Sunday, January 31, 2016

City Theatre Stages World Premiere

    The world premiere production of "Some Brighter Distance" continues the 2015-2016 season at City Theatre on the Mainstage, January 23 – February 14, 2016. The play is written by Keith Reddin and directed by City Theatre Artistic Director Tracy Brigden.
    "Some Brighter Distance" examines the events surrounding "Operation Paperclip," a covert initiative established after World War II by the Truman Administration that relocated more than 1,500 German scientists to the United States to develop weapons and space technology.
    During the Cold War, German rocket scientist Arthur Rudolph was instrumental in helping America win the Space Race. Rudolph’s dark past as a war criminal was uncovered in the 1980’s, and, despite four decades of service to the U.S., he and his wife, Marta, were stripped of their citizenship and sent back to Germany in shame.
    Written by award-winning author and City Theatre favorite, Keith Reddin, this time-bending world premiere explores the little known (and true) story of Arthur Rudolph and "Operation Paperclip," and questions the cost of burying the past in pursuit of the future.
       The production also marks an artistic milestone for Mr. Reddin and Ms. Brigden, now in her 15th year as Artistic Director at City Theatre.
    "Keith and I are great friends and longtime collaborators," said Ms. Brigden. "Some Brighter Distance will be our third world premiere. The play is a brilliant and theatrical depiction of a complicated aspect of this country’s history that resonates through the years to reflect on the challenges of today’s global power struggles. I am very excited to dive in to the work on the full production, after two years of readings, workshops, and development at City."
Elizabeth Rich & Jonathan Tindle Photo Credit: Kristi Jan Hoover

 Keith Reddin is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Yale Drama School. His plays include Too Much Memory, which won the 2008 Outstanding Play Award in the New York Fringe Festival and was revived at New York Theatre Workshop in December 2008; Life and Limb, Rum and Coke, Human Error, and The Missionary Position. Mr. Reddin recently adapted Rear Window for a production at Hartford Stage, directed by Terry Kinney and starring Kevin Bacon.
Some Brighter Distance features Jonathan Tindle as German scientist Arthur Rudolph, LeRoy McClain as Davis, Elizabeth Rich as Marta Rudolph, and David Whalen as Von Braun. Bishop Canevin High School and Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Matthew Stocke plays Turner. Creative team includes Gianni Downs (scenic design), Robert C.T. Steele (costume design), Andrew David Ostrowski (lighting design), Joe Pino (sound design), and Jordan Harrison (media and video design).
Some Brighter Distance recieved a staged readings and literary development through City Theatre’s new play festival, Momentum: New Plays at Different Stages. The world premiere production is supported in part by the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and an award from the National Endowment of the Arts. It is additionally funded in part by The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project.
PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: January 23 – February 14, 2016
Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.
Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. (February 3 and 10 only)
Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday Talkbacks – January 31 and February 7, following the 2:00 p.m. performances.
Greenroom Young Professionals Night – February 5 at 8:00 p.m., Greenroom ticket includes complimentary snacks, beer, and wine after the performance and mingling with the cast. Representatives from the Carnegie Science Center will make "space cocktails" at the bar.

Friday, January 29, 2016

"Ciara" - A Collaborative Theatrical Effort by Three of Pittsburgh's Most Accomplished Artists

Mary Rawson in "Ciara"

    "Ciara" opens with the lines "The sky is striped with streams of what look like ribbons arcing over the city below. You can see the university spire and the green hills beyond. Like some kind of apocalypse or photographs taken during the Blitz."
This linguistic foreplay should be enough to get the audience up and stirring, anticipating the narrative adventures yet to come from a playwright whose style is colorful, lyrical, even a tad challenging.
I’d never before heard of Scottish playwright David Harrower, but he’s one that seems to have captured the imagination of Quantum Theatre’s artistic director, Karla Boos. In her director’s notes, she writes in the program she admits that Harrower is "among the most meaningful people I’ll never meet, never talk to in my artistic life."
But that hasn’t stopped her from staging two previous Harrower works - Knives in Hens; Kill the Old Torture the Young.
As I understand it, Ms. Boos discovered "Ciara," three years ago while attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Currently, she’s directing the play for Quantum at the Javo Studios in Lawrenceville, where it will run through February 14.
To fill the slot for the title character in this one-woman play, Boos selected pre-eminent Pittsburgh actor, Mary Rawson, named by the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" Performer of the Year in 2012. It takes a gargantuan effort and a lot of moxie to stand alone in front of an audience for 90-intermissionless minutes, look them in the eye and nonchalantly relate the captivating tale of a Glasgow art gallery owner with gritty, unsavory  roots and mob bosses for a father and partner.
After the show, I did an empathy check and imagined myself in Rawson’s shoes, hundreds of eyes watching my every movement, and felt like the proverbial deer at night caught in the middle of the road in the glare of the headlights of an oncoming tractor-trailer. Rawson, to her credit, seemed relaxed, her deep blue eyes making contact with folks throughout the audience, telling them with chummy charm her character’s life story with an ingratiating insouciance.
Her Ciara is no gum-chewing, sassy mouthed mob moll, but a refined lady who arrives on stage dressed for the role as a sophisticated patron of the arts. Costume designer, Julianne D’Errico, clads her in style with soft gray boots, slimming black pants, pink blouse and a knee-length, gossamer cape-like sheath that billows when she moves across the stage.
There’s a certain polished grace in Rawson’s characterization, but she also manages to intimate her unsavory familial roots by showing an ingrained toughness, an advantageous trait that obviously comes in handy for someone with an underworldly background and connections. Although her father, tried to isolate and protect her from the strife and strain of his "professional life," enough seems to have seeped into her being by osmosis to give her a hardened, don’t tread-on-me quality hiding beneath her arty, sensitive veneer.
Dialect coach Don Wadsworth seems to have earned his keep informing Rawson’s speech with a convincing Scottish accent. This Ciara can rattle off the Celtic Rs with the best of them, and I especially relished how poignantly the F-word came bounding out of her mouth with a Scottish hue when called for.
Note: Be sure to check out the glossary in the program before curtain. It defines several of the words in the Scottish patois probably unknown to most American audiences.
Rather than tell Ciara’s story in a straightforward narrative, Harrower does so in fits and starts, all rendered in his stylistic lyrical tone. An anecdote here, a reminiscence there, a short vignette there all combine to paint a discursive mosaic.
And speaking of painting, the third member of the prominent collaborative team, venerable Pittsburgh artist, Robert Qualters, came up with a stellar set that seems to envelop, even caress, the actress. Done in his unique characteristic style, Qualters, awarded the title "Pennsylvania Artist of the Year in 2014, said in a feature published in "Pittsburgh magazine" that he never met a color he didn’t like."
His penchant for visual brilliance comes through on his stage craft, particularly in the lower section of his "Ciara" tableau which is alive with color. The upper portion, however, is more monochromatic and depicts the play’s emblematic image, a naked woman reclining against the background of the Glasgow cityscape.
The production is further enhanced by the talents of lighting designer C. Todd Brown, sound designer Anthony Stultz and media designer Joseph Seamans, whose creative projections give the actress temporary, albeit brief, relief by drawing the eye towards something else than herself.
Just committing to memory the lengthy text, as dense and rich as the Whiskey cake served at the opening night, post-performance reception, is daunting enough. Retelling it live in front of an eager audience with a compelling ease and grace like Rawson does is truly a Herculean effort, one that’s well worth the watching and listening.
"Ciara," a Quantum Theatre production, is at the Javo Studios, 5137 Holmes Avenue in Lawrenceville, through February 14. Tickets are $38 to $51. Phone 412-362-1713 or visit website

