Sunday, January 27, 2002

'Squeeze Box' playwright hopes one night is right

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ann Randolph's mom Pat has invited all of Loveland to her daughter's one-night engagement at Playhouse in the Park on Monday. Her Squeeze Box is part of the theater's winter alternative performance series.

        Ms. Randolph is concerned.

  • What: Squeeze Box
  • When: 7 p.m. Monday
  • Where: Playhouse in the Park
  • Tickets: $10, $6 students. 421-3888
        Squeeze Box is “risque,” she explains by phone from Los Angeles. “I told her I couldn't imagine talking about certain topics in front of . . . my kindergarten teacher!”

        Ms. Randolph fondly remembers her early days with the Kiwanis Kapers (precursor to Loveland Stage Company), her time on stage as a troll in The Hobbit and playing young Patrick in Auntie Mame. She left Cincinnati in 1982 after graduating from Loveland High School to attend Ohio University and fish in Alaska. But those are different stories.

        Ms. Randolph has earned L.A. Weekly Theater Awards for best comedy performance and best solo artist for past shows. Squeeze Box is inspired by the outcome of a personal ad she placed almost three years ago.

        “I'm always lying in relationships, so I decided I was gonna put out there exactly what I wanted.” The bold headline included Beauty, Brains, Brahms, Backpacker and a term that can't be printed here. (Ms. Randolph adds, “My mom said not to tell you that.”)

        “I got 60 hits a day,” she laughs. She fell for a classically trained accordionist.

        Squeeze Box is the tale of their mishap-filled mountain-climbing adventure. Ms. Randolph creates more than a dozen characters and says she digs deep in her material, touching on issues of spirituality and self-acceptance. And sex, of course.

        Alas, there wasn't a happy ending. Ms. Randolph learned, yet again, “that composers can play with such depth of feeling, but that feeling is never for a woman, only for their instrument. I would ask myself, how can that be?”

        Romantic trauma is such that it took two years to write Squeeze Box. She's managed to make a handy living from TV commercials (she portrayed a yoga teacher for AmeriTrade and a lunch-line lady for Kellogg's Corn Pops) and guest shots on sitcoms, including The Drew Carey Show.

        She is hoping that there may be enough tickets left for Monday's show to accommodate some New York theater investor-types. She and director Alan Bailey (Smoke on the Mountain) would love to open the show show off-Broadway in fall. (It comes with some creds — HBO is holding a six-month option on television rights.)

        P.S. — Ms. Randolph is still looking for the love of her life.

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