Zeno's 'Boys' arrive at Gray Box Theatre

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Justin Zeno's Bald Theatre returns to the Grey Box Theatre in Lawrenceville with the new musical "The Burnt Part Boys," about the surviving sons of a coal miner killed in a West Virginia mining accident.

Mr. Zeno, who directs the Pittsburgh premiere and plays the role of Miner Boggs, led a fine cast in Bald's production of the musical "A New Brain" last year.

"Like most shows I wind up doing, this one came to me accidentally," he said of "The Burnt Part Boys." "I was doing a benefit and looking for songs about spring, and I came upon a song by these writers. Then I found this new show."

The rights weren't available right away, but he pursued them. Mr. Zeno said he believes that this is the first non-Equity regional production of the show.

The New York Times' Charles Isherwood wrote of the 2010 Playwrights Horizon production, "With its young, plucky hero and its portrait of a pair of fatherless boys looking out for each other, 'The Burnt Part Boys' makes a fine show for family viewing, the rare musical that lots of young boys might even cotton to."

To tell the coming-of-age story, Mr. Zeno recruited a cast of young performers who have been tearing it up on local college and professional stages. They include Amanda Hawkins, John-Michael Breen, Logan Williams, Matt Augustyniak and 14-year-old Joseph Serafini, who was "Oliver!" for Pittsburgh CLO in 2010.

"I couldn't ask for more," he said of the youngsters in the production. "As soon as I ask something of any one of them, it's as good as done."

The show, including music direction by Nancy Gordon Galluzzo, opens at 8 p.m. tonight and represents Bald Theatre's third season at the Grey Box. The rest of the schedule is 8 p.m. Sept. 1 and Sept. 6-8, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2. Admission is $20 at baldtheatre.org. Online reservations must be placed at least 24 hours to show time; it's cash only at the door.

See scenes from the New York production by visiting "The Burnt Part Boys: A New Musical" on YouTube.

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Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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