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Good Is Sitting Alone in Your Room? Come to the Cabaret

Cabaret Tour: Andrea Goss Kit Kat Girls Gayle Rankin Kaleigh Cronin Kristin Olness Jessica Pariseau Kelly Paredes Stacey Sipowicz

    "Cabaret," the musical masterpiece returns, direct from Broadway! As part of their 50th Anniversary Season, Roundabout Theatre Company is proud to announce casting for the national tour of Sam Mendes (Spectre, American Beauty) and Pittsburgh native Rob Marshall’s (Into the Woods and Chicago, the films) Tony Award®-winning production of CABARET.
    Randy Harrison, best known for his portrayal of Justin in the Showtime drama "Queer as Folk," will step into the role of the Emcee while Andrea Goss, a veteran of Roundabout’s CABARET on Broadway will return to the role of Sally Bowles when the tour premieres in Providence, RI at the Providence Performing Arts Center with performances beginning Tuesday, Jan. 26.
    Joining them are Shannon Cochran (August: Osage County) as Fraulein Schneider, Alison Ewing (Cabaret/Broadway,) as Fraulein Kost, Mark Nelson (Picasso at the Lapin Agile) as Herr Schultz, Ned Noyes (You Can’t Take It With You) as Ernst Ludwig and Lee Aaron Rosen (The Normal Heart) as Clifford Bradshaw.
    The cast will also include Kelsey Beckert (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), Sarah Bishop (42nd Street), Margaret Dudasik (Chautauqua!), Hillary Ekwall (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Lori Eure (Cabaret/Broadway), Aisling Halpin (Peter and the Starcatcher), Leeds Hill (Cabaret/Broadway), Andrew Hubacher (Cabaret/Broadway), Joey Khoury (Altar Boyz), Tommy McDowell (American Idiot), Evan D. Siegel (Cabaret/Broadway), Dani Spieler (Legally Blonde), Steven Wenslawski (Spamalot), John Little ( My Fair Lady) and Lucy Sorlucco (The Phantom of the Opera).
    John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s Tony-winning musical features some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including "Cabaret," "Willkommen" and "Maybe This Time."
    CABARET is set in the infamous Kit Kat Klub, where the Emcee, Sally Bowles and a raucous ensemble take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd––and to leave their troubles outside.
    The creative team for the North American tour includes original direction by Sam Mendes, original co-direction and choreography by Rob Marshall. Tour direction is recreated by BT McNicholl (Spamalot), tour choreography recreated by Cynthia Onrubia (Victor/Victoria), set design by Robert Brill (Assassins), costume design by William Ivey Long (Chicago), lighting design by Peggy Eisenhauer (Ragtime) and Mike Baldassari ("Nine"), sound design by Keith Caggiano (The Radio City Christmas Spectacular) based on the Original Broadway design by Brian Ronan with hair and wig design by Paul Huntley.
    CABARET features orchestrations by Michael Gibson (The Boy From Oz), music supervision & vocal arrangements by Patrick Vaccariello (On Your Feet) and music direction by Robert Cookman (Legally Blonde). CABARET is based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood.
    In Pittsburgh, the national touring production of CABARET, will be presented as part of the 2015-16 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, coming to the Benedum Center, February 2-7, 2016.  Performances will take place Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
    Tickets for CABARET are $26-$72 and can be purchased at the Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue, and online at  To charge tickets by phone, call (412) 456-4800, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from Noon – 4:00 p.m.  Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (412) 471-6930.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Two Theater Openings This Weekend Worth a Look

Linda Haston in "Mother Lode" Photo Credit: off the Wall Theater
    The Pittsburgh region is theater rich with a multitude of  options that include everything from big Broadway productions to smaller theatrical venues. Two plays opening this weekend highlight the wealth of talent in the region and are worthy of consideration for an evening of class act entertainment
    In Carnegie, off the WALL Productions begins the new year with an in-repertory production of the World Premiere of Mother Lode by Artistic Director Virginia Wall Gruenert (Shaken & Stirred, Without Ruth).  The often contentious relationships between mothers and daughters will no doubt keep therapists in business for years to come, but there is no denying the deep bond that exists between them.
Mother Lode tells the story of Pittsburgh actor Linda Haston’s mother, Ruth, a force of nature who leaves Jim Crow Alabama as a teen to work and raise her family in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. This one-woman show deals with the end-of-life decisions that must be made by dutiful daughters, as well as the discord, conciliation, warfare, and ultimate acceptance between strong, independent women bound by love and family.  Directed by Virginia Wall Gruenert and Spencer Whale.
 Four performances only: Runs Jan 28-31, 2016.  Encore performances to follow in June and August, 2016.
 Written by Virginia Wall Gruenert and starring Linda Haston
 Performance dates: January 28-30 @ 8:00 PM.  Matinee: January 31 @ 3pm
Tickets: $ 5.00 - $ 40.00.

