For the fourth time in 20 years the Pitt-Johnstown Theatre Department is performing double repertory theatre. From February 19 to March 1 (Thursdays through Sundays), two theatre productions will play in alternation at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center’s studio theatre, for a total of eight performances.
The first Pitt-Johnstown theatre repertory played in 1986, featuring Da and The Chalk Garden. In 1994 Brighton Beach Memoirs and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg performed concurrently, with The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Eden Court alternating in 2005.
This season’s repertory consists of Brian Friel’s Irish play, Dancing at Lughnasa and John Cariani’s Almost, Maine.
Dr. Rodney Eatman, professor of theatre arts and theatre department director, explained that offering two plays instead of one “shows off the depth, versatility, and skill of our theatre company. Unlike previous reps, this showcase, which has a total of 27 roles, is particularly challenging because several of the actors are performing in both plays. Each production has its own design, with the entire company remaining after performance to shift scenery, properties, costumes, and lighting each evening for the next play.”
In Dancing at Lughnasa, five unmarried sisters labor to hold their family together in 1936 Ireland. Their struggles are complicated by the arrival of their older brother, a retired priest from Uganda, and blessed by the presence of a small child. The eight-member cast includes two guest performers, Pitt-Johnstown Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts James Moore, and Kyra Kozielec-Gilmore, a Pitt-Johnstown Theatre alumna. The play made its New York debut in 1991.
Cariani’s Almost, Maine is new, having opened in New York in 2006. The comedy features a cast of 19 and depicts nine simultaneous happenings on a late snowy evening in the tiny town of Almost, Maine. Frosty weather notwithstanding, the play is a warmhearted valentine, each encounter punctuated with the magical northern sky illuminated by the aurora borealis.
Scenery for the repertory is designed by James Moore, costumes by Linda Capp, lighting and sound by Michael Feight, and stage management by Sadie DeSantis and Branden Miller. Dr. Eatman is assisted by Sarah McPartland and Bobby Karami.
Performances of Dancing at Lughnasa are at 8 p.m., February 19, 21, and 27, and March 1. Almost, Maine plays February 20, 26, and 28 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on February 22.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center at 1-800-846-2787 or 814-269-7200 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The box office is open for in-person sales from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Discounted tickets of $13 are available to senior citizens (over 62 years of age) and members of the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association. Tickets for students and children are $10. Additional information is available on line at: www.upjarts.com.
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. A vital knowledge center and a foremost contributor to the area’s educational, social, cultural, and economic environment, Pitt-Johnstown offers a high quality educational experience that is purposefully designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century.