Point Park Globe

Playhouse’s final curtain call

Written By Robert Berger, Co-News Editor

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When auditioning for the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA), Allison Beauregard selected one of her favorite monologues from “Uncle Vanya.” Three years later, she will star as a lead role in Point Park’s upcoming production of it.

“It’s one of my dream roles, and a show I always wanted to do,” Beauregard said.  “I actually did a monologue from it to get in the school, so it really feels like a full circle moment to have this opportunity.”

“Uncle Vanya” opens at the Playhouse’s Rauh Theatre this Friday. It will run for 11 shows until the April 15 matinee performance. This will be the final run of performances done by the Conservatory Theatre Company at the Oakland Pittsburgh Playhouse before it closes its doors.

“It’s such an honor,” Beauregard said. “I’ve always loved old Hollywood stars like Gene Kelly and Shirley Jones, so knowing they performed on that stage along with so many other actors I’ve looked up to… makes just being able to share the history means so much to me.”

Written by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov in 1898, “Uncle Vanya” tells the story of main characters Professor Serebriakov and his wife Yelana as they move from urban life to a country mansion in Brescia due to the high cost of city living.

“Because everyone else that is living at the estate and how colorful the characters are, everything falls to pieces,” Beauregard said. “It’s based on humanity and reality…  it’s really about trying to figure out the things these very real characters do.”

Directed by associate COPA professor Philip Winters, the cast auditioned in December along with the other shows done this semester. By the middle of January, the cast was selected.

“That was a nerve-racking month of waiting, but it was definitely worth it in the end,” Beauregard said.

The cast began rehearsals at the end of February. After taking a weekend off for spring break, they began extensive rehearsals. From Tuesday through Friday of each week, nearly four-hour rehearsals were held. This past Saturday, nearly 11 hours were spent working through the show.

“We definitely have been putting a good amount of time into the piece, but the rehearsals fly by,” Beauregard said. “We are having so much fun because it’s so stimulating and challenging.”

According to Beauregard, the cast has grown very familiar with each other after all the time spent rehearsing.

“Everything has been a dream working on this show,” Beauregard said. “Phil Winters has been so great to work with and he really encourages us to think critically and expressively about the show.”

With Beauregard playing Yelana, junior acting major Daniel Murphy will take the role of title character Uncle Vanya.

“[Murphy] and I are great friends,” Beauregard said. “We are in the same BFA acting class so it’s been great being able to play these roles together.”

Rounding out the cast in support will be senior acting major Bryan Gannon playing Dr. Mikhail Astrov, senior musical theatre major Peter Brannigan will play Professor Aleksandr Serebryakov and junior musical theatre major Kathleen Wilkinson portraying Sofia Serebryakova.

“They’re all such gifted people and it was so perfectly cast,” Beauregard said. “I give Phil a lot credit for assembling this group of actors.”

Through the years, the Playhouse has hosted a number of events such as concerts and guest speaker presentations. The most recent addition being the Point Park Talk Back Series in collaboration with Point Park Center for Media Innovation.

“We are taking the ‘talkback’ element of the engagements very seriously,” Conte said in a press release from the Playhouse. “All three of the speakers are interested in far more than just lecturing from the stage.”

The Playhouse doors first opened in December of 1934. After playing host to an in-house theatre company for a number of years, the theatre began struggling with raising funds to operate.

In the 1970s, Point Park partnered with the Playhouse to help with the finances. Ever since, the building has welcomed Point Park’s Conservatory Theatre Company, Conservatory Dance Company and Playhouse Jr. company. 

Professional theatre companies “The Rep” and Point Park’s resident professional theatre company also hold regular performances at the venue as well.

According to the Point Park website, the new Pittsburgh Playhouse location will open in Downtown Pittsburgh at the start for the 2018 fall semester.

After 10 years of planning and efforts coming from nearly 30 different construction companies, the complete building will connect to the University Center. They also worked extensively at restoring facades of previous buildings previously on the property.

“We’re actually using [the facades] to create this environment, it’s not just like a painting on a wall,” university architect and planner said in a Globe article published earlier this semester.  “We’re creating this atmospheric theater by putting the town square back together again.”

Inside, the three-story 92,000-square foot building will include three performance theatres and a number of classrooms and practice spaces for students to utilize freely.

Before doors close for good in Oakland, the Playhouse will hold a ‘Lights Out Celebration’ on June 18. Alumni, faculty, staff and the public are welcome to share memories over cocktails and hor d’oeuvres in the Rockwell Theatre.

“Uncle Vanya” will premiere to the public Friday at 8:00 p.m. and is free for all Point Park students. 

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