Pittsburgh's Civic Light Opera has begun its summer season, running May 18 July 18, a season that includes Mike Burstyn in Jolson, Eric Kunze in West Side Story, Rue McClanahan and George Dvorsky in Bye Bye Birdie, Jim Walton in Crazy For You and Edmund Lyndeck in Grand Hotel.
Jolson visits Pittsburgh on its national tour, currently traveling across the country. Mike Burstyn stars as the legendary entertainer, Al Jolson. Burstyn's New York credits include Ain't Broadway Grand, Barnum, Inquest and The Megilla. Also in the cast are former Pittsburgh CLO Academy student Heather Mazur (Ruby Keeler), Harry A Winter (Louis Epstein), Kenny Morris (Harry Akst) and Jeff Richards (Frankie Holmes).
Directed by Bill Castellino, Jolson closes May 25. Tickets are $38 $10. For tickets, call (412) 456-6666
Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's classic, West Side Story, follows Jolson, running June 1-13. Leading the cast are Eric Kunze as Tony, Glory Crampton as Maria and Mark Pinter as Lieutenant Shrank. Kunze played Broadway's Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees, Chris in Miss Saigon and Marius in Les Miserables. Crampton is best known for playing and recording Christine in the Arthur Kopit-Maury Yeston Phantom, as well as appearing at Paper Mill Playhouse and on several albums in the "Unsung" series. Pinter, who recently played Grant Harrison on "Another World" has also appeared on "Guiding Light," "As the World Turns" and "Loving." Also in the company are Elana Ferrante (Anita), Fernand Roderick (Bernardo), Spencer Rowe (Action), Kathy Meyers (Anybody), Sandor DeGrazia (Chino), Todd Smith (Baby John), Brian Loeffler (Big Deal), Michael Hollick (A-Rab), Justin Bohon (Snowboy), Gene Saraceni (Doc), Shirley Tannenbaum (Gladhand), Paul Palmer (Officer Krupke), Randy Bobish (Toro), John Bantay (Juano), Carolyn Doherty (Velma), Linday Nicole Fisher (Francisca), Lesley Jennings (Grazielle), Roy Harcourt (Indio), Lori Leshner (Consuela), Malina Linkas (Margarita), Kiki Lucas (Teresita), Darryl Semira (Luis), Sam Sinns (Diesel), Melissa Swender (Rosalia) and Tony Yazbeck (Moose).
Barry Ivan directs and choreographs. Michael Biagi is the musical director.
TV's "Golden Girl" Rue McClanahan stars as Mae Peterson in the CLO production of Bye Bye Birdie (June 15-27). McClanahan won a 1987 Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Blanche on TV's "Golden Girls."
Joining McClanahan are George Dvorsky as Albert Peterson, Jeff Trachta as Conrad Birdie and Lenora Nemetz as Rose Alvarez. Pittsburgh native Dvorsky's Broadway credits include stand-by for Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Henry Spofford in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Private Augenti in Passion and Prince Charming in Into the Woods. Trachta portrays Thorne Forrester on CBS's "The Bold and the Beautiful" as well as past roles as Hunter Beldon on "Loving" and Boyce McDonald on "One Life to Live". Nemetz, a CLO regular with appearances in Sweet Charity, Funny Girl, Mame and Cabaret, appeared on Broadway in Chicago, Working, The Rink, The Pajama Game and Up in One.
Other cast members include Julie Ann Emery (Kim MacAfee), John Sloman (Mr. MacAfee), Susan Cella (Mrs. MacAfee), Justin Bohon (Hugo Peabody), Lesley Jennings (Ursula Merkle), Jacob George (Randolph MacAfee), Savannah Stevens (Gloria Rasputin), Beth Taylor-Ackelson (Mrs. Henkle), Steve Bulyga (the Mayor), Susan Chapek (Mrs. Merkle), Jeff Howell (Charles F. Maude) and Terry Wickline (the Mayor's Wife).
Encores! director Charles Repole (Dubarry Was a Lady, Call Me Madam) directs Bye Bye Birdie. Tony Stevens (Wind in the Willows, Perfectly Frank, Rockabye Hamlet) choreographs. Biagi will again be the musical director.
Jim Walton will star as Bobby Child in Pittsburgh CLO's production of the George and Ira Gershwin tuner, Crazy For You, running from June 29 July 11. Walton, a veteran of Australian and the Toronto production of Crazy For You last appeared at the CLO as Eddie Ryan in Funny Girl. Joining Walton will be Bruce Adler, who recreates Bela Zangler, his 1992 Tony-nominated role.
Pittsburgh CLO regular Edmund Lyndeck returns as Colonel Doctor Otternschlag in Grand Hotel (July 13-18). Lyndeck, a Dramalogue Award winner for Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, a role he created on Broadway, played Scrooge in CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol from 1992-95, as well as turns in CLO productions of 1776, Carousel, Oliver! and The Secret Garden. Jeff Howell plays Sandor. Howell has appeared as Bob Cratchit in CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol for the last seven years.
For tickets to the CLO's season, call (412) 456-6666. The Benedum Center is located at 719 Liberty Avenue.
-- By Christine Ehren