Created on Sunday, 22 September 2013 Written by AP
CINCINNATI (AP) — A 90-year-old showboat and Cincinnati's only floating park faces an uncertain future as the production company that has been staging shows on it since 1991 prepares to leave at the end of its current show later this month.
The Showboat Majestic is docked at the Public landing Nov. 29, 2011, in Cincinnati as fog rolls off the Ohio River. The 90-year-old showboat and Cincinnati's only floating park faces an uncertain future with the production company that has staged shows there since 1991 leaving after this month. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Carrie Cochran)
The Showboat Majestic, which remains docked full time on the Ohio River, is owned by the city and operated through Cincinnati's park system. Since 1991, Cincinnati Landmark Productions has staged the summertime plays and musicals offered on the stage of the National Historic Landmark.
"We love the showboat," Tim Perrino, the company's artistic director told The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/15g2jmy). "We love coming down here night and day and playing pirate, sticking a cutlass between our teeth and fixing things on the river."
Perrino has overseen more than 2,600 performances attended by more than 350,000 passengers over 23 seasons. Some famous actors including Kevin Kline and Sarah Jessica Parker performed on the showboat early in their careers.
But Perrino says productions on the floating stage require a lot of time, effort and expense and the company needs to focus now on a new theater it is building in a neighborhood on Cincinnati's west side.
Cincinnati Parks Director Willie Carden Jr. says the city also doesn't make money from the showboat and annually spends more than $100,000 on its upkeep and utilities.
"When Parks took over the showboat in 2010, we waived the $7,500 annual fee that the city used to charge Tim and his guys so they could make ends meet," Carden said.
But Carden said the city is not going to get rid of the showboat and plans to maintain it.
He said requests have been put out for someone else to put on shows on the boat moored at the city's Public Landing, but had not yet heard from anyone.
"I'm up for any suggestions," Carden said. "I want to see this old boat open for business."
Perrino has the same wish.
"I hope someone can step forward and take this old boat on its next adventure," he said.
The city purchased the boat in 1967 when it was put up for sale by Indiana University.
The showboat was launched in Pittsburgh in 1923 as the floating theater and home of Capt. Tom Reynolds and his family. It traveled up and down the Ohio River Valley bringing theater to river towns, including Cincinnati, in the 1920s and 1930s.