The Human Race Theatre Company’s ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END Truly Proves “Humorists Can Never Start to Take Themselves Seriously”


Jennifer Joplin as Erma Bombeck. Photo courtesy of Immobulus Photography.

Jennifer Joplin stars as Daytonian favorite in The Human Race’s one-woman show, April 19 – May 13, 2018 at The Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center

 (Dayton, OH) — This spring, The Human Race Theatre Company (HRTC) honors one of the Gem City’s best loved icons when it presents Allison Engel and Margaret Engel’s Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End in the 54-seat performance space at its Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center. Dayton’s own Erma Bombeck takes center stage in this touching one-woman comedy titled after her long-running newspaper column. Human Race Resident Artist Jennifer Joplin stars as the literary legend whose candid commentary on life as a woman, spouse and mother made her the champion of suburban housewives everywhere and her newspaper columns a mainstay on kitchen refrigerators for over thirty years. Full of personal anecdotes and sprinkled with plenty of Bombeck’s famous one-liners, it’s a charming biography that proves “if you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” The Human Race’s Heather N. Powell (Steel MagnoliasChange and A Dickens of Time) directs. The preview performances of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End are Thursday, April 19 through Sunday, April 22 and Thursday, April 26. Opening night is Friday, April 27. The play runs approximately 60 minutes with no intermission.

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End was written by twin sisters Allison and Margaret Engel, who found success with their previous one-woman play, Red Hot Patriot, about another brassy newspaper columnist and best-selling author, Molly Ivins. Since its 2015 premiere as part of the Women’s Theatre Festival in Washington, DC, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End has become one of the hottest productions in the nation, having already been produced by dozens of theatre companies.

“I’m thrilled this funny and poignant play is coming to Dayton, Erma’s hometown,” said Teri Rizvi, founder and director of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton. “Her wit and wisdom have stood the test of time — and remind us that the foibles of family life will always make us laugh.”

Actress Jennifer Joplin is honored to share not just the humor but the courage and heart of this Dayton hero. “I grew up with clippings of Erma’s column on the refrigerator. She was funny, goofy – but she also made what seemed crazy in our house, normal,” says Joplin. “Working on this show, I’ve come to realize how really revolutionary she was. What she did in her writing and her activism, was remarkable and still inspiring. She’s a true hero of mine!”

Local audiences may remember Ms. Joplin from the World Premier of 26 Pebbles, as Chelsea in On Golden Pond, Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Brooke in Other Desert Cities, Annette in God of Carnage, also Proof, Angels in America, Band Geeks!, Doubt, Crimes of the Heart or any of the other productions she’s been fortunate enough to be a part of at The Human Race Theatre for over 25 years! Some of her other favorite roles include Aimee in The Humans, Rosemary in Outside Mullingar and Gwen in Rapture, Blister, Burn at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati as well as Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. A long-standing Human Race Resident Artist and proud graduate of Wright State University’s professional actor training program, she’s worked nationally as an actor, corporate trainer, voiceover artist and teacher, recently adding two film credits to her resume – Old Man and the Gun and Donnybrook. Founder and lead coaching artist for Spotlight Training, and president of the League of Cincinnati Theatres, she is the wearer of many hats and coined the phrase “responsi-juggling.”

Biographies on the cast and creative team can be found on The Human Race Theatre Company’s website.

The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End is sponsored by India and John Clarke and The Theda and Tamblin Clark-Smith Family Foundation, Martha Moody Jacobs, and Doug and Sharon Scholz.

Performance and Special Event Information
Tickets for the April 19 exclusive Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop preview performance are $50 (and includes a post-show reception with Ms. Joplin) and can be purchased by calling Ticket Center Stage and using code ERMA18.

Tickets for the April 20 – 22 preview performances of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End are $30, which includes a $5 donation to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

Tickets for the April 26 – May 13 performances are $25.

All performances are in The Human Race’s Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center, located at 116 North Jefferson Street, 2nd floor, in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Show times for Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End are 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Seating is general admission.

Tickets and performance information for Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End are available at or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630, and at the Schuster Center box office. 

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2017-2018 marks the 31st season for The Human Race Theatre Company, “Dayton’s Official Professional Theatre Company.” Founded in 1986, The Human Race moved into the Metropolitan Arts Center in 1991, taking up residence in its current home, the 212-seat Loft Theatre. In addition to the Eichelberger Loft Season, The Human Race produces new works development and special event programming. Under the direction of President and Artistic Director Kevin Moore, the company also maintains education and outreach programs for children, teens and adults, as well as artist residencies in area schools and a summer youth program. Human Race organizational support is provided by the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, Culture Works, the Shubert Foundation, the Erma R. Catterton Trust Fund, the Jesse & Caryl Philips Foundation, the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council, which helped fund this organization with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The 2017-2018 Sustainability Sponsors are the ELM Foundation, Anne F. Johnson, Steve and Lou Mason, and Morris Home. The 2017-2018 Loft season sponsor is the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of the Dayton Foundation, with additional support from Premier Health.


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