Winter Preview 2016

Snowflake 6
A letter from the Editor

To our beloved readers,

The countdown has begun; there are just 21 days left until the first day of Winter and we have put together a preview sure to prepare you for a holiday season of new and exciting theater experiences. Even though things start to slow down in the winter, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained during the cold, dark evenings as Pittsburgh’s warm theater community invites you to step in from out of the cold and catch a show. There is plenty of holiday themed fun and even a few new plays to choose from this Winter season!

Beyond this preview, stay tuned for continuous coverage of Pittsburgh theater. We will be checking in with local companies, some new to the scene and some seasoned veterans. We will also continue to introduce you to the people that make up Pittsburgh’s vibrant theater community through our artists spotlight series.

On a business related note, we are officially a legal entity (LLC) recognized by the government (AKA the IRS, OMG!). Remember, if you would like to sponsor the site or purchase advertisements on the site, contact info@pghintheround.com.

Again, we want to thank those of you that have and continue to support us through your donations to our previous fundraising campaign, 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.

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.

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!

#5 – Eugene Onegin by Undercroft Opera: Usually sung in French, 10 year oldOneginPoster Undercroft Opera will be presenting this Tchaikovsky masterpiece in Russian as a concert. Originally premiering in Moscow in 1879, this story of unrequited love and regrets was last produced in Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh Opera in 2009. Undercroft, a company known for giving performers “opera-tunities”, brings many opera veterans to the stage in this one night only event. Last seen in the Pittsburgh Savoyards’ production of Gianni Schicchi,  Eugene Onegin will bring Ian Greenlaw and Katie Manukyan together on the stage once again. For tickets and more information, check out Undercroft’s website here. 

#4 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Cup-a-Jo Productions: On the heels of their innovative 404501_10150601331240797_648691161_nproduction of Titus AndronicusCup-a-Jo brings us another twist on an old classic. A not-so-fun night of drinks with new colleagues turns dark and disastrous in the late Edward Albee’s absurdist drama. Starring company founder Joanna Lowe and Brett Sullivan Santry, Cup-a-Jo will drag us into an immersive universe complete with signature live music and of course, cocktails. Literally set within a living room, this production will give audiences “ultimate uncomfortable voyeuristic experience” says Lowe. Dates and more details to come, but for more information about Cup-a-Jo, click here.

#3 – The Lion in Winter by PICT Classic Theatre: The classic Christmas tale of King Lion-Final-WebHenry II and his dysfunctional family weaves through politics, conspiracies, and ruthlessness. The cast includes Pittsburgh favorites like Karen Baum and Tony Bingham, even PICT’s Artistic Director Alan Standford graces the stage as Henry himself in the company’s third production in their new space at the Union Project in Highland Park. As always, PICT is “committed to the creation of high-quality, professional thought-provoking theatre of substance” and we’re confident this production will be no different. The Lion in Winter begins previews Thursday December 1, for tickets and more information click here. 

#2 – Lungs by off the WALL: In the second production of their Mainstage scaled_256series, off the WALL brings us more of the quick-witted dramas the company is known for with Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs. On a mostly bare set, no costume changes, and little accoutrements, Sarah Silk and Alec Silberblatt will force audiences to focus on the important themes of the text, rather than superfluous theatrics in this production. This two person drama takes us on a ride over the course of a relationship as they battle with questions about their families, their aspirations and each other. Opening December 2 at Carnegie Stage. For tickets and more information, click here. 

#1 – The Royale by City Theatre: City Theatre continues to uphold its mission YT17-Feature-The-Royaleto be Pittsburgh’s home for new plays with their January premiere of The Royale. Known for writing and producing television shows like Sons of Anarchy and Orange is the New Black, Marco Ramirez’s Broadway debut play The Royale is inspired by the true story of turn of the century boxer Jack Johnson. DeSean Terry plays Jay “The Sport”Jackson in this drama about fighting more than just the other person in the ring. Jackson has eyes on the heavyweight championship but with the racial tension of 1905 that might be easier said than done. The Royale runs on City Theatre’s Mainstage January 21 – February 12. For tickets and more information, click here.

While we’ve got you, check out our Top 5 Musicals you don’t want to miss here!

In the mood for something a little more festive? Claire rounded up the Top 5 Holiday shows for you here.

Throughline Theatre Company has gotten a new Artistic Director! Meet Sean Sears here.