Cast of Split Stage's "Assassins"

Sondheim's "Assassins" Hits the Mark at Split Stage
    This month Split Stage Productions stages its most provocative production to date – "Assassins" – a musical about the nine individuals who have gone down in infamy. "Assassins" runs at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Road, for five shows Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 4-6. All shows start at 8 p.m.
    Claiming one of the most controversial scripts ever written, the antiheroes of the Tony Award-winning "Assassins" are the nine individuals who have assassinated, or tried to assassinate, the president of the United States. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, "Assassins" plucks them from the shadows and thrusts them into the spotlight.
    As it explores the dark side of the American experience, this theatrical tour de force approaches sensitive subject matter with bold originality. The story is disturbing, yet disarmingly funny, bending the rules of time and space to travel between time periods and place the assassins face-to-face. Photos and video clips lace the historic fiction with real snapshots from history. A six-piece orchestra of local musicians will bring to life Stephen Sondeim’s striking score.
    "These are naturally fascinating, albeit disturbed, individuals – people who changed history with acts that are unfathomable to most Americans," said Split Stage co-founder Rob Jessup, who plays John Wilkes Booth. "You won’t see their perspective in history books; this show takes the opportunity to dive into their psyches."
    With direction, staging and scenic design by Delmont resident Laura Wurzell, Split Stage’s "Assassins" features a cast of 15, ranging in age from 11 to 50. The show features musical direction by Aaron Gray, a St. Vincent College graduate and Latrobe resident, lighting design by Mike Pilyih, of White Oak, and multimedia elements by Bill Jacka, of Oakmont. Playing the assassins are:
John Wilkes Booth - Rob Jessup of Murrysville
Leon Czolgosz - Ryan Hadbavny of Forrest Hills
Giuseppe Zangara - Adam Grossett of Greensburg
John Hinkley - Bill Elder of Greensburg
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme - Katie Kerr of Delmont
Sara Jane Moore - Renee Rabenold of Pittsburgh
Charles Guiteau - Ben Wren of Irwin
    Tickets are $19.99. Phone 1-888-71-TICKETS.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dada Masilo's Swan Lake Flies in Another Direction

Cast of Masilo's Swan Lake Photo Credit: John Hogg

    The Pittsburgh Dance Council presents DADA MASILO’S SWAN LAKE on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. at the Byham Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh.  Stereotypes are turned on their heads as Masilo opens our eyes to issues of sex, gender and homophobia in a country ravaged by AIDS.  Bursts of Tchaikovsky alongside African rhythms set the tone for a platform where the traditional and the contemporary collide to create a new sense of beauty. "Masilo’s Swan Lake is like no other I’ve seen," published The Star.
    Tickets ($19-$55) may be purchase at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue, online at, or by calling (412) 456-6666.  For subscriptions to Pittsburgh Dance Council please call (412) 456-1390 or subscribe online at
    Renowned for her galvanizing interpretations of great classical ballets, the young South African Dada Masilo works alongside 12 electrifying dancers in a caustic adaptation of Swan Lake. Combining classical and African dance, she incarnates with fiery spirit the beautiful Odette, who as a victim of a sorcerer’s curse is turned into a white swan each day at dawn. But in her version, Prince Siegfried falls in love neither with her nor her double. To the great sorrow of his parents, he succumbs to the charms of a decidedly male black swan, an attraction that proves fatal. Homophobia, forced marriages, the legacy of apartheid and the ravages of AIDS are evoked with humor, sensitivity and lucid intelligence in a vigorous work of astounding beauty.
    Dada Masilo’s unconventionality as a choreographer and physicality have garnered critical acclaim for reimagining classic ballet through a South African lens, injecting fresh, new perspectives into the venerated dance form. The presentation contains nudity.
Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake was commissioned by and premiered at the National Arts Festival (South Africa) 2010.

Dada Masilo’s ‘Swan Lake’ Photo Credit: John Hogg 

 From Dancing on Points to Barefoot Dance
    Created in 1877 at the Bolshoi in Moscow and set to the music of Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake is a ballet that has inspired countless versions and performances. It is a ballet that has fascinated Dada Masilo since the age of 11. After taking on Romeo and Juliette as well as Carmen, in 2010 she perfected her fusion of classical and African styles in this revised tale of Siegfried, Odette and Odile. Between arabesques, bare feet striking the floor, clapping hands, swaying hips and voices punctuating the rhythm of the dance, she employs the metaphor of Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality masked behind the impossible love of the original version, and introduces the theme of AIDS at the end of the piece. She thus confronts two major taboos prevalent in her native land.
    She also questions the heritage of the apartheid regime, combining more contemporary sounds with the original score and hijacking the codes of ballet. All the dancers are in tutus, torsos shimmering with sweat, and the lead is a well-built male dancer rather than a slender ballerina.

