From a foul-mouthed puppet to Oliver Sacks, Shakespeare to Rocky Bleier, fall stages have it all | Fall Arts Preview | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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From a foul-mouthed puppet to Oliver Sacks, Shakespeare to Rocky Bleier, fall stages have it all

An abundance of Pittsburgh premieres are complemented by perennial favorites, crowd-pleasers and special events

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With the Pittsburgh-premiere production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Wig Out! already open (at The REP through Sept. 25), the stage season’s rolling. Other area premieres include Robert Askins’ Hand to God, opening Sept. 24 at City Theatre: an uproarious, Tony-nominated comedy about a small-town Texas teen whose hand is hijacked by a foul-mouthed puppet. City follows up with Feeding the Dragon (opening Oct. 22), actress Sharon Washington’s one-woman show about literally growing up in the New York Public Library. 

Halley Feiffer’s acclaimed 2015 off-Broadway hit I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard depicts an aspiring actress and her playwright father debating whether to read the reviews of her stage debut; it opens at the REP on Sept. 29.

Quantum Theatre has two area premieres. The River (Oct. 7), the latest from much-lauded Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem), is a sort-of mystery about a man, a woman, a remote cabin and trout fishing. On Nov. 25, with three singers, a string quartet and a piano, Quantum tackles composer Michael Nyman’s acclaimed 1986 chamber opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, an adaptation of Oliver Sacks’ famous book about “visual blindness.”

Eugene Lee stars in Riverside and Crazy, Nov. 10 at Pittsburgh Public Theater.
  • Eugene Lee stars in Riverside and Crazy, Nov. 10 at Pittsburgh Public Theater.

At Off the Wall Theater, see the regional premieres of An Accident (Oct. 14), Lydia Stryk’s 2010 drama about a woman and the man who hit her with his car, and Lungs (Dec. 2), Duncan MacMillan’s 2011 drama about a couple deciding whether to reproduce on a dying planet (ours). And Throughline Theatre Co. locally premieres Yankee Tavern (Oct. 28), the 2010 Steven Dietz play about post-9/11 conspiracy theories in a rundown Manhattan bar.

Last year’s Pulitzer-winner, Riverside and Crazy, is top-dog playwright Stephen Adley Guirgis’ (The Motherfucker With the Hat) dark comedy about a retired NYPD cop’s chaotic household; it’s at Pittsburgh Public Theater starting Nov. 10. 

Fall brings its share of perennial favorites, crowd-pleasers and special events. Shakespeare? Cup-A-Jo Productions has the bloody Titus Andronicus (Sept. 30), with a live original rock score and interactive elements; PICT Classic Theatre stages The Merchant of Venice (Nov. 3); and Little Lake Theater Co. offers A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oct. 20). Other Renaissance missives include Aphra Behn’s Restoration comedy The Rover (Nov. 17), at Carnegie Mellon Drama.

Jamen Nanthakumar stars in The Fantasticks, at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Sept. 29.
  • Jamen Nanthakumar stars in The Fantasticks, at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Sept. 29.

Lynn Nottage’s acclaimed, widely staged Intimate Apparel, about a black seamstress in 1905 Manhattan, hits University of Pittsburgh Stages Oct. 6. PICT heralds winter, and recalls the British monarchy circa 1183, with James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter (Dec. 1). To Kill A Mockingbird (Nov. 4) perches at Prime Stage Theater. And what favorite is more perennial than the world’s longest-running musical? The Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical The Fantasticks opens at the Public on Sept. 29.

Nationally touring hit musicals, at the Benedum Center courtesy of the PNC Broadway series, include Kinky Boots (Sept. 20) and the local premiere of Finding Neverland (Oct. 18), based on the film about J.M. Barrie’s creation of Peter Pan.

Meanwhile, two locally produced musicals summon the counterculture: The Who’s Tommy (Oct. 20), at Point Park’s Conservatory Theatre Co., and Hair (Nov. 10), at Pitt. And brand-new Westmoreland County-based troupe Split Stage Productions goes decidedly post-Aquarian with Carrie: The Musical (Oct. 20), staged at Apple Hill Playhouse.

Also on the Halloween tip, Bricolage Productions offers Night of the Living Dead N’at (Oct. 27), a zombie spoof adapted Midnight Radio-style. Also in live-radio fashion, Bricolage bestows its Super Secret Holiday Show (Dec. 1).

As a special treat, the Public closes the calendar year with its own world premiere: The Play (Dec. 20), by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter Gene Collier. The production stars none other than Super Steelers hero Rocky Bleier in his own one-man show about … Rocky Bleier.


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