Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park scores a coup for its 40th Anniversary season by snagging the first post-New York mounting of Wit, Margaret Edson's Off-Broadway smash about a professor brought low by cancer. Also on the roster for PIP will be Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane and the world premiere of a sequel to Smoke on the Mountain: Sanders Family Christmas: More Smoke on the Mountain.
The 10-month season also includes The Last Night of Ballyhoo, A Christmas Carol, A Little Night Music, Much Ado About Nothing, Barrymore, The Glass Menagerie, and Spunk. In this banner year, the PIP will also recognize a promising new script with a production and their Lois and Richard Rosenthal New Play Prize.
Wit reaches The Playhouse's Shelterhouse space Feb. 5
The season begins with Ed Stern's production of Shakespeare's romantic comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, bringing the Bard back to the Marx Theatre after a five-year absence, Sept. 7
Oct. 24 (opening night: Sept. 30). The show became an award-winning Broadway vehicle for Christopher Plummer two seasons back. At PIP, Playhouse favorite Philip Pleasants stars as "The Great Profile" John Barrymore, just weeks before his death in 1942. Ensconced in his backstage dressing room, eroded by time and whisky, Barrymore's power and magnetism still reverberate as he works toward a final triumph: recreating his masterful portrayal of Richard III. As the evening passes, he regales his audience with the many tales of his many lives, loves and comrades, on stage and off, as well as observations on his star-studded relations. Stephen Hollis will direct. Tennessee Williams' classic, The Glass Menagerie will play next at the Marx Theatre, running Oct. 19-Nov. 19 (opening night: Oct. 21). Amanda Wingfield and her children share a cramped apartment in the 1930s. Tom longs to escape his domineering mother, who has begun to panic over the future of mildly crippled Laura, a young woman as fragile as her collection of glass animals. At Amanda's insistence, he invites a co-worker for dinner. In one evening, the Gentleman Caller gives Laura her greatest joy and signals the family's collapse, leaving an image of tragic beauty etched on Tom, Tennessee and the theatre forever. Charles Towers, Playhouse associate artistic director, will direct.
Six years ago the sold-out musical,
Smoke on the Mountain, introduced PIP audiences to the heavenly sounds of the Sanders Family Singers. Once again the Shelterhouse Theatre will become Rev. Oglethorpe's tiny Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in
Sanders Family Christmas: More Smoke on the Mountain, Nov. 6
Written by Connie Ray, the show will be directed by the man who conceived both the original and this sequel: Alan Bailey. A New York revival of the original show struggled at the Lambs Theatre Off-Broadway earlier this season.
Perennial audience favorite,
A Christmas Carol will return to PIP, Dec. 3
1997 Pulitzer Prize-winner
The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Alfred Uhry comes to the Marx stage Jan. 16
The Beauty Queen of Leenane runs in the Marx Theatre, Feb. 27
Over the past dozen years, the Lois and Richard Rosenthal New Play Prize has celebrated new voices in the American theatre by honoring one script with a world premiere within the Playhouse's regular subscription season. Such past winners as Jeffrey Hatcher's
Scotland Road, and Pulitzer Prize nominee
In Walks Ed have gone on to major subsequent productions. Charles Towers will direct next season's winner, to be announced at a later date. It will run March 18
Set against the elegance of turn-of-the-century Sweden, Sondheim's classic musical
A Little Night Music will conclude PIP's Marx Theatre's season, April 16
George C. Wolfe's adaptation of the works of Zora Neale Hurston -
Spunk will close the Shelterhouse's season, May 6
To purchase subscriptions or for more information on the 1999-2000 season, call (513) 421-3888.