Carlynton grad's show here

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For former Crafton resident Brian McCormack, last weekend marked an auspicious homecoming.

The 1998 Carlynton High School graduate made his debut as the producer of a one-woman song and dance stage review in the Cabaret at Theater Square in Downtown's Cultural District.

The show starred Croatian actress Ksenija Prohaska in her role as Marlene Dietrich.

It has been a decade since Mr. McCormack, then a high school senior, became the youngest director of a local stage production at Stage 62 in Carnegie. It signifies the continuing evolution of a career begun in neighborhood shows staged in the garage of his Hawthorne Avenue home.

Throughout high school, he was involved in all aspects of Carlynton and other local theatrical productions.

"It's a great test for me professionally," said Mr. McCormack, 28, who graduated in 2003 from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City with a degree in fine arts.

"I really enjoy the creative process and sharing it with others," he said. "As a producer, you create everything and are at the helm, so to speak," he said.

He has lived in Manhattan and has pursued various artistic endeavors but recently has focused on directing and working on films.

While working on his major short film, "Amity," he met the Croatian actress and her daughter, Ana, a fashion model whom he has been dating for several years.

In appreciation for the help and support they provided in his film project, he decided to produce the show and bring it to Pittsburgh.

"She's a real diva and can light up a whole room," Mr. McCormack said of the actress who first performed as Marlene Dietrich in the 1991 movie "Bugsy." He said that the actress was very excited to be coming to Pittsburgh.

Randy Kirk, another friend who is the manager of the Cabaret, helped to arrange the show.

Mr. McCormack said he chose Pittsburgh for this show because of its large Croatian population and its tremendous reputation for cultural acceptance and appreciation.

"It's incredibly eclectic for the size of the city," he said. "It's been an incredible learning experience, and I would love to direct her and her daughter in a full-length movie about Marlene Dietrich," Mr. McCormack said.

Rob James, 37, who has directed theatrical productions and musicals at Carlynton High School for 14 years, recalls working with Mr. McCormack.

"He was always a great kid who was wonderful to work with," Mr. James said. "It's always impressive to see someone who is following his dream and is so excited about his work.

Mary Anne McCormack, Brian's mother, was excited by her son's return to town.

"I'm truly happy that he is doing something that he really enjoys," she said.

Jim McMahon is a freelance writer.


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