Review: HAIR, Pittsburgh Musical Theater

Lonnie the Theater Lady is back on ‘Burgh Vivant tonight to talk about Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s “thoroughly enjoyable, nearly perfect production” of HAIR, directed by Ken Gargaro, performing through February 2, 2020. For tickets and more information, visit  Continue reading “Review: HAIR, Pittsburgh Musical Theater”

Review: HAIR, Pittsburgh Musical Theater

Forgotten Things, Buried Deep – a review of “Downstairs”

Mike Buzzelli

By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant

Basements, like memories, hold a lot of forgotten things, buried deep. This is especially true in Theresa Rebeck’s darkly comic “Downstairs.”

Irene (Helena Ruoti) has graciously let her brother, Teddy (Martin Giles), camp out in the basement over her suburban home, much to the chagrin of her husband Jerry (a menacing John Shepard). Teddy needs a break from his daily routine, and the dingy squalor of the suburban basement seem to make him happy (for some reason).

Irene is nervous about having her brother squat in the cellar because her husband and brother do not get along. Understatement of the Century alert!

Because Irene is a few years older, the two siblings have vastly different memories of their childhood, but they do share laughs reminiscing about the good times. Their connection has weakened since her marriage, but it begins to blossom again while he is couch-surfing downstairs.

Teddy is ill. It takes a while to figure out if his sickness is physical or mental. Irene pretends her marriage is normal – it very much isn’t, but she doesn’t seem to know what normal is either.

Irene starts to realize her brother is mentally ill. He says things that are unusual. He might be speaking in metaphor, or he might believe what he’s saying. He doesn’t care if he sounds like a whacko. He just says what comes to mind.

Jerry, however, who passes as normal – is far sicker. He hides in shadows, passes through everyday society, but deep down, he’s very troubled. Insidious, actually.

There is a battle of wills waging between the brother and the husband and Irene realizes she has to choose a side before she becomes collateral damage.

The first forty-five minutes of “Downstairs” move at the speed of molasses. However, once Jerry appears for the first time, the play picks up speed. It steamrolls to the ending. There are some major twists and revelations near the end and they are shocking. No spoilers.

Irene (Helena Ruoti) tries to convince Teddy (Martin Giles) the old computer isn’t working, but he gets it up and running in “Downstairs.”

Rebeck’s dialogue is sharp, crisp and full of unexpected witty moments in dour situations. Each character has a distinct voice. At one point, Irene quotes her husband, and even the words she speaks don’t sound like her own as she says them.

Giles and Ruoti have fantastic chemistry. Their rapport is so fluid and dynamic.

It takes a minute to warm up to Teddy, but Giles plays him with such charm. In Giles’s hands, Teddy is more of a lovable kook than crazy person.

Ruoti does an amazing job. Irene is a duck, trying to appear graceful on the surface, while paddling as fast as she can. A lot of lies are told in this play, but none of them compare to the lies that Irene tells herself to keep her life together.

Shepard is downright chilling as Jerry. He provokes, pushes, bullies and threatens the siblings. He is terrifying. Before November 9, 2016, I wouldn’t have believed a human being could be this self-centered, bombastic, and completely void of compassion.

Director Marc Masterson picked three of Pittsburgh’s best actors for this play.

Tony Ferrieri’s set is filled with all the prerequisite items you would find in a basement, rusted tools, a laundry sink, a dog cage and picnic basket, but there is a pervasive subterranean gloom hanging over the cavernous room.

The lighting and sound design is also impressive. Kudos to Brian Liliethal and Steve Shapiro.

Note: Limit your liquid intake, the play runs without an intermission. And it runs rather long.

While there is a satisfying conclusion to the events in this particular suburban basement, “Downstairs” is not exactly the feel-good play of the year. It is, however, thought provoking. It is also a masterclass in acting, writing and production.


“Downstairs” is upstairs at the City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. For more information, click here.


The Dickens you say – a review of “A Christmas Carol”

Tiffany Raymond, ‘Burgh Vivant

The Theatre Factory breathes life back into “A Christmas Carol” by choosing a 2012 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic by Patrick Barlow. Barlow thoughtfully reduces the cast. His reimagined version is limited to Scrooge plus an ensemble of five who plug and play into a range of roles. The essence of the story remains unchanged, but it has a quicker, lighter tone. Dickens purists may find fault with Barlow’s generously modernized language. Barlow layers in references to things like “marketing,” which is how Scrooge describes the Christmas music playing at his business.

