll also choreographed the production. Performances (preceded by dinner at 6:30 p.m.) run through July 24 on campus at NKU’s Stauss Theater. Tickets: 859-572-5464.
The second summer offering at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater is Baby, a musical from 1983 with a lot of great tunes about three couples caught up in the joys and anxieties of pregnancy. A pair of college students, an older couple and one smack-dab in the middle of dealing with fertility issues pretty much cover the waterfront of imminent parenthood. These hopeful parents-to-be experience the ups and downs of expecting. The show is full of sitcom-ish humor and predictable situations, but the songs (and the singers) go a long way to entertain audiences. Through July 31. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
If you want something more offbeat but still amusing, I continue to recommend Know Theatre’s production of The Fisherman’s Wife by Steve Yockey. (read the full review here). A word of warning: Know calls is a “sex farce with sea creatures," and that’s a tip-off that it won’t appeal to everyone. But if you like an oddball story — the show is inspired by an erotic woodcut from Japan —this is one of the funniest things onstage locally this year. Through July 16. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
Also at Know Sunday through Tuesday evenings (8 p.m.) is the One-Minute Play Festival. For the second year, this unusual offering presents approximately 30 works by Cincinnati playwrights staged by a cadre of directors. The aim? To create locally sourced, playwright-focused community events and promote the spirit of radical inclusion. Cincinnati is one of more than 20 cities around the U.S. where this happens. It was a big success in 2015, and it should repeat that this time around. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
Community theaters on opposite sides of town are staging a pair of very different works. On the East Side, you’ll find the very funny Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (tickets: 513-684-1236) at Mariemont Players (Walton Creek Theatre, 4101 Walton Creek Rd., Mariemont) for three weekends. On the West Side at the Arts Center at Dunham (1945 Dunham Way, West Price Hill), Sunset Players is presenting the Rock musical Green Day’s American Idiot (tickets: 513-588-4988). If you’re near one of those neighborhoods, you might want to check them out.
Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.