Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Announces Its Plan for the 2021-22 Season

Featuring Three World Premieres, Two Fresh Comedies and the return of the Full Production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park today announced the restart of its mainstage season for October 2021. The 2021-22 season will be comprised of eight shows and features world premieres by Keith Josef Adkins, Deborah Zoe Laufer and KJ Sanchez, who brings a spin-off story from her hit Cincinnati King to the Rosenthal Shelterhouse. The season also features two fresh comedies; a well-known story celebrating female friendships; a one-woman show about Dr. Ruth Westheimer; and the joyous return of the full production of the Playhouse’s annual holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol.

“Our community showed immense generosity and support of the Playhouse throughout the pandemic,” says Artistic Director Blake Robison. “I’m especially proud to restart our mainstage series with two world premieres that tell authentic Cincinnati stories.”

  • A major American playwright and a Cincinnati native, Adkins was commissioned by the Playhouse to write about historical Cincinnati. His play, The West End, is set in 1941 and shines a light on a transformative chapter in local history.
  • Sanchez is a former associate artist for the Playhouse and a nationally known playwright and director. Her play Cincinnati King had its world premiere in the Rosenthal Shelterhouse in 2018. It was the culmination of years of interviews and research about Cincinnati’s historic King Records. Need Your Love expands on the story of Little Willie John and features hits from the King Records music catalog.
  • The third world premiere in the season, Rooted by Laufer, was also commissioned by the Playhouse. In this quirky comedy, a reclusive amateur botanist unwittingly becomes a new-age, YouTube messiah. “Our audiences loved Deb’s last world premiere at the Playhouse, Be Here Now, and Rooted rekindles some of the same characters and themes,” says Robison.
  • A Christmas Carol will return with its cast of nearly 30 actors, elaborate costumes and thrilling special effects. The other four shows planned for the 2021-22 season are:
  • Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a new comedy by Katie Forgette about an Irish-Catholic family in 1973.
  • School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, a biting comedy about teenage girlhood.
  • Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, the beloved story celebrating female friendships.
  • Becoming Dr. Ruth by Mark St. Germain, a one-woman show about sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

“The new season showcases the range and diversity of the Playhouse, and we can’t wait to get back to producing a full schedule of live theatre for Cincinnati,” adds Robison.

A full listing of the season with dates, directors, sponsors and descriptions is included below. All the 2021-22 productions, except Need Your Love, were previously announced as part of the cancelled 2020-21 season. The Playhouse usually produces a total of 11 shows per season. The smaller, eight-show lineup is to accommodate a later start for COVID-19 safety and an early end to begin the final phase of construction on the new mainstage theatre complex.

Since COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for the fall are still unknown, subscriptions and tickets to the 2021-22 Playhouse season will go on sale later. Current subscribers will receive renewal statements in the summer. Individual tickets are expected to go on sale later in the summer or in early fall.

For more information, visit or call the Box Office at 513-421-3888 or 800-582-3208 toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled dial 711 to connect to the Box Office via Ohio Relay Services. The Playhouse is fully accessible.

Presented by Schueler Group
Season Sponsor of New Work: The Rosenthal Family Foundation
Season Design Sponsor: U.S. Bank


Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

By Keith Josef Adkins
Directed by Playhouse Associate Artist Nicole A. Watson
Oct. 9 – Nov. 7, 2021
It’s 1941 in Cincinnati’s West End, and African Americans migrate from the Deep South to forge new lives. At the same time, German residents face growing hostility on the brink of World War II, and Grace houses people of both backgrounds in her row house. But when a stranger arrives, she must confront her secretive past. This world-premiere drama by Cincinnati native Keith Josef Adkins shines a light on a transformative chapter of our city’s history.
ONE-LINER: Set in 1941 in Cincinnati’s West End, this world premiere drama shines a light on a transformative chapter of local history.


Cast of 2019’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

First Financial Bank presents
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Howard Dallin
Directed by Michael Evan Haney
Nov. 24 – Dec. 30, 2021
A Christmas Carol is not part of the season subscription, but subscribers get early access and special discounts on tickets.
Faithful storytelling and spellbinding stage magic bring to life Ebenezer Scrooge’s time-traveling journey with the spirits one magical Christmas Eve. The heartwarming message helps to make the show one of the Playhouse’s most popular productions each season.
ONE LINER: This joyous, time-honored production returns with a cast of nearly 30 actors, elaborate costumes and thrilling special effects.


Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

By Katie Forgette
Directed by Blake Robison
Jan. 29 – Feb. 27, 2022
The O’Sheas are just like any other family in their town in 1973: middle-class, Irish, Catholic and determined to avoid public ridicule. With dry yet affectionate humor, 19-year-old Linda O’Shea narrates the most turbulent day of her life when a series of hilarious mishaps jeopardizes the family’s reputation. Whether you’ve grown up Catholic or you simply can relate to the craziness of family, this new comedy will leave you in stitches.
ONE-LINER: It’s 1973, and the Irish-Catholic O’Shea family muddles through a series of hilarious mishaps that jeopardizes their reputation — and their souls.


Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

Leading Ladies presents
By Roger Harling
Directed by Laura Gordon
March 19 – April 17, 2022
A tight-knit group of six Louisiana women gather regularly to bond, dish and offer advice on everything from motherhood and marriage to tragedy and loss. As they find their lives and relationships tested, their bonds with one another only strengthen. Written with heartwarming dialogue and snappy repartee, Steel Magnolias revels in the power and grace of female friendship.
ONE-LINER: With beloved characters, heartwarming dialogue and snappy repartee, Steel Magnolias revels in the power and grace of female friendship.

By Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by Candis C. Jones
April 30 – May 22, 2022
Beauty, ambition and biting comedy combine in this off-Broadway hit! Paulina is the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school. She’s got the trendiest clothes and the command of her loyal hive of friends.  When new girl Ericka transfers from America, Paulina’s carefully controlled world is thrown into chaos. Called “ferociously entertaining” by The Hollywood Reporter, School Girls fearlessly explores the universal challenges of teenage girlhood and all the drama that comes with it.
ONE-LINER: This biting comedy explores the universal challenges of teenage girlhood and all the drama that comes with it.

Presented by Heidelberg Distributing Co.
Season Sponsor of New Work: The Rosenthal Family Foundation

PIP_Cincinnati King1

Richard Crandle as Little Willie John in CINCINNATI KING. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Written and Directed by KJ Sanchez
Oct. 30 – Dec. 12, 2021
From the creator of Cincinnati King comes the life and times of King Records star Little Wille John. You love the music, now hear his personal story. This intimate and captivating world premiere features hits from the King Records catalog – including “Fever,” “Shakin’” “My Love Is” and, of course, “Need Your Love So Bad.” An extraordinary portrait of one of the most talented, influential and underrated R&B singers of all time.
ONE-LINER: From the creator of Cincinnati King comes a world premiere musical portrait of King Records star Little Wille John.


Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

By Deborah Zoe Laufer
Directed by Noah Himmelstein
Feb. 12 – March 20, 2022
People can be so weird, which is why Emery Harris has lived alone in a treehouse for over a decade. Her only connection to the outside world is through her YouTube channel where she documents research on plants and has garnered several thousand followers. When strangers begin gathering near her home, she learns she’s been unwittingly elected as her followers’ new-age messiah. This quirky world premiere comedy studies the power of plants and the idiosyncrasies of people.
ONE-LINER: In this quirky world premiere comedy, a reclusive amateur botanist unwittingly becomes a new-age, YouTube messiah.

PIP_Becoming Dr Ruth

Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati presents
By Mark St. Germain
April 9 – May 15, 2022
Many of us know Dr. Ruth Westheimer as America’s favorite sex therapist in the 1980s and ‘90s — but few of us have heard the story of this remarkable woman’s journey. In this heartwarming portrait, she narrates the harrowing and fascinating details of her life. Becoming Dr. Ruth is a humorous, affectionate and illuminating one-woman show that’s full of grit and triumph.
ONE-LINER: This heartwarming portrait is a humorous and illuminating one-woman show about America’s favorite sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Thank you to our 2021-22 Season Production Sponsors: Clark Schaefer Hackett; Geiler Company; Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation; Johnson Investment Counsel; Roto-Rooter; Moe and Jack Rouse; Digi and Mike Schueler; The Seven Hills Group at Morgan Stanley; Woody and Jennifer Taft; Duck Wadsworth.

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.


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