Swan Lake Photo Credit: John Hogg

About Dada Masilo
    Born in Johannesburg, Dada Masilo is a young South African dancer and choreographer. She made a first appearance at the Anticodes Festival in Brest in March 2011, and at the Fragile Dance Festival at the Bouffes du Nord Theatre in Paris in November 2011 with a solo work The Bitter End of Rosemary where she is questioning Ophelia in Hamlet, acting out the madness of the character with a new form of expression, thus revealing its extreme vulnerability.
    She trained at the Dance Factory in Johannesburg.  Masilo studied for two years in 2005 and 2006 in Brussels at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (PARTS) founded by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.  Very soon she became one of the most renowned choreographers of South Africa where she performed in all festivals, particularly at the Dance Umbrella Festival, and has won several awards.
    She trains young dancers in turn. She frequently gives workshops in the US.  Dada Masilo is an unconventional choreographer and a prodigious dancer. Known for her reworking of classical ballets, she has realized Romeo and Juliet in 2008 and Carmen in 2009.
    The choreography mixes with virtuosity classical and contemporary dance to powerful African influences, combined with an explosive energy and a great humor. Dada’s solo parts are truly amazing.  Swan Lake is a pure moment of exhilarating and intelligent dance which revisits with passion our repertory.

Masilo's Swan Lake Photo Credit: John Hogg

Friday, January 22, 2016

Pittsburgh Opera Stages" Little Women"

Brooke and Meg exchange their wedding vows, the same ones which Meg’s parents used; left to right- Gideon March (Daniel Teadt), Brooke (Brian vu), Meg (Laurel Semerdjian), Alma March (Kara Cornell) Photo Credit: David Bachman Photography

    Pittsburgh Opera continues its 77th season with the Pittsburgh premiere of Mark Adamo's operatic adaptation of the beloved classic LITTLE WOMEN.
    Based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, the production has been a remarkable success. The New York Times called it a “masterpiece”, NPR broadcast it on the radio, and it was shown as a PBS "Great Performances" television special.
    The emotional journey of irrepressible, outspoken Jo March makes this new production, starring our Resident Artists, a can’t-miss event.
    On stage January 23, 26, 29 and 31, it brings the lives of the four March sisters to the CAPA Theater downtown.

    This is a great chance to see the opera stars of tomorrow in an intimate setting. Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists have gone on to become international successes, performing lead roles in top shelf productions all over the world. LITTLE WOMEN stars all 7 of our Resident Artist singers, together in one place for one of the last times ever.
    The famous novel the opera is based on follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author Louis May Alcott and her three sisters.
    The opera has been performed throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Australia, and Israel.
Jo (Corrie Stallings) is moved by Friedrich Bhaer’s (Matthew Scollin) powerful rendition of “Kennst du das Land?” Credit: David Bachman Photography

    Jo is scribbling a poem in her attic when her childhood friend Laurie appears. Laurie has just married Jo’s sister Amy, and has fallen quite out of love with Jo. She claims relief and good cheer, though she is genuinely sad. Oblivious to Jo’s true feelings, Laurie proposes a return to their easy rapport of years ago. This infuriates Jo, and she mocks the very idea of trying to stop time from changing the ones she loves.
Act I
    In a scene going back two years, Jo and her three sisters—Meg, Beth, and Amy—bicker as they make a game of their chores. A round of the game Truth or Fabrication reveals something about each of the sisters: Meg’s secret romance; Amy’s conflicted relationship with Laurie; Jo’s devotion to her sisters; and Beth’s insistence that she is healthy. As they go down to supper, they sing an anthem in close harmony.
    Laurie taunts Jo with the secret that his tutor, John Brooke, keeps one of Meg’s gloves as a token of his love. Jo scoffs at the idea that her sister would “go filling her head with lovering rubbish.” Laurie reminds her that “Things change.” Jo starts rewriting her latest melodrama, but can’t shake the feeling that Meg may soon leave the family, and tells herself that she and her sisters remain "perfect as we are."
    Meg offers to teach her suitor John Brooke a storytelling game called Rigmarole. Brooke’s story so clearly reflects his love for Meg that Jo chases him away, protesting to Meg that Brooke is too old for her. "He’s twenty-eight! He’s got one foot in the grave!"
    Jo pleads with the entire family to convince Meg to rebuff Brooke. Meg retorts that rejecting him was her plan all along. Cecilia March, the girls’ glamorous aunt, sweeps in just as Brooke bluntly proposes marriage to Meg. Cecilia scorns Brooke, and this only hardens Meg’s resolve. To her own surprise, Meg pledges herself to Brooke. The family congratulates the new couple, but Jo is devastated.
    Desperate, Jo accuses Meg of abandoning her. Meg placates her sister, replying, "Things change, Jo." Then she confesses her true love for Brooke, wounding Jo even more deeply.
    The next summer, the family prepares for Meg’s wedding, and Meg and Brooke decide to use the wedding vows that Alma and Gideon wrote for their ceremony. As the parents teach the young couple their vows, a feverish Laurie accosts Jo, confessing his desire for her. Amy overhears the argument. Furious, Jo spurns Laurie, and he flees. Amy bursts in and accuses Jo of heartlessness, before following Laurie out. Regrouping from the episode, Jo thinks that if she gives Laurie some time he’ll change back into the friend she’s always cherished. Jo retreats to the house to write just as Beth, overwhelmed by illness, collapses.
Act II
    In New York City, Dashwood, the publisher of The Daily Volcano, negotiates with Jo to purchase her latest melodrama. He offers her 25 dollars for an edited version; Jo insists on 30 dollars and two free copies. She wins her bargain.
    Triumphant, Jo returns to her boarding house, and writes to her family. Meg and Brooke are now the parents of twins; Amy and Laurie are in Europe; and Beth continues to deny that her health is failing. Distracted, Jo accepts an offer of supper and the opera by a new acquaintance at her boarding house, Friedrich Bhaer.
    In a split scene, Jo and Bhaer spiritedly argue points of taste in New York; in Oxford, Amy delicately asks Laurie what he feels for Jo. Meanwhile, in Concord, Beth at last acknowledges the defeat that awaits her. Jo playfully challenges Bhaer to endorse a worthier art than the melodramas she enjoys, and he recites a Goethe poem, in German. Jo asks for a translation, and Bhaer’s English rendering is a confession of love. Receiving a telegram saying that Beth has taken a turn for the worse, Jo flees to Concord.
    The family keeps vigil over Beth. Dismissing the others, Beth urges Jo to accept her impending death and makes Jo promise to take care of the family. Jo accedes and they both fall asleep. When Jo awakes, Beth has died.
    A few months later, Cecilia baits Jo with Amy’s latest letter, which confirms that she and Laurie are very much in love. Jo admits that she hasn’t heard from Friedrich Bhaer recently. Cecilia stuns Jo with the news that she will leave her estate to her: the endowment will render Jo independent for the rest of her life. Cecilia urges Jo to use the wealth to isolate herself from the pain that comes from loving others. Appalled, Jo rejects the offer and flees to her attic space.
    Laurie enters the attic, suggesting innocently that they go back to the “perfect way it was,” but this time Jo admits that the happy old times can’t come back. Laurie leaves, and Jo calls on her memories of the sisters, and ghostlike, they materialize. In gratitude, she celebrates what they were and releases them to what they are now, before they disappear.
   Unexpectedly, the attic door opens again: it’s not Laurie but Friedrich, in town by chance and eager to see her. “Is now a good moment?” he asks. “Now is all there is,” Jo realizes. She extends her hand to him as the opera concludes.
- Courtesy of the composer, freely edited

