Arts & Entertainment News

‘End Days’ a quirky ETC production featuring young talent

End Days, a play by Deborah Zoe Laufer, is an amusing and philosophical comedy now showing at the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. The divinely inspired comedy by Deborah Zoe Laufer enjoys its regional premiere at the Ensemble from March 16-April 2, 2011. It is directed by guest director Michael Evan Haney, Associate Artistic Director at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

The show features two young local actors who both make a stunning debut at the Ensemble. Lily Hidalgo plays the lead, Rachel Stein, and is a freshman at St. Ursula Academy. Her character’s beau, nerdy Nelson, is played by Richard Lowenburg, a skilled magician and seasoned performer having worked with Playhouse in the Park, CCM Prep, SCPA, Xavier University, and Cincinnati Music Theater, attends the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Other performers include Amy Warner and Barry Mulholland playing Rachel’s parents, and Michael G. Bath in an interesting double billed role as both Jesus and Stephen Hawking.

End Days tells the story of the dysfunctional Stein family, who left New York after 9/11. With a depressed father and a newly religious mother, youngster Rachel Stein has nowhere to turn but her teenage angst and her obnoxious, Elvis-impersonating neighbor, Nelson.

When Nelson persuades Rachel to read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, she becomes interested in physics. Eventually he ingratiates himself in the Stein family. With the help of a secret confidante, the family and friends join and realize that togetherness can make life worthwhile, even despite a coming apocalypse.

End Days was awarded the 2008 American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg Citation. It received its NYC premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre through an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant. End Days is listed in the Burns Mantle Yearbook as one of the best regional plays of 2008, and is published in The Best Plays of 2008.

With great acting and fantastic lighting, the show had audience members laughing out loud. Get down to ETC and enjoy this regional premiere for a rollicking good time and look at life, love and faith.

End Days is on stage now through April 3 at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, located in historic Over-the-Rhine at 1127 Vine St. in the Gateway Quarter. Ticket Information
Single tickets are $34 to $42, depending on the day. Children’s tickets are $16 for all performances.

Rush Tickets: $15 rush tickets are available for all performances 15 minutes prior to curtain and are subject to availability. Senior/ student, Cincinnati Public Radio Perks Card, ArtsWave Fun Card, AAA, and Enjoy the Arts discounts available. ETC accepts all major credit cards, Over-the-Rhine Merchant gift cards, and Downtown Cincinnati gift cards. Group rates are available for 10 or more people.

Patrons may purchase tickets in person at the ETC box office, by calling (513) 421-3555, or online.

image provided by ETC.

Arts & Entertainment News

Musical exchange program helps kids in need

Is your guitar from college looking a little underused? Joseph-Beth Books and UC’s CCM will collect used musical instruments for local music students this weekend at the store located at Rookwood Pavilion.

LINKS, or Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids, is a scholarship program run by UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. School music teachers apply for the reconditioned instruments on behalf of students unable to afford to rent or purchase their own. Local 1st- through 12th-grade students benefit from the contributions of instruments, which are reconditioned, cleaned and tuned by Buddy Rogers.

Bring unwanted instruments to Joseph-Beth, 2692 Madison Rd., Hyde Park, on Saturday from 10-5 or Sunday 12-5, for placement with a young musician in need. All donations are tax-deductible. Joseph Beth Booksellers will donate 20% of all book sales and 10% of all Brontë Bistro sales to LINKS during these collection days.

Arts & Entertainment News

Walnut Street Poetry Society to kick-off 2011 season at Mercantile Library

Like literature? Like poetry?

The Mercantile Library is hosting a one-hour poetry event this Wednesday, January 12 from 12pm to 1pm.  A Profusion of Poets is a kick-off for the 2011 season of the Walnut Street Poetry Society (WSPS), a local poetry group founded in 2004.

Participating poets include Bea Ostergart, a writer and UC English professor, and Richard Hague, a writer, editor and teacher at Purcell Marian High School, and several other local poets. The event will be moderated by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, poet and professor of English at Xavier University and Robert Murphy, poet and editor of Dos Madres Press.

The WSPS says that this year’s poetry series at the Mercantile Library focuses on poetry and inner life.

“Poems, as it were, are places made out of language where our inner life and the outer world meet.  In the coming months, we will read a wide variety of poets who invite us to participate in this inspiriting process.”

This event will take place at the 175-year-old institution at 414 Walnut Street in downtown Cincinnati, and is free and open to the public.  Mercantile Library members interested in joining the Walnut Street Poetry Society can do so for $30 annually.  All others interested can join for a $40 annual membership fee.

Arts & Entertainment News

Modern Women at the Cincinnati Art Museum

The storied, 129-year-old Cincinnati Art Museum is perhaps easy to miss.  High on a hill just east of downtown Cincinnati, it is surrounded by the natural beauty of Eden Park.  But its collection of over 60,000 works of art is far-reaching and definitive.

The exhibit Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman, which opened last month at the CAM, is a shining example of the museum’s curatorial discernment and ingenuity.

Gainsborough (1727-1788) was born in East England, the youngest son of a textile maker who sent him to London to study engraving and then art.  He married the illegitimate daughter of a duke, whose yearly annuity allowed the painter to be quite productive.

Benedict Leca, the CAM’s Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, has assembled a group of Gainsborough paintings from both sides of the Atlantic.  The piece that initially captured his interest is a CAM holding: Gainsborough’s 1760 portrait of Ann Ford, a musician who aimed to raise her reputation and social standing with a beautiful, full-length image of herself – painted by Thomas Gainsborough.  The colorful, newly restored masterpiece hangs with 15 other Gainsborough portraits at the museum today.

“We forget that these were radical paintings in the 18th century,” Leca told me by phone.  “These are provocative women, provocatively painted.”

In the late 18th century, Georgian England was a state in transition.  The old traditions of Europe began to lose favor as the new philosophies of the Enlightenment took hold. Curiosity, reason and enterprise began to replace religion and loyalty to the aristocracy as the bedrocks of the intellectual class.  Instead of the staid masculinity that defined society for centuries, women moved into the public eye and gained a degree of independence.

Thomas Gainsborough ran up against the traditional art society of his day, though the royal family loved his work. He painted quickly and using a variety of methods, like large strokes and wet-on-wet.  His biggest rival was Joshua Reynolds, a better-known English portrait artist who was the first president of the Royal Academy.

“Gainsborough recasted the traditionally dichotomized gendering of portraiture,” Leca said.  The traditional views held that a skilled male painter actively makes an image of a passive female sitter.  This painter made portraiture more active.  “Gainsborough turned that upside down into a dynamic interchange that was based on complicity.”

Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum through January 2, 2011.  The Cincinnati Art Museum (map) is open 11am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday.  Admission is free to the public; parking is $4 for non-members.  The Terrace Café, located in the museum, is open from 11am to 3pm, closed Mondays.