Features

Pittsburgh Opera’s Benjamin Taylor Takes “The Long Walk”

By: George B. Parous
HeaderFor the third offering of its current season, Pittsburgh Opera will present another local premiere of a contemporary work, The Long Walk, beginning Saturday evening, January 20, at the CAPA Theater. With music by composer Jeremy Howard Beck and a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, the opera is adapted from Brian Castner’s critically acclaimed, autobiographical book of the same title. The opera explores a soldier’s return from Iraq, where he served as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, and his struggle with “the Crazy” that gnaws at his brain as he tries to re-adapt to family and civilian life. Opera Saratoga premiered the work in the summer of 2015. Castner’s emotional story is said to tell the tale with a “brutal honesty” that carries over to its operatic treatment. Resident Artist Benjamin Taylor, baritone, will sing the leading role of Brian, and earlier this week shared some thoughts with us about his career and his part in the upcoming production.  It’s always interesting to learn from young singers how they began their pursuit of operatic careers. “I’ve been enamored with music since I was a child,” Mr. Taylor shared. “I sang in choirs and also played in metal bands throughout middle and high school.  I got into opera when I did a program in Rome for six weeks, and saw Verdi’s Rigoletto for the first time. Rigoletto’s aria ‘Cortigianni vil razza dannata’ moved me so much that I changed my plans of doing choral work to becoming an opera singer.” [caption id="attachment_6132" align="aligncenter" width="494"]Former Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer, and veteran of the Iraq War, Brian Castner (Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Ben Taylor) Former Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer, and veteran of the Iraq War, Brian Castner (Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Ben Taylor)[/caption] His studies and experience to date are quite impressive. He has a Master’s of Music degree from Boston University, where he also earned his Performer’s Certificate from Boston University’s Opera Institute. His performances with the Institute included roles in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Così fan tutte, La Tragédie de Carmen, Angels in America, and other works. For the past three summers Mr. Taylor has been a Gerdine Young Artist, and Richard Gaddes Festival Artist with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where he sang roles in The Barber of Seville, Shalimar the Clown, Madama Butterfly, and covered roles in La Bohème, Ariadne auf Naxos, The Trial and other operas. In 2016, he sang the role of Marcello in La Bohème with Crested Butte Festival, and Yamadori (Madama Butterfly) in Berkshire Opera’s inaugural season. He received his Bachelor’s of the Arts at Morgan State University, where he sang with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. [caption id="attachment_6133" align="alignright" width="199"]Jessie Castner (Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Leah de Gruyl) and her husband Brian (Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Ben Taylor) Jessie Castner (Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Leah de Gruyl) and her husband Brian (Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Ben Taylor)[/caption] “There are a lot of wonderful challenges in this role for me,” Mr. Taylor added regarding the upcoming performances of The Long Walk. “This is the biggest role I have ever sung, as well as the hardest musically. One major hurdle is that I’m running in multiple scenes and singing at the same time. Being that I don’t run for exercise - or enjoyment - I had to learn to love it, at least for a few months!” Sustaining the breath control and tone production so necessary in opera, while involved in vigorous physical action is, indeed, no easy task. “I have a lot of family members who have served in almost every branch of the military, and just as many friends that have served as well. One of my best friends served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he deals with his own ‘long walk.’ Doing this piece is special to me because I am able to have a glimpse of what Brian and my friend experienced after coming back from the war and empathize with them on some level.” Since past seasons have proved that the company's Resident Artist productions are frequently very impressive highlights of the winter months, Pittsburgh Opera's The  Long Walk  should prove a worthy presentation of the work's first local hearing. Joining Mr. Taylor in the cast will be Resident Artists Leah de Gruyl, Eric Ferring, Shannon Jennings, Ashley Fabian and others. Glenn Lewis will conduct for the production, directed by Frances Rabalais and designed by Kathryn Fetrow. For tickets, full cast and production details, educational resources and much more, please visit Pittsburgh Opera. David Bachman Photography

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

By: Helen Meade
ILUVYOU-FB-HeaderI Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change boasts the second longest off-Broadway run of a musical in history, bested only by The Fantastiks, with just over 5,000 performances from 1996-2008. Its creators, Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and Jimmy Roberts (music), have prolific careers, with Joe DiPietro in particular going on to win Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. DiPietro’s Broadway credits alone include Nice Work If You Can Get It, Tony Award-winning Memphis, All Shook Up, and Living on Love. And yet, despite all of the cachet attached to I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and its creators, I do not like this show. I Love You has been translated into multiple languages; it has been performed all over the world and in every state in the USA. There is a reason for this. It’s easy. It’s easy to produce, requiring a minimum of four actors, minimal sets, and minimal orchestra. It’s easy for the audience to digest, depending on well-worn tropes for every moment of storytelling. Its portrayal of the mating habits of the basic heterosexual is unimaginative, trite, even stereotypical. It says nothing new on the subject; it neither challenges nor illuminates. Also, for a show lauded as a “celebration of…that contemporary conundrum known as ‘the relationship,’” I Love You ignores all non-cis orientations, except as a brief joke in one of the vignettes. Is LGBTQ content required for a show about modern, romantic relationships? No. Writers must be personally passionate about what they write, and not every show has to include a representation of every person. However, to not include even an acknowledgment of LGBTQ relationships seems the opposite of “contemporary” at best, and intentionally blind to the real world at worst. So, there you have it. I don’t like this show. That doesn't mean I don't understand its appeal or appreciate it as a vehicle for showcasing performers. With that in mind, let's look at Comtra Theatre’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which opened Friday, January 5, 2017. All in all, this was a solid community theater production. Comtra expanded the basic cast requirement to include ten hardworking amateur performers. Some minor unevenness in skill levels in both acting and singing was noticeable among the cast, but nothing that unbalanced the production as a whole. There were particularly strong female singers in the company, with Samantha Christou, Veronica Mortier, and Shelly Schuster leading the ensemble with that clear, bright, sharp-edged, musical-theater soprano that is so pleasing to the ear.  