Stage Door: Say Farewell to Erma Bombeck and a Few More Shows — or Catch an Opera!

Since early May the Cincinnati Playhouse has clearly had a hit on its hands with Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End on its Shelterhouse Stage.

click to enlarge Barbara Chisholm as Erma Bombeck - Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Barbara Chisholm as Erma Bombeck

Since early May the Cincinnati Playhouse has clearly had a hit on its hands with Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End on its Shelterhouse Stage. The one-woman show about the beloved newspaper columnist from the Dayton area has sold a lot of tickets: It was originally slated to close on June 4; after three extensions, it’s now going to have its final performance on Sunday.

If you haven’t seen excellent actress Barbara Chisholm bring this pragmatic, funny writer to life, this weekend is your last chance. CityBeat gave it a Critic’s Pick, so you should definitely make the effort. You won’t regret it. At 65 minutes, it’s a perfect piece of early summer entertainment. Tickets: 513-421-3888
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A long time late June tradition is the annual OCTA-Fest: Every year on the fourth weekend of the month, Cincinnati’s Association of Community Theatres — they call themselves “ACT” — brings together numerous volunteer theaters to present excerpts from their past seasons. Performances can be up to 30 minutes; three will be presented tonight, and six more starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. It’s a perfect chance to see samples of the depth and breadth of theater work put onstage by hard-working and talented people, perhaps some of your neighbors. They’re vying to move on to a statewide competition for honors from the Ohio Community Theatre Association (OCTA). Excerpts include selections from musicals including American Idiot, Side Show and Always, Patsy Cline and plays such as Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out. The event is held at Miami University-Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium (1601 University Blvd., Hamilton). Info: actcincinnati.org


Another longtime theater tradition is Northern Kentucky University’s 34-year-old summer dinner theater, presented by NKU’s professional players, the Commonwealth Theater Company. This summer’s opener, The 39 Steps, is a very tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller with four actors playing nearly 100 zany characters. Its final performance is on Sunday evening. (In July their second production will be a revival of the much-requested musical Burgertown, a show created by NKU professors Ken Jones and Jamey Strawn with lyricist Christine Jones.) This is a very popular series, so don’t delay making your reservations for dinner and a performance. Read more about it here. Box Office: 859-572-5464.


If opera is your thing, then you should be paying attention to productions by Cincinnati Opera at the Aronoff Center this weekend. La Bohème finishes its four-performance run in the Procter & Gamble Hall on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. Tonight is at 7:30 p.m. in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater is the local premiere of an exciting work, Frida, based on the life of avant-garde 20th-century Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. (I should mention that the production comes with an audience alert: “Frida is rated R for sexuality, nudity and drug reference.) This weekend also offers a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee. (More evening performances are set for July 27 and 29, as well as July 1, 6 and 8.) Tickets: 513-241-2742


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

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