Point Park Theatre Alumni are Making It Big in NYC

A trio of Point Park University graduates have a hand in two Broadway shows that are nominated for multiple Tony Awards.




photos provided

 

Point Park University’s theatre department must be doing something right.

Three former students who earned degrees in theatre arts have taken their knowledge and skills to the ultimate stage: Broadway.

Rachel Stevens, Courtney Bassett and Jordan Grubb have key roles in two shows that recently were nominated for Tony Awards: “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” and “Groundhog Day The Musical.”
 


 

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Thanks to a few student directing opportunities, Rachel Stevens (who graduated in 2009) quickly realized that she wanted to pursue directing after earning her degree.

Stevens, of Astoria, N.Y., is now assistant director of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” a musical adapted from a snippet of the 19th-century novel “War and Peace.” The characters are portrayed in a new, contemporary way, and the audience also is involved in the show. Even the theater’s lobby is curated to resemble a Russian bunker.

“It’s one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had working on a production,” Stevens says. “It’s a beautiful story about self-actualization and love and youth.”

She says the diversity of her education from Point Park was one of the biggest influencers of her success.

“I had some incredible professors while I was there,” she says. “They were so supportive of exploring all of the different things I was interested in and not pigeonholing me into one perspective.

“I never felt like I was being packaged into anything — I felt like an individual.”
 


 

Having the opportunity to work with Courtney Bassett, a former peer at Point Park who graduated in 2011, also has been a rewarding experience, she says.

“One of the wonderful experiences beyond the work itself was redefining our relationship and becoming closer while we were working on the play in our joint memory and experience of what Pittsburgh gave us as artists,” Stevens says. “That was a huge plus, having someone who went to Point Park in the production.”

Bassett, of Sterling, Va., dances in the ensemble and also as a cover for two leads in the production.

“The experience has been all around extraordinary — magical,” Bassett says.

Bassett says she drew on the movement and dance training she received at Point Park for the show. 

“I still use a lot of the techniques I learned from [Point Park],” she says. “Pittsburgh led me to this show.”

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” earned 12 Tony nominations: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Featured Actor, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Direction, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.


 

Groundhog Day The Musical

Even though he headed straight for the Big Apple after graduation, Jordan Grubb just can’t seem to get away from Pennsylvania.

Grubb, originally from Easton, is a cast member in “Groundhog Day The Musical.” The show is adapted from of the 1993 movie set in Punxsutawney, in which weatherman Phil Collins is doomed to relive the same day over and over again.

Grubb, who graduated in 2008, is a swing cast member for 11 characters, meaning he has to be able to play any of those roles at a moment’s notice.. Last month, when the show’s lead actor tore his ACL during a preview performance just days before the show’s opening, Grubb had to step up to take his understudy’s role.

“So that was when I really made my Broadway debut,” he says.

Moving to New York City immediately after graduation was no easy feat, Grubb says. He waited nearly 10 years for his big break with “Groundhog Day.”

“It wasn’t easy, but I think that made me appreciate it that much more and realize just how lucky I really am,” Grubb says.

“Groundhog Day The Musical” is nominated for seven awards: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Leading Actor, Best Scenic Design, Best Direction and Best Choreography.

“It’s amazing to see the hard work pay off,” Grubb says. “This has been my dream since I was a kid.”

The 71st annual Tony Awards is set to air at 8 p.m. June 11 on CBS. Click here to see the complete list of nominations.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

More From The 412

Pirates All-Stars Head to Cincinnati in Style

Pirates All-Stars Head to Cincinnati in Style

Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Mark Melancon and Andrew McCutchen made sure to share the experience on social media.
TV Chef Zimmern Says 'Burgh is 'Next Big Thing'

TV Chef Zimmern Says 'Burgh is 'Next Big Thing'

Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's 'Bizarre Foods,' hails Pittsburgh's craftsman approach to life.
Inside the Den: Video of Pittsburgh Zoo's Newest Arrival

Inside the Den: Video of Pittsburgh Zoo's Newest Arrival

This birth of the Amur leopard cub is significant because the species is extremely endangered with only about 70 leopards remaining in the wild.
Justin Severino Sets Opening Date for Morcilla

Justin Severino Sets Opening Date for Morcilla

Severino's much-anticipated second restaurant to open in Lower Lawrenceville this month.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

19 Pittsburgh-Area Burgers That We Love

19 Pittsburgh-Area Burgers That We Love

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein spent months eating scores of hamburgers in and around Pittsburgh. Find out how he narrowed his list down to 19 — and see which ones made the cut.
Meet 3 Butchers of the 'Burgh and Pittsburgh's ‘Brisket Boss’

Meet 3 Butchers of the 'Burgh and Pittsburgh's ‘Brisket Boss’

We visit Salem's halal butcher shop, the butchery program at Whitfield restaurant and the Butcher on Butler. Plus, smoking tips from the Brisket Boss.
The Region's Top Dentists 2017

The Region's Top Dentists 2017

Our annual list, which contains 369 dentists in the region, as determined by topDENTISTS.
Showtime Brothers: A Tale of Two Hollanders

Showtime Brothers: A Tale of Two Hollanders

In the 13 years since CBS’ ‘The Guardian’ went off the air, the Mt. Lebanon-raised siblings who inspired and wrote the series, Scott and David Hollander, have continued to export Pittsburgh nationally.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The new Live Animal Encounters program introduces museum visitors to rescued wildlife.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

The third iteration of the series will feature chef J.J. Johnson, formerly of The Cecil and Minton's Supper Club in Harlem.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

The tacos-and-tequila bar and restaurant on the South Side doesn't do anything wrong, exactly, but has room to grow.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

As the team prepares the inaugural class of its Hall of Honor, Mike Prisuta selects the four members of the Steelers family most deserving of inclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

No. 14 Boutique in Lawrenceville put together this chic outfit for the tricky period when summer cools into autumn.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

Reviews of "The Hitman's Bodyguard" and "Wind River," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

These Pittsburgh couples certainly know how to bring the cookie table tradition to life.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Close to a half dozen local businesses, among them Savannah Hayes and Stak Ceramics, will make their debut next week at the mega interior design and home goods-focused show in New York City.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments