In the Wings: Pittsburgh's 250th

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• In tribute to the city's birthday celebrations in 2008, Unseam'd Shakespeare will stage Thomas Bell's classic novel, "Out of This Furnace," which tells a multi-generational story of immigration, labor and the rise of unions in the Braddock mills, 1881-1940s. The dramatic adaptation, developed by the Iron Clad Agreement in 1978-79, will be directed by Marci Woodruff in June at the Open Stage space in the Strip.

Then Unseam'd will go further. Mark Clayton Southers and the Braddock Historical Society will work with residents to discover what happened at the Edgar Thomson Works after the events of the novel. And Anya Martin, two Latino/Hispanic groups and students from Schenley High School will meet with Latino immigrants to get the story of Pittsburgh's labor future. Incorporating these projects, "Out of This Furnace" will then tour to schools, community centers, etc. To provide early help to this big endeavor, contact Tim Dawson at 412-621-0244, visit www.unseamd.org or send contributions to Unseam'd at P.O. Box 7292, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15213.

Year End Favorites

• The window of opportunity to tell me of your favorite 2007 plays and performances is slowly closing. E-mail is best. Thanks for the varied and engaging opinions sent so far.

Downtown Family Affair

• The Domencic Boys are split between two CLO Christmas shows: Joe plays Smudge in "Plaid Tidings" (CLO Cabaret), while brother Paul is Young Scrooge in "A Musical Christmas Carol" (Byham).

The Other 'Christmas Carol'

• Pittsburgh Musical Theater presents the Richard E. Rauh Conservatory Theater Company in Jane and Ken Gargaro's "A Lyrical Christmas Carol," now in its 15th year. Jim Critchfield returns as Scrooge. It runs today through Sunday at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side; $10 in advance; 412-539-0900, ext. 232.

Xmas Presents

• This year's "Carols for a Cure" is two discs on which cast members of 30 Broadway shows sing holiday songs -- sacred or secular, devout or comic, in many styles. The specialties include "North Pole Global Warming Surfin' Party" by "Avenue Q" ("the girls are naughty and the waves are nice"); "Dominic the Christmas Donkey" from "Jersey Boys" ("when Santa visits his paisans, with Dominic he'll be, because the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Ital-ee"); and from "Wicked," nine versions of "Jingle Bells," including madrigal, techno, country, lounge act and the real thing.

Kerry Butler ("Xanadu") does a very sweet "Away in a Manger." "Spelling Bee" gives us "'Twas the Night Before the Spelling Bee," and there's an elaborate "The 12 Days of Christ-Miz" from "Les Miserables" ("six swings a-swinging, five dead Fantines ... three Eponines, two candlesticks and a three-hour show called 'Les Miz.' " Plus lots more.

Proceeds go to the indispensable Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Just go to www.broadwaycares.org and look to the right under Auctions/Merchandise.

• I've been savoring the new Broadway cast recording of "LoveMusik," last year's show about Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, with Donna Murphy and Pittsburgh quasi-native Michael Cerveris. Weill addicts also will be interested in the new, English-language "Happy End," and "Kurt Weill in America" from the 92nd Street Y.

• Here's a gift: The Point Park Conservatory Theatre Company will move Sondheim's "Assassins" to March 20-30 in the Rockwell Theater, not the Studio, opening up more than 3,000 tickets.

• For next Christmas I want tickets to the annual Noel Coward concert at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room, which honors the Master's Dec. 16 birthday. This year's sold-out tribute was Monday, hosted by K.T. Sullivan (coming to Cabaret Pittsburgh next year) and the urbane Simon Jones. Performers included Tammy Grimes, Andrea Marcovicci, Brian Murray, Steve Ross and Marian Seldes. You could probably start booking for next year right now.

London

• Yes, we are doing a Critic's Choice theater tour to London, March 9-16, but we haven't announced it yet because I'm still booking theater tickets. If you want to be sure you get early notification, call Gulliver's Travels at 412-441-3131.

• The key London theater site is www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk, but a useful supplement is www.whatsonstage.com, where they're soliciting votes for their eighth annual Theatregoers' Choice Awards. I'm especially taken by the nominations for Theatre Event of the Year, which include Daniel Radcliffe's "Equus" publicity shots (nude), Nicholas Hytner's "dead white males" comment about critics (that was a dust up!) and "Any Dream Will Do" vs. "Grease Is the Word" (huh?).

The Mail Bag

• To my traditional "Loesser is more" pun last week, Nick Ruggeri (a k a Burgher in NYC Exile) responded by quoting Fred Allen: "Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted." Nick says "Guys and Dolls" has two of his favorite phrases in all show business: Nathan's "For this I got to bend down," and the stage direction, "Some men squat down."

• Another NYC exile, Jerry James, reminded me that Frank Loesser's first wife was known as "the evil of two Loessers." Later, he married Jo Sullivan, the Rosabella in his "The Most Happy Fella," which is why, among songwriters, this show is known as the one in which the composer gets the girl.

Dick Kraft writes: "Every year when the Kennedy Center Honors are given, I hope to see Mickey Rooney listed as an honoree. At 90 years, it seems fitting that he be recognized for his lifelong contribution to the entertainment world. Could it be that his right wing political leanings have found disfavor with the Artists Committee?" Not under this administration, I'd imagine. Who else do you think deserves Kennedy Center Honors?

Quiz of a Lifetime

David Boevers has a great theater quiz on his Web site; see my online On Stage journal.

The bottom line

Paid admissions at city's pro theaters for the week ending Dec. 9:

Musical Christmas Carol/CLO (56%) . 6,420
Wonderful Life/Public (64%) ....... 3,024
Pride & Prejudice/PICT (85%) ...... 1,644
Christmas Catechism/City (72%) .... 1,366
Murderers/City (95%) ................ 842
Chicken Snake/PH Rep (98%) .......... 294


Post-Gazette theater editor Christopher Rawson can be reached at crawson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1666.


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