Summer Preview 2016

Summer LogoA Letter from the Editor

To our beloved readers,

As most of you know, Pittsburgh in the Round has been working over two years to bring you the most comprehensive coverage of the local theater community. In that time, we have operated solely on a volunteer basis to bring you coverage of the theater scene we are so passionate about. In an attempt to create a more sustainable entity that can provide more for our readers and the theater community as well as keep up with its fast growth, we have become an official fiscally sponsored project of New Sun Rising! Among the many doors this opens, we may now accept tax deductible donations that will help us grow and better serve our community. If you or your organization are interested in donating to our cause, check out our donation page here.

With this announcement, we decided to launch our first annual Summer Preview which should keep you entertained until the leaves start to turn. There is a lot happening this summer and we don’t want you to miss a thing! We would love to hear from our readers and follow along with your Summer theater adventures so keep in touch with us on our Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram using the hashtag #SummerwithPITR.

 

Happy Summer,

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


Looking for some quality entertainment this summer beyond frequenting your neighborhood swimming pool? Luckily this season is full of opportunities to catch some local theater and we have put this guide together to make sure you don’t miss a thing! Every year, Pittsburgh’s theatre community gets bigger and bigger, with companies pushing the limits from ASD friendly performances to classic story adaptations. And this year is no different. If you’re curious about what this summer has to offer, then we’ve got you covered! Let’s start off with the Top 5 shows we’re looking forward to most this summer.

#5 -Venus in venusFur at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. Producing Artistic Director Ted Pappas says “New plays with exciting actors and edgy themes are a big part of what we love to produce at The Public. Venus in Fur is one of the best.” A play within a play adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Furs, David Ives introduces us to director/writer Thomas in the throes of attempting to find an actress to play Wanda von Dunayev in his play of the same name. Eventually an actress named Vanda shows up to audition in her best dominatrix get-up and “the erotic seduction of power takes center stage and the rules of domination are forever reversed.” according to PPT’s website. Just make sure you’ve got a babysitter for the night; you aren’t going to want your kids to see this! Venus in Fur plays at the Pittsburgh Public Theater with previews starting June 2nd.

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Andreas O’Rourke as Dracula bound in chains. Photo by Joseph Stammerjohn and Eyes to the Sky Films.

#4 – Rage of the Stage Players’ latest adaptation, Bloody Hell A play inspired by characters in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Adapted by artistic director James Michael Shoberg. Rage of the Stage is known for their dark reimaginations of classic stories and Bloody Hell makes no exceptions. Shoberg says “Bloody Hell is the final installment of my “Old London Series” of plays based on Victorian novels set in a dystopian future (following Hooked and Oliver Twisted). Though it was inspired by characters from  “Dracula,” the story has many surprises and twists and turns which will make it an entirely new experience for our audiences. Bloody Hell features a large cast of some of Pittsburgh’s most talented character actors, and they couldn’t be more excited to originate such unique roles in this world premiere play. It’s also been my great pleasure to direct this gifted and enthusiastic ensemble. They certainly do my writing justice. I definitely believe this dark, edgy Rage of the Stage Players’ production is a live summer event that’s not to be missed!”  Bloody Hell plays at the McKeesport Little Theater starting June 24th.

#3 – The Hound of Baskervilles from Kinetic Theatre thobBased on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 novel of the same name, we follow the infamous Sherlock Holmes as he solves a mystery with murder, a family curse, and a dog! “The script for the show is by the British comedy troupe Peepolykus (people like us, get it?). Fans of John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus will recognize the mad, deadly serious, and uniquely British hilarity that ensues when three fearless actors re-tell a favorite story: improvising props, costumes, and scenery and playing all the roles themselves. Our stellar cast consists of local favorite David Whalen as Holmes, reigning Post-Gazette Performer of the Year James FitzGerald as Watson, and Connor McCanlus as the Baskervilles. This will be a real summertime romp – fun for the whole family!” says Artistic Director Andrew Paul. The Hound of Baskervilles plays at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre starting July 21st.

#2 – The Birds at 12 Peers An adaptation of the 1963 classic Alfred HitchcocThe Birds Text-1k movie of the same name, based on the Daphne du Maurier’s short story, The Birds by Conor McPherson is a story of survival, paranoia, and well, birds. Directed by artistic director Vince Ventura, he’s “proud to present the Pittsburgh premiere of this tense, disturbing, thriller.  With an amazing technical team, and a new location for 12 Peers Theater, in the Studio Theatre at the Cathedral of Learning,” Ventura promises not to disappoint, “Conor McPherson is one of our generation’s best playwright, and most of his major works have been loved by audiences in Pittsburgh.” The Birds plays at the Studio Theatre in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning starting August 4th.

