Sunday, May 23, 2004

Theater lineup shows old and new



By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ovation Theatre Company will celebrate its seventh season with longer-running shows, two regional premieres, a Shakespeare, and a reprise of its holiday box office smash from 2003 in a larger theater.

Not bad when you consider that Ovation was one of many theaters that tried its luck in the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater in autumn 1998 - and it was alone there last season. "It was pretty lonely," notes artistic director Joe Stollenwerk.

Slow but steady has been the small company's mantra, producing four shows a year.

In 2004-2005 the schedule will be:

• Oct. 1-16, Stephen King's Misery, a stage adaptation of the horror-meister's hit movie about a best-selling author taken prisoner by a crazed fan.

• Nov. 26-Dec. 4, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, inspired by the popular book about the six Herdman kids who crash Sunday school for free food and teach everyone the real meaning of Christmas.

• April 1-16, Macbeth, wherein ambition destroys a good man.

• July 22-30, The Water Children, another Wendy McLeod premiere by Ovation. This time abortion is the subject of her quirky sensibility.

Both Misery and Macbeth will expand to three weekends and Pageant, which sold out last year, will transfer to the Aronoff's 440-seat Jarson-Kaplan Theater, a big leap of faith from the 100-seat Fifth Third.

Season tickets are available now, $52 adults and seniors, $40 students. Single tickets ($16 adults, $14 seniors, $12 students) can be purchased at www.cincinnatiarts.org or by calling 621-2787.

Next up for Ovation is Noel Coward's Fallen Angels, starring stage favorites Sunshine Cappelletti and Corinne Mohlenhoff as friends and rivals. Angels opens July 30.

Rising Phoenix

Rising Phoenix Theatre Company in Middletown has set its 2004-2005 season:

• Oct. 1-10, Schoolhouse Rock Live! is inspired by the Emmy Award-winning kids TV series. Sing along to "Conjunction Junction!"

• Dec. 10-19, Taking Christmas to the Troops returns for year four with the Johnny B Orchestra, the Lemming Sisters, and all the trimmings of a 1944 USO show.

• Feb. 25-March 6, Oedipus Rex will be a modern dress version of Sophocles' tragedy about a king who discovers he's the cause of his nation's misfortunes.

• May 13-22, Blithe Spirit is about a man caught between two wives - one living, one dead, in Noel Coward's deliciously sophisticated comedy.

Artistic director Christine Brunner (currently making her directorial debut with The Dining Room) says choosing the season was a cinch.

Schoolhouse Rock, she says, is about "wanting to get some smaller people (that would be kids) into the theater." Troops is so popular its already sold out seven matinees.

Brunner scheduled Oedipus "because it was time to put a real classic out there" and, as for Blithe Spirit, she loves Noel Coward.

For reservations to The Dining Room, continuing through next Sunday, and 2004-2005 season information, call the box office at (513) 705-4131. Rising Phoenix performs at the Temple Arts Center, 4 N. Main St., Middletown.

Mariemont Players

Mariemont Players has set its 2004-2005 season:

• Sept. 10-26, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck's classic tragedy. Directed by Ed Cohen.

• Nov. 12-28, Pump Boys and Dinettes sings its way from the gas station to the adjacent diner. Directed by Norma Niinemets.

• Jan. 14-30, Memoir addresses the life of actress Sarah Bernhardt. Directed by Jef Brown.

• March 18-April 3, The Importance of Being Earnest is Oscar Wilde's madly witty romance overflowing with lies that turn out to be truth. Directed by Rosco Mlinik.

May 29-June 5, The Curious Savage is about a widow who is sent to a sanitarium by her greedy stepchildren. Directed by Ginny Weil.

For more information or to order season tickets call the Mariemont Players ticket line at 684-1236.

Actors Theatre, Louisville

Mark your calendar for this fall trip: Actors Theatre of Louisville joins forces with acclaimed Cambridge, Mass.-based American Repertory Theatre and Minneapolis' Theatre de la Jeune Lune to re-imagine Moliere's The Miser.

Expect visual spectacle, commedia dell'arte and vaudeville inspirations - and beyond that be ready to be amazed. The Miser is skinflint Harpagon who attempts to thwart his adult children's romances.

For ticket information call the box office at (502) 584-1205.

E-mail jdemaline@enquirer.com




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