Tag Archives: Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati

An Enchanting Mystery is Afoot! ETC Presents World Premiere Musical THE DANCING PRINCESSES, Nov. 29-Dec. 30

ETC_The Dancing Princesses logo(Cincinnati, OH) The tango, the cha cha, and the waltz, oh my! It’s time to break out those dancing shoes for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s world premiere, family-friendly musical THE DANCING PRINCESSES, by local playwright Joseph McDonough with music and lyrics by David Kisor. This whimsical production brings to life a royal mystery as five diverse sisters dance their way through the new incarnation of the classic, enchanting story. With hot chocolate, dance numbers, and shenanigans aplenty, The Dancing Princesses is holiday fun for the entire family! Playing November 29-December 30, 2017. Directed by D. Lynn Meyers. Premiere Sponsor is Macy’s.

Wanting the best for his daughters, an overprotective king locks the castle doors each night. Yet, each morning, the princesses’ shoes have been curiously worn to tatters. Keen to cobble together the mystery of the frayed footwear, the King resorts to drastic measures of royal proportions. This is the heartfelt, humorous story of five unique sisters who embark upon a journey of the imagination that explores the universal quest for understanding, acceptance, and love.

Each season, ETC produces a magical fairy tale musical written with families in mind. As a theatre that also seeks to nurture new audiences, ETC takes classic fairy tales and gives them a fresh, modern spin with contemporary cultural references to make the shows’ message accessible for the next generation of arts patrons. Following the success of recent holiday musicals, ETC’s performance schedule has more than 30 chances to see this exciting production with many family-friendly show times including 2:00 pm weekend matinees, early 6:00 pm Sunday evening shows, and 7:00 pm evening shows throughout the holiday season.

“I think it’s no mistake that in the original fairytale the princesses escape their strict kingdom to a world of dance,” says ETC’s Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers. “Even from earliest version of this story, dance was always used as the universal symbol of freedom, release, and expression. The ETC adaptation of The Dancing Princesses will help audiences examine who they are in their lives, where they want to go, and why they want to go there. ” 

About the Cast

Michael G. Bath (Joziam) has appeared in ETC’s productions of Cinderella: After Ever After, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Hands on a Hardbody. Other regional credits include Superior Donuts with The Clifton Players and Angels in America at Know Theatre. Mr. Bath has also performed with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, the Performance Gallery, Showboat Majestic, and Stage First Cincinnati.

Darnell Pierre Benjamin (Jack) has been seen at Ensemble Theatre in Cinderella: After Ever After, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Cinderella, and Detroit ’67. Some of his favorite regional credits include Titus Andronicus, To Kill a Mockingbird, Angels in America, Othello, Taming of the Shrew, and A Raisin in the Sun. Mr. Benjamin won Michigan’s 2013 Wilde Award for “Best of the Bard” with his performance as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre.

Michael Gerard Carr (Pharron) returns to Ensemble Theatre where his past shows include First Date, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Hands on a Hardbody, Good People, and Snow White. A proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Acting Program and a past ETC apprentice, he is also an adjunct instructor at the University of Cincinnati’s Musical Theater Department.

Ken Early (Aldrin) returns to the Ensemble stage where he was last seen in Around the World in 80 Days. His other ETC credits include The Whipping Man, Grey Gardens, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and The Frog Princess. His other regional credits include Jitney, On Golden Pond, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Pluto, Harry and the Thief, Oklahoma, Dreamgirls, and Big River. Mr. Early would like to thank family, friends, and his CECF family for their love and support.

Deb G. Girdler (Zilda) has appeared numerous times on ETC’s stage, often as the villain in the holiday shows. Some of her ETC credits include Cinderella: After Ever After, Cinderella, Hands on a Hardbody, Around the World in 80 Days, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and The Frog Princess.
Ms. Girdler has appeared at the Olney Theatre as the Fairy Godmother in the now-official version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella as well as in La Cage Aux Folles at the Gateway Playhouse in New Jersey. She can be seen in the feature films Carol and First Kill. A CCM graduate, she began her career on the Showboat Majestic and has worked off-Broadway, in regional theatre, and in summer stock for over thirty years.

Sara Mackie (Woman) is an AEA member and graduate of the Wright State Acting BFA Program. She has been a part of the ETC family since 1999 in such productions as Violet, Hands on a Hardbody, all three “Wonderette” iterations, Rabbit Hole, and Mauritius, among others. Some other favorite credits include Pump Boys and Dinettes, The Carnegie; Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, Falcon Theatre; and Twelfth Night and Family Ties, Human Race Theatre Company. She was in 2015 Hallmark Movie The Christmas Spirit and will soon appear in Emilio Estevez’s flick The Public.

