Meteorological spring may still be a few weeks away, but the spring theatre season and it ’s crop of Tony Award-winning musicals is about to burst into full bloom. Our five picks are generally upbeat, for the season of rebirth or just plain fun. Spring kicks off with Sunday in the Park with George at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, followed by Singing in the Rain at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. Little Lake works its community theatre magic on the Drowsy Chaperone just prior to Easter followed by Disney’s Newsies by Pittsburgh Musical Theatre. Front Porch Theatricals brings it home with Bright Star opening in late May.
If you are looking for musicals on a grander scale, the PNC Broadway series has Come From Away in April and the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen the end of May.
Here is the lowdown on our five plus two, along with ticketing information for each.
Point Park University has chosen Sunday in the Park with George with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine as the opening musical for the new Pittsburgh Playhouse. Not only do you get to see one of Sondheim’s best work, but you can also be among the first to experience the capabilities of the PNC Theatre at the Playhouse. Michael Rupert directs and has the pleasure of being the first to take the theatre for a test drive with a full orchestra.
The music of Stephen Sondheim creates the Tony Award-winning masterpiece a fictionalized version of the real-life artist, George Seurat, and the creation of his most famous piece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. This musical which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1985, is itself an artistic masterpiece.
The musical begins with the story of George (Alex Fetzko) and his model and lover Dot (Rachel Cahoon). As George struggles to find his artistic voice, he becomes more and more distant from the one woman who truly sees him for who he really is. Sunday in the Park with George reveals universal truths about the nature of art, love, and passion.
Along with Rupert, the creative team includes Music Director Camille Rolla, Scenic Designer John-Michael Bohach, Costume Designer Michael Montgomery, Lighting Designer Andrew David Ostrowski, Sound Designer Steve Shapiro, and Stage Manager Kylee Risdon.
“It is a beautiful musical for a beautiful space. We are so thrilled that these students get to showcase themselves in this play, in this setting. There have been many ‘firsts’ (for the new Playhouse), like having an orchestra put for the first time, but they have all been welcome firsts.” Kim Martin, Producing Director, Pittsburgh Playhouse
Sunday in the Park with George has performances at PNC Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse March 15th to 24th with a Preview on Thursday, March 14th. For tickets visit the Playhouse’s site.
Singing in the Rain, with book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown is adapted from the motion picture of the same name. It’s set in Hollywood in the waning days of the silent screen era, and focuses on romantic lead Don Lockwood (played by Matthew Fedorek), his sidekick Cosmo Brown (Shea Curran), aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Ali Ragazzini), and Lockwood’s leading lady Lina Lamont (Brianna Kutcho), whose less-than-dulcet vocal tones make her an unlikely candidate for stardom in talking pictures.
The musical is a fun parody of the birth of the “talkies” filled with great wit, terrific music, and dancing that can’t be beat! In the London and Broadway production, the famous scene with Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain is faithfully recreated including a real downpour. Check out this bit of extreme theatre magic from the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center.
Performances run from March 19th thru April 14th at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. For tickets visit their site.
With the house lights down, a man in a chair, a mousy, agoraphobic Broadway fanatic, seeking to cure his “non-specific sadness” appears on stage and puts on his favorite record: the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical. The recording comes to life and The Drowsy Chaperone begins. The show’s characters appear in his dingy apartment and transform it into an impressive Broadway set with seashell footlights, sparkling furniture, painted backdrops, and glitzy costumes. Man in Chair provides a running commentary throughout the show from the stage, though he is on the audience side of the fourth wall, invisible to the players. This commentary sporadically reveals aspects of his personal life, such as his failed marriage and implied attraction to Drowsy’s leading man.
Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a misguided Don Juan and an intoxicated chaperone, and you have the ingredients for an evening of madcap delight.
The Drowsy Chaperone at Little Lake is directed by Sara Barbisch, who has directed for Little Lake for eight years. Holly Wine Jones is the productions Music Director with choreography by Carly Fuller. Point Park senior Mairead Roddy is Janet van de Graaf, the female lead.
The Drowsy Chaperone at the Little Lake Theatre from April 25th to May 11th. For tickets visit Little Lake’s event page.
Newsies The Musical is based on the 1992 musical film Newsies, which in turn was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. The show’s music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and book by Harvey Fierstein. The PMT production is directed by Trey Compton with choreography by Natalie Malotke and music direction by Francesca Tortorello.
Set in New York City at the turn of the century and based on a true story, Disney’s Newsies follows the exhilarating tale of Jack Kelly, the leader of a group of teenage newsboys who has dreams that far exceed those of the hardships of the streets. Jack and his band of newsboys rally to take a stand for what’s right!
Newsies The Musical by Pittsburgh Music Theatre has performances from PMT May 2nd to May 12th. For tickets and more, visit their site.
Inspired by a real event and featuring the Grammy-nominated score by Steven Martin and Edie Brickell, Broadway’s 2016 hit Bright Star tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy (played by Sarah Quinn Taylor) meets a young soldier (Miller Jay Kraps) and author, just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past – and what she finds transforms both of their lives. Nominated for 5 Tony Awards (including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book), this is Bright Star Pittsburgh premiere. Directed by Nick Mitchell.
Bright Star by Front Porch Theatricals has performances from May 17th to 26th at the New Hazlett Theatre. For tickets visit here.
And our plus two bonus shows:
Come From Away is set in the week following the September 11 attacks and tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. The characters in the musical are based on (and in most cases share the names of) real Gander residents as well as some of the 7,000 stranded travelers they housed and fed. In Pittsburgh as part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh touring show season. Performances are April 9th to 14th at the Benedum Center. Tickets at their site.
Dear Evan Hansen A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. Winner of 6 Tony Awards® including Best Musical and the 2018 Grammy Award® the show is part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh touring show series with performances May 21st to May 26th at Heinz Hall. Tickets can be found at the Trust’s site.
Have a marvelous spring everyone!
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.