'The Chief' kicks off a busy January for local theaters

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The Steelers may be out of the NFL playoff picture, but "The Chief" is forever. At 10 years and counting, the solo show with Tom Atkins as the late Art Rooney Sr. is a popular DVD gift and the show with the best box office in Pittsburgh Public Theater history.

"The Chief" kicks off a busy January schedule for local theater, celebrating the play's double-digit anniversary with a tailgating party.

Fast on the heels of the world premiere of "Flashdance the Musical," the PNC Broadway Across America show at the Benedum Center through Sunday, "The Chief" is back for 12 home games at the O'Reilly Theater tonight through Jan. 12. Set in Rooney's Three Rivers Stadium office in 1976, the play tells the story of how Pittsburgh's fledgling pro football team became a Super Bowl dynasty.

"It's also about Pittsburgh and how this great industrial city and its people created a great man, and how this man turned around and produced a great team that is a reflection of the city," said Ted Pappas, the Public's managing artistic director.

To celebrate the kickoff, the Public will hold a tailgate party today, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in Katz Plaza, Seventh Street and Penn Avenue, Downtown. There will be free fruit drinks by Fuze, the food trucks Oh My Grill and Dozen Desserts will offer discounts to patrons wearing black and gold, and Steel City Cornhole will have free bean-bag toss games. Rob Zellers, co-author of "The Chief" with Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier, will be on hand, and the Public will offer discounts and giveaways.

Showtimes are at 8 tonight and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday; and next week, 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 12. Tickets are $48 and $65, $15.75 for students and age 26 and younger at 412-316-1600 or ppt.org.


Jan. 6-13: For the family, Pittsburgh International Children's Theater presents "We're Going on a Bear Hunt," a musical interactive adaptation of Michael Rosen's award-winning book, at the Byham Theater and other venues (check trustarts.org or call 412-456-6666).

Jan. 8-13: Tami Dixon's one-woman show, "South Side Stories," was extended into the new year for those who missed this virtuoso view from the Flats to the Slopes. (City Theatre's Hamburg stage, South Side; citytheatrecompany.org or 412-431-2489.)

Jan. 10-12: Nothing rings in a new year like a satirical look at the one in the rear-view mirror. The self-explanatory title of "Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody" indicates fun to be had at the expense of E.L. James' literary sensation that began as fan fiction. (Trust Presents, Byham Theater, Downtown; trustarts.org or 412-456-6666.)

Jan. 11: "Yo Gabba Gabba Live!'s" DJ Lance Rock and other characters from the Nick Jr. TV show invite audience members to "Get the Sillies Out!" (Benedum Center, Downtown; trustarts.org or 412-456-6666.)

Jan. 15-27: On Dec. 19, Veep Joe Biden took one of his granddaughters to the "Les Miserables" tour that stopped at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. It's in Philadelphia now; the next stop, Pittsburgh. The long-running, long-touring musical was updated with new sets for the show's 25th anniversary last year. (PNC Broadway Across America -- Pittsburgh, Benedum; trustarts.org or 412-456-4800.)

Jan. 19-Feb. 10: "Seminar" leaps from the Broadway stage to the South Side. The play by "Smash" creator Theresa Rebeck stars Daniel Gerroll as a member of the literary elite offering a private writing seminar to an eclectic group of wannabes. (City's Main Stage, South Side; citytheatrecompany.org or 412-431-2489.)

Jan. 24.-Feb. 24: Best musical Tony winner "1776," which recounts John Adams' efforts to get his colleagues onboard with the Declaration of Independence, is an ambitious new project for Mr. Pappas. Familiar faces in the cast include Keith Hines and Hayden Tee, from the Public's production of "Camelot." (Pittsburgh Public Theater, O'Reilly Theater, Downtown; ppt.org or 412-316-1600.)

Jan. 24-Feb. 3: "The Sound of Music," the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical about the von Trapps and Maria (Lara Hayhurst, Elle in PMT's "Legally Blonde") as the nun/governess who wins their hearts. Jeff Howell -- whose roles have ranged from Bob Cratchit to Cecil B. DeMille in Pittsburgh CLO's "Sunset Boulevard" -- plays Captain von Trapp. (Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Byham; trustarts.org or 412-456-6666.)

Jan. 29: "One Singular Sensation," a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, with Idina Menzel and guests accompanied by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. (Heinz Hall, Downtown; www.pittsburghsymphony.org or 412-392-4900.)

Jan. 31-May 6: "You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!": A comedy by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn about the trials of marriage, with Pittsburgh CLO executive producer directing busy local actress Robin Abramson and Gregory Johnstone (from CLO Cabaret's "Shear Madness"). (CLO Cabaret at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown; trustarts.org; 412-456-6666.)


Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960. First Published January 3, 2013 5:00 AM


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