Veronica Mortier was particularly notable for her technical mastery and consistency. Samantha Christou had some beautiful high notes. Also of note, Joe Moeller’s quiet tenor was responsible for one of the high points of the production, with his tender, understated performance of “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You” in Act II. I had mixed feelings about the directing of this production. Director Johnny Gallagher did a good job of moving the actors around the stage and creating interesting stage pictures in a proscenium configuration. Unfortunately, the stage was set up in a three-quarter thrust configuration, not proscenium. Since the staging often did not take this into account,  the audience members on the two sides of the thrust stage often missed important moments of the show. In addition, the thrust configuration for the performance in and of itself was disappointing to me, since the theater is set up as a permanent theater-in-the-round. I wish Mr. Gallagher would have embraced the in-the-round challenge when staging this show. Conductor Matt Brown competently helmed the musical end of the production. The singers were well supported by Mr. Brown on keyboards and Shawn Bliss on violin and mini harp. A second highlight of the production was Mr. Bliss’s violin solo moment during the entr’acte of Act II. I had a lot of issues with the lighting and the sound. The lighting just wasn’t right. Most of the instruments focused directly down on the actors’ heads, resulting in the actors’ faces being almost constantly in shadow. Likewise, the attempt at area miking was not successful. The few times a microphone actually picked up a performer’s voice, it was disruptive and definitely not needed. The multitude of costumes used in the production seemed to have been supplied mostly by the actors themselves, so, good on you, actors. And I wish the program would have acknowledged the scenic artist for the show, since the painting on the rehearsal boxes used as primary set pieces and the stenciling on the pizza boxes used in "He Called Me"was nicely done and deserve commendation. If I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change seems like a show for you, Comtra Theatre’s production runs weekends through January 20, 2017. You can find out more at www.comtratheatre.org.

Winter Preview 2017

By: Mara E. Nadolski
5A letter from the Editor: Our dearest readers, Winter is only 24 days away and we're already dashing through Christmas decorations and Cyber Monday sales as 2108 creeps up on us. 2017 has gone fast and we at Pittsburgh in the Round are picking up speed too! So far this year alone we've reviewed 151 plays and written 84 feature articles, blowing last year's statistics out of the water! Even though some of our long-time writers have moved on to greener pastures, our team has ballooned up to 17 regular contributors bringing you the most consistent coverage that we can. We even have our first high school intern! Beyond this preview, we'll be bringing you some insights on Ted Pappas's final shows at the Pittsburgh Public, the Pittsburgh Opera's World Premiere Ashes and Snow, and a few tips on theatre etiquette from some of the pros. We will also continue to introduce you to the people that make up Pittsburgh’s vibrant theater community through our Artist Spotlight series. 2017 has been a very big year for us and 2018 will be even bigger as Pittsburgh's theatre community continues to grow with us. We want to thank those of you that have and continue to support us through your engagement with us and simply being readers. Most importantly, we want to thank you for supporting local theaters and companies and helping the arts grow and thrive in Pittsburgh. Remember, if you would like to sponsor us or purchase advertisements on the site, contact info@pghintheround.com. We would love to hear from our readers and follow along with your theater adventures so keep in touch with us on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #WinterwithPITR. To stay up to date on everything we're getting into, click here to join our email list! Weekly updates straight to your inbox every Thursday. Happy holidays from all of us here at Pittsburgh in the Round, now get out there and enjoy some theater! Mara E. Nadolski
Let's start off with the Top 5 shows we're looking forward to this winter: KINETIC-LOVE-LARGE-SQUARE-1#5 - Love, Love, Love by Kinetic Theatre:  Produced in association with Cockroach Theatre in Las Vegas, we follow a London couple from the summer of love in 1967 through the peaks and inevitable downfall of their relationship through present day. Playwright, and Olivier Award winner Mike Bartlett forces us to think about the baby boomer generation and its effect on our current state of life. Love, Love, Love starts previews November 30 and runs through December 17. For tickets and more information, click here CT1712_AbsoluteBrightness_573x437 (1)#4 - The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by City Theatre: Known for their commitment to producing new plays, City Theatre stays true to their mission with The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey. In this one-man show by Academy Award winner James Lecesne, a teenaged Leonard Pelkey goes missing and it's up to one detective and a team of the town's citizens to find out what happened to him. Inspired by Leonard's absence, the locals start to question everything about their lives and realize that it's okay to be different. Catch this heartwarming comedy at City Theatre starting January 20 through February 18. For tickets and more information, click here. heat-of-the-night-IMG_7327-300x216 (1)#3 - In the Heat of the Night by Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company: From a book to a movie to a TV series in the 60's, In the Heat of the Night finally makes its way to the stage at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre. First produced in 2010, the story follows that of the original novel and subsequent adaptations. Virgil Tibbs, a detective from California, is arrested and wrongly accused of a murder of a white man in 1962 Alabama but slowly becomes the town's only hope of solving such a brutal homicide. In the Heat of the Night runs at Pittsburgh Playwrights' downtown space from February 2 through March 11. For tickets and more information, click here. Screenshot (22)#2 - Inside Passage by Quantum Theatre: Gab Cody has been a staple in the Pittsburgh playwrighting community for years. After producing her play Fat Beckett with Quantum during their 2011-2012 season she's back with a more personal story. Cody was born in Juneau, Alaska. When she was five her parents divorced causing her to move back to the east coast with her mother, leaving behind three siblings and two Tlinget Indian foster siblings. In this mash up of documentary film, music, and performance, Cody goes on an adventure to reconnect with her long-lost foster siblings. Inside Passage opens at a yet to be determined location March 2. For tickets and more information, click here 2017Mast-EvilDead#1 - Evil Dead the Musical by Pittsburgh Musical Theater: First in their new "After Hours" series, Pittsburgh Musical Theater heads to the West End for their Pro Series in the Gargaro Theater. Based on the 1980's movie franchise of the same name, five college students, led by our hero Ash Williams, head to a cabin in the woods for Spring Break. After some light basement exploration, they find the Book of the Dead and accidentally unleash a spirit that slowly turns them all into demons! Running in repertory with PMT's We Will Rock You, Evil Dead runs weekends starting February 2. The show starts at 10:30pm so make sure you find a babysitter because this production is definitely not recommended for children. For tickets and more information click here. For more on the musicals coming up this season, check out George's list of the 5 Musicals You Don't Want to Miss This Winter! Christmas is coming soon and you know what that means? Christmas shows! Read up on this season's offerings in Brian's article here.  