Sunday, August 10, 2003

The Arts

'Abracadabra!' director works his own magic

Kenwood native Steve Weikal returns to Cincinnati for the seventh year as magic director of Playhouse in the Park's annual fund-raiser Abracadabra!

What exactly does a magic director do? He makes sure the show goes on - and looks great from the audience.

Weikal says that one of the great things about this annual gig is that "I work with seasoned performers who are good at adapting" when something goes wrong.

Not that he's admitting things go wrong. "I'm suggesting there may have been those moments. It's perfect if you didn't notice."

Weikal, who spent the early part of his professional career as an assistant to Harry Blackstone Jr., joined the Abracadabra! team through his friendship with Ken Klosterman, local amateur magician and collector par excellence.

These days Weikal lives in Boston and works for WGBH-TV. His current assignment is national event publicist for The Blues, the seven-film series executive directed by Martin Scorcese that debuts on PBS nationally Sept. 28.

Abracadabra! plays Thursday through Sunday. For reservations and information, call the Playhouse box office at 421-3888.

Arts center in progress

"We are so pumped!" says Kathy Spoon, who called to report that the team supporting a Kennedy Heights Arts Center, whose aspirations were featured in this column in July, has been Ok'd for a mortgage after a year of effort.

"The hard work begins," says board president Spoon. "It's phenomenal!"

New addition

Congratulations to the theatrical Mechley family on the arrival of a healthy new Hobbit. Gina Cerimele-Mechley, who continues to guide The Lord of the Rings trilogy on the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan stage, was busy with an even bigger production Monday, the birth of daughter, Mac- Kenzie Natalie. Proud pop E.J. is a Local 5 union stagehand.

The final Rings entry, The Return of the King, opens under the new Clear Stage banner Oct. 17.

New Voice tickets

New Voice Theater offers half-price same-day rush tickets for Monday's concert reading of The Gospel According to Fishman at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater.

The new musical by College-Conservatory of Music grads Richard Oberacker and Michael Lazar is about a young Jewish songwriter who's swept up in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It premiered in Washington, D.C. last year.

Lots of big gospel sound is provided by a choir from Cincinnati Black Theatre Company. The event is a fund-raiser for both theaters. For $20 same-day purchase, call the Aronoff box office at 621-2787.

Oberacker and board president Kristin Orr Henderson promise more special events as the company looks to its 2004 debut. No specifics, but Oberacker promises events "with an edge and something to say about what's going on in the city."

Casting news

College-Conservatory of Music grad Leslie Kritzer has joined the cast of the touring Urinetown, which opens the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Cincinnati 2003-04 season in October.

Fave local actress Sherman Fracher will return to the Actors Theatre of Louisville to reprise her role of Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. This time she'll be joined by husband, Drew, playing, appropriately, Mr. Cratchit. (Wish we were seeing Fracher or Dale Hodges on a local stage this autumn.)

Casting opportunity

Cincinnati Shakespeare will audition middle school and high school-aged actors Monday beginning at 6 p.m. to join the ethnically diverse cast of Taming of the Shrew. Rehearsals begin Aug. 26. Questions? Call 381-2289.

Hop on the bus

Mark your calendar to get aboard next weekend's "Culture Bus," celebrating Metro's 30th anniversary.

Next weekend only, a free shuttle will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. next Sunday connecting the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts, Cincinnati Art Museum, Playhouse in the Park (Abracadabra!), the Black Family Reunion at Sawyer Point and the opening of Baseball as America at Cincinnati Museum Center. Buses are scheduled to run every 15 minutes.

Take advantage of one-stop parking, climb aboard, and give yourself a cultural tour of our town at your own pace.

Best-case scenario: the buses will be full and those who make decisions will say, "Gee, look how many people!" A lot of other cities are already going along on this ride.

Contact Jackie Demaline at

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