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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Broadway star Shoshana Bean fondly remembers her years at CCM

SHOSHANA BEAN PBS Stars on Stage by Carol Rosegg CROP.jpg
Carol Rosegg
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Courtesy PBS
CCM grad Shoshana Bean performs in concert on PBS' 'Stars On Stage From Westport Country Playhouse' Friday Jan. 14.

Shoshana Bean performs her first national primetime TV concert 9 p.m. Friday on PBS' Stars On Stage From Westport Country Playhouse.

Shoshana Bean, star of Broadway's Wicked and Waitress, hasn't forgotten her Cincinnati roots.

In a Cincinnati Edition interview airing Thursday at noon to promote her new one-hour concert on PBS Friday, Bean fondly recalled for me the impact that the University of Cincinnati's College - Conservatory of Music theater professor Richard Hess and Cincinnati actress Pam Meyers had on her career.

Bean – who was born in Olympia, Wash., and attended high school in Portland, Ore. – was recruited for CCM by Hess after hearing her sing at a San Francisco audition. She knew a little about Cincinnati because as a child actress she had appeared in a Stephen Sondheim musical with Meyers.

"I ended up auditioning for Cincinnati because when I first moved to Portland, Ore., when I was 9 years old, I was cast in a professional production of Sunday In The Park With George. They had brought in the leads from Actors' Equity in New York, and I fell head over heels with the leading lady, Pam Meyers," Beans told me in the interview taped last week.

"I just followed her around. She was a goddess to me. She was the star of the show and the star of my heart," says Bean, who made her off-Broadway debut in 2000 in Godspell, a show she had done in CCM's Hot Summer Nights series. She succeeded Idina Menzel as Elphaba in Wicked in 2004, and starred as Jenna in Waitress on Broadway in 2019. Her solo albums have been hits on the iTunes and Billboard charts; her YouTube channel has 62,000 subscribers.

Hess became an instant fan watching Bean, as a high school student, sing in San Francisco. She choked up when I told her what Hess' recalled about her audition:

"I knew the moment she opened her mouth to sing that I was in the presence of a rare talent, an enormous vocal powerhouse, a true acting talent. She stopped me in my tracks with her power, nuance, and artistry. I returned to Cincinnati and urged her immediate acceptance, and her CCM journey began."

Bean performs her first one-hour national TV concert on PBS' Stars On Stage From Westport Country Playhouse (9 p.m. Friday, Channels 48.3 and 54). She sings an eclectic variety of songs – show tunes like "It All Fades Away" from Bridges of Madison County, Whitney Houston's "I Want To Dance With Somebody," John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery," a medley of Barbra Streisand hits, and a couple of original songs.

On Cincinnati Edition, she explains to me why she chose those songs; what actress Shirley MacLaine told her when performing in Hairspray on Broadway 20 years ago; and how her CCM training shaped her career.

Here's the link to my 24-minute Cincinnati Edition interview.

PBS' Stars On Stage From Westport Country Playhouse premieres 9 p.m. Friday on WCET Arts (Channel 48.3) and KET (Channel 54). It also airs at 1 p.m. Sunday on WCET-TV (Channel 48); 3 p.m. Sunday on Dayton's WPTD-TV (Channel 16); and repeats on WCET Arts (Channel 48.3) Saturday at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m.