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Keystone Oaks teachers hope 'A Chorus Line' draws theater lovers

| Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007

Two Keystone Oaks teachers hope "one singular sensation" will help their plans to purchase and renovate the former South Hills Theater in Dormont.

With help from some friends and South Hills Theatre Group -- the nonprofit they formed -- teachers Vivian McManus and Rick Fosbrink are organizing several performances of "A Chorus Line" next month to fund their drive to reopen the theater on West Liberty Avenue.

For years, Dormont had two movie theaters: the South Hills, which became Cinema 4 until it closed; and the Hollywood, on Potomac Avenue, which reopened in March but is not doing as well as expected, according to its current operator, the Bradley Center.

The teachers want to buy the former South Hills Theater and renovate it for affordable music, dance and theater instruction, McManus said. It also could be rented out for weddings and special events.

To raise money, the group is sponsoring productions of "A Chorus Line" on Oct. 14, 21 and 28 at the Linden Grove in Castle Shannon, which is owned by fellow Keystone Oaks teacher Evie Sims and her husband.

McManus is directing the shows, and she and Fosbrink have recruited some well-known help. WQED-TV producer Rick Sebak, who featured the South Hills in one of his nostalgic documentaries, will host the benefit performance. "Ragtime" composer and former Dormont resident Stephen Flaherty has agreed to be the honorary chairman of the project.

Michelle and Nicole Boures, wife and daughter of former Steeler offensive lineman Emil Boures, will star in the production, along with professionals and amateurs including students from Keystone Oaks, Central Catholic, Point Park and Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Renovating the building will take some help, too. Neighbors have complained to officials about the broken windows and general appearance of the building, said former Dormont councilman Joe Costanzo said. The building's gutter collapsed, and public works employees were dispatched to correct the problem, he said. McManus said on their first visit to the building they found dead pigeons, holes in the ceiling, mold and asbestos.

Costanzo said he would help the teachers apply for grants toward the cost of the renovations -- estimated between $2 million and $4 million.

Down the street, the Bradley Center last week debated closing the Hollywood Theater, said CEO Lisa Fox. The center had originally arranged for children from the center to gain work experience there but dropped that plan when it closed its Mt. Lebanon facility. Instead, center staff and recent hires sell tickets and concessions.

"Attendance was not as good as we hoped," Fox said. But she said that the fall was traditionally a better time for movie-going than the spring. The center also is talking to other youth centers to see if they have interest in a work experience program.

Additional Information:

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For more information on performances of 'A Chorus Line' to benefit South Hills Theatre Group , call 412-561-3403.

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