Sunday, October 10, 1999

Will swine succeed where all but Reds and disasters fail?

Community unity a fragile thing

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Thought for the day: A long and loud standing ovation to the Reds, who gave us a great run at post-season play. They gave us some season and a September to remember.

        As I followed the massive coverage in the local dailies and on television I was struck by one big question: Why do we believe that the only things that pull a community together are natural disasters and professional sports?

        What does it take to expand our view of what can unify us?

        And why don't we search harder for answers, when unity makes us feel so good?

        I'll grant that professional sports and natural disasters do bring us together. I'll argue that the same sense of community-wide connection and accomplishment can be achieved by people getting together and creating — something — and celebrating that act of creation.

        It's six months until the millennium Opening Day. So what's our answer between now and then? (I think we can all agree it's not the Bengals.)

        It'll be interesting if hundreds of fiberglass swine lead the way. Watch for artists' guidelines to hit the streets on Friday.

        HUMAN RACE THEATRE: Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton likes to play it close to the vest on their spring series of regional premieres, but take a gander at the October issue of American Theatre.

        The issue features the annual national theater season preview — that's 1,700 listings from 300 theaters for 1999-2000, including two of Human Race's three regional premieres.

        Look for Paula (How I Learned to Drive) Vogel's recent off-Broadway hit The Mineola Twins in April and Jonathan Harvey's gay-themed Beautiful Thing in late June.

        The March series opener won't be announced until later this month, but it's the play that I was most hoping to see on a local schedule that didn't make it. (I'm sorry, they made me promise not to tell ahead of time, but it's only 10 more days.)

        The title will be officially released on Oct. 21 when Human Race opens its season with A Little Night Music. CCM's Richard Hess directs and several Cincinnati performers, including Patricia Linhart, are among the cast.

        Call (937) 228-3630 for reservations and information.

        WHAT'S HOT: Each year American Theatre's preview issue lists the 10 most produced plays of the coming year, and again Playhouse in the Park producing artistic director Ed Stern seems to have his fingers on the pulse of what's hot.

        It isn't exactly rocket science to pick the top two: Beauty Queen of Leenane (which has 16 productions booked to date nationally) and The Last Night of Ballyhoo, which will be seen at a dozen theaters. But who'd have guessed there would be a run on Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (eight)?

        Menagerie is in a six-way tie for fifth place, along with Wit (and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, which Playhouse produced last season.)

        Ensemble Theatre does its part for the top 10 with Side Man (nine) and The Cripple of Inishmaan (eight).

        The list does not include the 47 adaptations of A Christmas Carol or any of the 115 scheduled Shakespeare productions.

        THEATER ON THE RIVER: Showboat Majestic has a season of faves for summer 2000: Leonard Bernstein's On the Town, April 5-23; Carol King revue Tapestry, May 3-21; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, May 31-June 18; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, June 28-July 16; Same Time, Next Year, July 26-Aug. 13; and Bye, Bye Birdie, Sept. 20-Oct. 8. Call 241-6550 for subscription information.

        Showboat will be in business on the Public Landing this week, reviving Anything Goes for Tall Stacks. There's an original musical revue scheduled for afternoons.

        CHAIR AUDITIONS: Stage First Cincinnati is holding a “chair-ity” drive. The theater needs 40 chairs for its November production of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist comedy The Chairs. Not just any chair will do. Dining room chairs are preferred and artistic director Nicholas Korn will “audition” them “for elegant, interesting shapes and stackability,” he says, tongue-in-cheek.

        If you have a chair you can live without from Oct. 15 to Nov. 22, contact Mr. Korn at 956-8933. All donors will be given one free ticket to a performance and will be listed in a special section of the program.

        ACTRESS DEPARTING: Stage First's current production of Sophocles' Electra may be one of the final local appearances for Nicole Franklin-Kern.

        The Cincinnati Shakespeare alum has shown to fine effect for both Stage First and New Edgecliff in the past year. She and husband (and fellow Cincinnati Shakespeare alum) Billy Sweeney are planning a move to Seattle.

        You can catch Ms. Kern in the title role of Electra at 2 p.m. today and Thursday through next Sunday in the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater. $15 adults, $12 students and seniors. Call 241-7469.

        CANCELLATION MYSTERY: What was with the abrupt disappearance of the world premiere of the musical Dirty Dinjy Daryl and the Mud Monster from The Children's Theatre schedule (Feb. 25-27 at the Taft Theatre)?

        The Children's Theatre is mum on the subject, but the word is “creative differences.”

        The theater has already made a measurable investment in the show, commissioning a playwright and composer as well as engaging designers. Marketing director Robyn Carey Wilson refused to comment on costs incurred to date and said that “all parties are satisfied” and “there has been no breach of (any) contract.”

        Children's Theatre has substituted a revival of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

        Refunds will be made to any subscribers, school or single ticket holders who aren't interested in the Snow White repeat (from 1995). For more information call the theater at 569-8080.

        CCM TICKETS ON SALE: Single tickets for all College-Conservatory of Music mainstage productions go on sale at noon Monday. This is the first time CCM theater-goers have been able to buy single tickets more than two weeks in advance. With seven years of construction finally ended, CCM is eager to woo patrons back onto the University of Cincinnati campus.

        Mainstage titles are The Grapes of Wrath, The Secret Garden, a Kurt Weill double bill, Man of La Mancha, As You Like It and The Voyage to Reims. Tickets $22.

        Remember, with a handful of exceptions (such as Feast of Carols), CCM is providing free admission to most of its massive 1999-2000 performance calendar to bring the public back onto the campus.

        Call the box office at 556-4183 for more information.

        THEATRICAL FUND-RAISER: Know Theatre Tribe returns to Westminster's Billiard Club (1140 Main St., Over-the-Rhine) from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday to repeat summer's successful fund-raiser.

        Twelve bucks buys three hours of pool, a potluck dinner and a free copy of the theater's periodical literary magazine Know Work, Know Play. Between games you can place bids in a silent auction.

        Know is sort of calling Gabriel's Corner home these days, at least they'll be back there in December with local playwright Kevin Barry's American Standard.

        P.S. — Know Needs You! The tribe is looking for directors and assistant directors, an advertising and sponsorship manager, volunteer house managers, illustrators and graphic artists, producers, stage managers, lighting and sound technicians, playwrights, poets and writers. They wouldn't mind getting some ideas, either and the tribe is looking for proposals for new projects.

        Call artistic director Jay Kalagayan at 871-1429 for all of the above.

        Jackie Demaline is the Enquirer's theater critic and roving arts reporter. Write her at Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax, 768-8330.


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