After a year of dark stages, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is ready to return to the business of live, onstage theater for 2021 and 2022. The productions announced on May 13 will sound familiar to Playhouse fans, since all but one were initially put forth as the 2020-2021 season that didn't happen due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The coming season, with eight productions on the Marx and Shelterhouse stages (cautiously reduced from the usual schedule of eleven), has an anticipated start date of Oct. 9.
The season features three world premieres — two of which tell authentic Cincinnati stories — a pair of fresh comedies, a familiar tale of female friendships, and a one-woman show about Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The Playhouse plans to bring back the full production of its annual holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol.
The West End (Oct. 9-Nov. 7, Marx Theatre). Set in 1941 in Cincinnati’s West End, this world premiere drama by Cincinnatian Keith Joseph Adkins offers insight into a transformative chapter of local history.
Need Your Love (Oct. 30-Dec. 12, Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre). A second world premiere with Cincinnati ties, this is a musical about King Records star Little Willie John. KJ Sanchez, whose Cincinnati King was loved by local audiences in 2018, is back to direct her new show.
A Christmas Carol (Nov. 24-Dec. 30, Marx Theatre). A longtime Playhouse favorite for the holidays will be back with a cast of nearly 30 actors, elaborate costumes and thrilling special effects.
Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Jan. 29-Feb. 27, 2022, Marx Theatre). Set in 1973, Katie Forgette’s play portrays an Irish-Catholic family with affectionate humor as they muddle through hilarious mishaps that jeopardize their reputation and their souls.
Rooted (Feb. 12-March 20, 2022, Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre). The season’s third world premiere brings back Deborah Zoe Laufer with another quirky comedy. Her Playhouse-commissioned premiere Be Here Now was staged in 2018, and several of its characters return in this story about a reclusive amateur botanist who becomes a New-Age YouTube messiah.
Steel Magnolias (March 19-April 17, 2022, Marx Theatre). Robert Harling's 1987 beauty-salon classic features beloved characters, heartwarming dialog, and snappy repartee in a tale of powerful female friendship. The show was a hit for the Playhouse back in 1989.
Becoming Dr. Ruth (April 9-May 15, 2022, Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre). Mark St. Germain’s one-woman script chronicles the journey of Ruth Westheimer’s path to becoming America’s favorite sex therapist in the 1980s and ’90s.
School Girls: or, The African Mean Girls Play (April 30-May 22, 2022, Marx Theatre). Set in an exclusive boarding school in Ghana, Jocelyn Bioh’s biting comedy explores the universal challenges of teenage girlhood.
The eight-show lineup is a response to COVID-19 safety precautions and a shorter season to accommodate the final phase of construction on the theater’s new mainstage complex. Blake Robison, the Playhouse’s artistic director, says, “The new season showcases the range and diversity of the Playhouse, and we can’t wait to get back to producing a full schedule of live theater for Cincinnati.”
Since COVID-19 guidelines are still in flux, subscriptions and tickets for the season will not go on sale until the summer.
For more information, visit cincyplay.com.