Linden Grove Cemetery will be full of life when the Cincinnati Opera comes to town.
The iconic cultural institution will put on a production of Pirates of Penzance, the famed Gilbert & Sullivan opera, in the middle of the historic Covington landmark this October.
"It's a step toward having more structured events that draw people to Linden Grove," said Pete Nerone, a member of the Linden Grove Cemetery Board of Overseers and one of its most passionate public ambassadors. "There's actually a scene in Pirates of Penzance that takes place in a cemetery, so it's a good setting."
A good setting, not a creepy setting. "It'd be different if we were doing it at night," Nerone laughed, "but this will be in broad daylight."
In fact, the show is scheduled for Saturday, October 11, with programming starting at 2 p.m. The Awesome Collective of Covington will be on hand to make pirate hats with kids in attendance and then the scaled-down production will begin at 3 p.m. The show will be put on near the site of the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
The smaller production will feature just three performers and one keyboard player.
But Pirates won't be the only show in town that day. Nerone has taken it upon himself to script an informative history of three folks with connections to the cemetery: Judge Bellamy Storer of Cincinnati, who gave the dedication address at Linden Grove's first day in the 1840s, will be portrayed by a live actor. Adam Kelley, the first African-American physician in Covington and Dr. Louise Southgate, both interred at the cemetery, will also be portrated, Nerone said.
"It will be a conversation between the three of them touching on different events in Covington history," he said.
Pirates of Penzance at Linden Grove Cemetery is just one event in Covington brought to town by ArtsWave and a grant awarded to the Center for Great Neighborhoods. In January, ArtsWave hosted a meeting with organizations that work with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Place Matters neighborhood redevelopment efforts in Covington as well as the Cincinnati neighborhoods of Avondale, Madisonville, Price Hill, and Walnut Hills. The goal was to find a way to bring arts into the neighborhoods.
With funding from the Jacob G. Schmidlapp and Fifth Third Bank, the Center for Great Neighborhoods was able to secure a Cincinnati Shakespeare performance during Arts Off Pike in September, a Bi-Okoto cooking class at Shotgun Row, and then a second Shakespeare production (Romeo & Juliet) in the Westside neighborhood, in addition to the opera. The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra's Newport Ragtime Band will also put on a show at a time and place to be determined.
The Westside Action Coalition, Friends of Linden Grove Cemetery, Linden Grove Small Area Study Working Group, Art Off Pike, BLDG, Covington Arts, Hub + Weber Architects, The Awesome Collective, the City of Covington, COV 200, and Renaissance Covington are all partners in the effort.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Entrance to Linden Grove Cemetery/RCN file