CINCINNATI (Jan. 4, 2022) – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park continues its season with the regional premiere of INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP by Seattle playwright Katie Forgette beginning on Jan. 29. The charming comedy recounts an unforgettable day in 1973 for the O’Sheas, a cash-strapped, Irish-Catholic family. Feb. 3 is opening night for the production, which runs through Feb. 27.
Told through the memory of 20-year-old Linda O’Shea, the play begins when the parish priest overhears Linda’s bawdy-but-accurate explanation of “the birds and the bees” to her younger sister, Becky. What follows is a fast-paced chain of events that’s both unexpected and hilarious.
The production was originally scheduled prior to the pandemic, but Producing Artistic Director Blake Robison, who helms the production, thinks the current timing is perfect. “People need to laugh – now more than ever,” he says. “And you can only laugh in the theatre with a large group of people. From what I’ve seen, our audiences are ready to come together, poke a little fun at themselves and share some hijinks.”
Like the Playhouse’s productions of Brighton Beach Memoirs and Over the Tavern, INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP is an entertaining family comedy that will keep audiences laughing from start to finish, whether they grew up Catholic or not. At the same time, Catholics – and anyone who grew up in the 1970s – will probably see aspects of themselves in the play.
Forgette, who was raised Catholic and attended parochial school, based the women at the center of the play – particularly matriarch Jo and her sister Terry – on the dedication and unflagged volunteerism of the mothers in their parish.
“In my day, the moms did the heavy lifting: tutoring, bake sales, Catholic Childhood Association, festivals, bazaars, fundraisers, caring for the sick, emergency daycare. The organization, set-up and clean-up for every celebration under the sun from baptism to death was handled by the ladies of the parish. And if a surprise pregnancy or scandal popped up, they handled that, too. Sometimes while balancing a baby on one hip and a bag of groceries on the other.”
INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP had its world premiere in 2019 at New York’s Chenango River Theatre and will appear on several stages this year after its regional premiere at the Playhouse.
“The O’Sheas are sort of Every Family in America,” Robison says. “They may be Catholic and they may be Irish, but they’re just like your family too.”
Barbara Chisholm (Theresa “Terri” Carmichael), Erin Noel Grennan (Josephine “Jo” O’Shea), Elli Maddock (Becky O’Shea), John Plumpis (Mike O’Shea/Father Lovett/Betty Heckenbach), Elise Rucker (Linda O’Shea)
Kathleen Geldard (Costume Designer), Brandon T. Holmes (Assistant Stage Manager), Stephanie Klapper CSA (Casting Director), Matthew M. Nielson (Sound Designer), Xavier Pierce (Lighting Designer), Brooke Redler (Stage Manager), Blake Robison (Director), Andrea L Shell (Second Stage Manager), Jo Winiarski (Scenic Designer)
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. For patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled, dial 711 to connect to the Box Office via Ohio Relay Services.
Performances on Tuesdays through Saturdays will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. There is one Wednesday matinee at 1 p.m. on February 9.
Individual tickets start at just $35. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances. Discounted ticket prices for teens are available for all productions and are $30 to $45, depending on show and seat location. During the run, there will be four post-show meet-the-artist discussions, one audio-described performance and one signed performance. Details are on the website.
ADVISORY: Recommended for ages 13 and up. Characters discuss taboo Catholic topics like contraception, sex and sexuality and pregnancy. They also use adult language and the Lord’s name in vain quite a few times.
MEET THE ARTISTS Stay after select performances for a behind-the-scenes discussion with the cast and crew:
- Feb. 6 at 2 p.m.
- Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
- Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.
- Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE (Feb. 19 at 2 p.m.) Each Marx Theatre production offers one audio-described performance during the show’s run. Trained volunteers describe the visual elements of the production via a closed-circuit receiver that is approximately the size of a deck of cards and fits in a jacket pocket or on the lap. A small earpiece fits into one ear, allowing patrons to hear dialogue, music and other sound effects. The description is timed to avoid interfering with dialogue.
SIGNED PERFORMANCE (Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.) Each Marx Theatre production offers one signed performance during the show’s run. The interpreter stands toward the bottom of aisle 5. Look at our Accessibility page for a map of best viewing locations. This performance also includes a Meet the Artists discussion with the cast and crew after the show. Funding for this program is made possible by Bartlett & Co.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
All patrons, including children under 12, must present either proof of vaccination or negative Covid PCR or Abbott ID Now test to attend a performance. Additionally, face masks covering the nose and mouth must be worn at all times, in all areas of the Playhouse building — including while seated during the performance. Visit the Health & Safety page for details.
Production Sponsors are Johnson Investment Counsel and Clark, Schaefer & Hackett. Artist Sponsor is Rosemary and Mark Schlachter. Honorary Producer is Terry Lemmerman. Additional support by Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Marx Theatre Season presented by The Scheuler Group. The Rosenthal Family Foundation is a seasonal sponsor of new work. Marx Theatre season design sponsor is US Bank.
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.
The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs, and complete wheelchair access are available.