October Theater Guide: Foreign Intrigue

'What's That?' Well, that's the title of most unusual people-and-puppet play, direct from Ukraine. Presented by Teatr-Pralnia and CCA Dakh, it's one of many foreign and/or foreign-seeming shows in Pittsburgh this month. (photo courtesy of the companies)

‘What’s That?’ Well, that’s the title of a most unusual people-and-puppet play from Ukraine. Presented by Teatr-Pralnia and CCA Dakh, it’s one of many foreign and/or foreign-seeming shows in Pittsburgh this month. (Photo courtesy of the companies)

“Immigrants: We get the job done.” The line is from Hamilton, sung by Lafayette and Hamilton himself at the Battle of Yorktown, and it could apply equally to this month’s live theater schedule in Pittsburgh.  

The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts swings into action, presenting a number of shows by theater groups from outside the country. Although these artists can’t stay—like Lafayette, they have other business to attend to—they’ll do the job while here, and they are joined by numerous “resident aliens,” of whom more in a moment.

Shows from overseas include Roee Chen’s In the Tunnel, a civil-strife satire performed by Gesher Theater of Israel; Lara Foot’s magical-realist Karoo Moose—No Fathers, by Baxter Theatre of South Africa; and the multimedia puppet cabaret What’s That? by Teatr-Pralnia and CCA Dakh of Ukraine. Not to mention Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, an immersive experience by Indian Ink, plus modern dance by companies from Brazil and Haiti.  

The resident aliens, meanwhile, are not-so-average Americans creating and/or performing works that come from artistic galaxies far away. Joan Didion’s The White Album (by Lars Jan and Early Morning Opera) is NOT about the famous Beatles album, but conjures up other strange phenomena of the Sixties. The Way Out West is playwright Liza Birkenmeier’s LGBTQ political-fantasy riff on a counterculture event of the 1940s, the making of the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos.  

Also in the category of intergalactic visitation, the Welcome to Night Vale team visits Pittsburgh for a live podcast. Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Dragons unfolds, rather spectacularly, in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, while the month’s prize for most splendid title goes to Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins + The Golden Legend, by Christopher Williams..  

And to bring the resident-immigrant connection full circle, Pittsburgh’s Bricolage Production Company teams with Hanut31 of Israel in presenting Larger than Life: Frankenstein & Karate Man Patrick Kim.  

Are you ready for some football, metaphorically speaking? Spotlighted shows are previewed in order of run dates, followed by “other suggested productions” at the end. Rick Handler (RH) and Christopher Maggio (CM) contributed to this Guide.   

Continuing from September:

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM by August Wilson. Extended through Oct. 14, Pittsburgh Playwrights.

The real Ma Rainey knew the blues—and years later, August Wilson dramatized them. (Photo, 1917, source unknown)

The real Ma Rainey knew the blues—and years later, August Wilson dramatized them. (Photo, 1917, source unknown)

August Wilson’s famous Pittsburgh Cycle is also known as the American Century Cycle, since it consists of 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20thcentury. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is performing the only one not set in Pittsburgh, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This turbulent tale of a jazz/blues band takes place in Chicago during the 1920s. And though the play is fiction, the title character was real. Blues singer Gertrude “Ma” Rainey was among the first African-American women to hit it big as a recording artist. In 1927, she actually did record a song about a dance craze called the Black Bottom. Wilson’s play puts us in the studio with her band on that day, imagining a session that starts off contentiously and spirals out of control. As in other Wilson stories, there’s sharp-edged humor that turns tragic as the characters’ aspirations clash with the limits placed on them. Plus, in this one, there’s plenty of music. Pittsburgh Playwrights presents Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with artist and performer Vanessa German as Rainey. 937 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

CHATTERTON directed by Karla Boos, from Peter Ackroyd’s novel. Through Oct. 28, Quantum Theatre.