Director Olivia Hartle severely missteps in allowing the actors to adopt British accents. None of the thespians can consistently maintain an accent, let alone sustain the same one, making the wandering accent tour a chronic source of distraction. Scrooge (David Nackman) finds his dour as the play progresses, but at the start, Nackman can’t suppress his smile, making you wonder if Scrooge opens as an optimist in this adaptation.

Scrooge loves to talk in lofty metaphors that are designed to intimidate his lower-class borrowers. When Mrs. Lack arrives to borrow money and asks for Scrooge’s now deceased business partner, Marley, he tells her Marley has “shuffled off this mortal coil.” She looks at him quizzically until Scrooge finally enunciates “died.” Any negligible grief Scrooge felt has manifested to something he can call up on demand to shed the requisite tear designed to demonstrate a suffering he flips to take advantage of his customers. Scrooge’s turns of phrase come back to haunt him (literally) as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future later repeat them, cheerfully mocking his air of self-importance.

Ebenezer Scrooge (David Nackman) humbugs his way through the first half of “A Christmas Carol.”

Nackman shines with lightness in moments of disdain, showing us early glimmers that Scrooge may not be all humbug. When Marley fails to leave at Scrooge’s request, he tries to shoo him out of an open window, flicking his wrists and inculcating his rendition of ghost communication with an accompanying, “Whoosh, whoosh.” He mocks Marley when the first spirit fails to arrive exactly at the strike of twelve and churlishly calls out, “Ghost, ghost, ghosty.” The five actors who play a variety of parts are never named beyond their assigned number in the program. This makes it hard to match cast to role, but they all radiate earnestness and prove adequate. Tiny Tim is surprisingly represented by a puppet. The actor who voices him is as laughably poor at ventriloquism as he is at maintaining a British accent, but it’s a quirky moment of shared levity.

Strangely enough, there’s a Pittsburgh connection to this British literary classic. In 1842, Dickens visited Pittsburgh and toured Western Penitentiary prison. It is widely thought that the rattling chains of Marley’s ghost are based on the profoundly despairing sight of shackled prisoners that Dickens witnessed here in Pittsburgh. While not the cheeriest of legacies, given “A Christmas Carol” was published the year after Dickens visited Pittsburgh, it’s not an unlikely inspiration.


The Theatre Factory’s production of “A Christmas Carol” plays through December 15th at The Theatre Factory, 235 Cavitt Avenue, Trafford, PA 15085. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

A Cap and Cheese Christmas – A review of “Yinzer Yuletide: Pittsburgh Lights and Legends”

Mike Buzzelli

By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant

Take an old-fashioned Perry Como Christmas special, replace the Canonsburg native with WQED’s Rick Sebak and set the whole thing in Pittsburgh and you have, “Yinzer Yuletide: Pittsburgh Lights and Legends.”

“Yinzer Yuletide: Pittsburgh Lights and Legends,” like those Perry Como Christmas specials of yore, have special guest stars pop in and out while Sebak, staying true to his brand, tells tales of Christmases long, long ago. Meanwhile, Nick Stamatakis tickles the ivories (and plays additional instruments).

Side note: Pittsburgh is offering a plethora of Christmas shows this season, with “The Carols,” and “The Santaland Diaries,” just don’t get “Yinzer Yuletide” mixed up with “Yinzer Scrooged” running at the Bricolage, or go to both shows!

In “Yizner Yuletide: Lights and Legends,” actual Pittsburgh legends like Lenora Nemetz and Etta Cox stop over at the top of the show. Then, we get Victory Brinker, fresh out of the box, literally and figuratively. The seven-year-old singer lights up the stage with operatic renditions of Christmas favorites, including a lovely song, written by Pittsburgh’s biggest and brightest star, the legendary Mr. Fred Rogers (who’s having a bit of a resurgence these days).

Josh Verbanets (Meeting of Important People, Josh & Gab Show) stops by for a lively rendition of the Kink’s “Father Christmas.”

We are also treated to Ben Prisbylla who plucks his ukulele to “Mele Kalikimaka,” and O’Ryan “the O’Mazing” Arrowroot who juggles some Christmas ornaments.