Speaking of new things, check out one of Pittsburgh’s newest theater companies, Jumping Jack Theater.

Curious about something a little more than theater? Check out Jason’s articles featuring slowdanger and The Space Upstairs.

Even Attack Theatre is loosening some screws in their upcoming show Unbolted.

We’ve been pretty busy this fall too! In case you missed anything, here are some highlights of the last three months:

Between Riverside and Crazy at the Pittsburgh Public Theater

Three Days in the Country by Kinetic Theatre

The Music Man by Stage 62

12 Angry Men by the McKeesport Little Theater

How I Learned to Drive by the Duquense Red Masquers

Salome by the Pittsburgh Opera

To Kill a Mockingbird by Prime Stage Theatre

Giselle by the Pittsburgh Ballet

Barefoot in the Park by The Theatre Factory

Prometheus Bound: A Puppet Tragedy at the Irman Freeman Center for Imagination

Pride and Prejudice by Steel City Shakespeare

Trial by Jury & Gianni Schicchi by the Pittsburgh Savoyards

The River by Quantum Theatre

The Toxic Avenger at the Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret

 

The Music Man

the music manStage 62‘s The Music Man presents a caliber of talent that surpasses the status quo of community theater. This rhythmic masterpiece, made up of sweet melodies, a lively story and charming characters is a slice of American pie. The production boasts a wide range of music styles, dance ensembles, comedic moments and romance. This is a performance the whole family can enjoy. There are opportunities for performers of all ages to shine and Stage 62‘s rendition rises to this challenge.

The performance begins with the orchestra playing the overture. The sound swells the theater, traditionally designed for concerts, permitting the acoustics to resonate. Having never seen The Music Man before I enjoyed the prelude of familiar tunes realizing just how many songs I recognized. The story unfolds quickly, partly due to the tempo of the first 3 musical numbers, Rock Island, Iowa Stubborn and (Ya Got) Trouble, and the superior delivery of dialogue by con man ‘Professor’ Harold Hill (Andy Folmer) the fast- talking traveling salesman. Hill’s scam; convince parents their sons will keep out of trouble by joining in a band. Hill sells instruments, uniforms and music materials, promises to offer instruction and direction to the boys, then once the supplies are delivered and payment collected, he’ll skip town before anyone catches on. Arriving in River City, Iowa Hill learns the townsfolk are not very friendly. He determines the best way to earn the confidence of parents is to gain the assurance of the local music teacher/ librarian, Marian Paroo (Becca Chenette). She too is cold and stand-offish but luckily, for Hill, Marcellus Washburn (Chris  Martin) a former ‘associate’ turned straight, is living in River City. Washburn agrees to help Hill launch his scheme and escape town without a hitch. Things go, more or less, as Hill intends; except for the few residents who question his credentials, a young boy in need of a father figure and a blossoming romance that quickly changes the path of Hill’s plan.

Harold Hill (Andy Folmer) and Marian Paroo (Becca Chenette)
Harold Hill (Andy Folmer) and Marian Paroo (Becca Chenette)

If you’re familiar with The Music Man you won’t be surprised to learn this is a 61 person cast. Director Rob James successfully incorporates all elements necessary for a seamless production and choreographer Devyn Brown manages to keep the shows momentum flowing with movement. Two memorable dance numbers, Marian the Librarian and Shipoopi, showcase the abundance of talent from supporting cast members Chris Martin, Adam Speers as Tommy Djilas and Alex Ficco as Zanetta Shinn. Other highlights include, the harmonizing Quartet and the ladies Pickalittle (Talk-a-Little) song and dance. There’s a lot of theatrical zeal from each character especially the budding talent of cast members Alexa Speicher as Amaryllis and Elliott Bruno as Winthrop, who appear poised and confident in character despite their young age.

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Amaryllis (Alexa Speicher), Winthrop (Elliott Bruno), Amaryllis (Hannah Post)

A strong supporting cast and a dynamite ensemble can carry a show a long way but The Music Man demands veteran performers to fill the shoes of Professor Hill and Marian Paroo. Andy Folmer as Hill is a big presence on a small stage, a virtuoso of voice, he consistently maintains savvy delivery of both dialogue and song. Becca Chenette is a genuine Marian. Her voice is lilting and strong. A seasoned vocalist she exudes sweetness and sentimentality while singing the beautiful ballads.

