Tag Archives: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Buzz Ward to Become Managing Director Emeritus at the End of the Playhouse’s 2020-21 Season

Buzz Ward Headshot - Newsroom

                        Buzz Ward.

CINCINNATI – After a successful tenure of 29 years at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Buzz Ward will become Managing Director Emeritus, effective July 1, 2021.  In this role, he will continue to serve in an advisory capacity – helping the organization transition to its new mainstage theatre facility.

Ward arrived at the Playhouse in 1992, making him the longest serving executive in its history having managed it for nearly half of its 61 years. He served as Executive Director under Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern until 2012. Ward was named Managing Director and Co-CEO with the arrival of current Artistic Director and Co-CEO Blake Robison, who will become sole chief executive at the end of this season and launch a national search to hire a new Managing Director for the organization.

Throughout Ward’s tenure, he has presided over 28 consecutive seasons with an operating surplus – an unrivaled record in the American regional theatre – that has resulted in the financially strong organization the Playhouse is today. He oversaw the production of over 300 mainstage shows, and the Playhouse won two Tony Awards during his tenure: the first in 2004 for Best Regional Theatre, and the second in 2007 for Best Revival of a Musical (Company).

Playhouse Board President, Ellen G. van der Horst, praised Ward’s record of accomplishment and added, “This transition is the result of a careful succession planning process between our Board and executive leadership. We expect a smooth transition that will set us up for future success. The Playhouse has benefited tremendously from Buzz’s management and institutional knowledge. It is our pleasure to recognize and honor him with an Emeritus title, and we look forward to celebrating his tenure once circumstances allow.”

Much of the Playhouse’s significant growth came during Ward’s tenure. One of his first accomplishments was to eliminate the Playhouse’s cumulative operating deficit. Ward managed the 1997 project to renovate the public, production and administrative spaces of the Playhouse. He helped to lead the capital campaign in 1994-96 for that project, establish the Stern endowment in 2011, and launch the current capital campaign for a new mainstage theatre complex. Fundraising for the capital campaign is nearly complete, and the Playhouse will break ground in early 2021. Furthermore, he successfully negotiated a 99-year lease with the City and the Park Board to secure the Playhouse’s location in Eden Park for the next century.

“My deepest thanks go to the dedicated board, amazing artists, and outstanding staff with whom I have had the privilege of working,” said Ward.  “My great appreciation also goes to the citizens of Greater Cincinnati who have cherished and supported the Playhouse and made this the place where I wanted to spend my career. I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition to my successor and to spending more time with my family, returning to some teaching and consulting, and to perhaps rediscovering my golf game.”

In 2012, Ward received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Arts Administration. On the national level, he served for 14 years as Treasurer of the League of Resident Theatres – the association of our country’s 76 largest regional theatres.

“Nobody can replace Buzz,” said Robison.  “His keen financial skills and visionary leadership have brought national acclaim to the organization. But we can and should take this opportunity to imagine the next phase of the Playhouse’s life. I look forward to working with our Board and staff to complete our capital campaign, open our new mainstage theatre facility, and lead the Playhouse into the future.”

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OFF THE GRID SERIES Features Virtual and Socially Distanced Interactive Performances This Fall

Offerings Include Pod Plays, Shadow Cast Films and a “Zoom Dunnit” Mystery
PIP_logoCINCINNATI – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s immersive theatrical experiences return this fall with the 2020-21 Off the Grid series. The line-up features virtual and socially distanced opportunities that include streaming audio dramas, interactive shadow cast film events, a spooky site-specific theatrical experience in late October and a “Zoom Dunnit” mystery. Events will take place throughout the Greater Cincinnati region.

“The purpose of Off the Grid series has always been to reimagine the nature of theatrical storytelling with site-specific experiences like our 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the Newport Aquarium or creative social connections like Beauty and the Bourbon Tasting at New Riff Distillery,” says Blake Robison, artistic director. “Adjusting the programming to work during our current health crisis was a natural extension of the unconventional approach Off the Grid has been taking for the past five years.”

