Fall Preview 2017

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A Letter from the Editor,

Our dear readers, we’ve made it through another summer season! After 40 reviews and 14 features this summer, we’re ready to dig out our sweaters, put on the kettle and continue to keep you up to date with everything local theater. We’ve got some pretty big things coming up for us in the next three months and we can’t wait to share it with you! In addition to everything in this Preview, we’ll also be giving you the scoop on Bricolage Production Company’s latest Immersive Encounter Dodo , The Pittsburgh Playwrights upcoming season, checking in with off the WALL, and  giving you Part 3 of our coverage of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

There is plenty to keep us busy this fall and we don’t want you to miss a thing! We would love to hear from our readers and follow along with your autumn theater adventures so keep in touch with us on our FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Email List and by using the hashtag #FallwithPITR.

If your theater or business would like to feature any advertising on the website for any of the upcoming content this busy season, don’t forget to reserve your spot well in advance! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at about rates and packages at info@pghintheround.com.

Here’s to looking forward to another busy Fall season,

Mara E. Nadolski
Editor in Chief, Pittsburgh in the Round


 

Let’s start off with our Top 5 productions we’re looking forward to this Fall!

quiet#5: All Quiet on the Western Front – Prime Stage: Prime Stage Theatre is known for their productions of shows adapted from literature and this season opener holds true to their nature. Prime Stage honors veterans and those serving our country by partnering with Soldiers and Sailors Hall for this US premiere of the classic World War I novel by Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front opens at the New Hazlett Theatre November 4.

Tickets and more information can be found here. 

rj-431x500#4: Romeo and Juliet – PICT Classic Theatre: After bringing us productions of Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice in previous seasons, PICT is taking on one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies this season with their 100th show! The classic tale of two star-crossed lovers and their clashing families comes to life in a new location at the famous Fred Rogers Studio at WQED in Oakland. PICT has chosen the 1930’s in New York’s Little Italy as the setting for this rendition of Romeo and Juliet which officially opens Saturday, October 21st. For tickets and more information click here. 

Attack Theatre's presentation of "Assemble This" at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. © Martha Rial 2/17/2010

#3: Some Assembly Required – Attack Theatre: In their 23rd season opener, Attack Theatre will be performing another round of original performances in their second production of Some Assembly Required. In this unique series, dancers tow the line between dancing, visual art, music, and even a bit of improv. This show requires input from the audience as to where the performance will go next, thus creating unique  performances with each show. Some Assembly Required opens at Contemporary Craft in the Strip District September 21. Tickets and more information can be found here.

DODO-1-880x420#2: Dodo – Bricolage Production Company: Bricolage’s latest immersive theatre adventure partners with the Carnegie Nexus initiative to bring us a sensory-based experience that brings together art and science while exploring public spaces. Held in the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland, adventurers will embark on an experience that navigates through behind-the-scenes areas normally off limits to traditional museum visitors! Adventures being October 13 – find more information here. 

21055136_10155550641940797_7827704986490740316_o#1: Unhinged – Cup-a-Jo Productions: On the heels of their production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf inside an actual home, Fringe Festival veterans Cup-a-Jo brings us a new undertaking with Unhinged. Part haunted house, part immersive experience, the highly experimental project promises to have something for everyone. Unhinged starts performances October 13 in an empty bowling alley in Etna. Cup-a-Jo advises we keep a close eye on their Facebook page for ticket links and performance updates.

Next stop on your Fall Preview tour is 5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall, click here to learn more!

Mark Clayton Southers brings a little history into the mix with his one-act play The Homestead Strike of 1892 in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the clash between steelworkers and mill owners, opening September 15. Find out more in Yvonne’s article here. 

The New Hazlett Theatre will be starting up their 4th Community Supported Art Performance Series on October 26! See what they’re up to this season here. 

The Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Artistic Director Ted Pappas will be starting his final season there this year. Yvonne sat down with him to get the scoop on what he’s envisioning this season! Click here to read more!

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks is at it again this year with Henry V, find out more about their 13th season here. 

Quantum Theatre may be in the middle of their run of Red Hills but how much do you know about Rachel Stevens, the director of their next production The Hard Problem? Check out our latest installment of our Artist Spotlight series here. 

See what else the Steel City has to offer this year with a few season previews of City Theatre from Brian, the Pittsburgh Opera from George, and the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center from our High School Correspondent Emily!

The Pittsburgh New Works Festival is already in full swing, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this year’s preview with Part 3 coming soon!

In case you missed it, check out our 2017 Collegiate Preview too!

