Sunday, February 2, 2003

The arts

Controversial 'Paradise' to have public reading


Paradise will finally get its trial by jury, a month after its execution.

The 50-minute play, about a Muslim and an American-Israeli girl whose lives tragically intersect in the West Bank, was pulled from Playhouse in the Park's school touring schedule in mid-January.

The decision to cancel came when complaints to schools and the Human Relations Commission from some members of the Muslim community was met with squeamish response from some key Playhouse supporters.

Playwright Glyn O'Malley e-mailed a statement of his concerns to writing organizations and to at least one national newspaper.

The New York Times, noting this censorship issue, has interviewed Playhouse producing artistic director Ed Stern.

A free public reading of Paradise is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Marx Theatre followed by a question-and-answer session. Playwright O'Malley is among those invited to participate.

No reservations; the reading will be first come, first served.

`Our Town': Cincinnati United (theatre) Artists make a one-night-only appearance this season with a public performance of Our Town on Friday.

This is an interracial telling of the Thornton Wilder classic about love and life and death in the small New England town of Grover's Corners. Our Town is having a week of school performances in the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan as part of Cincinnati Art Association's educational series.

"There was no profound reason" for the decision to cast the Webb family as African-American, says company member Chuck Wente.

"It just seemed that a lot of our school audiences will be African-American and great plays aren't about white or black, they're about human beings.

"The show is set in New England at the turn of the last century. We just want to help the youngsters identify with what they're seeing on the stage, and hope this will help open them to its themes."

Our Town will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday For reservations and information call the Aronoff Center box office, 241-7469.

Our Town will reprise in Feb. 28 at the Sorg Opera in Middletown, which will be the first step in Cincinnati United (theatre) Artists' long-term road to touring productions regionally.

CCM sweep: University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music students made a clean sweep of this year's ACT scholarships from Cincinnati's association of community theaters.

The winners are juniors Danny McNie (ACT scholarship), Betsy Wolfe (Dee Wacksman Memorial Scholarship), and Doug Barton (Carol Mills Memorial Scholarship) and freshman Phillip Drennen (Outstanding Freshman sponsored by Rilla Foster).

You can catch CCM musical theater's latest show, A New Brain, at a great price - free. The studio production plays Thursday through Saturday. Reservations are a must. The box office opens Monday at 556-4183. Tickets will go fast; call after noon on Monday.)

Kid wanted: Talk about a utility player. Children's Theatre is looking for a boy under 4-foot-7, at least 9 years old, who can sing, dance, catch and bat.

The role is the youngest member of the team in Jerry Handorf and Scot Woolley's Casey at the Bat, playing April 24-30 at the Taft Theatre.

Auditions are from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Seventh Presbyterian Church in East Walnut Hills and are by appointment only. Call (513) 569-8080, Ext. 10 for details and an audition time.

Floating `Moby': Human Race in Dayton is part of the team attempting to resurrect campy Moby Dick - The Musical, which played in London in the mid-'80s. It failed, but refused to die.

There have been something like 18 revisions during the last 15 years or so. (Shades of Nunsense, it's the story of cash-strapped St. Godley's School for Girls, facing closure and with fund-raising hopes riding on a musical version of the Herman Melville classic.)

Last year, Human Race exec director Kevin Moore, founder of the theater's Musical Theatre Workshop series, received a call from licensing agency Music Theatre International wondering if Moore might like to be part of condensing the various versions into a new production for American audiences.

Moby Dick will have a staged reading on Feb. 9-10 in the Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St. Scott Stoney plays the dual role of Headmistress and Captain Ahab. Also performing are Carrie Ellen Zappa and CCM grads Tory Ross, Daniel Cochran and Juan-Carlos Diaz. Sean Michael Flowers is musical director.

Tickets $15. Call (937) 461-3823.

Flaherty update: With his Seussical the Musical continuing at the Aronoff, what better time to catch up with composer Stephen Flaherty?

The CCM grad will be busier than ever in 2003. He's finished mixing the cast album for A Man of No Importance (which ended its New York run in December.) The CD will be out in April.

He's in London, where rehearsals for a West End production of Ragtime begin Monday.

He'll mark his 20 years of collaborating with Lynn Ahrens by working with a new collaborator - temporarily. He's setting music to the words of Gertrude Stein for a new theater project by Chicago-based director Frank Galati.

The anniversary also will be marked by an April 2 concert of their music in the American Songbook series at Lincoln Center.

He and Ahrens have started the next 20 years by "quietly working on a new piece, Dessa Rose, at Lincoln Center."

Sherley A. Williams' novel brings together two women, a condemned fugitive slave and a slave owner.

"Lynn has wanted to adapt it for more than 10 years. The rights finally became available."

He says he's delighted with the re-worked Seussical that's on the road.

The show, he says, is founded on two of his favorite themes, community and family "and what makes a family. There are traditional and non-traditional families, like an elephant (Horton) and a bird (Gertrude).

"I like to think the message is that everyone has something to offer to their family and their community."

Seussical continues at the Aronoff through Feb. 9. Look for CCM grad Liz Pearce in the chorus. Box office: 241-7469.


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