Side Show

sideHuge ensemble casts were a hallmark of 1930s theatre, which was largely driven by government funding of the Federal Theatre Project as part of the Works Progress Administration. A cast of 30 clearly generated more employment opportunity than a cast of 4, so large ensembles became the norm. While the musical Side Show was first performed in 1997, it is set in the 1930s. It nods to its Depression-era contemporaries with 25 characters, which Split Stage Productions fills with a cast of 19, still a sizable commitment by today’s standards where the one-man show reigns supreme as economic safeguard. Side Show (book and lyrics by Bill Russell, music by Henry Krieger) traces the career trajectory from sideshow to vaudeville of real-life conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton.

Side Show begins thoughtfully long before you’re seated. A 1930s period sideshow poster for the Bearded Lady hangs outside the Apple Hill Playhouse, waving flag-like and setting a tone of the exotic. As you enter, Split Stage skillfully manages to engage the theatrically neglected olfactory with the wafting scent of fresh popcorn luring you under the proverbial big top. Sideshow act posters line the lobby walls, including one for the Invisible Man – cleverly blank. A poster of The Sheik and his shimmying Harem Girls smiles alluringly as you ascend the stairs to the theatre. Inside, music director Joy Morgan Hess’ choice of tinny ragtime player-piano music provides a peppy accompaniment to more sideshow poster boastings.

In a metatheatrical moment, director Jim Scriven chooses to start the show by projecting the movie poster for Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks onto the curtain. This now cult-classic about a sideshow featured the real-life Daisy and Violet Hilton as well as other actual sideshow “freaks” of the time. The curtain is gauze-like, and through this shrouded veil, the show’s freaks filter onto the stage, belting out “Come Look at the Freaks.” They are each damaged in their own way, and the gauzy curtain feels like a bandage, a thin protection against a cruel world that’s violently yanked off as the curtain rises. Sideshow owner and master of ceremonies, Sir (Joe York), introduces each freak, commanding them to manifest their talents, saving Daisy (Rori Aiello Mull) and Violet (Victoria Buchtan) for his final reveal. A tattered suit and frayed tophat complement Sir’s Snidely Whiplash mustache. He is a cruel profiteer who treats his ensemble as property, not people, yet York keeps Sir from lapsing into dismissible stereotype.

The lifting of the curtain and stage lighting highlight the flaws in Alicia DiPaolo and Jim Gracie’s prosthetics and make-up. The prosthetic outlines on the Human Pin Cushion (Nate Newell) are easily visible, and the Geek’s (Mike Hamilla) long bulbous nose is obviously lighter in tone than the rest of his face. These distracting defects are correctable attentions to detail that could heighten the sideshow illusion instead of detracting from it. In our first glimpse of Daisy and Violet, Scriven artfully chooses to elevate them on a platform above the others, visually signifying their importance. They are also backlit, making their height difference obvious. Finding two actresses of the same height and build is obviously a challenge in casting conjoined twins, but Mull’s Daisy is several inches taller than Buchtan’s Violet, and even though Buchtan wears higher heels, the height difference is hard to ignore and takes you one more step out of the illusion.

However, Mull and Buchtan clearly trained in tandem and walk in absolute lockstep. Their Daisy and Violet move with surprisingly natural ease, even in awkward positions where you expect them to falter. Costume designer Sharon Wiant commendably creates costumes that both highlight their conjoined status and trace their shift from Sir’s tight-fisted sideshow operation to the bright lights of vaudeville. When Sir first introduces them, they are wearing little more than thin white nightgowns. In their first vaudeville appearance, they wear slinky red dresses, black feather boas snaking through their limbs as they seductively belt out “Ready to Play” surrounded by a black-suited male revue with red bowties, ready for their audience to imprint some version of a ménage a trois fantasy onto them.

Conjuring fantasies is a larger metaphor for their lives as they live pinball-like, always a means to someone else’s end without asserting their own needs or having them appropriately considered. Terry Connor’s (Tyler Brignone) quick sales pitch lures the twins from sideshow to vaudeville with startling ease, undoubtedly aided by his clean-cut good looks and black suit. At times, Brignone struggles with staying in character. He’s supposed to be in love with Daisy and claims to be enraptured by the sisters, yet while they pour their hearts out singing “Like Everyone Else” in answer to his question of what they want, Brignone looks distracted and unfocused. While Connor does deliver on his vaudeville promises, he’s ultimately another opportunist looking to use the sisters to advance his financial gain and fizzling career as a talent scout. Whether it’s Sir or Terry, both men perennially refer to Daisy and Violet as “girls.” They’re sexualized on one hand but infantilized on the other as not able to properly care for themselves and needing a strong, guiding male hand.

When I was growing up, we weren’t a daytime TV kind of family, which is perhaps why I have such a clear memory of watching Tod Browning’s Freaks with my father one weekend afternoon. I must have been about 10, dust motes swirling in the air as the afternoon sun tried to part the drawn curtains as if we were in our own big top tent. Looking back, I think it was my father’s way of teaching me a lesson on tolerance and inclusion. After all, in the film, the sideshow’s freaks have the moral compass while the “normal” looking people prove to be liars and cheats. Things aren’t always what they appear. Go ahead, peek behind the curtain, get your freak on, and you’ll find something you like at Side Show.

Side Show runs at the Apple Hill Playhouse through October 14. For tickets and more information, click here. 

Boeing, Boeing

21427438_10154733323486976_7798150765565575284_oA funning thing happened when I got home from the airport!

Set in a Paris flat, this Mad Man era play was written by French playwright Marc Carmoletti. The lying lothario Bernard (Justin Mohr) has managed to acquire three fiancés with associated benefits. How do you ask? They are all flight attendants and by carefully studying their flight schedules, Bernard has gotten engaged to all three without them knowing about each other. Yet.

His not so willing accomplice in this misrepresentation is his housekeeper, Berthe (Shelly Spataro). She dutifully changes out the pictures and cooks their regionally appropriate meals in step with Bernard’s master schedule, complaining all the while.

All this seems to be working out perfectly until Bernard’s old college friend Robert shows up unannounced for a visit at a most inappropriate time.  All three of the stewardesses have short layovers in Paris the same day. Not to worry, Bernard and Berthe have the liaisons planned out like clockwork. If you are wondering where the title Boeing Boeing comes into play, the dawn of the jet age and speedier travel looks like it could throw a monkey wrench into this well-orchestrated scheme.

First to arrive is Gloria (Sarah McKee) a Savanah girl in search of a husband. She’s no sooner out the door than the spirited Italian Gabriella (Ashley Harmon) arrives for lunch and a quickie, before her flight out. Scheduled for dinner is the German fräu·lein Gretchen. The well-laid plans start to fall apart as Robert becomes increasingly unable to keep the women and their schedules straight in his mind and he starts to slip up in front of each of them. Despite Robert’s best efforts to run interference, once their flights start to get delayed, arrive early or are flights canceled, the prospect of the three women meeting each other becomes inevitable.

As the catastrophe looms, director Ron Ferrara ramps up the physical comedy in this charmingly funny farce. By playing up both the historical stereotypes of the characters and the innocent physical comedy, Boeing-Boeing won the Best Revival of a Play Tony in 2008. Ferrara continues that approach in his direction. Ten years after the Broadway revival, the sweet and sexually adventurous southern girl, sexy Italian babe, German dominatrix and complaining servant could be considered offensive stereotypes. Ferrara and the cast navigate that concern with the right mix of silliness that doesn’t quite get to the level of slapstick.

At the end, everyone comes out very happy, by means you wouldn’t have imagined. The journey to resolution is what makes this farce so satisfying.

The are several standout performances.  Shelly Spataro as Berthe brings great gestures and facial expressions to the extremely competent, frustrated and underappreciated housekeeper. Her interplay with Bernard is priceless.  Chris Patrick’s Robert is the perfect combination of hapless innocence, fascination, and envy. His kissing scene with Gloria is perfection, not to mention his lust for Gretchen.

