Stage Door: New Productions and Special Events

New productions include 'Runaways,' based on hundreds of interviews with teenagers who ran away from home, at Know Theatre, and Clifton Performance Theatre's 'The Road Through Damascus,' an intimate piece revolving around a small town and its inhabitants

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The groundbreaking musical Runaways was an unexpected hit in 1978. Intended as a community service piece, it was based on hundreds of interviews with teenagers who ran away from home, from predators and sometimes from themselves. It began Off Broadway at the Public Theater, and then moved to Broadway, where it was nominated for five Tony Awards. The late Elizabeth Swados (she died in January 2016) wrote the book, the lyrics and the music, creating a score that drew from an eclectic array of musical styles: Pop, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Reggae. The show, asking why children can’t remain children, is presently onstage at Know Theatre, in a co-production by the musical theater program at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, directed and choreographed by faculty member Vince DeGeorge and featuring 22 student performers. Runaways kicked off on Wednesday evening; remaining performances will be tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Through Oct. 1, Clifton Performance Theatre is presenting the professional premiere of The Road Through Damascus by Robert Macke, a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. It’s about a small town where people go about their everyday lives, worrying, wondering and questioning. Director Nate Netzley likes CPT’s intimate space. “You won't get a more intimate and honest experience than in the space at Ludlow because there is no place to hide, no room for being fake, even in a play that's a kind of magical realism like this one. Everything you do has to be honest.” CPT’s managing director Kat Steele says, “The play integrates with the audience, creating an interactive environment. You get to know the citizens of the Damascus, just by sitting in the audience.” So you might want to consider sitting down for a performance. Tickets: cliftonperformancetheatre.com.

In addition to putting on shows (this weekend offers the final performances of the highly entertaining Legend of Georgia McBride, which I designated as a Critic’s Pick, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is offering a series of programs offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of various theater operations. The first of these Caffeinated Conversations, “Getting to Know You," is Saturday at 11 a.m. ETC’s Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers will talking about how she selects the shows for each season; she has uncanny insight into what ETC audiences will appreciate, and most of her subscribers trust her, buying their next-season tickets even before the shows are announced. Space is limited; last year the series sold out. Admission is just $10, coffee included. Call to reserve a seat: 513-421-3555.

Mini-Serials! concludes its three-week run on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. Even if you missed the first two episodes, you’ll be brought up to speed by “previously on” introductions. It’s a chance to see the work of five local playwrights and directors, plus casts featuring some of Cincinnati’s up-and-coming actors. It happens at Know Theatre’s Underground Bar. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Two more fine productions on local stages, both earning Critic’s Picks, are A Prayer for Owen Meany at the Cincinnati Playhouse and The Diary of Anne Frank at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Both are onstage through Oct. 1. And for a taste of nostalgia, you might check out Godspell, the tuneful 1971 musical using parables from the New Testament Gospel of Matthew. It’s onstage at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 2.


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

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