The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (CPIP), still three months shy of completing its current season, has announced its 2000-2001 schedule. The new season, which kicks off the regional theatre company's fifth decade, is described by theatre sources as being rooted in tradition, innovation and a sense of good theatre. Cincinnati's 41st season is also the ninth for CPIP's producing artistic director Ed Stern.
Highlights of CPIP's 2000-2001 schedule include the new musical, Everything's Ducky; the area premiere of the 1998 Tony Award winning comedy Art; the reunion of playwright Lanford Wilson and director Marshall Mason for a production of Talley's Folly; Keith Glover's chilling tale of vampires in the wild west titled, Dark Paradise: The Legend Of The Five-Pointed Star; and a work to be produced through the Playhouse's Lois and Richard Rosenthal New Play Prize program in the 626-seat Robert S. Marx Theatre.
Glover's Dark Star, described as the "largest production in the 12 year history of the Rosenthal Prize," will need an extra week of rehearsal, specifically to perfect the hundreds of lighting, sound and special effects in the show.
Now enjoying its most successful season ever, CPIP has logged a record number of season subscribers (21,346) and a number of sold out performances (160 to date). Theatre attendance at the regional has been running 92 percent of total capacity.
Currently slated for the CPIP 2000-2001 season are: • Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's courtroom drama, Inherit The Wind, starts previews Sept. 5, opens Sept. 7 and runs through Oct. 6. Based on Tennessee's Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925, Inherit The Wind involves a high school teacher on trial for teaching evolution and a crisis that attracts the two greatest legal titans of the age: fundamentalist Matthew Harrison Brady and civil libertarian Henry Drummond.
• Everything's Duckybegins previews Oct. 17, opens October 19 and closes Nov. 17. In this freshly-hatched take on a world where ducks rule and wolves drool, the creative genius behind Dreamgirls and Side Show presents a new musical comedy. Features a book by Bill Russell and Jeffrey Hatcher (whose Scotland Road premiered at CPIP in 1993), music by Henry Krieger and lyrics by Bill Russell.
• The Playhouse's production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, part of the Tristate's holiday tradition, returns to CPIP from Dec. 1 - 30. Adapted by Howard Dallin, A Christmas Carol features three dozen actors (including Joneal Joplin as Scrooge and several area children) with more than 100 costume pieces and spectacular scenery. While not part of any particular subscription season package, CPIP subscribers can receive discounts and early buying opportunities.
• For the first time in its 12-year history, the winner of CPIP's Rosenthal New Play Prize will be produced in the Marx Theatre as the Playhouse presents the world premiere of Keith Glover's Dark Paradise (subtitled The Legend Of The Five-Pointed Star), beginning previews Jan. 28. The show opens Feb. 1 and runs through March 2. Glover blends cowboys and vampires in a story about a man's dying command to send a beautiful young woman into unknown danger -- blazing the trail for one western that really begins at sunset.
• Art by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, starts previews March 18 and opens March 22. The show, scheduled to run through April 20, is a wistful comedy about the nature of art and the fine art of friendship. CPIP's associate artistic director Charles Towers directs.
• The Cincinnati Playhouse presents Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly which begins previews April 29, opens May 3 and runs though June 1. This production marks a 20th anniversary reunion of Wilson and director Marshall Mason, who collaborated together on the Pulitzer-winning premiere of the show on Broadway. In Talley, St. Louis accountant Matt Friedman plead his love to Sally Talley, the quiet, uncertain daughter of a well-to-do family. She fears her WASP-ish family would never approve of her marrying a Jew.
• CPIP's Thompson Shelterhouse season begins with a production of Joe Calarco's re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, titled Shakespeare's R&J, which starts previews Sept. 23, opens Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 22. Fatigued by prep school lessons, four young men discover the Bard's play, begin acting it out, and are swept away by the liberating nature of Shakespeare's language. Originally an Off-Broadway success.
• Having played Australia, Israel and New York, where it's been running for more than three years Off-Broadway,I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change begins previews Nov. 4, opens Nov. 9 and runs through Dec. 23 at CPIP. This musical comedy revue, characterized in production notes as "the most proposal-friendly show ever," features book and lyrics by Joe Di Pietro and music by Jimmy Roberts. In the play, two men and two women explore the modern mysteries of "the relationship."
• Patrick Marber's Closer starts previews Jan. 6, 2001 opens Jan. 11 and runs through Feb. 4. Charles Towers directs this play, which focuses on four characters in London, circa 1990, following them through four years of romantic turmoil. The play, which enjoyed critical success in London and on Broadway, contains strong language and sexual situations. No one under 18 will be admitted.
• Avenue X starts previews Feb.17 and opens Feb. 22. The show runs through March 18. Featuring book and lyrics by John Jiler and music by Ray Leslee, this play is an a cappella musical set in the racially-tense environs of 1963 Brooklyn. In Avenue X, tolerance, tension and the universal language -- music -- find dramatic confluence where the Italian Bensonhurst neighborhood meets that of the African American projects and the glorious sound of doo-wop is born. Avenue X features an 18-song score of original music performed by eight actor/vocalists, and the show contains strong language and violence.
• Charles Ludlam's madcap The Mystery Of Irma Vep starts previews April 7, opens April 12 and runs through May 6. Two actors play all the roles, human and otherwise, in what has been described as a "loving and hilarious hybrid of the Gothic romances and horror stories of the 1930s."
Subscriptions to the 2000-2001 Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park season are available now in a variety of packages. Prices range from $124.50 $205, depending on the package. Prices for the full 10-play season range from $204-$328, a 20 percent discount off the two separate series combined. Full-time student and full-time educator rates are available. To purchase subscriptions or for more information on the 2000-2001 season at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, call (513) 421-3888 or toll-free throughout the Tristate, (800) 582-3208. For TDD access, call (513) 345-2248.
-- By Murdoch McBride