Non-Profit Spotlight: The Cincinnati Playhouse

Non-Profit Spotlight: The Cincinnati Playhouse

This is the fifth in our Non-Profit Spotlight Series. The first, on Lincoln Center Theater, can be found here; the second, on Playwrights Horizons, can be found here; the third, on New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, and Second Stage Theatre, can be found here; and the fourth, on Virginia's Signature Theatre, can be found here.

From Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
From Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's Facebook page

In 1959, a college student named Gerald Covell sought to create a professional theatre in Cincinnati.  With the aid of some of the city's most influential leaders, Covell instituted one of the first regional theatres in the country.

Originally, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park consisted of a shelterhouse that was going to be knocked down.  It soon became a new 166-seat theatre, and the Playhouse attracted larger and larger audiences - and become more of a leader in regional theatres on a national level. In 1965, the Playhouse was the first regional theatre showcased on the TV program ESSO REPERATORY THEATRE, and it became clear that the Playhouse had outgrown its current space.  After expanding the Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre, the Playhouse added the larger Robert S. Marx Theatre.

logo_200x200_000030The Cincinnati Playhouse maintains a balance of world premieres - many of which continue to Off-Broadway and Broadway - and innovative productions of modern classics.  Of particular note is the Playhouse's production of the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical, COMPANY.  Starring multiple Tony nominee Raul Esparza and directed by John Doyle, the production drew much critical acclaim for its unique staging, which involved having the actors accompany themselves on instruments.  The production opened on Broadway in November 2006, and won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.  An honest look at marriage in modern New York, COMPANY centers on perpetual bachelor Robert and his married friends.  While Robert insists he's ready for marriage, he's not truly ready until he learns to let others into his life.

To license COMPANY, visit its MTI show page. Discuss COMPANY and view original production photos on its MTI ShowSpace page.

The Playhouse has produced many other Sondheim-scored musicals, as well.  A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, PACFIC OVERTURES, and the revue MARRY ME A LITTLE have all been seen on the theatre's stages.  The work of Stephen Sondheim, while challenging to perform, is always rewarding for audiences and actors alike.

Click here for a bio of Stephen Sondheim and a list of his shows available to license. Check out the Stephen Sondheim Birthday Celebration Group on MTI ShowSpace for links to the ShowSpace pages of Sondheim's musicals.


THE LAST FIVE YEARS is another modern musical the Playhouse has produced.  Written by Jason Robert Brown (PARADE, 13), the two-person musical chronicles the breakup of a marriage - only, one character tells it backwards, while the other takes the audience through the relationship chronologically.  Brown's rock and pop infused score and conversational lyrics create such complex and flawed characters that each audience member has their own take on what happened.

To license THE LAST FIVE YEARS, visit its MTI show page. View production photos of THE LAST FIVE YEARS, as well as interviews with Jason Robert Brown, on its MTI ShowSpace page.


The Playhouse has produced older classics, too - such as lesser known Frank Loesser musicals, such as his romantic epic THE MOST HAPPY FELLA and the comical WHERE'S CHARLEY? THE MOST HAPPY FELLA is often considered Loesser's most ambitious work.  The story of a lonely vinter who has his heart set on a much younger waitress, THE MOST HAPPY FELLA has a remarkable score: the vinter, his sister, and their Italian employees sing operatic music, while the waitress and the American workers sing in a traditional Broadway style.

To license THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, visit its MTI show page. Check out production photos and discuss THE MOST HAPPY FELLA on its MTI ShowSpace page.


Before GUYS & DOLLS, there was WHERE'S CHARLEY?, Loesser's hilarious adaptation of Brandon Thomas' play CHARLEY'S AUNT.  Written with George Abbott, WHERE'S CHARLEY? is a hilarious farce involving a pair of Oxford students whose plan quickly goes awry, resulting in mistaken identities, marriage proposals, some really fast talking, and some lovely music.

To license WHERE'S CHARLEY?, visit its MTI show page. Discuss WHERE'S CHARLEY? on its MTI ShowSpace page.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is currently performing THE FANTASTICKS, the sweet, intimate off-Broadway show that recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. For more information on Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, visit its website.  The next installment of this series will focus on Goodspeed Opera House.