Sunday, January 23, 2000

DTC makes a splash with Gardner and 'Pirates'




BY JACKIE DEMALINE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Downtown Theatre Classics plans to explode into its 2000-2001 season with the return of Worth Gardner. His one-of-a-kind look at The Pirates of Penzance will set the Gilbert and Sullivan classic during the London blitz and close the DTC season in spring 2001.

        From 1973 to 1991, Mr. Gardner led the musical theater program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, co-founded Hot Summer Nights and became artistic director of Playhouse in the Park. He was known for risk-taking and innovative musical theater, for monumental hits and misses and for big backstage drama.

        His was the best-known name on the local theatrical scene for two decades, and Mr. Gardner's local fame continued well after his 1991 resignation from the Playhouse took him to New York and a free-lance directing career.

        “This exactly fits our mission of doing classics in new ways,” says recently named DTC producer Anton Shilov.

        The season will open May 19-29 with the revue Music in the Night developed by CCM alum Joseph Pokorski. It's a collection of showstoppers from Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim and Richard Rodgers with both his lyricists, Oscar Hammerstein II and Lorenz Hart.

        The revue meets another of Mr. Shilov's priorities, to create a home for CCM grads, from years ago and fresh young faces on their way to New York. He firmly believes they will be “the next generation of theater history.”

        Production dates at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater are still to be settled, but DTC plans include the musical George M! for late summer directed by Greg Procaccino, Dracula directed by Mark Mocahbee for fall and A Lion in Winter, probably featuring Mr. Procaccino and Dale Hodges in winter 2001.

        Mr. Shilov recruited Mr. Gardner. All the other titles were brought to DTC as independent projects and all meet another DTC priority, to support the region's professional acting community. “We're committed to them,” Mr. Shilov says and promises “contracts for every actor” next season.

        The 2000-2001 budget is expected to rise from $500,000 to $750,000. Tickets will be in the $28-$30 range.

       



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