Pittsburgh's theatre community is constantly growing and morphing. A few new theaters have popped up recently and we got some insider info for you! Check out Eva's talks with the Glitterbox in North Oakland and Meredith's interview with Aftershock Theatre in Lawrenceville. We broke some pretty big records this Fall! In case you missed out on any of our adventures, here are some highlights from the last three months: Six a Breast: The Absurd Life of Women by Corningworks Henry V by Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks Boeing, Boeing at the Apple Hill Playhouse Some Assembly Required by Attack Theatre Angelmakers: Songs for Female Serial Killers by Real/Time Interventions Belfast Girls by the Ghostlight Theatre Troupe Romeo and Juliet by PICT Classic Theatre Unhinged  by Cup-A-Jo Productions HMS Pinafore by the Pittsburgh Savoyards Equus at the Pittsburgh Public Theater I Won't Be in on Monday by off the WALL Productions The Impresaria and Djamileh by Undercroft Opera Arsenic and Old Lace at the McKeesport Little Theater The Busy Body  by the Duquesne Red Masquers All Quiet on the Western Front by Prime Stage The Marriage of Figaro at the Pittsburgh Opera

Weirdo Extraordinaires Find Homes at the Glitterbox

By: Eva Phillips
15585269_1742874449365829_7244178980150380019_oFortitude of spirit; endurance in spite of all financial limitations and burdens put on resources; a nearly virtuous steadfastness to the art you are committed to producing and the community you seek to uphold; a truly strong gaggle of “weirdo extraordinaires”—these are perhaps the defining, or at least standout, features of a fast growing, scintillating theatre company carving out its niche in a town very saturated with very compelling companies. Glitterbox Theatre, a creative/collaborative theatre space run and located in Bloomfield, somewhat ironically situated behind the myriad of opulent car dealerships that serve as odd bookends to the neighborhood before it transitions into Polish Hill, emphasizes a robustly and undauntingly DIY and self-authenticating approach. For the sake of clarification, “weirdo extraordinares” is a term coined by the one of the four creative leaders and founders of Glitterbox, but, certainly, the designation is high praise and highly applicable for the fascinating crew and fascinating array of shows attached to the venue. Having reviewed Yinz Like Plays?at the Glitterbox space for Pittsburgh’s Original Short Play Series, I was enamored with the intimacy and air of rustication and grit the space possessed. Sharing a space with other creative/workshop/DIY-centric groups (like Prototype), the venue is entrancing and almost amniotic, giving a sense of immersion and closeness that is a fulcrum for an engaged viewership, regardless of the style or type of show or performance being presented. Much of the commitment and crucialness of space comes from the nomadic—but no less intertwined—quality of the four founders and financial directors of the theatrical space, who had worked and produced together and independently for quite some time. The crew—including Teresa, a writer of musicals and puppet shows (something the space has become known for being a home for); Nick, an actor and composer; and Chris and Matt, talented actors—had the collective impulse to find a space that would “help to nurture and develop a community of people that makes things [they] love to see.” Indeed, the group's proclivity for “folk” theatre—puppet shows, immersive/interpretative/interactive storytelling, nonconventional musicals, etc.—has been evidenced in the diverse and eclectic stagings and performances put forth thus far. Glitterbox Theatre has hosted monthly Story Times, with different themes or motifs each occasion to shape the parameters of the pieces, and has been the stage for unusually provocative performances, such as Migraciones, a powerful, puppetry-based dramaturge. What complements the proliferation of “folk” theatre that the individuals responsible for Glitterbox are so wed to, is their unwavering commitment to making Glitterbox the most affordable theatre space in Pittsburgh. While the partners in charge admit that it “remains to be seen how truly sustainable the model is,” the Glitterbox crew managed to secure not only a relatively cheap spot, but thus far maintain a low enough overhead so as not to demand exorbitant fees from performers seeking to use the space (and even providing the space for free for good causes when they are able). The founders of Glitterbox, in the face of personal financial detriment, have and continue to sacrifice in order to make the space maintainable, hospitable, and accessible to a wide theatrical community to continue to espouse their ideology of collaborative, inventive theatre. Glitterbox Theatre, and the folks responsible for it, strive to uplift marginalized individuals and groups. This is perhaps the most appealing and fascinating component of folk-centric dramaturgy and performance art. When individuals are provided the creative and literal space to produce content without the vexations of high costs or elaborate production, narratives of individuals and groups otherwise unspoken for or under-represented can ecstatically push to the forefront. Glitterbox’s productions—both their own and those by individuals and troupes who have used the space—have frequently been minimalistic in nature, keeping with the space’s immersive, amniotic character. Often, the props and set will be “crudely” designed out of whatever found materials are easily attained—carboard, shoestring, and other crafty accoutrements. Glitterbox is dependent only on a thoroughly maker-mentality, acting as a harbinger for a wave of theatrical productions in the community that harken back to the time many actors, playwrights, producers, set designers and so on recall fondly of creating their art from the ground up. Not only does the DIY aspect proffer more visceral and authentic art from the performers and creators, this brand of ingenious, on-the-fly production creates a more invigorating and participatory experience for the audience. Looking to their exciting future, the folks at Glitterbox dream of a space that perhaps will have the proper trappings of a prototypical theatre—a green room, a full-fledged box office, mayhaps being their own landlords. Even if those dreams don’t come to fruition, they have within reach goals in site—continuing their tradition of hyper-inclusivity and creating an ever safer, more accessible space for certain groups/individuals who might create in or visit their space (i.e. building ramps for the physically disabled community to use). Future goals and current status considered, Glitterbox theatre is profoundly and intriguingly becoming one of the most unique and welcoming theatrical spaces in Pittsburgh—one in which narratives and performances from queer individuals, feminist individuals, persons of color, disabled individuals, individuals creating narratives on trauma, and so on can find a palisade. To be horrifically trite, perhaps Glitterbox is the exception to the rule—that all that glitters is, in fact, gold, in truly surprising ways. For more on the Glitterbox and what they're up to, click here.