Chris Patrick as Robert carries the bulk of the dialogue. There are a few tongue twisters there that caught him on opening night but recovery was good.  His character is believable in part because he comes across as actually caring for each of his fiancés. Sarah McKee, Ashley Harmon and the over the top Pamela Farneth, as the three stewardesses, all capture the essence of their characters.

Richard Caugherty set design serves the production well. Clark Stewarts lighting is perfect in its functional simplicity. Matt Mlynarski’s costumes capture the stylized airline uniforms of the day. All the design elements support the production without distracting from it.

For a nostalgic and fun look back at the pre-feminist 60’s, this production of Boeing-Boeing is a great trip. Fasten your seatbelts, turbulence is expected!

Boeing-Boeing by Orchard Performing Arts Company is at the Apple Hill Playhouse in Delmont with evening performances at 7:30 pm on September 15, 16, 21,22, 23 and a matinee performance September 17th at 2 pm

For tickets e-mail or call 724-468-5050


20232030_10154616136341976_1839936879485858061_oNeil Simon’s Rumors rumbles with all the kinetic energy of a whodunit but happily ignores the bullet points from the genre’s rulebook. This isn’t a play where the shock and awe come from the dramatic reveal of a criminal’s identity, but rather from the absurdity inherent in trying to conceal a criminal.

The play begins at the house of the Deputy Mayor of New York, who is throwing an anniversary party with his wife. We see another married couple, Ken and Chris Gorman (Mike Crosby and Stacy DiPasquale respectively), in a state of panic. The Deputy Mayor is in a bedroom passed out and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the ear. His wife is nowhere to be found. Although the Gormans are alarmed for their friend’s safety, concerns turn immediately to his political image. Ken is the Deputy Mayor’s lawyer, and his career is likewise in jeopardy if something disturbing has happened.

Suddenly, additional party guests arrive, one couple after another. The Gorman’s have a mission: restore the Deputy Mayor’s health, find out what’s going on, and ensure no one at the party ever learns what happened. You won’t be surprised to hear this is impossible. The second couple to arrive, Lenny and Claire Ganz (Dan Krack and Alexandra Swartz), uncover the ruse almost immediately but share the Gormans’ concerns and agree to help conceal the truth. Which is when the third couple arrives.

Apple Hill Playhouse’s latest is a series of complex comedic errors, with each newly produced falsehood giving way to more and more absurd untruths. Although Rumors is a play that deals primarily in speedy, crackling dialogue, director Stephen Toth takes an equal interest in its physicality. Actors desperately spin new characters, plots, and motivations into their hastily assembled lies like Looney Tunes characters plugging the holes of a sinking ship with their fingers. To watch Rumors is to watch one neurotic upper class egotist after another reach their mental boiling point. There is, of course, some mean spirited pleasure to be had in that.

On the whole, the production is a breezy experience. Although the Gormans’ narratives are knotty, Rumors itself never strays from its goal: watching its cast crack under pressure. We become interested in the group dynamics quickly, and it’s fun to discover what happens when some characters are absent. What will Lenny, who is sarcastic and aggressive, do to keep Cookie (Stacy DiPasquale), a cooking show host who is literally unable to take life in stride, off his tracks? How will Claire and Chris, who resent being dragged into all this, handle a sudden knock at the door?

There is one real mark against the show, and it happens once all of the characters begin participating in the same scene.  Smaller moments of conversation reveal a smooth, if manic, chemistry amongst the cast. Larger moments, in which every character appears to be reacting as much as possible regardless of their cohorts’ levels of energy, almost as if in a vacuum, make the cast resemble an unfinished connect-the-dots puzzle. For a show that’s built around a series of outbursts and raucous surprises, this rigid adherence to hitting the exact beat by beat nature of the script instead of allowing the characters to dynamically react to one another detracts from the production.