Where: CAPA Theater (Creative and Performing Arts School), Downtown Pittsburgh - 111 9th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222  
Saturday, January 23rd, 2016, 8:00 p.m. 
Tuesday, January 26th, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, January 29th, 7:30 p.m. 
Sunday, January 31st, 2:00 p.m. 
Run Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, including 1 intermission 

Language: Sung in English with texts projected above the stage

Monday, January 18, 2016

William Close & the Earth Harp Collective to Fill Byham Theater with Sound

    "The Earth Harp is the longest playable stringed instrument in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. The body of the instrument rests on the stage and the strings travel out over the audience attaching to the back of the theater, turning the theater into a giant instrument.
    The famed Earth Harp is one of hundreds invented by installation artist, musician, and visionary William Close, who plays the strings with violin-rosin-covered gloves, running his hands along the strings creating beautiful cello like tones. The Earth Harp earned William a finalist slot on the TV show "America’s Got Talent" where he received massive praise and admiration from fans and all three judges.
    Close’s work explores the connection between architecture and music. Inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright quote "architecture is frozen music," Close creates musical installations that use the architecture as part of the instrument.
   The Earth Harp’s strings have stretched to the top of the Seattle Space needle, to temples in Vietnam, in the famous Grand Theater of Macau, The Grand Theater in Shanghai and the Coliseum in Rome. Additionally, it has draped over amazing architecture in Hong Kong, India, and the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center in the United States."
    Close and the Earth Harp Collective will be at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street in Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m on Thursday, January 21. Tickets start at $30. Phone 412-456-6666.

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King

Photo of MLK Statue in Washington, DC taken this morning by Beth Hundt

A post on Facebook today by a colleague reminded me of a visit to DC in which I made a stop at the MLK Memorial, a truly magnificent place. As I walked along the site after dark, I spotted the Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin, all flood lit and glowing with an alabaster sheen.
    King's statue is colossal and is positioned so he looks directly at the Jefferson shrine. A moonlit night added much to the ambient feel of the place and as I walked around the perimeter I read the inscriptions carved into the walls that embrace the space and was moved to tears several times.
    I'd like to share the inscriptions with my readers so I've included an entry from Wikipedia that gives some of the background surrounding the inscription followed by the inscriptions themselves. Here it is. Read and be moved.

   Fourteen quotes from King's speeches, sermons, and writings are inscribed on the Inscription Wall.[41] The "Council of Historians" created to choose the quotations included Dr. Maya Angelou, Lerone Bennett, Dr. Clayborne Carson, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Marianne Williamson and others,[42][43] though the memorial's executive architect stated that Maya Angelou did not attend the meetings at which the quotations were selected.[44] According to the official National Park Service brochure for the Memorial, the inscriptions that were chosen "stress four primary messages of Dr. King: justice, democracy, hope, and love."[45]
The earliest quote is from 1955, spoken during the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the latest is from a sermon King delivered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., four days before he was assassinated.[35] The quotes are not arranged in chronological order, so that no visitor must follow a "defined path" to follow the quotations, instead being able to start reading at any point he or she might choose.[35] Because the main theme of the Memorial is linked to King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, none of the quotations on the Inscription Wall come from that speech.[35]
The selection of quotes was announced at a special event at the National Building Museum on February 9, 2007 (at the same time the identity of the sculptor was revealed).[46] The fourteen quotes on the Inscription Wall are:[41]
"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." (March 31, 1968, National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.)
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." (1963, Strength to Love)
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." (December 10, 1964, Oslo, Norway)
"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in." (April 18, 1959, Washington, D.C.)
"I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world." (February 25, 1967, Los Angeles, California)
"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective." (December 24, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia)
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama)
"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits." (December 10, 1964, Oslo, Norway)
"It is not enough to say "We must not wage war." It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace." (December 24, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia)
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." (February 25, 1967, Los Angeles, California)
"Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies." (April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, Manhattan, New York)
"We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." (December 5, 1955, Montgomery, Alabama)
"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience." (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama)
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice." (April 16, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama)
Some of King's words reflected in these quotations are based on other sources, including the Bible, and in one case—"the arc of the moral universe" quote— paraphrases the words of Theodore Parker, an abolitionist and Unitarian minister, who died shortly before the beginning of the Civil War.[

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ninth Annual Let Freedom Sing! Concerts celebrate legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

