Sunday, February 16, 2003

Stage First Cincinnati to shut down

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Stage First Cincinnati, one of the first small theaters companies to move into the Fifth Third Bank Theater after the Aronoff Center opened in 1995, will bring down the curtain permanently after today's matinee of Illuzio.

Artistic director Nicholas Korn said the decision came from a combination of the economy, expenses at the Aronoff Center and "what people want and don't want to see. If we could get 600 to 800 people to see the shows, we'd be all right."

Stage First specializes in world classics and original work in the classic vein, like the current Illuzio: or a Man's Best Servant Is Himself, a play with music in the style of 18th-century French comedy.

During the theater's five-season, run, Korn has written several successful adaptations and an ambitious trilogy chronicling Alexander the Great.

The company slowly has been losing financial ground in recent years, first cutting the number of performances, then the number of productions.

Stage First had a near-death experience at the end of last season but Korn fought his way back from a shut-down.

Korn, who now has a solid library of adapted work, including Lysistrata, as well as original scripts including Illuzio, will keep a Cincinnati base for the time being, but his producing days here are over.

He plans to travel to Chicago on Monday where he's already in discussion about a production of Illuzio. "I think it could run there for a long time."

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