Playhouse opens doors

Written By Mick Stinelli, Co-News Editor

As the long-awaited Pittsburgh Playhouse reaches its developmental twilight, faculty and students are already settling into the space.

The Playhouse, which remained a hard hat site until the end of the summer, has been a dream-in-development for years. Now, it is becoming a reality.

“This is a phenomenal gift we’ve been given by the university,” Barbara Houston, Company Manager for the Playhouse, said. She emphasized none of the old Pittsburgh Playhouse was intended to be a theater.

The original Playhouse – initially a German social club in 1800s – was converted into a performance space throughout the twentieth century. Students and faculty both talked about the building drawbacks: it was old, outdated and clearly not intended to be center of art and performance.

Houston said the new space, which has been touted as a state-of-the-art facility, is going to completely elevate the performances of an already talented conservatory.

“This creative team is gifted,” Houston emphasized. “From set designers to choreographers to performers. We have a very talented group of actors and musicians.”

The new space, initially estimated to cost $53 million, will open with a gala in October. Houston says that in her mind, the Playhouse will truly open with its initial show: a production of the 1998 version of the
Tony Award-winning musical “Cabaret.”

Though the space is first and foremost for the performance of plays and musicals, Dean of Students Keith Paylo said he is looking forward to every student to experience the Playhouse.

“It should be a place where all students feel comfortable,” Paylo said. “Whether it’s a theater or not, it’s a beautiful building.”

Paylo said the addition of a new café and lounge areas have helped to make the building “as comfortable a space as we possibly can.”

Students are now able to wander through the majority of the Playhouse. It can be accessed through the University Center. After traveling through the basement and up the stairs, students are met with a massive lobby featuring a sprawling, two story staircase.

Houston encouraged students to wander through the building.

“Look through the windows and see the prop designers at work,” she said, emphasizing all students now have an unprecedented opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into every step of the process.

Rianne Lindsey and Nicole Perrone, both junior technical theater majors, expressed reserved optimism for the new Playhouse.

“It wasn’t what I expected, and I don’t mean that in a bad way,” Lindsey said.

They both said students must remember the building and the shows that are being workshopped within its walls are still works-in-progress.

“It feels more like a learning environment,” Perrone said.

She expressed excitement for the Playhouse’s future, saying that it may take a couple of years for the space to really blossom.

“I’m excited for the potential.”

Auditions for “Cabaret” begin this week, and with them, a new era of the Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University.