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The first group of performers have been announced for the 69th Tony Awards, airing live June 7 on CBS. Tony Award-winners Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth will host the 2015 ceremony for the first time, live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The performancses from Tony-nominated shows and performers will include: co-host and nominee Chenoweth and the cast of "On the Twentieth Century," nominees Brian D'Arcy James, Christian Borle, Brad Oscar and the cast of "Something Rotten!," nominee Chita Rivera and the cast of "The Visit," nominees Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe and the cast of "The King and I," as well as the casts of "On the Town," "Fun Home" and "An American in Paris."

Other shows that weren't nominated also will be represented. Those include: Vanessa Hudgens and the cast of "Gigi"; Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer and the cast of "Finding Neverland"; and Tyne Daly along with the cast of "It Shoulda Been You."

More performers and presenters will be announced at a later date. 

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"Fun Home," the new musical that tied "An American in Paris" with 12 Tony Award nominations, has annouced a 2016 national tour that will be restaged  for proscenium theaters. 
Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of the same name, Pulitzer finalist "Fun Home" introduces us to Alison at three different ages, revealing memories of her dysfunctional family – her mother, brothers and volatile, brilliant, enigmatic father.
The tour of "Something Rotten!" also is likely to hit the road for the 2016-17 season, according to Theatermania.com. Previously announced tours of nominated 2015 shows include "An American in Paris," "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," "The King and I" and "On the Town," the latter with Tony-nominated star Tony Yazbeck heading out on the road.



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I just got an update on Mark Clayton Southers (above), head of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, who suffered a leg injury in a car accident while driving with his wife Neicy on Monday. Eric Smith, PPTC's production manager, said he is recovering after surgery and doctors are trying to get him to rest, which is not an easy thing for the energetic theater leader and family man. He will undergo further tests to be sure that he suffered no further injuries in the accident. I'll keep you posted.

The current run of "Fences," which opened Saturday, is expected to continue as scheduled. Read Chris Rawson's review here

Photo of Mark Clayton Southers on the set of "Fences" is by Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette.

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"Glee's" Tina, Jenna Ushkowitz, and "Guiding Light" stars Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman are among the featured players announced for Pittsburgh CLO’s 2015 summer season. Here's the rest:

MARY POPPINS, June 9 - 21
Lindsey Bliven joins Pittsburgh CLO for the first time in the title role of Mary Poppins. Her credits include the National Tours of Mary Poppins, A Chorus Line, Oklahoma! and The Wizard of Oz.  In addition, she appeared as Mary Poppins at The Walnut Street Theatre and Music Theatre Wichita.  She holds a BFA in Musical Theater Performance from The University of Oklahoma, Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre.

David Elder returns to Pittsburgh CLO as Bert after starring as Don Lockwood in Pittsburgh CLO’s 2014 critically-acclaimed production of Singin’ in the Rain.  Mr. Elder previously appeared in the Broadway productions of Curtains, 42nd Street; Kiss Me, Kate; Titanic; Once Upon a Mattress; Beauty and the Beast; Damn Yankees and Guys and Dolls. He recently starred as Bert at The Walnut Street Theatre and Music Theatre Wichita’s productions of Mary Poppins where he showcased “a big, broad smile that draws us into the wonder of this show!” – Kansas.com

Mason Park first burst onto the small screen in Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” and has amassed a multitude of impressive credits in his young career spanning television, film and stage.  He was introduced to Pittsburgh CLO through the National High School Musical Theater Awards, during which time he was featured on PBS’s reality series “Broadway or Bust.”  Mr. Alexander is making his Pittsburgh CLO debut in the roles of Miss Andrews, Miss Smythe and Queen Victoria.  He is currently a student at Point Park University and is the founder of P.A.R.K. Productions.

GYPSY, July 10 – 19
Robert Newman returns to Pittsburgh CLO to play Herbie after appearances in The Full Monty and A Little Night Music. He has guest-starred on several television shows including “Homeland,” “N.C.I.S.,” “Criminal Minds,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Santa Barbara,” “General Hospital” and his celebrated role as Josh Lewis on “Guiding Light.”  Mr. Newman has been nominated for four Soap Opera Digest awards for his role as Josh Lewis. In addition, he was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Amanda Rose last appeared on the Pittsburgh CLO stage as Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard and returns to Pittsburgh in the role of Louise.  She previously starred as Nessarose in the Broadway and National Touring production of WICKED in addition to her work on the National Tours of Doctor Dolittle and Oklahoma! Ms. Rose has starred in productions for Walnut Street Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Fulton Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus and Goodspeed Opera House in addition to many others throughout the country.