History has many faces. So does deception. In Quantum Theatre's 'Chatterton,' actors (L to R) Tim McGeever, Jonathan Visser, and Tony Bingham play key figures in a web of mystery that spans centuries. (Photo: Jason Snyder)

History has many faces. So does deception. In Quantum Theatre’s ‘Chatterton,’ actors (L to R) Tim McGeever, Jonathan Visser, and Tony Bingham play key figures in a web of mystery that spans centuries. (Photo: Jason Snyder)

In a year filled with talk about “fake news”—not to mention true news of real deceit, and the statement that truth isn’t truth—perhaps it is fitting that Quantum Theatre opens its season with the play Chatterton. Thomas Chatterton was a gifted young British poet in the 1700s. He was also an intriguing prankster. Before his tragic suicide, at the age of 17, he won notice by writing poems in a weird, self-invented form of archaic English, and convincing many people they’d been written by a medieval monk whose work he had discovered. Quantum’s play deepens the intrigue. Adapted from the novel Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd, it spins a tale of a modern-day writer who finds that the young man may have faked his death—and adds further layers of bafflement to build a convoluted, dark-comic detective saga. See our review for details. Part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, Chatterton is performed in Trinity Cathedral Pittsburgh, 328 6th Ave., Downtown. (MV) 

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Kate Hamill, from Jane Austen’s novel. Through Oct. 28, Pittsburgh Public Theater.

Actor Andrew William Smith proudly holds the red ball high in his role as sister Mary in the The Public's 'Pride and Prejudice,' and who knows what the others are up to? (Photo: Michael Henninger)

Actor Andrew William Smith proudly holds the red ball high in his role as sister Mary in the The Public’s ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ and who knows what the others are up to? (Photo: Michael Henninger)

Pittsburgh Public Theater begins its first season under new Artistic Director Marya Sea Kaminski with a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The adaptation is by theater artist Kate Hamill, who also starred in last year’s New York premiere as lead character Elizabeth Bennet, with her real-life partner as Elizabeth’s suitor Mr. Darcy. The Public doesn’t have such casting, but it has a play that’s sure to evoke delight and/or controversy among Austen fans. Whereas Austen wrote her 1813 novel in undertones of sly, ironic humor, Hamill’s stage version takes it over the top. This Pride and Prejudice opens with the ensemble, in period costume, performing a 1965 rock song: “The Game of Love,” from Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders. There’s more mindbending to come. As the actors play out Darcy’s courtship of fiercely independent Elizabeth (here called “Lizzy”), they engage in rapid-fire stunts that include role-switching, cross-dressing, and cheeky flippancy galore. Altogether, the characters’ “game” of dancing around social conventions in pursuit of true love becomes a sort of theatrical speed chess. But is it true to Austen’s spirit? Those who approve say “Check, mate.” At the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

LOBBY HERO by Kenneth Lonergan. Sept. 28 – Oct. 20, barebones productions.

Braddock’s barebones productions has gained a reputation for doing big work in a small venue, the cozy (and usually filled-to-capacity) barebones black box. Now the company performs a tight, tense comedy/drama with a story arc that fits the confines of the room. Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero is set in the entrance lobby of a New York apartment building, where four characters—a new security guard, his supervisor, and a pair of NYPD cops—are chatting away the wee hours of the night. The chat turns into an emotional cage match, as it’s revealed that the four are faced with interlocking moral dilemmas to which there are no easy answers: The walls are closing in. Playwright Lonergan is best known as writer and director of the 2016 film Manchester by the Sea, but he’s been crafting stage plays about complex, conflicted people in sticky situations for quite a while. Lobby Hero premiered off-Broadway in 2001; a Broadway revival this year has earned rave reviews. Barebones puts the action right in your lap at 1211 Braddock Ave., Braddock. (MV)

October shows in the Entertainment Central spotlight:

JOAN DIDION’S THE WHITE ALBUM by Lars Jan and Early Morning Opera. Oct. 5-7, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

One word not permitted in writing is “indescribable,” so let’s give this thing a shot. In the world premiere of Joan Didion’s The White Album­, an idiosyncratic performing-arts group dramatizes a stirring, but hard-to-define, essay by one of the foremost writers of the last century’s New Journalism wave. Joan Didion, now 83, rose to fame in the 1960s and ’70s with her highly subjective reporting about people and events in California during those years of cultural upheaval. “The White Album” was published in New West magazine and covers, among other things: a doomed recording session by The Doors, at which Jim Morrison showed up late and apparently disjointed. Huey Newton, cofounder of the Black Panther Party, urgently seeking treatment for a gunshot wound and being hassled for his health-insurance card. Linda Kasabian, ex-member of the Charles Manson commune, choosing a dress to wear for her court testimony about the group’s mass murders, et cetera—all mixed with Didion’s personal account of having bizarre psychological issues at the very time she was becoming famous, and more.