5 Christmas Shows To Put On Your Nice List This Holiday Season

By: Brian Pope
Snowflake 6When the weather outside is frightful, there is no place more delightful than the theater. Companies all around the city of Pittsburgh are offering up holiday-themed shows of all genres to give anyone craving it an extra dose of yuletide cheer. Most of these titles will ring a jingle bell for Christmas-obsessives who grew up watching them on TV with family. All of these wonderful upcoming productions will surely be an early Christmas present for everyone able to see any one of them. “Unsung” is definitely not the word to describe American composer Irving Berlin’s contributions to the Christmas season. But it strikes me as odd that the person who penned the music and lyrics for the world’s most recorded Christmas song isn’t up there with Santa, his elves, and Ebenezer Scrooge as a face of the holidays. I’m of course talking about “White Christmas” which was first sung by Bing Crosby in the 1942 film Holiday Inn, but eventually grew to even more prominence in its 1952 namesake film also starring Crosby. white-christmas-marcus-center-show-detailThe stage adaptation of the movie White Christmas, with a book by David Ives and Paul Blake, premiered in 2000 at The Muny and will soon be dancing its way into the Palisade Playhouse. The story, set to a fantastic assortment of Berlin standards including “Happy Holidays”, “Blue Skies”, “Sisters”, and “I Love a Piano”, introduces audiences to two World War II soldiers turned song-and-dance men, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, as they reenter civilian life to become the toast of Broadway. Two beautiful, talented sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes, catch Bob’s and Phil’s eye. Romantic hijinks land the foursome at a lodge in Vermont with no other way to process their feelings for one another but on stage and in song. When the curtain and the snow finally fall, the poetic refrain of the title song echoes through everyone’s hearts. White Christmas plays at the Palisade Playhouse from November 30 through December 9. For more information, click here. MDRchristmasStoryFINAL3-890x420If you’re such a huge fan of the classic Christmas comedy A Christmas Story that waiting until Christmas Eve for its 24-hour marathon on TBS is unbearable for you, then you’re in luck this year. In addition to Fox’s presentation of A Christmas Story Live!, The Theatre Factory and Bricolage Production Company are serving up their own unique versions of Ralphie Parker’s hilarious coming of age tale. Rather than taking a cue from the broader elements of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s A Christmas Story, the Musical, both The Theatre Factory and Bricolage are using Philip Grecian’s straight play adaptation of the 1983 movie (itself an adaptation of Jean Sheperd’s semi-autobiographical short stories) as their source text. All versions of A Christmas Story center around nine year old Ralphie Parker’s relentless quest for what he sees as the ultimate Christmas present, a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. He faces nightmarish pink bunny pajamas, disapproving parents, and disappointing mall Santas along the way, but no obstacle is more persistent than the warning that upon receiving his coveted BB gun he will “shoot his eye out”. cache_899459874Catherine Kolos is directing The Theatre Factory’s staging of A Christmas Story while Bricolage will be presenting their production as an installment of their live radio play series, “Midnight Radio”. Both companies promise to give fans of the property all the moments from the movies they love from the reveal of the leg lamp to the sticky situation with a child’s tongue and freezing cold metal pole. The Theatre Factory’s A Christmas Story runs from December 7-17. For more information, click here Bricolage’s Midnight Radio: A Christmas Story runs from December 7-23. For more information, click here. If you’re looking for a palate cleanser for all the movie-turned-play/musical productions happening in the area, Little Lake Theatre has you covered with their A Tuna Christmas. TunaChristmasJaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard’s play might not be as well-known as other shows on this list, but A Tuna Christmas does have a rich history in its own right and with Little Lake Theatre specifically. The show is the second in a trilogy of plays about the fictional town of Tuna, Texas.  For the citizens of Tuna, the holiday season marks the return of their annual Christmas Yard Display Contest. A mysterious vandal known as the “Christmas Phantom” aims to thwart Vera Carp’s 14-year winning streak and ruin the contest for everyone involved. The real twist of A Tuna Christmas is that those characters and a host of others, including everything from a DJ to an aspiring taxidermist to a UFOlogist, are played by only two people. This raucous comedy is making its return to Little Lake Theatre after several successful engagements in the past. It’s living proof that Christmas classics don’t just live on our television and movie screens. A Tuna Christmas plays at Little Lake Theatre from November 30 through December 2 and December 7-9 and 14-16. For more information, click here. 002026edbc72d33b4ffddc3b85e9c322_750x600Our fifth theatre recommendation for the Christmas season is, you guessed it, an adaptation of a movie. It’s probably the most famous Christmas story not written by Charles Dickens. It’s being put on at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. It’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story “The Greatest Gift” inspired Frank Capra’s 1946 movie version of It’s a Wonderful Life, which in turn used George Bailey’s existential crisis to inspire people around the world to be thankful for all that we’re given and all that we give. When George contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve after a day of mounting frustration with his business and family, a guardian angel by the name of Clarence Odbody intervenes. After seeing proof that George is a good person who has been helping people his entire life, Clarence, at George’s request, shows George what the world would be like if he never existed. That alternate reality is anything but wonderful, but the poignant lesson that George learns and the reward Clarence receives for helping to teach him that lesson are truly timeless and universal symbols of the season. It’s a Wonderful Life runs at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center from December 1-3, 7-10, and 14-17. For more information, click here. Don’t be a Grinch, please check back with Pittsburgh in the Round throughout the month of December for our coverage of each of these shows! Until then, Happy Holidays!

