Trepidation Nation

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

 
Paul Kolnik


Ben Magnuson (left, with cello), a 2005 CCM grad is in the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd, earning tons of critical raves.



Do you have an irrational fear? Most of us do. This weekend offers a "phobic anthology," TREPIDATION NATION, at the Cincinnati Museum Center's Reakirt Auditorium by a new assemblage of local actors calling themselves Left Bank Productions. The play originated in 2003 at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville; 16 playwrights were asked to create short pieces (most are about five minutes long). A showcase for Actors' student acting interns, the piece proved to be a stage play that digs into one of our oldest emotions. Lots of good writers are represented, including Warren Leight (who's had several plays presented and premiered at Ensemble Theatre); the actors are a collection of good local performers. Direction is by Amy Hamilton. Don't be afraid to see this one on Friday or Saturday evening. Tickets: 513-624-8185.

Musical theater major BEN MAGNUSON graduated from UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in June.

Do you have an irrational fear? Most of us do. This weekend offers a "phobic anthology," TREPIDATION NATION, at the Cincinnati Museum Center's Reakirt Auditorium by a new assemblage of local actors calling themselves Left Bank Productions. The play originated in 2003 at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville; 16 playwrights were asked to create short pieces (most are about five minutes long). A showcase for Actors' student acting interns, the piece proved to be a stage play that digs into one of our oldest emotions. Lots of good writers are represented, including Warren Leight (who's had several plays presented and premiered at Ensemble Theatre); the actors are a collection of good local performers. Direction is by Amy Hamilton. Don't be afraid to see this one on Friday or Saturday evening. Tickets: 513-624-8185. ...

Musical theater major BEN MAGNUSON graduated from UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in June. Now he has a featured role in the hottest musical on Broadway this fall, the revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, which opened on Nov. 3. It's an unusual approach to the 1979 show: There's no orchestra. Instead, the actors accompany one another on musical instruments — Magnuson is also a cellist. He's playing the young sailor who's in love with the murderous barber's angelic daughter (she also plays cello — so they can make beautiful music together, I suppose). In an opening night interview Magnuson was heard to say that the unusual production, using only 10 actors (the original had 27), "strips away all those notions that it has to be so literal and realistic because we're so desensitized by movies and television these days that we want realism onstage." Magnuson's reality is an exciting one. By the way, the director of this unusual production will come to the Cincinnati Playhouse in March to use a similar approach when he stages another legendary Sondheim show, Company. ...

Another Cincinnati product has earned accolades for her work in a different production of Sweeney Todd: REBECCA FINNEGAN, who graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts in 1987, is now a regular in Chicago: She just won a 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award as best actress in a principal role in a musical for her portrayal of Mrs. Lovett in a Sweeney production by Porchlight Music Theatre. And that's the half of it: She also was cited as the best actress in a review, a production of Closer Than Ever, also at Porchlight. Finnegan performed locally in several of CCM's Hot Summer Nights productions (Nine, Grease) in the late 1980s. ...

Speaking of award winners, DALE HODGES — who has walked off with several Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for her moving onstage performances — is assembling a February 2006 workshop production of Les Belles Soeurs ("The Sisters-in-Law"), a comedy by French-Canadian playwright Michel Tremblay about a woman who wins a fortune in trading stamps but needs help pasting them into books so they can be redeemed. Hodges needs 15 actresses, plus a stage manager. Auditions are 4 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at 4011 Hamilton Ave. in Northside. For appointments and information: 513-861-3912.

Mini Reviews
You don't have to be turning 30 to relate to Rent creator Jonathan Larson's musical TICK, TICK ... BOOM! which has sold so many tickets that the Know Theatre Tribe extended the semi-autobiographical show's run through this weekend. The title refers to a young composer's ambivalence about his impending birthday. Should he pursue his career as a musical theater composer or sell out and get a "real" job? If you're thinking Tick, Tick ... Boom! sounds like a downer, don't worry: It's heavy on humor and emotion and light on self-indulgence and gloom, thanks in large part to the energetic, tender and wry performances by Aaron Lavigne, Elizabeth Hold and Juan-Carlos Diaz. Each of them is outstanding vocally; they're ably backed by a tight four-piece band for the show's Rock score. At Gabriel's Corner. (Julie Ward) Grade: B+

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