New this year is THE POD PLAYS PROJECT, which makes creative use of technology, storytelling and outdoor space. The Playhouse commissioned two playwrights to choose a unique location in Cincinnati and write an original audio play that makes use of that setting. When listeners tune in to the audio file and begin the play, they’ll be guided through the location as the story unfolds, interacting with the same views, spots and markers as the characters in the story they’re streaming.

Two pod plays are available to stream now at cincyplay.com. They can be experienced at the convenience of the listener and are free of charge:

Written by Trey Tatum
Set in Alms Park, the story follows Kaylan and Cece, who form an unlikely friendship after working through the trials of a school project about flight. Their journey includes an exploration of Alms Park and all its hidden gems, as well as an exploration of the history of aviation. 

Written by Isaiah Reaves
Taking place on the Purple People Bridge (starting at Newport on the Levee), the story finds a mother and son at a crossroads. Their relationship had taken a turn after Richie came out to his parents, setting off five years of estrangement. Their emotional journey includes a walk across the Purple People Bridge as they take in the beautiful sites and views of the Ohio River and Cincinnati Skyline.

“What’s key is that we have a live and interactive element to everything. Even the pod plays, which are pre-recorded, are meant to be experienced at the site, as if you are in the moment of the story with the characters,”  says Daunielle Rasmussen, director of education and community engagement at the Playhouse and the director/producer of the Off the Grid events. “We have an exciting mix of new efforts, such as the Pod Plays, along with the types of programs we’ve been developing and refining since the beginning of Off the Grid – like shadow cast film events and site-specific theatrical experiences.”

The fall schedule of date specific Off the Grid events is listed below:

THE SHADOW CAST FILM SERIES features actors reenacting cult classic films in front of an audience as the movie plays on the big screen behind them — a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. All shadow cast events will take place at the Mariemont Theatre. Cost is $12. For tickets, visit mariemonttheatre.com. 

    Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.
    In the 2006 hit musical Dreamgirls, three female soul singers find their dreams of musical stardom coming true (and their personal lives forever changed) in the early 1960s. This special screening will feature a live shadow cast performance for an interactive event.
    Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.
    Harold and Kumar set out to satisfy their munchies and encounter some wild and hilarious surprises along the way in this cult comedy screening. Audiences may find themselves as part of the screening and performance as a group of actors perform a live shadow cast.


    Written by Trey Tatum
    Saturday, Oct. 24.
    Burger Farm and Garden Center, located at 7849 Main St. (Rt. 32)
    Cost is $20. For tickets, visit cincyplay.com.

    Strange things are happening in the cornfields of Burger Farm… There are whispers of supernatural events and sightings of monstrous creatures, and everything is becoming a little spookier than usual. With fun nods to horror and thriller favorites from Stephen King to Ghostbusters, a twisted tale unfolds as audiences walk the haunted trail. Timed entries leave every 10 minutes between 6:40 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and should be reserved in advance. Suitable for ages 13 and up.

    While the grown-ups walk the haunted trail, kids ages 4 to 12 can attend a 90-minute Pumpkin Party for $10. Each session includes excursions in the Pumpkinland maze, pumpkin crafts and Halloween-themed movies like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

AN INTERACTIVE WHODUNNIT will be hosted via Zoom. 

    Written by Margot H.G. Manburg
    Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.
    Cost is $10. For tickets, visit cincyplay.com.
    Armchair detectives can log in from home to track down the culprit of a crime. Participants will break out into teams, observe scenes, track clues and interact with characters to solve a mystery, virtually.

More information on all the events can be found at cincyplay.com. Additional Off the Grid events are planned for 2021, including two shadow cast events: Girls Trip on Feb. 4 and Mean Girls on April 1. The remaining events will be announced later.

Seasonal support of education and outreach programming is provided by The Robert and Adele Schiff 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.