Still, there are some great instance of nuanced comedy in this. Dan Krack and Alexandra Swartz’s portrayals of the Ganz’s, the most self-aware characters in the play, are particularly hard to resist. A monologue performed by Krack that occurs late in the play is so pitch perfect in its delirious energy that I could actually feel the crowd’s captivation with him.

Apple Hill’s latest is a fun night at the theater. For those of us feeling stressed out each day as the headlines fly past, Rumors’ honest dishonesty is a welcome distraction.

Rumors runs that the Apple Hill Playhouse through August 5. For tickets and more information, click here. 

Seussical: The Musical!

19905103_10154584224746976_3001960794833566987_nApple Hill Playhouse has a hit on its hands with the Orchard Performing Arts Company’s production of Seussical.

Not to let the cat out of the bag,

Or in this case out of the hat,

Before we get through the usual stuff,

And bypass all the frivolous fluff,

Mitchell Aiello’s Cat in the Hat

At the Apple Hill Playhouse,

Is where it’s at!

Theodor Seuss Geisel began writing children’s books under the name “Dr. Seuss” back in the 1950s, so there is a pretty good chance everyone in the world is familiar with at least a couple of his stories. Seussical the Musical blends together three of his most popular books, “Horton Hears a Who!”, “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “Miss Gertrude McFuzz”, and includes other well-known characters.

Mitchell Aiello’s portrayal of the Cat in the Hat, serves as the musical’s narrator and tells the story of Horton, an elephant, who discovers a speck of dust that contains the Whos. On that speck is Jojo, a Who child that was sent off to military school for thinking too many “thinks.” Not only must Horton protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he also took on the responsibility to guard an abandoned egg, left in his care by its mother, the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. As you can imagine Horton gets a lot of grief from his friends for sitting on an egg. An elephant sitting on an egg is a “sitting duck” for hunters, who capture Horton and ship him and the egg off to the circus. Horton’s dedication to the protection of the egg and the Whos cause him to have to stand trial for being a crazy elephant. Through it all, Gertrude McFuzz, a blue bird with a serious tail problem, never loses faith in him. Will the egg hatch? Will the Whos be heard? Will Horton realize that Gertrude loves him? Don’t worry, Horton’s not crazy!

seussical 4Have you been to a community theatre production? “If you never did you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.” Dr. Seuss

This production brings together a group of experienced actors playing the lead characters coupled with an ensemble of interesting new and experienced performers rounding out the large cast.

Playing the Cat in the Hat is Mitchell Aiello. He’s is a rising star with delicious physical comedy skills, wonderfully flexible facial expressions and a strong voice. He dominates the stage and your attention, easily drawing you into the silly yet serious world of Dr. Seuss. Aiello is a native of Detroit, let’s hope he stays around Pittsburgh for a while before some Broadway show snatches him up.

The cast shows off the depth of the Pittsburgh areas’ acting talent pool.  Stand outs include local Lisa Bompiani-Smith with a great singing voice as the delightfully sour Kangaroo. Jake Grantz is the loveable Horton who grows on you as the show progresses. By requirement, he is a big guy, in a big grey costume, playing a big elephant, yet his portrayal of Horton, particularly nurturing the egg, is quite touching.

Since Jojo was sent off to military school, there, of course, must be the nasty over-powering drill sergeant character, here played to comedic perfection by Timothy Tolbert. Not a lot of stage time for Tolbert, but when he is on, he’s captivating.

seussical 5Kate Kratzenberg has one of the best singing voices in the cast and gets to put it to good use as lazy Mayzie La Bird, the lovable floozy who convinces Horton to sit on her egg for a couple hours. Then she flies off to Palm Beach for a year, leaving poor Horton: “I said what I’d do and I did what I said”. At the opposite end of bird loyalty is the ever-faithful Gertrude McFuzz, who, while missing a bunch of tail feathers, has a great pair of feathered glasses and a huge crush on Horton. She has two numbers to show off her vocal chops and make Horton one happy elephant singing “All For You”.

Director Timothy Dougherty has pulled together a uniformly engaging cast of experienced veterans and newcomers and showcases their talents well. Aided by Choreographer Elisa Kosetelnik, they successfully wrangle the large cast, including a number of children, on the relatively small Apple Hill stage.

