It’s that time of year when Cincinnati theaters begin to promote the shows they’ll present next season, kicking off in September. Of course, they hope you’ll subscribe — that’s the motive behind telling you what’s in store. And if you’re so inclined, you’ll make them happy. But we live in a world where fewer of us actually do subscribe; today we’re more likely to pick and choose what we want to see. With this week’s announcements of the 2014-15 seasons for touring shows presented by Broadway in Cincinnati and by Cincinnati Landmark Productions at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, you have more than a dozen choices to consider.
The bread-and-butter for both organizations is musicals. Of particular interest will be Broadway in Cincinnati’s presentation of the touring production of the 2012 Tony Award winner Once (Nov. 11-23) at the Aronoff Center. The show is based on the popular 2007 film by the same name about a mutually supportive relationship between two struggling musicians in Ireland. The cast of Once serves as its orchestra; the story is performed in a simple Dublin bar. The Aronoff Center will also be the venue for a four-week tour run of The Lion King (March 31-April 26, 2015), the 1998 Tony Award winner that’s still a hit on Broadway. Digging into the vault of great old shows, we’ll also have a brief stop of Anything Goes (Feb. 17-22, 2015), first staged in 1934 and repeatedly revived; this tour is based on a successful 2011 Broadway production.
Covedale, the go-to venue for popular musicals and plays on Cincinnati’s West Side, will put together its own production of Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale musical Into the Woods (Oct. 23-Nov. 16). The show is a mash-up of familiar stories including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and others; it explores happy endings and then takes a look at what happens after “happily ever after.” The Covedale will have fun with two retro small cast shows, Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings (Dec. 4-23) and The Marvelous Wonderettes (March 12-April 4, 2015). The former is a holiday version of the story of a Doo-Wop guy group using holiday Pop tunes from the ’50s and ’60s; the latter, a big hit in several incarnations for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati between 2009 and 2013, is a surefire winner for Covedale’s audiences with its amusing story of a girl group from the same era.
Both organizations will draw from the treasure trove of Golden Age composer-lyricist team, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. We’ll see a touring production of Cinderella (Jan. 6-18, 2015) at the Aronoff, a show written for TV in 1957, which featured a very young Julie Andrews. It made a pleasant transition to Broadway a year ago, with enough audience appeal to justify a national tour. Covedale will finish its season with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s sturdy 1959 hit, The Sound of Music (April 30-May 24, 2015), a show that garnered a huge televised audience for NBC in December and did well with a concert staging at The Carnegie in Covington, Ky. last month.
Broadway in Cincinnati rounds out its season with two more musicals and a comic play. Its season opens with a musicalized version of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing (Sept. 23-Oct. 5). There will be a quick holiday stop of Elf: The Musical (Dec. 2-7), based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell; the musicalized version sold well on Broadway during several recent holiday seasons. The final production of the season will be I Love Lucy: Live On Stage (June 2-14, 2015), a new show recreating the TV sitcom that featured the comic husband-and-wife team of Lucille Ball and musician Desi Arnaz. Attendees become the studio audience for the filming of two memorable episodes from 1952, supported by tunes from the Ricky Ricardo Orchestra at New York’s Tropicana Nightclub, as well as live advertising jingles.
Covedale opens its season with a classic American drama, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (Sept. 11-Oct. 5, 2014), about a woman with romantic illusions who is reduced to depending on her sister and her brutish brother-in-law in a seedy New Orleans apartment. The other non-musical at the Covedale will be the hilarious Greater Tuna (Jan. 22-Feb. 14, 2015), the story of 20 residents of Texas’s third-smallest town, as played by two actors. The show is one of the most-produced plays in American theater history, and it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Singing, dancing and a lot of laughter — that’s what you’ll be finding most of the time onstage at the Aronoff and the Covedale.
CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]