For those who considered recent theatrical seasons too heavy on familiar titles, this fall goes lighter. Several brand-new and new-to-Pittsburgh shows are joined by classics and other older works long absent from area stages.
The newest of the new includes The Morini Strad (Nov. 6-Dec. 12). It's City Theatre's world premiere of lauded playwright Willy Holtzman's drama about an aging former child prodigy and the young repairman she hires to mend her Stradivarius. City also goes sort-of-new with Patrick Barlow's 2005 Broadway hit and Tony-winner The 39 Steps (Oct. 16-Nov. 7). It's a spy farce based on a novel based on the Hitchcock movie, with four actors playing some 150 roles. (And no, that's not a typo.)
Quite new, and entirely so to Pittsburgh, is When the Rain Stops (Oct. 28-Nov. 21). Andrew Bovell's epic family drama leaps about in time and space, from 1959 London to Australia in 2039, when fish are extinct and it's always raining. Quantum Theatre takes over the old Iron City Brewery, with Martin Giles directing.
Also new is Slasher (Oct. 29-Nov. 7), at Pitt's Repertory Theatre. Allison Moore's satire concerns a waitress who lands a role in a low-budget, mad-killer flick.
Another show that might sound old is actually new: The Point Park Conservatory stages the Jeanine Tesori & Dick Scanlan musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (Oct. 29-Nov. 7). The multiple-Tony-winner about a Kansas ingénue hitting New York at the dawn of the flapper era (based on the 1967 movie) premiered in 2002.
New one-act plays abound, too, as we welcome back (after a one-year hiatus) the Theatre Festival in Black & White. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company's showcase of one-acts by locals -- with white directors handling four works by black playwrights, and black directors helming four plays by whites -- runs Oct. 14-30. There's also still time to catch the venerable Pittsburgh New Works Festival. The fest continues with new weekly programs of one-acts Sept. 23-26 and Sept. 30-Oct. 3.
This season, even shows that qualify as seasoned lean toward the less familiar. So along with that old standby A Midsummer Night's Dream (Nov. 18-Dec. 4), Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama offers He Who Gets Slapped. Leonid Andreyev's 1915 tragic drama set in a circus (Sept. 30-Oct. 9) hasn't been staged here in years.
Likewise La Ronde (Oct. 8-24). Arthur Schnitzler's probing play about 10 hookups, each supplying one of the next pair, caused a scandal when it premiered in Germany, in 1920. Director Robin Walsh takes on the classic for Point Park Rep.
At the Pittsburgh Public Theater, the season-opening playwrights are pretty familiar: native son and theater legend George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. But their The Royal Family is less famous than such collaborations as Stage Door. This 1927 comedy about a Broadway clan (a la Barrymore) runs Sept. 30-Oct. 31. Improv specialists Second City, meanwhile, makes their annual trip to the Public for the politically themed Fair & Unbalanced (Dec. 16-18).
Also returning to local stages after indeterminate years away: Hobson's Choice (Dec. 2-18), Harold Brighouse's 1916 comedy classic about a bootmaker and his three daughters, is at Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre. And Night, Mother (Oct. 1-16), Marsha Norman's Pulitzer-winner about a woman and her suicidal daughter, lands at Off the Wall.
Bricolage, meanwhile, puts its old-school-style live-radio experience from all those Midnight Radio shows to the test with Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds (Oct. 21-30).
Finally, Prime Stage Theatre produces The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Oct. 30-Nov. 7). It's a fresh adaptation by local favorite F.J. Hartland, and hence something old made new again.
- Lindsey Kyler in the Public's The Royal Family