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.uc.edu/about/villagenews/did-you-know/how-to-studio-series.

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.

LYSISTRATA JONES
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.

Location
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 uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. 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.uc.edu/about/directions.

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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

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

CCM News
CCM's production of Green Day's 'American Idiot.' Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM Slideshows: Green Day’s American Idiot

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CCM’s Mainstage Series continues tonight through next Sunday, March 13, with a raucous production of Green Day’s hit rock opera, American Idiot.

Directed by Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Steve Goers, American Idiot portrays a disaffected generation’s search for meaning in a post-9/11 America.

  • Read Kirk Sheppard’s review of the show for The Sappy Critic here.
  • Read Rick Pender’s preview of the show for Cincinnati CityBeat here.
  • Listen to a preview of the production courtesy of WVXU here.
  • Check out our behind-the-scenes look at the set design for American Idiot here.

American Idiot contains mature subject matter, including references to drug use, sexual content and profanity. Tickets are still available for select performances. Learn more about the production here.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 4
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6
  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 11
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to American Idiot are $31-35 for adults, $20-24 for non-UC students and $18-22 for 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 ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/american-idiot.

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 uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. 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.uc.edu/about/directions.

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

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

American Idiot is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 | Phone: 212-541-4684 | Fax: 212-397-4684 | http://www.MTIShows.com

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The set for CCM's Mainstage Series production of Green Day's 'American Idiot.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A Discussion With ‘American Idiot’ Set Designer Thomas Umfrid

The curtain rises on CCM’s production of Green Day’s punk rock-opera American Idiot  at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, but the behind-the-scenes work has been going on for months. Much of the design process for a musical must be completed before actors even step into the rehearsal hall, but the work doesn’t end there. It continues all the way to opening night.

Thomas Umfrid, American Idiot set designer and Professor of Stage Design at CCM, is no stranger to the process. His career has taken him around the world, designing for opera, drama, musical theatre, dance and more. We were able to tear him away from his hectic schedule leading up to opening night to give us a little insight about his design.

Talk about the overall design for American Idiot and how you came up with it.

An image of the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York City.

An image from ground zero in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack in New York City.

Director Aubrey Berg came up with the design concept, a lot of which is based on iconographic 9/11 imagery, which I then developed into the design.

This project has an overriding environmental conceit and isn’t supposed to be any particular time or place.  It’s a space that evokes a dark and pessimistic mood and serves the loosely episodic stage action.

The music and lyrics aren’t pretty or glamorous, they ’re down and dirty. So is the set.

How does the set help tell the story?

Although the story deals with events passing in time and inter-related characters, it doesn’t necessitate “in focus” scenic environments, time of day or symbolic references to actual places.

For example, the characters go to New York, but the city isn’t directly rendered in any particularly recognizable way. It could be any big western city where marginalized and drugged out suburban youth have fled to try and find themselves, and in so doing, get terribly lost in the process.

How close is the actual product on stage to the initial ideas?

There is always a natural, and expected, “page to stage” evolution of a set design from the scale model and mechanical drawings to the real thing sitting on stage.

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My student, staff and faculty colleagues have done an incredible job of developing and translating Aubrey’s and my ideas to the stage. When the cast moves into the theater and begins to explore the, at times, 28 foot high stage after weeks of rehearsal in a rather neutral and barrier free rehearsal hall, I’ll have a much better idea of how successful we’ve been in translating our ideas to the stage. This is always a crucial and exciting phase of any show.

What was most important to you to convey through the set?

I hope the audience will be subconsciously affected by the environment and, rather than notice anything in particular about the set, have a visceral reaction as they experience the show as a whole entity.
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American Idiot runs March 3 – 13 at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater. This production contains mature subject matter, including references to drug use, sexual content and profanity. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/american-idiot.

CCM's Mainstage Series production of Green Day's 'American Idiot' plays March 3 - 13, 2016.

CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ plays March 3 – 13, 2016.

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

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

American Idiot is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 | Phone: 212-541-4684 | Fax: 212-397-4684 | www.MTIShows.com

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From left to right, Louis Griffin, Ben Biggers, John Battagliese and Chris Collins-Pisano in CCM's production of AMERICAN IDIOT. Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM Pushes Boundaries With Green Day’s Punk Rock Musical ‘American Idiot,’ March 3 – 13, 2016

From left to right, Louis Griffin, Ben Biggers, John Battagliese and Chris Collins-Pisano in CCM's production of AMERICAN IDIOT. Photo by Mark Lyons.

From left to right, Louis Griffin, Ben Biggers, John Battagliese and Chris Collins-Pisano in CCM’s production of AMERICAN IDIOT. Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM proudly presents the first local production of Green Day‘s iconic musical American Idiot from March 3 – 13 in Patricia Corbett Theater. The through-sung rock opera is directed by Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Adjunct Instructor of Musical Theatre Steve Goers.

Although many think of Broadway musicals as saccharin sweet, there have been shows throughout the decades that have burst onto the scene, changing theatre forever and defining a generation.

“In 1944, Leonard Bernstein’s ‘On The Town’ brought fresh faces and a jazz-inflected score to Broadway. My generation grooved to the sound of ‘Hair.’ In the 90s there was ‘Rent’ by Jonathan Larson, and for the current generation, it is ‘American Idiot’,” says Berg.