We were pretty busy this summer, you might have missed a show or two. Don’t worry, here are some highlights from Summer 2017:

Annie at the Paliside Playhouse

Big Fish by Front Porch Theatricals

Cloud 9  by Throughline Theatre Company

Little Shop of Horrors at Comtra Theatre

Mr. Burns by 12 Peers Theater

Spamalot at Stage  62

Avenue Q by the Alumni Theatre Company

The Liar  by Kinetic Theatre

Seussical the Musical at the Apple Hill Playhouse

Pippin at The Theatre Factory

One Man, Two Guvnors at Little Lake Theatre

Sweeney Todd by the Pittsburgh Festival Opera

Ragtime

Ragtime-JPEGThis musical has so much;  it is so rich.  It is a cascade of characters who are fully drawn, with captivating arcs.  It’s a litany of singing performances, CMU’s great bastion of talent loading all of their guns at once and firing three-part harmonies and swelling solos up and through the soul again and again and again.  It’s cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and by that I mean: rich, camp and unrelenting.  It’s saccharine and tangy, but also somber and fierce.  It is a musical with everything.  Everything twice.  And it’s exhausting, but tremendous.

This is a show meant to excite, challenge, enrage and instill a sense of empathy for the common man.  This show examines the life of an individual through the scope of their experience in American history.  It is an expansion of what a life is like in a broader context, but it is also a treatise on what it is to be American: the saga of hope and the potential for defiance against stereotype and bland trajectory.  It is a mission statement for what music can come from opportunity.

This piece is also wholly relevant in confronting an oppressive obelisk in this country’s patterned and horrible xenophobic and racist foundation; dealing with its citizens, both new and native, with unconscionable indignities redeemed only by perseverance and solidarity.

It’s not every day you see a pro-socialist play.

It’s not every day you see anarchists blaze the stage as protagonists, with bombs bursting in air.

It’s not every day you see the archetype of a white woman who fiercely defends inclusion and empathy towards people of other races.  This is a feminist play.  It is also aggressively liberal with its determination towards equal rights and representation.

Let me back up.  This play is about ragtime:

“Small, clear chords hung in the air like flowers. The melodies were like bouquets. There seemed to be no other possibilities for life than those delineated by his music.”

The play follows three sets of tribes: white people, black people, and immigrants; as they collide and intersect amidst a roaring scape of American hardship and prosperity, celebrity and history; in the early part of the 1900’s.

It is a songbook.  Following the rag of John Clay III’s Coalhouse Walker Jr., a pianist whose illustrative interpretation of how music, simple and sublime, can give the nation a new syncopation.  Clay does an outstanding job bringing the weight of the character’s strong hold on the zeitgeist to his leading role, his belting sustained notes carry the auditorium.

As previously mentioned, there are a litany of solos.  Many songs that share the gorgeous bigness of CMU’s voices.  Hanna Berggren’s Mother withholds such a tightly strung presence for a seemingly conservative early 20th Century white woman, and though her movements are pensive and ladylike her voice booms out an emotional reckoning which scintillates an era of strange empathy denoting the epitome of American humanity.  This is fully realized in Berggren’s “Back to Before”,  a crucially emotional and swelling song that builds, binds and destroys.  As a friend put it, “makes for a full-on ugly cry.”

CMU has to be acknowledged for their “ballsiness” in going head first into accents.  Following this year’s full-cast doting Northern Irish brogues for Playboy of the Western World; this play sees Latvian, Hungarian, Russian, and German accents.  Perhaps none stands out as much as the Caribbean accent donned by Arica Jackson’s Sarah.  She holds this voice with such esteem, and carries the raw, visceral emotion for tear-jerker songs like “Your Daddy’s Son” And “President” without so much as a sliver of reveal that it’s all of the act.  It’s a truly captivating performance.

The same could be said for Clay Singer’s Tateh.  He really brings this role into a masterfully starry-eyed composition.  More than any other character, I empathized with his struggle.  I believed him.  I believed his humor, his optimism and the piercing, glowing hope that sang his songs for him.  Accolades to Singer, for his talent seems to be a treasure lotted to him by surname.  He embodies this role.

There were so many amazing performers.  So many top-notch songs.  Amanda Fallon Smith’s Evelyn Nesbit had me swooning in my seat.  Her comedic timing is a gift, and the choreography was excellent.  Lea DiMarchi’s Emma Goldman truly found the punchy, antagonistic severity of Goldman’s bite and was able to place it in song.