5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Winter 2017

By: George Hoover
Welcome to our annual pick of five of must-see musicals this winter. We have a diverse mix that includes two community theatre productions; Annie at Comtra and The Last Five Years by Split Stages at the Theatre Factory. From the University of Pittsburgh, there is the off-Broadway classic Little Shop of Horrors and CMU presents the Drowsy Chaperone Wrapping up our list for this post is the world premiere of Up and Away at the CLO Cabaret. Yvonne has a separate story coming later this winter on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Ted Papas’ final musical as Producing Artistic Director at the Public Theatre.  If you yearn for a touring Broadway show, the Cultural Trust / PNC Broadway Across America has How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Wicked, Love Never Dies and, The Bodyguard this winter. Lastly, what would the holidays be without the CLO’s annual A Christmas Carol at the Byham. But now to our winter musical picks: annieAnnie, Miss Hannigan, Daddy Warbucks and Sandy have been making the rounds of the areas community theatres this past year and Cranberry’s Comtra Theatre has snagged them right before Christmas. Despite having been around for nearly one-hundred years since Harold Gray launched his popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” in 1920 they haven’t aged a bit! In case you just arrived on earth and haven’t heard of Annie, here is the story. She is an orphan who lives in the evil Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Luckily, she gets sprung for the holidays because she has been chosen to stay over the Christmas holidays at billionaire Oliver Warbuck’s mansion. She is ever so cute and loveable and Annie wins the hearts of Warbucks and his staff.  They Honor her wish to find her parents.  Ms. Hannigan, true to form, schemes to make a buck off the deal with her brother and his “lady friend” to help. Brent Rodgers returns to Comtra Theatre to direct Annie after last spring's musical hit Sister Act. Brent is also the musical director at Riverside High School.   He says “You won't want to miss the beautiful score and heartwarming story of this All-American musical.  We are bound to put everyone in the Christmas spirit!" Recently produced by Stage 62 and the Palisade Playhouse, the Comtra Theatre features an intimate performance space with affordable tickets. It’s the perfect place to introduce young children to the live theatre experience. As an added bonus, Comtra has a nice troupe of young actors with a focus on family-friendly shows. Annie, at the Comtra Theatre in Cranberry Township, has performances December 1st to 16th. For dates, shows times and tickets click here upupThe CLO Cabaret Theatre is a great venue to relax have a drink, some food and enjoy a light-hearted comedy. Up and Away is the CLO’s latest offering in their mission to develop and nurture smaller-scale musicals.  Fifty different characters are played by five actors in this high-flying world-premiere comedy guaranteed to keep the suspense high and the laughs rolling! The story features brothers Joe and Jerry Jessup who live in the not much happening, very rural hamlet of Farmtown, USA.  When Joe discovers he has superpowers, he naturally high-tails it out of town to seek fame and fortune in “Big City.” He finds trouble instead and forces his jittery brother Jerry to follow which turns their boring life upside down. Toss in an eccentric billionaire, a plucky reporter, and dastardly villains, and you’ve got the rip-roaring adventure tale of the world’s FIRST superhero. Up and Away at the CLO Cabaret in Theatre Square has performances beginning January 25th through April 15, 2018. For tickets and times click here l5ySplit Stage Productions wraps their season with The Last Five Years, an emotional and intimate musical with an interesting storytelling approach. Jamie Wellerstein and Cathy Hiatt are two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The show uses reverse storytelling; Cathy is a struggling actress, who tells her story in reverse while Jamie, a rising novelist, reveals his story chronologically from when they first met.  What is theatrically interesting here is the two characters play opposite of each other and are only together on stage once, at their wedding, in the middle of the timeline. The Last Five Years plays January 26th to February 3rd at The Theatre Factory in Trafford. For tickets and more information click here. lsohAs winter drags on and you long for the Spring Flower Show at the Phipps, The University of Pittsburgh’s Drama Department has just the right solution, Little Shop of Horrors, a musical about a plant! Well, it is not just any plant, but a foul-mouthed, alien R&B-singing carnivore plant. A milquetoast floral assistant, Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of a plant which, he names "Audrey II" - after his coworker crush. Audrey II promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it. It loves BLOOD. Over time, Seymour discovers Audrey II's out of this world origins and intent towards global domination! Reginald Douglas, the Artistic Producer at the City Theatre, directs this Off-Broadway classic by playwright Alan Menkin and Howard Ashman’s the creative geniuses behind Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, and Aladdin. Little Shop of Horrors in performance at Charity Randall Theatre on Pitt’s campus from February 8th to February 18th.  