Sunday, June 22, 2003

The arts

Brochure makes waves for Playhouse

Jackie Demaline

The graphic for Metamorphoses in Playhouse in the Park's eye-catching 2003-04 season brochure begs the question: How'd they do that?

Last year's New York hit is adapted from Ovid's stories of gods and mortals, all of it played in a large shallow pool.

To get the image that tells the story is its own story.

First, the Creative Department ad agency had to cast the pool. That wasn't as easy as it sounds. It needed to be empty (for eight hours) and it needed to look as if it were outdoors (even though the March shoot was too cold for outdoors).

The rooftop pool at Garfield Tower Apartments won the role, in large part because of two enormous skylights that were opened to help create the illusion.

It was a windy day - drama! - which made the water too choppy and there was some concern that lights might blow into the pool. When the sun came out, it was too bright.

A black plastic tarp was weighted down on the bottom of the pool to add color and to define motion and texture.

Enter Ric Sechrest, a member of this year's Playhouse/Ohio University M.F.A. Acting Company. He spent five hours, sans wings, diving in.

The final image (seen at top right) is a composite of several photos that were digitally manipulated. Figure about seven hours of computer editing.

For a copy, call the box office at 421-3888.

Pam Myers' CD release party

Party with the Cincinnati musical stage's favorite star! Playhouse in the Park celebrates Pam Myers' first solo CD, The Chance to Sing, with a release party 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 9.

A collection of well- and lesser-known show tunes features Myers accompanied on piano by the composer of each song - a line-up that includes luminaries Stephen Schwartz , Charles Strouse (Annie) and John Kander (Chicago).

Myers, who has starred at Playhouse in shows including Gypsy and Sweeney Todd, recorded the songs last year when she was on Broadway performing in the revival of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.

"Little did I know when I called my old friends Billy Goldenberg and Larry Grossman to ask if they would accompany me on two of my personal favorites that I would have the most amazing summer living a musical theater dream," the Tony Award nominee (for Company) writes in her liner notes.

"Each composer had a few songs in mind and I sat at the piano with him and together we chose what suited both of us. What a privilege to sing with each musician playing in his own style!"

Admission is free but space is very limited and reservations are required. Reservation cut-off is July 3 (but no promises that there will still be tickets available.) Call 421-3888 or (800) 582-3208.

'Wild Blue' celebrates flight

Human Race joins the rest of Dayton, Ohio, in celebrating the Wright Brothers centennial and the Inventing Flight festival with the world premiere revue Wild Blue, continuing through July 13 in the Mathile Theatre in the Schuster Center.

Taking on the big theme of man's fascination with flight are musical team Rob Hartmann and Dayton native Scott Keys (with additional lyrics by Liv Cummins). Hartmann and Keys are previously represented in Human Race's Musical Theatre Workshop Series with Hereafter and Macabaret.

The five-member cast features Christine Ciccone, Braden Miles, David Ranson, Scott Stoney and College-Conservatory of Music grad Lisa Howard, whose work at CCM included powerhouse performances in Sondheim shows Assassins and Passion. Musical director is CCM grad Greg Anthony.

These days Howard is based in New York, after a two-year touring stint touring with Les Miz. She's spent the last year doing "tons of readings of new musicals," mostly at New York University, which is where she met Hartmann. That led to performing in his revue Too Much Information. You can also hear her on many demo recordings which composers use to pitch producers.

If you want to see Howard, see Wild Blue by next Sunday. Then she bows out for St. Louis' Municipal Opera where she'll spend the rest of the summer playing a wicked stepsister in Cinderella.

You'll want to make those reservations soon for the show, which continues through July 13. July 6-11 performances are sold out, as are two performances tomorrow. For reservations and information call the box office at (937) 228-3630 or toll-free at (888) 228-3630. Order online.

Finnegan wins a 'Jeff'

Congrats to Rebecca Finnegan, now the proud and happy recipient of a "Jeff," Chicago's equivalent to the Tony Award, for her supporting work in Company.

"I was hoping to be nominated," she reports happily, "but as this was the my first show in Chicago, I wasn't expecting it!"

She didn't write an acceptance speech. "I was way too nervous and didn't want to jinx it!"

Company lives on, at least for a little while. It's being revived at Theater on the Lake, a summer festival that annually showcases some of the city's best productions.

Next up, a July 15 concert for Mookie Jam Foundation, a not-for-profit benefiting artists and performers with Muscular Dystrophy, founded by her best friend and fellow Cincinnati native Mierka Girten.

"Donations and requests for application can be made to: Mookie Jam Foundation, P.O. Box 25244, Chicago, IL 60625."

In other Windy City news, Cincinnati actor Jim Stump will travel with Illuzzio, a commedia dell'arte-style musical by Nicholas Korn, in its try for a summer success in Chicago. The show debuted here last winter as part of Korn's defunct Stage First Cincinnati. The show opens at the Chopin Theatre July 10.

Contact Jackie Demaline at

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