There are many up and coming children performers in Seussical that have great supporting roles.  The young man playing Jojo, Zachary Gilkey held his own amongst the productions seasoned performers. As he matures into his voice we can expect great things from him.

If you haven’t been to Apple Hill before, the theatre is an intimate space in a converted barn. It is cozy enough that body mics are not required. The set design by Jen James captures the bright colors, ambiance, and style of Geisel’s book illustrations. Kudos to the design and construction crew who made great use of the charming space, although the creakiness of the wooden platforms resonated alarmingly throughout the performance. The original costume designs of Liza Seiner and Tina Lepidi-Stewart were spot on in conveying the childish simplicity and the primary colors embodied in the original Geisel illustrations.

Seussical 1During this performance, the house was nearly at capacity with a mix of all ages from young children to grandparents. The children in the audience were totally engrossed with the performance.

If you are interested in introducing a young child to the magic of theatre, you couldn’t do better than Seussical the Musical at the Apple Hill Playhouse. It is community theater at its best.

The Orchard Performing Arts Company, Inc. production of Seussical the Musical at the Apple Hill Playhouse with performances at 7:30p.m. on July 14, 15; 20, 21, 22 and 2:00 on July 16. Located off of U.S. Route 22 at 275 Manor Rd in Delmont, PA 15626

For tickets: (724) 468-5050 or

Special thanks to Apple Hill for the complimentary ticket.

Photos courtesy of Tracey Johnson.

Split Stage Wraps a Successful Third Season, Announces an Ambitious Fourth

Split Stage Productions, co-owned by Westmoreland County’s Rob Jessup and Nate Newell just wrapped up a successful third season of three shows; Spring Awakening, Carrie and Cabaret.

Rob and Nate saw untapped potential for an innovative addition to the community theater circuit in Westmoreland County and founded Split Stage just over two years ago.

Spring Awakening brought Director Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, Choreographer Aaron Cook and Music Director Ben Bedenbaugh to The Theater Factory in Trafford; both a new creative team and a new theatre for Split Stages. Carrie was staged at the Apple Hill Playhouse, a creepy old barn just perfect for a Halloween show. The season closed with Cabaret, it was their first full musical at the newly restored Lamp Theatre in Irwin.

Rob credits the willingness of these new locations for “Welcoming Split Stages with open arms. From holding dates to opening both front doors to the community and back doors to the theater’s resources.  We couldn’t ask for better venue partners.”

I asked about the challenge of keeping your loyal audience while moving to different theaters in different towns.  “What might have caused some push back from regulars turned to a surprising upside along with new audience members welcoming an edgier than usual fare at their neighborhood theater. They became Split Stage followers from show to show.“

Split Stage’s mission is to bring to the Westmoreland County area quality, high caliber theatre with top-notch production values to an ever-expanding audience. Rob and Nate’s long-term goal is to produce works that continue and grow upon that tradition.

Toward that end, they have just had their “not for profit status” confirmed and obtained their IRS 501c3 certification yet still keeping one foot planted on the edge and the other firmly on the commercial side.

Season three carries on the tradition, but grows the season to four productions. Here is what’s on tap:

chicagoFirst up is a production of the original 1976 version of Chicago produced in association with Westmoreland event producer Kelley Simon, it plays at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg June 2nd and 3rd. Jim Mikula directs, Laura Wurzell choreographs and Eric Barchiesi is Music Director. Mandie Russak (seen in Cabaret as the MC) plays Roxie Hart and Victoria Ashley (from Spring Awakening) is Velma Kelley.

side showSide Show plays October 6th to 14th at the Apple Hill Playhouse in Delmont. Rob envisions that the side show experience begins as soon as you park your car. There will be jugglers, knife throwers, and other surprises. Side Show is a musical by Bill Russell (book and lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music) based on the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who became famous stage performers in the 1930s. Side Show is slated to be directed by Jim Scriven.

that time of yearThat Time of Year is this year’s holiday show playing December 15th to 17th at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin. It’s not a sappy Christmas musical, but a more realistic depiction of the holiday season. Jim Scribin directs this musical revue of 25 all-original Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s songs run the musical gamut from show tunes to rock, blues and jazz

last 5 yearsThe season closes with the musical The Last Five Years. It plays at the intimate Theatre Factory stage in Trafford January 26th through February 3rd.

