April Theater Guide: Let the Sunshine In

'Indecent,' the acclaimed play making its Pittsburgh premiere at The Public, features klezmer music, and Erikka Walsh does the playing. (photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater)

‘Indecent,’ the acclaimed play making its Pittsburgh premiere at The Public, features klezmer music, and Erikka Walsh provides it. (photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater)

Can we please make it through April in Pittsburgh without somebody quoting T.S. Eliot’s “April is the cruellest month”? It’s taken out of context; it’s only the first line of a long poem that deals with the cruelty of Western civilization and life generally, and besides: The city’s live theater schedule for the month is anything but cruel.

We have comedy out the kazoo—silly comedy, dark comedy, serio- and tragicomedy, comic opera, and comic ballet.  Even the most serious shows are dappled with humor and some lightness, with sunbeams of hope.

Touring productions include The Book of Mormon, a savagely funny but somehow uplifting musical, and a visit from not the Men in Black but the men in drag, the parody dancers of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Speaking of dance, Pittsburgh’s Attack Theatre is dancing The Rube Goldberg Variations, of which the title suggests that it won’t exactly be a dying-swan act.

The month kicks off with the 6th annual Pittsburgh Fringe. This is the first big festival of the warm season and fun on a grand scale. End of the month, Pittsburgh Opera takes us out with Don Pasquale, which ranks high on the opera buffa scale.

And in between there’s just a lot of good theater. Professional companies have the hit play Indecent, the American classic The Heiress, and a world premiere in The Burdens. The immensely popular Come from Away visits on tour. University theaters have The History Boys, Into the Woods, and The Comedy of Errors—plus an original piece on a subject of concern to many, Atlas of Depression.

Spotlighted shows are profiled below in order of run dates, with “other suggested productions” at the end. Rick Handler contributed to parts of this guide.

Continuing from March:

A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 by Lucas Hnath. Through April 7 at Pittsburgh Public Theater. 

Cue the sequel: she's back. Lisa Velten Smith is Nora in 'A Doll's House Part 2' by Lucas Hnath, at The Public. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Cue the sequel: she’s back. Lisa Velten Smith is Nora in ‘A Doll’s House Part 2’ by Lucas Hnath, at The Public. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Over the past few years, Lucas Hnath has moved onto the A-list of hot playwrights with a series of plays on strikingly different subjects. His Isaac’s Eye is a riff on Isaac Newton and science, while Red Speedo revolves around a competitive swimmer caught doping. The Christians, performed in Pittsburgh two years ago by Kinetic Theatre, is about a church pastor trying to persuade his old-school congregation that Hell does not exist. Now Pittsburgh Public Theater is staging Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, a seriocomic sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, which shocked the world in the late 1800s by depicting a liberated woman who leaves her husband and children. Part 2 is set 15 years later. The woman, Nora, returns to confront her estranged husband over their divorce, which still isn’t legally settled, and winds up confronting many other issues as well. Hnath’s plays are praised because his characters are not simple, and neither are the predicaments they face in trying to determine what’s right.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 is directed for The Public by Ted Pappas, the company’s former artistic director. Cast members are Lisa Velten Smith, Daniel Krell, Helena Ruoti, and Marielle Young. At the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

LA BOHÈME (opera) by Giacomo Puccini. Through April 7, Pittsburgh Opera.

The operatically baffled guy in the center is basso buffo Kevin Glavin. He is the bohemians' landlord in 'La Boheme' at Pittsburgh Opera, and he's learning that the boys do not plan to pay the rent.

