Four musicals: Sondheim on Sondheim, Something Rotten, Crazy for You, and the young audience-focused Freckleface Strawberry
Part of what makes the Pittsburgh region a “theater town” is the longevity of our theater companies, one of which is Stage 62, a non-profit theater company in residence at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie, PA.
The company started in Bethel Park in 1962 as an adult education theater project and turned into a thriving theater company that has continuously produced shows.
I spoke with Dr. Aaron Cook, Stage 62’s Artistic Director, about how the company selects the season’s shows. Cook said that including the community in the selection process is a factor in the company’s success. “Anyone in the community can submit a show they would like to see us produce.” From there, the Artistic Committee of the Board creates two slates of four shows” based upon several criteria. Stage 62 members then vote on which slate they prefer in “this very inclusive process,” which Dr. Cook believes is one of the keys to Stage 62’s long-running success
This year’s selections are Sondheim on. Sondheim, Something Rotten, Crazy for You, and the young audience-focused Freckleface Strawberry. According to Dr. Cook, as Stage 62 is “committed to producing a season of the highest quality,” selecting shows of this caliber is a” testament to the talent pool in the Pittsburgh area.”
Once the season lineup is set, the company invites individuals in the community to pitch shows they would be interested in directing. “In an interview process with the Board, potential director candidates discuss their artistic vision for the shows they are interested in.”
Selected to direct this season are veterans of the Pittsburgh theater scene: Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre (Sondheim on Sondheim), Art DiConcillis (Crazy for You), Rob James (Something Rotten) and, Tracy Rudzinski (Freckleface Strawberry).
Here is a deeper dive into Stage 62’s sixty-first season’s shows:
Freckleface Strawberry The Musical is based on the beloved New York Times best-selling book by celebrated actress Julianne Moore. It is a fun and touching family musical. Specifically created to perform for young audiences, families can step inside the book’s pages with Freckleface and friends as they learn to “love the skin they’re in.”
Freckleface Strawberry will do anything to get rid of her freckles – from scrubbing them with soap to caking on makeup and even wearing a ski mask to school! Will her schoolmates realize that it’s her under the mask? Will Freckleface be brave enough to face her complexion in the mirror finally? With the help of her loveable schoolmates, including an amazingly talented ballerina, a cutie jock, a charming ditz, and a totally kooky teacher, Freckleface learns that everyone is different – and that’s what makes everyone special.
Freckleface Strawberry, the Musical | Dirercterd by Tracy Rudzinski | Performances at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Carnegie | February 11 to 19, 2023 | https://www.stage62.org/freckleface-strawberry.html
Hailed as a “revelatory revue full of wonderful moments” and a “funny, affectionate and revealing tribute to musical theater’s greatest living composer and lyricist,” Sondheim on Sondheim is an intimate portrait of the famed songwriter in his own words… and music. Through exclusive interview footage, audiences get an inside look at the famed composer’s personal life and artistic process.
His story. His inspiration. His genius. The tapestry of creativity that characterizes Stephen Sondheim remained largely undiscussed, especially by the man himself, until the creation of Sondheim on Sondheim. The carefully selected two-dozen songs, ranging from the beloved to the obscure, hang from a framework of in-depth video interviews, delving into Sondheim’s personal life and artistic process.
Sondheim on Sondheim | Directed by Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre | Performances at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Carnegie | May 18–28, 2023 | https://www.stage62.org/sondheim.html
Welcome to the Renaissance and the outrageous, crowd-pleasing musical farce, Something Rotten. Created by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick and successful screenwriters Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Something Rotten was lauded by audience members and critics alike, receiving several Best Musical nominations and hailed by Time Out New York as “the funniest musical comedy in at least 400 years.”
Set in the 1590s, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing, and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical. But amidst the scandalous excitement of the opening night, the Bottom Brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self and all that jazz.
Something Rotten | Directed by Rob James | venue TBD | July 20–30, 2023 | https://www.stage62.org/something-rotten.html
A zany rich-boy-meets-hometown-girl romantic comedy, Crazy For You® tells the story of young New York banker Bobby Child, who is sent to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a rundown theatre. In Deadrock, Bobby falls for spunky Polly Baker, the theatre owner’s daughter. But Polly takes an instant dislike to the city slicker, so Bobby vows – through cunning, razzmatazz, and a hilarious case of mistaken identity – to win Polly’s heart and save the theatre. Memorable Gershwin tunes from the score include “I Got Rhythm,” “Naughty Baby,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Embraceable You,” “But Not for Me,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
Crazy for You | Directed by Art DeConciliis | venue TBD | November 9–19, 2023 | https://www.stage62.org/crazy-for-you.html
Categories: Feature Stories