Kim Zimmer makes her Pittsburgh CLO debut as Mama Rose.  She is best known for her role as Reva Shayne on CBS’s “Guiding Light,” for which she won four Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.  She also appeared on “Seinfeld,” “Babylon 5,” “University Hospital,” “Santa Barbara,” “Designing Women” and countless other television shows.  Her work in the theater includes the National Tour of WICKED and countless regional roles.  She joins her former co-star on “Guiding Light,” Robert Newman, in this American musical masterpiece.

THE WEDDING SINGER, July 24 – August 2
Kirsten Scott is a Pittsburgh native and Carnegie Mellon University graduate who counts among her many credits Broadway roles in Jersey Boys, Big Fish, Follies and Hairspray.  She returns to Pittsburgh CLO as Holly after appearing in Curtains in 2010.     

Matthew Scott charmed audiences last summer as Emmett in Pittsburgh CLO’s Legally Blonde The Musical.  He now returns as Robbie to join his wife Kirsten Scott, in the cast of The Wedding Singer. Mr. Scott appeared in the Broadway productions of Sondheim on Sondheim, Jersey Boys, A Catered Affairand The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in addition to regional roles in Beaches, Company, The Light in the Piazza, Sunset Boulevard (Pittsburgh CLO, opposite Liz Callaway), among many others.

Jenna Ushkowitz is making her  CLO debut as Julia, the role first made performed by Drew Barrymore in the film “The Wedding Singer.”  Ms. Ushkowitz began her career on the set of “Sesame Street" and went on to appear in episodes of “Reading Rainbow,” “As the World Turns,” and many other TV series before making her Broadway debut in The King and I in 1996.  Ms. Ushkowitz returned to Broadway in Spring Awakening in 2008 alongside future co-star Lea Michele before they both hit it big on in the Fox television show “Glee.” 

Tickets and further info: pittsburghCLO.org or 412-456-6666. 

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TellyLeungThe Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has annouced its lineup for "Broadway Showstoppers," the final Trust Cabaret performance of the season: Mandy Gonzalez, Telly Leung (right), Alton Fitzgerald White and Tony Award winner Cady Huffman (Ulla in 2001's "The Producers") will give a one-night concert at 7:30 p.m. May 4 at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown.

The show, created and hosted by Stephen DeAngelis, features the stars singing songs from shows in which they have performed, with Eugene Gwozdz as accompanist.

Mandy Gonzalez’s Broadway credits include "In the Heights" (Nina Rosario) and "Wicked" (Elphaba), for which she received Best Replacement honor by Broadway.com, and "Aida" (Princess Amneris). She received an OBIE Award for her performance in the off-Broadway show "Eli’s Comin’."

Cady Huffman's recent shows include Broadway's "The Nance" (Outer Critics’ Circle nomination). She also has appeared in "The Will Rogers Follies" (Tony nomination) and her TV credits include 10 seasons as a judge on "Iron Chef America" and a recurring role on "The Good Wife."

Telly Leung, a Carnegie Mellon alum, has been seen on Broadway in "Godspell," "Rent," "Wicked," "Pacific Overtures" and "Flower Drum Song," and he will be starring opposite George Takei and Lea Salonga in "Allegiance," opening in the fall at the Longacre Theater in New York City. Mr. Leung is the producer of "Grind," a musical short film starring Anthony Rapp.

Alton Fitzgerald White’s Broadway credits include more than 4,000 performances as King Mufasa in Disney’s "The Lion King," "The Color Purple," "Ragtime" and "Smokey Joe’s Cafe" (Ken in the U.S. and London productions)."

For tickets ($50-$60) and info: www.TrustArts.org or 412-456-6666.

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Christian Borle and the cast of "Something Rotten!"

The nominees for the 81st annual Drama League Awards for Broadway and off-Broadway productions were announced today. The awards are the oldest theatrical honors in America and are chosen by Drama League members nationwide.

Categories awarded are Outstanding Play, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding musical, Outstanding Revival of a musical, and the Distinguished Performance Award. The nominations were announced this morning at a ceremony hosted by Cherry Jones and Denis O'Hare at Sardi's Restaurant. 

