Front Porch Staging ‘Bright Star’; ‘Steel Magnolias’ at McKeesport Little Theatre (Sun., 5/19/19)

1) There have been great sports teams that never won a championship, because they had the misfortune to play at the same time as powerhouses like the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers or Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Which is what happened to the Broadway musical Bright Star. Written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, the show was a Tony Award finalist in 2016—the same year as Hamilton. But now the formidable Front Porch Theatricals troupe is performing Bright Star in Pittsburgh. The musical has Brickell’s soulful songs and lyrics coupled with Martin’s brand of bluegrass. And naturally, since this is a Martin thing, the story features bizarre love affairs and frustrated hopes for stardom. Take heart, though; a happy ending is provided. The setting is North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains in the early-to-mid 1900s. The Front Porch cast of over a dozen includes Erin Lindsay Krom, Jerreme Rodriguez, Miller Jay Kraps, and others. 2 p.m. Performances continue through May 26. Bright Star is at the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. (MV)

2) Playwright Robert Harling wrote Steel Magnolias, a classic tragicomic tear-jerker, in memory of his sister. Susan Harling Robinson had died from complications of diabetes after giving birth, and the play, set in a beauty shop in a Louisiana town, depicts the interactions of a group of odd but stout-hearted women as one of them faces the same crisis. Steel Magnolias premiered in New York in 1987, quickly becoming a popular ensemble piece for all-female casts. 2 p.m. Ends today. McKeesport Little Theatre, 1614 Coursin St., McKeesport.