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Summer Stages: Hot Town, Summer in the City! Pittsburgh Prepares for a Sizzling Summer of Art

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Summer in Pittsburgh usually means baseball, street festivals and tours on a giant rubber duck, but to theatre fans, it also means the arrival of one of the year's most beloved cultural events: the CLO summer season. Pittsburgh's premier musical theatre juggernaut is presenting a bigger and better season than ever, with new release MARY POPPINS leading off the schedule. Following in the schedule are MAN OF LA MANCHA, GYPSY, THE WEDDING SINGER and the national tours of KINKY BOOTS and CINDERELLA. As usual, the CLO has employed some hard hitters in the leading roles, including Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang of television hit GLEE) as Julia in THE WEDDING SINGER, and Pittsburgh native Billy Porter in KINKY BOOTS. Musical theatre fans are sure to get their money's worth this year!

If you're looking for something off the beaten path, Split Stage, a theatre group located in Westmoreland County, is producing THE FULL MONTY during the first half of June. Directed by and co-starring Pittsburgh Public and PMT mainstay Alex Noble, with performances by local favorites Allison Petrillo, Rob North, David Mahokey and a fantastic jazz band led by Eric Barchiesi, the cult classic comedy-drama has as much heart, edge and comedic exposure as ever. Drop by early to sample craft beer from All Saints Brewery for a donation... but be prepared to get an eyeful as the strippers run the bar at intermission.

As a long-time sci-fi fan and devotee of nerd auteur Joss Whedon (still mourning the death of the FIREFLY franchise, as so many of us are), I was happy to see a familiar name in the latest Pittsburgh Public production, BUYER AND CELLAR. Tom Lenk, better known as Wesley from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, is playing the title role- really, all the roles- as legendary diva and eccentric Barbra Streisand, her husband, and the aspiring actor who lives in her basement and manages Babs's ersatz shopping center where she displays her collected belongings. Sounding a little strange? Rest assured, she is- I mean, it is- but this quirky little show is guaranteed to please pop culture devotees. Plus, given that Barbra and the Whedonverse are diametrically opposed fan bases, this convergence could result in a very interesting mix of audience demographics. You never know who you'll see there!

Finally, one of my favorite little theatres in Pittsburgh, the PICT Classic Theatre, is presenting two exciting new productions this summer. First, in June, a revival of comedic period piece HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES comes to the Charity Randall Theatre. Then, in July and August, PICT presents SHARON'S GRAVE, mixing modern theatre with elements of Celtic folklore and legend. As a mythology junkie, I can't wait to see this one for myself.

Whether your tastes are for broad comedy or cerebral drama, bro humor or gay kitsch, musical theatre or straight drama, Pittsburgh has something for everyone, and summer in this city only proves why the City of Bridges is becoming one of the nation's top locations for talent both new and established


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