Cincinnati Playhouse Brings the Godmother of Rock and Roll to the Stage MARIE AND ROSETTA opens March 3


Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

CINCINNATI—The swinging gospel sound that influenced rock and roll comes to the Marx Theatre March 3 when Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park opens MARIE AND ROSETTA, presented by Leading Ladies. The play, which first appeared off-Broadway, runs through March 31. (Official opening night is March 8.)

A compelling stage drama, MARIE AND ROSETTA tells the life stories of gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (a 2018 Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee) and her protégée Marie Knight. Featuring gospel songs and Tharpe’s fierce guitar playing, the play explores their musical partnership, artistic influences and the many obstacles they faced in pursuit of their dreams.

George Brant, the playwright, brings to light how Sister Rosetta Tharpe influenced the birth of the rock ‘n roll music. He says, “Although history has tended to obscure the groundbreaking work of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, MARIE AND ROSETTA celebrates her incomparable contributions to the rock ‘n’ roll.”

This play with music is an inspiring portrait of these legendary singers who, together, blended gospel music with rock ‘n’ roll and became revered crossover artists in the 1930s and ‘40s. It takes place at one of their early rehearsals, as they work to find the perfect combination of gospel and rock. Between soulful musical numbers, the singers share their own memories of childhood, family, music and faith to develop a moving performance style that praises God and entertains the masses.

“Audiences will leave inspired by the lives and music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight,” says Blake Robinson, artistic director of the Playhouse. “This groundbreaking play sheds light on the role of women and gospel singers in the birth of rock and roll, and we are proud to be one of only two theatres to stage the show after its debut off-Broadway two years ago.”

Neil Pepe, the artistic director of Atlantic Theater Company, directs the Playhouse’s production of MARIE AND ROSETTA. He also directed its off-Broadway world premiere in 2016. Miche Braden plays Sister Rosetta, and Chaz Hodges is Marie Knight. Katreese Barnes is on piano, and KJ Denhert is on guitar.

MARIE AND ROSETTA explores themes of femininity, motherhood and professional ambition in the face of cultural forces, a fusion of themes that Tharpe embodied and that intrigued Brant.

This co-production with Cleveland Play House is one of only two theatres to present the off-Broadway production after its world premiere with Atlantic Theatre Company in 2016.

ArtsWave Days Free Performance
Saturday, March 3, 4 p.m.
As part of ArtsWave Days, the Playhouse offers a free community performance of MARIE AND ROSETTA. To reserve tickets, visit with promo code ARTSWAVE or call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888. Limited to four tickets per household. Subject to availability. Ticket pick-up from 10 a.m. to no later than 3 p.m. on the day of show.

The Impact of Sister Rosetta: A Celebration of Gospel, Blues, Rock and Jazz
Monday, March 12, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Music Resource Center, 3032 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45206. It is free and open to the public but registration is required. Please call the Playhouse Box Office to reserve your spot at 513-421-3888.

Evening performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays start at 7:30 p.m; Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m. and Sundays 7 p.m. Matinee performance on Saturdays start at 4pm, Sundays at 2 p.m. as well as on Wednesday, March 28 at 1 p.m. Student performance is on March 14, Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Prices for MARIE AND ROSETTA start at $35 depending on seat selection and performance day and are subject to change. Tickets for teens and students are $30. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show. Plus, Sunday is College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. performances just $10. In addition to calling the Box Office, tickets can also be purchased by visiting the Playhouse website at

The Playhouse is fully accessible. Large print programs and hearing enhancement receivers are available upon request.

513-421-3888 or 800-582-3208 toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana; or 513-345-2248 – TDD access (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf).

Production Sponsor is the Leading Ladies, a Playhouse program offering women who are passionate about theatre an opportunity to support a mainstage production and enjoy behind-the-scenes access with special events throughout the season. The Robert S. Marx Theatre Season is presented by Schueler Group. The Season Sponsor of New Work is The Rosenthal Foundation. Marx Theatre Season Design Sponsor is Macy’s. Artist sponsor is the Fifth Third Bank and The Geller Company is the design sponsor.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign.The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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