Andrew Maloney (Mack) is back on the ETC stage where he was recently seen in First Date. His other ETC credits include Violet, Around the World in 80 Days, Alice in Wonderland, and Snow White. Internationally, he appeared in the Ecuadorian premiere of West Side Story at the Teatro Nacional Sucre in Quito, Ecuador. His recent credits include Rent, Assassins, The Little Mermaid, and A Chorus Line.

Brooke Steele (Tiva) has previously been seen at ETC in shows such as The Marvelous Wonderettes, Cinderella, Cinderella: After Ever After, and Violet. Ms. Steele studied theatre at Northern Kentucky University and teaches afterschool classes for Cincinnati Arts Initiatives.

Rounding out the ensemble cast are last season’s Acting Apprentices Maya Farhat (Tusu) and Samantha Russell (Gidela), as well as this season’s Acting Apprentices Maggie Cramer (Natayla), Reginald Hemphill (Dream Prince), Rebecca Wei Hsieh (Maiko), and Aaron Krick (Dream Prince).

Production team includes Brian c. Mehring (Resident Scenic & Lighting Designer), Jack Murphy (Technical Director), Matthew Hollstegge (Production Manager & Master Electrician), Shannon Rae Lutz (Properties Master & Design Assistant), Matt Callahan (Sound Designer), Scot Woolley (Musical Director), Dee Anne Bryll (Choreographer), Patti James (Choreographer), Victoria Morgan (Choreographer), and Reba Senske (Costume Designer). Production Stage Manager is Brandon T. Holmes. Assistant Stage Manager is Elizabeth Freyman. 

Performance Information
Runs November 29-December 30, 2017. 7:00 p.m. performances Fri.; 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. performances Sat. and select weeknights; 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. No performances on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A complete calendar of performances is available online at www.ensemblecincinnati.org 

Ticket Prices
Ticket prices start at $52 for adults; $28 for students (ages 13 and up); and children (ages 12 and under) are $24. For the 2017-2018 Season, ETC continues its popular $15 student and half-price rush tickets for all performances, which are available two hours prior to show time and may be purchased by phone or in person at the box office.


Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is supported, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

2017-2018 Season Presenting Sponsor is the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation. Additional support provided PNC. 

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is a professional theatre dedicated to producing world and regional premieres of works that often explore compelling social issues. We fulfill our mission through our stage productions and educational outreach programs that enlighten, enliven, enrich and inspire our audiences.


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THIS RANDOM WORLD Runs Oct. 10-Nov. 4

ETC_The Random World logoTHIS RANDOM WORLD
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
Oct. 10-Nov. 4

Directed by D. Lynn Meyers

Mining the comedy of missed connections, THIS RANDOM WORLD asks the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing. From an ailing woman who plans one final trip, to her daughter planning one great escape and an internet prank gone awry, this funny, intimate, and heartbreaking play explores the lives that may be happening just out of reach of our own.

  • In preview Tue, Oct. 10 at 7pm
  • Wed, Oct. 11 at 7:30pm SOLD OUT
  • Thu, Oct. 12 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, Oct. 13 at 8pm
  • Sat, Oct. 14 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sun, Oct. 15 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Thu, Oct. 17-19 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, Oct. 20 at 8pm
  • Sat, Oct. 21 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sun, Oct. 22 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Thu, Oct. 24-26 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, Oct. 27 at 8pm
  • Sat, Oct. 28 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sun, Oct. 29 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Thu, Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, Nov. 3 at 8pm
  • Sat, Nov. 4 at 2pm & 8pm

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BLOOMSDAY Runs April 4-23

ETC_Bloomsday logoBLOOMSDAY
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
April 4-23

Directed by Michael Evan Haney

Robert returns to Dublin to reunite with Cait, the woman who captured his heart during a James Joyce literary tour 35 years ago. Dancing backwards through time, they relive the unlikely, inevitable events that brought them—if only briefly—together. This charming, Irish time-travel-love-odyssey transports audiences into a world of history, humor, and heartache and is a buoyant, moving appeal for making the most of the present before it is past.” This production contains adult language may not be suitable for all audiences.

  • In preview, Tue, April 4 at 7pm
  • Wed-Thu, April 5-6 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, April 7 at 8pm
  • Sat, April 8 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sun, April 9 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Thu, April 11-13 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, April 14 at 8pm
  • Sat, April 15 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sun, April 16 at 2pm & 7pm
  • Tue-Thu, April 18-20 at 7:30pm
  • Fri, April 21 at 8pm
  • Sat, April 22 at 2pm & 8pm
  • Sun, April 23 at 2pm

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WHEN WE WERE YOUNG AND UNAFRAID presented by Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through March 12. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.


