Sunday, January 23, 2000

Gardner local theater legend

Avant-garde works were landmarks at CCM, Playhouse

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The producer of Rent, the composer of Ragtime and a sitcom star are among his former students.

        He co-founded Hot Summer Nights, envisioning it in part as a workshop for new authors and work.

        His six-year stint as Playhouse in the Park artistic director was marked by landmark musical theater, a steady decline in subscribers, a hefty deficit and a resignation.

        Worth Gardner is the closest thing to a legend Cincinnati theater has seen in contemporary times.



        He joined the faculty of College-Conservatory of Music at 23, barely more than a student himself, and proceeded to set the town on its ear with shows including a punk Mikado and a dizzying Wizard of Oz.

        “His years at CCM were landmark, a vanguard of experimentation,” says Scot Woolley, CCM grad and longtime Gardner collaborator. Last year he was musical director for a production of Tommy that toured the Northeast. He will also be music director of Pirates of Penzance at Downtown Theatre Classics.

        Mr. Gardner's always original vision, Mr. Woolley judges, “mani fested itself popularly in musicals.”

        His 12 years at CCM (1973-85) delivered a lot of big names to the national theater scene, including Kevin McCollum, producer of Rent; Stephen Flaherty, composer of Ragtime and the upcoming Suessical; and actress Vicki Lewis.

        “He turned children into men and women with points of view and a sense of style,” Mr. Woolley says.

        Mr. Gardner was tapped as artistic director of Playhouse in the Park in 1985 and stayed for six rambunctious seasons before resigning and moving to New York.

        His freelance projects include a re-mounting of The Wizard of Oz for Mr. McCollum. The Broadway hopeful didn't make it to New York.


Confederate flag continues to divide
Shedding light but not heat on KKK rally
Dad holds Navy responsible after son dies
Site study sought for fast train
Roe-Wade anniversary marked by both sides
Dems' deliverance may be near
Flurries linger from Saturday storm
Ripley schools riding wave of success
Some news you can lose
DUI bill drawing mixed reaction
Ex-orphan wants state to apologize
Ludlow council under fire
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book
Film exposes Mapplethorpe secrets
Showtime's Barrie film promotes free speech
ArtAbility lets kids show what they can do
Awards honor work of young volunteers
CCO finalist takes stand for fun
DTC makes a splash with Gardner and 'Pirates'
- Gardner local theater legend
Getting married? Be in our 'Love Story'
Maynard's wild about wildlife
Sundance height of indie mania
The play's their thing
Surgery repairs the body, changes the spirit
Our cuisine gets helping of accolades
Artist works in primary colors
Charter school allowed to reopen with improvements
Disabled thrive at preschool
Fact-finder's report status quo
Fairfield to discuss speeding
Hamilton Co. may hire CCY to give training
Popular UC professor dies
Safety programs, classes offered
School courtyard's paving bricks to raise funds
Students sit in at caucus
Union Twp. reviews projects