The set was outrageously cool.  A trio of three story spinning platforms unfolding the different settings with like the gears of a clock twirling buildings.  The choreography stung as well.  This show pulled out all the stops and really flew into an exhaustive sway and array of musics, emotions and displays of pure talent.  I left the theater with stars twirling around my head.

I think the relevance of this play really shines in thinking of resistance as an option.  An American ideal is self-affirmation, but then there are other selves.  This is a nation of others, and of sovereignty betrayed by neighbors sharing space.  What can that mean except for a choice between accepting outsiders as brothers and sisters, or defying the creed of democracy and spiting a people for their alien identity?  To put it musically: How does a lyrical revolutionary deal with injustice?  How does a black man who creates lyrical music deal with white racial exploitation?  How does a Mother share her empathy beyond her children, to all those in need of help and saving?

This musical turns the bleeding heart into a firework.  It’s brilliant and catchy and honest, though perhaps I should acknowledge it’s pretty historicized fiction.

Regardless, it’s a brocade of floral ribbon painting the whole picture of integration with red, white, blue; and through and through, the whole rainbow.  What is ‘America’ as a theme?  It’s klezmer, brass bands with the gentle parlor music and the Harlem rags versus the Tin Pan Alley Rags of Atlantic City.  It’s Harlem meets Irving Berlin.  It’s a nation on the precipice of profound change.  It’s a world where there was suffering and now there’s penitence.  It’s grand, and I’d hope you see it.

Special thanks to the Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama for complimentary tickets. Ragtime runs through March 4 but it has managed to sell out in advance. For more information about CMU Drama’s season, click here.

5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Spring

Pittsburgh theatregoers have a great mix of musicals to choose from this spring. Our preview features five shows that offer a mix of style, period and contemporary relevance. Two of them are new to Pittsburgh, Daddy Long Legs from the Public Theatre and Violet from Front Porch Theatricals.  The classic Cole Porter musical Anything Goes will be offered by the McKeesport Little Theatre and the contemporary hit Dream Girls from Pittsburgh Musical Theatre. Rounding out the mix and out of today’s headlines is the Duquesne Red Masquers’ production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.Layout 1

Pittsburgh Public Theatres second musical of the season is Daddy Long Legs, the story of Miss Jerusha Abbott, who is the oldest resident of a New England orphanage. When she turns eighteen, a mysterious benefactor, Jervis Pendleton, decides to pay for her college education. There is one condition, she must write him a monthly letter and not expect any reply.

During the course of her education, Jerusha begins to imagine the woman she could become which leads to critical thinking about religion, the social issues of the day, and politics.

The story is set between 1908 and 1912 and Daddy Long Legs is a story of emotional growth told in song by both characters – as she’s composing and he’s reading her letters.

Pittsburgh’s own Allan Snyder plays Jervis. Audiences will remember him from PMT’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and the CLO’s 39 Steps. Danielle Bowen plays Jerusha.

The New York Times described Daddy Long Legs as “a great treat,” and Variety called it “a wholesome tuner in tune with the times.” Daddy Long Legs has been touching hearts for more than 100 years. Ted Pappas’ new production at the Public is “guaranteed to continue the tradition.”

Pittsburgh Public Theatre’s Daddy Long Legs

Playing March 9th through April 9th at the O’Reilly Theatre

Tickets 412-316-1600 or online at https://ppt.org/calendardream girls

American music has undergone many changes from the big band sound of the forties to rhythm and blues, to the new American sound of Motown. In 1962 even though Elvis was king and we listened to the Beatles, American’s were dancing to the new beat of The Supremes and other girl groups. Dream Girls tells the story of the The Dreamettes, a hopeful Black girl group from Chicago who enter the famous Amateur Night talent competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

The musical explores the relationships between the girls, their boyfriends and managers as the chase their respective dreams.

It is also about the behind-the-scenes reality of the entertainment industry that made this cultural phenomenon possible. The subject matter of this play deals with a musical contribution to America of such importance that only now — decades later —  we are beginning to understand.

“And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and “One Night Only” are just two of the great songs from Dream Girls that have become part of the canon of modern musical theatre.

Dream Girls from Pittsburgh Musical Theatre with performances at the Byham Theater March 9th to 19th. For tickets call 412-456-666 or at https://trustarts.org/production/49516BB andrew j

Pittsburgh’s oldest amateur theatre company, The Duquesne University Red Masquers certainly had excellent foresight in picking Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as their Spring Musical. After all, our President considers himself a modern day Andrew Jackson.

