Your Tatler has had a pretty busy spring, as local theatres – and she – emerge from the long pandemic winter. And there’s more coming up! Here are some of the performances I have on my calendar; you should try to catch them, too. As far as I know, all of the below have strong COVID precautions in place (vaccination proof and masks required).
Yesterday, the CMU School of Drama opened its production of the musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. I was able to see this show on Broadway when it featured CMU alum Denee Benton – it’s a raucously entertaining show, and the snippets of rehearsal I’ve seen on campus make me excited to see our production, which was directed by Tome’ Cousin and music directed by Rick Edinger (both colleagues of mine in the department). Also opening at CMU next week is another musical by the same writer, Dave Malloy: Preludes, which is about a turbulent period in the life of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. In addition, the annual CMU New Works series also begins later this week, featuring Vice Wheels by Malique Guinn, The Real Girls by Beth Ann Powers, and 차’nt by Trà Nguyễn, directed by B. Kleymeyer and Jasmine Roth. Yinz know my policy on writing about student work (I don’t), so: ‘nuff said. You can find information on schedule and tickets for all of these performances here.
Busy week at work, amiright? But there’s more! The Pittsburgh Public Theatre opened its production of Murder on the Orient Express this past weekend as well. I’m not going to have a chance to see this production until very late in its run, and because of that am unlikely to blog about it, but it looks like it will be a lot of fun, with its cast featuring the local talent of James FitzGerald, Martin Giles, Catherine Growl, Amy Landis, Jason McCune, Lenora Nemetz, Caroline Nicolian, Helena Ruoti, Alec Silberblatt, Saige Smith, Ricardo Vila-Roger, and David Whalen. Marya Sea Kaminski has directed.
Also coming up next weekend is the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh’s Monster: Frankenstein Re-Imagined at the Oaks Theatre in Oakmont. This concert is a truly singular event: the original 1931 film Frankenstein, featuring Boris Karloff as the monster, is scored with a 1970s funk and rhythm and blues score that is performed by the choir and a five piece band led by bassist Paul Thompson. The music – arranged and written by artistic director Thomas W. Douglas and CMU Drama alum Jaron Crawford – promises to turn the film into a completely new – and unrepeatable – experience; this is the kind of event you’ll hear about later and wish you hadn’t missed. So don’t: you have two chances to see it, on April 23 and 24; use the code BCPALTO21 for a discount.
But wait, there’s more! Creator-performer Adil Mansoor opens Amm(i)gone at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater on April 22 as well. In this one-person show, co-directed by Lyam Gabel, Mansoor uses Sophocles’ Antigone to navigate his relationship with his mother after coming out as a queer person. I saw this production online during the pandemic, and am looking forward to seeing the IRL version; you can read more about it in Rachel Hodge’s beautifully written “guest-post” from the spring of 2021.
Looking a bit further into the future: City Theatre will present the world premiere of Lindsay Joelle’s new play The Garbologists, opening on May 6 (previews begin April 30). This play is an unconventional buddy comedy that follows two sanitations workers in the cab of a nineteen-ton garbage truck in New York City; tasked with picking up what the world has discarded, they learn that some things are easier to toss than others. The production is directed by Monteze Freeland and features performers Jason Babinsky and Bria Walker. Attack Theatre brings back Some Assembly Required on May 12-15, a performance that involves its audience in the creation of its choreography. PICT will open a production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame that same weekend. And Front Porch Theatricals is back in business after a two-year hiatus, and will open A Man of No Importance on May 20.
Feels so good to be back experiencing live performance again. Mask up and join me!