The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has announced its upcoming 29th season – eight productions of plays with classical roots of one genre or another. The season includes three plays by Shakespeare and three adapted from American sources, as well as a classic work by a black playwright and another year of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and more!) for the holidays.
by William Shakespeare King Lear kicks off (September 9 to October 1) with a modern-style production. The title role of an aging king trying to preserve his legacy will be played by Jim Hopkins. It’s been 15 years since Cincy Shakes staged this great tragedy, so it should be an exciting production on the (relatively) new stage of the Otto M. Budig Theater.
For the Halloween season, the company will present a newly commissioned script: a stage adaptation of Zombies (Oct. 14-29), the classic zombie flick from George A. Romero and John A. Russo. Isaiah Reaves, a Northern Kentucky University graduate whose work has been seen on several local stages, developed this piece during the pandemic. Actor Darnell Pierre Benjamin will be featured.
Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott Little woman (November 11-December 3) was slated for Cincy Shakes’ canceled 2020-2021 season, so it’s good to see it finally staged. Hamill is the go-to playwright for stage adaptations of classic works. His interpretation for Pride and Prejudice had just opened in March 2020 when the closure brought it to a halt; this piece returns this season (May 20-June 18).
The cheeky riff on “beloved holiday classics,” Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and more!) (December 8-31). returns for its 16th iteration.
A world first, The rewards of being candid (January 27-February 18, 2023) by Alice Scovell, will be co-produced with the New York Classical Theater to kick off 2023, with production moving to an Off-Broadway theater. It’s an adaptation and sequel to Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy, The importance of being serious.
Shakespeare’s Tale of the Battle of the SexesThe Taming of the Shrew (March 3-25, 2023), while costumed in Elizabethan style, will offer a modern take – a bit irreverent and feminist.
Shrew will be followed by another witty Shakespearean comedy, the genre As you like it (April 7-29, 2023). The plan is to set this one in the 1990s with an edgy Brit Pop soundtrack.
Cincy Shakes’ season will close with Alice Childress’ season mind problem (May 12-June 3, 2023). The pioneering black playwright’s first play, written and premiered in 1955, won the 1956 Obie Award as the best original Off-Broadway production of the season. This is the story of the troubled production of a fictional, anti-lynching Broadway play, directed by a condescending white director. Long overlooked, the play has sparked new interest thanks to a recent staging by New York’s Roundabout Theater Company.
Brian Isaac Phillips of Cincy Shakes says: “mind problem is a play written 60 years ago that feels like it was made for this day and this moment. The fact that the play addresses the issues of racism on Broadway of yesteryear – and these are the same issues we still struggle to overcome now – is a perfect example of how classic theater can still be the form of art that helps transform us into the best version of ourselves.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is located at 1195 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. More info: www.cincyshakes.com.
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