OnStage

Flashdance

NEW YORK (AP) — Dig out those leg warmers and headbands — "Flashdance" is coming to Broadway. Producers said today  that the stage adaptation of the 1983 hit movie about a working-class Pittsburgh girl with dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer hopes to boogie into New York in August 2013.

Sergio Trujillo, the choreographer of "Jersey Boys," "The Addams Family" and "Memphis," will direct and choreograph "Flashdance — The Musical."

It features a book by Robert Cary and original screenplay co-writer Tom Hedley, music by Robbie Roth and lyrics by Cary and Roth. The film starred Jennifer Beals.

Producers say it has been "substantially rewritten and completely restaged" following its short-lived debut in London in 2010. A separate company will begin a national tour Jan. 1, 2013, in Pittsburgh.

 

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Prop 8 play '8' gets reading at CMU

Monday, 20 August 2012 07:57 PM Written by

Carnegie Mellon University will host a one-night reading of "8," a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8. The performance by CMU School of Drama students will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, in the University Center's McConomy Auditorium. Tickets are free; students may obtain two per person with a valid ID and the public may obtain one per person. Tickets must be picked up in advance at the University Center Information Desk.

For more information on the Carnegie Mellon performance, visit http://www.drama.cmu.edu/. For details on the project, follow "8"on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook.

In March, George Clooney and Brad Pitt led an all-star reading of "8" in Los Angeles.

RoryOMalleyCMU grad Rory O'Malley ('03), a Tony nominee in "The Book of Mormon," played Gregory Herek, a psychologist testifying for the plaintiffs. O'Malley is a founder of Broadway Impact, a grassroots organization dedicated to marriage equality that co-presented the L.A. reading. He was instrumental in bringing the show to Pittsburgh through his affiliation with Broadway Impact.

Here are details about the play and the CMU reading from the press release that came today:

The play was written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and American Foundation for Equal Rights founding board member Dustin Lance Black."8" recounts the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry. Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning "Milk" and "J. Edgar," based "8" on trial transcripts, first-hand observations and interviews with plaintiffs and their families.

The story for "8" is framed by the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the arguments and testimony from both sides. On Feb. 7, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark decision upholding the historic August 2010 ruling of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit concluded: "Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort."

Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing "8" for free to colleges and community theaters nationwide to spur action, dialogue and understanding.

"8" premiered on Broadway Sept. 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City. The West Coast premiere reading was at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles, which featured an all-star cast led by Brad Pitt as U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, and George Clooney and Martin Sheen as plaintiffs' lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson.

"People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter," said Black, an AFER founding board member.

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"Kinky Boots," the new musical starring Pittsburgher Billy Porter, has an opening night on Broadway: April 4, 2013, at the the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th St. Based on the 2005 film that was inspired by a true story, the musical boasts a book by Harvey Fierstein, a music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, who also directs. Previews begin March 5, 2013. The show will prep for its Broadway run Oct. 2-Nov. 4 in Chicago.

BillyPorterLolaTony nominee Stark Sands of "American Idiot" co-stars with Porter, who most recently came home to work with City Theatre as a choreographer for the Andy Warhol musical "POP!" and starred in "Angels in America" at New York's Signature Theatre. "Kinky Boots" marks Lauper's Broadway debut. A free mp3 download of Lauper singing the beat-heavy "Sex Is in the Heel" from the show is available at the show's website.

In "Kinky Boots," Charlie Price (Sands) inherits his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola (Porter), a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible.

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Corey Cott has gone from Carnegie Mellon to Pittsburgh CLO to Broadway leading man in "Newsies" in a flash -- or should I say, a "Smash." Tony-nominated Jeremy Jordan, who had the role of Jack Kelly in the Disney musical theater production, will play his final performance Sept. 4 at the Nederlander Theatre, then move into a full-time job on the second season of NBC's musical theater show "Smash."

