David De Angelo — my good friend and fellow Pittsburgh blogger — got a peak behind the scenes at the preparation underway for the Public’s upcoming production of 1776 – The Musical. And, because he’s a grand fellow, he posted all about it on his blog. He shares some insights from cast members about the politics of the play, as well as the Public’s creative set design. Check out his post. Continue reading Theater preview: 1776 – The Musical at Pittsburgh Public Theater
Get out your waistcoats, goggles, and pocket watches. The Pittsburgh Public Theater is having a charming steampunk event next Friday before the evening’s performance of Around the World in 80 Days. Continue reading Age of Steam Night at Pittsburgh Public Theater
People bandy about the word “tragedy” too easily. Continue reading Turning grief into art: Electra at the Pittsburgh Public Theater
I love “stage door” plays and movies, like All About Eve, Singing in the Rain, All That Jazz, and pretty much every movie Fred Astaire made. So I’m particularly excited about the play that opens the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s new season, The Royal Family.
Enjoy a royal romp with the biggest celebrities of the Roaring Twenties in Kaufman & Ferber’s lavish comedy, The Royal Family.
NOW THROUGH OCTOBER 31
DIRECTED BY TED PAPPAS
After a critically-acclaimed 2009 Broadway revival, garnering multiple Tony Award nominations, The Public will present a brand-new production of The Royal Family.
The Cavendish clan lives in a lavish Manhattan apartment, befitting their status as the glamorous First Family of 1920s Broadway (think The Barrymores). The Royal Family takes us into the lavish lifestyle of these Roaring Twenties theatrical superstars, whose outrageous behavior is matched only by their love for their work.
For tickets, call 412.316.1600 or BUY ONLINE.
Disclosure: The Public is providing me with tickets to see this production.
What is it about art that makes us hate art lovers so very much? It’s
easy enough to love artists themselves, particularly artists who can
convey emotion beautifully on the canvas but who struggle to express
simple thoughts in conversation. I like that over-abstracting flavor of
awkwardness in a person. What I don’t like is the sorts of people who
speak fluidly and easily and steadily at art openings, stuffing green
grapes and Brie into their faces while deciding which painting will go
best in their guest bathroom. Do I hate their big, dusty piles of cash
that much? Or do I hate this urge to own something that came from such a
pure place, to frame it and show it off and use it to service their own
egos? But aren’t we all ego-driven louts?
That quote is from Heather Havrilesky’s column in Salon this week, reviewing Bravo’s new reality show, “Work of Art.” But it could well be a monologue from Yasmina Reza’s award-winning play “Art,” currently in a sharp, smart, entertaining production at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.
“Art” at Pittsburgh Public Theater. Pictured (l to r) Harry Bouvy, Rob Breckenridge and Darren Eliker. Photo credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater.
I don’t hate art lovers — some of my best friends are art lovers — but I do dislike the rarefied, condescending air that I feel hovering around a museum or gallery. Then again, is it the art lovers that are looking down at me, or is it me looking up at them, who have taken the time to understand the history and vocabulary of the art world? And what is art (or Art) anyway? Is it what I like, or what I understand the influences and framework of, or what I know cost a lot of money?
Reza’s play is a bit about these questions, and a bit about friendship. What value does one get from being a friend? How do you measure the ROI of friendship?
Yet as heavy and ponderous as all these questions are, the play itself is a hoot. At the Public, it’s fast-paced (literally, as it’s just 75 minutes long) and snappy. Harry Bouvy as Yvan delivers an extended monologue that brings down the house, but all three actors shine. It’s a perfect show to attend with close friends — whether they love art or not.
“Art” plays at the Public through June 27. Find details and buy tickets at the PPT website.
Pittsburgh Public Theater provided me with complimentary tickets for this production.
There’s a new play in Pittsburgh that I want to see, but my schedule is conspiring against me. In case I can’t attend, I thought I’d at least let everyone else know about it — maybe if there’s a strong, positive response, the theater will extend it for a while until I can get a bit of free time.
The play is “Harry’s Friendly Service,” by Rob Zellers.
Zellers also wrote “The Chief,” a hit play about Art Rooney Sr., founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This new play has other things to recommend it: an appealing cast, excellent production, great space (the O’Reilly Theatre) in which to enjoy it.
Plus the plot has resonance for me: set in the Rust Belt (Youngstown, Ohio), in 1977, when industrial layoffs were looming and small towns were in jeopardy. I grew up in that environment, when the major industries in my home town — steel and rail car manufacturing — were falling apart. In the current economic climate, it seems ever more important to look back on those years.
If you need a bit more temptation, here’s a little video promo the Public created:
A revue may be the perfect way to see musical theater.
You get all the flashy singing and dancing, the lights and the costumes, and the live performance – outrageously talented people right before you.
And you don’t have to bend your mind around a musical’s plot, which in many cases makes little sense and exists only to glue together the musical numbers, and seems to take place in a world of mistaken identities, mysterious villains, and sudden ill-explained bursts of song and dance.
At home you can fast-forward a DVD to skip tortured dialogue; at the theater you can’t do anything but sit still and wait for the conductor to pick up his baton.
