The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will present an a cappella musical, Avenue X , beginning with previews on Feb. 17. Featuring "rock, gospel and doo-wop" the show opens Feb. 22 and plays at the Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre through March 18. With support from a Richard Rodgers Award in 1992 and 1993, Avenue X premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 1994.
In the racially tense setting of 1963 Brooklyn, Avenue X portrays a tenuous coexistence between the leader of an Italian-American singing group and a "young black man who is fighting to realize his own dreams of surpassing the limited musical success of his family." The common bond of music brings the two men together to form "the glorious sound of doo wop."
The play features book and lyrics by John Jiler, who was inspired to write the show while researching an article for The Village Voice. The 18-song score is by Ray Leslee (Standup Shakespeare scores for "Educating Rita," "The Common Pursuit," "The Living Newspaper"). As a musician, Leslee has played keyboards for Jay and the Americans, the Platters and the Four Seasons among others.
The current cast includes Jon Stewart (Pasquale), Roy Chicas (Chuck), Michael Sharon (Ubazz), Leenya Rideout (Barbara), Kevin R. Free (Milton), Jeffery V. Thompson (Roscoe), Virginia Ann Woodruff (Julia) and Corey Reynolds (Winston).
John Ruocco directs and choreographs the show. The creative team comprises musical director Georgia Stitt, set designer Narelle Sissons, costume designer Curtis Hay, lighting designer Paul Szczepanski and fight director k. Jenny Jones (fight director). Stage manager is Emily F. McMullen. Tickets range $35-$43. For tickets and information call (513) 421 3888 or toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana at (800) 582-3208. Call (513) 345-2248 for TDD accessibility. Tickets also can be purchased on the Playhouse web site at www.cincyplay.com.
—By Murdoch McBride