Come see us in Cincinnati May 31st!

Cincinnati Playhouse to Host CELEBRATING KING RECORDS, 5/31


The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will salute the legacy of Cincinnati's own King Records with a one-of-a-kind celebration in Over-the-Rhine's Washington Park on Sunday, May 31. Celebrating King Records will feature an evening of food, music and memories, capped with an exciting staged concert reading of KJ Sanchez's play CINCINNATI KING. The event launches the OTR Performs series and is also included as part of this year's Cincinnati Fringe Festival.

Sanchez has described CINCINNATI KING as a "theatrical album" about the history of Cincinnati music, racial equality and the legendary rhythm and blues label.

Celebrating King Records festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with music and theatre activities for children and the chance to explore memorabilia from King Studios. Legendary King Records studio drummer Philip Paul and his quartet will kick off the evening's entertainment at 5:30 p.m. with a performance of the label's greatest hits and behind-the-scenes stories. The staged concert reading of CINCINNATI KING will be presented at 7 p.m. Throughout the evening, food trucks and beverage sales will be available in the park.

Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison commissioned KJ Sanchez, one of the theatre's associate artists, to create the play. Sanchez is the founder and CEO of American Records, a company devoted to making theatre that chronicles our time. The CINCINNATI KING project was designed to collect and share stories that preserve a unique part of Cincinnati's history, foster understanding and ignite dialogue.

What began as an investigation specifically into the history of King Records quickly took on broader meaning thanks to Syd Nathan's unique contributions to the music industry and to Cincinnati at large. Nathan founded King Records in 1943 as a country label. King's sister labels, Queen and Federal, became immensely successful for fulfilling the needs of a different audience and supporting the growing popularity of African-American rhythm and blues artists. Iconic singer James Brownstarted his career at King Records.

King Records became one of the most successful independent labels of the 1940s and 1950s. Nathan revolutionized the industry by keeping the entire production process in house, recording, mastering, printing, pressing and shipping all of the albums King produced. At the same time, he employed both blacks and whites, who worked side by side, inside and outside of the studio. King Records was one of the first integrated industries in Cincinnati.

Working with a group of Playhouse board and staff members, drama students from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and community volunteers, Sanchez compiled CINCINNATI KING from transcripts of interviews with nearly 50 people from across the Tristate. Additional material was drawn from recordings Nathan himself made, as well as newspaper clippings and books written about King Records.

For more details about Celebrating King Records, visit the Playhouse website at www.cincyplay.com.

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check out the production photos of x's and o's at Berkeley Rep

Directed by Tony Taccone

Scenic design by Todd Rosenthal

Costume design by Meg Neville

Lighting and video design by Alex Nichols

Sound design by Jake Rodriguez

Movement by John Sipes

Starring: Bill Geisslinger, Dwight Hicks, Anthony Holiday, Eddie Ray Jackson, Jenny Mercein and Marilee Talkington.

Photo Credit: Kevin Berne



npr reports on x's and o's, our newest play


American Records takes on american football

X's and O's (a football love story)

By KJ Sanchez with Jenny Mercein
Directed by Tony Taccone
Starts January 16 and runs until MArch 1st, 2015.
World premiere

“Handsomely and smoothly directed by Tony Taccone, [X’s and O’s] unfolds on a round stage that looks like a sports-talk TV set, with multiple small and large screens…. Judging by the standing ovation at Friday’s opening, anyone who loves football might want to rush to see Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s world premiere.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Eye-opening, unnerving yet entertaining...Even if you are not a football fan, it’s hard not to be moved...X’s and O’s is like the game itself: Some of the hits are so hard, they’ll make you uncomfortable, but you won’t want to stop watching!" – Oakland Tribune / Bay Area News Group

“For all the zippy fun in the play – and there’s plenty – this is a play that says loving something blindly or madly is ultimately irresponsible if you’re not also considering the bigger picture. That X’s and O’s asks us to seriously consider the duality of football – its value, its cost, its cultural relevance – is a significant matter…. Credit director Tony Taccone with providing just enough flash with the stadium lights and the near-constant video projections to balance with the generally strong performances from his energetic cast of six.” – Theater Dogs

X’s and O’s certainly deserves to be seen. Whether you’re a rabid fan or someone who watches the Super Bowl just for the commercials, there’s enough pathos, humor, and humanity here to engage and delight! Special note is due ex-49er Dwight Hicks, whose portrayal of a fellow former player is hysterically funny and delightfully honest.” – Talkin’ Broadway

“From the very first moments, the balletic slow motion accompanied by the soundtrack of cheers and electric visuals ropes you in for what will be an entrancing 85 minute ride...A Super Play just in time for a Super Bowl.”  –  Stark Insider 

 X’s and O’s (a football love story) was commissioned by Berkeley Rep, co-commissioned by Baltimore's CENTERSTAGE and developed in Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor. For tickets and more information, please visit: Berkeley Rep.