News Column

Stage Notes: Point Park gears up for fall season

June 27, 2013

YellowBrix

June 27--Point Park University's Conservatory Theatre Company will open next season with Patrick Cassidy directing the musical "Oklahoma!" The Broadway actor is the son of Smithton native Shirley Jones, who starred in the movie version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. The season will also include "The Alchemists' Lab," a new play directed and created by Gab Cody in collaboration with Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts students.

Here's the 2013-14 season:

--Oct. 18-27: "Oklahoma" (Rockwell Theatre). Director Cassidy's Broadway credits include "The Pirates of Penzance," "Annie Get Your Gun," "42nd Street" and "Aida," in which he co-starred with his mother.

--Nov. 8-24: "Hecuba" (Studio Theatre). Directed by Monica Payne, "Hecuba" is Euripides' tragedy of sacrifice and revenge in the aftermath of war.

--Dec. 10-15: "The Alchemists' Lab" (Rauh Theatre). Classically trained actor, improviser and stand-up comic Ms. Cody worked with students using techniques of physical and absurdist theater to create a new work.

--Feb. 21-March 2: "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" (Rockwell Theatre). The emo-rock musical imagining the seventh president as a rock star had a short run on Broadway after success at New York's Public Theater. Michael McKelvey directs.

--April 11-19: "The Playboy of the Western World" (Rauh Theater). The Synge play takes place in the early 1900s at an Irish pub, where a young man confesses to murder. Kim Martin directs.

Singles tickets for the Conservatory Theatre Company at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Oakland, are $18-$20 and go on sale Aug. 19; more at 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.

Playhouse Jr. in 2014

Playhouse Jr., Point Park University's family and children's theater, turns 65 next year with two musicals on the slate: "The Wind in the Willows" and the Tony Award-winning "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." The country's second-oldest continuously running children's theater offers performances for school and community groups on weekday mornings, May 7-June 6, and public performances on weekends, May 10-June 8.

The season:

--"The Wind in the Willows," based on the book by Kenneth Grahame, adapted by Douglas Post. At the Rockwell Theatre; appropriate for grades K through fourth. Weekends, May 10-25.

--"Hush: An Interview With America" by James Still. At the Studio Theatre; grades fifth through seventh. Weekends, May 10-25.

--"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin. At the Rauh Theatre; eighth grade and up. Weekends, May 24-June 8.

Tickets are $7; 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.

CLO courts new musical

Pittsburgh CLO is developing a small-scale musical comedy, "Judge Jackie Justice, the Trials of Love," by Carnegie Mellon University alumni Christopher Dimond (book and lyrics) and Michael Kooman (music). Works by the award-winning writing team include the musical "Dani Girl" and "Orphie and the Book of Heroes," which will premiere at the Kennedy Center in 2014.

The CLO will hold auditions Saturday and Sunday for a private staged reading of "Judge Jackie Justice," in which a fictional television judge "resolves issues of life and love for both the litigants of her court and herself." Audition details and applications are available at www.pittsburghclo.org/pages/clo_auditions.

Pittsburgh ties

--A workshop was held this week in New York City for "Holler If Ya Hear Me," a jukebox musical inspired by the work of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Lead producers include Pittsburgh native Eric L. Gold and Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur. The show will be directed by Kenny Leon ("Fences" with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis). The Hollywood Reporter confirms that the long-gestating project could premiere during the 2013-14 Broadway season.

--After a long run in Broadway's "Book of Mormon" company, Tony-nominated Rory O'Malley (Carnegie Mellon class of '03) has landed in the new musical "Nobody Loves You" at the off-Broadway Second Stage Theatre. The show that opened in previews June 20 is about a philosophy grad student who is unexpectedly cast on a reality TV dating show in an attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend. The creative team includes Mark Wendland (CMU '84). "Nobody Loves You" officially opens July 18.

--In October, the National Theatre Live series that broadcasts British productions in American movie theaters will show Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston in "Macbeth." The Manchester International Festival's production was directed by Mr. Branagh with Point Park alumnus Rob Ashford, known in the States as a director-choreographer of Broadway musicals and dance numbers for recent Oscars telecast. Keep an eye on ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk to see if a Western Pennsylvania venue is added. This week's broadcast of Helen Mirren in "The Audience" came only as close as State College.

--Following the mega-success of "Matilda," a new musical version of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" opened in London with Tony winner Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka and an all-star creative team including songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and director Sam Mendes. The book is by David Grieg, whose "The Monster in the Hall" at City Theatre was a Post-Gazette "best of" pick for 2012.

--With all the movies being made into musicals, it was inevitable that "Rocky" would make it to Broadway, and with a score by Dormont native Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and a book by Thomas Meehan. Sylvester Stallone is the producer, with Alex Timbers directing. The show has a tentative February 2014 opening at the Winter Garden Theatre. Get a sneak peek at rockybroadway.com.

Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960.

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