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PNC Broadway Across America season includes plenty of award-winners

| Monday, March 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A scene from 'We Will Rock You.'
Buddy is the central character in 'Elf.' Credit: Joan Marcus
Wendy and the Lost Boys in 'Peter and the Starcatcher.'
Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti from the 'Once' original Broadway company. Credit: Joan Marcus
David Alan Grier and the cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of the Gershwins’ 'Porgy and Bess.' Credit: Michael J. Lutch
Joan Marcus
Syndee Winters as “Nala” and “The Lionesses” in “The Lion King”

The 2013-14 PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh season represents the best of Broadway, says Paul Organisak.

It may not contain as many gotta-see-that titles as the 2012-13 season — hits like “War Horse,” “The Book of Mormon” and the 25th-anniversary production of “Les Miserables.” But the subscription season of seven musicals contains real winners, says Organisak, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's vice president for programming and the person charged with putting together the selections for the season.

The lineup includes the 2012 Tony Award winners for best musical and best revival, the show that won Tony Awards for best scenic, best costume, best sound and best lighting designs, plus what Organisak calls “perfect programming for Thanksgiving week.”

The shows should appeal to a wide variety of music tastes from opera to guitar-bashing rock.

“We are one of the strongest Broadway Across America markets in the country,” Organisak says. “These are really the best of what Broadway has to offer.”

As previously announced, the subscription season starts with a four-week return of “Disney's The Lion King” (Sept. 3-29), which has not played here since 2008. Still running on Broadway, where it debuted in 1997, the show continues to dazzle with its theatrical ability to bring animals to life, and with the Elton John-Tim Rice songs, such as “Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

Organisak is particularly enthusiastic about two other musicals that arrive here while their Broadway runs continue — “Once” and“Peter and the Starcatcher.”

“They're brilliant,” Organisak says.

“Once” (March 11-16, 2014), which won the Tony for best musical and seven more, features an ensemble of musician-actors who play their instruments while spinning the tale of a Dublin street musician. He's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in him and his love songs. But their romance develops a deeper, more complex side.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” (May 20-25, 2014) won the 2012 Tony for best scenic, costume, lighting and sound design. It gives the audience a fun alternate view of Neverland and its pirates and lost boys in a comedic prequel to Peter Pan.

Also planned for the season are:

“We Will Rock You” (Oct. 29-Nov. 3), a musical from London's West End that features 24 of the biggest hits of the rock group Queen. The music wraps around a story set 300 years in the future about a group of non-conformist kids who resist the conventional musical mainstream to rock to the music they hear inside their heads.

“It's a celebration of the music of Queen, and who doesn't love the music of Queen?” Organisak says. He backs that up with the statistic that more than 15 million theatergoers in 17 countries have seen the musical since its 2002 debut.

“Elf” (Nov. 26-Dec. 1) is the perfect show to take that houseful of relatives who are visiting over Thanksgiving week, Organisak says. The family-friendly tale of Buddy, a young orphan child, begins when he accidentally crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and ends up in the North Pole, where he finds he doesn't fit in. He embarks on a journey to find his birth father and discover his identity in this modern-day Christmas classic.

“Ghost the Musical” (Dec. 31-Jan. 5) brings to the stage the 1990 movie of a love so strong that even death cannot kill it. It features stunning special effects and an original pop score created by Grammy Award-winners Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Glen Ballard, co-writer with Alanis Morissette of the album “Jagged Little Pill.”

“Technologically, it does a brilliant job of capturing the magic of the movie onstage,” Organisak says.

“The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess” (Feb. 25-March 2) won the 2012 Tony Award for best revival of a musical. A new staging and a classic score of songs such as “Summertime,” “It Ain't Necessarily So” and “I Got Plenty of Nothing” make it, in Organisak's opinion: “One of the most brilliant crossovers.”

Also planned for the 2013-14 season is a trio of non-subscription specials:

“Christmas With The Rat Pack Live at the Sands” (Dec. 24-29)

• “Wicked” (Jan. 15- Feb. 9)

• “Mamma Mia!” (Feb. 11-16)

Season tickets are on sale for $113 to $473. Single-ticket prices will be available about six to eight weeks in advance of the show's opening. Details: 412-456-1390 or www.trustarts.org/broadway

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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