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PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh season offers range of shows

| Sunday, March 7, 2010

For Paul Organisak, putting together the PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh season is all about balance.

So, he's particularly proud of the lineup for the 2010-11 season that includes seven subscriber-series shows and four non-subscriber presentations chosen to appeal to a wide variety of tastes and interests.

Among the offerings in the subscription series are national touring productions of six musicals currently playing on Broadway, plus the musical "Shrek" which closed in January. Included among them are three revivals, two musicals adapted from popular movies and two original new musicals.

"We are committed to bringing the best of Broadway to Pittsburgh," says Organisak, the vice president of programming for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which co-presents the PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh series in partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Broadway Across America.

The subscription season shows in the 2010-11 PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh series are:

"South Pacific" (Nov. 2-7, Benedum Center), the touring version of the Broadway production that won the 2008 Tony Award for best revival. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic contains songs such as "Bali Hai" and "Some Enchanted Evening." Organisak says the show feels very relevant and timely for a musical that debuted in 1949.

"Rock of Ages" (Nov. 23-28, Benedum Center), a brand new musical and love story about a small-town girl and a rock star who meet at a hip Los Angeles rock club in 1987 and fall in love to a musical score of the era's song hits by Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister and Poison.

"There's nothing wrong with something being pure parody but also respectful," says Organisak. "It's so well done. It never crosses the line into camp."

"Mary Poppins" (Jan. 5-23, Benedum Center), produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, is the live stage version of the 1964 movie classic that starred Julie Andrews.

"Mary Poppins is phenomenal," says Organisak. "Disney is nonpareil for quality and I was blown out of my seat by 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' and Matthew Bourne's choreography. It's breathtaking ... absolutely gorgeous and such a refined production."

"Hair" (Feb. 15-20, Heinz Hall), the 2009 Tony Award-winner for best musical revival of the 1968 American tribal love, rock musical that heralded the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the song of the same name. When Organisak saw it on Broadway, he says it felt as fresh as a new musical. And, yes, the nudity is still there.

"Shrek The Musical" (March 15-20, 2011, Benedum Center) integrates 19 new songs into the story made familiar by the Dreamworks' 2001 animated film about an amiable, green-skinned ogre, a feisty princess, a talkative donkey, and a flurry of fairy tale misfits.

The scenery is spectacular, says Organisak: "They spent a katrillion dollars on it. It is enjoyable, but still a cartoon. If they love 'Shrek' (the movie), they will love the show."

"Next to Normal" (April 5-10, 2011, Benedum Center) is an original musical with a contemporary score about a suburban family who cares for and about each other while facing the challenges of bipolar disorder. "It is one of the freshest, newest voices of musical theater I have seen," says Organisak.

"West Side Story" (May 17-22, 2011, Benedum Center) is directed by Arthur Laurents who wrote the book for the original 1957 production. It features Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's score of timeless classics and retains the original Jerome Robbins choreography, reproduced by Joey McNeely.

Organisak says the current production feels even more dance-centered than the original. "It was powerful, pushing the dancers front and center," he says.

Also in the plans for the 2010-11 season are four non-subscriber presentations:

"The Phantom of the Opera" (Aug. 25-Sept. 19, Benedum Center) unpacks its crystal chandelier and spectacular scenery for a three-week stay.

"Burn the Floor" (Dec. 28-Jan. 2, Heinz Hall) capitalizes on the popularity of dance shows such as "Dancing With the Stars" by creating a high-energy, sexy, hot, dance show filled with ballroom and tango moves.

"Rain -- A Tribute to the Beatles" (Jan. 11-16, Heinz Hall) brings a live stage performance of the Fab Four's music to audiences who never had a chance to see them perform live.

"Mamma Mia!" (April 19-24, 2011, Heinz Hall) Major works from the ABBA songbook woven through a surprisingly inventive, funny and touching story about a young woman with a fiercely independent mother who invites her mother's three former boyfriends -- one of whom may well be her father -- to her wedding.

Subscriptions to the seven-musical 2010-11 PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh series are now on sale. Subscriptions range in price from $100 to $456.

Details: 412-456-1390 or 800-828-9200 or .

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