Snuggery Farm in Bell Acres to host Rodgers & Hammerstein revue show
The Pittsburgh Festival Opera's “If I Loved You … Rodgers & Hammerstein Revue” promises outdoors, barbecue, music, and (for one evening) vintage cars.
The company is staging two performances in the barn at Snuggery Farm Sundays, June 25 and July 2. An optional barbecue, catered by Fabled Table, begins at 6 p.m. with showtime at 7:30 p.m. The cars, curated by Bob McKeown, a friend of the company, park at 5 p.m. July 2.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, who wrote classics like “Carousel,” “The King and I,” and “The Sound of Music,” are notable a songwriting duo of American musical theater. A revue is lighter theatrical fare with sketches and songs. “We're not going to do a string of songs,” artistic director Jonathan Eaton said. “That would be dull.”
He and Robert Frankenberry, music director, instead wrote a storyline. Eight actors will audition for — what else? — a Rodgers and Hammerstein revue in Act 1, and Act 2 marks the final rehearsal. The actors' respective, disparate personalities match their characters on stage. These characters match the character types that recur in Rodgers and Hammerstein productions.
“There's ‘The Bad Boy' whom everyone loves to hate and ends up loving, like the Billy character from ‘Carousel,'” Eaton said. Other character types include “The Young Woman Who Wants To Be a Broadway Star” and “The Older, Wiser, Comedic Woman.”
All eight characters form what Eaton called “a constellation of personalities.”
The actors chart different relationships offstage, too. These offstage relationships are resolved on stage during Act 2.
As for why Rodgers and Hammerstein, the company wanted something festive and American for the Fourth of July. Eaton and other company members perused the duo's songs and wrote three lists: must have, might use, and no use. They examined the must- haves and developed them into a story.
Must-have songs balance favorite numbers, like “If I Loved You” from “Carousel,” with lesser-known gems. Most of the performers are 20-year-olds in the company's Young Professional Artist Program.
The company toured a reduced version of “Carmen” called “Carmen the Gypsy” last year and performed at Snuggery Farm.
“It was such a glorious event, we thought we've got to find something at that space for this year,” Eaton said.
“If I Loved You …” continues July 9 and 16 at Winchester Thurston Middle School as part of the 40th season of Pittsburgh Festival Opera. The season, which tours the Pittsburgh area and concludes July 23, sees multiple productions, such as “Sweeney Todd” and a new social justice gospel opera, “A Gathering of Sons.”
Christopher Maggio is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.