Playhouse in the Park announces first shows at new Rouse Theater

the Playhouse in the park announced its 2022-2023 season on Wednesday evening. It was one of the most unusual season announcements in memory. Not because of the show selection, although there are a few surprises as well.

Rather, it’s because half of the main productions won’t take place in the theater’s iconic Eden Park location.

At the end of the current season, the Playhouse will raze its 55-year-old main stage, the Marx Theatre. And while they already have the new main stage under construction, it won’t be finished in time to start the 2022-23 season. So production art director Blake Robison decided that if the audience couldn’t come to the hill, he would drive the theater to them.

While the new 530-seat Rouse Theater is in its final stages of construction, the Playhouse will produce three shows in remote locations; the Jarson-Kaplan Theater in the Aronoff Center, the Carnegie (in Covington) and the Warsaw Tilt Federal Theater in East Price Hill.

Will it be awkward for existing audience members? Slightly. But outweighing that is the opportunity to introduce productions to new audiences who may not have made their way to Eden Park yet.

Remember how The Cincinnati Opera has moved its 2021 summer season to Blue Ash’s Summit Park? It was different from the Music Hall experience. But it turned out to be a great success. And for people who hadn’t seen Downtown Opera, it became a way to introduce them to Cincinnati Opera.

“We could have been trying to find a place to sit for the whole fall,” Robison said. “But we made a conscious choice to broaden our reach and enter a variety of neighborhoods.”

View from the balcony of the Rouse Theater

The Rouse Theater will therefore open in March 2023. And for the opening show? An unexpected choice: “A Chorus Line,” the 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning show about Broadway dancers auditioning for a chorus line in a soon-to-be-released musical.

“Blake was kind enough to contact us and ask if we had any idea for the opening show,” said Moe Rouse, who along with husband Jack made a principal donation of $5 million to kick off the $49.9 million fundraising campaign. “Ultimately, the choice of show was Blake’s decision. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was the right choice. ‘A Chorus Line’ is a show about theatre. And that’s a show Jack and I love.

In order to enrich the slightly truncated season – there is no production of “A Christmas Carol” and only two Shelterhouse productions instead of the usual five – the Playhouse has reinforced its Off the Grid series with a pair of family events. that will appeal to the public. .

Additionally, the announcement included the launch of two new community initiatives that are expected to begin after the new resort opens.

First is an artist-in-residence program to enable local artists to use Playhouse resources to enhance their own creative endeavors. Cincinnati-based theater artists Curtis D. Shepard and Derek J. Snow will be the inaugural cohort of the new program. The other is called Meetup Mondays, intended to accommodate small arts and culture organizations that need a place to host discussions, events, or other enrichment opportunities.

“Our plan is to share our space with artists and community organizations,” Robison said in a prepared statement. “Partnerships like these keep Cincinnati’s arts community rich in talent and collaboration.”

Here is the rest of the Playhouse season.

Andrew May will star as Hercule Poirot in Ken Ludwig's adaptation of

First, off-site performance:

Sept. 25-Oct. 23

At the Jarson-Kaplan Theater in the Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut Street, downtown.

“The Murder of Agatha Christie on the Orient Express” adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig. Directed by Risa Brainin, founder and artistic director of a new play development program called Launchpad and former associate artistic director of Indiana Repertory Theater.

Vanessa Severo is seen here in the Portland Center Stage's 2021 production of

Oct. 15-Nov. 6

At Carnegie, 1028 Scott St., Covington.

“Frida… A Self-Portrait,” written and performed by Vanessa Severo. Directed by Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Joanie Schultz.

12 Nov-Dec 4

At the Warsaw Tilt Federal Theater, 801 Matson Place, East Price Hill.

“Lion,” by Benjamin Scheuer. Directed by Sean Daniels, Artistic Director of the Arizona Theater Company.

Here's what the view is likely to be for actors performing on the Playhouse stage in the park's new Main Theater.

At the Rouse Theatre:

March 11-April 14, 2023

“A Chorus Line”, designed by Michael Bennett, screenplay by James Kirkwood and Nicolas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch. Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Producer Blake Robison; TBA choreographer.

April 22-May 14, 2023

“Seven Guitars” by August Wilson. Directed by Court Theater Artist-in-Residence and former Onyx Theater Artistic Director Ron “OJ” Parson, both in Chicago.

June 3-25, 2023

“Shane”, a world premiere written by Playhouse Associate Artist Karen Zacarías, based on the 1940s novel by Jack Schaefer, which was later made into a highly acclaimed film starring Alan Ladd. Directed by Blake Robison, co-commissioned by the Playhouse and the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis.

The Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theater season:

March 25-April 30, 2023

“The Chinese Lady” by Lloyd Suh. TBA Director.

“’The Chinese Lady’ is a dark and poetic yet whimsical story about Afong Moy – supposedly the first Chinese woman to set foot on American soil in 1834.”

May 20-June 25, 2023

“Origin Story”, a world premiere, written by Nathan Alan Davis. Directed by Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Joanie Schultz.

“In this world-first comedy, Margaret finds herself in a quarter-life crisis, wading through the mundane triviality of the office by day and the slow change of graveyards in a drive-thru by night.”

The off-grid series:

Oct. 7-30, Friday and Saturday evenings

At Burger Farm and Garden Center, 7849 Main St., Newtown.

“Haunted Corn Maze” described by Robison as “a spooky, fun mystery. And don’t worry – no one is going to be jumping around with chainsaws and wearing hockey masks.”

December 14-18

At the Phoenix, 812 Race St., Downtown.

“Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig’s Holiday Party,” an immersive Victorian-era party experience, complete with board games, Victorian dancing, a puppet show and food. Featuring two favorite characters from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

For more information, call the Playhouse box office at 613-421-3888 or visit

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