(Cincinnati, OH) Take a journey to historical London with Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s regional premiere of Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti. In this endlessly captivating story, drama arises beyond the stage when a famous actor’s talents are masked by the color of his skin. Based on the true story of Ira Aldridge, Red Velvet showcases the enduring power of the arts to push boundaries. Playing March 6 – March 31, 2018. Directed by Brian Isaac Phillips. Production Sponsor is The Schueler Group.
This fascinating drama transports you to the turbulent backstage world of 1800s London where Edmund Kean, regarded as the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed while playing Othello. Enter Ira Aldridge, who—fresh from his dazzling success in the capitals of Europe—steps into the role, becoming the first African American to play the titular character on an English stage. As the public riots in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will audiences react to the revolution taking place in the theatre?
“I think everybody can think of a moment in their life where they were denied access or opportunity because they were judged by appearance, background, education, etc.,” explains Director Brian Isaac Phillips. “I love the idea that there’s a personal side to this story that everybody universally can get behind.” Producing Artistic Director
D. Lynn Meyers adds, “It’s a bold thing for a theatre dedicated to new works to be presenting something that goes back 100 years, but we can’t move forward if we don’t confront our past.”
This March, while Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati presents Lolita Chakrabarti’s award-winning drama Red Velvet, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company simultaneously presents the classic Othello, both within the heart of Over-the-Rhine. Take a journey from the war-torn streets of Cypress to the tempestuous backstage of nineteenth-century London theater, while only traveling a few blocks! Don’t miss this exceptional chance to see literature and history collide by experiencing both Shakespeare’s searing tragedy of deception and betrayal and Chakrabarti’s telling of the little-known but true story of Ira Aldridge, the first African-American actor to play Othello.
About the Cast
Ken Early (Ira Aldridge) returns to Ensemble Theatre where his credits include The Dancing Princesses, Around the World in 80 Days, The Whipping Man, Grey Gardens, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and The Frog Princess. His other regional credits include Jitney, On Golden Pond, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Pluto, Harry and the Thief, Oklahoma, Dreamgirls, and Big River.
Kelly Mengelkoch (Ellen Tree) recently appeared at Ensemble Theatre in This Random World, as well as the productions of The Other Place and Tribes. She is an Associate Artist and Resident Ensemble member at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, making the Queen City her theatrical home for thirteen years and counting. She has also performed locally with The Human Race Theatre Company, New Stage Collective, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Her film credits include CSA: The Confederate States of America, A Kind of Murder, Old Man and the Gun, and Perception.
Burgess Byrd (Connie) returns to Ensemble Theatre, having appeared last in This Random World and Detroit ’67. Raised in Louisville, KY, Ms. Byrd has had the great pleasure of finding her theatrical home in Cincinnati. She most recently performed in Raisin In The Sun at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and in the Nicolas Cage movie Inconceivable, filmed in Cincinnati. Some of her favorite roles include Doubt, Avenue Q, Harry and The Thief, Caroline or Change, and the one-person shows Pretty Fire and Neat.
Becca Howell (Halina Wozniak/Margaret Aldridge) returns to the Ensemble Theatre stage having last been seen in The Humans, Bloomsday, and Around the World in 80 Days. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University with a BFA in Acting, she completed the Professional Acting Internship Program at ETC. Ms. Howell recently worked on stage in several installments of Serials! at Know Theatre and Poor Behavior at Falcon Theatre. Her film credits include A Twisted Fate, Curvature, and The Funeral.
Brent Vimtrup (Pierre Laporte) returns to Ensemble Theatre where he was last seen in Luna Gale. He has performed at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in Julius Caesar, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Elephant Man, and The Crucible (League of Cincinnati Theatre Award for Best Actor), as well as playing the title roles in Hamlet and Richard II. Some additional credits include Harry and the Thief, Know Theatre; The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Syracuse Stage; and Sight Unseen, InProximity Theatre for which he was nominated for a 2011 New York Innovate Theatre Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role. Mr. Vimtrup’s film credits include principle roles in Donnybrook, Over the Rhine, and Miles Ahead.
Jared Joplin (Charles Kean) makes his Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. He has appeared locally at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Cincinnati Opera, The Carnegie, Falcon Theatre, and Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Mr. Joplin has worked regionally across the Midwest and in New York and spent three years on tour with Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA. His film credits include the upcoming film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, as well as Taking Woodstock and King of the Hill.
Jeremy Dubin (Terence/Bernard Warde) makes his Ensemble Theatre debut with this production. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he is the Director of Creative Education and a long time company member with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Some of his favorite recent projects include Neverwhere, Cyrano de Bergerac, Much Ado About Nothing, Private Lives, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Diary of Anne Frank as an actor and Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Every Christmas Story Ever Told as a director.
Rounding out the ensemble cast are ETC 2017-2018 Acting Apprentices Eric Minion (Casimir/Henry Forester) and Natasia Reinhardt (Betty Lovell).
Production team includes D. Lynn Meyers (Producing Artistic Director), Brian c. Mehring (Set & Lighting Designer), Jack Murphy (Technical Director), Matthew Hollstegge (Production Manager & Master Electrician), Shannon Rae Lutz (Properties Master & Design Assistant), Kevin Semanick (Sound Designer), Stormie Mac (Costume Designer), and Julia Guichard (Dialect Coach). Production Stage Manager is Brandon T. Holmes. Assistant Stage Manager is Elizabeth Freyman.
Performances run Tuesday through Sunday. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday, 8:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 2:00 pm; and Sunday, 7:00 pm. A complete calendar of performances is available online at www.ensemblecincinnati.org.
Ticket prices start at $35 for adults; student tickets are $28; and children are $24. Half-Price Rush Tickets: All remaining tickets for the current day’s performance(s) are available two hours prior to each show time for half-price (discount does not apply to children’s tickets) when purchasing by phone or in person. $15 Student Rush Tickets: Students may purchase up to two $15 student rush tickets two hours prior to show time with valid student I.D. Available in person only.
Military, Educator, AAA, ArtsWave Artspass, and ArtsWave CincYPerks discounts available; tickets and seating are subject to availability.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is supported, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
2017-2018 Season Presenting Sponsor is the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation. Additional support provided PNC.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is a professional theatre dedicated to producing world and regional premieres of works that often explore compelling social issues. We fulfill our mission through our stage productions and educational outreach programs that enlighten, enliven, enrich and inspire our audiences.