Sunday, July 6, 2003

The arts

SCPA 'popera' tells Over-the-Rhine story

Jackie Demaline

School's not out for summer, at least not on the theater scene. Curtains will go up and up and up and up on Thursday with four openings scheduled.

"Our City. Our Story." is the slogan for Over-the-Rhine "popera" blueS alleY caT. Why the caps on the final letter instead of the first? Composer, lyricist and co-writer Joe Gorman wants audiences to pause and think.

Timely as can be, and featuring some characters who seem to be thinly veiled nods to real local characters, blueS alleY caT follows the fortunes of big bucks housing initiative Futurama and a City Councilwoman who has just been awarded custody of her precocious nephew.

You can see the show in air-conditioned comfort thanks to a grant from Smith Family Foundation.

Tickets $18 and $25. Call 362-2713 (Cincinnati Business Incubator). Evening performances are at 7 p.m at SCPA.

Also opening: Agatha Christie musical send-up Something's Afoot begins a three-weekend run (through July 27) at Northern Kentucky University; call (859) 572-5464. Green Gables by local composing team Janet Vogt and Mark Friedman will play July 10-20 at Miami University; call (513) 529-3200.

Tribe 'didn't lose too much'

Know Tribe exec producer Jay Kalagayan reports a happy ending for Corpus Christi. All the controversy paid off at the box office - "We sold out the entire run!" - although that didn't quite turn into a profit.

There was extra insurance, security and a lot of actors to pay. But the theater didn't lose too much, Kalagayan sighs in relief.

Know couldn't take advantage by selling tickets to its August show at Gabriel's Corner (Sycamore at Liberty) because the church council that hosts the theater hadn't (and still hasn't) reached a decision on the gay-themed play that's Know's first choice.

"They're being a little more careful with our selections from now on," says Kalagayan, "which I completely understand."

Xavier hosts one-acts

In the meantime, Kalagayan & Co. will spend July at his alma mater, Xavier University, with a double bill of one-acts under the umbrella title Vague Promises.

Lee Blessing's Eleemosynary is about three generations of a family of extraordinary and difficult women. Jennifer Dalton, Sue Breving and Andrea Backschneider are featured.

Know artistic director Matthew Pyle and Cincinnati Shakespeare's Ghillian Porter (both fresh from Corpus Christi) co-star in Affections of an Alley Cat, about a part-time prostitute and a client who wants to know her better.

Christine DeFrancesco directs. The Xavier Studio is in Gallagher Student Center. For reservations and informaton call the Know Tribe box office at 300-5669.

Dayton's Schuster has class

Dayton is making a drive north for Broadway touring entertainment an attractive option, despite the grinding headaches brought on by construction on I-75.

Here's what I saw on opening night of Phantom of the Opera at the classy new Schuster Performing Arts Center: A sell-out crowd, many of them dressed to the nines for the big event. Hand rails at stairs. (This will mean something to everyone who frequents the Aronoff, as will the no-slip floors.)

Sweeping lobby spaces are elegant, but not too elegant for artwork by local elementary school students to grace the wall at street level. It's a warm and charming touch.

Here's what I didn't see: panhandlers. As I walked to my car, I spotted a security guy who paused for a chat. No panhandlers, he promised. There's a full crew of yellow-shirted security in evidence throughout the evening who successfully act as a deterrent. A patron can even stop at the center's security office and request to be accompanied to the car.

"We want you to feel as safe as if you were at home," he told me. I did.


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