Review: FRONT PORCH CABARET Unveils a Season of Firsts at Front Porch Theatricals

A stunning and unexpected season announcement is rounded out with some great performances.

By: Dec. 04, 2023
Review: FRONT PORCH CABARET Unveils a Season of Firsts at Front Porch Theatricals

When actor and educator Brady Patsy walked onto the Greer Cabaret stage as emcee, aided by a cane, there was applause from the audience, which Patsy quickly lampshaded with a joke. For those not in the know, Brady Patsy was cast as the male ensemble track in tick, tick... BOOM earlier this season at CLO, but a pedestrian injury forced him offstage. Now that he is healed enough to be up and about, the audience of friends and colleagues at Front Porch's annual cabaret and season announcement event treated it as a joyful homecoming.

And it was a homecoming indeed, not only for Patsy but for Front Porch itself. After a 2023 season of two challenging musicals, Falsettos and Merrily We Roll Along, producers Bruce E. G. Smith and Nacy D. Zionts were proud to announce A, My Name Is Still Alice and Bandstand as the 2024 productions. Neither one, they stated, had been professionally produced in Pittsburgh before. Both are bold choices, with the former being a "women's issues in the '90s" revuesical and the latter being a big, splashy actor-musician musical about PTSD and the big band era post WWII. Then again, if any company can take an unlikely choice and make it into a big fat hit, it's Front Porch.

The announcement was only half the fun, with a cast of performers pulled from Front Porch's 2023 season singing a wide variety of songs with music director Doug Levine. An extended medley from Falsettos, featuring the reunited Front Porch cast, was a highlight of the evening's first act, though Erin Lindsey Krom's sexy, jazzed-up rendition of "A Spoonful of Sugar" also kept the audience in stitches. Act 2 was devoted to the cast of Merrily, featuring Marnie Quick singing "Times Are Hard for Dreams" and Michaela Isenberg bringing out a song from the Shaiman-Wittman TV musical SMASH. It was great to see the Merrily gang back together singing "Old Friends," but the musical's somewhat fragmented nature made it hard to pull a big chunk the way Falsettos did. (Also, the Catherine Kolos/David Ieong duet from Sunday in the Park with George made me want very much to see THIS theatre produce it THAT cast.)

It wouldn't be a Front Porch event without the famous carrot cake, chocolate cake, tiramisu and baklava from Aladdin's Eatery, ensuring that everyone, cast and audience alike, leaves with a smile. Front Porch may be relatively young, but they've more than established themselves as a staple in Pittsburgh's cultural life. When Shakespeare said "the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones," it's only because he never got to meet the late, great Leon Zionts; the dream he dreamed with his wife and friends is still thriving and growing, all these years later. Hats off to him, and to Front Porch.