Sebak shows a few clips from his various TV specials that amp the nostalgia factor to an eleven. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the Kaufmann’s Christmas window display and a tour of the most decorated homes in Pittsburgh.

Note: While the clips ran, I spent the majority of my time counting the times Yinzer’s said, “Haas” instead of “House.” It’s hilarious.

(from left to right) Ben Prisbylla, Nick Stamatakis and Josh Verbanets belt out a Christmas tune.

Nemetz does a spectacular job singing, especially her breathless version of “Jingle Bells.” Cox is always amazing. But Brinker is clearly the star to watch. The child has a powerful voice and a fantastic addition to the Pittsburgh pantheon of legends.

Verbanets has a boyish charm, even when he’s rocking out to the Kinks. If you’ve never seen Meeting of Important People or the Josh & Gab Show, you’re missing another one of Pittsburgh’s hidden treasures.

Stamatakis stands out here. He is more than your average pianist. He is lively, charismatic and provides a great deal of the humor. Plus, Nemetz and Cox each gift him with silly accoutrement to wear throughout the show.

Verbanets, Stamatakis and Prisbylla (the world’s hardest-to-spell trio) perform a beautiful version of “We Three Kings” while wearing sparkly crowns. There is a joy and effervescence to the music they make.

“Yinzer Yuletide: Lights and Legends” is a lot like a Primanti’s sammie. Elements like Capicola, cheese, French fries and Cole slaw are disparate items to fill two thick slices of Mancini’s bread, much like a child opera prodigy, ukulele player, and a juggler seem like unlikely acts for a Christmas show, but, like the sandwich, it all works. Sebak adds thick slices of cheese. “Yinzer Yuletide: Lights and Legends,” much like a Primanti’s sandwich, is quintessentially Pittsburgh. Yinz should go n’nat.

P.S. Check out the windows in the O’Reilly on the way in. They are an extra special holiday treat to go with this show.


“Yinzer Yuletide: Pittsburgh Lights and Legends” runs until December 22 at the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. For more information, click here

Not All Elves are Short – A review of “Elf The Musical”

By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant

Happy, innocent Buddy the Elf (Tanner Yake) grew up in the North Pole. Accidentally plopped into one of Santa’s bags in New York, baby Buddy was reared under Santa’s (Jonny Kigin) supervision along with the elves in his toy workshop. Buddy thought he, too, was an elf even though when grown he towered over his diminutive cohorts.

Santa felt it was time to let Buddy know that he was a human, and has a father, Walter Hobbs (Joe Graff) in New York City. Santa felt it was time for Buddy to meet his dad.

Dressed in his very green and large elf suit, Buddy’s off to the Big Apple. He meets his father who didn’t know he existed, stepmom Emily Hobbs (Tracy Parsons) and half-brother Michael Hobbs (Joshua Clark).

Buddy tries to fit in and his new family attempts to accept him. Relinquishing his elf suit for a business suit to work with Hobbs doesn’t improve the bonding process. Even his acquaintance and potential love interest Jovie (Carly Phillips) has a bad start. When everyone is at their wits’ end, Buddy is pushed out of his new home and forced back into a department store full of Santas.

Elf (Tanner Yake) sits on Santa’s (Jonny Kigin) lap.

Innocent words, actions and unfiltered comments not a problem in his previous sheltered North Pole environment often have double, suggestive meanings in this new world. That might be troublesome to overcome.

Yake is tremendous. He begins as a naïve, sheltered young man and transitions into a quasi-grown up (still working on it), not so naïve as he used to be. Much of his emotions are expressed through facial expressions and physical movement.

Nowicki is a gem as Meg. Wonderful singing of “In the Way” but what she does with her facial expressions and general movements says it all.

As the beleaguered dad, Graff progresses from stern and uncompromising to a more reasonable and finally compassionate man.

Parsons and Clark are delightful singing “I Believe in You”.

Phillips packs a lot of emotion in her rendition of “Never Fall in Love”.

Kigin transitions easily from his role as jolly Santa into the authoritative business man Mr. Greenaway.

Impressive direction by Brandon Keller in managing such a large cast in a relatively small space.

“Elf The Musical” is a Christmas story with lots of singing, dancing and general fun. One caution is that the play (especially Act One) is long and very young kids may lose interest.