Cott became the Jack Kelly alternate earlier this month, just weeks after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. "Newsies," directed by Tony-nominated Jeff Calhoun, a Richland High School alum, won Tonys for best score and choreography.

The New York Times arts blog quoted Cott as saying he was offered roles in a national tour of the musical "Wicked" and the off-Broadway musical "Bare," while also planning to test for the television series "Glee," but chose this role "because Jack is a great character that I'd be really, really proud to play, and because it's pretty incredible to make my Broadway debut in a memorable leading role."

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Having arranged for tickets to something called "Strata," I got email directions:

“The experience starts when you purchase your tickets. You are in the experience now. As we only take 10 people every half hour we rely on time to keep the flow. Arriving early or late at the secret location can disrupt levelworks readiness. Look out for the special e-mail that you will receive tomorrow. It will give you all the important information you'll need, including your five basic survival tips. We look forward to serving you in your Refitnessing needs.”

“Refitnessing needs”? “Survival tips”? “Levelworks readiness”? As you see, this is either some pompous cult scam or a parody thereof. Fortunately, unless I’m missing some deeper level of iConsciousness (another word they like), it's the latter, an elaborate, more than life-sized travesty of a consciousness raising-mental therapy-goofball experience, with all its pseudo seriousness.

01Strata0812It’s fun, a very entertaining hour and a half wherein a large company of 20-some actors, with technical support to match, create an imaginative playground, or, if you prefer, rabbit hole. It's backed by a dozen writers-directors, who’ve worked for a year. The producer is Bricolage, using in-kind donations from much of the Pittsburgh arts community, to create what they call an “immersive urban adventure.”

That label will do as well as any other. After meeting your contact on a designated Downtown street corner, you enter down a back alley and are processed by an attractive, no-nonsense functionary. You fill out a form, sort of. You meet a file clerk straight out of Lewis Carroll. I remember an eccentric elevator operator. If you listen carefully, you’ll realize nothing makes much sense, but maybe you aren’t listening well enough.

Somewhere in there you’re separated from whomever you entered with and proceed from one room to another and floor to floor, taking a solo path created by the numbers you’re given, conducted with crisp efficiency from this one-on-one experience to that -- sensual, irrational, lightly physical, titillating, funny, confusing and more.

Everywhere you go, the attendants speak to you with unnerving familiarity. I was chastised for trying to take notes. They’re good.

It’s something like a dream. It’s also reminiscent of the wonderful Teatro de los Sentidos from Barcelona, brought here four years ago by the International Festival of Firsts. They sent us through a dusty bookshop into a cross between some not-so-Grimm middle European fairy tale and sensory therapy. “Strata” is somewhat cheerier than that, more American, with more pseudo-efficient bustle and a touch of “Brave New World.”

Eventually you climb a long glowing staircase (I thought I was being reborn) and emerge – surprise! – into a lounge, to share a drink (on the house) and mingle with other survivors and, if you’re lucky, some of the operatives, looking now not quite so commanding or glamorous, just friendly.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

But I can’t wait to go back and I hope the unseen powers that chart each course will give me an interesting variant and maybe also a few of those I encountered before – say, the file clerk and the master sergeant on the basketball court. And what about the girl with the golden hair? -- I didn’t hear a word she said the first time through.

Did I emerge refitnessed? Was my iConsciousness polished? You’ll have to ask those who’ve noticed that extra bounce in my step . . . .

-- Chris Rawson

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Dragon1

Think the Pirates and Diamondbacks were intrepid to play through the thunder, lightning and rain last night? They've got nothing on the cast of Quantum Theatre's "The Golden Dragon" and the Ladies Night audience that say through nature's light show and about 20 minutes of pouring rain to reach the emotional conclusion.

I had my own umbrella and many more were handed out to audience members who squirmed a bit in their seats but weren't about to leave as long as the show went on. The actors even bounced around bobbing wooden pallets, attached to the concrete walkway over Lake Carnegie in Highland Park (above, during a rehearsal), where Quantum had created stands on the shore. 

