Point Park University’s $74 million theater complex Downtown will be paying dividends during its second season of operation this fall.
The shiny new space attracted one of the school’s top alumni in the entertainment business – Rob Ashford – to direct the 1998 Broadway musical Parade, opening March 13 next year.
“I was so impressed with this great facility that I volunteered to direct here,” Ashford said during the unveiling of Point Park’s 2019-20 season April 30. “I wanted to give back to the college and the community.”
After graduating in 1983, he went on to perform on Broadway, moved to choreography and eventually directing, including the revivals of Promises, Promises, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He was recently named to direct the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, starring Glenn Close.
Ashford’s won two Tony awards and been a nominee for 10 other productions including another Webber show, Evita.
Parade will be one of three musicals in Point Park’s six-show seasons. The others are Adding Machine: The Musical (Dec. 6-15), and the premiere of Pump Up the Volume (April 3-12).
In the light of the Tree of Life Synagogue killings, the relevance of Parade hits home in Pittsburgh, Ashford implied. “It is the time to see this show here,” he said.
The show is based on the tragedy of Leo Frank, believed to be the first Jew lynched in the South. In 1913, he was convicted of murdering Mary Phagan, a teenager who worked in the Atlanta pencil factory Frank managed. Two years later, a lynch mob dragged Frank from his prison cell and hanged him.
“Parade is about injustice and truth,” said Ashford who performed in the original show. He revised and directed the play in 2007 in London. Alfred Uhry, best known for writing Driving Miss Daisy, wrote the book.
Point Park will also stage Good Grief ,by another alum, Ngozi Anyanwu, set to run Oct. 18-27. She’s an actor and playwright and set her play in the suburbs somewhere in Pennsylvania to tell the story of a Nigerian-American girl’s coming of age.
The Shakespeare standard, Much Ado about Nothing plays Nov. 8-17, and Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves runs Feb. 21-March 8.
DeLappe was a Pulitzer-Prize finalist for her 2016 play about a high-school girls’ soccer team and how relationships are shaped through sports.
For additional information on Point Park’s exciting forthcoming season, visit their site.
Bob Hoover retired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as its full-time book editor and drama editor in 2011 after 28 years with the newspaper. He continued to write part-time for the PG reviewing books, theater, and articles on literary, historical and local topics until 2014. Hoover has reviewed myriad entertainment productions from the circus to children’s theater in Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Canada. As a book editor, he reviewed an average of 50 books a year, wrote regular columns on the local and national literary scene and organized and edited the newspaper’s weekly book section. He provided extensive coverage of Pittsburgh’s literary community as well as reporting on events, readings, and festivals around the country. Hoover was a theater journalism fellow at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and the winner of state and local writing awards.