This is an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers. Jamie and Cathy are both in their twenties and 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.  The two characters play opposite of each other and are only together on stage once, at their wedding, in the middle of the timeline.

Split Stage co-owners Rob Jessup and Nate Newell present an ambitious fourth season for focused on bringing top-notch theatre to the Westmoreland County area. Season three’s selections are diverse and engaging. Consider taking in a show or two brought to you by a talented group of theatre folk.

For tickets and more information about what Split Stage Productioins has to offer, click here. 

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Carrie: The Musical

There is something inherently disconcerting about going to see a theatrical restaging of the 1976 film Carrie, and finding out the theatre it’s presented in is a rustic barn.  Seemingly bucolic, the seclusion, the intimacy, and the—not to spoil the film’s explosive finale—flammability of a quiet country barn seems all too creakingly eerie to keep someone at ease.  But whether intentional or not, the setting of the Split Stage Production’s Carrie: The Musical only serves to augment the deliciously unsettling air that hangs over the dramaturgy.  

The musical first crossed my radar as some bizarre campy revenant that seemed to coincide with the absolutely cataclysmic 2013 remake of the original film—when in actuality, the musical adaption was written in 1981 by Michael Gore (who, fantastically, is best known for writing “Fame”), and had enjoyed a storied history and series of revivals.  Much like the Heathers musical adaptation,  I had been abundantly keen to witness how the monstrosities and divine cruelty of one of the most notorious films of cinema’s glory days translated into dramaturgy—especially song-and-dance centric dramaturgy.  I entered the renovated barn with no expectations, only petrified, giddy excitement (perhaps, like a girl realizing she was developing her “dirty pillows”), and was immediately, and blissfully confronted with something so fantastically and flamboyantly irreverent that I found myself floored. 

Carrie: The Musical only slightly plays with the plot of the original Stephen King narrative to present the equal parts tragic and outlandish story of Carrie White, an unfortunately mousey high school senior whose devoutly ecclesiastical mother and scathingly ruthless classmates make her life an agonizing hell, only to find that Carrie possesses a potent telepathy that proves to be the downfall of them all. The musical is predominantly told from the perspective of mournful and remorseful Sue Snell as she reminisces on the trials and tribulations of senior year of high school, and the disturbingly preternatural occurrences surrounding the mental disintegration of Carrie White—with unsettling, yet heartfelt, side vignettes depicting the condemningly Christian home life of the Carrie and her mother.  Carrie’s opening number, a rousingly punchy song called “In,” brilliantly showcases not only the talents of the tremendously gifted cast, but sets the tone for the alternate take on King’s high school narrative.  The musical establishes, irrefutably, the callousness of the jocks and prototypical popular kids, but, more intriguingly, demonstrates the savage, craven need to fit in and the various motivations in the high schoolers’ behavior.  This humanizing of the kids, especially Carrie (Lindsay Pingor Fitzpatrick)—most poignantly in songs like “Carrie,” (a sorrowfully enraged plea for people to just say her damn name) and “Unsuspecting Hearts”—and the malevolent couple, Chris (a marvelously snarling Brittany Tague) and Billy (Josh Reardon), gives the production a certain dimensionality and complexity that the caricature-heavy film lacked. 

