A Prayer for Owen Meany opens Cincinnati Playhouse Season

(CINCINNATI) – A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY launches the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s 2016-17 season in a powerful, spectacularly theatrical way on the Robert S. Marx Theatre stage from Sept. 3 through Oct. 1. For the legions of fans of John Irving’s bestselling book, the transformation of beloved icon Owen Meany from page to stage is not to be missed. That being said, “You don’t need to know the book to enjoy this production,” says Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison, who is directing the show. “The story carries the day all on its own.”

Owen Meany is an unlikely yet compelling prophet. Despite his strange voice and diminutive stature, he’s outsized in his impact, particularly upon John Wheelwright, who retrospectively narrates the story of his idolized best friend. Owen and John meet as boys in 1950s New Hampshire, survive the shared tragedy of the death of John’s mother and grow to manhood in the shadow of America’s escalation of the Vietnam War. Owen is certain of his divinely ordained destiny in a seemingly random world, and he bewilders, intrigues and ultimately inspires John in a way that transforms his life.

A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is a sweeping adaptation, by Simon Bent, of Irving’s epic saga about friendship, destiny and the miracle of faith. It made its world premiere in 2002 at London’s Royal National Theatre.

“It taps into our collective doubt, our search for purpose and faith, our estrangement from the society around us and the profound value of friendship,” says Robison. “Owen makes an extraordinary sacrifice for the greater good. He is what America wants to be, but so rarely achieves. I’d say that now, more than ever, we need Owen Meany.”

The trajectory of Owen’s journey — both in the novel and Bent’s adaptation — is not told linearly. John Wheelwright’s narrative moves fluidly among remembrances of his shared childhood with Owen, the explosive decade that followed and John’s assessment of it all from a vantage point nearly 20 years after their
destined denouement.

A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is innovative in form and execution. The Playhouse production will employ state-of-the-art technology and bold staging with new flying effects from ZFX Inc. that will literally allow Owen to hover and soar through the theatre.

The cast of A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY includes Ernaisja Curry (Mary Beth/Ensemble), Annie Fitzpatrick (Barb Wiggins/Mitzy Lish/Jarvit Mother/Ensemble), Laura Gordon (Harriet Wheelwright/Ensemble), Tatum Hunter (Girl/Jarvit Daughter/Ensemble), Naomi Jacobson (Mrs. Meany), Jared Joplin (Rector Wiggins/Coach Chickering/Randy White/Major Rawls/Ensemble), John Lescault (Reverend Merrill), Sean Mellott (Owen Meany/Lenny Bruce), Matt Mundy (Harold Crosby/Larry Lish/Jarvit Boy/Ensemble), Kevin Orton (Mr. Fish/Chief Pike/Dr. Dolder/Ensemble), Lawrence Redmond (Mr. Meany), Gardner Reed (Tabitha Wheelwright/Ensemble), Koray Tarhan (Boy/Ensemble), Jeremy Webb (John Wheelwright), David Whalen (Dan Needham/Jarvit Father/Ensemble) and Kate Wilford (Lydia/Sam White/Ensemble).

In addition to Robison, the creative team features James Kronzer (set designer), David Kay Mickelsen (costume designer), Mark Barton (lighting designer), Matthew M. Nielson (sound designer/composer) and ZFX Inc. (flying effects provider). Jenifer Morrow is the production stage manager, and Brooke Redler is the second stage manager.

A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is sponsored by The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation. Stable Two Financial, LLC, is the design sponsor.

Tickets for A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY start at $35 for preview performances and $40 for regular performances. Prices are subject to change, and patrons are encouraged to buy early for the best seats at the best prices. The show is appropriate for adult and older teenage audiences.

Tickets to 7 p.m. Sunday College Night performances are priced at just $10 for college students with a valid school ID. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances.

Discounted ticket prices for teens and students are always available for $30 and $45, depending on show and seat location.

The Playhouse’s Tasting Series will enhance the theatre experience with wine pairing dinners before Thursday evening performances of A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. The four-course dinners, which start at 6 p.m., are catered by Tano Bistro & Catering with wine distributed by Heidelberg Distributing Company. The cost is $32 per person; reservations may be made by calling the Box Office at 513-421-3888.

The Playhouse, in conjunction with Joseph-Beth Booksellers, is also offering a new book club for several of its 2016-17 productions, including A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, JANE EYRE and ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END.Playhouse book club participants are invited to attend discussions of A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY at Joseph-Beth Booksellers’ Rookwood location at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29, and 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19. The discussions are free, but registration is required in advance through the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888.

Previews for A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY are at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3; 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. The official opening night is Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m.

Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays.

Free Meet the Artists programs that allow audiences to interact with the cast and others associated with A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY will be held after the following performances: 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14; 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25; and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29.

A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY will be audio described for those with visual impairments at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, and signed for persons with hearing impairments at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25. The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs and complete wheelchair access are available.

Tickets to A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY are on sale now. For more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit http://www.cincyplay.com. Call 513-345-2248 for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf accessibility.

The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs and complete wheelchair access are available.

The 2016-17 Robert S. Marx Theatre season is presented by The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation, and Macy’s is the Robert S. Marx Theatre season design sponsor. The season sponsor of new work is the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.