That was Off the Record, that's what that was

Saturday, 16 October 2010 02:42 AM Written by 

Which is to say, that's why I've been silent in this space the past six weeks -- producing Off the Record X, "Malpractice Blues!" Of course the theater has also kept me busy, even allowing for its slow-down in the annual end-of-summer slough, but what theater I've seen has been mainly for fun, with not enough time to write about it.

Last weekend is an example. The day after Off the Record, there was a very fizzy opening night at the Public for "The Royal Family," complete with the presence of Anne Kaufman, daughter of George S. (co-author of "Royal Family" with Edna Ferber). She seemed to think it was a very solid production - no, better than that - and judging by my review, I must have agreed. So, OK, I did write about the show, but I should also have written something here about the post-show party, which was packed with theater folk.

And there was much more of that the next night, Sunday, at the gala for the 20th Pittsburgh New Works Festival. OTR had kept me too busy to see any of this year's 4-week festival, for which I'm properly regretful, but as last year's awardee of the festival's Lifetime Achievement Award, I was eager to be there to applaud this year's winner, George Jaber. As I told anyone who would listen, George was such a good choice he raised the average level of the whole group honored so far. By the way, the previous honorees present included, as far as I could tell, Tony Ferrieri (2008), Richard Rauh (2005), Jay Keenan (2004), Don DiFonso (1998) and Bingo O'Malley (1992). If someone will send me a photo, I'll add it here.

George Jaber runs the theater program at CCAC South Campus but does a great deal more. A choir of actors, with the estimable David Pressau at the keyboard, was there to seranade us with excerpts from a couple of hundred (or so, it seemed) of George's musical productions at the professional summer theater he ran at South Campus for a decade or so. He's also a leader among those who do technical work for the movies that film here, and he's personally saved a lot of valuable material used in those movie sets (and some therater sets, too) from being thrown away, as it usually is. (Some foundation should get George a large warehouse so he could store enough material to serve all the region's theaters for decades to come, hint, hint.)

George is a man of firm opinions, firmly, even pungently expressed. After having been introduced with a substantial concert (those musical excerpts), he responded with a sermon (albeit full of humor) on what we could all be doing to help theater and theater artists. As I say, he makes some of us other Lifetime Achievement winners look like old fogeys.

And, yeah, OTR X was a great success. We'll soon have a bottom line figure of what was raised for charity, but as I always say, that's just the excuse for the show's real value, which is to get us to lauigh at ourselves.

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