On its five-day, four-night November trip to Broadway, the Post-Gazette ShowPlane included just three shows ("Matilda," "Kinky Boots" and "Motown") in order to leave two open theater slots for the 45 travelers to make individual choices. And they did, enjoying a wide range of options from "The Glass Menagerie" to "The Book of Mormon," "Pippin" to Billy Crystal, "Tosca" to the Rockettes.
Three-fourths of the way through, we gathered for a post-show drink at Sardi's to discuss what we'd seen. It was right after "Kinky Boots," and not surprisingly, when asked which of the three group shows they most enjoyed, "Kinky Boots" garnered 19 votes, compared to 10 for "Matilda" and five for "Motown." (Some couldn't decide and some had already headed off to bed.)
The highlight of that Sardi's session was the appearance of Billy Porter, Tony-winning star of "Kinky Boots." The Pittsburgh native (Homewood, CAPA, CMU) promised to stop by for a few minutes but relaxed in the warmth of our interest and admiration and stayed for much of an hour, talking with candor and humor about the show and the challenges of show biz.
If the vote on a favorite show had come after his visit instead of before, it might have been unanimous.
But Mr. Porter wasn't the only Pittsburgher we saw in a starring role. CMU grad Chris Hoch is playing the horrific Miss Trunchbull in "Matilda." Some of us saw Tina Benko (CMU) in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," along with Pittsburgh native Jacob Ming-Trent (Pittsburgh Musical Theatre). Some saw Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones (both CMU) in "The Glass Menagerie." The list could go on.
Speaking of Pittsburghers, the Broadway segments on the Thanksgiving parade telecasts featured several: Billy Porter, of course; Chris Hoch's Miss Trunchbull in "Matilda"; CMU's svelte, Tony-winning Patina Miller as the Leading Player in "Pippin" and Michael Campayno (still a senior at CMU) as Rolf in "The Sound of Music."
PG theater trips are announced in the paper. But to request individual notice, contact Candi at Gulliver's Travels, 412-441-3131.