The awards ceremony will be held May 15. More info: www.dramaleague.org.

The Drama League previously announced its 2015 Special Recognition Honorees: Tony, and Oscar Award winner Joel Grey will receive the Distinguished Achievement in musical Theater Award; WNET: Neal Shapiro and David Horn will receive theUnique Contribution to the Theater Award for their vital work in bringing New York theater to viewers across America; and Tony, Drama Desk, Olivier Award winner and Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry will receive the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing.



The Audience by Peter Morgan

Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Bootycandy by Robert O'Hara

Constellations by Nick Payne

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon

Hand to God by Robert Askins

An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Punk Rock by Simon Stephens

Scenes from a Marriage by Ingmar Bergman, adapted by Emily Mann

Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two by Hilary Mantel, adapted by Mike Poulton


Big Love by Charles Mee

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance

The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein

The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill

It's Only a Play by Terrence McNally

Skylight by David Hare

Tamburlaine, Parts I and II by Christopher Marlowe, edited by Michael Boyd

This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan

You Can't Take It with You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman


An American in Paris music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, book by Craig Lucas

Finding Neverland book by James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy

Fun Home music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron

Ghost Quartet music, lyrics and text by Dave Malloy

Hamilton book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

It Shoulda Been You book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, music and concept by Barbara Anselmi

Something Rotten! book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick

The Visit book by Terrence McNally, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb


Allegro music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Into the Woods music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine

The King and I music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

On The Town music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

On the Twentieth Century book and lyrics by Better Comden and Adolph Green, music by Cy Coleman


One winner is selected from this category. The recipient can only receive this award once during his or her career.

Usman Ally, The Invisible Hand

Christian Borle, Something Rotten!

Steven Boyer, Hand to God

Sterling K. Brown, Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3

Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Kristin Chenoweth, On The Twentieth Century

Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man

Leanne Cope, An American in Paris

Jim Dale, Just Jim Dale

Tyne Daly, It Shoulda Been You

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris

Renee Fleming, Living on Love

Kelsey Grammer, Finding Neverland

Jake Gyllenhaal, Constellations

Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy

Lisa Howard, It Shoulda Been You

Brian D'Arcy James, Something Rotten!

Rebecca Naomi Jones, Big Love

Cush Jumbo, Josephine and I, The River

Andy Karl, On The Twentieth Century

Judy Kuhn, Fun Home

Lesley Manville, Ghosts

Jan Maxwell, The City of Conversation

Richard McCabe, The Audience

Rob McClure, Honeymoon in Vegas

Ewan McGregor, The Real Thing

Ben Miles, Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two

Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Helen Mirren, The Audience

Matthew Morrison, Finding Neverland

Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles

Carey Mulligan, Skylight

Tam Mutu, Doctor Zhivago

Bill Nighy, Skylight

Kelli O'Hara, The King and I

Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two

Bryce Pinkham, The Heidi Chronicles

Roger Rees, The Visit

Chita Rivera, The Visit

Alexander Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Douglas Sills, Living on Love

John Douglas Thompson, Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, The Iceman Cometh

Julie White, Airline Highway

Ruth Wilson, Constellations

Tony Yazbeck, On The Town




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We all know that one of Pittsburgh's treasures spread around the world is musical theater talent, and now a group called Musical Theatre Artist of Pittsburgh -- or MTAP -- is putting the seeds of the musicals of the future on the map at home.

It was SRO for the first Hot Metal Musicals showcase Monday night the Cabaret at Theatre Square, where 18 songs representing 14 in-the-works musicals and songs by theater artists were performed by versatile artists who made the night a performance concert:

Lisa Ann Goldsmith, currently in Pittsburgh CLO's "Boeing Boeing"; Justin Lonesome, most recently in PICT Classic Theatre's "For the Tree to Drop"; Natalie Hatcher, who works behind scenes at City Theatre when she isn't onstage; Eric James Davidson, a regular at Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park, Little Lake Theatre and other local companies; Missy Moreno, who has appeared with Chicago's Second City and is currently touring schools in Pittsburgh CLO's "The Next Galileo" (more on that soon); Leon S. Zionts, a veteran theater performer seen on stages all over the area and a producer of Front Porch Theatricals; and soprano Eva Rainforth, who performed her own song from the show she is working on, "Me, Myself and Others." The song is title "I Once Dated a Man," and it's a hoot.