Stage 62‘s performance of The Music Man is lively and fun. It has all the elements of a classic American musical. The costumes are bright and represent a time and place that accentuate the extensively detailed set. Highlights of the show included the expertly executed speak- song, Rock Island the highly energetic Ya Got Trouble, the notable Seventy-Six Trombones and the endearing Till There Was You .

Special thanks to Stage 62 for complimentary press tickets. The Music Man runs at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall (ACFL& MH) Carnegie, PA through November 20th. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Photos courtesy of Amber Smith.

5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall

At last, our hot and humid dog days of summer are yielding to fall, bringing with it quite an interesting range of offerings for musicals in the Steel City this season. We’ve got a bit of everything from the spectacle of Tommy, The Who’s rock opera, at one end and to the simplicity of The Fantasticks with just piano and harp at the other. Then there a not so normal family in Next to Normal, and a not so normal setting for a musical, the waste dumps of New Jersey for the Toxic Avenger. If you are looking for a more traditional show there is the classic Music Man with its Seventy Six Trombones.

The Pulitzer Prize winning Next To Normal opens at The Theatre Factory in net to normalTrafford on September 16th, and runs through October 2nd. This powerful rock musical grapples with a mother’s bipolar disorder in a suburban family. Dad is barely holding himself together, the daughter searches to find her place in the world and the son has a secret. Yes, this show will make you laugh and cry as the family struggles with not being quite normal. In addition to the Pulitzer this show deservedly received Tony’s for best score and orchestrations.

Those of us who are New Jersey transplants will feel right at home with The Toxic Avenger at the CLO Cabaret, September 22nd through December 18th.  This rock musical is based upon the movie of the same name. The hero is out to save New Jersey but along the way he falls in love with the town’s blind librarian. (Perhaps she can’t see the town needs to be saved.) 13920592_10153878214136696_6619933184213095285_n

Evan Ruggiero, the one-legged tap dancer, who fought cancer and went onto appear on American Idol, stars in the title role. This laugh out loud musical horror-comedy has something for everyone. It was the winner of the 2009 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. Here in the ‘burgh, you can eat and drink during the show and enjoy “Hot Toxic Love”, “Thank God She’s Blind” and “Evil is Hot”.  What could be better than that?

Young love triumphs in The Fantasticks at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, September 29th through October 30th. The Fantasticks is the worlds longest running musical and Ted Papas will bring his own directorial take to this beloved classic. Sophisticated yet simply staged this is the story of two fathers scheming to bring their son and daughter together in this sweet and FANTAS2831perfect musical.  It features classic songs like “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain”. If you are a fan of musical theatre, the legendary Fantasticks has to be on your “must see” list of shows. In New York, the show plays in a very intimate black box type of theatre. It will be interesting to see it performed in a three quarter thrust stage at the O’Reilly. “The Fantasticks is the show that convinced me, 50 years ago, to spend my entire life in the theater. The Public’s new production is my way of saying ‘Thank You’ to all the actors and designers who have blessed me with their talent, imagination, and joy.” says Artistic Director Ted Pappas.

tommyOakland will rock to The Who’s Tommy at The Pittsburgh Playhouse’s Rockwell Theatre, on October 21st through October 30th. This iconic Tony and Grammy Award winning rock opera tells the story of a special young man from a troubled background who overcomes long odds to triumph. It is a sensory-defying masterpiece of passion and wizardry that features now iconic rock tunes including “Pinball Wizard’, “I’m Free” and “See Me, Feel Me”. Huntington, Of note, West Virginia’s Michael Cerveris received the 1993 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for creating the role of Tommy in the original Broadway production.

The Music Man marches on to Stage 62 in Carnegie, from November 10th through 20th. Head to a simpler time when traveling salesman and con artist the music manProfessor Harold Hill convinces the people of River City, Iowa to form a kid’s band to counter the evils of the pool hall. The Professor meets and falls for Marion, the librarian, complicating his scheme. Classics songs “(Ya Got) Trouble”, “Till There Was You” and “Seventy Six Trombones” make for a foot stomping handclapping time with all that brass in this multiple Tony Award winning musical.

From classic show tunes to rock opera there is something for every musical theatre fanatic this fall here in the ‘burgh. Checkout our other fall previews for even more musicals.

One thing this town has got is range!

Check out the rest of our 2016 Fall Preview here! Follow along with our autumn adventures with the hashtag #FallwithPITR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!