Every word of the essay is now portrayed in a feature-length theater piece created by the mostly West Coast-based Lars Jan and his floating “performance and art lab” Early Morning Opera. Joan Didion’s The White Album uses stage techniques ranging from high-tech special effects to good old acting, with Mia Barron as Didion. Presented as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

MADAMA BUTTERFLY (opera) by Giacomo Puccini. Oct. 6-14, Pittsburgh Opera.

Pittsburgh Opera once again stages a production of the classic Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. The opera is a tale of love gone wrong between an American sailor, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and a Japanese woman, Cio-Cio San, who gives up everything to be with him. The opera is a cultural touchstone: in 1996, Weezer named its sophomore album Pinkerton, and the CD contains Puccini’s printed lyrics in Italian. Hard to believe, but when the opera premiered in Milan in February 1904 it wasn’t a success, partly because the singers didn’t have enough time to rehearse. Puccini revised the opera, adding an Act III out of Act II, and it ran again (successfully) in Brescia, Lombardy, Italy later that year. Now it runs at the Benedum Center. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (EC, CM)

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE (live podcast) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Oct. 11 only, 8 p.m., Night Vale team f/t Mal Blum at Byham Theater.

Night Vale is the town where losers in the lottery are devoured by wolves at the petting zoo, unless they set fire to their homes, because the wolves cannot detect the presence of arsonists. It is where a young woman led a “book drive” that consisted of rounding up books and herding them on the long trail out of town. Traffic reports in Night Vale are filled with philosophical musings about the meaninglessness of going anywhere, while the Sheriff’s Secret Police struggle to protect the town from supernatural phenomena, and local folks take courage in the slogan “We have nothing to fear except ourselves. We are unholy, awful people.” The bimonthly podcast  Welcome to Night Vale premiered in 2012. It has been called a dark version of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon stories, but this is inaccurate; it exists in a separate aesthetic dimension. Now the Welcome to Night Vale creative team visits Pittsburgh to perform a new live episode of the saga, titled “A Spy in the Desert.” Audience participation is promised, and the weather—always sung by indie guest artists—is provided by singer/songwriter Mal Blum. 8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th  St., Cultural District. (MV)

IN THE TUNNEL by Roee Chen. Oct. 11-13, Gesher Theater of Israel, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

Gesher Theater of Israel, founded by Russian immigrants to that country, visits Pittsburgh to perform the company’s acclaimed new play In the Tunnel. Tel Aviv-based Gesher is known for its creative adaptations, and this one makes a leap across cultures. In the Tunnel was inspired by the award-winning Danis Tanović film No Man’s Land, set during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. The movie is a tense tragicomedy about soldiers from opposing Bosnian ethnic groups trapped together in a trench and trying to get help, while NGO officials and TV news teams turn their predicament into a mass-media spectacle. Roee Chen, a playwright associated with Gesher, took the premise and ran with it. His In the Tunnel features a bad-bedfellow group of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants stuck underground in a similar jam, while assorted zany doings of life in the contentious land transpire outside. The satirical play has been called a must-see for persons of all factions and persuasions. It’s performed in Hebrew with English subtitles projected. Presented as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

WHAT’S THAT? by Teatr-Pralnia and CCA Dakh of Ukraine. Oct. 12-13, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

Growing up in today’s modern society can be tough for children. For the children of Ukraine, layer on top of that the fact that Russia in an unprovoked attack invaded their country and annexed the eastern half of it. Fighting is still ongoing. Ukranian theater company Teatr-Pralnia, with CCA Dakh,has created What’s That?  to deal with all that children must process. It’s a supercharged puppet cabaret of real-time events and Facebook feeds, iconic Ukrainian poetry, catchy vamps, and improvised action. The lively piece examines questions through the child’s perspective. It asks: How do we understand? Who are we in a time of sensationalized information and deceptive surfaces? Where is our place in our world and in history? Part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. Trust Arts Education Center, 807 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

CÃO SEM PLUMAS (“Dog Without Feathers”: modern dance) by Deborah Colker Dance. Oct. 13, 8 p.m., presented by Pittsburgh Dance Council and part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

