The Conservatory Theatre Company announces 2015-16 Season

Conservatory Theatre Company of Point Park University

Crowd-pleasing musicals, classic plays, works by award-winning playwrights highlight Conservatory Theatre Company’s 2015-2016 season

Point Park University’s Conservatory Theatre Company will present five productions in the 2015-2016 season, ranging from classic works of theatre to popular, contemporary, Tony Award-winning musicals.

Opening the season will be the Tony Award-winning musical, Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s fantastical and funny contemporary twist on fairy tales. The season’s other productions are Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece about family, The Wild Duck, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’s hilarious dark comedy, Our Lady of 121st Street, Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, and Kander and Ebb’s unforgettable Prohibition-era musical smash, Chicago.The season begins Oct. 16 and runs through March 27, 2016, at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave.

The Conservatory Theatre Company 2015-2016 season subscriptions, which save patrons more than 35 percent off single-ticket prices, are available now. Five-show season packages are $50-$70. Those who purchase three subscriptions get the fourth free. Single tickets are $20-$24 and go on sale at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. To order tickets, contact the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at 412.392.8000, or visit www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.

The 2015-2016 season:

Into the Woods
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine 
Directed by Zeva Barzell

Friday, Oct. 16 – Sunday, Oct. 25; preview Oct. 15
Rockwell Theatre

One of the most popular contemporary musicals, Into the Woods hilariously intertwines several fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm with an original story involving a childless baker and his wife, who’ve been cursed by a witch. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1987 and won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book. It has since been produced numerous times, including revivals in 2002 on Broadway and 2010 in London. Pittsburgher Rob Marshall directed a highly successful film version, starring Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt, last year.

Director Zeva Barzell, musical theatre coordinator for Point Park’s musical theatre program, has trained in London and New York City where she resided for many years. Her professional acting credits include Off- and Off-Off-Broadway, where, among other roles, she originated the Great Lady in Robert Patrick’s Orpheus and Amerika, as well as performing in regional theater, summer stock, dinner theater, daytime television, industrials, and national voice-over work. Credits include Sweeney Todd (Mrs. Lovett), Broadway (Lillian Rice), My Three Angels (Madame Parole), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania), Annie Get Your Gun (Annie), Hello, Dolly! (Dolly), and Angels in America (Hannah). Her national directing and choreography credits include I Heard It at the Movies, Just Jerry, Once Upon a Mattress, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (revival), Bye Bye Birdie, Hello, Dolly!, Red Hot and Cole, Peter Pan, Godspell, Pride and Prejudice, DraculaDisney Days, and No U Turns? Most recently, she directed the Point Park University Conservatory Theatre Company’s production of Urinetown in December.

The Wild Duck
By Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Shirley Tannenbaum

Friday, Nov. 6 – Sunday, Nov. 22; preview Nov. 5
Studio Theatre

More than 130 years after it was first published, Ibsen’s emotionally stirring play about family secrets and the pursuit of absolute truth remains one of the great works of theatre.

A former head of acting at Point Park, Shirley Tannenbaum’s directing credits at the university include The Diary of Anne Frank, The Miracle Worker, Ring Round the Moon, Our Country’s Good (chosen to perform for the American College Theatre Festival), Our Town, Three Sisters, The Philadelphia Story and Skin of Our Teeth. Other area directing credits include Inherit the Wind, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Talking With…, Duet for One and Mr. Eliot’s Cats. As an actor, she has performed with Point Park’s professional theatre company, The REP, Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, Civic Light Opera, St. Vincent Theatre, CMU Showcase of New Plays, and Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre.

Our Lady of 121st Street
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Steven Wilson

Friday, Dec. 4 – Sunday, Dec. 13; preview Dec. 3
Rauh Theatre

An episodic comedy about friends who reunite in their former neighborhood after the death of a nun, Our Lady of 121st Street was hailed by New York Observer drama critic John Heilpern as “the best new play in a decade.” Heilpern called Guirgis “an unmistakable great talent in the wilderness.” In April, Guirgis was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play, Between Riverside and Crazy.

