With music by Cincinnati native Richard Oberacker and book and lyrics by Oberacker and Robert Taylor, the show began previews on Oct. 17 and continues through Nov. 17. Ace — staged by Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz) — is a collaboration between Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. It played St. Louis (which is the setting for the show) Sept. 6-Oct. 1.
Arima told Playbill.com that adjustments and refinements to the piece have been ongoing since the St. Louis run.
Husband and wife performers Matt Bogart (Miss Saigon) and Jessica Boevers (In My Life, Oklahoma!) are featured as a mother and a mysterious pilot in "the story of a 1950s boy searching for a sense of family and identity in the unlikeliest of places."
According to production notes, "As the show begins, 10-year-old Billy Lucas is a troubled young man about to be placed with a foster family. Billy's mother is suffering from severe depression, and she's told Billy that his father abandoned them before he was born. Billy initially is resentful of his foster family and his new school, where he is taunted by several of the other children. One day, Billy's foster father, searching for a way to connect with the boy, brings home a model airplane. That night, while falling asleep, Billy tugs the plane into bed with him. Suddenly, the door to his room swings open and Ace steps through. A young man in his early 20s dressed in a full World War II Air Force pilot's uniform, Ace calls out to Billy to come with him in his dreams."
The character of Ace "unlocks the door to a fantastic new world. He takes Billy on a series of heroic and haunting adventures, beginning in 1917 at a small military airstrip in Texas and jumping forward through both World Wars. As Ace's visits continue, what Billy discovers reveals not only the secrets of his past but also the key to his future." The musical was presented at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals in 2005. This run is the show's first full production.
The cast includes Amy Bodnar, Gabrielle Stravelli, Heather Ayers, Kelli Barrett, Richard Barth, Gabrielle Boyadjian, Noah Galvin, James Judy, Duke Lafoon, Chris Peluso, Kevin Reed, Danny Rothman, Susan Kokot Stokes and Traci Lyn Thomas.
Two local children also appear in the show. Milford native Evan Martin, who has spent four seasons in the Playhouse's production of A Christmas Carol as Tiny Tim and Boy Scrooge, will play the Sidekick while Wesley Zurick of Hyde Park will make his Playhouse debut as the Bully.
Members of the production team include Andrew Palermo (choreographer), David Kreppel (music director), Greg Anthony (orchestrator), David Korins (set designer), Marie Anne Chiment (costume designer), Christopher Akerlind (lighting designer), John H. Shivers (sound designer) and David Patridge (sound designer). The first stage manager is Andrea L. Shell and the second stage manager is Jenifer Morrow.
Richard Oberacker is currently the conductor for Cirque du Soleil's KÀ in Las Vegas. A graduate of Anderson High School and the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), he also has written the musicals Dracula: The Game of Love, In that Valley, A Little Theatre, Southern Cross, The Gospel According to Fishman and Journey to the West.
Robert Taylor tours as a violinist with Disney's The Lion King. He has taught foreign languages and ornithology in New York and English and music in China; founded and directed several nonprofit organizations; and worked as a freelance musician and writer in Manhattan, a translator in Europe and Asia and a lecturer on opera and art history.
For more information, visit www.cincyplay.com.