“Elf The Musical” is a production of Comtra Theatre, 20540 Route 19, Cranberry Township PA 16066 and runs from December 6 – December 15, 2019. For more information, click here.


Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Arcade Comedy Theater

A “quirky, unexpected” take on Christmas is Arcade Comedy Theater’s production of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS according to Lonnie the Theater Lady. Written by Anthony Neilson and directed by Jethro Nolen, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS continues through December 21, 2019. For tickets and more information, visit

Continue reading “Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Arcade Comedy Theater”

Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Arcade Comedy Theater

A Pittsburgh Twist on Dickens N’at – A review of “Yinzer Scrooged: A Pittsburgh Christmas Carol”

By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant

Imagine “A Christmas Carol” told from a present-day Pittsburgh perspective. The Charles Dickens classic is updated with a Pittsburgh twist at the fictitious “dahntahn” WBRC Studios in Bricolage’s 11th annual Midnight Radio Series, “Yinzer Scrooged: A Pittsburgh Christmas Carol.”

We follow Jeffenezer Scroogeoff (Wali Jamal) as his story is told – his early upbringing, why he became a mean, stingy, Jagoff, and the people he affected along the way.

Andrew Carnegie (Michael McBurney) is one of the ghosts who haunt Scroogeoff while Lena Horne (Shammen McCune) sings to him.

Flashbacks to a Young Scroogeoff (Connor McCanlus) give us some indication as to how he behaved in his youth. His awful treatment of his housekeeper Barbara Cratchet (Jaime Slavinsky) supports his present miserly behavior.

References to Pittsburgh people, locations and food are often interspersed with Pittsburgh accents.

The actors’ movements are confined to traveling from one part of the studio to another in order to assume another role or to participate in making the appropriate sounds associated with the story. But it’s really about the vocals.

If you close your eyes for a few minutes you won’t miss anything. It’s all about sound.

Jaime Slavinsky and Connor McCanlus provide many different voices during the production. Photo Credit: HG Photography.

McBurney, McCanlus, McCune and Slavinsky take on multiple roles in this 1940’s radio-style format.

Jamal’s deep, rich voice is a joy to hear as he portrays the mean, rich guy.

McBurney is able to easily transition from an Andrew Carnegie ghost with a beautiful Scottish brogue to a mellow Fred Rogers.

McCune’s skit as an audio recording spewing out directions on MapBurg is excellent.

McCanlus transitions easily from a youthful sounding Young Scroogeoff to an even younger Tiny Tony.

Slavinsky’s Pittsburgh accent is spot on.

Musical Director Deana Muro’s music was subtle, yet sharp.

If you’re the least bit nebby on how this radio show ends, finish your pierogi dinner, head down to Pixburgh and become part of the audience n’at. It’s an enjoyable evening.


“Yinzer Scrooged: A Pittsburgh Christmas Carol” is a production of Bricolage Production Company, 937 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222 and runs from December 5 – 21, 2019. For more information, click here.


A Change for the Halibut – a review of “The (Christmas) Lake Effect”

By Tiffany Raymond, ‘Burgh Vivant

Each holiday season, ballet companies expectantly produce their obligatory rehashing of “The Nutcracker.” So too do America’s playhouses delve into the shallow pool of holiday theatrical options with perennial appearances of “A Christmas Carol” or “White Christmas.” Little Lake Theatre’s production of “The (Christmas) Lake Effect” successfully colors outside the lines of tried (and tired) holiday options. This original play is written by former Little Lake artistic director, Sunny Disney Fitchett. Little Lake’s current artistic director, Jena Oberg, takes the sleigh’s reins as director. Oberg finds the right balance, keeping a vibrant show from veering into a madcap frenzy.

The play traces the final dress rehearsal for a production of “A Christmas Carol.” It’s no smooth run-through after the cast is inadvertently locked in an unheated barn during a blizzard. The locked door leaves 12 cast members negotiating the stage for most of the production. Managing a dozen actors is a staging challenge, particularly at Little Lake where the audience flanks all four sides of the stage. Oberg artfully circulates the actors to balance sight lines without making their movements arbitrary or distracting.

