A Musing on CBus / April Overload

I sat down to make myself a list of all the shows opening in Columbus in April. I need to keep careful track because some theaters here do a play almost every month of the year, such as the Columbus Civic Theatre which closes Arthur Miller’s THE PRICE this weekend and opens THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN in just 3 weeks. Others barely produce, perhaps 3 productions a year, such as the Whistling in the Dark Theatre Company.  While they appear to have a great space and even better location (right on Ohio State’s campus in the campus corridor), they produce BAT BOY THE MUSICAL this month, and other than a staged reading and a touring educational show there is nothing else listed on their schedule. With so many theaters in town with a similar situation, I need to stay on top of what’s going on or I’ll miss the opportunity to see the work of those companies, most of which I’ve never experienced. 


The real issue is not the infrequency of Columbus companies producing plays – all companies are limited to what they can afford, when they can get actors in a very thinly spread acting pool (VERY thinly spread – every audition David has gone to they have wanted to cast him… Every. Single. One. Talk about the sweet life), and when their regularly rented spaces are available.  The REAL issue is that every company opens plays at the exact same time, this time in April. There are 7 plays that I know of opening on an April date, and 4 others opening in March that continue into April. Really? If I thought the acting pool was spread thin in this town, I’ve noticed the AUDIENCE pool is spread even thinner. Folks here don’t go to shows outside CATCO or the Broadway tours. They expect polish and professionalism, and assume they won’t get either from a smaller company. Theaters here also don’t market their work outside their small groups of loyal followers.  I had to do some real digging to find these 11 shows (Columbus theaters need a full blown marketing overhaul in point of fact, but that’s for a later post). I’ve also already realized that I don’t ever need to reserve a ticket in advance for a play in Columbus other than Shadowbox Live or CATCO because the other theaters never really sell out. Having 11 poorly marketed shows running at the same time in small theaters isn’t going to help with this predicament.


How serendipitous that right as I was making this conclusion, I notice an article in the New York Times Arts Beat entitled, “Spring Can Really Hang You up The Most.” The point – there are way too many freakin’ shows opening in April in New York, so many in fact that it’s practically impossible to get to all of them without going to plays 5 nights a week. Well, it’s not THAT bad in Columbus, obviously, but still an interesting coincidence for someone who really wants to get into these shows to review them and convince Columbusians… Columbusers.. Bussers? Bussers. To convince BUSSERS to see them. This is happening in NYC because Broadway shows need to open by April 28, 2011 to be considered for Tony Awards. Producers want their show to open as close to the Tony’s as possible so the performance is fresh in the voters mind and so that they can sell tickets after their show wins that Tony. Guess what, Columbus: we don’t have Tony Awards! You don’t have to all open at the same time! Isn’t that great?  It would really help me out a lot if this didn’t happen again, ok? I don’t get comps because I’m only a simple blogger, therefore it’s expensive, and I can’t be in 4 different places on April 7 (yes, 4 shows open on April 7 and CBus only has about 2 newspaper critics. Problem? Yes).


I get the impression that Columbus theaters in general just don’t seem to be aware of each other. Everyone has a day job resulting in all rehearsals taking place at night. All theaters can’t afford to have plays run outside Thursday-Sunday, so no one can ever go see each other’s work (oh, the number of Tuesdays and Wednesdays I’ve sat alone at home watching SVU while David is at rehearsal, wishing I could have been at your play!). There is a great organization called the Theatre Roundtable of Central Ohio.  They aim to keep everyone working together, hosting unified auditions every year for all central Ohio theaters as well as hosting workshops for actors in the area. However, if theatres are still scheduling their shows to run for the same 2 weekends and presenting the exact same plays as other companies in the same year (there are 2 MIDSUMMERs and 2 RENTs that I know of in 2011), it looks like there is more work to be done. They also have the Roundtable Awards! But they’re in January, soo… why open ALL your plays in April? Spread it out a little.


In conclusion, you should all go see a play in April, but I can’t in good conscience urge you to see ALL these plays in April. The audience pool is spread thin, but we can help. Check out this list and see what peaks your interest. See my page Central Ohio Theaters for links to websites that contain more information and tickets.  Let’s get some butts in the seats.



BAT BOY THE MUSICAL, Whistling in the Dark Theatre Co., The Green Room, March 17-April 3

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, Raconteur Theatre Company, Club Diversity, March 17-April 2

CURTAINS, Gallery Players, JCC, March 19-April 3

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW, CATCO, Riffe Center, March 30-April 17

BOY GETS GIRL, Curtain Players, Galena, April 1-17

THE MALE ANIMAL, Actors’ Theatre of Columbus, CPAC, April 7-17

SKYSCRAPERS OF THE MIDWEST, Available Light Theatre, Riffe Center, April 7-23

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Bread & Circus Theatre Co., Hilliard Harmony Artistic Center, April 7-10

THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN, Columbus Civic Theatre, April 7-30

CINDERELLA, Columbus Children’s Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, April 14-24

[TITLE OF SHOW], Center Stage, Axis, April 29-May 8





Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 3:09 PM  Leave a Comment  

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