For tickets call 412.624.PLAY (7529) tdcThis university theatre season is a feast for musical theatre fans and that unique musical form, the musical within a musical. Point Park this fall produced Kiss Me Kate (to be seen on Broadway in 2019 with Kellie O’Hara) and it has the classic 42nd Street scheduled this spring. Carnegie Mellon grabs the winter slot with The Drowsy Chaperone, a loving send-up of the Jazz Age musical, it is Directed and Choreographed by Tony Award-nominated (Ragtime) Marcia Milgrom Dodge with Musical Direction by Pittsburgh’s Thomas Douglas. When a diehard theatre fan plays his favorite cast album the recording comes to life and The Drowsy Chaperone begins as the man in the chair looks on. Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a misguided Don Juan and an intoxicated chaperone, and you have the ingredients for an evening of madcap delight that involves gangsters, show people, millionaires, servants and of course tap dancing! The Drowsy Chaperone “does what a musical is supposed to do! It takes you to another world and it gives you a little tune to carry in your head for when you're feeling blue…” Carnegie Mellon’s production of Drowsy Chaperone runs February 22nd to March 3rd. For tickets click here.  Once again, the Pittsburgh area theatre companies provide a winter filled with almost enough (Is there ever?) singing and dancing to satisfy any musical theatre nerds’ passion. For those of you still on the fence about musicals, check out this clip from Something Rotten at the 2015 Tony Awards https://vimeo.com/139792908
Aftershock Theatre: Bringing Relevant Works to Lawrenceville
By: Meredith Rigsby
Danielle Pastin – Homegrown “Countess” to Grace Pittsburgh Opera’s “The Marriage of Figaro”
By: George B. Parous
Corset Up and Remember to Breathe
By: Lucy Franklin
PICT Teaches Romeo and Juliet Lessons in the Neighborhood
By: Yvonne Hudson
off the WALL Opens 2017-2018 Season with I Won’t Be in on Monday
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Pittsburgh Savoyards Celebrate 80th Season!
By: Robyne Parrish
Bricolage Presents Its Latest Immersive Experience: DODO
By: Meredith Rigsby
12 Peers Presents Pittsburgh Plays in First Installment of Mythburgh
By: Tiffany Raymond
Everything Old Is New Again: The Silver Theater Project
By: George Hoover
Real/Time Interventions Presents Angelmakers: Songs for Female Serial Killers
By: Nichole Faina
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company Represents In Its New Season
By: Brian Pope
PNWF – New Works from Around the World: Part 3
By: George Hoover
Fall Preview 2017
By: Mara E. Nadolski
5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall: 2017 Edition
By: George Hoover
There’s No Place Like City Theatre’s 2017-2018 Season
By: Brian Pope
Artist Spotlight: Rachel M. Stevens
By: Yvonne Hudson
A Space to Subvert: The New Hazlett Theater’s Community Supported Art Fall Season
By: Mark Skalski
Historic Labor Conflict Comes to Life in New Battle of Homestead Play At The Pump House
By: Yvonne Hudson
Ted Pappas’ Grand Finale at PPT
By: Yvonne Hudson
Pittsburgh Opera – 79th Season Preview
By: George B. Parous
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center Dreams Bigger
By: Emily Koscinski
PSIP Continues Its Mission to Offer Fun, Accessible Theatre with Henry V
By: Robyne Parrish
PNWF – New Works from Around the World: Part 2
By: George Hoover
Collegiate Preview 2017
By: Mara E. Nadolski
CMU Drama Pulls Out All the Stops this 2017-2018 Season
By: Robyne Parrish
Carlow University Presents Alumni Show This Fall
By: Ringa Sunn
Duquesne Red Masquers’ Ambitious 105th Season
By: George Hoover
Finding New Solutions in Old Problems: Pitt Stages’ Upcoming Season
By: Mark Skalski
Point Park Gets to Work on Another Eight Shows at the Pittsburgh Playhouse
By: Brian Pope
PNWF – New Works from Around the World: Part 1
By: George Hoover
Show Tune Saturday Night
By: George Hoover
Hot Metal Musicals 2017
By: George Hoover
The Triumphant Return of Hot Metal Musicals
By: Eva Phillips
“If I Loved You…” – Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s New Revue
By: George B. Parous
PITR’s Top 5 Picks for Summer 2017
By: Jack Lake
Summer Preview 2017
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Love, Ethics, and Religion: Kinetic Theatre’s Season Lineup
By: Stephen Arch
off the WALL to Hold Benefit for Planned Parenthood
By: Cayleigh Boniger
Artist Spotlight: Tony Sirk
By: Nichole Faina
Pittsburgh’s Polished Musical Theatre Gem: The CLO
By: George Hoover
Everything Old is New Again – Pittsburgh Festival Opera Coming Soon!
By: George B. Parous
Split Stage Wraps a Successful Third Season, Announces an Ambitious Fourth
By: George Hoover
Throughline Theatre: Heading to New Places
By: Ringa Sunn
Reacquainting Ourselves with Musical Theatre Artists of Pittsburgh (MTAP)
By: Eva Phillips
5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer: 2017 Edition
By: George Hoover
Music that Matters – A Gathering of Sons, Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s World Premiere
By: Nicole Tafe
Artist Spotlight: Quinn Patrick Shannon
By: Brian Pope
Little Lake Prepares for a Paramount 69th Season!
By: Nicole Tafe
Paying Attention to Miller’s Masterwork at PPT
By: Yvonne Hudson
Sensations and Emotions: Fringe Day 3
By: Eva Phillips
Trump and Circumstance: A Politically Charged Day 2 at Fringe
By: Eva Phillips
That’s a Wrap: Fringe Day 3
By: Alex Walsh
Unpredictable Treasure: The Fringe Fest Day 3
By: Mark Skalski
Apocalypse, Adventure, Sex, and Bingo: A Fringe Odyssey
By: Mark Skalski
Into the Fray: First Night of Fringe
By: Eva Phillips
Fringe-Worthy Entertainment
By: Brian Pope
Sunday Fringe: Taking a Dive into the Absurd
By: Nichole Faina
Bring It Around Town: Fringe Sunday
By: Cayleigh Boniger
Jed Allen Harris is at Home with Quantum for Collaborators
By: Yvonne Hudson
Solos Going Steady at the Fringe
By: Alex Walsh
First Time Fringer Saturday!
By: Victor C. Leroi
Tips and Tricks at Saturday’s Fringe
By: Nichole Faina
No April Foolin’ at the Fringe
By: Cayleigh Boniger
An Apocalyptic Tour of Fringe 2017
By: Jason Clearfield
Fringe Culture
By: Brian Pope
Fringe 2017 Day 1: Teeth & Sinew and The Chronic Single’s Handbook
By: Nichole Faina
Friday Fringe at AIR!
By: Megan Grabowski
The Fringe Awakens
By: Alex Walsh
First Time Fringer Friday
By: Victor C. Leroi
Gemini Children’s Theater – Making Magic for Young Audiences
By: Yvonne Hudson
Bricolage Production Company’s 12th Annual BUS!
By: Jason Clearfield
Artist Spotlight: Billy Hepfinger
By: Ringa Sunn
Cup-A-Jo Productions’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Inviting Audiences Into Their Home
By: Stephen Arch
Spring Preview 2017
By: Mara E. Nadolski
5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Spring
By: George Hoover
The New In The Mythical: 12 Peers Theater’s Latest Season To Seek Unity In Discord
By: Mark Skalski
Stage 62 Goes to Camelot, Neverland, and More!
By: Meredith Rigsby
Fourth Annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival!
By: Eva Phillips
Pittsburgh Festival Opera Raises Community Voices in Upcoming Production
By: Jacob Spears
Theater Galas and Fundraisers in Pittsburgh this Spring
By: Claire Juozitis
Artist Spotlight – Brian Vu on “As One”
By: George B. Parous
Artist Spotlight: Jeffrey Chips
By: Nichole Faina
Artist Spotlight: Leah de Gruyl as “Richard the Lionheart”
By: George B. Parous
Winter Preview 2016
By: Mara E. Nadolski
5 Holiday Shows You Don’t Want to Miss
By: Claire Juozitis
5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Winter
By: George Hoover
Jumping Jack Theater Provides Interactive Opportunity for Special Needs Audiences
By: Meredith Rigsby
Artist Spotlight: Sean Sears
By: Nichole Faina
Loosening the Screws of Performance with Unbolted
By: Eva Phillips
Building an Organism, Part 2: The Space Upstairs
By: Jason Clearfield
Building An Organism, Part 1: slowdanger
By: Jason Clearfield
Pittsburgh’s Must-See Halloween Shows
By: Jack Lake
A Peek into the Pittsburgh Actor’s Space
By: Eva Phillips
Season 42 at City Theatre Brings Even More New Plays!
By: Isaac Crow
New Hazlett’s Community Supported Art Series Begins Third Season
By: Victor C. Leroi
Pittsburgh Savoyards Serve up Three Favorites in 79th Season
By: Yvonne Hudson
5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall
By: George Hoover
Community, Celebration, and Risk Taking: McKeesport Little Theater’s Fall Season
By: Mark Skalski
Pittsburgh Opera’s 78th Season Opens October 8 with Verdi’s “La Traviata”
By: George B. Parous
Twenty Years of Prime Stage
By: Nichole Faina
Fall Preview 2016
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Dancing into Fall 2016
By: Chloe Kinnahan
A New Day for PICT Classic Theatre at the Union Project
By: Yvonne Hudson
Fun with Shakespeare in the Parks!
By: Mara E. Nadolski
PNWF Returns for 26th Annual Showcase
By: Megan Grabowski
Pittsburgh Playhouse Brings Dramaturgical Powerhouse Season
By: Eva Phillips
CMU Drama to Engage and Challenge in 2016-2017 Season
By: Drew Praskovich
Collegiate Preview 2016
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Student-Run Red Masquers to Push Boundaries in Upcoming Season
By: Mark Skalski
Pitt Stages Creates New and Familiar Realities in Resilient Spaces
By: Yvonne Hudson
Can We Interest You in a Musical About Lust, Love, War, Race and Class?
By: George Hoover
Ubu the King Hits Pittsburgh, One Night Only!
By: Jack Lake
Memories of OTP’s “SummerFest” 2016
By: George B. Parous
Artist Spotlight: Connor McCanlus
By: Jack Lake
Dimitrie Lazich and “The Silent Woman”
By: George B. Parous
Local Company to Hold Shakespeare Event in Support of Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub
By: Jason Clearfield
Momentum 2016: New Plays at Different Stages
By: Drew Praskovich
off the WALL’s Season of Pittsburgh Premieres
By: Chloe Kinnahan
Summer Preview 2016
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Much to Be Expected from Throughline This Season
By: Roxy Lillard
Another Round of 10 Minute Plays!
By: Yvonne Hudson
A Quarter Century of Quantum
By: Yvonne Hudson
Artist Spotlight: Tracy Brigden
By: Nichole Faina
Little Lake Theatre: Flourishing in 2016
By: Victor C. Leroi
The 12th Annual Theatre Festival in Black and White
By: Jason Clearfield
“SummerFest” Is In the Air!
By: George B. Parous
5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer
By: Drake Ma
PICT Conjures Poe’s Terror for Final Bows at Pitt before next Season at Union Project
By: Yvonne Hudson
One Stop Shopping: The Pittsburgh Fringe Festival Coverage 2016
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Fringe Day 3: A Day at St. Mary’s
By: Nichole Faina
Fringe Day 2: A Day Full of Female Playwrights
By: Nichole Faina
A Word or Two from Pittsburgh Opera’s General Director, Christopher Hahn, on “The Rake’s Progress.”
