Music of West Deer’s John Vento inspires play |
Valley News Dispatch

Music of West Deer’s John Vento inspires play

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Courtesy John Vento
John Vento, a Penn Hills native who lives in West Deer, created the album “Love. Lust. And Other Wreckage,” which became the foundation for a stage play written by Pittsburgh playwright Amy Hartman. It will be performed Sept. 13-14 at The Oaks Theater in Oakmont.
Courtesy John Vento
John Vento’s album “Love. Lust. And Other Wreckage,” became the foundation for a play written by Pittsburgh playwright Amy Hartman. It will be performed Sept. 13-14 at The Oaks Theater in Oakmont.

The music inspired the play.

Songs written by John Vento, a Penn Hills native who lives in West Deer, for the album “Love. Lust. And Other Wreckage,” became the foundation for a stage production written by Pittsburgh playwright Amy Hartman.

Hartman’s previous plays have been nominated for the American Critic’s Award and have been finalists at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Conference and the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

The performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13-14 at The Oaks Theater in Oakmont.

The show is the directorial debut of Angela Hsu. She recently moved to Pittsburgh from New York. When Hsu came on board she says the script wasn’t yet finished, but the idea was interesting and resonated with her. There were eight versions but the final one is perfect, Hsu says.

“It’s a fabulous cast. We have some stellar actors who really make the show.”

About the show

“Love. Lust. And Other Wreckage,” is described as a multimedia theatrical piece. It’s for anyone who has struggled between spending time with loved ones, work and the other aspects of life, says Vento.

“It happens to everyone,” says Vento, lead singer with Nied’s Hotel Band.

The songs for the album came when Vento met with friend and co-writer Bert Lauble of Pittsburgh when Vento was recovering from surgery after a cancer diagnosis.

“We were discussing what a bunch of losers we were, and we came up with the song ‘Baby Blues,’ ” Vento says. “I had special relationships in my life, but I didn’t realize that until they were gone and I was alone.”

The first song led to the other tunes “Humble Way,” “Good Life Made,” “I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You” and “Just Don’t Care,” which represent the progression one goes through when healing from a relationship gone wrong.

“This is not a musical,” Vento says. “It has serious dialogues and monologues about relationships. There will be music interjected during the performance, because it is music inspired. But it’s not a musical.”

What is unique about this, he says, is usually a play begins with the script, story or screenplay and then the music is added. “This is the opposite,” he says.

The star

Gregory Johnstone of Cheswick, who has been in “The Last Witch Hunter” and “The Great One,” is the star. He has worked with many Pittsburgh theater companies, including the CLO Cabaret Theater, barebones productions, Quantum, The REP at Point Park, PICT, City Theatre and The Public.

Johnstone dives into the story of a man’s struggle to trace back the fracture his life has become. The man lives through heartbreak, his own cruelty and his lust to create music, Vento says.After losing it all, the man must climb out from under the wreckage he’s created. The struggle leads him into a dark world of chaos, love and discovery — but only for the high price of forgiveness.

“The beginning aspects of it were all built around relationships and the many facets,” Vento says. “The good, the bad and the ugly.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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