The night of comedy and tragedy, history and contemporary relationships got off to a strong start with "Pretend" from "Off With Her Maidenhead," a musical by Amy Claussen (book and lyrics) and James Rushin (muisc) that deconstructs the myth of the Disney Princess. There's a financial crisis solved when a nunnery is turned into a brothel ... you get the idea.

GalileoNext came the soaring title song from Joe Domencic's "The Next Galileo" is about a girl who channels Galileo and her own independent spirit to explore the possibilities of science. The musical is in full production as part of Pittsburgh CLO's Gallery of Heroes, a program that takes its 50-minute mini-musicals to Western Pennsylvania schools to educate and enlighten students about great historical figures. This one seems to educate and inspire. (More info at PittsburghCLO.org.)

There were several themes that began to emerge rom selection of songs -- European history among them, food and relationships another. "Kiss the Cook" by actress Laurie Klatscher and the "Moscow McDonald's Waltz" from the marquee-defying "The Magical Moscow McDonald's Miracle of Love" by Frank Gagliano and James Rushin were representative of the humor and emotions on display.

Some names who began here but are working elsewhere also were represented in the mix. Fox Chapel's Michael Mitnick has been making a name on stage and screen, including the screenplay for "The Giver," and with Will Connolly and Kim Rosenstock is writing "Fly By Night," described in the program as a "darkly comic rock fable." The musical was represented by the song "Cecily Smith."

The writing team of Kooman and Dimond, whose "Judge Jackie Justice" made its debut at the CLO Cabaret, was represented by work-in-progress "The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes," about a man who is living in a musical and wants to get out -- or does he?

There was the crowd-pleasing "Back to the Burgh," an anthem for expats by Laura Lind, with lyrics such as, "I get weak in the knees when I hear Pittsburghese," and much more. The accompaniest for the night, keyboardist-composer Doug Levine, is writing a musical with Marcus Stevens titled "Eastburn Avenue," which was represented by the song "Let It Be Me," sung by a daughter who is now her mother's caretaker.

MTAP is led by Stephanie Riso, working with Jeanne Drennan and Steve Cuden. They pulled togther an over-too-soon 90-minute program that left me hungry for more.


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TonyAwards.com posted this image today of Broadway and television star Sutton Foster and Carnegie Mellon University's Casey Cott at a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Town & Country about the new Excellence in Theatre Education Award with the reminder that March 31 is the last day to #NominateMyTeacher! All application materials are due that day. Details at TonyAwards.com.

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Musical Theatre Artists of Pittsburgh (MTAP) will present the inaugural Hot Metal Musicals, a showcase of members' works on Monday, March 2, at 7:15 pm at the Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown.

The show is free and open to the public, but MTAP encourages online reservations at https://www.artful.ly/store/events/3925.

A meet and greet reception with the artists and performers will follow the showcase. Hot Metal Musicals will focus on musical theater works-in-progress, presenting one song each from a number of new musicals, even some that have already been produced. That’s the case with Doug Levine’s and Marcus Stevens’s "Eastburn Avenue" (Playhouse Rep) and Jeremy Richter’s "[best imitation]" (2014 Pittsburgh Fringe). Joe Domencic's "The Next Galileo" is currently touring schools with the CLO's Gallery of Heroes program. Other shows have had full public readings, such as the MTAP-produced "Off With Her Maidenhead" by Amy Claussen and James Rushin and Ted Kociolek and Walter Holland's "The Age of Innocence" or Jeanne Drennan and David Berlin's "Dear Boy."

Other shows, in keeping with the focus on building new musicals from the ground up, will give us songs perhaps being heard by the public for the first time: John Keating and Sandra Lowell's "Kitty," Stephanie Riso's "The Storm," Frank Gagliano and James Rushin's "The Magical Moscow McDonald’s Miracle of Love," Eva Rainforth's one-woman show, "Me, Myself and Others," Chuck Sperry's "Lazarus" and Andy Nagraj's and Jonathan Spivey's "Murphy’s Law," which is to have a full reading in New York this February.

Funding for the Hot Metal Musicals event is from the Small Arts Initiative of the Heinz Endowments and in cooperation with the Pittsburgh CLO.

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