If you are going to make a blog entry about live theater in Carnegie, what a better way to lead off than with a story about The Producers, a play about live theater! The Producers debuts on Thursday, Nov 8. Come see Mel Brooks’ famous story of Max Bialystock, the producer of the smash hit (?) Springtime for Hitler. Stage 62 is one of three live theater companies based in Carnegie. I saw their recent production of the Sondheim play Merrily We Roll Along and it was done with the usual high standards that Stage 62 is known for. Earlier this year, Twelve Angry Men played to sold out audiences, and the recent Sweeney Todd received national attention. All shows are performed at the Carnegie Carnegie (The Andrew Carnegie Library and Music Hall in Carnegie).
On the more whimsical side, Pittsburgh Savoyards has been producing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas for decades. They are the longest operating theatre company in Pittsburgh, having been founded in 1938. The group is based at the Carnegie Carnegie and performs classics like Pirates of Penzance and Ruddigore. You just missed Yeoman of the Guard which ended its recent production on October 21. Now you have to wait until spring for H.M.S. Pinafore! I will certainly be there. It’s my favorite G&S show. The songs get stuck in my head, like “three cheers and one cheer more for the captain of the Pinafore” or “little buttercup”. Watch this clip from the Madison Savoyards a couple years ago.
Lastly, we have a new group in town— Off the Wall Productions. This group was formerly based in Washington, PA and has moved to Carnegie. This allows them better access to their Pittsburgh customers, and yet gives them the freedom of not being downtown. Owner Hans Gruenert says Carnegie is the place to be. Easy access from all directions, ample free parking in the evenings, and an assortment of restaurants and taverns. Hans bought an office building on Main St and remodeled it into a beautiful 95-seat theater. I admit that I was skeptical but it turned out very nicely. Debbie and I recently attended The Other Place, a story about how dementia destroys a woman’s family. The unique thing about the play was that it jumped around between the present and the past, between reality and illusion causing the audience to be disoriented, but that was exactly the intent— to show how confused a person with dementia can be. And in a small venue like this, the actors are literally right in front of you. The Post Gazette said, “The Other Place” is a sobering experience, given capable life as directed by Melissa Hill Grande. A new theater in Carnegie, though — that’s exhilarating”.
The plays performed at Off the Wall are rarely performed elsewhere. For example, The Other Place is being performed only in Carnegie and NYC.
And still further, you know that live theater requires lots of preparation and rehearsal. Typical theater companies do 3 or 4 shows a year. Hans knows that you can’t pay the bills with so few performances. So, while Off the Wall is preparing for their next show, he has invited other Pittsburgh theater companies to rent his facility. That means that you will be able to see something fresh almost every month at Off the Wall.
So much going on in Carnegie! If you are interested in getting notification about upcoming productions, each of these theater groups has a website where you can add yourself to their mailing lists. Here are the links:
Off the Wall Productions