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Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati Announce Reset 2020-2021 Seasons Due to Covid-19 Challenges

Seasons to start later with a smaller slate of shows

PIP_logoCINCINNATI – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati today issued a joint announcement that they will delay the start of their 2020-21 seasons due to the complex challenges around continuing live performances. All three theatres plan to kick off their revised seasons this winter with a smaller slate of rearranged, rescheduled or new shows.

In addition to the current ban on mass gatherings in Ohio, the nonprofit theatres must finalize viable plans to play to lower audience capacities for social distancing, communicate with theatre’s professional unions (such as Actors Equity) about performing safely and put numerous, new safety protocols in place.

With so many of the same challenges and the cross-over between audiences, the artistic leaders of the three organizations – Blake Robison (Playhouse), Brian Isaac Phillips (CSC) and D. Lynn Meyers (ETC) – indicated that they are working together to present consistent opening plans and safety guidelines.

The three leaders also announced that COVID-19 safety measures – including intense cleaning, longer runs to accommodate social distancing and other protocols – will be in place when the theatres open, but specifics will be announced closer to opening dates since the overall situation and guidelines from the state of Ohio and the CDC could change. They noted that further adjustments to their schedules could become necessary to ensure the safety of patrons, artists and staff, which is of the utmost importance.

All three organizations will reach out directly to their own patrons regarding procedures and options for 2020-21 tickets already purchased.  Additional tickets will go on sale later in the fall.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park brings a new, smaller version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL to celebrate the holidays, followed by seven productions in 2021.

The Playhouse will open its revised season on December 1 with a new, one-person adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Two actors will share the role and alternate performances on the existing set, which audiences will recognize, with new lighting and costuming. This would have been the 30th anniversary of the Playhouse’s annual holiday favorite. Artistic Director Blake Robison directs the one-person show.

“This is the most viable way for us to provide cheer and hope this holiday season,” said Mr. Robison. “For safety, we are starting off with the smallest cast shows and building up from there through the spring. The acting, sets, costumes and overall artistry will be at the same level that Playhouse audiences always enjoy.”

The beloved version of the Playhouse’s annual holiday production will return in 2021 if it is safe to do a large-cast show by that time.

A seven-show season will follow A CHRISTMAS CAROL, beginning in January. The Marx Theatre season features four productions: the previously announced world premiere of THE WEST END by Keith Josef Adkins, STEEL MAGNOLIAS and Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Newly added to the season is SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY by Jocelyn Bioh, a biting comedy that explores the universal challenges of teenage girlhood and all the drama that comes with it. The Rosenthal Shelterhouse Season consists of BECOMING DR. RUTH, LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL and INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP.

A detailed line-up of the 2020-21 season is included below and available at cincyplay.com. In addition, the Playhouse is planning both virtual and outdoor interactive theatrical experiences for late summer/early fall as part of its Off the Grid series and is working on virtual education and outreach programs for schools. Details on these programs will be announced later.

CSC_logoCincinnati Shakespeare Company hopes to reopen with the annual holiday favorite EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD followed by a spring filled with beloved Shakespeare titles, and to close the season with the return of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will return in late November with the much-loved holiday tradition EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!). “This show, which has run at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for over a decade, will be a wonderful way to welcome back our patrons, who we have greatly missed during this time,” said Brian Isaac Phillips, CSC Producing Artistic Director.

Then, beginning in 2021, CSC will present a rearranged slate of Shakespeare titles back to back to return the company to its roots.  First up in January will be the much-awaited production of HAMLET featuring Sara Clark portraying a reverse gendered Hamlet. This will be followed by a romantic and traditional production of ROMEO AND JULIET opening in March and a slapstick production of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS inspired by vintage Las Vegas opening in April.

And then, to close the season, CSC will reprise the production that was halted only weeks into the performance of Kate Hamill’s adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.  “This show had already become the most popular production in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company history before the unfortunate closure. We think it will be very fitting for us to close this triumphant new season with the return of this much loved and very jubilant production” said Mr. Phillips.