The operatically baffled man in the center is basso buffo Kevin Glavin. He is the bohemians’ landlord in ‘La Boheme’ at Pittsburgh Opera, and he’s learning that the boys do not plan to pay the rent. (photo: David Bachman Photography)

Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, popular for more than a century, gets an added boost in modern times by being known as the opera that inspired the musical Rent. See (and hear) what made the original popular, as Pittsburgh Opera stages La Bohème. The opera is loved for its music, of course—the romantic duet O soave fanciulla (“O sweet girl”) comes across wonderfully even without English translation—and the story is engaging. It’s set during the 1830s in Paris, where the term “bohemian” was first applied to artistic types living at the edges of society. Puccini knew the lifestyle from his younger days, and for La Bohème he worked with a pair of skilled librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Together they crafted an opera that’s like an emotional roller coaster, following a group of young bohemians through hilarious escapades mixed with the tensions and perils of existence on the edge. Singing the lead roles for Pittsburgh Opera are tenor Sean Panikkar as Rodolfo and Nicole Cabell, a heralded soprano making her first appearance here, as Mimi. In Italian with English supertitles. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District.

MIDNIGHT RADIO’S THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, adapted by Lissa Brennan. Through April 14, Bricolage Production Company.

Newcomers to Pittsburgh are surprised to learn that Midnight Radio is not at midnight nor on the radio. It’s live theater done in the style of an old-time radio drama, but often more comedy than drama, and since some of the city’s best theater artists are involved, the laughter quotient can be high. Having celebrated this past Christmas with a unique adaptation of Die Hard, the Midnight Radio team now presents another classic from the Western canon: L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Lissa Brennan has done the adapting for this one. Cast members—all in multiple roles—are Julianne Avolio (her parts include Dorothy), Lisa Ann Goldsmith (all witches, dead and alive), Sam Lothard, Jason McCune, and Nancy McNulty. The show also includes added features for audience accessibility and sensory-friendliness, with an ASL-interpreted performance scheduled for April 5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is produced by Bricolage Production Company and it opens the company’s 11th season of Midnight Radio. 937 Liberty Ave., Cultural District.

New Shows in the EC Spotlight for April:

PITTSBURGH FRINGE 2019 (performing and visual arts festival). April 4-7 at multiple venues in Garfield.

Who dat? It's 'The Lightweight,' a new play from Lil Theatre Company of Kissimmee, Florida, one of many attractions at this year's Pittsburgh Fringe in Garfield. (photo courtesy of the company)

Who dat? It’s ‘The Lightweight,’ a new play from Lil Theatre Company of Kissimmee, Florida, one of many attractions at this year’s Pittsburgh Fringe. (photo courtesy of the company)

It’s hard to have more fun than going to a fringe festival, and one could try, but why be difficult? The 6th annual Pittsburgh Fringe unfolds along Penn Avenue in Garfield this year. A fringe festival is a panoply of live shows and events that are out on the fringes of the mainstream or whatever—a redundant definition, though undeniably true. Theater and other acts at the 2019 Pittsburgh Fringe vary widely. Among the one-person shows, Laura Irene Young performs When Jesus Divorced Me—about a woman married to man who plays Jesus at a theme park—while storyteller Alan Irvine, a longtime favorite of creative-anachronism fans, tells Legends of Arthur. Out-of-town groups include Lil Theatre Company of Florida, which tours internationally and brings in a new piece called The Lightweight. And Brawling Bard Theater does a scurrilously “abridged” version of Shakespeare’s King John, one of his not-so-hot plays, which nowadays provides prime material for irreverent adaptation.

Numerous other highlights include Kosmo Vinyl’s The Cisco Kid vs. Donald Trump, plus loads of visual art, dance, multidisciplinary whatnot, and comedy galore. Schedules and admission-price options are complex, so check the Pittsburgh Fringe website. Multiple locations, Garfield.

INTO THE WOODS (musical) by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. April 4 – 14, Pitt Department of Theatre Arts.

The Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Into the Woods has been a subject of aesthetic controversy since its 1987 Broadway debut. Some critics and fans, deeply moved by this mashup of dark fairy tales, call it a masterpiece. Some consider it brilliant in spots but flawed, while others just say Whaaat? To complicate the matter, many people know Into the Woods only from the 2014 movie version, with Meryl Streep (in the clip above) and Johnny Depp—but the movie has brilliances and flaws of its own. The musical deserves a viewing live on stage, and Pitt’s Department of Theatre Arts is presenting it that way. See Little Red Ridinghood and the Wolf, Cinderella, Jack and the Giant, and the rest of the mysterious gang at the Charity Randall Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

HISTORY BOYS by Alan Bennett. April 4-14, Point Park Conservatory Theatre.

