Tag Archives: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Cincinnati Playhouse Announces New Building Campaign, Will Stay in Eden Park


Artistic Director Blake Robison. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

CINCINNATI– Artistic Director Blake Robison announced today that Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will remain in Eden Park and move forward with a major capital campaign to replace the Playhouse’s current mainstage with a new state-of-the-art facility commensurate with the Playhouse’s artistry and national reputation.

Board of Trustees President Jack Rouse explained that “after more than a year of insightful research and analysis, the Board approved the capital campaign and the plan to build a brand new theatre complex. We remain committed to Eden Park and to the Mt. Adams neighborhood for the long term.”

While still in the earliest stages of planning and development, the building project will feature a new, and even more intimate, mainstage theatre with support facilities including new dressing rooms, a rehearsal room, green room, costume shop and backstage areas. The new theatre will enhance audience experience with better comfort, sightlines, acoustics and entry/exit and expand what can be done on stage.

Details of the building project design, campaign goal and construction timeline will be announced at a later date. The new mainstage theatre complex is projected to open in the Fall of 2020.

“Our campaign leadership is now launching the quiet phase of the campaign,” said Woody Taft, vice president of the board and chairman of the campaign. “We will focus on lead gifts for the next six to nine months before launching the public campaign.”

The Playhouse has hired Rachel Kirley as its Capital Campaign Director. In this added staff position, she’ll dedicate 100 percent of her time to the capital campaign. Additionally, the Playhouse has retained the national firm Arts Consulting Group as campaign counsel to work with Kirley and help guide this effort.

The new Mainstage Theatre Complex is Phase One of a Facility Master Plan. Future phases will include additional capacity for increased initiatives in community engagement and educational outreach across the region.

No major improvements have been made to the Marx Theatre since its construction nearly 50 years ago in 1968. It is the oldest un-renovated mainstage facility at any regional theatre in the country. The Playhouse’s last capital campaign was from 1994 to 1996 and culminated in a major renovation to the public and production support areas in 1997, but did not include any significant improvements to the two theatres.

Winner of two Tony awards, the Playhouse is the region’s preeminent professional theatre with unequaled access to the nation’s finest actors, directors and designers.

“The new state-of-the-art mainstage positions the Playhouse for the future,” Robison explained. “It will enhance our patrons’ experience and give our artists the modern technologies to achieve 21st century production values that are on par or exceed those in New York and London.”

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 and the National Endowment for the Arts.



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SUMMERLAND presented by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park through March 5. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.


Michael Rothhaar as William H. Mumler & Whitney Maris Brown as Mrs. Mumler. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

A taste of Halloween comes late (or early, depending on your point of view) to the Park’s Shelterhouse with SUMMERLAND. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “Summerland” is the name given by Theosophists, Wiccans and some earth-based contemporary pagan religions to their conceptualization of an afterlife.

Arlitia Jones’ play uses the now infamous image taken by Spirit Photographer William H. Mumler as a jumping off point for her play. In the photo, a seated Mary Todd Lincoln is captured with the ghostly image of her late husband standing beside her.

Director Michael Evan Haney elicits unique and believable performances from his talented ensemble of three. Billy Finn is strong as the young and driven Jospeh Tooker, determined to prove Mumler is the fraud Tooker is convinced he is. Michael Rothhaar charms as William H. Mumler, a man who appears to genuinely believe his work is a comfort to the living. Playing Mrs. Mumler, Whitney Maris Brown is mesmerizing as the enigmatic and otherworldly wife and possible conspirator.


Whitney Maris Brown as Mrs. Mumler & Billy Finn as Joseph Tooker. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

My favorite scene of the play is the beginning of Act II. The “confrontation” between Mrs. Mumler and Tooker is immensely satisfying to watch. Brown is a force of nature as she assails, cajoles and taunts Mr. Tooker, keeping him completely off balance.

For me, one of most successful aspects of the play is how well the technical team set the mood for the piece. The special effects worked well and the theater magic stayed well-hidden in the intimate performance space. The end of Act I is indeed “spooky.”


Billy Finn as Joseph Tooker & Michael Rothhaar as William H. Mumler. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

As a new work the play could still use a bit of editing. The first scene went a bit long in exposition considering how quickly it becomes apparent that the young man is there for more than his portrait sitting. The epilogue also seems a bit anti-climatic, working hard to establish a connection between the two men after all that has transpired.

Overall, an engaging and unique historical drama with a supernatural bent.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.

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Gina Milo as Audrey, David Meyers as Mr. Mushnik & Nick Cearley as Seymour. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS presented Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park through Feb. 19. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.

It was my love of the movie LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS that led me to become involved in our local theater scene about 25 years ago. Without Seymour, Audrey, and the gang, you would not be reading this review. 🙂 This is the first regional production I have attended and I’m happy to say that the Playhouse’s production does the show, (as well as and my fond memories of it) justice.

If you are a fan of the movie but have never seen the stage version, you will experience a completely different ending sans “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space,” as well as several songs that were not included in the movie.


Johari Nandi as Chiffon, Ebony Blake as Ronnette, Alexis Tidwell as Crystal & Nick Cearley as Seymour. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

The cast is extremely talented and does a wonderful job of making the roles their own. Nick Cearley is endearing as hapless Seymour who flinches from every harsh word. Gina Milo is easy to love as Audrey and offers an emotionally touching “Somewhere That’s Green.” Jamison Stern is hilarious as Orin and brings a quirkiness to the dentist and his various other roles that is fun to watch. The Urchins (Johari Nandi as Chiffon, Alexis Tidwell as Crystal & Ebony Blake as Ronnette) nail the harmonies and dance moves that make the roles so much fun to watch. Rounding out the ensemble is Chaz Rose as the voice of Audrey II & Stephen Kriz Gardner as the puppeteer/manipulator. The two give the ever-growing plant great presence and personality, however it was noticeable several times that Audrey II wasn’t hitting all the syllables in the dialogue and lyrics.

