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CLO from 'Phantom' to 'Lion King' in '13

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
Cast of Pittsburgh CLO's 'The Buddy Holly Story.' Photo by Alison Whitlock
Neil Haskell, Cameron Henderson and Zachary Berger in Pittsburgh CLO's 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.' Photo: Matt Polk

The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera will host a star-studded list of celebrities during its 2013 summer season.

Even though casting decisions are still months away, the Little Mermaid, Buddy Holly, the Phantom and the Lion King are expected to light up the Benedum Center marquee, as well as a pair of musical classics with numbers in their titles — “42nd Street and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

Making its Pittsburgh premiere is a touring production of “Disney's The Little Mermaid” (July 9-21), co-produced by Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Papermill Playhouse and Kansas City Starlight Theatre. Based on both Hans Christian Anderson's tale and 1989 Disney's animated feature film, the family-friendly tale features a score with songs that include “Under the Sea” and “Part of Your World.”

The season will open with a tap-dance valentine to Broadway, in a brand-new production of “42nd Street” (May 31-June 9).

A second golden oldie, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” (June 11-16), which began life as an MGM film, follows with its tale of Adam and his six rough-and-ready bachelor brothers who have an abrupt style for courtship in the Pacific Northwest of the 1850s. After the men kidnap six young women from the town nearest their Oregon cabin, Adam's wife, Millie, intervenes and teaches them how to capture the women's hearts as well as their bodies, to a score of songs by Johnny Mercer, Gene de Paul, Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn.

The 1950s rock ‘n' roll legend Buddy Holly and his music will take over the Benedum stage with a touring production of “Buddy —The Buddy Holly Story” (July 30-Aug. 4). The song-filled saga covers Holly's rise to fame, with more than 20 of his hits such as “Peggy Sue,” “That'll Be the Day” and “Raining in My Heart,” and well as Ritchie Valens' “La Bamba” and the Big Bopper's “Chantilly Lace.”

“Yeston and Kopit's Phantom” (June 21-30) looks at the Phantom of the Opera from a slightly different perspective in this adaptation of Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel that features a book by Arthur Kopit and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. Yeston and Kopit, creators of the Broadway musical “Nine,” wrote this musical before the 1986 appearance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Phantom of the Opera” extravaganza. But it didn't have its debut until 1991, not on Broadway, but at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas. It's still the tale of a deformed musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opera and lusts after the company's ingénue, Christine Daae. But this musical concentrates more on the man behind the mask and the turn-of-the-last-century world of European opera.

“Yeston and Kopit's Phantom,” “42nd Street” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” are Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera productions.

The subscription season ends with the return of the national touring production of “Disney's The Lion King” (Sept. 3-8). A presentation of PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh, the opening week of the four-week run has been set aside for priority seating for Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera subscribers. The show bring to life the story of a lion cub who conquers adversity on his journey to adulthood.

Six-show season subscriptions are on sale for $80 to $383. Single-ticket prices will be announced when they go on sale at a later date.

Details: 412-281-2822; www.pittsburghCLO.org

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or acarter@tribweb.com.

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