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EDITORIAL | Show community pride, support your local theatre groups

Photo by Sonja Reis – Actors David Dietz as Vinnie “the sauce boss” Vermicelli, Ryan Westwood as Wayne Starch and Barbara Williams as Natasha Levushkin during a Mystery’s Most Wanted interactive dinner theatre performance at The Castle Consortia in Stowe Township.

By The Editorial Board

Lately, we’ve covered more than a few stories about local live theater happenings in and around the area.

Performers are trying to reach out to audiences in novel ways, and local residents are responding.

A recent outdoor production of “Hamlet” from the New Renaissance Theatre Company dabbled with historically accurate performance techniques to bring something new to audiences. Attendance at the free McKees Rocks performance was up significantly from last year’s performance there of “The Tempest.”

“Something Rotten” by Carnegie-based Stage 62 is another twist on Shakespeare to revitalize the classics to appeal to new audiences. And while the group’s home in the Carnegie Free Library’s music hall is under construction, the actors will be performing a summer show at the local Carlynton High School.

Dinner theater is nothing new–it officially started in 1953, according to the Los Angeles Times, but the concept of watching live theater and eating a meal dates back to religious festivals in the middle ages. The Castle Consortia event space in Stowe Township launched with an interactive performance that plays on the ancient and contemporary urge to solve a mystery with the show “Mobsters, Molls & Marinara.”

During the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns, we at Gazette 2.0 feared there would not be a return to crowds, public eating and live performance. Now, like many people seem to be, we’re energized by the opportunity.

The Carnegie Library & Music Hall has received steady and impressive support from the community while undergoing renovations. Even in uncertain economic times, donors stepped up repeatedly to show they value the space, and the opportunity for live performance it provides by donating money. The most recent push for donations has been met with a sum of $51,778 pledged during their Carnegie Carnegie Challenge in June.

We’re also nurturing local talent in various ways; recent stories about the Ensemble Acting Studio show that we have professionals honing their acting skills right in the heart of McKees Rocks. Founder and Artistic Director Jaime Slavinsky is a fourth-generation McKees Rocks resident. This week, we’re also featuring a story about the incredible Montour students who performed with the Gene Kelly Awards at the Benedum.

McKees Rocks’ own Gemini Theater has given children acting instruction and an opportunity for fun since 1996. Gemini Children’s Theater offers opportunities for young people to perform, go to acting camps over the summer and take classes.

Though there is a lot of opportunity to see live musicals and theater in downtown Pittsburgh this summer, there is also a lot of opportunity much closer to home, for less and sometimes for free.

We urge you to treat yourself to a show if your interest is piqued. Live theater is an ancient art form that is constantly undergoing reinvention, and supporting local artists is a way to show community pride.



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