Cincinnati’s theatrical landscape welcomed another player this year: the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater opened its doors to us all on May 29, 2015, and began firing on all cylinders nearly instantaneously. We caught up with Project Manager Rodger Pille to tell us all about the whirlwind of activity WFIT has experienced over the last few months, new expectations and upcoming productions. 

1) How did the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater come into existence?

Cincinnati Landmark Productions hatched the idea of building a new theater in spring 2012. It was an uphill battle, to be sure, but we knew a good idea could outlast any naysayers or challenges we faced. That’s why it was extra satisfying to stand on the site in East Price Hill in September 2014 and watch the first shovels go in the ground to signify the completion of the $6 million fundraising campaign and the true start of construction. WFIT groundbreakingThanks to the work and intricate planning of a tireless team of staff and board members, we even completed construction on budget and ahead of schedule. We opened and dedicated the new 229-seat Warsaw Federal Incline Theater on May 29 of this year. It really could not have turned out better.

2) What has the first season at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater looked like so far?

CLP planned two distinctly different seasons of theatrical offerings at the new venue. One, the Summer Classics Season, is our homage to the 23 years of summer theatre we produced on the Showboat Majestic. To call the first Summer Classics Season a success is a little bit of an under-statement. We produced three productions that ran 15 nights each, or 45 total shows. We sold out every one of them. Then, at the end of September, we launched the District Series—a brand new winter season of edgy, contemporary shows that CLP has never tackled before. A very powerful production of Extremities was the first show, and it was very well received. It’s exciting to grow this new season and build its audience from scratch.

3) What show(s) are you most looking forward to? 

All three of the remaining District Series productions hold a special place in my heart. My wife and I saw the original cast production of Rent on Broadway almost 20 years ago, so it’s going to be amazing to see that come to life on our new stage. Avenue Q has to be one of the funniest musicals of all time, so that should be perfect for the Cincinnati winter doldrums in February. And then we end the season with David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, a show that my college roommates and I still quote to this day. It’s profanity as poetry. Brilliant script.

4) Any new/innovative choices/programming this season? 

The entire District Series is innovative for us. We’re going after a new demographic and offering counter-programming to our more mainstream Covedale Center programming. It’s an exciting adventure for our company.

5) How did the success of the inaugural Summer Classics Season influence the next one?  

Can’t do much better than 45 straight sell-outs! But it did teach us a few lessons along the way. We turned away ticket sales since the shows sold out so quickly. So next summer we’ve expanded the production runs to four weeks each. There is an energy in the air in the Incline District in the summer and we’re downright giddy to contribute to it.

6) What’s next on the horizon? 

I’ve long said this company is one of the most productive arts groups in town. Case in point: right now, we’re running a hysterical production of The Fox on the Fairway at the Covedale Center. Just upstairs in the rehearsal hall, practices for our spectacular holiday production of Mary Poppins is underway. Meanwhile, our crew is building the set for Rent at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater while the cast and production team started music rehearsals last week. What’s next? No rest!