January and February are shaping up to be busy months for the Tatler, and I thought I’d share what I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks. I don’t know if I’ll have time to blog about all these shows after I’ve seen them, and several will have very short runs, so I may not get a post up before the show closes. So I thought a little preview article about all the exciting theater and dance coming up was in order.
This week, CorningWorks premieres its new piece, Recipes Our Mothers Gave Us. I liked the wry, understated quality of their Life and Death of Little Finn, and besides having one of the most arresting publicity photos I’ve seen in awhile, this show promises gourmet food in addition to thought-provoking dance by a company of artists who have more life experience to share than the average dance company. Rumor has it opening night is almost sold out; it runs Weds. Jan 15 to Sun. Jan 19.
I’m also catching Flight: A Crane’s Story this weekend at the University of Pittsburgh. This puppet show, by Heather Henson (daughter of Jim Henson), is an environmental fable told through the perspective of an orphaned migrating crane. I don’t know a lot about it, but I’ve always loved puppet theater, and plays that address ecological issues are one of my major interests, so…I have high hopes for this production. Runs Jan. 17-19 at the Charity Randall Theater.
Next week, City Theater opens The Mountaintop, Katori Hall’s new play that imagines Martin Luther King’s last night on earth. It was a play that stirred some controversy when it opened (because it imagines a less saintly MLK than he has grown to be in the collective imagination), and I’m thrilled that City is bringing it to Pittsburgh. It opens Jan. 24, and I’m already getting a little weary of going to the theater’s websites to grab the performance dates, so my gracious readers will need to follow that link to see when it closes for themselves, and accept my apology for my laziness. Also currently playing at City is Tami Dixon’s absolutely wonderful South Side Stories. I actually didn’t see this show right away when it first played because I was under the mistaken impression that, being a relative newcomer to Pittsburgh, I wasn’t really the audience for it. But Dixon is also an “outsider”, and her take on Pittsburgh is generous, loving, and hilarious. I finally caught it at the end of its run last year, and didn’t blog about it because it was about to close; since it’s open again, here’s my quick and dirty review: Dixon is a charming, intelligent performer, the writing is sharp and moving, the design pulls the narrative along, and there’s a really good reason this show is an audience favorite. Here’s a little taste:
The Public Theatre will mount a production of Company at the end of the month; opening January 31. I think I’ve confessed on this blog that I’ve never been a huge musical theater junkie, so it won’t surprise regular readers to learn that I’ve managed to walk a half century on this earth without seeing a production of this play. I love being able to see such established chestnuts with fresh eyes; it’ll be interesting to see what this play from 1970 has to say to the twenty-first century. Later this spring, the Public is presenting a one-person show An Iliad, adapted by Lisa Peterson & Denis O’Hare; my curiosity is very piqued about that one.
Quantum Theatre opens J. T. Rogers’s Madagascar on Jan. 31 at the Carlyle downtown. I know nothing about this play at this point beyond what I’ve gleaned from the publicity materials, which promise a “a haunting story of a mysterious disappearance that changes three lives forever.” I’m game for whatever Quantum wants to throw our way, though. Sheila McKenna, one of my favorite performers in town, is directing the show, and she’s cast a group of actors I’d be happy to see in anything.
Also at the end of the month, the REP premieres E. M. Lewis’s new play Heads, which is about four hostages in a war zone. I produced a reading of Lewis’s earlier play Song of Extinction, which I found moving, complicated, and highly thought-provoking, so I’m excited that we’ve got the opportunity to see her newest play. That opens Jan. 31, too. And later in the spring (mark your calendar!) they are offering the Pittsburgh premiere of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Lynn Nottage’s new play, directed by my colleague, Tome Cousins.
That last weekend of the month is also the weekend of the School of Drama’s annual Playground Festival of New Work, which is always a highlight of the year. Not sure how I’m going to squeeze everything in.
February is also looking busy. At the beginning of the month 12 Peers Theater is mounting a production of Underneath the Lintel, a play by Glen Berger that traces the efforts of a Librarian to crack the mystery of a book returned 113 years after its due date. This one person show features Randy Kovitz, who has done two other solo performances in the past decade here in Pittsburgh, plus a slew of fine indy film and tv work here and elsewhere. That show opens Feb. 5 and runs most of the month.
Then there’s the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh’s interweaving of the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems in its A Mass Affair: French Kiss concert over Valentine’s weekend. How much more romantic can things get? The music is achingly beautiful.
At the School of Drama, we’re opening The Wild Party and having the first of three Centennial celebrations in late February; the play opens February 21, and the brilliant Stacy Wolf (Princeton U.) will be on campus February 27 to give a University Lecture on “Divas, Darlings, and Dames: Women in Broadway Musicals of the 1960s.” How cool is that?
Meantime, when I’m not blogging about the great theater work I see here in Pixburgh, I also continue to plug away at the translation of Lessing’s Hamburg Dramaturgy; we’re publishing it online as the essays are finalized. Ten are on the website, but as of this writing I’m halfway through drafting Essay 40.
See yinz at the theater…