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Pittsburgh Opera drafts area actors for 55-member cast of 'Street Scene'

| Sunday, Feb. 10, 2002

Some familiar area actors are making the crossover to opera for the Pittsburgh Opera production of "Street Scene."

It's a natural shift, as the Kurt Weill/Langston Hughes/Elmer Rice classic made its debut in 1947 as a Broadway production.

The operatic musical looks at residents of a New York tenement during an especially steamy and oppressive summer day in the 1930s.

A half-dozen actors - Laurie Klatscher, John Yost, Greg Johnstone, Tim Hartman, Nick Ruggeri and Bill Fisher - are among the huge cast of 55 that Pittsburgh Opera is putting together.

The Opera's director of marketing, Tim Colbert, says "Street Scene" is being done to push the Opera's artistic envelope and broaden the repertory and, just possibly, its audiences.

"It's a good first opera for theatergoers, and it's in English," says Colbert, himself a crossover employee, as he formerly did public relations duty at Pittsburgh Public Theater.

Performances of "Street Scene" are at 8 p.m. Saturday and Feb. 22, 7 p.m. Feb. 19 and 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Byham Theater, Downtown. Tickets: $30 to $85.

Details: (412) 456-6666.

"AIDA" PLUS

There's a special incentive to purchase tickets for the Disney musical "Aida" this week.

Monday through Friday, those who make the trip Downtown to buy tickets at the box office will receive one of several gifts, such as buttons, CDs, T-shirts or temporary tattoos, to promote the musical.

The touring production of Disney's Broadway musical begins a three-week run at the Benedum Center on Feb. 20.

It features the score by Elton John and Tim Rice that won a 2000 Grammy Award. The musical stars Patrick Cassidy as Radames, plus Paulette Ivory and Kelli Fournier as the princesses who love him.

There's even a Pittsburgh connection: Jacen Wilkerson, who attended the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and Point Park College, appears as Mereb.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays Feb. 20 through March 10. Tickets: $26.50 to $60.

Details: (412) 456-6666.

STRETCHED "CANVAS"

Demand for tickets has been so strong that City Theatre has given "The Credeaux Canvas" a one-week extension.

It now will continue through Feb. 17 on the City Theatre main stage, South Side.

Artistic director Tracy Brigden says word-of-mouth has been strong, especially among younger theatergoers whose buying patterns are more spur-of-the-moment than those of older patrons. Some of that younger audience undoubtedly is making the journey from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama to see fellow students Michael McMillan and Jaime St. Peter, who appear in the play along with Ingrid Sonnichsen, who teaches acting at Carnegie Mellon.

The play also has attracted the attention of out-of-town guests such as the young, up-and-coming playwright Adam Rapp (the brother of Broadway actor Anthony Rapp), who dropped by last week to see it.

Brigden's favorite patron was a man who stopped her in the lobby last week to tell her how much he had enjoyed Kevin Bunin's comic drama.

"He said, 'I would do this instead of going to a movie anytime,' " Brigden says. Asked whether he was a regular theatergoer, he told Brigden this was his first play. When his wife reminded him that they had seen "Cats," the man responded, "That's not a play. This is a play."

Performances are at 2 p.m. today and Feb. 17; 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and at 5:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $27 and $32; $10 for students and those 25 or younger.

Details: (412) 431-2489.

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