Sunday, August 1, 2004

'Mamma Mia!' brings dancer
home for a week

By Jackie Demaline
Enquirer staff writer

Who is that man behind the scuba gear and flippers? Cincinnati native Michael Grayman tours through town this week in Mamma Mia!, the ABBA-fab musical that sets a second-chance love story to the Top 40 hits of the 1970s phenom.

Watch Grayman's moves backing up "Lay All Your Love on Me." It's one tricky number. "It's important to keep the flippers in front of you," he laughs. "There have been some wipeouts" as the guys boogie off-stage.

Grayman was born in Hyde Park, spent most of his formative years in North Avondale and enrolled at School for Creative and Performing Arts in fifth grade. That put him on his first national tour, in The King and I at age 14. That experience "sealed it for me," says Grayman. He loved touring then and he loves it now.

He hasn't played the Aronoff since its opening season, when he was in the ensemble of West Side Story. He's glad to be home if only for a week - and also pleased he able to catch Graeter's July flavor of the month, peach.

If you poke your nose backstage to say hi, he's been collecting bumper stickers and pins for his Mamma Mia! cast baseball cap. Surprise him.

Mamma Mia! plays 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Aronoff Center's Procter & Gamble Hall. Tickets $45-$70. Reservations and information: 241-7469 or

On fire in Hot-lanta

Fans of Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival founding artistic director Jasson Minadakis will be pleased to hear that he continues to heat things up in Hot-lanta.

Now artistic director of Actors Express, Minadakis continues to demonstrate a great eye for a good play. Earlier this summer, he was in Chicago working with Mia (Chagrin Falls) McCullough on a new script, Echo of Another Man, which his theater will premiere in early 2005.

Minadakis has also booked the Playhouse in the Park hit The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Actors Express, which, under Minadakis, could dangerously but accurately bill itself as "Theater with Brains" opens in September with Killer Joe, an earlier hit by Tracy Letts, whose Bug was hailed by just about everybody as one of the best new scripts in New York last season.

Season closer will be Jeffrey Hatcher's stunning Compleat Female Stage Beauty, a Restoration era play-within-a-play about Othello, which was at the top of Minadakis' list for Cincinnati Shakespeare for several seasons before his departure at the end of 2002.

Hatcher has long been a favorite playwright with Cincinnati audiences, having written the Rosenthal New Play Prize winner Scotland Road.

The Shelterhouse season opens in September with his A Picasso.


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