Also see Ann's review of Avenue Q
The holiday season is in full swing, and Pittsburghers have a wealth of theatrical settings in which to spend an hour or two avoiding the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, not to mention the weight of world events. Dependable seasonal presentations of CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker will begin soon (December 7 and 14, respectively), and you will find a humorous twist on the spiritual side of the season with City Theatre's Sister's Christmas Catechism (beginning December 4) and a rockin' one at CLO Cabaret Theatre's Plaid Tidings (running through January 13).
Also on local stage are City Theatre's Murderers (not specifically holiday fare, but more fun than many an office party) and the Public's This Wonderful Life. Both are recommended as enjoyable escapes from the more hectic activities of the holidays.
Tony Ferrieri has designed a very attractive and functional set, with sliding doors beneath the Riddle Key arch revealing surprises to augment the otherwise simple appointments for each act. Elizabeth Atkinson's effective lighting completes the atmosphere. With Michael Bush's direction, each actor draws in the audience and keeps us, if not quite on the edges of our seats, fully involved in the revelations of Hatcher's stories.
Murderers continues through December 22 at the City Theatre. For performance and ticket information, call 412.431.CITY (2489) or visit www.citytheatrecompany.org/. Photo: John Schisler.
Setlock is justifiably like a kid in a toy shop on James Noone's superb attic-clutter set. One cannot predict how some of the set pieces will be used: for example, an intricate jumble of a chandelier (individual bulbs are the angels, including bright red Clarence, and they glow as the characters speak), and a staircase whose steps are made of travel trunks of different shapes and styles. In tune with Mary Louise Geiger's lighting, the different settings of the film are very well rendered, from the snowy bridge where George nearly ends it all, to the swimming pool where George and future wife Mary fall (literally) in love.
You know you can see the film tomorrow, and the next day and next year - this season, for something a little different, try Mark Setlock and Steve Murray's take on the classic, heartfelt story of regrets and blessings.
This Wonderful Life, through December 16 at O'Reilly Theater for Pittsburgh Public Theater. For performance and ticket information, call 412-316-1600 or visit www.ppt.org or the box office. Photo: Ric Evans.