Harry's Friendly Service, a Rust Belt Comedy, Begins World Premiere in PA May 28

News   Harry's Friendly Service, a Rust Belt Comedy, Begins World Premiere in PA May 28 The world premiere of Rob Zellers' Harry's Friendly Service, set in the declining steel town of Youngstown, OH, in the 1970s, begins May 28 at Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Harry's Friendly Service star Brooks Almy
Harry's Friendly Service star Brooks Almy Photo by Michael Henninger

Zellers is co-author of the popular PPT play, The Chief, about Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. Harry's Friendly Service was a recent recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. Opening night is June 5. Performances play to June 28.

Directed by Ted Pappas, Harry's Friendly Service, according to production notes, "is set in 1977 Youngstown, Ohio, where the steelworkers are on strike, the city wants to tear down the shabby gas station owned by Harry (Edward James Hyland), and a mobster is out to get him. But the players in Harry's daily pinochle games are spirited. There's Tina (Brooks Almy), the ticket-taker at the burlesque theatre next door; Skiddie (Larry John Meyers), a small-time bookie; and John (Joel Ripka), a brand-new lawyer. Into this lively mix comes Emily (Tressa Glover), Harry's long-lost daughter, straight from the convent. A new relationship might develop between the two if mob boss Carmine (Alex Coleman) can just keep his brother Sammy (Daryll Heysham) from killing Harry."

Zellers told Playbill.com, "I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio when steelmaking was at its peak. My play is set in the late 1970s when the steel strikes, lockouts and mill closures brought an end to an entire way of life. The characters in my story come from my memories of the gritty, can-do, blue-collar people that lived through and fought against the difficult economic times with toughness and humor.

"At the heart of the story is a reckless, tough talking protagonist who has been successfully evading a painful past until his 20-year old daughter walks back into his life. Harry's service station is the setting for this drama about family members struggling to reconnect under difficult circumstances."

The design team for Harry's Friendly Service is James Noone (scenic), Martha Louise Bromelmeier (costumes), Kirk Bookman (lighting) and Zach Moore (sound). Fred Noel is the production stage manager; Adrienne Wells is the assistant stage manager. Perfomances will play the O'Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh Public Theater's home in the heart of Downtown's Cultural District. Tickets are available at (412) 316-1600 or www.ppt.org.

Edward James Hyland and Tressa Glover in <i>Harry's Friendly Service</i>
Edward James Hyland and Tressa Glover in Harry's Friendly Service Photo by Michael Henninger