Theater: July 2010
Local stages put on performances this month that are out of this welt.
One of my favorite words is “weltanschauung” (VELT-ahn-SHOU-oong), a German noun meaning “worldview.” Well, that view is pretty scenic this month—local theaters present con artists, lunatics, math-whizzes, Christian rock-stars and an aspiring actress at the turn of the century. See how these driven minds perceive the world—and desperately try to live in it.
THE PRODUCERS: JULY 6-18
Two guys decide to produce a Broadway show, but they’re banking on its failure. And with a name like Springtime for Hitler, how could the show possibly succeed? When the film The Producers hit cinemas in 1968, it became an instant classic, and it hurtled Mel Brooks into stardom. In 2001, Broadway produced a staged version (ironic, no?), and this, too, became a national sensation. Pittsburgh CLO revives this brilliant show-business farce. (Benedum Center, Seventh Street, downtown. July 6-18: Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7:30 p.m. $26.50-$70.50. Info, tickets: 412/456-6666, pittsburghclo.org)
THE HOTHOUSE: JULY 22-AUG. 22
There’s a saying: “If you don’t want people to think you’re crazy, stop insisting that you’re not crazy.” But in the mad, mad, mad world of The Hothouse, there is no other choice. A man named Roote oversees a sanitarium, but when he orders the investigation of a patient’s murder, it seems that Roote himself is the likeliest suspect.
Harold Pinter is one of the greatest playwrights of the past century, and Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre stages his most labyrinthine tragicomedy. Hothouse kicks off a festival of Pinter plays with staged readings and storytelling to follow. Sign up for PMweekend at pittsburghmagazine.com for more coverage. (Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, University of Pittsburgh, 2200 Forbes Ave., Oakland. July 22-Aug. 22: Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $20-$50. Info, tickets: 412/561-6000, picttheatre.org)
YEARS AGO: JULY 8-24
Ruth Gordon is probably best-known as Maude in the movie Harold and Maude. But Gordon was also a prolific dramatist, and this month Little Lake Theatre presents the oft-ignored play Years Ago, originally written for “The Ford Theatre Hour,” a radio program about theater.
But Years Ago is more than just a quaint dramedy about a young woman yearning to act in the Big Apple—it’s an autobiographical glimpse at Gordon’s own girlhood. Like her protagonist, Gordon rebelled against her sea-captain father and headed to New York.
And to think: Were Gordon any less plucky, we might never have known Maude. (Little Lake Theatre, 500 Lakeside Drive, Canonsburg. July 8-24: Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $12-$17. Info, tickets: 724/745-6300, littlelake.org)
PROOF: JULY 1-17
One of my favorite Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas, Proof asks the age-old question: How do we prove our own original ideas? Catherine faces this question when her father, a mathematical genius, dies, and she tries to claim ownership of an earth-shattering formula. Did Catherine’s father calculate this proof, or did she?
Like the scientist’s version of Doubt, David Auburn’s drama became a Broadway hit. You might view Proof as the scientist’s version of Doubt, a drama raising questions about faith and morals; like Doubt, Proof became a Broadway hit. As usual, South Park Theatre takes on a cerebral, powerful play. This show will be, without a doubt, small-budget community theater at its finest. (South Park Theatre. July 1-17: Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $5-12. Info, tickets: 412/831-8552, southparktheatre.com)
ALTAR BOYZ: JULY 6-25
Mark, Matthew, Luke and Juan are boys in Altar Boyz—a Christian boy band of dreamy devotees. Their mission is to expel demons from the souls of their fans—live.
On the one hand, Altar Boyz is a biting satire about religious rock music and the fame-obsessed culture that fuels it. On the other hand, the singers are spellbinding, and the songs are toe-tappingly memorable. See this rendition and decide whether the Altar Boyz have brought sectsy back. (Mountain Playhouse, 7690 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown, Somerset County. July 6-25: Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Wed. & Fri., 2 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. $20-$37. Info: 814/629-9201, mountainplayhouse.com)