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New PNC Broadway season gets into the act with 'Mormon,' others

| Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paul Organisak believes the 2012-2013 PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh series represents the best of what's available on Broadway.

Five of seven shows in the 2012-13 subscriber series are still playing on Broadway.

They include the 2011 Tony award-winners for Best Musical, "The Book of Mormon"; Best Play, "War Horse"; and Best Revival of a Musical, "Anything Goes," as well as the musicals "Sister Act" and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert."

Also among the series' presentations are the national tour premiere of "Flashdance" and the 25th anniversary production of "Les Miserables."

Two of the four non-subscription shows making return visits also continue to draw audiences on Broadway-- "Jersey Boys" and "Mary Poppins." The remaining two non-subscriber attractions are "Stomp" and Green Day's "American Idiot."

"Next season is pretty strong," says Organisak, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's vice president for programming and the person charged with putting together the selections for PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh.

• "War Horse" (Nov. 13-18, Benedum Center) is Organisak's proudest acquisition for the season lineup, even though some would consider it a risky choice. Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted by Nick Stafford in association with Handspring Puppet Company, it's a highly theatrical, vivid and moving story of an affectionate bond forged between a horse and a young boy. Many know the story from the movie of the same name that was released late last year.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that Pittsburgh will get to see 'War Horse.' A lot cities would not present this," he says.

• "The Book of Mormon" (March 26-April 7, 2013, Benedum Center) will play two weeks here, the first being the week that leads up to Easter.

"It will do brilliantly," says Organisak. The musical, written by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and "Avenue Q" co-creator Robert Lopez, is an off-beat, irreverent comedy about two Mormon missionaries who find themselves ill-equipped to spread their religion in Africa. Organisak believes the show's irreverence and freshness will help his mission of attracting young adults to the theater. "My real concern is about who will be going to the theater in 25 years," Organisak says. "Why should we expect them to come (when they are) 55 if they don't come when they are 25?"

• "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" (March 5-10, 2013 Benedum Center), is an outrageously glitzy musical about a trio of drag queens who embark on a journey through the Australian Outback that some may recall from its 1984 beginning as a movie.

• "Anything Goes" (April 16-21, 2013, Heinz Hall) will give more traditional musical theater fans something to anticipate. The story is set on an ocean liner making an Atlantic crossing in the roaring '20s with a motley assortment of aristocrats, showgirls and gangsters.

• "Flashdance" (Jan. 1-6, Heinz Hall) begins its national tour in the town where the original 1983 movie was filmed. The musical, which is being reworked after ending a 2010 London run, focuses on Alex, a Pittsburgh woman who works as a welder and dreams of becoming a dancer. It will feature songs from the movie such as in "Flashdance ... What a Feeling," plus 16 new songs.

• "Sister Act" (Feb. 5-10, Benedum Center) brings yet another movie to the stage with its story of a woman whose life gets a little divine intervention when the police hide her in a convent while she waits to testify about a crime she witnessed.

• "Les Miserables" (Jan. 15-27, Benedum Center) celebrates its 25th anniversary with a production that features new staging and reimagined scenery inspired by paintings of Victor Hugo.

The non-subscriber season specials include:

• Green Day's "American Idiot" (Feb. 19-24, Heinz Hall), which put punk rock on Broadway with the aggressive musical that Organisak hopes will draw people outside the series' typical demographic base.

?"Jersey Boys" (Sept. 4-23, Benedum Center). The musical tale of how four blue-collar guys from New Jersey made pop-music history and became The Four Seasons last played here in 2009.

?"Mary Poppins" (Oct.16-21, Benedum Center). Disney and Cameron Macintosh's live stage musical, makes a return appearance less than two years after its three-week stay here in 2011.

• "Stomp" (Oct. 30-Nov. 4, Heinz Hall), which was last seen here in 2009.

Subscriptions to the seven-show subscriber series are now on sale in prices that range from $140 to $489. Single tickets prices for all shows, including the four non-subscription presentations, will range from $20 to $83 when they go on sale approximately six to eight weeks in advance of each show's opening. Details: 412-456-1390 or .

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