Sunday, October 17, 2004

New Voice Theater ready to be heard



By Jackie Demaline
Enquirer staff writer

New Voice Theater plans a big debut on the local scene late next summer with the area premiere of acclaimed Floyd Collins, the compelling musical telling of the efforts to save a trapped Kentucky miner, and of the activity above him, one of the first national media circuses of the 20th century.

IF YOU GO
What: Miscast
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: 20th Century, 3021 Madison Ave., Oakley
Tickets: $20, (513) 241-2866
But first the new company, headed by well-known musical names Skip Fenker (mastermind of long-departed Aurelia Theatricals), Mark Femia and Richard Oberacker, will bring in College-Conservatory of Music grad (a '93 classmate of Oberacker's) and Manhattan cabaret star Scott Coulter for a benefit.

Coulter will star in Miscast. 8 p.m. Monday at the 20th Century (3021 Madison Road, Oakley).

Miscast? "These are songs we wouldn't normally get to do," says Coulter, who promises some big Broadway belts like "If You Walked Into My Life" from Mame and maybe a round of "The Sound of Music."

Local musical mainstays Laurie Brinkman, Pamela Kay Day, Wayne Wright and Femia will also take the stage, happily "miscast."

Coulter is fresh off an engagement of his latest solo show, Cinema Toast, at the Duplex in New York. New Voice artistic director Fenker promises three productions in 2005. Floyd Collins is planned as the debut event at the Madisonville Community Arts Center, where organizers are still busily raising $700,000 to get the center renovated and the doors open in time. Hope is to get the work started by mid-January. A portion of Miscast proceeds will go to the project.

Other titles are to be named, but one is expected to be a regional premiere drama directed by Ed Cohen, a partner in the community arts center endeavor. The third likely will be a site specific work.

Floyd Collins, says Fenker, is "cool, high-quality art, new to Cincinnati - exactly the kind of thing we're looking for."

While the New Voice names are best known for musicals, they are happy to blast any preconceptions. They'll follow Miscast with readings of Dear George: Letters to the President on Oct. 29-30 at a venue to be announced.

"We want to encourage conversation, discussion" prior to the Nov. 2 election, says Fenker, adding that the evening, distilled from 1,500 letters, "is non-partisan."

Topics echo the debates - war, the economy, gay marriage and more. "New Voice is dedicated to theatrical events that express diverse voices," says Fenker. For more information visit www.deargeorgeletters.com.

Fenker and Femia will also collaborate in spring on the worst kept if happiest secret on the community theater musical scene.

They will be director and musical director for Cincinnati Music Theatre's production of Chicago, playing April 29-May 7 at the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. For information on the Dec. 5-6 auditions, go to www.cincinnatimusictheatre.org.

E-mail jdemaline@enquirer.com




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