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Actor's one-man show launches quest for personal discovery

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Randy Kovitz likes to mix it up, and not just as a fighter. Perhaps best known for his fight choreography, he's a Point Park University adjunct professor and an actor on stage and screen, from George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" to a guest appearance on "Parks & Recreation" in 2012.

He takes to the stage this month in a one-man show of the Glen Berger mystery "Underneath the Lintel," a 12 Peers Theater production and a Pittsburgh premiere.

'Underneath the Lintel'
Where: 12 Peers Theater at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown.
When: Wednesday through Feb. 26. All shows 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; and Feb. 13-15, 17-18 and 24-26.
Tickets: $15; $10 with student ID at the door;

Mr. Kovitz uses his skills with accents to portray The Librarian, who is confounded and inspired by a book that is returned after 113 years. The Librarian begins an obsessive search for what may be the Wandering Jew of legend. The quest takes him out of his orderly, insular world and leads to adventures and revelations about the world and himself.

When it arrived off-Broadway, Variety praised the play as "a theatrical miracle ... a cosmic puzzle that makes 'The Da Vinci Code' seem like a game of hide-and-seek." Oscar nominee David Strathairn played the role in November for American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

"It's a fantastic piece of writing, and it's about things that are very universal, like the ephemeral nature of life and the decisions that people make that go on to affect them forever," said Mr. Kovitz, who sports a Dutch accent for the role. He thinks audiences will be hooked by the detective story inherent in The Librarian's search.

The journey of self discovery was part of the attraction when Mr. Kovitz saw playwright Berger (co-writer of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark") perform a reading in New York a few years back.

"There's the metaphor of 'Underneath the Lintel,' that characters make decisions while standing in a doorway between their old life and their new life and regret them later," he said. "And the challenge of it as an actor attracted me, the idea of holding a stage for 80 minutes."

You can see Mr. Kovitz's work on two stages when "Underneath the Lintel" opens at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Downtown. He also choreographed the scene in Pittsburgh Public Theater's "Company" in which a couple try their karate moves on each other.

In Mr. Kovitz's solo show, he has had to bring out The Librarian's inner struggles.

"The fight in 'Company,' it's not a super-complicated fight, but the whole idea of it is to bring out character," he said. "So [as The Librarian] I move differently, I have a different center of energy ... the idea of transforming, of inhabiting a totally different person falls right in with all the other movement work I do."

Mr. Kovitz doesn't sit still for long. Besides teaching, he will next be on stage in "Pantagleize" for Quantum Theatre and can be seen on screen as Dr. Simmons in the Pittsburgh-shot "The Fault in Our Stars."

He is also a filmmaker. His "Lightweight" -- about a woman coming to Pittsburgh for a family funeral just after she's dumped by her boyfriend -- won best short at the Worldfest-Houston Film Festival last spring.

Sharon Eberson: or 412-263-1960.

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