Mark Fleischer, the Executive Producer of Pittsburgh CLO (PCLO), today unveiled plans to maintain a six-show 2024 schedule from mid-May to early September.
By GEORGE HOOVER
In a landscape where theater companies across the United States are scaling down or shutting their doors entirely in an epidemic of theater company closures and downsizing, the Pittsburgh CLO is leveraging its 77th-season legacy to respond to shifting audience dynamics and a gradual decline in season ticket subscriptions. Since 1988, PCLO’s summer season has predominantly graced the Benedum Center, with a notable exception in 2021 when two shows were staged at Heinz Field.
For 2024, PCLO is reimagining its summer season across three distinct venues within the Cultural District. The Benedum Center will host seven performance runs of West Side Story, The Color Purple, and The Music Man – as part of a three-show series.
The season starts with a seven-week run of Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill at the intimate and immersive Greer Cabaret Theater. After the Benedum series, the second Greer offering will be the West End’s version of Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein for seven weeks.
The season finale will take place at the Byham Theater with the family-friendly production of Seussical.
According to PCLO, the organization will remain steadfast in its “commitment to producing musicals starring top Broadway and local performers, professional musicians, and incredible scenery, costumes, and special effects. This summer lineup is designed to continue the best in locally produced musical theatre, not just for the Summer of 2024 but in years to come.”
“Seeing the joy of our audiences this past summer, their applause, and shared love of live musical theatre is what’s making this journey so rewarding,” said Mark Fleischer, Executive Producer, Pittsburgh CLO. “We are excited to share a change that we believe will elevate our audience’s theatre experience and bring even more variety and excitement to our stages.”
The CLO currently has a their production of Tick, Tick.. BOOM! at the Greer through October 22nd. In December Pittsburgh native Lara Hayhurst will play an R-rated version of Cindy Lou Who in the adults-only CLO Cabaret offering Who’s Holiday! The CLO holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol will be at the Byham December 15th to 23rd.
2024 PCLO Season – On Stage Pittsburgh’s ANALYSIS
The CLO, as it did in summer 2023, will produce all of its 2024 summer season shows for Pittsburgh eyes only. In the past, as investors in Broadway shows, they also would partner with the Trust with one, or sometimes two, national tour productions as part of the CLO season.
The CLO’s 2024 season plan is ambitiously designed to align projected production costs with appropriate sized venues, while adjusting the number of performances to match the expected ticket sales for individual shows and overall subscription figures.
For instance, a one-week, seven-performance run at the 2,800-seat Benedum Theatre offers a total of 19,600 seats available for purchase. On the other hand, the Greer Theatre, with a capacity of over 200+ seats, will host a seven-week run totaling 46 performances, providing just over 9,800 seats for purchase. A bigger show with a bigger production budget requires more seats available to be sold over the show’s run. One can imagine the balance of big shows / big venues vs. smaller shows in smaller venues may need to change each season in the future.
The plan has some obvious negative implications. Smaller shows are inherently smaller with fewer cast members, musicians, and crew and, by virtue of a smaller theater, draw fewer patrons to downtown. The CLO and its stakeholders will need to assess the impact of the changes at the end of the 2024 season.
Pittsburgh theater enthusiasts, loyal CLO subscribers, and local Cultural District businesses should applaude the efforts led by Fleischer and his team. They aim to craft an exhilarating and immersive season experience while upholding the highest production standards, all while navigating the challenge of achieving a balanced budget between revenue and expenses.
As they look ahead to the 2025 season, there may be a different strategy to address the budgetary challenges facing the CLO and other theater companies. However, the overarching objective remains to establish a solid foundation for the CLO’s 79th season in 2025 and beyond.
Of note, the CLO is currently partnering with City Theatre on the musical Somewhere Over the Border, which was developed at its Spark Festival.
Pittsburgh CLO’s 2024 Summer Series includes:
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill | Greer Cabaret Theater | May 13-June 30, 2024
The time is 1959. The place is a seedy bar in Philadelphia. The audience is about to witness one of Billie Holiday’s last performances, given four months before her death. More than a dozen musical numbers are interlaced with salty and often humorous reminiscences to project a riveting portrait of the lady and her music.
West Side Story | June 11-16, 2024 | Benedum Center
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City. Two young, idealistic lovers are caught between warring street gangs, the American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice is one of our time’s most innovative, heart-wrenching, and relevant musical dramas.
The Color Purple | Benedum Center | June 25-30, 2024
This musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (and the famous 1985 Steven Spielberg film) spotlights Celie, a downtrodden young woman whose personal awakening over 40 years forms the arc of this epic story. With a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, and blues, The Color Purpleis a story of hope, a testament to the healing power of love, and a celebration of life.
Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man | Benedum Center | July 9-14, 2024
Meredith Willson’s The Music Man follows fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band that he vows to organize – this, even though he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when he falls for Marian, the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by the curtain’s fall.
Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein! | Greer Cabaret Theater | July 19-September 1, 2024
This monster new musical comedy comes from Mel Brooks and the creators of the record-breaking Broadway sensation The Producers. The comedic genius Mel Brooks adapts his legendarily funny film into a brilliant stage creation – Young Frankenstein! Grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, Frederick Frankenstein inherits his family’s estate in Transylvania. With the help of a hunchbacked sidekick and a leggy lab assistant, Frederick finds himself in the mad scientist’s shoes of his ancestors. “It’s alive!” he exclaims as he brings to life a creature to rival his grandfather’s. Eventually, of course, the monster escapes, and hilarity continuously abounds.
Seussical | Byham Theater | July 30-August 4, 2024
Celebrate Theodor Seuss Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss!) ‘s 120th Birthday with Seussical – a fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza! Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Pittsburgh’s own Stephen Flaherty (Once on this Island, Ragtime) have lovingly brought to life all our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie, and a little boy with a big imagination – Jojo. The colorful characters transport us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos. Seussical is fun for the whole family!
TICKETS AND DETAILS
Subscription renewal for current subscribers will begin on October 2, 2023. New Subscriptions go on sale on October 16, 2023. Single Tickets will go on sale on March 18, 2024. Pittsburgh CLO Subscribers get the best seats at the best prices and receive exclusive benefits.
Subscriptions and tickets at https://www.pittsburghclo.org/buy-tickets/clo-subscriptions