Front Porch Theatricals announces
2017 Season and Directors -
Violet – Robyne Parrish
Big Fish – Spencer Whale
Front Porch Theatricals, Pittsburgh’s acclaimed “boutique” professional musical theater company, has announced its 2017 season’s directors and shows.
Building upon the recent successes of The Spitfire Grill and Floyd Collins, Front Porch’s uplifting 2017 season of musicals will present stories of journey and discovery, tall tales and relationships with VIOLET, running May 19-28, and BIG FISH, running August 18-27, both at Front Porch’s performance home – The New Hazlett Theater. Consistent with its artistic mission, Front Porch continues to feature unique, socially relevant regional professional premieres of musicals that engage and challenge audiences, and employ established and emerging Pittsburgh born or trained acting talent, some of Pittsburgh’s most accomplished production talent, and up and comers as well!
The company is thrilled to announce that it has engaged Robyne Parrish to direct VIOLET. Ms. Parrish recently returned to live in Pittsburgh after five seasons as Artistic Director of the Gilbert Theater in North Carolina. An actress, director and playwright, Robyne has extensive experience in New York City, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Her most recent Pittsburgh directing work was The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) at Off the WALL in Carnegie, and before Violet, Robyne will be directing 4.48 Psychosis, also at Off the WALL. Robyne’s many directing credits include The Diary of Anne Frank, Much Ado About Nothing, A Christmas Carol, The Fantasticks and The Zero Hour. As an actress, Robyne has worked locally at City Theatre, The REP, Quantum and Bricolage, to name a few. She was also the assistant to the Company Manager of WICKED on Broadway. Robyne holds a BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and was an MFA graduate candidate at Point Park University in Theater and Pedagogy for three years. Robyne has been a theater educator for more than 15 years, directing and teaching students from grade school through the collegiate level, and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. You may learn more about Robyne at www.robyneparrish.com.
Next up, Front Porch is excited to put BIG FISH in the hands of Pittsburgh native Spencer Whale, a vibrant young storyteller and Cornell University graduate. Most recently, Spencer directed LUNGS for Off the WALL, for whom he also co-directed Linda Haston’s repertory one-woman show, Mother Lode. Before that, Spencer made his NYC directorial debut with the original comedy 100 Aker Wood, and he is currently a Directing Observer for the 2016-2017 Season at City Theatre, where he will assistant direct Artistic Director Tracy Brigden’s production of The Guard. He previously assisted Tracy on Hangar Theatre’s production of Next to Normal as a member of their 2012 Lab Company. Spencer’s favorite directing credits include Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus for Cornell’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage Season; subculture, an original evening of subversive short plays by Steve Yockey; and Melancholy Play, Sarah Ruhl’s farce about depression. This will be Spencer’s return to musical theatre in Pittsburgh after winning a Gene Kelly Award (Best Actor in a Supporting Role) while a student at North Hills High School. Other Pittsburgh credits include work with the Pittsburgh Public, City, Quantum, 12 Peers and Kinetic Theaters. As a teaching artist, Spencer is developing the new “Bard for Beginners” program at Pittsburgh Public Theater, where he also coaches and judges the annual Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest.
Remaining members of this season’s production teams will be announced over the coming months.
VIOLET, with a score from Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Caroline or Change, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Shrek) and book and lyrics by the acclaimed Brian Crawley (A Little Princess), is a moving, inspiring and uplifting musical featuring show-stopping anthems ranging from American roots to folk to gospel. Inspired by Doris Betts’ short story, The Ugliest Pilgrim, Violet has astounded critics and audiences alike in two separate decades with its 1997 off-Broadway premiere (Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical), which was choreographed by Pittsburgh’s Kathleen Marshall, and the quadruple Tony nominated 2014 Broadway revival starring Sutton Foster in the title role. Violet tells the story of a young woman on an emotional journey through the 1964 Deep South, seeking a miracle - the healing touch of a TV evangelist that will make her beautiful. As she journeys on, Violet meets a young, African-American Soldier whose love for her reaches far past her physical "imperfections". Violet is a powerhouse piece of theater that can take an audience's breath away, and with its depth, tremendous music and social relevance, is right up Front Porch Theatricals’ alley!
BIG FISH, based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton, is a heartfelt, powerful, and truly magical musical about fathers, sons, and the stories we use to define ourselves. The musical centers on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest and loves to tell tall tales about his adventures! Edward’s incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him - most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. However, their son, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales. With spine-tinglingly beautiful music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party, The Addams Family and A Little Princess) and a funny, heartwarming book by John August, Big Fish is a magnificent “whopper” of a tale, itself - spectacular, fantastical, and overflowing with heart, humor and love. Originally directed on Broadway by Susan Stroman (The Producers), this new, 12-actor reimagining of Big Fish with an updated book and songs reminds us why we love going to the theater - for experiences that are richer, funnier and BIGGER than life.
For more information on Violet, Big Fish and Front Porch Theatricals, please contact Leon Zionts at 412-389-5983 or Bruce Smith at 412-551-4027. They would be happy to arrange interviews with the cast, artistic team or producers. Season and single show tickets are now available through ShowClix at 1-888-718-4253, online at frontporch.showclix.com or through the Front Porch website: www.frontporchpgh.com. Discounted tickets are available for students, groups and artists.
FRONT PORCH THEATRICALS is a Pittsburgh-based, Section 501(c)(3) non-profit musical theater company whose productions emphasize social and cultural issues. The Company has previously produced the locally written Only Me in 2009, Next to Normal and In the Heights in 2012 and 2013 (in association with Carrnivale Theatrics), Parade in 2014, The Last Five Years and The Light in the Piazza in 2015 and this year’s The Spitfire Grill and Floyd Collins. The Company's mission is to provide Western Pennsylvania with professional, high-quality, somewhat less frequently seen musicals, featuring Pittsburgh's diverse actor, artistic and technical talent base, creating high-level professional vehicles for our local pool of emerging and established directors and artists. Particular emphasis is placed on mentoring high school and college age individuals in the Company’s paid, hands-on intern and apprenticeship programs. Front Porch Theatricals is committed to diversity in casting and to hiring Pittsburgh-based and Pittsburgh trained artistic and technical talent. The Company converted to an IRS Section 501(c)(3) non-profit company on January 1, 2016 and proudly became an Allegheny County Regional Asset District “asset” this year on its first application. Front Porch is an appreciative GPAC member.
See lastest article in the Jewish Chronicle concerning our director from last year's shows, Rachel Stevens: