5 Musicals You Don’t Want to Miss This Fall: 2018

This fall our five picks are three community theatre productions, and two university productions. Guys and Dolls along with Cabaret consistently make the top ten lists of terrific Broadway musicals. Throw in a little Sondheim with Sweeney Todd and the show that launched Bernadette Peters NY career, Dames at Sea. Add everyone’s favorite jukebox musical to escape your troubles, Mama Mia, and you have our Fall Fab Five. As an added bonus, a Cabaret ticket lets you be one of the first to see a show at the new Pittsburgh Playhouse, on Point Park University’s downtown campus. Not fab enough for you? Are you yearning more for a big touring show? The Cultural Trust has both Anastasia and Fiddler on the Roof at the Benedum this fall.

Here are our top picks, in order of opening dates.

Mama Mia

The Comtra Cultural Center fresh, off its hugely successful production of Disney’s Little Mermaid, presents Mamma Mia. This lively musical features hits of the wildly popular ‘70s Swedish pop/dance group Abba. Sure, you saw the movie, and you may have seen a touring or CLO production in the Cultural District, but here is your chance to catch this shows feel-good energy in the intimate in-the-round setting of the Comtra Theatre in Cranberry.

If you did somehow escape the Mamma Mia juggernaut, here is the scoop. Sophie (played by Sierra Hayes) is ready to get married to her fiancée Sky (Dan DeLuca), except for one thing – she has never met her father and wants him present for her big day. She reads her mother’s diary and finds three potential candidates that could be her biological father. When all three men arrive, Sophie’s mother Donna (Shelly Schuster) becomes distressed. As Sophie, Sky, Donna, her friends, and the three potential fathers prepare for the big day, emotions run high, and surprises abound.

The show’s Director, Rodney Boyers has this to say: “I like the show and chose it because the music is so fun & iconic. It is just a feel-good story with memorable characters that everyone can relate to. I like the upbeat feel especially at a time where our country is divided. It offers us and our audience a form of escapism to a good time….at least for two hours…”

Escape to a good time with Mamma Mia! At Comtra from Friday, September 7th to September 22. For tickets go to http://www.comtratheatre.org/box-office/

Sweeney ToddDirector Stephen Santa brings his unique view of how to do the now classic Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd to the Lamp Theatre for Split Stage productions in October.

Benjamin Barker was wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment by the corrupt Judge Turpin Barker. Barker uses his new alias, Sweeney Todd, to resume his vocation as a barber in a room located above Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop. After he swears vengeance against the judge that tore his family apart, Todd and Lovett plot develop a unique recipe for meat pies that leads them down a dangerous path with deadly consequences.

Split Stage co-founder Rob Jessup tell us Director Santa “will create a unique twist on the Demon Barber, unlike anything ever seen or heard before.” Split Stage’s production stars Brady Patsy as Sweeney and Meighan Lloyd as Mrs. Lovett and features Dan Mayhak as Anthony Hope with Vanessa Clarke-Deaver as Johanna. Other cast members include Brian Mack Sweeney, Mandie Russak, and Hank Fodor. Performances are at the Lamp Theatre from October 5th to 13th. For tickets visit https://www.lamptheatre.org

Cabaret“Willkommen! And Bienvenue! Welcome” to the Kit Kat Klub in 1930s Berlin, this autumn’s hot ticket for the first production at the new downtown Pittsburgh Playhouse. Cabaret, a multiple Tony Award-winning musical, follows free-spirited lounge singer Sally and American writer Cliff through brassy favorites like the title song, “Cabaret” and “Maybe This Time.” As their understanding of life and love is changing, so is the world around them, as fascist ideals are growing.

Zeva Barzell takes on this 1998 version of the Broadway classic with the talented students of Point Park’s Conservatory. Preview is on Thursday, October 25th with performances October 26th to November 11th at the Playhouse’s Studio Theatre. For tickets call the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at 412.392.8000.

Guys & DollsThis award-winning classic gambles with luck and love under the bright lights of Stage 62 in Carnegie. Gambler Nathan Detroit tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged far too long. Nathan turns to a fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown as a result. Frank Loesser’s brassy, immortal score takes us from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually, everyone ends up right where they belong.

Guys and Dolls, hailed as the perfect musical comedy, plays Thursday to Saturday from November 8th to 1th with Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Tickets available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/972721

Dames at Sea

Duquesne Red Masquers present Dames at Sea, a musical parody of large, flashy 1930s Busby Berkeley-style movies.  The show made its way from Off-Off Broadway in 1966 (launching Bernadette Peters’ career) to a full Broadway production in 2015.

Ruby, a naïve but talented tap-dancer from Utah, steps off a bus into her first Broadway show, but hours before the opening night curtain is to rise, the cast learns their theater is being demolished. So Ruby and the cast, with the help of some adoring sailors, set a plan in motion to perform the show on a naval battleship. Unfortunately, life on the ocean waves don’t entirely agree with Mona Kent, the shows diva star, so Ruby takes over, and a star is born in this good-natured send-up of the real thing.

Directed by John E. Lane Jr., Choreographed by Kathryn Hess with Musical Director Ellen Perkins. Set Design by Lane with Costume Designed by Kim Brown from Spotlight Costumes.

Performances are at the Genesius Theatre on the campus of Duquesne University November 8th to 17th.
For tickets visit https://www.brownpapertickets.com/producer/1314902

Stay Calm, enjoy a great musical, and carry on! But, don’t forget to check back with Pittsburgh in the Round for out reviews of these shows and other insider scoops!

George Hoover got his start in theatre in Miami when his family ran the Coconut Grove Playhouse. His career encompasses a variety of work in both the design and technical side of motion pictures, live theatre, and television. George is a three-time Emmy Award winner, member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Broadcasting & Cable Technology Leadership Award winner, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Life Fellow, and most importantly a passionate theatre person and generally handy guy.

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