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Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati Announce Reset 2020-21 Seasons

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Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati today issued a joint announcement that they will delay the start of their 2020-21 seasons due to the complex challenges around continuing live performances. All three theatres plan to kick off their revised seasons this winter with a smaller slate of rearranged, rescheduled or new shows.

In addition to the current ban on mass gatherings in Ohio, the nonprofit theatres must finalize viable plans to play to lower audience capacities for social distancing, communicate with theatre's professional unions (such as Actors Equity) about performing safely and put numerous, new safety protocols in place.

With so many of the same challenges and the cross-over between audiences, the artistic leaders of the three organizations - Blake Robison (Playhouse), Brian Isaac Phillips (CSC) and D. Lynn Meyers (ETC) - indicated that they are working together to present consistent opening plans and safety guidelines.

The three leaders also announced that COVID-19 safety measures - including intense cleaning, longer runs to accommodate social distancing and other protocols - will be in place when the theatres open, but specifics will be announced closer to opening dates since the overall situation and guidelines from the state of Ohio and the CDC could change. They noted that further adjustments to their schedules could become necessary to ensure the safety of patrons, artists and staff, which is of the utmost importance.

All three organizations will reach out directly to their own patrons regarding procedures and options for 2020-21 tickets already purchased. Additional tickets will go on sale later in the fall.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park brings a new, smaller version of A CHRISTMAS Carol To celebrate the holidays, followed by seven productions in 2021.

The Playhouse will open its revised season on December 1 with a new, one-person adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Two actors will share the role and alternate performances on the existing set, which audiences will recognize, with new lighting and costuming. This would have been the 30th anniversary of the Playhouse's annual holiday favorite. Artistic Director Blake Robison directs the one-person show.

"This is the most viable way for us to provide cheer and hope this holiday season," said Mr. Robison. "For safety, we are starting off with the smallest cast shows and building up from there through the spring. The acting, sets, costumes and overall artistry will be at the same level that Playhouse audiences always enjoy."

The beloved version of the Playhouse's annual holiday production will return in 2021 if it is safe to do a large-cast show by that time.

A seven-show season will follow A CHRISTMAS CAROL, beginning in January. The Marx Theatre season features four productions: the previously announced world premiere of THE WEST END by Keith Josef Adkins, STEEL MAGNOLIAS and Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Newly added to the season is SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY by Jocelyn Bioh, a biting comedy that explores the universal challenges of teenage girlhood and all the drama that comes with it. The Rosenthal Shelterhouse Season consists of BECOMING Dr. Ruth, LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL and INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP.

A detailed line-up of the 2020-21 season is included below and available at cincyplay.com. In addition, the Playhouse is planning both virtual and outdoor interactive theatrical experiences for late summer/early fall as part of its Off the Grid series and is working on virtual education and outreach programs for schools. Details on these programs will be announced later.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company hopes to reopen with the annual holiday favorite EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD followed by a spring filled with beloved Shakespeare titles, and to close the season with the return of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will return in late November with the much-loved holiday tradition EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!). "This show, which has run at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for over a decade, will be a wonderful way to welcome back our patrons, who we have greatly missed during this time," said Brian Isaac Phillips, CSC Producing Artistic Director.

Then, beginning in 2021, CSC will present a rearranged slate of Shakespeare titles back to back to return the company to its roots. First up in January will be the much-awaited production of HAMLET featuring Sara Clark portraying a reverse gendered Hamlet. This will be followed by a romantic and traditional production of ROMEO AND JULIET opening in March and a slapstick production of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS inspired by vintage Las Vegas opening in April.

And then, to close the season, CSC will reprise the production that was halted only weeks into the performance of Kate Hamill's adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. "This show had already become the most popular production in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company history before the unfortunate closure. We think it will be very fitting for us to close this triumphant new season with the return of this much loved and very jubilant production" said Mr. Phillips.

A detailed line-up of the 2020-21 season is included below and available at cincyshakes.com. In addition, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will continue to present its robust Education and Outreach programs in person and online in the schools and communities of the tri-state including FREE Shakespeare in the Park this summer.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will continue annual community partnerships this winter and plans to open its 2020-21 Season in January with four productions.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will start a four-show season in January, reprising its production of the 2018 Obie Award-winning play PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau, acclaimed MacArthur "Genius" Grant playwright. Having played a few performances to rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, the show was abruptly suspended the day after it opened this past March as a result of the ban on mass gatherings.

Due to safety precautions for audiences and performers alike, ETC's previously announced holiday production, SLEEPING BEAUTY, will no longer be included in the upcoming season given its large cast size and singing format. ETC plans to return to its non-traditional fairy tale musicals in 2021 provided large-cast shows are possible by that time.

ETC had been preparing to share the remainder of its 2020-2021 Season this past spring, an announcement which was also delayed in the wake of the pandemic. In the coming weeks, ETC hopes to share the other three productions that will comprise its rearranged upcoming season and which will embrace the spirit of social consciousness that is the organization's hallmark.

In addition, ETC will continue to adapt its programming wherever possible to be available online, including offering digital versions of its celebrated annual special event Expectations of Christmas along with its general audition call, Meals 4 Monologues, both in December.

All three organizations are supported by the generosity of almost 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund them with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.


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