The shows opening song, “Populism Yea Yea”, reflects the desire of Jackson to bring political power back to the public and away from the elite. The subject of immigration today is a topic of much discussion. In Jackson’s era it was native Indian lands. At first, the citizenry meets Jackson’s exhilarating cowboy-like governing tactics with great enthusiasm. But, as the problems grow tougher, the public begins to resent him.

Jackson decides he must take ultimate responsibility for the nation’s choices and autocratically declares that he alone will be the one to make the difficult policy decision.

At the Broadway opening in 2010, The New York Times noted “there is no show in town that more astutely reflects the state of this nation than Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Duquesne University Red Masquers playing 

March 15-19.

Tickets at http://www.duqredmasquers.com/purchase-ticketsanythign goes

Are you are looking for a lighthearted break from reality with quirky characters, great songs and fabulous dance routines?  The McKeesport Musical Theatres production of the classic Cole Porter musical comedy Anything Goes is just your ticket.

The S.S. American is sailing between New York and England with a comically colorful assemblage of passengers: Reno Sweeney, a popular nightclub singer and former evangelist, her pal Billy Crocker, a lovelorn Wall Street broker who has come aboard to try to win the favor of his beloved Hope Harcourt (who is engaged to another passenger, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh), and a second-rate conman named Moonface Martin, aka “Public Enemy #13.” Song, dance, and farcical antics ensue as Reno and Moonface try to help Billy win the love of his life.

Anything Goes features s some of musical theater’s most memorable standards, including “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” “You’re the Top,” and of course, the title song.

According to Linda Baker, President of MLT “This is one of the classic musicals that unfortunately not enough millennials have had the opportunity to experience.” So disconnect and go see it.

Anything Goes at McKeesport Little Theatre May 5th to 21st. Tickets available at http://mckeesportlittletheater.com

Acclaimed Director Robyne Parish has returned to PPrintittsburgh to live after spending five seasons as the Artistic Director of the Gilbert Theater in North Carolina. Her second directorial assignment since returning is the Tony nominated Violet presented by Front Porch Theatricals.

Violet is a scarred woman who is traveling across the 1964 Deep South toward a miracle. She is looking for the healing touch of an evangelist that will make her beautiful. Though she may not succeed in being healed, Violet is able to repair those injuries that lie deeper than her skin. On the way she meets a young, African-American Soldier whose love for her reaches far past her physical “imperfections”.

I asked Robyne about her approach to the production. “One of the most interesting themes in this play, besides the complicated relationship Violet has with her Father, are the parallels between Flick and Violet. A black man in the south judged by the color of his skin and a white woman being judged by her scar. As an audience we will experience Violets growth, discovery of love, beauty, enlightenment and ultimately redemption.”

“Patrons will discover themselves in the characters in Violet. It’s the story of family, of first love, of desperation and of hope. They will identify with these folks and recognize them in an intimate way some shows may not allow. This is an intense and uplifting play about real people with real hopes, dreams and desires and real loss, failure and disappointment. This is a play about life.”

Violet from Front Porch Theatricals is in performance May 19th to 28th at the New Hazlett Center for the Performing Arts located in Pittsburgh’s historic North Side

Tickets https://www.showclix.com/events/12886

The spring of 2017 promises something for every theatregoer to enjoy.

 

 

5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer

“Curtain up! Light the lights!” “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Yes, sing up and dance away, the summer theater season is finally here! As the breezy spring days quietly drift away into those dreamy summer nights, the Pittsburgh theater scene is also heating up for another great three months full of beautiful music and soulful stories. Whether you are already relaxing out in the sun, or listening to the Hamilton album for the fifteenth time, chances are you’re gonna want to see a show or two this season.  So as we prepare for another jam packed summer here at Pittsburgh In the Round, let’s all take a moment together and look at the line-up of this year’s musical productions right here in the Steel City, and dig into the five shows that you definitely don’t want to miss this summer!

Damn Yankees LogoFirst up, we have Damn Yankees opening up the season with a swing at Benedum Center from July 5th to 10th. Presented by Pittsburgh CLO as part of its annual summer musical season, this muscular musical comedy surely sets to bring America’s favorite pastime back to the stage again.

Originally based on the book The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop, the show features a book by Wallop and George Abbott, with music by Richard Adler and lyrics by Jerry Ross. Just in time for baseball season, the story focuses on Joe Boyd, a loyal baseball fan who transforms into a star slugger by making a deal with the devil. He later tries to lead his home team Washington Senators to victory in a pennant race against those “damn Yankees”. Premiered on Broadway in 1954, this musical is one of the first two shows the legendary Bob Fosse choreographed, and eventually it took home 11 Tony Awards that year, including the Best Musical. With Pittsburgh CLO’s usual summer production style of promoting local artists and talents, a dose of Pittsburgh pride and freshness is destined to be added to this timeless story. Tickets and more information about Damn Yankees can be found here.

