The company of "Cats". Production photo by Matthew Murphy.

CCM Alumni in Broadway’s “Cats” and “Hamilton”

We are thrilled to report that ten CCM alumni are involved in Broadway productions this season!

Christine Cornish Smith (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) makes her Broadway debut this fall as Bombalurina in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. The Broadway revival of the Tony Award-winning musical opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York on July 31. Other alums in the production are: Kristen Blodgette (BM, 1976), Cats musical supervisor/director; Aaron J. Albano (CCM, 2001-2003), chorus; and  Jessica Hendy (BFA Musical Theatre, 1993), chorus and Grizabella understudy. Hailei Call, who earned a BFA from CCM’s Theatre Production and Design program in 2011, is working on the creative team in Cats.

According to Hendy’s interview with WCPO, this is her second time performing in the feline production. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of the Cats chorus and as understudy for Grizabella, belting the character’s iconic ballad “Memory” in 1999.

Recent CCM graduate Samantha Pollino (BFA Musical Theatre, 2016) returns to Broadway in the Chicago cast of Hamilton. Performances begin Sept. 27 at the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago. Two other CCM musical theatre alums, Andrew Chappelle (BFA, 2009) and Alysha Deslorieux (BFA, 2012) are members of the original Hamilton cast, which earned 11 Tony awards at the 2016 ceremony.

CCM also has alums in Something Rotten, produced by Kevin McCollum (BFA, 1984). Leslie Kritzer (BFA Musical Theatre, 1999) plays Bea in the musical. Musical theatre alums Max Clayton (BFA, 2014) and Eric Sciotto (BFA, 1997) are in the ensemble.

The 2016 Tony Awards included six productions that had CCM alums as cast or crew members. You can read more about their work here.

Are you a CCM Alumnus with news? Stay in touch by sharing your story with us!


Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

Cats production photo by Matthew Murphy

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CCM alumni in six Tony Nominated Productions, including ‘Hamilton’

Tony Awards LogoThe 70th annual Tony Award nominees include six productions that have CCM alumni as cast or crew members!

Andrew Chappelle (BFA 2009) and Alysha Deslorieux (BFA 2012) are cast members in the musical Hamilton, which has the highest number of Tony nominations at 16.

Caroline Spitzer (MFA 2015) worked as the assistant to the costume designer for the musical Shuffle Along, which received 10 nominations.

Preston Truman Boyd (BFA 2008)  and Jim Walton (BM 1977) are in the cast of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of She Loves Me, a musical based on the same story that inspired the movie You’ve Got Mail and received eight nominations this year.

Ryan Howell (MFA 2013) is the associate set designed for Eclipsed, which earned six nominations.

Max Chernin (BFA 2012) and Sarah Jane Shanks (BFA 2003) are cast members in the musical Bright Star, which received five nominations.

Gabriel Firestone (BFA 2014) is the assistant set designer for the musical Waitress, which received four nominations.

Tony Award winner James Corden will host the ceremony and it will be broadcast live on Sunday, June 12, at 8/7 central on CBS. Find out more by visiting

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CCM Village in the spring of 2014. Photography by Dottie Stover.

CCM Alumna Leslie Kritzer wins Lucille Lortel Award

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of music is pleased to announce that alumna Leslie Kritzer (BFA Musical Theatre, 1999) has won a Lucille Lortel Award as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in the Roundabout Theatre revival of The Robber Bridegroom. The Lucille Lortel Awards recognize excellence in New York Off-Broadway theatre and have been awarded since 1986.

Leslie Kritzer and company in The Robber Bridegroom. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Leslie Kritzer and company in The Roundabout Theatre Company’s ‘The Robber Bridegroom.’ Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kritzer has enjoyed mounting success over the years. She recently developed two new Broadway musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock and The Honeymooners playing Alice Kramden opposite Hank Azaria, which will be on Broadway in 2016. She is currently playing Ray Romano’s wife on Vinyl, a new show on HBO.

After graduating from CCM in 1999, Kritzer made her Broadway debut in Hairspray. She then played the role of Serena in Legally Blonde, for which she won the Clarence Derwent Award for most promising performer. She earned a Drama Desk nomination for her role in A Catered Affair, starring opposite Tom Wopat and Faith Prince. In Sondheim on Sondheim on Broadway she starred opposite Vanessa Williams and Barbara Cook and was also seen in Elf, in which she appeared as Jovie opposite Wayne Knight. Kritzer has also appeared in Piece of My Heart at The Signature Theatre, world premieres of Nobody Loves You at Second Stage and The Memory Show at Transport Group, Rooms: A Rock Romance, The Great American Trailer Park Musical and Bat Boy: The Musical. She played Hildy in On the Town for New York City Center Encores! and she was Little Becky in the national tour of Urinetown. Her regional credits include Pop! at Yale Repertory Theatre, Every Tongue Confess at Arena Stage, First You Dream at The Kennedy Center and Funny Girl at Paper Mill Playhouse.

