Center Stage

The latest curtain-risings in theater and dance

Life on the Edge: the Truth about ‘True West’

The family that drinks together, thinks together. At least that’s what Austin (Ken Barnett, left) and big brother Lee (David Mogentale) hope will happen.

If you have never seen True West, I will try to tell you what you’ve been missing. It won’t be easy. This play by Sam Shepard, now at Pittsburgh Public Theater, is sneaky simple.

The basic story is so simple that anybody who watches sitcoms can get a hoot out of it. We begin with a standard

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‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’: How Chekhov Gets What He Deserves

Take that, you intellectual Russophiles! Spike (Karl Glusman) does the un-Chekhovian loose booty for Sonia (Sheila McKenna) and Vanya (Harry Bouvy).

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now at City Theatre, is the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play. Yet I’ve talked to people who are hesitant to see it, due to what one friend called “the Chekhov factor.” Allow me to ease their concerns.

The play, written by Christopher Durang, is an over-the-top comedy. And yes, it’s a modern take

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“Skull” Kicks Off Fall With a Head-Banger

Guilty, guilty, guilty! In this play, everybody’s been up to something, but who did what? L to R, Mairtin (Alec Silberblatt), Thomas (Jason McCune), and Mick (James Keegan).

Now that autumn is in the air, the season begins in earnest, and a cry goes up all across town: Are you ready for some THEATER?

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre has responded with Martin McDonagh’s A Skull in Connemara, a real head-banger of a dark comedy that comes close, at times, to

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7 Reasons to See Avenue Q

A most unfortunate event! Princeton (Matt Augustyniak) worries that Lucy may be a flat-liner—you’ll notice that her human (Sara Barbisch) is absent here—while Kate Monster (Laura Barletta) looks on the bright side.

 

ONE: CHEAP THRILLS IF YOU BUY NOW. Maybe you’ve always wanted to see this Tony-winning musical anyway, or would like to see it again. Then by all means catch Stage 62’s rendition, playing through July 28. It’s a solid production—and in several respects a brilliant one—for under $20

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Whooo Are You? Perhaps “Mnemonic” Will Help You Remember

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. 

Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, sir, just at present…”

The scene is from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. In Mnemonic, the play currently being presented by Quantum Theatre, Alice goes down a rather different kind of rabbit hole. The Alice in Mnemonic (played by Carolina Loyola-Garcia) is a grown woman living in modern-day England. Except that she’s not home, not just at present. She has vanished. Or so it seems to her

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Sassy, A Little Trashy, and Just In Time for Summer: It’s the Remake of the Remake of “The Tempest”

You realize, of course, that you cannot do summer theater properly unless you catch a remake. Of Shakespeare, that is. Altered Shakespeare is red-hot everywhere this year. In Chicago, for instance, they’ve got Othello: the Remix, the latest “add-rap-tation” by The Q Brothers; and New York has a new musical based on Love’s Labour’s Lost (with songs like “Love Is a Gun”) …

But while those big-city lights will see strange sights, the strangest you ever will see is right here

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Speak of the Devil: That’s What They Do in Abigail/1702, and People Love it

Abigail Williams (Diane Davis), steeped in wickedness, aspires to be an angel.

Abigail/1702 takes a strange story and makes it stranger. On opening night at City Theatre, as will be described shortly, it provoked an unusual reaction from the audience. And you know you are in for a strange evening as soon as you sit down and open the play’s program. To avoid spoilers, it lists a couple of the cast members as follows: John Feltch playing “Reverend Parris and

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At Quantum, It’s Springtime for Dream of Autumn

Three things you should know about Dream of Autumn:

One, there are outhouses. Not in the play. Outside. When you read that Quantum Theatre is staging the play in “the former Park Schenley Restaurant” at the Royal York in Oakland, it may conjure up visions of a faded-glory interior with chandeliers, oak paneling and other trappings of elegance. Uh-uh. The owners have gutted the cavernous space, down to the structural bare bones. With Quantum’s eerie lighting, this makes it perfect for

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Quantum Theater Presents Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman

 

Quantum Theatre’s cast play out a scene from Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman. L to r: Bridget Connors (Gunhild Borkman) , Luka Glinsky (Erhart Borkman), Robin Walsh (Ella Rentheim) and Daina Michelle Griffith. (Fanny Walton).

If you’re looking for colorful costumes or a dazzling set to lift the winter blues, you won’t find it in Quantum Theater’s production of John Gabriel Borkman, playing now through Feb. 24 at the Hart Building in East Liberty. Yet, strangely, it is the production’s sparse

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Les Miz x 2: On Stage & Screen

Les Miserables Storms the Benedum Center!

The planets have aligned for a rare double feature. The national touring company of Les Miserables is in town at the Benedum Center, through January 27, while the film version is still on local screens. It’s a chance to see how two different directors and casts—working in different media—handle the same material.

I’ve taken my double dose of “Les Miz” and found each version to have its merits. And I’ve enjoyed comparing the two, which then prompted

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