Dragon2The cast -- Gregory Johnstone, Aidaa Peerzada, Curtis Jackson, Catherine Moore and Mark Conway Thompson all did their best to ignore the conditions. Peerzada, in particular, was in the spotlight as the rain came pouring down, and kept going, and going, and going ...

I worried that perhaps lightning could endanger the actors, with their wired headsets, but admired their spirit -- and that of audience members who remained -- to reach the end of the play.

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Teenie ("Toyer") isn't always small

Friday, 03 August 2012 07:04 PM Written by
Yesterday I had fun doing my weekly (no, make that occasional) Thursday morning gig on KDKA-TV’s “Pittsburgh Today Live,” this time talking about grandiose, big and teenie. You can watch it if that’s your taste, but you have to get through an ad first. Here’s the link.

Grandiose is “The Addams Family,” the tour thereof, concluding the season this weekend at the Benedum for the CLO. I couldn’t get to it, which I understand has been tightened up and considerably rewritten, but I do remember Broadway, and for all its schlock (I expect that hasn’t changed) it’s a lot of fun – even for Chas Addams fans who would probably rather think of him as a cult taste, not a great big Broadway/Benedum show.

Big, or rather medium, or maybe medium big, is the Chekhov Festival at PICT. I liked “Three Sisters” a lot, because, after all, it is a very great play, somewhere between soap opera and classical tragedy, and PICT does it proud. Those Prozorov women always break me up, but they’re always different, too, as the play reflects different facets in different productions. This one is big because it’s a big play, but it’s part of an even bigger Chekhov Festival, one of four major productions, right through the end of August. (There’s even a vodka tasting tonight. Too bad we missed it.)

By the way, I want to brag that I knew the translator, Paul Schmidt, in college, and even acted with him – a brilliant, funny man, who accomplished a great deal and still died too young.

TOYERTeenie is as teenie as they get, “Toyer,” a melodrama from about 20 years ago by Gardner McKay, directed by Charlie Wein as what can only be called living room theater. It’s a noir thriller staged in the living room of a South Oakland apartment, just 10 chairs and the two actors, right there with you.

The story is that there’s been a serial terrorist, a man doing things to women that I don’t want even to describe. Our hero is a psychiatrist (the beautiful Morgan Wolk) who has been trying to work with the surviving women, and then Peter (the very plausible Jamie McDonald) worms his way into her apartment. Is he the Toyer himself, or is he a Toyer copy-cat, or (for example) an actor who sees his encounter with her as an ambitious scene, or is he something else? And what is she, in relation to all that?

This same combo staged the show a year ago and brought it back because the demand exceeded the available seats (well, duh) and also because they wanted to make some changes in a rather klunky script. They’ve done that, and although I saw it last year, I was even more impressed this time, and properly intrigued and terrified, even though I sort of remembered how it would turn out.

I recommend seeing it at the 11 pm show. Shudder. A very intimate encounter with some fine acting.

Aug. 3 and 4, 8 and 11 pm; Aug. 5, 8 pm. $10. Reservations required: 412-334-2633.

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CuccioliCLORobert Cuccioli, the Tony-nominated star of "Jekyll and Hyde," was in residence with Pittsburgh CLO last summer as the director of "Jekyll and Hyde" and a star of "The Sound of Music" (Captain von Trapp, right) and "Jesus Christ Superstar" (Pontius Pilate). This summer, he's back on Broadway in a dual role that goes from good intentions to mean and green. Cuccioli will take over as Norman Osborn and The Green Goblin in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" starting Aug. 7 at the Foxwoods Theatre, 213 W. 42nd St.

Patrick Page, who originated the role, will play his final performance Sunday, Aug. 5.

"There aren't a lot of actors out there who can pull off utterly likable and totally terrifying at the same time, and so we feel extremely lucky that the great Robert Cuccioli has agreed to take on this role," producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris said in a statement.

Cuccioli also is working on his debut solo album "The Look of Love," to be released in October (more at www.robertcuccioli.com).

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