Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Amy Warner and Bruce Cromer star in CSF's staging of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

After 40 years, there are those who only know Edward Albee's classic WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? as a film in which Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton translated their turbulent private life into a version that had commercial, even campy, appeal. But the show is truly a classic: Its Broadway revival featuring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin is a current hit, and local audiences can watch several of the area's best actors in a staging by Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival (CSF). BRIAN ISSAC PHILLIPS is directing the show (opening Thursday, through May 29), which he says "is shaping up to be an excellent production of a difficult play that is only comic where Mr. Albee designates that it be so, which is more often than some might expect and right in line with his intentions, according to our research. I'm sure our audiences will find nothing trivial about it." Phillips has his own all-star cast: George and Martha are portrayed by two of Greater Cincinnati's best Equity professional actors, BRUCE CROMER and AMY WARNER. And the young couple they draw into their web of angry machination, Honey and Nick, will be played by CSF regulars CORINNE MOHLENHOFF and MATT JOHNSON. Phillips says his cast and production team are doing excellent work: "It's one of the finest groups I have had the honor of being associated with during my time in Cincinnati. This play will haunt and linger with everyone fortunate enough to see it." Calling Albee's play a "masterpiece of the American theater," Phillips says it "still shocks and speaks profound truths 40-plus years later." CSF has followed a clearly defined path this year: Not only does its repertoire include classic plays by Shakespeare, but under Phillips leadership CSF also explores more recent works that have passed the test of time.

Last fall it was a sterling production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, made all the more essential in retrospect by Miller's death Feb. 11 at the age of 89. It's my guess that Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will be one of the must-see productions of the 2004-05 theater season. Tickets: 513-381-2283. ...

This weekend you can choose between musicals staged by two of Cincinnati's finest community theaters: FALCON THEATRE is offering ONCE ON THIS ISLAND (Monmouth Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport) through May 21. Created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty before they struck gold with Ragtime, the musical has a wonderful Caribbean-flavored score. Tickets: 513-481-9042. And CINCINNATI MUSIC THEATRE is staging Kander and Ebb's CHICAGO at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater through May 7 (see my review on page 55). This one is directed by community theater veteran SKIP FENKER, who always brings top-flight creative energy to his productions. Tickets: 513-621-2787. ...

Another musical team, this one with local roots, is JANET YATES VOGT and MARK FRIEDMAN, whose musical based on the popular story of Anne of Green Gables is getting perhaps its fullest staging yet by HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton, Ohio. The central role of Anne Shirley in GREEN GABLES will be played by MELISSA BOHON, a 2003 CCM grad who originated the role in a staged reading at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati back in 2000. Also in the production is CCM faculty member PATRICIA LINHART. The production opened May 3 and continues through May 15. Tickets: 972-228-3630. ...

Is there an aspiring Tiny Tim in your life? The Cincinnati Playhouse is preparing for its annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL next December, auditioning boys and girls for various speaking and non-speaking parts. Nine will be selected, aged 8-13; Tim needs to be 5-7 years old. Headshots and resumes should be sent by May 16 to the Cincinnati Playhouse, ATTN: AUDITIONS, c/o Michael Haney, P.O. Box 6537, Cincinnati, OH 45206. Those selected to audition on May 24-25 will be contacted.

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