Sunday, November 30, 2003

Cincinnati producer busy on Broadway

'Hairspray' reminds Steiner of high school days

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music grad Angela Gaylor (right) is part of the Hairspray ensemble with Donna Vivino (left) and Jordan Ballard.
(Paul Kolnik photo)
Rick Steiner of North Avondale is part of the producing team for three shows on Broadway. These days, his name is connected with The Producers, Hairspray and the revival of Little Shop of Horrors.

Hairspray, he laughs, "is so Cincinnati 1962. It's exactly what my high school (Walnut Hills) was."

There are a lot of things he loves about what he does. Here's one of them:

On a visit to New York about a year ago, he spotted a listing for Dream a Little Dream, a retrospective on the Mamas and the Papas. Steiner, who numbers Smokey Joe's Cafe among his projects, couldn't resist checking out a pop music revue.

There was a girl singing the Michelle Phillips role, and "I don't normally look to audition people," but after the show he told her she should audition for Hairspray.

Angela Gaylor, a University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music grad, told Steiner that it was already on her schedule. The audition went well with no input from Steiner.

When Hairspray opens Tuesday night at Procter & Gamble Hall at the Aronoff Center, Gaylor will be among the ensemble - if the herniated disk in her neck that has kept her sidelined these past few weeks has recovered in time for the Cincinnati run. ("Those wigs are heavy!" she says.)

With two mega-hits, Broadway is a $500 million business for Steiner's producing teams. "A huge number in a small industry."

Steiner says he loves the "show" and the "business" equally.

"I love to watch the process - I love to see understudies go on, to see young talent grow. And I love the challenge of figuring out what we have to do to make these shows work."

There are seven productions on Steiner's plate, the three on Broadway and four road companies.

That number will almost double in 2004 as Toronto productions of The Producers and Hairspray are scheduled to open in December and May, respectively, and Australia productions for both are set to open in spring. Little Shop will embark on a national tour in spring, as well.

With 12 companies "the stakes are pretty high," Steiner observes.

If you go

What: Hairspray

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 14

Where: Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center.

Tickets: $25-$75, 241-7469 or

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