Delaney Ragusa as Penny & Christine Dye as Agnes. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Given the description of the show, I half-expected a two-hour-plus, heavy drama. However, playwright Sarah Treem offers an enjoyable slice-of-life play that brings the appropriate weight to the important topics her script discusses.

I very much enjoyed the quiet, no-nonsense brutal honesty that Christine Dye gives to Agnes. There is a great inner strength to the character that makes her easily likable and, at times, even a bit intimidating.

Also strong is Delaney Ragusa as Penny, Agnes precocious daughter. The two have a great chemistry and are easily believable as mother and daughter. I also thought their performances within the set came across as familiar and spoke of habitual routine.


Kat McCaulla as Mary Anne & Christine Dye as Agnes. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Kat McCaulla brings brave-faced vulnerability to Mary Anne, the victim of abuse who seeks safety at the B&B. Part of that vulnerability comes from her immaturity, which is evident in how easily she relates to Penny and her high school boy drama.

Zak Schneider is strong as painfully square, heart-on-his-sleeve Paul and he does a nice (and unexpected) job of showing the not-so-nice side of the character.

Rounding out the cast is Tess Talbot as the outspoken, man-hating Hannah. Talbot portrays her as a force of nature in her actions and opinions, but still seems adrift in what direction to take her life. Her desire to find a place in Agnes’ life and mission seems to stem from her need to make change happen beyond just words.


Zac Schneider* as Paul & Kat McCaulla as Mary Anne. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

The set and lighting design by Brian c. Mehring is pitch perfect for this show. Add in Shannon Rae Lutz’s wonderful eye for set decor detail and it’s easy to lose yourself in the locale. My grandparents owned a bar that also served as the family home so the vibe of the set felt right to me. Costumes, designed by Mary Murphy, and wigs also did well in helping to set the period.

Director Drew Fracher shows an experienced hand in keeping all characters believable, even when you are shaking your head at some of their questionable decision making. The show was paced well. With so many scenes, I wish the playwright had been more aware of how much time the audience spent in the dark during the required costume changes. Thankfully ETC picked some great ’70s songs for the scene changes.


Tess Talbot* as Hannah, Delaney Ragusa as Penny & Christine Dye as Agnes. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Opening night there were a couple of moments that pulled me out of the moment briefly. The energy level during one scene began to noticeably drop. The cause seemed to be the actors were preparing for an onstage slap they were not  yet comfortable with. Also, the moments leading up to a pivotal revelation didn’t quite reach the emotionally-charged level I expected. Following that revelation, it was unclear how it impacted the character receiving the news.

Overall, a strong drama that tackles the subject of domestic abuse with strength, humor, love, and no guarantee of a happy ending.

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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The Company. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

FIRST DATE presented Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through Feb. 5. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.

As a host at a now-defunct downtown restaurant for several years, I had a front row seat to many bad first dates. Unfortunately for me, not once did anyone break out into song and none of them were nearly as entertaining to watch as FIRST DATE now playing at ETC.

While the book doesn’t cover much new territory when it comes to today’s dating scene, it is the talented, versatile, and charismatic cast, under the smart direction of Vince DeGeorge, which elevates the show. There are many touching and fun moments peppered throughout the 90 minutes to keep the audience engaged in the story. However, there are also a couple of places in the script where the momentum falters a bit.


Sarah Hoch as Casey & Michael Gerard Carr as Aaron. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Leads Michael Gerard Carr as Aaron and Sara Hoch as Casey are well-cast and have a great, easy chemistry together. They handle the emotional arc of the book scenes and musical numbers extremely well.

The ensemble of Jared D. Doren, Maya Farhat, Andrew Maloney, Jeremy Parker and Nathan Robert Pecchia fill out the cast as the quirky and not-too-over-the-top family, friends, and exes. They alternately coerce and cajole the duo during their dating escapade.

Music director Scot Woolley deftly leads the quartet of excellent musicians, split evenly on opposing sides of the stage, creating a rich accompaniment that belies the band’s size. Favorite numbers include “Safer,” “The Things I Never Said,” and “In Love with You.” Director DeGeorge also staged the musical numbers, giving the show consistency in emotion and humor.



Maya Farhat as Woman #2, Nathan Robert Pecchia as Man #1, Jared D. Doren as Man #3, Jeremy Parker as Woman #1 & Andrew Maloney as Man #2. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Opening night as the performance neared its conclusion, the audience was definitely invested in the hopes of a happy beginning for the pair.

Overall a production that is endearing and laugh-out-loud funny. FIRST DATE makes for a great date or an enjoyable outing with friends who have dealt with their share of dating drama.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

Tickets for FIRST DATE are selling extremely well. A 7pm performance has already been added on Feb. 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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