Next, from July 21st to 31st at Stage62 gfhsersrtin Carnegie, PA, we have Jesus Christ Superstar, another Broadway classic with music and lyrics by audience favorites Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Building upon the success of its recent production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, this sung-through rock opera projects to be another thought-provoking, socially and politically relevant show.

As a parallel analogy to the rise of contemporary celebrity and fame worship, the show depicts the final days of Jesus and highlights the interpersonal struggles between Jesus and Judas, as well as Judas’s psychological development for his final betrayal. Directed by Stage62 veteran Seamus Ricci, with music direction from Thomas Octave and choreography from Angela Essler, this production also sets to break the conventional casting boundaries by bringing in female actors to play some traditional male roles, such as Judas (whom will be played by Point Park alumnus Mary Johnson), and hence form a new conversation of theatrical presentation giving this aging story a fresh modern look. An innovative production of a timeless musical, this one you definitely cannot to miss! Tickets and more information about Jesus Christ Superstar can be found here.adw Still can’t get enough of Rock ‘n Roll? Well worry no more, there is another rock opera coming to town this July! Produced by Alumni Theater Company, punk rock band Green Day’s less-revived sung-through rock opera American Idiot will make its way to the stage at New Hazlett Theater from July 29th to 31st, bringing another blast of energy and excitement to this already too hot summer season.

americanidiotOriginally released as a concept album in 2009 and them followed by a Broadway stage adaptation in 2010 (in which the idea was inspired by the success of no other show than Jesus Christ Superstar,  which also had a concept album prior to its stage debut), the story of American Idiot echoes as a commentary response to the cruel realities of the post-9/11 era by tracing the journeys of three dissatisfied young men whose life paths were heavily intertwined with the themes of war and love. With a mission to “create bold theatrical work that gives fresh voices to the experience of young urban artists”, Alumni Theater Company is surely going to surprise everyone with the biggest hit in town! For tickets and more information about American Idiot, click here.

adsfaewNext up, from August 18th to 28th, we are going to take a small trip with The Summer Company down the rabbit hole and learn about A History of American Film, in the brand new Genesius Theater.

With a long-overdue Broadway premiere AmerFilmBookin 1978, this hilariously brilliant musical comedy by Christopher Durang with music by Mel Marvin is possibly the best way Hollywood could clash with Broadway, in a down-to-the-earth over-the-top parody of every American film cliché from silent film era all the way until the present. Think about The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) funny, but only this time with films and Hollywood jokes! Directed by John Lane, one of the founding producers of the company, the five stereotypical leading characters and nearly sixty supporting characters in the story will be divided and doubled among the entire cast, just like how it was done in Hollywood from the 30s to the 40s. And because there is no original cast recording or that much of revival information to fall back on, the audiences surely will find this one a surprise! But just in case you’re still not sure, well, Mr. Lane himself said it the best, “If you like movies, little known musicals, and outrageous comedy–this show is for you!” Tickets and more information about The History of American Film can be found here.

unnamedfloydLast but certainly not least, as part of its ‘American Dreamers” series, we have Front Porch Theatricals presenting Floyd Collins, another beautifully moving musical with gripping drama, at New Hazlett Theater from August 26th to September 4th.

With a book by Tina Landau and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel (the legendary Broadway composer Richard Rodgers’s grandson who wrote the score for last season’s The Light in the Piazza), the story follows the life and death of a cave explorer Floyd Collins and reflects the journey of a true hero of its time, sort of like the “Alexander Hamilton” of Central Kentucky in the 1920s if you will. From the creative mind of Point Part alumnus Rachel Stevens who is currently also directing The Spitfire Grill, this musical promises to engage Pittsburgh audiences at a new level with a revolutionary story and a soaring score that will resemble the spirit and history of our own city, while featuring some of the newest and best talents in town. “A burning passion that has been on the producers’ minds since the company’s inception”, this is one of those star-studded, quality-guaranteed Front Porch Theatricals productions that you just simply cannot miss! Tickets and more information about Floyd Collins can be found here.

Go see a musical this summer!

Check out the rest of our 2016 Summer Preview here! Follow along with our summer adventures with the hashtag #SummerwithPITR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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