Sunday, July 25, 2004

'Ragtime' veteran returns to stage as love interest in 'Side Show'


Arts News & Notes

Jackie Demaline

Fans of Ken Early, who earned raves last season as Coalhouse Walker in Ragtime for Cincinnati Music Theatre, will want to catch him in the regional premiere of Side Show next weekend for the infant New Stage Collective at Xavier University's Gallagher Student Center Theater.

The Price Hill resident and Northern Kentucky University grad was sidelined from a professional career when he fell in love, married and settled in his hometown.

Side Show is the musical bio of Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who achieved some fame in the Thirties, rising briefly from circus sideshows to the vaudeville circuit. Big, splashy and with a score by Henry (Dreamgirls) Krieger, Early saw an excerpt on the Tony Awards. "I was intrigued, I bought the CD and fell in love with it."

He gets a couple of the show's big numbers as Violet's love interest.

New Stage Collective is largely made up of local college kids spending the summer at home, but eager to hone their skills.

Early laughs that being the "mature" one is fun.

Next up for Early will "probably" be John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men at Mariemont Players in autumn. "I'll be excited to exercise the dramatic acting muscles."

For now, he continues as a song and dance man. Side Show plays at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets $10, $7 students. For reservations and information, visit www.newstagecollective .com.

Filling the calendar

New theater projects are filling the August calendar:

• Bekka Eaton, professor of theater at Miami University-Hamilton and actor-director Dan Britt are part of a new performing arts project for Butler County.

The Creative Asylum has the mission of being an umbrella that offers an affordable venue for presenting small, meaningful works of dance, theater, music and spoken word.

The project debuts with Terrence McNally's terrific Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune starting Friday and continuing through Aug. 14 at Tanze Performing Arts Studio (1044 Symmes Road) in Fairfield.

Eaton left hometown Fairfield for Chicago where she was part of Second City. She moved east for awhile and her performance art band The Daves still has a cult following.

Britt is a tireless theater guy. When he's not on stage, he's been working hard on the African American Theatre Company of Butler County, which he founded with wife Ruth in 2002.

For reservations and information, call (513) 939-3004.

• Know Theatre Tribe has added a performance of David Lindsay-Abaire's darkly wacko comedy Wonder of the World to benefit Cincinnati Community Shares at 8 p.m. Aug. 15.

Wonder, a hit in New York, is about a bride who gets a shock when she invades her groom's sweater drawer. She flees her honeymoon to Niagara Falls for more adventures.

There's a pay-what-you-can preview Aug. 5 and an opening night pizza party post-performance on Aug. 6.

Wonder plays Thursdays-Saturdays at Gabriel's Corner (Sycamore at Liberty in Over-the-Rhine) through Aug. 21.

For reservations and information, call (513) 300-5669 or info@knowtheatre.com.

• Performance Gallery puts together a quartet of comedy one-acts, including Waiting for the Milkman by local playwright Brian Andrews-Griffin, for Aug. 27-28 at Columbia Performance Center (3900 Eastern Ave.) in Columbia Tusculum.

Other entries are by Christopher Durang, Laura Cunningham and Mark O'Donnell. For reservations and information, call (513) 205-0131 or www.performancegallery.org.

E-mail jdemaline@enquirer.com




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