So Killer Joe, Shrek, And A Bunch Of Martians Walk Into A Theater…

Achievement: #80. See 3 live plays or musicals

As my husband studied dramatic writing in college, and we are donor members to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, it only seemed logical for us to try to attend some local theater performances throughout the year. We managed to make it to five productions (one of which was not local) by the end of the year.

The first play we saw this year was Barebones Productions’ Killer Joe at the lovely New Hazlett theater in the North Side.

Live Plays
We were both really impressed with this performance, which tells the story of a trailer trash family that gets involved with the local cop-by-day/hitman-by-night in an effort to make money off of the mother’s life insurance policy. When the teenage daughter (who is the only decent member of the family, of course) is offered up to Killer Joe as a retainer, the story takes on an awkward, unpleasantly-charming love story, yet still finishes with a shocking, action-packed end.

It feels a little dirty to say that we enjoyed this play, but we did. It was well-acted and left us spending a good deal of time wondering and discussing how we felt about the relationships between the characters. Oh, and it kept in the theme of other Barebones Productions plays, in that Patrick Jordan got naked, so there’s something to keep us Yinzer ladies coming back 😉

Our second play was a much classier affair, when we went to Niagara-on-the-Lake in August for the Shaw Festival.

Live Plays
We saw An Ideal Husband, which was a truly beautiful play about scandal and politics and really, really beautiful dresses.

What fascinated me about this play was that the actors who perform in the Shaw plays will each be doing at least two plays concurrently. This means they may have an afternoon performance of one of their plays, and then appear in a different role that evening. We were super impressed with that, as these actors were just phenomonal, as if they’d been training for ages for just this single role.

And the costume and set design was flawless. The villainess was so very evil, but good lord was she fashionable. I was kind of hoping that at the end, they would throw her in jail and auction off her clothes to the audience. Since they didn’t, we’re clearly going to have to return to the Shaw Festival in 2011 and track the bitch down. 🙂

Live Plays
Next, in September, we went to a free event for Cultural Trust donors at the Cabaret Theater downtown. Actors from three of the upcoming musicals performed songs from the shows while we enjoyed complimentary dinner, desserts, and wine.

We heard a song from Shrek the Musical (which is where I got those super-cute Shrek ears), South Pacific, and Mary Poppins. All of the actors were quite good, and even though those were three plays I would not have thought to see unprompted, we quite enjoyed it. We are also still enjoying the free Mary Poppins travel coffee mugs we received! It’s good to donate to the Cultural Trust! 🙂

In October, as one of our Halloween events, we saw Bricolage’s radio performance of War of the Worlds. You can read about that here.

Live Plays
And finally, in November, we saw Rock of Ages, because I am a sucker for 1980s hair metal.

This musical tells the story of a would-be musician and a would-be actress starting out in Los Angeles in the 1980s, set to the famous songs we all love from that era. While the book lacks quite a bit in terms of plot, and character development (it’s a pretty standard story), we still enjoyed the play. I thought the dancers were great, and the actors really gave their all with the script they were given. I think both of us felt there were a few too many cheap laughs, and that the writers were kind of capitalizing on our nostalgia of 80s monster ballads, but it was still fun to see all those songs performed in the theater.

We really enjoyed all of our trips to the theater this year. Pittsburgh is a really great theater town, small though we may be, and we will definitely continue to take advantage of it!

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