A misguided costume delivery for “Cats” instead of “A Christmas Carol” creates endless visual and verbal comedy as the actors hiss and cough up faux furballs. The close quarters also exacerbate the full range of large theatrical personalities, particularly leading man, Felix (Art DeConciliis), who will be playing Scrooge. The middle-aged DeConciliis particularly shines in verbal parlance with Martha McElligott, who plays teenaged actress, Riley. Riley is overly enthusiastic, but McElligott keeps her genuine. This is thanks to steadfast direction from Oberg who reinforces Riley’s excited speech by having McElligott bounce on the couch as she talks. Riley is respectful, calling Felix by his last name, but she’s also young and clueless. When Felix is quoting Hamlet’s “to be, or not to be” soliloquy, Riley eagerly asks, “Is that from Game of Thrones?” It’s the perfect summation of generational gaps, and the somewhat saturnine Felix handles it with good-natured grace.

The cast of “The (Christmas) Lake Effect.”

Beyond DeConciliis and McElligott, the rest of the cast also shines. Elizabeth (Mary Meyer) is set to play Mrs. Cratchit and poignantly wishes her character “had a fancy dress – or a first name.” It’s a subtle acknowledgement of historically marginalized roles for women. The play gracefully bounces between past and present as not sleigh bells, but cell phones, ring during rehearsal, sparking the show’s director Beatriz (Stacey Rosleck) to order everyone’s phones removed from the premises. Felix gesticulates and dramatically announces in a sonorous tone, “No Venmoing, No LinkedIn-ing. Welcome to back in the day!”

Inexplicably, the Secret Santa gifts were somehow in the barn before the lock-in. Fitchett’s writing could be tightened up a bit here. While there are no shortage of surprises pulled from the red sack, watching a 12-person Secret Santa exchange inevitably gets a tad tedious.

DeConciliis expertly channels miffed diva over the fact it’s the first year Lakeside Theater (a clever renaming of Little Lake) isn’t producing their signature holiday show, “A Halibut Christmas” (a clever renaming of holiday classic “A Tuna Christmas”). Felix has always headlined in “Halibut,” which only has two roles. He laments not being able to don the faux fur coat required for the role, making the faux fur cat costume an ironic tease. In the program, Oberg notes her first holiday memory at Little Lake was as a teen laughing at DeConciliis in “A Tuna Christmas,” which was directed by none other than Sunny Disney Fitchett. It’s one more layer of metatheatre, but somehow, it’s a heartwarmingly sweet circle of life within the context of the holidays.

Fitchett undoubtedly bakes in other Little Lake jokes us outsiders will never know, but that doesn’t diminish the impact of the show. Oberg ensures it’s accessible, so it never feels like an insider’s club. We all get to toast a hearty wassail and laugh at the effect – or rather “The (Christmas) Lake Effect.”


Little Lake Theatre’s production of “The (Christmas) Lake Effect” plays through December 14th at Little Lake Theatre, 500 Lakeside Drive, Canonsburg, PA 15317. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.


Merry & Gay – a review of “The Santaland Diaries”

Mike Buzzelli

By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant

It’s Christmastime in the city, and author and playwright David Sedaris reminds us that the season isn’t all comfort and joy in “The Santaland Diaries.”

Unemployed stoner David (Shua Potter) has moved to the big city and is in desperate need of employment. Then, right before his money runs out, he lands an odd gig – playing Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s Department Store, a sidekick to the store Santa.

David AKA Crumpet recounts his most bizarre experiences working with several Santa’s and a myriad of elves in a series of diary entries. They are hilarious and heartfelt bon mots about the joys and pains of the holidays. Joe Mantello’s adaptation is crisp and clean, savoring the most sarcastic and sardonic bits.

As Christmas nears, David gets grumpier and grumpier about his gig as a full-time Elf. He says, “There was a line for Santa and a line for the women’s bathroom, and one woman, after asking me a dozen questions already, asked, ‘Which is the line for the women’s bathroom?’ I shouted that I thought it was the line with all the women in it. She said, ‘I’m going to have you fired.’

He adds, “I had two people say that to me today, ‘I’m going to have you fired.’ Go ahead, be my guest. I’m wearing a green velvet costume; it doesn’t get any worse than this. Who do these people think they are?”

The diary is a fantastic story told very well by Potter. He is a charismatic young man. Even though “The Santaland Diaries” is almost all dialogue and little action, director Monteze Freeland keeps things moving.

Shua Potter as Crumpet the Elf sits in Santa’s chair recounting “The Santaland Diaries.”