A detailed line-up of the 2020-21 season is included below and available at cincyshakes.com. In addition, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will continue to present its robust Education and Outreach programs in person and online in the schools and communities of the tri-state including FREE Shakespeare in the Park this summer.

ETC_new_logo_bannerEnsemble Theatre Cincinnati will continue annual community partnerships this winter and plans to open its 2020-21 Season in January with four productions.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will start a four-show season in January, reprising its production of the 2018 Obie Award-winning play PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau, acclaimed MacArthur “Genius” Grant playwright. Having played a few performances to rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, the show was abruptly suspended the day after it opened this past March as a result of the ban on mass gatherings.

Due to safety precautions for audiences and performers alike, ETC’s previously announced holiday production, SLEEPING BEAUTY, will no longer be included in the upcoming season given its large cast size and singing format. ETC plans to return to its non-traditional fairy tale musicals in 2021 provided large-cast shows are possible by that time.

ETC had been preparing to share the remainder of its 2020-2021 Season this past spring, an announcement which was also delayed in the wake of the pandemic. In the coming weeks, ETC hopes to share the other three productions that will comprise its rearranged upcoming season and which will embrace the spirit of social consciousness that is the organization’s hallmark.

In addition, ETC will continue to adapt its programming wherever possible to be available online, including offering digital versions of its celebrated annual special event Expectations of Christmas along with its general audition call, Meals 4 Monologues, both in December.

All three organizations are supported by the generosity of almost 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund them with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.


Presented by Schueler Group and Heidelberg Distributing Co.
Season Sponsor of New Work: Rosenthal Family Foundation


First Financial Bank presents
By Charles Dickens
December 1 – 27, 2020

In an intimate tour de force, one actor takes the stage to tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.

By Keith Josef Adkins
January 16 – February 14, 2021

Set in 1941 in Cincinnati’s West End, this world premiere drama shines a light on a transformative chapter of local history.

Leading Ladies present
By Robert Harling
February 27 – March 28, 2021

With beloved characters, heartwarming dialogue and snappy repartee, Steel Magnolias revels in the power and grace of female friendship.

Moe & Jack Rouse and Randolph Wadsworth present
By Jocelyn Bioh
April 10 – May 9, 2021

This biting comedy explores the universal challenges of teenage girlhood and all the drama that comes with it.

Agatha Christie’s
Adapted by Ken Ludwig
May 22 – June 20, 2021

Whodunit? Detective Hercule Poirot is determined to find out in this masterpiece from the world’s most popular mystery writer.


The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati presents
By Mark St. Germain
January 9 – March 9, 2021

This heartwarming portrait is a humorous and illuminating one-woman show about America’s favorite sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

By Lanie Robertson
March 20 – May 16, 2021

Featuring over a dozen jazz standards, Billie Holiday tells the story of her life through music with honesty and a touch of salty humor.

Johnson Investment Counsel & Clark Schaefer Hackett present

By Katie Forgette
May 29 – July 25, 2021

It’s 1973, and the Irish-Catholic O’Shea family muddles through a series of hilarious mishaps that jeopardizes their reputation — and their souls.


Season Sponsored by The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation and The John Bridgeland, Crilley, Long, and Mason Families Honoring James R. Bridgeland Jr.

by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez
November 19 – December 27, 2020

CSC’s holiday smash hit is back again for another season of holiday hilarity as we send up everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss for 90+ minutes of high-octane jollity and frivolity.

William Shakespeare’s
January 15 – February 21, 2021

This much awaited production of the greatest play in the English language finally opens at CSC.  Featuring Sara Clark in the title role.

William Shakespeare’s
March 5 – April 11, 2021

William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of two star-crossed lovers and the feuding families who tear them apart, on stage in all of its everlasting grandeur.