A high octane adaptation of Green Day’s 2004 Grammy-winning concept album of the same name, American Idiot features a raucous and exhilarating punk rock score yet offers a simple, contemporary fable in the style of the Brothers Grimm. Three disaffected young men – Johnny, Will and Tunny – plan to flee a stifling suburban lifestyle and parental restrictions. Along the way they deal with drugs, lost love, war, inner turmoil and living in an America that is forever changed and roiled by dark events, including the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Iraq War.

Making sure CCM’s production reflects the style and temperament of the current generation was important to Berg. “American Idiot is a musical by the young, for the young,” he says. To keep the presentation authentic, Berg surrounded himself with a creative team of students. His associate director and choreographer, Tom Meglio and Samantha Pollino respectively, are both graduating seniors and are the perfect candidates to help shape this production.

American Idiot was one of our generation’s very first artistic expressions of events that are ever present in our consciousness because, for the very first time, our generation can say: we lived them,” Meglio and Pollino suggest.

CCM’s production is set three years before the release of the album in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. Meglio and Pollino explain, “We wanted to create an atmosphere of immediacy, to highlight the themes of the show as a response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and explore the period of upheaval that immediately followed.”

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Great theatre can delight and entertain, but it can also challenge audiences to confront their own closely held views and perceptions. American Idiot deals with potentially incendiary subjects. The show is loud, abrasive and confrontational. The language is raw and constant. There is simulated sex and simulated drug use. The musical presents an uncompromising view of a dystopian America, but it is also a foray into the psyche of a young generation struggling to make sense of its place in the world at a particular moment in time.

“In addition to ‘rocking out,’ we ask the audience to take a moment to connect with, reflect on and embrace this piece as a raw fragment of history presented with the utmost respect and many unanswered questions,” Meglio and Pollino conclude.

CCM’s production of American Idiot is not recommended for children or those easily offended.

Official logo for Green Day's 'American Idiot.'
Music by Green Day
Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer

The Company

  • Ben Biggers as Johnny
  • John Battagliese as St. Jimmy
  • Clara Cox as Whatsername
  • Chris Collins-Pisano as Will
  • Shauna Topian as Heather
  • Louis Griffin as Tunny
  • Cameron Anika Hill as Extraordinary Girl
  • with Kyra Christopher, EJ Dohring, Joel Flynn, Ciara Alyse Harris, Marissa Hecker, Tyler Jent, Phillip Johnson, Chris Kelley, Stavros Koumbaros, Jackson Matteck, Emily Ashton Meredith, Hamilton Moore, Anya Olsen, Alex Stone, Donelvan Thigpen, Madelaine Vandenberg and Keaton Whittaker.

The Creative Team

  • Aubrey Berg, director
  • Stephen Goers, musical director
  • Samantha Pollino, choreographer
  • Thomas C. Umfrid, scenic designer
  • CJ Mellides, lighting designer
  • Kevin Semancik, sound designer
  • Jillian Coratti, costume designer
  • Jillian Floyd, wig & make-up designer
  • Tom Meglio, assistant director
  • k. Jenny Jones, fight choreographer
  • Jenny Rissover, stage manager
  • Tom Kitt, musical arrangements and orchestrations

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 3
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 4
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6
  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 11
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to American Idiot are $31-35 for adults, $20-24 for non-UC students and $18-22 for 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 ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/american-idiot.

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 uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. 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.uc.edu/about/directions.
____

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

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

American Idiot is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 | Phone: 212-541-4684 | Fax: 212-397-4684 | www.MTIShows.com

CCM News
CCM musical theatre alumnus Andre Catrini.

CCM Alumnus Andre Catrini Opens First Off-Broadway Musical This Week

CCM alumnus Andre Catrini (BFA Musical Theatre, 2011) is about to open his first Off-Broadway musical, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit. Catrini has written the music and lyrics to a book by Alan Knee. The production opens at 7 p.m. tonight, Dec. 3, at the New York Workshop Theatre. The show plays through Saturday, Dec. 19.

Set 12 years after the close of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a 19 year old Timothy Cratchit leaves the home of his benefactor, Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to find his place in the world. On his path he encounters many trying, eye-opening and comical situations, but it is with the magnificent stage clown, Grimaldi, and his troupe of lively performers that he discovers his true identity.

Time Out New York has named the piece one of the “Best Christmas Plays to See This Holiday Season.”

Catrini is a composer/lyricist, musical theatre repertoire/audition coach and musical director currently living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is a member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, an alumnus of the ASCAP Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop (plus a proud ASCAP member) and a graduate of CCM. In New York, he recently presented a concert of his material, “All Because Of You,” and was part of the York Theatre’s NEO 7 (New, Emerging, Outstanding) Concert.

Catrini is the proud recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award, given “in recognition for his outstanding talent as a musical theatre composer and lyricist” as well as a 2015 New Voices Project Merit Award.

Catrini is the founder and current member of the writing group THE CIRCLE SONGBOOK, comprised of twelve diverse contemporary musical theatre writers. Circle Songbook concerts are held twice a year in NYC.

His previous writing credits include The Wolf, Timmy the Wizard, Other Women, BLOCKED, Whisper, Love (for which a cast album is available) and concert presentations of “All Because Of You,” “Songs From the Trunk,” “Exercises: Songs From Unwritten Musicals” and “A Little Self Indulgent Music. ”

You can learn more about Andre Catrini by visiting www.andrecatrini.com.

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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 ccm.uc.edu/theatre/musical_theatre/alumni.

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

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