2015 MLK Festival Choir

    Two upcoming concerts will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and showcase The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh, spoken-word artist Vanessa German, Family and FriendsChoir, Etta Cox, and the MLK Festival Choir   
    On the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, geographic, demographic, and economic lines are erased as choirs from city and suburb converge to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy in the Ninth Annual LET FREEDOM SING!, a two-concert series of inspiring music and oratory -- Sat., Jan. 16 and Mon., Jan. 18, both at 7 pm. 
    The concerts feature acclaimed visual and performance artist Vanessa German, The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh, and the MLK Festival Choir--comprised of combined high school, community and church choirs from city and suburb.  In addition, Saturday's concert will feature the Family and Friends Choir under the direction of Parrish Davenport, and Monday’s concert features renowned jazz vocalist Etta Cox.
    There is no charge for admission, but monetary donations are accepted to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
     The concerts are scheduled for Sat., Jan. 16 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Hill District, and 
Mon., Jan. 18 at Franklin Regional High School, Murrysville
    Collaborating again on the LET FREEDOM SING! concerts are co-artistic directors Rev. Dr. Herbert V.R.P. Jones, director of The Pittsburgh Gospel Choir, and Kris Rust, director of choirs, Franklin Regional High School. More than a dozen musical selections are woven with the stirring performance of award-winning visual and spoken word artist Vanessa German.
    Let Freedom Sing! brings city and suburb together, blending performers and audience members of varied ages, races and creeds to realize Dr. King’s dream.
“This concert series empowers all of us to come together through music and find unity and love in the face of segregation, economic injustice, and racial tension,” says founder and co-artistic director Kris Rust. “Unity and love are ideas that Dr. King stressed in his work and we lift up these ideas in our singing.”
    THE MLK FESTIVAL CHOIR is made up of singers from the Family & Friends Choir, Franklin Regional High School Chorus, Greater Pittsburgh Universal Unitarian Churches, the Lemington Chorale, The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh CAPA High School.
On Sat., Jan. 16, 7 pm, LET FREEDOM SING! takes place at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2001 Wylie Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
    On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Mon., Jan. 18, 7 pm, the concert is at Franklin Regional High School, 3200 School Road, Murrysville, PA, 15668.
    For directions or questions, e-mail or call 412-441-7677.
Visit the Let Freedom Sing website at Also see Facebook or Twitter @FreedomSingPgh for more details.
    THE HERITAGE GOSPEL CHORALE OF PITTSBURGH, under the direction of Dr. Herbert V.R.P. Jones, co-artistic director of Let Freedom Sing, is acclaimed for its inspirational performances of American Gospel music throughout Western Pennsylvania. Through its engagement of singers of all ages, races, and ethnicities, the chorale serves and cultivates diverse choir membership and audiences by infusing an appreciation of gospel music, including new works and arrangements. Founded in 2007 as The Pittsburgh Gospel Choir, the chorale was the first regional ensemble dedicated to the genre.

Etta Cox
 Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri.  Etta Cox has appeared on Broadway in I LOVE MY WIFE with Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs and in the 1940’s RADIO HOUR with Dee Dee Bridgewater.  She also had the starring role in Showtime’s production of THE ME NOBODY KNOWS.  Locally, she has appeared in the Pittsburgh Public Theaters’ MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, City Theaters’ productions of FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA, SPUNK, AVENUE X and CROWNS.
    She is well remembered for her starring roles in Ken Gargaro’s production of BEEHIVE and the Shakespeare Festivals TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.  Her film career started in 1985 with SILENT WITNESS, starring Valerie Bertinelli and John Savage, LADY BEWARE, with Diane Lane and Michael Woods, CRIMINAL JUSTICE with Jennifer Grey and Forrest Whitaker, BUMP IN THE NIGHT with Meredith Baxter and Christopher Reeves, THE CEMETERY CLUB with Ellen Burstyn and Danny Aiello, WARRIOR  starring Nick Nolte, THE NEXT THREE DAYS with Russell Crowe and ME EARL AND THE DYING GIRL which won the Sundance Film Festival Award. Ms. Cox was the co-host of the television talk show CITYLIFE for eight years.
    She and trombonist Al Dowe have been performing not only in the Pittsburgh area but also in New York, Atlantic City and Key West Florida. They have opened for such artists as Ray Charles, Doc Severinson, David Brenner, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, Mavis Staples, Mark Murphy and Allen Harris.  She and Mr. Dowe made a premiere performance with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theaters’ production of SMOKIN’ ROSES with performances at Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater and Wolf Trap.
    Etta Cox has been voted “Best Jazz Vocalist” in Pittsburgh for 8 consecutive years and has received the Harry Schwalb Award for Excellence in the Arts.  She was selected as one of the 25 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN IN PITTSBURGH by Pittsburgh Magazine and voted Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Ms. Cox is currently on Faculty at CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts High School).
Parrish Davenport
    Family and Friends Fellowship Choir formed in January 2015 under the direction of Parrish Davenport.  The Choir is a community choir focused on outreach, and composed of vocalists, including many ministers, from the Tri-state area. The repertoire includes several original songs written by their director.

