July 2022 Theater Guide: ‘The Cherry Orchard,’ ‘Kinky Boots,’ ‘Godspell,’ Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller
Most years there’s a dearth of interesting theater offerings in the middle of the summer. Not this July, however.
Pittsburgh’s beloved vagabond theater company, Quantum Theatre, is producing Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the OneValley development near Hazelwood Green. Pittsburgh CLO this month this month has the return of Kinky Boots, as well as Godspell and A Chorus Line.
July features two lesser known, but powerful plays from two power-hitter playwrights. Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge is onstage at Throughline and Tennessee Williams, A Lovely Day for Creve Couer is running at Little Lake. Pittsburgh Festival Opera is offering a veritable buffet of operas for all ages, plus a concert, world premiere film, and other fun events.
All are previewed below as Spotlighted Picks for the month, followed by “Other Shows of Note.” Shows are listed by run dates within each category. Mike Vargo (M.V.) also assisted in creation of this guide.
PITTSBURGH FESTIVAL OPERA Assorted Works. July 1 – 13.
The company’s summer festival includes classic and new operas and film with both older and younger artists. This year’s lineup includes: Legends in the Limelight with Marianne Cornetti, The Telephone, Rapunzel, Legends in the Making, and a world premier of the film Lysistrata or the Nude Goddess. Most programs are at the New Hazlett Theatre with some at Schenley Plaza and Row House Cinema. Check out Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s website for more information. (R.H.)
KINKY BOOTS (musical) music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein. Pittsburgh CLO July 5 – 10.
From Jersey Boys to Hamilton, musicals based on true stories are an odd lot, and one of the oddest is Kinky Boots. Winner of six Tony Awards (including Best Musical) in 2013, the show is derived from the true tale of a shoe-factory owner who saved his business by converting it to produce specialty footwear: the high-heeled, high-fashion boots worn by men who perform as drag queens. Kinky Boots gave Pittsburgh native Billy Porter a breakout lead role as Lola, the queen who inspires the factory man to get those boots rolling off the line. Now the musical returns, minus Porter, but in a lauded national touring production. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (M.V.)
THE CHERRY ORCHARD by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Libby Appel. Quantum Theatre. July 8 – 31.
Summer is outdoor adventure season for Quantum Theatre, and it’s a fine time for a play by Anton Chekhov, the paradoxical master of early-modern theater. Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard as a comedy. Stanislavski’s Moscow Art Theatre premiered it, in 1904, as a tragedy. Chekhov was irate. The audience loved it. And now—after more than a century of further productions and re-interpretations by companies around the world—Pittsburghers get to see what Quantum does with The Cherry Orchard. Quantum is using a new translation and adaptation by the American whirlwind Libby Appel. Quantum’s artistic director, Karla Boos, takes the stage herself to play the female lead. She’s an aristocratic lady whose country estate, including its famous cherry orchard, must be sold off to pay debts. Some present-day celebrities who lost their mansions could perhaps relate. But this is different: It’s Chekhov, and with his classic assortment of odd characters on hand for the event, anything could happen! Quantum presents The Cherry Orchard at OneValley near Hazelwood Green, 4165 Blair St., Hazelwood. (M.V.)
GODSPELL (musical) by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak. Pittsburgh CLO. July 12 – 17.
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. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (R.H.)
A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COEUR by Tennessee Williams. Little Lake Theatre. July 21 – 31.
Little Lake Theatre rolls into midsummer with a play from the little-known side of the Tennessee Williams repertoire. From The Glass Menagerie in 1944 to The Night of the Iguana in 1961, Williams turned out an amazing series of hits. But for more than 20 years after that he kept writing plays that met with much less success—some highly experimental in style, some just not liked for whatever reasons. Little Lake has chosen one that did win critical appreciation, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur. It’s a story of a middle-aged woman who thinks she’s going to marry the man of her dreams. The man has quite other ideas, which raises the question of whether our heroine is interested in a consolation prize. Creve Coeur Lake, near St. Louis, is a scenic place suitable for romantic adventures or misadventures. Little Lake, near Pittsburgh, presents A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur at 500 Lakeside Dr. South, Canonsburg. (M.V.)
