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Actress Embarks on Theatrical Roller Coaster Ride in "The Other Place" at Ensemble

Regina Pugh is about to take a theatrical “roller coaster ride,” as she describes her role in the regional premiere of The Other Place, opening Wednesday at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati.
 
“I’m very excited a little intimidated and more than a little terrified,” laughs the veteran actress.  Pugh has been performing and directing on Cincinnati’s professional and indie theater stages for 30 years. 
 
The Other Place is a mystery of sorts. Pugh plays Juliana, an accomplished neurologist and confident pitch woman for a pharmaceuticals company. But something is – disorienting. Juliana’s husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man – but nothing is as it seems in this Off-Broadway hit. 
 
They mystery is finding the answer to the question ‘what’s going on?’ Piece by piece, ‘clues’ appear as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present, and the truth is elusive.
 
Yup, it’s a roller coaster ride for Pugh, who leads a cast of Cincinnati favorites: Michael Bath, Kelly Mengelkoch, and Billy Chace.
 
Pugh isn’t about to talk about the path this twisty, turny 75-minute one-act takes. She just wants the audience to join the cast on the journey.
 
“There is a lot of universal stuff,” she offers. “Wishing that in a moment in your life you would have made the opposite choice. How the choice you made has affected your life in a way you deeply regret. What mechanisms we use to deny, to forget. How we re-remember. We tell our own stories, which are at least partly false but we don’t know it. So much memory is what we wish were true.”
 
Pugh muses, “Things people deal with on a daily basis. Wanting to be in control and not having that option.”
 
Curious? That’s the idea. 
 
Playwright Sharr White wrote Juliana as witty, sharp, sexy, aggressive and self-assured. And, as he told Broadway.com, she shares something with some of the people closest to him. “A particular feature of the very smart people in my life is that they think their sheer intelligence can protect them from all manner of harm. It’s a beautiful, yet very vulnerable form of arrogance.”
 
“I’m fortunate that I knew a few months ago that I’d been cast. It’s given me time to prepare,” Pugh said.
 
Pugh came here in 1985 as a Playhouse in the Park intern. “All this theater has grown up around me,” she observes happily. She has stage credits across the city.
 
While she’s a veteran of 20 productions of Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol (1992-2011), Ensemble is where Pugh has appeared most often. 
 
Her first ETC performance was Promises to Keep, part of the season the theater opened on Vine Street. 
 
She and Michael Bath have appeared together at Ensemble in Next Fall and My Name Is Asher LevMengelkoch and Chace are both member of Cincinnati Shakespeare’s resident company. Mengelkoch previously appeared at ETC in last season’s Tribes; Chase is making his Ensemble debut.
 
Pugh is a founding member of the theater collective Performance Gallery, the only company to produce annually at Cincinnati Fringe Festival. They have sent an application in for Fringe 2015, Pugh says, and they’re waiting for an answer in the next few weeks.
 
DIG DEEPER: Listen to NPR’s interview with playwright Sharr White. Click Here
 
The Other Place, Jan. 27-Feb. 15. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over the Rhine. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 ad 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $28-$44, student $25, children $18; 513-421-3555 and www.cincinnatiensemble.org.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
 
Photo: Regina Pugh in The Other Place (Photo by Ryan Kurtz)
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