Broadway Series books Tony winners 'Once,' 'The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess'


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The PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh is bringing a trio of last year's Tony Award winners to the Cultural District next season: "Once" (best musical); "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" (best revival) and "Peter and the Starcatcher" (best scenic, costume, sound and lighting in a play).

The 2013-14 season opens Sept. 3 with the previously announced "Disney's The Lion King." The schedule features seven shows plus three season specials, including the return of "Wicked." Both "Lion King" and "Wicked" were among the shows celebrated in a Pittsburgh Cultural District event tonight that featured tour veterans Buyi Zama (Rafiki) singing "Circle of Life" and Anne Brummel (Elphaba) singing "The Wizard and I." Matt Kopec, who played the lead in "Elf," sang World's Greatest Dad," while playwright Rick Elice explained the creation of "Peter and the Starcatcher."

"Once," the winner of eight Tonys including best musical and best actor in a musical (Steve Kazee), is based on the 2006 movie about a guitar-playing Dublin busker and an immigrant musician who discover they have musical and romantic chemistry. An open casting call for the tour, held in New York on Sunday, called for musicians to prepare a "short folk/rock song in the style of the show. All actors MUST sing & accompany themselves on one of the instruments specified," including guitar, violin, fiddle or piano. "Once," which continues to run on Broadway, arrives in Pittsburgh in March of next year.

Here's a preview of the 2013-14 Broadway Series

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust held a media and patron's event to announce the PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh 2013-14 season, with some special guests at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown. (Video by Sharon Eberson; 6/6/2013)

Also new to Pittsburgh are "Elf" and "Ghost the Musical," both based on popular movies. "Elf" has had holiday runs on Broadway mid-November 2010 to early January '11 and the same time of year 2012-13. Another newcomer -- based on a novel rather than a movie -- is the Peter Pan prequel "Peter and the Starcatcher," a critical and audience darling for its wildly imaginative staging and characterizations.

"Porgy and Bess" hit Broadway with some pre-show controversy -- Stephen Sondheim's criticism of revamping the original, despite the blessings of the Gershwin estate, was published in The New York Times and a war of words ensued. The 2012 revival went on to an extended run and was nominated for nine Tonys.

2013-14 PNC Broadway Across America Series -- Pittsburgh

Sept. 3-29 -- "Disney's The Lion King" (Benedum Center): The spectacle devised by director Julie Taymor and featuring songs by Elton John and Tim Rice has been a Broadway best-seller since opening on Nov. 13, 1997. The tour sold out the Benedum for six weeks in 2004 and again in 2008.

Oct. 29-Nov. 3 -- "We Will Rock You" (Benedum): From London's West End, the concert musical by members of Queen and Ben Elton has played in 17 counties since 2002.

Nov. 26-Dec. 1 -- "Elf" (Benedum): A musical based on the Will Ferrell movie tells the tale of an orphan child raised as one of Santa's helpers who goes to New York City to find his birth father and help New Yorkers remember the true meaning of Christmas. The creative team behind "Elf" includes Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin (book), Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics).

Dec. 31-Jan. 5 -- "Ghost The Musical" (Heinz Hall): Bruce Joel Rubin adapted his Oscar-winning original screenplay for the stage and added a pop score by Dave Stewart (the Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard to tell the tale of a couple's enduring love and a storefront psychic who helps them communicate.

Feb. 25-March 2, 2014 -- "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" (Benedum): The team of director Diane Paulus, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and composer Diedre L. Murray scaled back the operatic Gershwin-Heyward collaboration and brought it to Broadway for the first time in more than 35 years. Timeless songs include "Summertime," "It's Ain't Necessarily So" and "I Got Plenty of Nothing."??

March 11-16, 2014 -- "Once" (Benedum): Musical chemistry sparks a complicated romance in the hit that beat out "Newsies" for Tony honors. Oscar-winning songwriters Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova provide the music; the play's book is by Enda Walsh, based on John Carney's screenplay.

May 20-25, 2014 -- "Peter and the Starcatcher" (Heinz Hall): Creative staging and a swashbuckling story led to a magical Broadway run. Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the play with Wayne Barker music was adapted by Rick Elice and earned five Tonys, including best supporting actor for Christian Borle as the pre-Captain Hook "Black Stache."

Season Specials: Dec. 24-29 -- "Christmas With The Rat Pack Live" (Heinz Hall); Jan. 15-Feb. 9 -- "Wicked" (Benedum); Feb. 11-16 -- "Mamma Mia!" (Heinz Hall).

Tickets: Season tickets range from $113-$473 (TrustArts.org/Broadway or 412-456-1390); single tickets go on sale 6 to 8 weeks in advance of the show's opening for most events.

Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960.

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Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960. First Published March 5, 2013 1:00 AM


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