    Raised in Los Angeles, California and Loveland, Ohio, Vanessa German is a self-taught artist—the middle of 5 children; her mother, Sandra German, is a fiber artist, and her father is retired. She is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s historic Homewood neighborhood.
    Vanessa is an actress, playwright, sculptor, performer and educator. She has pioneered a performance style called Spoken Word Opera—a dynamic hybrid of spoken word poetry infused with the theatrical elements of opera. She has written and performed several evening-length Spoken Word Operas including: "root, "testify," and "fire" and has been a featured performer at The Vineyard Playhouse, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. She has been a featured performer at the International Arts Festival in Grahmstown, South Africa, Pop TECH, Harvard, MIT, TED Women, and TED Education.
Vanessa German
  German’s sculptural work has been shown and exhibited in galleries and museums nationwide and is in several public and private collections including: The Progressive Collection, The Weisman Foundation, the American visionary arts museum and the David C. Driskell Center. German is also the founder of, “Love Front Porch” and Homewood’s Art House, and the “STOP SHOOTING, WE LOVE YOU” yard signs. The Huffington Post noted her, "One of 30 contemporary art makers under 40 that you should know about."
    Her work is presently touring the nation in the Driskell Center's African American Art 1950-Present. She is one of the 102 contemporary artists selected to be in, what's been touted as the biggest show of 2014, "STATE OF THE ART" at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Her exhibition, "Bitter Root", opened at the Montana Museum of Art and will tour the state through the summer of 2015.
    Director of The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh since its founding, Dr. Herbert Vincent-Ricardo Pea’dro Jones is one of the nation's foremost figures in choral conducting and pedagogy and an expert in the intersection between theology and musical expression. A Southern transplant to Pennsylvania, Dr. Jones has cultivated a broad-based, multifaceted career as a choral conductor, educator, operatic and oratorio bass, liturgical dancer, orator and pastor, teaching and performing across the United States and Europe.
 Dr. Herbert Vincent-Ricardo Pea’dro Jones
Dr. Jones holds numerous degrees: B.S. in Music, M.S. in Counseling Psychology, M.Mus. in Choral Conducting/Music Education, M.Divinity (M.Div.) in Sacred Music, Dance & Drama, D.M.A. in Music, Choral Conducting, Performance Pedagogy & Choral Music Education, and has done Ph.D Studies in Ethnomusicology.   Dr. Jones has taught in the Public Schools of Mississippi (grades 6-12), the Private High School sector (The Piney Woods School, Mississippi, The Neighborhood Academy-Pittsburgh) and colleges in universities in North Dakota, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi, respectively.
    Dr. Jones is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Music Educators National Conference, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Tau Beta Sigma, and the National Guild of Sacred Dancers. He has published articles in the Mississippi ACDA/Mississippi Music Teachers Journal, the Academic Division of GMWA, the Milestone Christian Bookstore Newsletter, and several others.
    Dr. Jones is listed in: Who's Who Among American Teachers (dual listing); Distinguished Church Musicians In America, Outstanding Personalities of the America, Marquise International Who's Who, Residential Scholars, Choral Scholar, (University of Mississippi); in 2011, 50 Men of Excellence (selected by the New Pittsburgh Courier), in 2013, one of 5 men selected as “Men of Distinction” recognized by the Rachel Randall Education Ministry of the Pentecostal Temple Church of God In Christ, Pittsburgh, PA., and several others.
    Dr. Jones is considered a leading authority on the music of Moses George Hogan. His Doctoral Dissertation, “THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN SPIRITUAL AND GOSPEL SONG: THE MUSICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF MOSES GEORGE HOGAN, COMPOSER AND ARRANGER”, is the only definitive work on the life, music, compositional style of the composer.
     An Ordained Minister of Music, Dr. Jones is Executive Administrative Assistant to the Academic Dean, Academic Division, of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc. (GMWA), and sits on the Boards of The Simmons Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (Columbus, OH), the Afro-American Music Institute (AAMI) (Pittsburgh, PA), ‘All Nations Dance’ (Pittsburgh, PA), the Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA), Professionals for Christ, Inc. (Birmingham, AL), and RAISE Academy (Columbus, OH), and is on the faculty of Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny Campus – Department of Music.

    Dr. Jones continues to maintain an active schedule conducting seminars and workshops, guest conducting, and adjudicating choral festivals and competitions.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quady Batch 88 Starboard - A Good Way to Sweeten up the New Year

    A colleague of mine recently came up with the great idea of comparing wines to classical music, which I felt was an intriguing idea worth pursuing. My first attempt to emulate his novel idea focused on Batch 88, Starboard, a port-style wine by Quady, a California-based sweet wine specialist.
    At first taste, I wavered between matching it to a classical work such as a Brahms Symphony or with a jazz piece such as Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” Sweet and elegant, this wine is sophisticated and intellectual - just as fit for brainiacs as it is for aficionados of jazz.
    I respect Quady’s decision not to call or label Batch 88 Starboard a port., a term, like champagne, reserved for the geographic region from whence it hails. In the case of Port, that would be the Duoro Valley of Portugal
    I also relish the winemaker’s rationale for calling it Starboard, the nautical term for the right side of a ship as opposed to port, the left side. Clever, no?
    As a nod to the port from Portugal, Quady, based in California’s San Juaquin Valley, uses the same grape varieties as its Portuguese counterparts - primarily Tinta Roriz with some Tinta Cao and Tinta Amarela added to the blend.
    The winemaker describes Starboard Batch 88 as “an easy drinking port-style wine with ripe fruit and nutty elements that place it somewhere between a ruby and a tawny. It is warm, smooth and rich with a chocolate raisin character. Delightfully warming by itself, Batch 88 also pairs well with cheeses or with chocolates.”
    I found it to be full of blackberry, chocolate and black currant flavors, sweetly balanced by tannins and just enough acid to round out the combination of savory elements. Not a wine to be served during a Steeler game day party, but one that would go nice on a wintery evening at home cozily tucked into your favorite cushioned chair listening to a Wynton Marsalis album.

    The Quady Batch 88 Starboard comes in at 20% alcohol content and an average retail price of $25 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Harvey Wallbangers at Carnegie Stage

    Are you sick and tired of the same old same old? Then maybe you need to get a lifeline with the Harvey WALLbangers IV!
    This sketch comedy group’s newest production promises to be an all new, high-energy, highly ridiculous dose of ‘funny’ where no subject is safe, and no topic is taboo.
    They say that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ for whatever is ailing you, so purchase your tickets early, because these shows sell out fast.
    The Harvey WALLbangers IV: We're Inside You Now: This show is all new, with original sketches, a new digital short, and more outrageous characters and costumes than ever before.
    A few skits into the show, you should be recovering quickly from whatever ails you; however, here’s and extra dose of medicine for you.
    The sketch comedy troupe is being joined by two guest performers, Laura Barletta and Jim Platania to help you to an even speedier recovery.
    Don’t let the weather or the winter blues get your down, when the right prescription for what’s ailing you is  at Carnegie Stage, only 6 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
    Featuring Matt Butoryak, Heidi Nagle, Tyson Schrader, and Monica Stephenson, with Laura Barletta and Jim Platania as special guest performers.
    Performances January 8 and 9 at 8 PM; January 10 at 2 PM. All Performances at Carnegie Stage.
Ticket Prices: $10.00 in advance ($15.00 at the door)