Alan Bennett’s The History Boys proves that a Tony Award-winning play and hit movie can be made about history students and teachers. Of course, there’s drama and comedy involved. The boys are aiming for admission to Oxford or Cambridge, and they’ve got three history teachers with different styles and agendas—one of them resembling the very contrary real-life historian Niall Ferguson—plus all sorts of sexual and other shenanigans unfolding. One does not necessarily learn history by watching The History Boys but reportedly a good time can be had. Point Park Conservatory Theatre is performing The History Boys but omits the article, calling it History Boys. This is the kind of thing that can happen with theater people; they take liberties. At the new Pittsburgh Playhouse, 350 Forbes Ave., Downtown.

THE HEIRESS by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, from Henry James’ Washington Square. April 4-27, PICT Classic Theatre.

Erika Cuenca IS the heiress in 'The Heiress' at PICT. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Erika Cuenca IS the heiress in ‘The Heiress’ at PICT. (photo courtesy of the artist)

PICT Classic Theatre wraps up its 2018-19 season with an American classic that’s long on seriocomic irony, The Heiress. Adapted from Henry James’s 1860 novel Washington Square, it’s about a wealthy young woman in love with an earnest guy who her father insists is a no-goodnik. Turns out dad is sort of right, but then—ah, sorry, no spoilers. The meta-irony is that James himself disliked the novel after finishing it, yet it became perennially popular. Retooled for theater by the playwriting couple Ruth and Augustus Goetz, The Heiress opened to much acclaim on Broadway in 1947. It was made into a movie starring Olivia de Havilland, and a later Broadway production won the 1995 Tony Award for Best Revival. PICT’s cast for The Heiress has Erika Cuenca in the title role, with James FitzGerald, Alec Silberblatt, and Karen Baum. In the Fred Rogers Studio at WQED, 4802 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

THE BURDENS by Matt Schatz. April 6 – May 12, City Theatre.

Ben Rosenblatt plays a scheming digital dude in City Theatre's 'The Burdens.' (photo courtesy of the artist)

Ben Rosenblatt plays a scheming digital dude in City Theatre’s ‘The Burdens.’ (photo courtesy of the artist)

City Theatre is presenting a new play, The Burdens, that has received a good deal of buzz even before its official premiere here. The two-person dark comedy has been in development at staged readings around the country, including last year at City Theatre’s Momentum festival. The characters are a pair of millennial siblings who conspire to rid their aging mother of the burden of their very aged and cantankerous grandfather. As to how they might remove him from the scene, one permanent solution comes to mind. Much of the conspiring is done by text, which presumably adds relevance and authenticity: The Burdens is billed as a comedy “for the digital age.” L.A.-based playwright Matt Schatz is a graduate of the MFA program at Carnegie Mellon but not a Pittsburgh native; he’s from Jersey. Catherine LeFrere and Ben Rosenblatt play the siblings. Directing The Burdens is Marc Masterson, City Theatre’s former artistic director who has recently returned to the post. In the Lester Hamburg Studio, 1300 Bingham St., South Side.  

COME FROM AWAY (musical) by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. April 9-14, touring company at Benedum Center.

The touring company of the extremely popular musical Come from Away visits Pittsburgh for a six-day, eight-show run. All performances were close to sold out as of the last week of March, so reserve quickly or turn to your alternate ticket sources.  In case you hadn’t heard: Come from Away is based on a true story, with much of the material drawn directly from people who were involved. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, U.S. airspace and airports were closed for two days, forcing planes already aloft to land elsewhere. Thirty-eight planes, loaded with passengers and crews, were diverted to the international airport in Newfoundland, where residents of the small town of Gander suddenly became hosts to about 7,000 alarmed and confused strangers. The townspeople reached out warmly as their guests responded in kind, leading to heartfelt exchanges, bonding, and an experience so powerful reunions are held. Canadian writer/composers Irene Sankoff and David Hein created the musical, which has been produced in many cities over the past few years; the first tour began last fall. Come from Away is at Benedum Center as part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series. 237 7th St., Cultural District.

LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO (comic ballet in drag). April 13 only, 8 p.m., presented by Pittsburgh Dance Council.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo do not come from Monte Carlo. The comical ballet troupe began, in New York, as an offshoot from Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Older Pittsburgh theater fans may remember Ludlam well. He famously performed Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler here in 1984—playing Hedda in drag, while managing to be seriously dramatic and only somewhat ridiculous. The Trocks, as they’re called, are seriously ridiculous. They are accomplished male dancers who wear tutus and have mastered the ballerina’s art of dancing en pointe, along with the fine art of physical comedy. They’ve been spoofing classical ballet and modern dance on international tours since the 1970s. Pittsburgh Dance Council presents the Trocks at the Byham Theater for a one-night stand. 8 p.m. 101 6th St., Cultural District.    

THE BOOK OF MORMON (musical) by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. April 16-21, touring company at Heinz Hall.

If you missed The Book of Mormon last time it was in town you’ll know to reserve tickets early. The show won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2011; it has been called one of the best musicals ever. In an age when few things can shock an audience, this work by the creators of the “South Park” TV series is shockingly (and hilariously) irreverent while also being surprisingly uplifting. Two naïve young Mormon missionaries are sent to win converts in a remote part of Africa where the locals are, shall we say, skeptical. It’s like The Poisonwood Bible meets the Marx Brothers but naughtier than either, and unless you want your kids to hear songs like “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” don’t bring them. The U.S. touring company performs The Book of Mormon as part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh Series at Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

ATLAS OF DEPRESSION by Eben Hoffer and others. April 17 – 19, Carnegie Mellon School of Drama at Studio 201.

Judging from the information on his website, one suspects that theater artist Eben Hoffer is not always necessarily entirely serious. He writes that he “creates high-energy funerals” and “secret religious rituals” for the stage, “through technologies both meat- and silicon-based,” and that he is “a core member of Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble, a musical priesthood.” However, Hoffer has returned to the college world for an MFA program at Carnegie Mellon, where he addresses a serious subject. In co-creation with the CMU School of Drama community, he presents a piece titled Atlas of DepressionIt includes excerpts from recorded conversations, live performance, and other elements. According to Hoffer, the piece is “an attempt to look directly at the face of depression” and “to answer the question, at least for one night: What is this?” In Studio 201, 201 N. Braddock Ave., Point Breeze North.

SHE KILLS MONSTERS by Qui Nguyen. April 18 only, 8 p.m., Multiple Choice Events with Pitt Theatre Arts.

The video here is from the off-Broadway premiere of She Kills Monsters, at The Flea Theater in New York in 2011. Since then, the fantasy play has become a cult favorite in theater towns such as Chicago—where Steppenwolf Theatre and many others have staged it—and now She Kills Monsters can be seen in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. It’s about a young woman who, in grieving for her deceased sister, finds the sister’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook. She then decides to set off on the quest described there. Playwright Qui Nguyen is both an award winner in theater and a gaming expert, so his story amounts to quite a trip. The local production is part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Multiple Choice Events series, done in partnership with Pitt’s Department of Theatre Arts, which performed She Kills Monsters on campus last fall. 8 p.m. at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District.  

INDECENT by Paula Vogel. April 18 – May 19, Pittsburgh Public Theater.

Paula Vogel’s Indecent, a modern play about a controversial play of the early 1900s, has been called theater at its best. The true events began in Poland in 1906. Writer Sholem Asch, very popular among the country’s Jewish population for his stories and poems in Yiddish, wrote a play that stirred up a storm as soon as friends saw the script. Even the title was ominous: God of Vengeance. Set in a Jewish brothel, it included a scene in which a Torah is thrown across the room—and featured a lesbian love affair. This seemed entirely too much for most of Asch’s fellow Jews, who also worried about stoking the era’s anti-Semitism. But he got the play produced in Berlin and elsewhere, to responses that ranged from “Loved it” to “Immoral, garbage, indecent!” The controversy crested in 1923 when the cast of an English-language production on Broadway were busted for obscenity. Vogel’s Indecent relates the whole saga in a manner that audiences and critics have loved—and hasn’t yet been shut down by the police. Pittsburgh Public Theater presents Indecent at the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare. April 18-27, Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.

