Celebrate Cincinnati’s Contributions to Music History with CINCINNATI KING

PIP_Cincinnati King promo

Philip Paul, legendary King Records session drummer. Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

World premiere musical showcases the groundbreaking rise of King Records

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will celebrate the local voices, stories and talents that cemented Cincinnati in music history in CINCINNATI KING, a new world premiere musical that begins Nov. 3 (Opening night is Nov. 8.)  It runs through Dec. 23 and is staged with support from The Rosenthal Family Foundation, Season Sponsor of New Work.

“Blues, jazz, country and rock ‘n’ roll wouldn’t be what it is without Cincinnati,” states Playhouse Associate Artist KJ Sanchez. The script is based on years of research and interviews by Sanchez, who is writer/director, and by other community members and Playhouse staff and board members. CINCINNATI KING is produced in conjunction with American Records, a theatre company that chronicles American history founded by Sanchez.

CINCINNATI KING tells the story of King Records founder Syd Nathan, his groundbreaking rise, the music he created and artists he produced, including singer Little Willie John and session drummer Philip Paul.

“You go around the country and everybody knows about Cleveland, they know about Detroit, but people don’t know about Cincinnati,” states Philip Paul’s character in the play. “Before Johnny Cash and Elvis, before James Brown, before Carl Perkins, before Sam Phillips and Sun, before Verve…Before all that? There was King Records.”

Philip Paul, Syd Nathan and Little Willie John are the three main characters in CINCINNATI KING, which begins with Philip Paul ending a set and coming downstage to talk to the audience as if they are interviewing him. The ghost of Syd Nathan then comes onstage and decides that he needs to be interviewed, too, so he can set the record straight.

The play is part documentary, with dialogue from actual interviews with Paul, along with imagined lines from Nathan based on information from research and other interviews about him.

“I don’t in any way want people to think this is the definitive ‘King Records Story,’” Sanchez explains. “I decided to go deeper with fewer people, to focus on the drama and the personal, emotional stories. I hope this play inspires more movies and plays about all the incredible King Records artists.”

Cincinnati is celebrating the 75th anniversary of King Records Studio’s opening this year. Local organizations like King Studios Foundation, Music Heritage Foundation, Bootsy Collins Foundation and the City of Cincinnati are celebrating the milestone through cultural and artistic events. CINCINNATI KING is the culmination of the anniversary celebrations.

Neal Benari (Syd Nathan); Richard Crandle (Little Willie John); Stanley Wayne Mathis (Philip Paul); Tracy Schoster (Roberta Paul); Cullen R. Titmas (Man); Anita Welch (Woman); Ralph Huntley (Pianist); Richard Livingston Huntley (Drummer); Seth L. Johnson (Guitarist); Terrell Montgomery (Bassist)

KJ Sanchez (Writer/Director); Richard Livingston Huntley (Music Director); Misha Kachman (Set Designer); Rachel Healy (Costume Designer); Brian J. Lilienthal (Lighting Designer); Lindsay Jones (Sound Designer); Stephanie Klapper, CSA (Casting Director); Jenifer Morrow (Production Stage Manager)

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit www.cincyplay.com. Call 513-345-2248 for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf accessibility.

Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, at 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Individual tickets start at just $35. Tickets to all 7 p.m. Sunday performances are priced at just $10 for college students with a valid school ID. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances. Discounted ticket prices for and teens are $30.


Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Herzog Studios, 811 Race Street
Cost: Free. Registration required.

Through a variety of creative media, many artists and scholars have been capturing the rich history of Syd Nathan and King Records. The record label’s legacy lives on through documentary film, written biographies and now live theatre. Join us for a special panel event in which filmmaker Yemi Oyediran, author Randy McNutt, Herzog Studio’s Elliot Ruther and theatre artist KJ Sanchez provide unique insight into their creative work that shines a spotlight on King Records. This event will be hosted by local music historian and librarian Brian Powers.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling the Box Office at 513-421-3888. The Playhouse Perspectives series is supported by a generous grant from Roderick and Barbara Barr.

Saturday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to noon at the Playhouse
Cost: $50. Registration required.

Do you love percussion and idolize legendary musicians like King Records session drummer Philip Paul? Have you always wanted to learn how to play but never pursued lessons? Are you excited about the music in our world premiere production of Cincinnati King? In this adult enrichment workshop, learn the fundamentals of drumming from rudiments to tuning to reading tabs.

Monday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Playhouse
Cost: Free but registration required.

Hear first-hand accounts of the rise of King Records from artists who were there and are currently working to preserve its legacy. This special event will feature King Records session drummer Philip Paul. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling the Box Office at 513-421-3888. The Playhouse Perspectives series is supported by a generous grant from Roderick and Barbara Barr.

DOCUMENTARY SCREENING: King Records: Birthplace of Rock & Roll
Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Esquire Theatre
Sunday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. at the Kenwood Theatre
Cost: $12 per person

Join us for a screening of the first installment of a docu-series about King Records’ impact on the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, featuring live concert performances and interviews.

Production Sponsor is The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. /U.S. Bank Foundation. Additional support provided by Stable Two Financial, Linda and Gary Greenberg, and The Wohlgemuth Herschede Foundation. Season Sponsor is Heidelberg Distributing Company and Season Design Sponsors are Allan Berliant and Jennie Rosenthal Family Fund. Season Sponsor of New Work is the Rosenthal Family Foundation.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of almost 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.

The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs, and complete wheelchair access are available.



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