Sunday, May 11, 2003

The Arts


Theater scene needs lots of 'ambassadors'

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It's Mother's Day. Let mom know you love her - give her a night at the theater.

This is my third suggestion for creating a healthy downtown theater (and performing) scene: We all need to be downtown arts ambassadors.

Along with the professional incubator program and subsidized Fifth Third Bank Theater we've already written about, Cincinnati desperately needs a downtown arts ambassador program - for concierges, restaurant staff (especially maitre d's), cab drivers and for us regular folks.

There's nothing more fun than knowing the inside story. Why not a session that includes some background on some Bats Incredible entries and maybe a stop at P”avo's favorite java joint along with all the info on what's playing?

Why not include a voucher program so hotel and restaurant staff can make some enthusiastic recommendations beyond The Lion King? (It's only playing for one more week, after all.) Vouchers would be a great way to reward volunteer ambassadors, too.

Suggestion three: Get the town talking now. There's a lot to crow about.

Invite friends and relatives far and near. Take them to a ball game, to Baseball As America (opening Aug. 16 at Cincinnati Museum Center) - and to a show.

Spend a free(!) afternoon at Cincinnati Art Museum (beginning Saturday), then spend an evening at a local theater.

Going to the Hofbrau Haus in Newport? Don't assume your only option is a movie across the way.

Every one of us can make a difference.

Bowman returns: For everyone who was knocked sideways by last season's I Stand Before You Naked, produced by New Edgecliff at the Artery in Newport, take note: End-of-the-world-as-we-know-it satire Square One marks the return of director Rebecca Bowman to the theater scene. (Bowman has spent most of the current season helping Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival through some rough months.)

"I'm a big fan of things like Brave New World and 1984," Bowman laughs. "I like how it looks like a romantic comedy and just becomes more and more horrific."

She's also interested in the play's resonances in the current political climate. Although it was written in 1990, its issues seem prescient of our post-9-11 world.

"It's about the nature of patriotism, the meaning of freedom. I think it brings an important voice in the national discussion on a local level."

Square One stars Naked veteran Elizabeth A. Harris and Cincinnati Shakespeare company member Matthew Johnson.

Thursday's pay-what-you-can preview is a benefit for Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center. Square One runs May 16-31 at the Artery, 913 Monmouth St. Tickets $15. For reservations and information, call 763-3844.

The Bar Tour: The Bar Tour, closing The Cincinnati Enquirer's 2002-03 Footlights series on Thursday with sets at Kaldi's, Hamburger Mary's and Arnold's, offers lots of sneak previews, including Ensemble Theatre's intern company performing vignettes from their original Last Call, all about love, romance and heartbreak.

If you like what you see, you can head over to Ensemble at 10 p.m. for the full show Wednesday-Friday and 2 and 10 p.m. Saturday only ($10; box office 421-3555).

Then it will be time to say goodbye to ETC's graduating class as most of them search for paid employment elsewhere.

As Maureen Doherty (also a CCM drama grad) says, "there is limited opportunity for young actresses in Cincinnati." (We need a theater scene.) Doherty moves to Chicago in fall.

Bar Tour tickets ($5 single admission, $10 all-tour pass) are available at local box offices and at Kaldi's, Mary's and Arnold's on night of show. Bar Tour benefits the League of Cincinnati Theatres. See you there.

Cirque du Soleil: A year ago Cirque du Soleil (of the avant garde, eye-poppingly theatrical circus shows) was keeping a low profile as it checked out Cincinnati as a possible site for a show this summer, but our town was a tantalizing name on the potential tour schedule posted on the Web site.

Quel domage, Cirque is heading for Columbus instead, where Dralion will perform under the "Grand Chapiteau" (that's "Big Top" to us Midwesterners) beginning July 24.

Another opportunity lost. (And we could have used high buzz Cirque to fill a long, hot summer of dark, should-be-performing nights downtown.)

Call (800) 678-5440 or online at cirquedusoleil.com for times and ticket prices.

'Elevator': Arts Consortium offers the regional premiere of The Elevator through next weekend, including a 3 p.m. matinee today.

A winner of the Dreambuilder's Celebration Award, it's directed by Luther Gibson, fresh off Know Tribe's Two Trains Running.

Box office: 381-0645. Arts Consortium is located at 1515 Linn St.

Award winner: Congratulations to Hamilton native Kelli (Thacker) Fournier. When Aida toured to Cincinnati last season, she strutted away with the show as a spoiled fashionista princess. She was a hit in Washington, D.C., too and earlier this week won a Helen Hayes Award for best supporting performer in a non-resident production.

Cincinnati native Richard Oberacker, currently in town as musical director of The Lion King, didn't fare quite so well. The Gospel According to Fishman (written with Michael Lazar) was edged out in the Hayes awards' best new musical category by Polk County.

E-mail jdemaline@enquirer.com.




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