William Shakespeare’s
April 23 – May 23, 2021

Shakespeare’s silliest, screwiest, and slapstickiest comedy! Inspired by golden era Las Vegas, this music filled production will be packed with cool cats, rat packs, showgirls, wise guys, and more.

By Kate Hamill, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen
June 4 – July 3, 2021

One of the single most beloved stories of all time returns in a fresh new adaptation which critics are calling “delightfully different,” “fizzy and festive,” and “unlike any adaptation of Jane Austen one has seen before.”

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Video Auditions Announced for Engagement Programs at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Off the Grid and Outreach Tour

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is accepting video audition submissions from non-Equity actors for performance opportunities through our Off the Grid and Outreach Tour programs. These opportunities include virtual and site-specific, interactive theatrical experiences, and our fall school outreach tour production of The Wind in the Willows, which will be recorded and presented virtually.

These auditions are for non-Equity performers in the Greater Cincinnati area. Please, no calls or materials through mail.

Deadline to Submit Audition:
July 21, 2020

General Audition Material:
Please prepare two contrasting, contemporary monologues. The audition should be no longer than three minutes total. Videos, headshots and resumes should be submitted through this form.

Audition Process:
To be considered for any upcoming projects in our Off the Grid and Outreach Tour programs, actors must submit a video audition by July 21, 2020. Actors will be invited to Zoom call-backs on a show-by-show basis.

Outreach Tour Compensation:
Actors for The Wind in the Willows will be paid $500 per week for two weeks. Rehearsals will occur Sept. 8 – 18, filming on Sept. 19. Fittings are required on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

Off the Grid Compensation:
Actors for interactive, virtual and immersive performances will be paid an hourly rate which will be provided when called back for shows.

Health and Safety:
The Playhouse health and safety plans are in accordance with guidelines outlined by the CDC and the State of Ohio.

Click here to submit audition.

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Digi and Mike Schueler Make $3 Million Commitment to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Gift to support new theatre construction as well as ongoing operations

PIP_The Schuelers

Digi and Mike Schueler

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park today announced a $3 million pledge from Digi and Mike Schueler to help construct its new mainstage theatre complex and to support artistic programming for the next five years.

“Digi and Mike’s extraordinary gift leads us into the homestretch of our capital campaign,” says Blake Robison, artistic director. “And making a five-year commitment to our future artistic programming speaks volumes about their love of the Playhouse and the confidence they have in work we put onstage for the community. We can’t thank them enough.”

Included in the pledge is a capital campaign gift of $1.75 million that gives the Schuelers naming rights to the lobby of the new facility. The Playhouse now has $41.5 million in funds committed toward the project total of $49.5 million. The Schuelers join Moe and Jack Rouse and the Rosenthal Family as the lead donors of the Playhouse’s capital campaign.

“Digi and I hope our gift inspires others to join us in helping deliver this project to the community,” says Mr. Schueler, who is Chairman and CEO of The Schueler Group, a real estate, development and construction company located in Warren County.

The Schuelers are active throughout Greater Cincinnati with numerous social service and arts organizations. Mrs. Schueler has been a member of the Playhouse Board of Trustees for 16 years and has filled a variety of leadership positions during that time. She also currently serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Every Child Succeeds, 4C for Children and East End Adult Education.

“The Playhouse is a national treasure right here in Cincinnati,” says Mrs. Schueler. “We are so pleased to play our part in securing its future for generations to come.”

With the other $1.25 million of their pledge, the Schuelers have committed to continue their season sponsorship of the mainstage series in the current Marx Theatre and future Rouse Theatre as well as a select production sponsorship in the Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre through the 2025-26 Season.

The Playhouse began site preparation work for the building construction in the spring to move utilities, change traffic patterns and create the staging area for the new theatre. That work is on track to be completed by the end of the summer. Ground-breaking for the new theatre is slated for late fall 2020, assuming no delays related to COVID-19 issues. Projected opening of the new theatre complex remains late 2022.

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