But a musical revue … that’s a different story. It’s a collection of songs from multiple shows, and generally the best songs. A live greatest hits collection, , and not just the sounds but the visuals to boot.
The song writing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb created the music for some amazing shows: Cabaret, Chicago, Funny Lady, and New York, New York to name a few. The show that compiles their very best work is The World Goes Round. It’s sassy, sexy, and sometimes bitter, but with a sweet undercurrent and a lasting sense of optimism.
Here’s a little promo for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s production of The World Goes Round.
My favorite numbers in the show were three I had never heard or seen before: “Sara Lee” (about the dessert brand), “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup,” and “Arthur in the Afternoon” (about a certain man on the side). The big hits are here too (with the notable exception of “Razzle Dazzle”); “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago was sweet and sad as you might hope.
The performers are Broadway professionals, and it shows. Amazing voices, excellent dancing, including some nice tap-dancing.
And where the Public’s previous show had actual swimming on stage (on in it, if you will), this one has roller skating. It’s the most athletic theater in town.
The show continues only through April 5 — this weekend. Find ticket and showtime info, and buy online on the Pittsburgh Cultural District website.
Disclaimer: The Public graciously provided me a complimentary ticket for this show.
If you grew up poring over the advice that Ann Landers and Dear Abby handed out in their daily columns — or if you just enjoy a night of great live theater — you’ll want to check out the next production at the Pittsburgh Public Theater: "The Lady with All the Answers." (Local bloggers have a chance to see and write about the show too — read on for details.)
THE LADY WITH ALL THE ANSWERS
November 13 – December 14, 2008
Starring Helena Ruoti
By David Rambo
Directed by Ted Pappas
For Ann Landers, no topic was taboo. If you needed blunt advice, she was the one to ask. She answered countless letters in a newspaper column that made her a legend. But who could she turn to when life threw her a curve? Pittsburgh treasure Helena Ruoti brings Landers to life in this one-woman play that’s as honest and humorous as the lady herself.
Here’s an extended description from the press release:
Before web sites and blogs, Ann Landers’ groundbreaking newspaper advice column started a dialogue that gave voice to a changing American culture
Helena Ruoti stars in this dazzling one-woman show directed by Ted Pappas
PITTSBURGH (Oct. 9, 2008) — Pittsburgh Public Theater brings to life newspaper advice columnist Ann Landers in The Lady With All the Answers, running Nov. 13 – Dec. 14, 2008 in the O’Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh Public Theater’s home in the heart of Downtown’s Cultural District. Tickets are available at 412.316.1600 or www.ppt.org <http://www.ppt.org> . Pittsburgh Public Theater is led by Producing Artistic Director Ted Pappas.
This stylish and surprising one-woman show stars Pittsburgh’s extraordinary Helena Ruoti as Ann Landers. Ted Pappas directs and is also the costume designer. The Lady With All the Answers was written by David Rambo, who is also a writer and producer of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the most widely viewed television show in the world.
Ann Landers started life as Eppie Lederer, along with her identical twin sister, Popo. In 1955 she became the writer of a newspaper advice column that would eventually bring her 60 million readers. In The Lady With All the Answers we’ll meet Ann in 1975, a chic and sassy 57-year-old who describes herself as a “Jewish Joan of Arc.” At this point she is a celebrity, living in a world of Chanel and chocolate, bubble baths and bouffant hair.
Speaking directly to the audience, Ann will tell us about her friends – everyone from Hubert Humphrey to Hugh Hefner – and her twin, who became Dear Abby. But mostly she’ll talk about the questions that led to her most famous columns. A trivial question about the correct way to hang toilet paper brought a landslide of responses. More important, people wrote to Ann because they didn’t have anywhere else to turn. Women’s rights, gun control, the sexual revolution, and cancer were all topics she brought to light. Ann was the first to put the word homosexual in print. In The Lady With All the Answers we’ll learn about Ann’s experience with the movie Deep Throat, hear about her trip to Vietnam, and ultimately learn what was the hardest column of her career to write.
The design team for Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of The Lady With All the Answers is: James Noone (Scenic), Allen Hahn (Lighting), and Zach Moore (Sound). Fred Noel is the Production Stage Manager and Adrienne Wells is the Assistant Stage Manager.
About the Playwright
In addition to his work on television’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” David Rambo wrote the plays God’s Man in Texas, The Spin Cycle and The Ice-Breaker, which was read at Pittsburgh Public Theater as part of the Public Exposure series. He has adapted Sinclair Lewis’ Babbit, written a new book for the Lerner & Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon, and adapted several classic screenplays for live performance, including All About Eve, Casablanca, Adam’s Rib, and Sunset Boulevard.
For interviews and photos contact Margie Romero at 412.316.8200 ext. 707 or mromero at ppt.org
SPECIAL NOTE: The Public is offering a special deal to bloggers for this show. If you’d like to attend the show and blog about it, the theater will provide you with one or two complimentary "press" tickets for a night of your choosing (depending on availability of course). Interested? Please email Margie Romero (mromero at ppt.org) with your name, the name and URL of your blog, and the show date and time you’d like to attend. There are a limited number of press comps available, so act quickly!
Find information on show times and tickets at the Pittsburgh Public Theater website.