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE by Arthur Miller. Throughline Theatre. July 22 – August 6.
Playwright Arthur Miller lived an interesting life having written classic American plays like Death of a Salesman and The Crucible and being married to Marilyn Monroe. The marriage to Monroe only lasted for four years, but Miller’s impact on American Literature has remained strong. Throughline Theatre is producing another noted play by Miller, A View From a Bridge. The aforementioned bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge. The play is set in a nearby Italian-American neighborhood where the protagonist, Eddie Carbone’s life is on the decline ever since his wife’s orphaned niece falls in love with someone he disapproves of. The play considers the true cost of freedom. Recommended for ages 13+ due to some mature content. Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. (R.H.)
A CHORUS LINE (musical) music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and a book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante. Pittsburgh CLO July 26 – 31
“One Singular Sensation” is a great number from the upcoming Pittsburgh CLO production, A Chorus Line. The musical was written by the late Marvin Hamlish (who also conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Pops series for a number of years). A Chorus Line chronicles the highs and lows in the lives of 17 up-and-coming dancers who are competing for spots on a chorus line. It’s a celebration of the unsung heroes of musicals, the chorus dancers. The musical had several very popular songs including “What I Did for Love,” “One,” and “I Hope I Get It” The play won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (R.H.)
Other Shows of Note
THE LADIES FOURSOME by Norm Foster. South Park Theater. Now – July 16.
In the Ladies Foursome, Margot, Tate, and Connie are gathered for their friend Cathy’s funeral. The next day they play a round of golf and are joined by an old friend of Cathy’s that they don’t really know. Over the round of golf their bonds grow stronger as they discuss life, love, sex, and secrets. The play is a warm and funny tale of friendship. Corner of Brownsville Road and Corrigan Dr, South Park Twp. (R.H.)
JUMPIN’ JIVE (dance). Assorted Works. Texture Contemporary Ballet. July 15 – 17.
Texture Contemporary Ballet for this performance of Jumpin’ Jive, will premiere two new works – Don’t Change the Station, by company dancer Madeline Kendall, set to music from the 50s through the 70s; plus Rhythm & Romance by Alan Obuzor, featuring jazz, big band, swing and ragtime music. Also on the bill is an encore performance of Can Reality Acutely Create Knowledge?. It’s a 19-minute contemporary ballet with seven dancers and set to music by composer Max Richter and others and choreographed by Obuzor. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square. (R.H.)
A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES by John Patrick. South Park Theatre July 21 – August 6.
In the comedy, A Bad Year for Tomatoes, a popular actress Myra Marlowe flees the glitz and glamor of her career to a small, quiet town. She intends to embrace the quiet life in order to write her autobiography, but nosy, and noisy neighbors keep interrupting her work. So Marlowe invents a maniacal sister to chase the townspeople away. Corner of Brownsville Rd. and Corrigan Dr., South Park. Twp. (R.H.)
ANYTHING GOES (musical) music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse. New book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman. Stage 62. July 22 – 31.
Anything Goes is a 2011 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival, and is onstage this month at Stage 62. The musical comedy is a Cole Porter classic featuring romance on the high seas with a soundtrack that includes “Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re The Top,” and “Anything Goes.” Carlynton Junior-Senior High School, 435 Kings Highway, Carnegie. (R.H.)
MEMPHIS THE MUSICAL (musical) music by David Bryan, lyrics by Bryan and Joe DiPietro, and a book by DiPietro. Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. July 22 – 31.
A rock and roll musical, with a score written by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan. The play is set in the South. Memphis the Musical is loosely based on the story of Memphis radio DJ Dewey Phillips, who in the 1950’s was one of the first white DJs to play black music. Memphis the Musical explores the forbidden love between a White DJ and a Black cabaret singer. 1 Lincoln Park, Midland. (R.H.)
Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.