Thursday, April 17, 2003

Knip's eye view


'Lion King' actor shows he's a prince

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Here's a twist on the way things are usually done: Major star comes forward and asks if he can work for free.

But Alton Fitzgerald White, Mufasa in Lion King at the Aronoff and a 1982 School for the Creative and Performing Arts grad, did that very thing.

"He came to us with the idea for a benefit called "Broadway My Way" because he wanted to give something back," says SCPA spokeswoman Tammy Heidler. "Of course we jumped at the chance, and after that, it took on a life of its own and evolved into a whole weekend thing (see item below)."

And since the school was on a roll with him, principal Jeff Brokamp says, "We asked him to speak at graduation and he said yes. Lion King closes May 18, and he'll travel to the next city, then come back here May 21 for us."

"I'll tell you the kind of guy he is," Heidler added. "We made such a big deal of him, I mean he is a big deal, and he was so utterly touched. Just couldn't understand it."

The White benefit is 7:30 p.m. May 12, $25-$75 in SCPA's Abigail Cutter Theatre with a reception after the show. White will do a bunch of Broadway classics including "Being Alive" (Company), "Stars" (Les Miserable) and "You'll Never Walk Alone" (Carousel). Call 632-5910 or visit www.scpa.org for info.

Art Day: Now, about this full weekend: SCPA is reviving an all day art fest it used to do several years ago, Brokamp says.

"Artz-A-Poppin' is a showcase for all of our 1,000 students," he says. "There'll be performances by the students in tents outdoors, in the theater, the gym, even classrooms..

"All students and faculty will be here because it's a required school day. Because of the snow days and our school year starting three days late due to a mold problem in the school, we're one over our calamity days. So we're using it as the required make-up day. We're hoping it also brings a lot of people downtown who don't normally get here."

The idea, he says, is to "see what we are. Then come Monday to the benefit and see what we become."

It's 10 a.m.-9 p.m. May 10, at the school, $5 a head.

Chow down: There looks to be a corned beef war brewing in Cincinnati. It hasn't gotten ugly yet, but with any luck, it will.

Turns out Izzy's president John Geisen was mighty miffed when he read in City Beat's Best Of edition that Jeff Ruby's Tropicana got Best Corned Beef in town.

He was so miffed that that he fired off a letter to Ruby: "Being the Cincinnati tradition that we are - we are in our 101st year here - we feel - and rightly so - that we own the corned beef market in the Tri-State ... But why argue? Let's let the public decide. I offer you and the Tropicana a Corned Beef Taste test - any day, any time, anywhere - and we'll see honestly who has the best corned beef in town."

Ruby hadn't seen the letter when contacted Tuesday, but knew about the challenge: "Andy Furman who does Izzy commercials told me about it. I take no credit for our corned beef - it's flown in from the Carnegie Deli in New York.

So he accepts the challenge?

"I'm thinking. But honestly, them showing up for a taste off with Carnegie corned beef would be like a gun duel where they forgot to load the gun. Hopeless."

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com



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