In 2011, CCM recognized Kritzer for her achievements by presenting her with the CCM Musical Theatre Young Alumni Award. This award is presented each year at a performance of the Senior Showcase in Cincinnati sponsored by the Friends of CCM, now known as CCMpower. This award recognizes outstanding professional achievement by a graduate of CCM’s musical theatre program from the past two decades.

You can learn more about the Roundabout Theatre’s production of The Robber Bridegroom here.

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Logo for Broadway's 'Matilda the Musical.'

BroadwayBox Spotlights CCM Alumna Jennifer Bowles

CCM alumna Jennifer Bowles.

CCM alumna Jennifer Bowles.

Last month, BroadwayBox turned the spotlight on CCM alumna Jennifer Bowles (BFA Musical Theatre, 2004) as part of the website’s popular “Singular Sensation” series, which profiles New York’s most mesmerizing ensemble members.

Bowles is currently making waves in the Broadway production of Matilda. BroadwayBox’s Josh Ferri writes:

“In ‘Matilda,’ Bowles catches your eye dancing up a storm in the ensemble and breaking your heart as The Acrobat; she also understudies Mrs. Phelps and Miss Honey.”

You can read the full Singular Sensation interview with Bowles here.

Bowles was also recently seen as Irma in Irma La Douce at City Center Encores. She appeared in the original Broadway production of American Idiot in 2010 and was in the ensemble for the rock opera’s national tour in 2011.

She also had a recurring role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and appeared as a backup dancer during Kanye West’s Saturday Night Live appearance.

Learn more about the achievements of CCM’s students and alumni by subscribing to The Village News!

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The logo for Broadway's Lysistrata Jones.

CCM Musical Theatre Presents Energetic Comedy ‘Lysistrata Jones’ April 7-9, 2016


CCM caps off its 2015-16 series of musical theatre productions with Lewis Flinn and Douglas Carter Beane’s Lysistrata Jones, a modern pop retelling of the classic Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

The witty, high energy musical runs April 7 – 9 in the Cohen Family Studio Theater, featuring stage direction by Assistant Professor Emma Griffin, choreography by Adjunct Assistant Professor Patti James and Music Direction by CCM student Danny White. Like all Studio Series productions, admission to Lysistrata Jones is free, but reservations are required. Tickets become available at the CCM Box Office at noon on Monday, April 4.

Lysistrata Jones closely parallels the plot of the ancient Lysistrata, albeit with some artistic liberties that bring the story into the 21st century. In Aristophanes’ original, Lysistrata leads the women of Athens to stop having sex with their husbands and lovers until the long-lasting Peloponnesian War has finally ended. In the modern musical, the men’s basketball team at fictional Athens University has lost every game for the last 30 years when a cheerleader named Lysistrata “Lyssie J.” Jones transfers to the school. Lyssie J. inspires the girls at the school to stop “giving it up” to their boyfriends on the team until they finally win a game.

“It’s very clever,” says director Emma Griffin, “Anyone who knows the classic play really well will be delighted at the intelligence of the remake. But you don’t need to know the original at all, kind of like you don’t need to know Romeo and Juliet to understand and love West Side Story.”

Griffin and her creative team have turned CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater into a basketball arena, but Griffin is quick to point out that this is not your garden variety high school gymnasium:

“The creative team and I spent a lot of time looking at very heightened representations of sports and pop music. We also looked at comic books for some of the styling as well. So what you’ll see is a very colorful, poppy setting.”

The original Broadway production of Lysistrata Jones was reviewed extremely well, with Ben Brantley of the New York Times likening the show to the fun-filled Broadway musicals of the 1940s and 50s. He made sure to add, however, that “there’s a tasty substance beneath the froth.” Griffin agrees:

“This show does something that I think is quite difficult to do in terms of tone: it’s super poppy and funny, but the story is told in a very witty and intelligent way.”

With free admission and limited seating, CCM’s Studio Series productions remain one of the hottest tickets in town.

Learn more about how secure your tickets by visiting

CCM’s production of Lysistrata Jones is rated PG-13. There is no strong language or nudity; the subject matter includes sexual innuendo, but nothing overt.