When we say that “love is blind” or something vanished “into thin air,” we’re quoting Shakespeare (from The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest, respectively). Did Shakespeare actually coin all the expressions he’s credited with, or did he just pick them up from colloquial speech of the time and put them in his plays? Hard to tell, but he wrote at least one play of which the title has entered everyday language: The Comedy of Errors. If we classify Shakespeare’s comedies on a spectrum from seriocomic to silly to very silly, The Comedy of Errors comes in at very silly. It features two sets of identical twins who were separated in childhood and wind up in the same city, unknowingly, when grown. Cascades of errors ensue, accompanied by much ribald humor. The play has been adapted many times, including in India, where it was the basis for a Bollywood musical. Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama performs The Comedy of Errors without the Bollywood, or maybe not. In the Philip Chosky Theater on campus, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland.  

THE RUBE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS (modern dance) by Attack Theatre. April 25-28, the company at the New Hazlett.

Attack Theatre's Dane Toney demonstrates that if you want to move forward, you put your left leg sideways and point another way, unless you want to head thataway ... and that's sort of how it goes in 'The Rube Goldberg Variations.' (photo courtesy of Dr. Robert Kormos)

Dane Toney of Attack Theatre demonstrates that if you want to move forward, you put your left leg sideways and point another way, unless you want to head thataway … and that’s sort of how it goes in ‘The Rube Goldberg Variations.’ (photo courtesy of Dr. Robert Kormos)

Pittsburgh’s Attack Theatre, the company that does not dance defensively, attacks the stage with another unusual combination. It’s a feature-length dance piece inspired by Rube Goldberg devices, the crazy contraptions that use the most complicated methods possible to perform a simple task. And since the best music to dance it to would be Bach’s Goldberg Variations—30, count ‘em 30 different twists on the same theme—presto: Attack’s new piece is The Rube Goldberg Variations. And there’s more! The music director for the show, Flavio Chamis, has composed (along with others) additional twists on Bach’s music … while the Attack dancers apply Rube Goldberg principles to the often-needless complications of human interaction, in an interlocking series of vignettes … and you’ll probably have to see it to believe it, so we shall stop here. Conceived and choreographed by Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza, The Rube Goldberg Variations is (are?) at the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side.

DON PASQUALE (comic opera) by Gaetano Donizetti. April 27 – May 5, Pittsburgh Opera.

Don Pasquale (bass Kevin Glavin, rear) has been tricked, but he winds up making two young lovers very happy, as soprano Lisette Oropesa and tenor Javier Abreu demonstrate in Pittsburgh Opera's 'Don Pasquale.' (photo: David Bachman Photography)

Don Pasquale (bass Kevin Glavin, rear) has been tricked, but he winds up making two young lovers very happy, as soprano Lisette Oropesa and tenor Javier Abreu demonstrate in Pittsburgh Opera’s ‘Don Pasquale.’ (photo: David Bachman Photography)

There’s no opera like comic opera, and Pittsburgh Opera segues into springtime with a classic about a loopy old man who attempts a winter-spring marriage. Except he never suspects that the young woman is tricking him into doing what’s right. Don Pasquale, by Gaetano Donizetti and librettist Giovanni Ruffini, has been delivering the hijinks since its 1843 premiere in Paris. The mastermind behind the plot to trick the aging Pasquale is his physician, Dr. Malatesta, which translates roughly as “Dr. Headache.” Beautiful Norina actually wants to marry Pasquale’s earnest young nephew, Ernesto, but Uncle Pasquale won’t allow it. So the only recourse is to make him holler uncle, and hoo boy, does that happen, to the tune of more comical music than you can shake a conductor’s baton at. Not to worry, though. Conductor Gary Thor Wedow will keep the orchestra in tune, and Pittsburgh Opera has soprano Lisette Oropesa singing Norina, with bass Kevin Glavin as Don Pasquale, tenor Javier Abreu as Ernesto, and baritone Joshua Hopkins as Malatesta. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District.      

