Sunday, August 17, 2003

CSF erases red ink, spiffing up theater


The arts

Jackie Demaline

Cincinnati Shakespeare starts its next 10 years the best way: The company has abolished the deficit that was threatening its future just a few months ago.

"It was a rough year," says festival business manager Greg Davis, "but everyone here worked their tails off." Credit, he says, goes to staff, board and "all the patrons who stuck with us."

A clean ledger means the festival can plan rather than merely survive.

It's also spiffing up its Race Street home, where patrons will find new carpeting, new seats (with the last three rows of seating raised for better viewing) and the lobby will sport current framed photos of company members. (That's how tight the budget was last year.)

First up for the 2003-04 festival season, a sneak peek at educational touring shows starring the new Young Company. Oedipus Rex/Antigone plays Aug. 29-31; A Midsummer Night's Dream plays Sept. 5-7. For reservations and information, call 381-2273.

The 10th anniversary season officially opens Sept. 18 with a revival of the festival's first production, The Taming of the Shrew, this time in a Victorian-era setting featuring the return of company founding member Marni Penning.

BlueForms coming

Performance Gallery will bring theater from beyond Cincinnati's mainstream to its Eastern Avenue stage this fall, hosting BlueForms Theatre Group from Columbus on Nov. 14-15.

Alternative weekly Columbus Alive wrote, "For anyone simply interested in theater that's as enlightening as it is entertaining, BlueForms offers some of the most exciting new stuff Columbus has seen in ages."

Performance Gallery's Stephanie Cotton-Snell and Brian Robertson took a road trip to Columbus last winter to check the company out and liked what they saw. "They're a new, innovative company creating original pieces. We're excited to be hosting them," says Cotton-Snell.

Wexner 'road trip'

Or you can go to Columbus. The nationally renowned Wexner Center on the campus of Ohio State University has a 2003-04 line-up that shouts "global" and "road trip!"

Just a few temptations: Senagalese superstar Youssou N'Dour, Sept. 19; Improbable Theatre, which had an international hit with Shock-Headed Peter a few years ago, offers the U.S. premiere of The Hanging Man, Oct. 2-4; Akram Khan Dance Company with KAASH, Oct. 10-11; young jazz star Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, Oct. 17; Canada's da da kamera with its Obie Award-winning In On It, Nov. 9.

The schedule also includes artists from the Czech Republic, Mexico, Italy, Israel, the United Kingdom, India, Argentina, Belgium and top U.S. names including Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company's 20th anniversary season show.

For further information and a brochure, call the ticket office at (614) 292-3535 or check out www.wexarts.org/pa. Public ticket sales begin Sept. 2.

It's in the mail

Artists (performing and visual) should watch their mailboxes in the coming week. City Council member Jim Tarbell will be sending out an update on the Over-the-Rhine Arts District Home Buyers Program that's expected to roll out by October, administered by the Home Ownership Center.

"We definitely want to keep the arts community on top of this," says Tarbell aide Ron Wahl.

The program means no down payment to eligible home buyers and could effect as many as 500 buildings in the neighborhood. Tarbell, who chairs council's arts and culture committee, would like to see a lot of those go to artists, populating his "Community of Arts and Artists" concept surrounding the new Art Academy of Cincinnati site at 12th and Jackson streets.

It will be possible to purchase owner-occupied mixed-use buildings, which means artists would be able to sell work from a live/work studio.

Broadway for Kids

Broadway for Kids, which subsidizes children's and teachers' tickets to Broadway touring shows at the Aronoff Center, will receive a percentage of sales from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Barnes & Noble at Sycamore Plaza.

You'll need a voucher, but Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Cincinnati reps will be on hand to hand them out, if you haven't picked one up online at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com or clipped one out of a newspaper ad.

Broadway for Kids also provides support materials, free public workshops and artist-in-school master classes. Applications to be part of the Broadway for Kids program are being accepted. Teachers can call Carlyne Sims at 241-2345, Ext. 205 for more information.

With the school year about to start, it's a good time to remember that Cincinnati's locally-produced professional theaters also offer wonderful shows and educational opportunities.

Teachers, it's worth doing your homework.

If you go to New York ...

If Manhattan is on your September schedule, make time for Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck's Omnium-Gatherum (written with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros).

The Sept. 11-inspired fantasia was the hit of this year's Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville. It begins previews at the Variety Arts Theatre Sept 9 and opens Sept. 25. Call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.If Wicked, the much-buzzed Wizard of Oz riff (based on Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West) is on your list of Broadway show-going, you can cheer University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music grads Kristie Cates and Andrew Palermo. Palermo has been with the show through out-of-town tryouts; Cates joins the production in New York. Previews begin Oct. 7 prior to an Oct. 30 opening.

E-mail jdemaline@enquirer.com.




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