Memorial Day is upon us and with that the official start of Summer. It is time for Pittsburgh CLO’s 72nd season which features some of the best of American Musical Theatre. With some great shows for us to enjoy, the CLO season also brings work for a hundred or more actors, musicians as well as numerous other creative, technical and support staff. The CLO is often the professional career start for many of our area’s university graduates. It is no surprise, that virtually every show on Broadway has at least one CLO alumni in its cast. The intensity of the CLO season creates a special bond among everyone working the shows. Many cast members and designers return year-after-year, grateful and excited to be back in Pittsburgh for the summer. I spoke with the Pittsburgh CLO’s Producing Director, Mark Fleischer, who reminded me “the season is one-hundred percent Pittsburgh CLO produced shows. Producing is a key part of part of our work.”
Before we dive into this summer’s shows, there is one notable change this season. The Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday night performances begin a half hour earlier, with the shows starting at 7:30 pm on those nights. Fleischer feels “the change is important to make performances more accessible to younger families.”
Rhythm is Gonna Get You! The 72nd season opens with the CLO produced On Your Feet as part of the shows east coast swing before heading to the west coast. (Yes, this is a touring show, but you will note in your program that Pittsburgh CLO’s name appears above the show’s title as one of the lead producers, part of the CLO’s role in creating new works.) On Your Feet is a fun and an amazing story of the Gloria Estefan and her family. “It is not a jukebox musical, it’s their life’s story.”
From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. The show features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century — and one of the most inspiring stories in music history. Opening on June 12th and running through June 17th. Jerry Mitchell directs with choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Full cast information here.
In keeping with that part of CLO’s mission “to produce little-done works” is the second show of the season, Titanic. This Tony Award® Winner for Best Musical features a twenty-person ensemble. Each actor plays three passengers, from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class. Titanic has an amazing score. Fleischer is “most excited for the Pittsburgh CLO’s premier.” James Cunningham returns as Music Director for the season with David Bell, the Director of Music Theatre at Northwestern University, who directed and choreographed the CLO’s Christmas show this year.
Based on actual characters aboard the most magnificent ship in the world, this stunning musical focuses on the hopes and aspirations of its passengers and the exciting new adventures they seek. Performances are June 22nd to July 1st.
Director Barry Ivan who has many of the CLO’s and Chicago’s North Shore Musical Theatre shows to his credit, returns to direct The Full Monty. It was last produced by the CLO in 2007, which Ivan also directed. The show and its catchy pop score, is a truly unforgettable crowd pleaser. Based on the Oscar-nominated film, this 10-time Tony Award® nominee tells the story of six unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo who decide to strip to pay their bills. It is a motley crew, out of shape and out of step. Can these friends pull it off to become the most unlikely group of exotic dancers in history? Performances July 6th to 15th. The Full Monty contains adult content.
Not only does the CLO groom actors give them their professional credentials, but it also gives creative team members an opportunity to step up to the next level. Dontee Kihen, who was Assistant Director on CLO’s American In Paris takes the helm as the director of Lerner and Lowe’s Brigadoon with Mark Esposito recreating Agnes DeMille’s legendary choreography in this gorgeous tribute to the power of true love.
New Yorkers Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas lose their way during a vacation to the Scottish Highlands. They come upon the mythical village of Brigadoon on the one day every hundred years it appears. When Tommy falls in love with the lovely Fiona a twist of fate reveals the complicated truth. Tommy is forced to choose between returning to the world that he knows or taking a chance on life and love in a mysterious new place. July 17th to 22nd.
The CLO has featured a Disney musical the past several seasons. A great introduction to musical theatre for the entire family is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Based on the treasured Disney film, this Tony Award®-winner features your favorite characters Belle, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth and more as they team up to teach the Beast the true meaning of kindness and love. Michael Heitzman directs, and Robbie Roby choreographs this tale as old as time. Be Our Guest July 27th to August 5th.
Gimmie, Gimmie, Thoroughly Modern Millie! This Tony Award Winner® for Best Musical. Based on the 1967 Academy Award-winning film Millie takes you back to the height of the New York City Jazz Age, when “moderns” were bobbing their hair, raising their hemlines, entering the workforce and rewriting the rules of love. Flapper Millie Dillmount is on the hunt for a rich husband but falls for a penniless paperclip salesman instead. A mix of madcap mistaken identity, high-spirited show tunes, and tap-happy production numbers fill the stage with more kick than bootleg gin. This is the first original CLO production of the show that made Sutton Foster a star. It is directed by Charles Repole with choreography by Alex Sanchez. August 7th to August 12th.
All performances for the Pittsburgh CLO’s 72nd season are at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. Get your season or individual show tickets here or call the Box Office at 412-281-2822.