Other Suggested Productions:

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (musical) by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Arthur Freed, and Nacio Herb Brown. March 29 – April 14

Pittsburgh’s own Gene Kelly immortalized the role of Don Lockwood, a singer, dancer, and stuntman in the MGM film Singin’ in the Rain. He not only sings in the rain, but dances in it pretty well too. The musical centers on four actors who are trying to make the transition from silent movies to “talkies.” Book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown. Singin’ in the Rain is being performed live at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. 1 Lincoln Park, Midland. (RH)

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (musical) by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. April 4-13, Duquesne University Red Masquers.

Shows with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim have won the Tony Award for Best Musical five times. Duquesne University’s Red Masquers are staging the 1973 winner, A Little Night Music. The book, by Hugh Wheeler, weaves a bittersweet story of mismatched couples and men and women who ought to be together but aren’t. A Little Night Music explores how our instincts for love can err so greatly, asking what it might take to put things right. And, as Bernadette Peters demonstrates in the video shown here, the songs set the mood perfectly. At the Genesius Theater on the Duquesne campus, Locust and Seitz Sts., Uptown.  

DOLINA (modern dance) by Kasia Reilly. April 11-12, Community Supported Art series at the New Hazlett.

A new modern dance by a new choreographer premieres at the New Hazlett. Ann Arbor native Kasia Reilly, who has studied and performed in dance extensively, makes her feature-length choreographic debut with Dolina. She describes the piece as “four dancers making their way through an uncanny valley of hysteria, isolation, and hope.” The four include Reilly herself. Dolina is presented by the New Hazlett as part of Pittsburgh’s Community Supported Art series. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side.

GODSPELL (musical) by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak. April 11-14, Actors and Artists of Fayette County.

Heading to church one Sunday morning in the 1960s, Carnegie Mellon student John-Michael Tebelak, dressed in overalls and wearing his hair long, was stopped by a police officer and searched for drugs. None were found, but the occurrence inspired him to finish his master’s thesis, Godspell. Stephen Schwartz, a CMU graduate who was working in New York City as a composer and lyricist, contributed the songs and music. Their musical is primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. Schwartz was nominated for a Best Original Score Tony Award in 1977 for Godspell. “Day by Day”, from the original cast album, became a hit, reaching No. 13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1972. Actors and Artists of Fayette County perform Godspell at the Geyer Performing Arts Center, 111 Pittsburgh St., Scottdale. (RH)

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (rock opera) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. April 12-14, Stage Right of Greensburg.

If you are an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan, you know Jesus Christ Superstar and probably love it. If you don’t know, the story is based on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days, though with much interpretation and with Judas as a major character. Jesus Christ Superstar began as a concept album. Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice then fleshed it out and put it on tour—with the premiere performance staged here in Pittsburgh, at the Civic Arena on July 12, 1971.The show’s Broadway opening came later that year and it has been playing worldwide ever since. Greensburg’s Stage Right performs Jesus Christ Superstar at The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg.

MYTHBURGH SEASON 3 (storytelling/performance). April 14 only, 8 p.m. 12 Peers Theater.

The Mythburgh series is a periodic getting-together of local theater artists who turn strange Pittsburgh stories into short performance pieces. The stories can be serious, illogical, true, apocryphal, or otherwise; the unifying theme is that they have a mythical, urban-legend quality. Presented by 12 Peers Theater, Mythburgh events occur twice around springtime and twice in the fall. The second spring session of Mythburgh Season 3 is April 14 at 8 p.m. at Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield.

DEREK HOUGH: LIVE! (dance). April 17 only, 7:30 p.m., the artist at Benedum Center. 

Due to his starring role as a dancer and dance instructor on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” Derek Hough is one of the most recognizable names in popular dance. He has won the competition with his dancing partners a record-setting six times. He has also won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography for dance routines he created for the show. Now he’s on tour with a dazzling new act which includes ballroom, tap, salsa, hip-hop and various other styles of dance. 7:30 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90S MUSICAL (jukebox musical) by Roger Kumble, Lindsey Rosin, and Jordan Ross. April 20 only, 8 p.m., touring company at the Byham Theater.

