Arts & Entertainment

Showboat Majestic ends 23-year run on the riverfront with “Showboat Follies”

By: Patrick E. Phillips

Since 1991, Cincinnati Landmark Productions (CLP) has been offering a special theatrical experience to Cincinnatians aboard the renowned Showboat Majestic.

However, after the closing of the showboat’s current production of “Showboat Follies,” CLP’s lease of the Showboat Majestic will not be renewed and ownership will go completely back to the City of Cincinnati.

Located downtown on East Mehring Way, the Showboat Majestic has been afloat since 1928, floating along the Ohio River and bringing theater to residents along the way.

The ship was dry docked in 1965 on the Cincinnati riverfront and was purchased by the City of Cincinnati, identifying the showboat as a National History Landmark.

“The Majestic has been the adventure of a lifetime,” CLP Artistic Director Tim Perrino said.

Perrino has taken care of the boat for the past 23 years, renovating the interior for audience comfort and even keeping the boat anchored to the harbor through 10 floods.

“For a theater guy, it was the ultimate experience, not just the producing of shows, but the battles with floods, tornadoes, ice jams and boat breakaways. It was our own combination of summer stock theater and pirate ship; always a new challenge, always an exciting endeavor.”

As the director of the current production of “Showboat Follies,” Perrino says his final goodbye to the boat.

“Showboat Follies,” written by and for the CLP staff, is the final production of over 170 on the showboat and is a celebration of the Showboat Majestic’s 23 energetic years.

Matt Dentino, a current performer in “Showboat Follies,” said, “(The Showboat) has a small stage, tight wing space, small dressing rooms and low ceilings – nothing to really recommend it as a great performance venue.”

“But with all that said, it is one of the most beautiful spaces I have ever had the good fortune to be able to entertain people.”

“‘Showboat Follies’ is funny, wry, tearful and our perfect goodbye to the Showboatin’ life,” Perrino said.

“It’s got lots of crazy humor, political satire, game shows, melodramas interlaced with some of the best song and dance performances ever on the Majestic’s stage. The audiences are cheering as they say a fond farewell to the boat.”

While the summer theater seasons end on the Showboat Majestic, CLP is beginning the “Summer Classics Season,” offering much of the same classical theater that was produced on the showboat.

CLP is also focusing its attention on the creation of a new theater in the Incline District. The future of the Showboat Majestic is uncertain.

The final week of “Showboat Follies” is the last hurrah for Perrino and the CLP staff aboard the showboat.

If you want to get a final glimpse of the boat before CLP’s run ends, “Showboat Follies” runs at 8 p.m. Sept. 25-28 and at 2 p.m. on Sept. 29.

Tickets can be purchased online at cincinnatilandmarkproductions. com or by calling the CLP box office at 513-241-6550.