Sunday, August 13, 2000

ETC adds 'Glimmer' to season

Scheduling conflicts cause slight delay

        D. Lynn Meyers, full-time producing artistic director, part-time juggler, announces a delayed start to the season and a new title (off-Broadway's current hit The Countess) for the Ensemble Theatre 2000-2001 season.

        The last few weeks have been wild ones for Ms. Meyers, but “worth it!”

        Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine, Warren Leight's follow-up to last year's Tony Award winning best play Side Man, will open Sept. 13 instead of the previously announced Sept. 6.

        The delay is to accommodate scheduling conflicts for leading actors Dennis Parlato (last seen at ETC in A Question of Mercy) and Tony Campisi, known to Broadway audiences for shows including The Nerd and Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune.

        Ms. Meyers, who will direct this first full production of Glimmer, says she also won't mind having a couple of extra preview performances for what is essentially a new show. (There have been many rewrites since Glimmer debuted as The Glimmer Brothers last summer at Williamstown, Mass., Theatre Festival.)

        On to Show 2 on the schedule. When last Sunday's Enquirer reported that actress Dale Hodges would be performing Wit at Actors Theatre of Louisville, alert theatergoers noticed that the dates coincided with Lettice and Lovage at ETC. Ms. Hodges was prominently featured in the season brochure as that show's star.

        Ms. Meyers, “thrilled” for Ms. Hodges casting in Wit, didn't want to do Lettice without her and went in search of a replacement show. She finally settled on The Countess, recipient of favorable reviews for its off-Broadway production, which continues at the Lambs Theater in New York.

        The Countess is based on the real romantic triangle involving painter Everett Millais, art critic John Ruskin and his wife in 1854 London. Michael Haney will direct then move up to Eden Park for his annual gig overseeing A Christmas Carol.

        Call the theater box office at 421-3555 for reservations and information.

        Hottest Tickets: Space Cowboys? Ha. The Perfect Storm? Not even close. MI:2? Think again. The hottest tickets this summer were to Hot Summer Nights, University of Cincinnati's straw hat theater series.

        By the time Hot Summer Nights wraps next Sunday , it will have played to about 96 percent capacity with most performances selling out since late July.

        Meanwhile, Playhouse in the Park is gleeful over the success of its return to summer scheduling after more than a decade.

        The popular Always . . . Patsy Cline played to 90 percent capacity. A visit by the Karamazov Brothers drew 74 percent houses, but the always cautious Playhouse had budgeted for lower numbers.

        The best percentage, as far as Playhouse management is concerned, is that 30 percent of the folks buying tickets had never been to the Eden Park theater. Now they're waiting to see if that number translates to ticket purchases for the regular season. Individual tickets go on sale later this month.

        CCM News: Speaking of hot tickets, CCM has completely revamped its studio season and what's in store could introduce scalpers to Cincinnati theater.

        A New Brain is out for the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 slot to be replaced by Adam (Floyd Collins) Guittel's Myths and Hymns. New York reviews of an early version hailed the hot-and-now Mr. Guittel's work as the best musical written in the last 10 years.

        Mr. Guittel OK'd a bare bones staging that will be purely about the singers and the songs. The esoteric subject matter: stories of the ancient gods (myths) and man's relationship to God (hymns).

        Kudos to Mangano : Congratulations to CCM's Nick Mangano, who teaches MFA candidates in directing. He's spending his summer at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and earned unqualified raves from New York critics for his Taming of the Shrew.

        The New York Times said things like “jubilant,” “contagious delirium,” “wildly romantic,” “haunting,” “a divine midsummer madness.” The phrase “magician of the theater” was in there, too.

        We have to wait until April to see Mr. Mangano's work locally when he'll direct Our Country's Good on the CCM main stage.

        League on Web: The League of Cincinnati Theatres will celebrate the new season with the unveiling of its Web site this week.

        Click on and find out the latest on the 14 member companies. The league is also huddling over a possible “ta-dah!” to raise the curtain on 2000-2001. Details coming soon.

        Call for Critics: Any budding critics out there? Area high schoolers who love theater and love to write (and are interested in writing about theater) are invited to apply for my annual criticism seminar at Playhouse in the Park.

        The class meets on eight Mondays (after school) through the course of the academic year. Students get a pair of tickets to the five mainstage shows at Playhouse. Cincinnati Shakespeare is offering free subscriptions to its preview nights. There will also be a visit to Ensemble Theatre.

        Criteria: serious intent to attend the sessions, write seven reviews during the course of the year and engage in debate with other Tristate students.

        To apply, contact your school. The first session is Sept. 25. Teachers and parents with questions can call me at 768-8530 or Bert Goldstein, Playhouse director of education, at 345-2242.

        ETC Interns: Ensemble Theatre welcomed their new crop of interns at 5 p.m. Monday. By 1 p.m. Tuesday, acting/directing intern (and Northern Kentucky University grad) Branan Whitehead was on loan to Playhouse in the Park to play one of a pack of reporters in Inherit the Wind.

        Playhouse's Ed Stern has been drafting more than two dozen local performers to fill out the 46 roles in Inherit, from townspeople to jurors to minor speaking roles.

        Mr. Whitehead did get to hang around ETC long enough to audition for understudy roles, and he does show up for weekend assignments, including typical intern grunt work like spending a 12-hour Saturday getting the theater spic-and-span for the fall season.

        New Director: Actors Theatre of Louisville has named Marc Masterson new artistic director. That's good news for Humana Festival of New American Plays, which has lost a lot of its dash in the last decade.

        Mr. Masterson has a solid track record of quality new play development at his long-time (since 1981) home base City Theatre in Pittsburgh. He's expected to take up the reins in Louisville by the end of the year.

        Sound of Music?: Heard about London stage phenom Sing-A-Long Sound of Music? As the film unreels, you can sing Do-Re-Mi along with Julie, cheer the Von Trapp kids, boo the Nazis, hiss the baroness — wear a wimple! (For the costume competition.)

        The show is coming to New York in September, but far more interesting is the announcement of a 2001 national tour. “We're looking at it,” notes Broadway Series' Van Ackerman.
       Jackie Demaline is The Enquirer's theater critic and roving arts reporter. Write her at Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax, 768-8330.


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