Ticketing Information: (724) 873-3576

Sunday, January 3, 2016

And the Yellow Brick Road Leads to . . . . Pittsburgh

Scene from the "Wizard of Oz"

    The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the North American tour of the new stage adaptation of THE WIZARD OF OZ will play January 6 through January 11, 2016 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh.  Due to a scheduling conflict, the January 5 performance has been rescheduled to Monday, January 11, at 7:30pm.  THE WIZARD OF OZ is part of the 2015-16 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony, and Broadway Across America.
This production of THE WIZARD OF OZ is an enchanting adaptation of the all-time classic.  Developed from the ever popular MGM screenplay, this new production contains the beloved Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the Oscar®-winning movie score, all the favorite characters and iconic moments, plus a few surprises along the way, including new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
    THE WIZARD OF OZ had its world premiere at The London Palladium Theatre in March of 2011.  After a successful West End run, the production had its North American premiere in Toronto in December of 2012, and then embarked on a U.S. tour beginning in September of 2013.
The national tour of THE WIZARD OF OZ will feature the same award-winning creative team from London and Toronto:  Jeremy Sams (direction), Robert Jones (set and costume design), Arlene Phillips (choreography), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Mick Potter (sound design), Jon Driscoll & Daniel Brodie (video/projection design), David Cullen (orchestrations) and Graham Hurman (musical supervision).   Animals will be provided by William Berloni.
    In Pittsburgh, Nick Morgan will perform as part of the Ensemble.  Morgan was born and bred in Monroeville/North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  Three Point Park alumni—Dorsey Ziller, Dominick Sannelli and Will Geoghegan—will also perform as members of the Ensemble.
Click your heels together and join Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, as they journey through the magical Land of Oz to meet the Wizard and obtain their hearts’ desires. Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys as you rediscover the real story of Oz in this fantastic musical treat for all the family.  For more information visit

    At Heinz Hall, THE WIZARD OF OZ will play Wednesday, January 6 through Monday, January 11, 2016, with performances Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Monday at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets ($31-$78) will be available at the Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue, and online at  To charge tickets by phone, call (412) 456-4800, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from Noon – 4:00 p.m.  Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (412) 471-6930.
    On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh ticket holders are invited to attend a free pre-show talk, one-hour before the show starts, at the Trust Arts Education Center, located at 805-807 Liberty Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh. Know the Show Before You Go is hosted by Christopher Rawson, senior theater critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and KDKA-TV.  This program allows patrons to gain deeper insight on each production that graces the Pittsburgh stage this Broadway season.  For more information and complete schedule of upcoming Know The Show Before You Go programs during the 2014-2015 PNC Broadway In Pittsburgh series, please visit:
    For more information about the PNC Broadway In Pittsburgh series, please call 412-456-6666 or visit


SARAH LASKO (Dorothy) National tour debut! Favorite credits include The Fantasticks (Luisa), Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), She Loves Me (Amalia), and The Crucible (Abigail). UMCP graduate. Love and immense gratitude to JDC, Achilles, the Oz team, and my incredible family.
MARK A. HARMON (Professor Marvel/The Wizard) National Tours: Mamma Mia! (Harry Bright), Hairspray (Wilbur Turnblad). Regional: The Normal Heart (Felix Turner), Urinetown (Mr. McQueen), Art (Yvonne), Charles 1776 (Thompson), A Christmas Carol (Ebenezer Scrooge), A Little Night Music (Fredrik Egerman), A Funny Thing … Forum (Marcus Lycus).
SHANI HADJIAN (Miss Gulch/ The Wicked Witch of the West) Ohio Native. National Tours: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Fancy Nancy. Off- Broadway: Fancy Nancy. Regional highlights: Spamalot, As You Like It, Les Miserables, Caroline, or Change. BFA – The Hartt School. Thank you Creatives, JDC, Planet H, and Emily. @shadjian
AARON FRIED (Zeke/Lion) Tours: Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Addams Family, Grease. New York: Sowa’s Red Gravy. Regional: Ogunquit, North Shore, Gateway, Theatre By The Sea. Training: Ithaca College, BFA. Thanks to the creative team, Joe, my friends and family for their support!
JAY MCGILL (Hickory/Tin Man) Regional: West Virginia Public Theatre (two seasons) Television: “Being Erica,” “The Latest Buzz,” “Wingin’ It,” “Super Why (Aladdin).” Proud graduate of CCM (University of Cincinnati). Thanks to Mom, Dad and The Price Group.
MORGAN REYNOLDS (Hunk/Scarecrow) is living his childhood dreams of following the yellow brick road! Performing theater worldwide and 7 years with The Walt Disney Company. Love to Mom, Dad, Jodi and Jeff! Like his selfies and follow his tour shenanigans on Instagram @MorganWReynolds
RACHEL WOMBLE (Glinda) is thrilled to be making her National Tour debut! Training: Rice University (BA), NYU (MM). Favorite credits: Forum (Philia), 1776 (Martha), and Carousel (Julie). Special thanks to the Oz team, my family, Sam, and YOU for supporting live theatre! Psalm 37:4.
RANDY CHARLEVILLE (Uncle Henry) Tours: Flashdance & Phantom of the Opera. Off- Broadway: Rasputin & Definitely Doris. TV: “Tony Awards” w/Liza Minnelli, “ESPY Awards” & “Gossip Girl.” Tremendous thanks to God, Mom, Aunt Betty & the entire creative team for this amazing opportunity!
EMMANUELLE ZEESMAN (Auntie Em) National Tours/Off- Broadway: Christmas Carol, Little Mermaid, Passion and five seasons with Symphony Orchestras through four continents. Regional: Guys and Dolls, Tommy, Blood Brothers (CCC Award Winner Best Actress). For mom, dad, Jade, Jérémie, Eliana, David and Gramma!