The social order goes all a-tilt in 'Cão sem Plumas.' (Photo: courtesy of Deborah Colker Dance, Brazil)

The social order goes all a-tilt in ‘Cão sem Plumas.’ (Photo: courtesy of Deborah Colker Dance, Brazil)

The story portrayed in the dance performance Cão sem Plumas (Dog Without Feathers) is a classic tale of class struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Inspired by Brazilian writer João Cabral de Melo Neto’s poem of the same title, it is set in Brazil’s beautiful yet poor Capibaribe River region. Tensions between the elite and the river people come to a head as the dancers cover themselves with mud. Actual projections of the river enhance the production. The show is produced and performed by Deborah Colker Dance of Brazil as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. 8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 6th Street. (RH)

ANASTASIA (musical) by Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens, and Terrence McNally. Oct. 16-21, touring company at Benedum Center.

Anastasia is a musical based on a 1997 animated film, which is itself based on the legend of Anastasia Nikolaevna, Tsar Nicholas II’s youngest daughter. The legend goes that Anastasia escaped the assassination of her family by the Bolsheviks in 1917. The musical runs with this legend: a con-man and an ex-aristocrat find an amnesiac street sweeper, Anya, to pose as Anastasia. The Soviets pursue them from Leningrad to Paris as Anya seeks to learn her true identity. Terrence McNally and Lynn Ahrens wrote the musical’s book and lyrics, respectively. Stephen Flaherty, a Pittsburgh native, composed the music. The musical premiered in Hartford, Connecticut in 2016 and ran on Broadway in 2017. It was nominated for two Tony Awards in 2017. This is its first time running in Pittsburgh. Tony-award-winner Darko Tresnjak directs. Part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series. The Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)

MRS. KRISHNAN’S PARTY (immersive theater) by Indian Ink Theater Company. Oct. 17-21, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

'Mrs. Krishnan's Party' provides food for the party-starved soul. (Photo: courtesy of Indian Ink Theater Company)

‘Mrs. Krishnan’s Party’ provides food for the party-starved soul. (Photo: courtesy of Indian Ink Theater Company)

We’ve all heard about cases where people (usually teenagers) are hosting a party, and then somehow the word gets out far and wide, and the residence gets overwhelmed by many more party-goers than what was anticipated. That’s the premise for New Zealand- based Indian Ink Theatre Company’s Mrs. Krishnan’s Party. In this play, 100 strangers unexpectedly turn up for DJ James’ Onam party, so his landlady Mrs. Krishnan has no choice but to crank it up a notch and make it the party of her life. This is an immersive theater experience. The audience joins the party where there’s music, dancing, and a vegetarian dal is prepared live for each performance. Wear a beautiful sari if you happen to have one in your wardrobe. Part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. Trust Arts Education Center, 4th Floor, 805 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

MIDNIGHT RADIO PRESENTS LARGER THAN LIFE: FRANKENSTEIN AND KARATE MAN PATRICK KIM by Bricolage Production Company (Pittsburgh) and Hanut31 of Israel. Oct. 25-27, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

Remember when you went to the ol’ neighborhood movie theater for a double feature? Well, Bricolage Productions‘ Midnight Radio team and Israel’s Hanut31 Theater & Gallery present Larger Than Life: Frankenstein & Karate Man Patrick Kim—an exciting theatrical radio-play double feature, replete with Foley sound effects done live during the production. Fictional worlds collide when the truly larger-than-life stories of Frankenstein and Karate Man Patrick Kim are told in different styles. Part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. 937 Liberty Gallery, 937 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

KAROO MOOSE—NO FATHERS by Lara Foot. Oct. 25-28, Baxter Theatre of South Africa, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

This is 'Karoo Moose—No Fathers,' but it sure looks like some cool dads and moms are on board for the show. (Photo: courtesy of Baxter Theatre, South Africa)

This is ‘Karoo Moose—No Fathers,’ but it sure looks like some cool dads and moms are on board for the show. (Photo: courtesy of Baxter Theatre, South Africa)

South Africa’s Baxter Theatre Company presents Karoo Moose—No Fathers, a play that details, with cleverness and creativity, the disintegration of the family unit and the violation of innocence endured by so many South African children. The story takes place in a destitute village where a girl has killed a moose. What was the moose doing there? And where did it come from? These are among several questions which need to be answered. The production combines African storytelling and magical realism. Part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