But wait there’s more! “Santaland Diaries” is a short play, but director Monteze Freeland and actor Shua Potter spice things up with a delightul amuse bouche before our main course in “Santa’s TED Talk.” Though Santa does not appear, Potter dressed as Mrs. Claus shows up before we open the diary. Mrs. Rachel Claus is basically Fran Drescher in red velvet.  A Jewish American Princess married to a hero of the holiday. Its a brilliant juxtaposition. The character is laugh-out-loud funny. For added fun, the piece is peppered with Pittsburgh references.  Maybe not so much peppered, but laden with French fries and cole slaw.

Freeland and Potter wrote the opening show and, though short, it’s a tasty little morsel.

We even get two songs. Potter’s alter ego, Mrs. Rachel Claus, ain’t your mama’s drag queen. Potter sings instead of lip syncs. For reals. It’s Broadway caliber singing (Potter was in Broadway’s “Mary Poppins”).

Potter is a dynamic lead in both shows – with vastly different characters.  We have to assume that Potter played both characters because Mrs. Rachel Claus is billed as “herself.” But I’m willing to place a hefty bet.

Tony Ferrieri’s set is a Christmas wonderland, red, green and gold (there are two triangular set pieces in a light yellow that my seatmate, Missy Moreno, referred to as “big slices of cheesecake”).  The set looks a lot like the arcade game Q*Bert. As Kramer would say, “Its all about the levels, Jerry.”

The stage is beautifully lit by Andrew David Ostroski.

It’s festive, but not for the whole family; the poster reminds the audience that the material is for “mature elves only.” After all, we blow the lid open on “the Santa at the store isn’t really Santa thing.” But, truth be told, Christmas has never been funnier.


“The Santaland Diaries” runs almost up to Christmas (December 22) at the City Theatre, The Lester Hamburg Studio, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. For more information, click here.


Jingle Your Bells – A review of “The Carols”

By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant

It’s 1944 in Picatinny, New Jersey and time for the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” at the VFW. However, since most of the men are serving overseas there’s a dearth of men available to play the necessary parts. The Carol Sisters: Lily (Moira Quigley) Rose (Mandie Russak) and Silvia (Lizzy Boyke) decide to play the male roles themselves.

Lily is the coordinator who encourages and oversees this project. She is sincere and energetic while Silvia is so intent on success that she insists that Eleanor Roosevelt attend (if only she is asked). Scatter brain Rose has her own potential audience selected – the nearby military base where there are lots of men!

Joining the Carols in pulling off this production are three totally unique, unusual people. Melvin Shaatz (Marc Moritz) is an out-of-work tap dancing Jewish comedian who is the only person who answered their audition call. Ornery Miss Betty (Beth Johnstone Bush) works at the VFW, epitomizes an acquaintance we all know, put up with and sometimes even like. Teddy (Douglas Levine) completes the circle as the limping piano player.

Rehearsals begin and the story line takes on a life of its own, deviating at times from Charles Dickens’ famous fictional tale.

But the show – in all its mutations – does go on!!!

The cast of “The Carols” gathers around the piano.

Quigley’s lovely singling voice is consistent throughout the production, highlighted by ‘What’s Wrong with Right Now.”

Delightful as flighty Rose, Russak’s determination to pronounce every letter in every word she speaks (like Gee-host for ghost) is consistent, funny and timed perfectly.

Boyke has an innocence and sincerity about her as she continues her quest to entice the First Lady to attend their VFW production.

Together Quigley, Russak and Boyke have wonderful harmony, at times singing A capella.

Bush subtly moves her character from a crotchety woman to one who shows a semblance of sensitivity and optimism. She and Moritz do a takeoff on the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First Routine” which is both funny and intricate.

Moritz cleverly portrays the Jewish entertainer inserting Yiddish phrases into the Christmas-themed story.

The ensemble works well together. Their movements and singing are top notch and their facial expressions help define the characters they play.

Levine has a small role as Teddy but a larger part as the Pianist throughout the show.

Deftly co-directed by Erika Cuenca and Robyne Parrish, and kudos to the all-female production team.


“The Carols” is produced by Off the Wall Productions at Carnegie Stage, 25 West Main Street., Carnegie, PA 15106 and runs from November 29 – December 14, 2019. For more information, click here.