Stage Notes: Off the Wall Productions creating new home in Carnegie

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Off The Wall Productions has a new home for its upcoming sixth season, making the move from Washington, Pa., to Carnegie.

Hans and Virginia Gruenert, the managing and artistic directors of the 6-year-old company, bought an empty building at 25 W. Main St. and are in the process of having it converted to a 94-seat theater with a lobby that can accommodate concessions. A business development grant from the Borough of Carnegie helped to facilitate the move.

"Off The Wall is also opening up our venue to other companies who need a home for a night or a weekend or two, making it the multicultural center we've always dreamed of," Mr. Gruenert said, adding that the stage has been designed with the idea of attracting dance companies and stand-up comedians.

The Gruenerts began the professional theater company in 2007 in Washington, with dramatic programming aimed at an adult audience. The sixth season of a quartet of shows opens Oct. 12 with Sharr White's "The Other Place," in which a biophysicist working on a potential breakthrough in dementia medication finds her own life taking a disorienting turn.

With the company's five-year lease in Washington ending this month, the time was right for the move. Downtown was never an option -- "There are enough theaters in the city" -- but Mr. Gruenert hopes to be a small-theater option for companies looking to lease a stage facility somewhere between the storefront Grey Box in Lawrenceville and the much larger New Hazlett on the North Side.

"Carnegie is right outside the tunnel, it's easy access from the parkway and 79 South and North, it has a giant parking lot that's free after 6 in front of our building," he said. "Plus, with the development grant, they made us feel welcome."

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'Addams Family' stars

Douglas Sills, a Tony Award nominee for "The Scarlet Pimpernel," and fellow Broadway veteran Sara Gettelfinger will star as Gomez and Morticia in "The Addams Family" when the national tour checks into the Benedum Center July 31-Aug. 12.

The cast also includes Tony nominee Martin Vidnovic and former Pittsburgher Gaelen Gilliland as Mal and Alice Beineke, Blake Hammond as Uncle Fester, Pippa Pearthree as Grandma, Tom Corbeil as Lurch, Patrick D. Kennedy as Pugsley and Cortney Wolfson as Wednesday.

The musical based on the kooky, spooky characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams, with a book by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, has undergone changes since its Broadway run, and the tour has met with approval. Variety reported that new songs have been added and some elements trimmed while the story was overhauled using a new plot device -- Gomez lying to Morticia about daughter Wednesday's impending marriage. " 'The Addams Family' 3.0 has been knocking 'em dead on the road," Variety wrote.

The show is part of both Pittsburgh CLO's 2012 summer subscription season and the PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh 2011-12 subscription season. Individual tickets ($22-$71) are available at 412-456-6666, or


Sharon Eberson: or 412-263-1960.


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