The blister and rapture of Ensemble Theatre and Over-the-Rhine

Company's comeback built on commitment and quality

CINCINNATI -- D. Lynn Meyers faced two enormous challenges in 1997, when she returned to Cincinnati to lead the Ensemble Theatre .

First was the company’s seven-figure debt, and the second was the theater’s home in a tumultuous Over-the-Rhine.

Meyers’ return was a surprise even to herself.

She’d grown up in Cincinnati and directed shows at Playhouse in the Park before working on both coasts casting films, including  “Shawshank Redemption." When she returned, through Ensemble Theatre, she had to decide whether to steer the company into an orderly bankruptcy or commit to raising the money and enthusiasm needed to renew the company.

It took seven years to retire the $1 million in unsecured debt and even longer for both the company’s finances and the neighborhood around the theater to stabilize.

Today, Ensemble Theatre in the Gateway Corridor in Over-the-Rhine is revitalized, and the armed guard who once served primarily for security is now a concierge. About 80 percent of the company’s subscribers renew their tickets, Meyers said, before ever learning of the next season’s lineup.

On the eve of Ensemble’s newest show, “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” WCPO arts reporter Matt Peiken brought his video camera to a rehearsal and met with Meyers and other insiders, who feel vindicated for their faith in the company and the neighborhood.

IF YOU GO

What: "Rapture, Blister, Burn,'' a social comedy that tells the story of the women's movement through the eyes of three generations of women.

When: Oct. 9-27

Where: 1127 Vine St., Cincinnati

Tickets: $16 to $43 and can be bought at the Box Office, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from noon until show time Saturday and Sunday.

Info: ensemblecincinnati.org or (513) 421-3555

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