Stage Door: Wit, Wisdom and a Baseball Fantasy

Memorial Day Weekend ushers in summer programming on several local stages, including the baseball-themed "Damned Yankees" at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater.

click to enlarge Barbara Chisholm as Erma Bombeck - Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Barbara Chisholm as Erma Bombeck
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Memorial Day is Monday. That holiday typically marks the end of the season for many local theaters and the onset of summer programming on several Cincinnati stages.

Still plugging along is Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, the entertaining one-woman show at the Cincinnati Playhouse about the Dayton-based newspaper columnist and humorist. For three decades she was one of America’s most-read journalists, with columns three times weekly about the everyday life of housewives and mothers. She found humanity and humor in what other people thought of as drudgery; plainspoken and pragmatic, she told stories that resonated with the lives of many women. Actress Barbara Chisholm totally inhabits the role and effectively brings Bombeck back to life for another generation. CityBeat critic Erica Reid gave the 65-minute production a Critic’s Pick. [Bombeck’s weary witticisms are appealing to Cincinnati audiences: The show has been extended two weeks beyond its initial closing date. It will be around until June 18. Tickets: 513-421-3888

As other theaters wind down, the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater kicks off its Summer Series this week with the baseball-themed Damn Yankees from 1955. It’s the story of middle-aged Joe Hardy who makes a bargain with the devil to turn the woebegone Washington Senators into World Series Champions, but his arrangement puts his own soul — not to mention his marriage — at peril. Local audiences will appreciate some local color with several baseball personages providing recorded cameo appearances: Marty Brennaman gives voice to a baseball announcer (what else), and Pete Rose turns in an amusing contribution as the voice of the commissioner of baseball. That should provide a few knowing chuckles. Damn Yankees also has some great tunes, including “You Gotta Have Heart” and “Whatever Lola Wants.” It’s a perfect summertime show. Through June 18. Tickets: 513-241-6550.

Gather your strength if you’re planning on taking in the 14th-annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which commences on Tuesday with an opening night party and with lots of off-kilter theatrical performances on Wednesday and Thursday. Want to know what Fringe is all about? Check out my CityBeat cover story. Know Theatre is the festival’s producer, and that’s where you go to get your tickets. Through June 11. Tickets: 513-300-5669.


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