A graduate of Point Park University, director, actor, educator and Pittsburgh native Steven Wilson is an original member of The Hypocrites theatre company in Chicago and has performed in many productions, including The Bald Soprano, The Glass Menagerie, Balm in Gilead, Angels in America, The Cherry Orchard and Oedipus. He also has worked with Lookingglass Theatre, The Court Theatre, LiveWire Chicago Theatre and A Red Orchid Theatre, where he is an Artistic Associate. During his time in Chicago, Wilson directed the world premiere of Homer’s The Iliad, adapted by Craig Wright, and the Chicago premiere of Mat Smart’s The 13th of Paris. He also has directed plays for Pittsburgh-based No Name Players, including the world premiere of Sean Graney’s Oedipus and the Foul Mess in Thebes. In Austin, Texas, Wilson has directed at The Zach Theatre, The University of Texas, Hyde Park Theatre’s annual Fronterafest and William Saroyan’s The Beautiful People.

The Bluest Eye
By Lydia Diamond, based on the novel by Toni Morrison
Directed by Monica Payne

Friday, Feb. 26 – Sunday, Feb. 28 & Thursday, March 10 – Sunday, March 13, 2016; preview Feb. 25
Rauh Theatre

Award-winning playwright Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s powerful debut novel, The Bluest Eye is a provocative, poignant and deeply humane story of an 11-year-old black girl in Lorain, Ohio, who believes her family and friends will love her if she had blue eyes. "This is a bittersweet, moving drama that preserves the vigor and the disquiet of Ms. Morrison's novel … for theatergoers of any age, it is not to be missed, " The New York Sun said of Diamond’s play.

Director Monica Payne is the founder of Theatre Lumina, a company devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange.  She recently directed the U.S. premiere of the award-winning Polish play Trash Story by Magda Fertacz for the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. Other projects include Ploughman from Bohemia for Theatre Lumina in a site-specific production, Phedre by Racine for Point Park University, Hecuba and Huck Finn at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, her own adaptation of The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and her Heartless Grandmother by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Elektra by Euripides, William Inge’s Natural Affection, and Savage Love by Sam Shepard. She also assisted on La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts’ award-winning production of Miss Saigon, directed by Brian Kite in 2012, which later toured to China. She has been a Meisner teacher for 16 years and taught for the School at Steppenwolf, the Artistic Home, and the Audition Studio, as well as her own studio in Los Angeles.

Chicago
Music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, book by Ebb and Bob Fosse
Directed by Jack Allison

Friday, March 18 – Sunday, March 27, 2016; preview March 17
Rockwell Theatre

Based on former newspaper reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins’ play of the same name, Chicago is the rousing, toe-tapping, funny (and cynical) Prohibition-era musical about Roxie Hart and Velma, two rival vaudevillian murderesses locked up in Cook County Jail. A hilarious satire on corruption in the criminal justice system, Chicago gave us the "celebrity criminal" long before that phrase became commonplace. Bob Fosse choreographed the original 1975 Broadway production and, since then, the show has been identified with his style. The 1996 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival; the West End revival ran for nearly 15 years. A 2002 film version, directed by Rob Marshall, won six Oscars, including Best Picture.

Jack Allison has directed at most of the major regional theatres in the United States, Canada, and Europe, such as the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Cincinnati Opera, North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts, Ogonquit Playhouse in Maine, Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Sacramento Music Theatre, Casa Mana in Ft. Worth, St. Louis MUNY, and Kansas City Starlight Theatre. He directed more than 36 productions as resident director of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. His New York credits include Life is Like a Musical Comedy and Words and Music, both original musicals produced by the famed Manhattan Theatre Club, All My Sons at the TA-DA Theatre Off-Broadway, and two premieres by Lanford Wilson, SA-HURT? and The Bottle Harp, both at the Circle Repertory Company. In Europe, he staged A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Cabaret. He directed the Conservatory Theatre Company’s production of The Boy Friend in February.