#1 – WordPlay at Bricolage2016-WordPlay web copy Storytelling is one of the oldest, simplest forms of theater, so why wouldn’t WordPlay be the thing we’re looking forward to most this summer? Hosted by Alan Olifson, whom you might also know for hosting Pittsburgh’s Moth StorySLAM. “The August WordPlay comes at an exciting time for the show as we start exploring new creative partnerships with some of the best writing and musical fixtures in the city. So our eleventh(!) show promises to be one of our best.” says Alan. Bricolage is still accepting story submissions for their August show and their November show! And anyone can submit a story, you don’t even have to be an actor! Even our writer Isaac has told a story for WordPlay! WordPlay goes down August 26th and 27th at Bricolage!

If musicals are your cup of tea, check out Drake’s special on the musicals he’s most excited about here.

Would you rather see a variety of plays all at once? Then you might want to see what’s in store for the upcoming Theater Festival in Black and White at Pittsburgh Playwrights or the next 10 Minute Play Festival at City of Asylum.

Need more insight on what else is in store for us this summer? How about some season previews?

Or maybe an Artist Spotlight of City Theatre’s artistic director Tracy Brigden is more your speed. She’s finishing her 15th season with City!

We also checked in with Little Lake Theatre to see what they’re up to since their major administrative changes!

Did you miss Mother Lode back in January at off the WALL? Well, you’re in luck. They’re doing another round from June 2nd to June 4th and here’s Megan’s review from the previous production!

Did you miss out on any of our reviews in May? You’re in luck, here’s a list of what we published in the Merry Month of May.

How about our coverage of the Fringe Festival? And don’t forget about the group of locals taking Dani Girl to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

Another big thank you goes out to our readers and supporters. Without you this wouldn’t be possible! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram! Keep track of all the fun using the hashtag #SummerwithPITR

The Musical of Musicals

Poster-Musical-790-200x300Have you ever wondered what if Jonathan Larson didn’t write Rent, but Rogers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, or Kander & Ebb wrote it instead?

Wonder no more, as you can finally unwind your fantasies and find the answer you’ve been looking for in off the WALL theatre’s newest production of Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell’s musical parody classic, The Musical of Musicals (The Musical)!

Originally premiered off-Broadway in 2003, the show tells the ageless melodrama story of “I can’t pay the rent” with some all-too-cliche theater characters such a beautiful leading lady who cannot pay her rent, a villainous landlord who demands the rent be paid, and a handsome hero and love interest who eventually offers to pay the rent. But the catch is that the story will be told five times over the course of five acts, and each act differently through the style of a famous musical theater composer or composer/lyricist team. So as you can imagine, the entire musical is full of stylistic jokes and lyric puns, and the audience never stopped laughing throughout the show.

The cast was an ensemble effort, with one music director Nancy Gordon Galuzzo masterfully playing the piano like a full orchestra, and six actors rotating between characters. Leading lady June is played mostly by Ms. Brittany Graham, who delivered a great range of lovable personalities and won all the applause with her stunning vocal in the ALW/Phantom of the Opera parody segment. Her major savior in the show is played by Mr. Ryan Patrick Kearney, who always managed to save the plot and the scene with just the right dosage of comedy and romance. Ms. Elizabeth Flemming functions mostly as the character actress in the show and plays the comic relief with a spirit. And her on-stage dynamic in the Company-inspired sequence with her co-star Ms. Elizabeth Boyke in the Sondheim segment easily made it one of my favorite Acts.

But the true superstars of the night must go to the Director Ms. Robyne Parrish and the choreographer Mr. Gavan Pamer, both of whom are also featured as actors in the cast. Under Ms. Parrish’s direction, all five acts came together as one seamless unison of satirical comedy, and whenever she was on stage, whether as the “Mame” or the “queen” from Sunset Boulevard, the energy in the theater only got higher and louder. And that excitement was delightfully augmented by Mr. Pamer’s on-point choreography, which truly brought back the Broadway glamour in big dance numbers such as the Cabaret-inspired Speakeasy Willkomen. The big bonus finish was the entire cast standing in “a chorus line” singing about how the show is not only over, but “Done”. From the demon artist landlord, to the phantom of the “meow-pera”, every character Mr. Pamer plays was a highlight and took home the most applause of the evening.

The designs of this production are filled with audiences’ favorite things from those classic musicals as well. Ms. Adrienne Fischer and Ms. Jenna Campbell’s set and sound design brilliantly traveled between stories and dimensions in between acts along with several peculiar and familiar surprises including certain murderous door bell. Ms. Madeleine Steineck’s lighting will take you back through time to the original moment you fell in love with these composers with a just a few changes of color and light. And finally, whenever there’s a magical chandelier involved, you just know it’s the “production of the night”.

Whether you know your musicals like you know your alphabet, or just want to laugh for two and half hours, The Musical of Musicals (the Musical) is THE musical for you! Because when legendary composers combined with sensational casts, all that’s guaranteed is always great great fun!

Special thanks to off the WALL productions for complimentary press tickets. The Musical of Musicals (the Musical) runs at Carnegie Stage until May 21st. For tickets and more information, click here