Sunday, August 22, 2004

Hamilton Civic makes home of old movie house

The arts

By Jackie Demaline
Enquirer staff writer

Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre has a terrific performing space - they produce their season at Miami University's Hamilton campus theater. But that's not the same as having a home.

"We had to beg and borrow for rehearsal space and places to build costumes and store props and do set construction," sighs Jim Noonan, who, with wife, Barbara, and Susan and John Vaughn, chairs Hamilton Civic's capital campaign.

In late spring, the theater, with plenty of help from Hamilton Community Foundation, purchased a former office space in downtown Hamilton, and this week, as the modern fa┴ade is ripped off, passersby are noticing that Hamilton Civic's new home is a genuine theater and its ornate columns and windows are brightening Third Street.

The first $100,000 has been raised, with approximately $200,000 to go.

John Vaughn gives a virtual walking tour through the new space over the phone. "The Palace opened in 1925. It was a silent movie house. It was pretty elegant." He talks about its history, about the still intact ornate ceiling. Earlier renovations employed suspended ceilings and portable partitions that saved some decorative elements.

Now Hamilton Civic is embarking on a series of fund- and awareness-raisers.

An art exhibit and auction is scheduled for Sept. 11 at the Wilks Conference Center at Miami University Hamilton. (Tickets $20; for reservations and information, call 868-6334.)

Susan Vaughn is hoping that the Palace will be ready for a wine and cheese reception, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10. There will be a Halloween Masquerade Ball on Oct. 30 at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Fairfield's Joyce Park. (Grown-ups only; for tickets and information, call 868-9219.)

They are all hoping to schedule a big opening party in November.

There is an ongoing fund established at Hamilton Community Foundation because after the building and renovation are paid for, there will always be maintenance. For information or to make a contribution, call the foundation at 863-1389.

Clear Stage changes

Clear Stage Cincinnati starts its second season at the Aronoff Center without founder Troy Bausch, who has departed, and managing director Blake Bowden, who has taken an indeterminate leave of absence.

In a statement, both pointed to other obligations.

Long-time local actor Bob Allen is now artistic director. Allen is in his sixth year with the College-Conservatory of Music's preparatory department, where he chairs the drama certificate program. Josh Neumeyer, new fine arts manager at Northern Kentucky University, will serve as Clear Stage's managing director.

Allen says it's a good time to take the job. "I have done practically everything that one can do in the theatrical form over the past 30 years. Taking on an artistic directorship was unchecked on the list.

"And the group is in its formative stage and I like being in on the building, shaping and molding process."

He likes the small company's emphasis on education and outreach.

The theater will continue to emphasize education, including offering pre-professional experience to local students of acting and technical theater.

In the future, Allen says, "I want Clear Stage to be a place where actors, directors, designers and technician have a chance to work on their skills in a learning environment.

There won't be any changes to the 2004-2005 season, which opens in October with Romeo & Juliet and continues with Oleanna, Ordinary People and Driving Miss Daisy.

The reorganized Clear Stage will kick off the season with dinner theater performances of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) on Tuesday and Aug. 31 at Arnold's Bar & Grill (210 E. Eighth St.). Curtain time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.75. Call 421-6234 for reservations.

Big voice at Showboat

Last time we saw Cincinnati native Rick Roedersheimer, he was onstage at the Aronoff in the touring Oklahoma! Next month catch him close up at Showboat Majestic, where he'll be starring as Lt. Cable in South Pacific (Sept.15-Oct. 3.)

Turns out he's been getting a lot of invitations to audition from other tour producers. His Oklahoma! contract was up and he decided to try his luck.

"He's here rehearsing, he's going to go into New York for several auditions. None of the tours would go out until after South Pacific closes," says Showboat exec producer Tim Perrino. "I'm excited to have him. Wait till you hear him sing!"

For reservations and information, call the Showboat box office at 241-6550.

Morgan's competition

We know that Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan is one of five finalists for the artistic director job at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, but who's the competition?

According to the Seattle Times, here are the other four winnowed down from an original list of 50 candidates:

• Peter Boal; principal with New York City Ballet, full-time faculty member at the School of American Ballet and founder/director of new troupe Peter Boal and Friends.

• Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary; married couple, both former Pacific Northwest dancers. He's artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet. (Call him sir - the Danes knighted him in 2002!)

• Jeff Edwards; associate artistic director of Washington Ballet (in D.C.) and former director of education for Twyla Tharp Dance.

• Benjamin Houk; formerly Pacific Northwest dancer and artistic director of the Nashville Ballet and Fort Worth Dallas Ballet (Texas Ballet Theater).

Expect a decision by early 2005.



In control at WGUC
Local director's film debuts Monday
Hamilton Civic makes home of old movie house
'Abracadabra!' casts special magical spell
Magic at Playhouse