Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Returning to Pittsburgh: ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Comes Full Circle

Prime Stage Theatre is set to bring the famed Pittsburgh epistolary novel to life in an exclusive premiere.




Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” | photos by John Bramley | © Lions Gate Entertainment Inc.
 

In 1999, Pittsburgh native Stephen Chbosky released a novel that delved into the lives of a local teenager and his friends. In 2012, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller played those teenagers on the big screen, bringing the beloved coming-of-age tale to a new generation. Now, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” comes full circle back to Pittsburgh with an exclusive premiere on stage.

Jeffrey Cordell and Caitlin Skaff, who both grew up in the South Hills, will present the script by Penn State University graduate Hailey Rohn at Prime Stage Theatre. Skaff, Prime Stage’s assistant operations director, had been pulling for the theater’s co-founder Wayne Brinda to take on the story, convinced it would aid in Prime Stage’s goal to adapt literature for the theater with a focus on middle- and high school-aged students.

“I felt really strongly that Prime Stage was the place to [premiere] it because of our mission — and luckily Wayne listened to me,” Skaff says.

They collaborated with Rohn, who had worked as an extra on the film and created a script as a school project at Penn State, and secured the rights to the story. Prime Stage is the first and only theater to have production rights to the “Perks” story.

​Chbosky told the story of 15-year-old Charlie through a series of letters that Charlie writes to an anonymous “friend.” Charlie describes dealing with the death of his beloved aunt Helen and the suicide of his best friend while trying to fit in during his first year of high school. He finds a group of ragtag seniors who take him in, including Patrick — an openly gay teen who’s in love with the school’s star quarterback — and his stepsister Sam, for whom Charlie develops a crush.

Cordell reflected that, while he had a lot of positive experiences growing up in the city, he also remembers feeling like an outsider, as though part of his identity was invisible. He says he can relate to the “group of misfit toys” persona of the young protagonists and compares it to his own group of friends growing up.

“I see young people going through this,” Brinda says. “I see them saying, ‘We don’t know who to talk to or where we can go. We need some guidance here.’ This is important to do.

“I’ve had several people say to me, ‘This book saved my life.’ The production blends the power of literature and live theater.”

One of the book’s iconic scenes depicts Charlie, Patrick and Sam driving a truck through the Fort Pitt Tunnel; a song on the radio, unfamiliar to the group (it’s Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” in the book) electrifies Sam. She slips back into the bed of the truck and stands, arms outstretched, as they race through the tunnel until the sky and the city of Pittsburgh open up before them. 

During this scene, Charlie utters one of book’s most famous lines: “I feel infinite.”

Despite presenting challenges for the theater, it’s a cornerstone scene that captures the angst and longing commonly wrapped up in a teenaged soul. There was no leaving it out.
 


Watson, Lerman and Ezra Miller
 

“The tunnel scene is happening; it happens twice in the play,” Cordell says. “Many people in my life know how passionate I can get about driving through the Fort Pitt tunnels and having the city reveal itself in all its beauty on the other side. I take every guest that comes to visit me through that experience. That part of ‘my Pittsburgh’ and other stories I shared from my childhood all prompted my friend and colleague Andy Felt to strongly recommend the film to me. The film took me to the book. The book took me to amazing places and conversations with all sorts of friends and family. And now I am here and directing this project.”

​Skaff says that also was a scene she held close, noting that she still has her original copy of the book — highlighted and underlined with song titles and quotes that she felt were important as a teenager.

“I feel like when you’re in high school, there are a lot of struggles people go through to feel like they’re at the right place at the right time and doing the right thing. To have that moment of feeling like you can do anything,” Skaff says, “I feel like it’s magic.”  

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 412/267-4245, newhazletttheater.org; May 5-14. After the performance on Friday, May 12, audience members will have the chance to videochat with book author Stephen Chbosky. The show on May 13 will be a sensory-friendly performance.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Three Rivers Champion: Sloane Davidson

Davidson started an organization that gives refugee and immigrant families aid based on real, person-to-person relationships, not transactions.

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Associate Editor Lauren Davidson appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the fall Weddings issue.

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

New TV Series Shot in Pittsburgh Area Premiering This Month

See if you recognize any of the locations in the thriller “One Dollar.”

Bocce, Pasta, Music and More Highlight Little Italy Days

Experience Italian culture and cuisine during Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days.

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Heinz Red Ketchup Packets Set to Get a Green Makeover

The Kraft Heinz Co. has announced plans to recreate 100 percent of its packaging to make it more environmentally sustainable by 2025.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

Comments

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Comments

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

The owners of the Bloomfield vegan eatery introduce a limited run of whole sunflower heads that you can eat like corn.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

Ah, the good old days. They may be gone, but there are still a few places where you can get a blast from the past.

Comments

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments


Revisiting Fat Head's

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

Comments

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

The new driving-range game is way over the top, but the game it's offering is fun and they'll ensure you have a good time.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
In Ben They Trust

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

Comments

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Ryan Shazier's battle back from a paralyzing injury last season and his subsequent rehabilitation from spinal stabilization surgery is a more compelling saga than the Steelers’ quest to reach Super Bowl LIII.​

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Comments

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

These proposal faux pas serve as a reminder that sometimes things have to go wrong to end up right.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

Comments

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Comments