The more something is adapted for stage or screen, the weirder it gets. Dangerous Liaisons is a 1782 French novel about sex and deceit among the nobility, involving a man and woman who play wicked seduction games. It has been made into several movies, including a great one with John Malkovitch and Glenn Close … and the cult film Cruel Intentions, which re-set the story to occur among rich kids at a 1990s prep school. Now comes Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical. This live jukebox musical features music by Boyz II Men, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and others, and the touring company visits Pittsburgh for a one-night stand. 8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District.

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE (musical) by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Bob Martin, and Don McKellar. April 25 – May 11, Little Lake Theatre.

Little Lake Theatre, one of the region’s bigger “little theater” companies, opens its season with The Drowsy Chaperone. This 2006 winner of five Tony Awards is both a parody of old musicals and a tribute to them. The central character is a shy fellow who sits at home alone listening to vintage recordings of Broadway tunes from the 1920s. When he puts his favorite onto the turntable—the soundtrack of an exuberantly hokey fictional show called, well, The Drowsy Chaperone—the cast members magically appear and start performing the show. Songs and music are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison; book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. 500 Lakeside Dr. South, Canonsburg.

PERFECT WEDDING by Robin Hawdon. April 25 – May 11, South Park Theatre.

Robin Hawdon’s play Perfect Wedding is billed as a romantic comedy, though one might question how romantic it is for the groom to wake up on the morning of the wedding and find a strange woman in his bed. Perfect Wedding is neither big nor fat nor Greek but is reported to induce laughter reliably. Pittsburgh CLO staged a cabaret version last year; now South Park Theatre presents a fresh production of Perfect Wedding to launch its 2019 season. Corner of Brownsville Rd. and Corrigan Dr., South Park Township.  

HORIZONS (program of modern dance pieces by Martha Graham and Maria Caruso). April 26 – 27, Bodioigraphy and Graham 2.

Bodiography Center for Movement and the Graham 2 pre-professional company of the Martha Graham School  join together for the production of Horizons. The feature-length show includes works by both Martha Graham and Bodiography founder/artistic director Maria Caruso, with performance by Graham 2 students and former Martha Graham principal dancer Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, along with Bodiography students in some pieces. Several of Graham’s most famous dances are on the program, including “Conversation of Lovers,” “Satyric Festival Song,” “Moon Duet from Canticle for Innocent Comedians,” and the world premiere of Caruso’s “InsideOUT (The call of passion).” Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (RH)

A Long-Running Show:

THE DOUBLE-THREAT TRIO (cabaret musical) by Adam Overett. Through April 28, Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret.

J. Alex Noble, Jerreme Rodriguez, and Drew Leigh Williams portray the performance-impaired 'Double-Threat Trio' for Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret. (photo: Archie Carpenter)

J. Alex Noble, Jerreme Rodriguez, and Drew Leigh Williams portray the performance-impaired ‘Double-Threat Trio’ for Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret. (photo: Archie Carpenter)

In the old days of football, before players specialized, a “triple-threat” man was somebody who could run, pass, and kick with the best. The term got borrowed for musical theater, where a top performer must be good at singing, dancing, and acting. A few years ago, off-Broadway composer Adam Overett wrote a comical song about a singer who can’t act. When done with appropriate ineptitude, it’s hilarious—and Overett has now spun the idea into a feature-length musical comedy. Pittsburgh CLO presents the world premiere of The Double-Threat Trio. The story concerns three friends eager to make it in show biz, except each is sorely deficient in one of the three skills required. Playing The Double-Threat Trio for CLO are J. Alex Noble, Jerreme Rodriguez, and Drew Leigh Williams. (And BTW, they’re all triple-talented, as they must be. You’ve got to be good to do a good job of pretending to do something badly.) At the Greer Cabaret Theater, 655 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

Mike Vargo, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer, covers theater for Entertainment Central. 

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