Playhouse’s Marx Theatre can make the staging of a musical rather challenging. Michael Schweikardt’s set design is extremely successful in the space. There are many great touches throughout and I thought the shop’s renovation was one of the most dramatic I’ve ever seen. The various transformations and quick costume changes were handled excellently by the stage management team. The production also boasts one of the most successful executions of the final number.


Jamison Stern as Orin & Nick Cearley as Seymour. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

The musicians, conducted by Stephen Goers and located underneath the stage, rocked out the score. I found the music and vocal balance to be great and I was able to hear every line and lyric.

Opening night, the younger audience members around me seemed to enjoy the show -although the lines “tough titties” and “no shit, Sherlock” did elicit a bit of a shocked reaction from them.

Overall, LITTLE SHOP is a grade A, sci-Fi, B movie, musical comedy that is laugh out loud funny and a rocking good time.

My rating: 5 out of 5

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.

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AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS Will Travel Around Cincinnati This Winter

Playhouse’s Off The Hill tour begins Jan. 21

pip_around-the-world-in-80-days-promo(CINCINNATI) The Playhouse’s popular, family-friendly Off the Hill Series embarks on an imaginative adventure with Around the World in 80 Days, which will tour to community centers throughout Greater Cincinnati from Jan. 21 through Feb. 18, 2017.

“I am very excited to share Toby Hulse’s adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days with students and families throughout the Tristate area,” says Daunielle Rasmussen, the Playhouse’s director of education and community engagement. “This is a fast-paced, exciting romp around the world with smart and funny dialogue that will delight all ages.”

The classic Jules Verne story features intrepid Londoner Phileas Fogg in the world’s first amazing race, traversing the globe in just 80 days to claim a large wager on the enterprise. Along the journey of a lifetime — via boat, rail and even elephant — Fogg and his faithful French servant Passepartout encounter all sorts of obstacles, from a snooping Scotland Yard detective to the whims of Mother Nature. The hilariously entertaining comedy is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Verne’s novel was published in 1873, long before the advent of such modern transportation modes as automobiles and airplanes. The adventure’s itinerary starts in London and hits such exotic locales as Egypt, India, Hong Kong and Japan before crossing the United States and returning to London.

The Playhouse’s production will journey all over Cincinnati, from Fort Thomas to Mason to Oxford to Delhi. The final performance on Feb. 18 takes place at the Playhouse as part of Macy’s Arts Sampler Weekend, ArtsWave’s free annual arts festival. Around the World in 80 Days will be directed by Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., the artistic director and co-founder of Civic Ensemble in Ithaca, N.Y.

Visit the Playhouse website for the most up to date Performance Schedule
Click on SCHEDULE tab

Three members of the Playhouse’s 2016-17 Bruce E. Coyle Acting Intern Company, George Bull, Candice Handy & Koray Tarhan, will portray the play’s 19 different characters.

“Kids will enjoy actors creating whole worlds without huge sets or a huge stage,” explains Rasmussen. “There are moments of action, romance and intrigue in the play that will hook any audience. Children will also get a sense of how immense changes in technology transformed the world 100 years ago.”

Around the World in 80 Days is the second of three Playhouse Off the Hill productions for the 2016-17 season, which will wrap up with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the spring. Off the Hill is supported by The Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation.

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Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Presents the World Premiere of SUMMERLAND

pip_summerland-logo(CINCINNATI) — The world premiere of the mysterious and suspenseful new play SUMMERLAND by Arlitia Jones debuts Feb. 4 and runs through March 5 at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre.

Based on mesmerizing true events, SUMMERLAND tells the riveting tale of William H. Mumler, a spirit photographer with a talent for taking haunting images of ghostly visitors. Set in 1869, the story follows Mumler’s meteoric rise and fall, from his wildly successful studio business, which boasted Mary Todd Lincoln as a client, to his indictment for fraud.

“Arlitia Jones has written a fascinating story,” says Associate Artist Michael Evan Haney, director of the play. “When I first read SUMMERLAND, I was hanging on every word, not knowing what was going to happen. Coming right after the Civil War and the advent of photography (a mysterious new technology), there was a real belief that we could break through the veil and talk to people who had passed on to the other side. Whatever you think about the afterlife, this play makes you think about what we believe and don’t believe.”

Jones is an award-winning poet, playwright and co-founder of TossPot Productions in Anchorage, AK. The spirit photography used by Mumler that inspired her story can be traced to American Spiritualist Movement, which peaked from the 1840s through the 1920s. Followers of the movement believed that the dead have the ability to communicate with the living.

Tickets for SUMMERLAND start at $35; prices vary depending on seat location and performance day and are subject to change. Tickets for teens and students are $30. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show. Sunday is College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. performances just $10. In addition to calling the Box Office (513-421-3888), tickets can also be purchased by visiting the Playhouse website at http://www.cincyplay.com.

SUMMERLAND is sponsored by Barbara and Bill Weyand. Leon Meyer serves as Honorary Producer. Additional support is provided by The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Design Sponsor is JRA.

The 2016-17 Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre season is presented by Heidelberg Distributing Co., and the Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre season design sponsor is the Allan Berliant and Jennie Rosenthal Berliant Family Fund. The season sponsor of new work is the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation.

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 and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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