Musically, both voice and band performances, the show is nearly perfect.  Musical director Dave Minda exquisitely executes an oscillation between bombast (numbers like “In” and “A Night We’ll Never Forget”) and delicate tenderness (“Why Not Me”) in a way that imbues the musical with the proper bevy of emotions that captures the high school/telekinetic powers experience (or so I assume, for the latter).  Fitzpatrick is illuminating and ferocious as the sensitive yet demented Carrie, and her culminating performance to the final, incendiary moments is devastating.  Masterfully capturing the religious fervor with astronomical vocal talent, Meighan Lloyd embodies the ferocity of Carrie’s mother in a way that allows for a fuller understanding of Carrie’s demise.  The high school hooligans are all outrageous and phenomenal in their individual portrayals and group cohesion, and director Laura Wurzell’s commitment to a magnificently orchestrated piece is unquestionable.  A special acknowledgment should be given as well to Rob Jessup and Nate Newell, and their unremitting dedication to Split Stage productions and producing shows with a quality irreverence and delectable salaciousness for the goal of proliferating amazing talents and aberrant fun.  Carrie deserves attendance and rapt attention—because we all know what happens when Carrie grows unhappy. 

Special thanks to Split Stage Productions for complimentary press tickets. Carrie: The Musical runs at the Apple Hill Playhouse through October 29th. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Pittsburgh’s Must-See Halloween Shows

Pumpkin 1Fall has descended upon Pittsburgh with a comical quickness, and so the time has come embrace mystery, horror and the supernatural realms. This Halloween season, Pittsburgh’s theaters are bringing to the stage both new experiences, classic favorites, and the merging of the two.  Pittsburgh in the Round has put together a list of the must-see Halloween shows, whether you are seeking a thrill or a good belly laugh.


Midnight Radio’s Night of the Living Dead N’at

Bricolage Production Company’s Midnight Radio returns and following it is a hoard of hungry undead. A cast of voice actors will perform a reimagination of George Ramero’s 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead as a live radio show and will undoubtedly include a generous amount of Pittsburgh humor. Have you ever dreamed of playing a part in a Bricolage production, or just being a zombie for a night? Great news, each show has six “Zombie Porch” seats available for purchase where you become part of the show…as a zombie.

Catch Night of the Living Dead N’at from October 27th – November 12th! Find more information on the show and tickets here.main-image2

Enter the Imaginarium

Bricolage Production Company has teamed up with ScareHouse to build an extraordinary immersive experience where participants must work as a team to discover the mysteries of the Imaginarium. This collaboration brings together the teamwork and gameplay that is the basis of the escape room phenomenon and the story telling and scenery of an immersive show. There are two different story lines to choose from, Chamber of Illusions and The Inventor’s Paradox.

Though Enter the Imaginarium will be running indefinitely, right now tickets are available through November here.2016Mast-JandH

 Jekyll and Hyde

Based on the beloved horror-drama novella, Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical is a special spooky production not to be missed. The classic tale of Dr. Jekyll battling his inner demons in the form of a medical-experiment-gone-evil as Mr. Hyde is given a modern spin with a spine-chilling score from Grammy and Oscar-winning pop rock songwriters. This musical thriller is presented by students of the Richard E. Rauh Conservatory, accompanied by the CAPA Orchestra.

This show runs from October 20- 23 at the Byham Theatre. Order tickets online here.8143734


High school prom can be scary in many ways– especially if a strange lonely girl with telekinetic powers goes rogue, causing chaos and exacting revenge on her tormentors. Brought to you by Split Stage Productions, Carrie: The Musical is Stephen King’s cult classic on Broadway. Despite the musical’s notorious “flop” status– it’s sure to excite and horrify all audiences and get you in the Halloween mood.

Carrie: The Musical runs from October 20-29 at Apple Hill Playhouse. Learn more here.14707874_10154577010151460_4154434185964917862_o


Do you believe in ghosts? Giselle, an eerie, romantic ballet, will make you think twice about what you believe. Presented by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, this is the tale of a village girl who dies of a broken heart, only to be supernaturally summoned back from the dead by a group of vengeful, phantom dancers. The ghostly women attempt to dance Giselle’s previous lover to death– for his betrothal to another is what send Giselle to the grave.

Giselle runs from October 28-30 at the Benedum Center. Buy tickets and read all about it here. Photo by Ken Stiles.

 For more Fall theatre fun, check out our Fall Preview here.