A Musical Comedy About Faith, Hoops and Chastity
Book by Douglas Carter Beane
Music and lyrics by Lewis Flinn

Performance Times 

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7
  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 8
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9

PLEASE NOTE: the 8 p.m. performance of Lysistrata Jones on April 9 will coincide with an FC Cincinnati game scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Nippert Stadium.

Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Reserving Tickets
Admission to Lysistrata Jones is free, but reservations are required. Tickets become available at noon on Monday, April 4. Visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit


CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Lysistrata Jones is presented by arrangement with TAMS WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC., 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022


Story by CCM and UC Lindner College of Business graduate student Ryan Strand (BFA Musical Theatre, 2006)

CCM News
Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM Named ‘Best Musical Theatre College For Broadway Success’

The educational news site Learn U has placed CCM at the very top of its list for Best Musical Theatre Colleges for Broadway Success. The report states:

“In terms of bang for your buck, CCM’s program comes out the winner – it’s the school we gave the #1 ranking to in our list of the best MT programs, and it’s also one of the more affordable options.”

Long lauded as the “gold standard” of BFA musical theatre programs, CCM Musical Theatre is the oldest program of its kind in the country. Establish in 1968 by Helen Laird, with Jack Rouse serving as its first chairman, the program served as the model for the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) in creating their guidelines for the accreditation of musical theatre programs in the United States.

Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM’s Mainstage Series production of ‘Carousel.’ Photography by Mark Lyons.

The Learn U report observes, “The thing that really makes CCM stand out is the tremendous success that alumni have had on Broadway. The list of alumni who have gone on to have careers in the entertainment industry is extensive and reads like a who’s who of Broadway stars.” You can learn more about the impressive successes of our alumni by visiting

You can read Learn U’s full report of top musical theatre programs here.

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Samantha Pollino and Ben Biggers in 'Carousel.' Special thanks to Carol Ann's Carousel, A Gift of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM Presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Timeless ‘CAROUSEL’ Oct. 29 – Nov. 1

CCM’s acclaimed Mainstage Series continues this fall with a moving production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. Directed and choreographed by Diane Lala with musical direction by Roger GrodskyCarousel runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. Tickets for all performances are on sale now.

Samantha Pollino and Ben Biggers in 'Carousel.' Special thanks to Carol Ann's Carousel, A Gift of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Photography by Mark Lyons.Based on the 1909 play LiliomCarousel tells a story of tragedy, forgiveness and timeless love through the turbulent relationship of Julie Jordan, a quiet, naïve millworker, and Billy Bigelow, a swaggering, carefree carnival barker.

CCM Professor of Musical Theatre Diane Lala directs and choreographs the show, which was hailed as the “best musical of the 20th century” by Time Magazine. Fittingly, Lala’s approach to the show is to let the material speak for itself. “Carousel is such a classic piece of musical theatre,” she explains. “My goal is to present the show the way the writers intended it.”

Lala is no stranger to the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, having previously helmed CCM’s 2011 production of Oklahoma!. Lala notes that although the two musicals were written back to back, they are quite different. “A lot of the uplifting spirit in Oklahoma! comes from the feeling of community around making Oklahoma a state. In Carousel we deal with the much darker issue of a marriage between two people who are completely different but who have this captivating and enduring love for each other.”

Richard Rodgers portrays the love story gloriously in his sweeping score, which he maintained was his personal favorite of all the shows he wrote.

CCM Professor of Musical Theatre Roger Grodsky and second-year graduate student Danny White will co-conduct the 39-piece orchestra for this production. The duo will honor Rodgers by utilizing a restored version of the original 1945 orchestrations. “The restoration process began in 2003 and there are literally hundreds of parts that have been reinstated or corrected,” says Grodsky. “People may be surprised to hear that that the correct lyric for ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is: ‘When you walk through a storm, KEEP YOUR CHIN up high’ not ‘hold your head’!”

Carousel‘s timeless score also includes such standards as “If I Loved You” and Billy’s powerful seven-minute solo “Soliloquy.”

In addition to the full orchestra, the technical elements of the show will be quite grand. However, Lala notes that the juxtaposition of these elements with the intimacy of the story is what makes this production special. “In the beginning of the show, we transform from a bare stage to a full amusement park including a big carousel, so the set and musical numbers are really big and elaborate but then the scenes are so dramatic and simple. There’s a wonderful contrast all within the same show.”

With its timeless story, glorious score, and stunning visuals, CCM’s production of Carousel is sure to delight audiences and create a memorable evening of theater.

Special thanks to Carol Ann’s Carousel, A Gift of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1

Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel are $31-35 for adults, $20-24 for non-UC students and $18-22 UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Carousel Production Sponsor: The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

Community Partner: ArtsWave

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