Pittsburgh Playhouse Hosts 'Umbrella' World Premiere

When it rains, it pours: 'The Umbrella Man' receives its world premiere at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and will hit the big screen, too.



Ron Allan-Lindblom, the Playhouse's artistic director, has a hand in the creation of both the play and film versions of 'The Umbrella Man'.

Like many fathers, Lyle wants to teach his son to ride a bike. But when his son is struck dead by a young, inexperienced driver, Lyle faces a parent's worst nightmare-the loss of an only child.

Traumatized and helpless, Lyle funnels his energy into a strange pastime: conspiracy theory-specifically, the John F. Kennedy assassination. More specifically, the mysterious man spotted just before Kennedy was shot-the infamous "umbrella man."

In The Umbrella Man, Lyle journeys into one of America's darkest moments, cavorting with theorists and even attending a conspiracy convention. What begins as a therapeutic non-sequitur morphs into an unhealthy obsession. Will Lyle ever come to terms with his personal tragedy? Or will his study of the Zapruder film, a home movie taken by a spectator during the assassination, start to destroy his sense of self?

The Umbrella Man is a play receiving its world premiere this month at the Pittsburgh Playhouse-thanks to Point Park University's professional company, The REP.

But the story won't end there: Umbrella began its life as a screenplay, inspired by one of fiction writer Edward Delaney's short stories. When brothers Michael and Joe Grasso penned the script in their native Los Angeles, they pictured it as a movie.

So, the Playhouse will make a movie as well. What's more: Most of the production team will consist of Point Park undergraduates.

"When I read the script, I saw an opportunity to not only to do the play, but for our cinema department to make a real feature film," says Ron Allan-Lindblom, the Playhouse's artistic director. "What I like about it is that the story takes place in Pittsburgh. It's a Pittsburgh couple."

Lindblom received the script from Robert Miller, a friend and longtime collaborator who lives in California. Aside from his distinction of being legendary playwright Arthur Miller's son, Robert has directed several stage productions in Pittsburgh, and he and Lindblom have proved themselves to be a powerhouse duo.

As is the case with many Hollywood stories, Miller met the Grasso brothers through mutual colleagues, and he was moved by what he read.

"They showed me the script and said they'd been trying to get it made for a while," recalls Miller. "I met with them, and over the course of a dinner, we found out we had a lot in common."

But the Grassos weren't certain how best to deliver their story: as a cable movie, as a TV miniseries or as a movie of the week. "As soon as they mentioned seeing it as a play, I said I think I know a few people who could help adapt this to the stage."

Lindblom was affected by the script, too, and he found it "eminently adaptable." And as the idea gained momentum, Lindblom saw an opportunity to create a feature-film using the cinema department that is already a part of Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts.

The Grassos visited Pittsburgh, toured Point Park and discussed the project with Lindblom and Miller. They decided that Miller would be a producer, having already produced film versions of Arthur Miller's Focus and The Crucible (the latter memorably starring Daniel Day-Lewis). By March, the decision had been reached, and the quartet has worked tirelessly through the summer to secure funding and to cast the play. 

At press time, the minimum film budget is expected to be anywhere between $800,000 and $1.3 million, and shooting is set to begin in November.

Filming in Pittsburgh is expected to last three weeks, which will be followed by seven to eight days of shooting in Dallas, Texas, in the very plaza where the assassination took place.

"Every time I start a big project, especially movies, I always get worried that I've jumped too fast, too far," Miller says. "I'm investing in it both emotionally and financially. It's not something one does on a whim."

Acknowledging good fortune, he goes on to say, "But every time we reach for a door, it seems to open. Every time I have my doubts, the door opens wider. It's almost like a tidal pull, with more and more support. You'd have to be a schmuck to get in the way of it."

Lindblom and Miller say that the play and film won't be that different from one another-the brunt of the story and dialogue will likely remain the same.

Lindblom and Miller were drawn to The Umbrella Man because of its humanistic themes: trauma, healing and the aftermath of lives cut short. Although neither expects the film to become a blockbuster, the project has enthralled them since day one.

Meanwhile, the pair is looking forward to working with a mostly local, mostly student team.

"There's a lot of things I like about Pittsburgh," Miller says of his past experiences here. "I like the talent and the people. Beyond that, though, there's an enormous amount of support and enthusiasm for the arts and artists. It's not as commerce-driven. I'm impressed by the number of theaters and dance companies that are supported by the community. People come out to see that stuff."

(Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. Sept. 9-26: Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $24-$27. Info, tickets: 412/621-4445, pittsburghplayhouse.com)

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Our JazzLive International Festival Cheat-Sheet

Our JazzLive International Festival Cheat-Sheet

We break down each day of the festival so you don’t have to improv your way through it.
Avatar-inspired Cirque Du Soleil Show Takes Off in Pittsburgh

Avatar-inspired Cirque Du Soleil Show Takes Off in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine has a backstage view of “Toruk: The First Flight,” which runs this week at Consol Energy Center.
Mellon Square Restoration Wins Docomomo US Design of Excellence Award

Mellon Square Restoration Wins Docomomo US Design of Excellence Award

The Pittsburgh Park Conservancy and City of Pittsburgh, in partnership with Heritage Landscapes, are recognized with the distinguished national design award for their restoration of Mellon Square, Downtown.
Ice-Cream Alert: Graeter's Scoop Shop to Open in Wexford

Ice-Cream Alert: Graeter's Scoop Shop to Open in Wexford

The 145-year-old Cincinnati-based ice-cream business will open its first Pennsylvania scoop-shop in July.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Research led Kellee Maize to discover she is the daughter of the former teen singing sensation. Now she and McNichol are teaming up to develop a television series to help other parents and children find each other.
Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

One day, 18 roller coasters, four queasy stomachs, two cheeseburgers, one fried dough … whew.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Our JazzLive International Festival Cheat-Sheet

Our JazzLive International Festival Cheat-Sheet

We break down each day of the festival so you don’t have to improv your way through it.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino of Cure and Morcilla organized the event, which featured celebrated chefs from DC, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

The restaurant and bar in Oakland welcomes college students and locals alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins may be more poised to establish a dynasty in 2016 than they were in 2009.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Vintage signs can add a pop of personality to your decor.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Reviews of "The Conjuring 2," "Warcraft," "Maggie's Plan," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

Honoring tradition at weddings is important for many couples, whether that means including heirlooms and unique customs or hosting a full-blown second ceremony.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

House15143 is Sewickley debuts “House Calls,” a mobile Airstream designed to bring the shopping experience to you (or an event near you).

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

The camp is a collaboration between two area universities and is open to students entering grades 9-12.

Comments