By: George B. Parous
Fringe Day 1: Storytelling and Eulogies
By: Nichole Faina
Fringe Day 3: Four Voices One Story, It’s Who You Know, and Always B Sharp
By: Drake Ma
Fringe Day 3: Funerals, Poetry, Dance and an Open Mic
By: Chloe Kinnahan
Fairytales, Fights, and Failure: Fringe Day 3
By: Jack Lake
Losing Our Heads Over Shakespeare, Part 2: Pittsburgh Shakespeareans Admit Lifelong Attraction
By: Yvonne Hudson
Friday Fringe Binge: Day 1 of the Festival
By: Jack Lake
Fringe Day 2: Beautiful Cadavers, LA Acting Coaches, and Cinderella Stories
By: Chloe Kinnahan
Fringe Day 3: Critters!
By: Megan Grabowski
Fringe Day 2: Ukrainian Dance to One Man Shows to #BlackLivesMatter
By: Megan Grabowski
Fringe Day 2: The Last Lifeboat and A Dream of Midsummer
By: Drake Ma
Fringe Day 1: Passing Through and 5 Hams Fairy Tales
By: Megan Grabowski
Local Theatre Group to Represent Pittsburgh in Edinburgh Fringe Festival
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Losing Our Heads Over Shakespeare, Part 1: Mrs. Shakespeare’s Four-Century Journey
By: Yvonne Hudson
Pittsburgh Fringe Festival Returns to the Northside
By: Nichole Faina
Book of Will: Celebrate the First Folio
By: Yvonne Hudson
“And Suddenly You Know…”
By: Nichole Faina
B.U.S. 11 Provides Laughs, Thoughtfulness and an Anthology!
By: Jack Lake
Strindberg Inspired Play to Premiere at Pittsburgh Playwrights
By: Yvonne Hudson
What’s to Come for SWAN Day 2016
By: Nichole Faina
What to Expect in Season 5 from 12 Peers Theater
By: Jack Lake
Joniece Abbott-Pratt on Strong Female Roles, Pittsburgh Debut
By: Natalie Spanner
Artist Spotlight: Karla Boos
By: Natalie Spanner
Artist Spotlight: Joanna Lowe
By: Natalie Spanner
Pittsburgh Public’s New Season Has It All!
By: Drake Ma
Artist Spotlight: Kim Brown
By: Natalie Spanner
Artist Spotlight: Sabrina Hykes-Davis
By: Natalie Spanner
Tales with Tunes
By: Isaac Crow
Artist Spotlight: Leon Zionts
By: Natalie Spanner
Pittsburgh New Works Festival’s Blast from the Past
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Artist Spotlight: Clare Drobot
By: Natalie Spanner
Pittsburgh New Works Festival Celebrates 25 years
By: Jack Lake
Artist Spotlight: Matt Henderson
By: Natalie Spanner
Artist Spotlight: Connor Bahr
By: Natalie Spanner
Artist Spotlight: Virginia Wall Gruenert
By: Natalie Spanner
Coming Soon: Artist Spotlight
By: Natalie Spanner
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh’s “SummerFest” Opens July 10
By: George B. Parous
Fringe Sunday AKA The Lost Reviews
By: Corey Hawk
Fringe Day 3: My Day at City of Asylum and the Mystery of the Tall Old Man Solved
By: Jack Lake
Fringe Day 2: Murder, Raw Woman and Bears, Oh My!
By: Jack Lake
Last but Not Least: Fringe Day 3
By: John Nau
Religion, Murder and 9/11: Fringe Day 2
By: Corey Hawk
Fringe Festival Rocks the Northside Friday Night
By: Corey Hawk
Fringe Day Two Coming to You!
By: John Nau
Eerie Hotels and Spooky Taverns: Fringe Recap Day 2
By: Chloe Detrick
Horror Movies and Puppets!
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Fringe Day 1: Don’t Get Robbed, Don’t Be Late!
By: Jack Lake
Fringe Festival Brings Laughs and Music
By: John Nau
Here We Go Again!
By: Mara E. Nadolski
A Week of Will
By: Tyler Plosia
UnCommon Shakespeare
By: Jack Lake
Theater (and Dance and Music and Film and Painting) at SWAN Day 2015
By: Tyler Plosia
SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2015: One Show, Sixty Women and Tons of Talent
By: Sarah Beth Martin
Quantum Theatre’s Q Ball Dazzles Once Again!
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Hot Metal Musicals Delivered on Talent and Variety
By: Isaac Crow
New Musicals to be Showcased at the Cabaret
By: Isaac Crow
The Fringe is No Joke
By: Mara E. Nadolski
Seven Shows in Shadyside: Adventures in Fringe
By: James Ormond
From the Internet to the Stage
By: Isaac Crow
And the Winner Is…
By: Mara E. Nadolski
In case you didn’t know…
By: Justin Sines
Until Next Year…
By: Justin Sines
TPS Report – April 28, 2014
By: Mara E. Nadolski
TPS Report – April 21, 2014
By: Mara E. Nadolski
TPS Report – April 14, 2014
By: Mara E. Nadolski
TPS Report – April 7, 2014
By: Mara E. Nadolski
TPS Report – March 31, 2014
By: Mara E. Nadolski
TPS Report – March 24, 2014
By: Mara E. Nadolski
SWAN DAY Pittsburgh 2014
By: Justin Sines
Quantum Gets Qed Up For Q Ball
By: James Ormond
Fringe Festival Kicks Off at 5801
By: Isaac Crow
Coming for 2014… TPS Reports!
By: James Ormond