MOZART IN MOTION / WITH THE PBT ORCHESTRA (ballet, short pieces). Oct. 26-28, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre opens its season with Mozart in Motion, a program of three short ballets set to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. “Divertimento No. 15” was choreographed by George Balanchine to Mozart’s composition of that title, a vigorously majestic piece scored for strings and horns. The other two dances are from the adventurous Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and they differ greatly in mood. “Sechs Tänze” is a comical, borderline silly ballet that conveys Kylián’s notion of Mozart’s “Six German Dances.” Closing the show is “Petite Mort,” which premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 1991 to mark the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. Set to a pair of his piano concertos, it is a dramatic, haunting ballet, performed in part by dancers who wield fencing foils. The PBT Orchestra plays the music for all three. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)

URSULA AND THE 11,000 VIRGINS + THE GOLDEN LEGEND (modern dance, excerpts) by Christopher Williams. Oct. 26-28, The Blanket.

Witness excerpts from two related, modern-dance productions: Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins + The Golden Legend. The companion pieces are non-narrative, and both tell the story of early Christian martyrs and saints. Christopher Williams, an internationally renowned choreographer, dancer, and puppeteer, created the pieces. He will perform them at the New Hazlett Theater. Additionally, he received a Bessie Award in 2005 in the Choreographer/Creator category for Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. The Bessie Awards honor independent dance work in New York City. They are named after the dance teacher Bessie Schönberg. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. (CM)

AYIKODANS / CRI DES NAGO (modern dance) by Ayikodans of Haiti. Oct. 26-28, presented by Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

Ayikodans dance company of Haiti, founded by Jeanguy Saintus, is considered to be the premier professional dance company in the country. Their productions feature a new, contemporary Haitian aesthetic that is rooted in the traditions of the nation, but also reflects a modern Caribbean culture and creativity. Ayikodans presents the U.S. premiere of Cri des Nago here for the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The show’s modern dance is set to music with a Caribbean vibe. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (RH)

PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau. Oct. 27 – Nov. 18, City Theatre.

City Theatre staged Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby in 2015, and the company will now stage her play Pipeline. Race and education come to a head in Pipeline after a prestigious (and predominately white) private school suspends Omari following an incident involving him and a teacher. Will the dream that Omari’s mother had for him still come to fruition? Pipeline premiered in 2017 at New York City’s Lincoln Center Theatre. It won the 2018 Obie (Off-Broadway Theater) Award for Playwriting. Morisseau is from Detroit, which is the setting for her Detroit Projects, an award-winning three-play cycle. 1300 Bingham St., South Side. (CM)

Other Suggested Productions:

WORLD OF DANCE LIVE! is the touring production from the popular NBC-TV show “World of Dance.” The reality competition TV series boasts Jennifer Lopez as both executive producer and one of the judges alongside Ne-Yo, Derek Hough, and host Jenna Dewan. Dancers scheduled to appear are Michael Dameski, Charity and Andres, BDash and Konkrete, Jaxon Willard, Embodiment, and Royal Flux. The production will be an exciting showcase of talented dancers and their amazing routines. Oct. 3. 7:30 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W.Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

MACBETH by William Shakespeare. To celebrate its 70th anniversary season, Little Lake Theatre is staging The Scottish Play (it’s bad luck to say the title!) in a special production which includes spooky scenes performed outdoors. Jared Pfennigwerth plays the title character, with Samantha Rund as Lady you-know-who. The rest of the cast features several women in men’s roles, and Jena Oberg directs. Through Oct. 6, Little Lake Theatre. 500 Lakeside Dr. South, Canonsburg. (MV)

MEN ARE FROM MARS—WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, LIVE! by Eric Coble, from John Gray’s book. If you haven’t read the book and can’t figure out the opposite sex on your own, this one-man show may help. Comedy is included. Through Oct. 14, CLO Cabaret. Greer Cabaret Theater, 655 Penn Ave. Cultural District. (MV)

SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN (musical) by Connie Ray and Alan Bailey. Widely performed worldwide—well, that’s two “wide”s, but you get the picture—the musical Smoke on the Mountain is set in a Baptist church in North Carolina during the 1930s. The plot is essentially a framework for the score, filled with bluegrass and traditional hymns which rock the house. Oct. 2-14, Mountain Playhouse. 7690 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown. (MV)

THE WAY OUT WEST by Liza Birkenmeier. Brooklyn-based playwright Birkenmeier is an MFA graduate of Carnegie Mellon. Now the school is staging her play The Way Out West, which we summarize from its description on the New Play Exchange website: “Nineteen-year-old physicists and engineers party in the desert as they build the world’s first atomic bomb (Los Alamos, 1945) … Subject Matter Keywords: World War II, queer, Lesbian, yoga, cruelty, capitalism, military, marxism, communism, video games.” Oct. 4-13, Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. Philip Chosky Theater on the Carnegie Mellon campus, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (MV)


The video here is from the off-Broadway premiere of She Kills Monsters, performed by The Flea Theater in New York in 2011. Now the cult-favorite fantasy play is being staged in Pittsburgh. It’s about a young woman who, in grieving for her deceased sister, finds the sister’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook and decides to set off on the quest described there. Playwright Qui Nguyen is both an award winner in theater and a gaming expert; his story takes you on quite a trip. Oct. 4-14, Pitt Department of Theatre Arts. Charity Randall Theatre in the Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (MV)

THE FOREIGNER by Larry Shue. There are actually two foreigners in this farce. They’re Englishmen on a fishing trip to Georgia—the U.S. state, not the Eurasian republic—where the locals fail to understand them, and vice versa. Oct. 4-14, Duquesne University Red Masquers. Genesius Theater, Seitz St. at Locust St., Duquesne campus, Uptown. (MV)

THE STRANGER by Agatha Christie. The best-selling fiction writer of all time, Agatha Christie also wrote the world’s longest-running play (The Mousetrap, now in its 66th year in London), and sometimes she turned her fiction into plays. The Stranger is adapted from her suspenseful short story “Philomel Cottage,” about a woman who marries a man who—sorry, no spoilers. Oct. 4-20, South Park Theatre. Brownsville Rd. at Corrigan Dr., South Park Township. (MV)

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (musical) by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Any list of the all-time best dark musicals has to include Sweeney Todd. The setting is London but the venue for this show is in Midland, where occasional mainstage productions draw crowds from near and far. Oct. 5-21, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. 1 Lincoln Park, Midland. (MV)

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE WEST END HORROR by Anthony Dodge and Marcia Milgrom Dodge, from Nicholas Meyer’s novel. The West End is London’s theater district, and in this comical addition to the Sherlock saga, a nasty theater critic has been murdered. Holmes and Watson set out to solve the crime, meeting luminaries of the time such as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Oct. 11-27, Little Lake Theatre. 500 Lakeside Dr. South, Canonsburg. (MV)

MYTHBURGH SEASON 2 presented by 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. This installment—coordinated as always by 12 Peers Theater—happens Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. at Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. (MV)

CABARET (musical) by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff. As long as people try to party while their societies go haywire, the musical Cabaret will never grow old. Set in 1930s Germany during the Nazi takeover, Cabaret won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Musical and has been revived many times, notably in the multiple productions that starred Alan Cumming as the Emcee. Now you can catch the show done by some of Pittsburgh’s best young talent. Oct. 25 – Nov. 11, Point Park University Conservatory Theatre. At the new Pittsburgh Playhouse, 350 Forbes Ave., Downtown. (MV)

JEKYLL & HYDE: THE MUSICAL by Frank Wildhorn, Leslie Bricusse, and Steve Cuden, from R.L. Stevenson’s story. Looking for the best of both worlds? Actually, a show about the worst of both can be pretty entertaining. Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical has played on Broadway and toured internationally since its 1990 premiere in Houston. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella about a man with a self-induced second self, the show includes musical numbers ranging from “Take Me As I Am” to “No One Knows Who I Am.” But there’s a theater group out in the hills that knows how to do it. Oct. 25-28, Actors and Artists of Fayette County. Geyer Performing Arts Center, 111 Pittsburgh St., Scottdale. (MV)

Mike Vargo, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer, covers theater for Entertainment Central. Rick Handler is executive producer of Entertainment Central and Christopher Maggio is the Renaissance man who can write about everything. 

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