Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Pittsburgh Public Theater

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Headquarters  Pennsylvania, United States
Similar  Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Playhouse, August Wilson Center for, Mattress Factory, Frick Art & Historical Center

The fantasticks at pittsburgh public theater

Pittsburgh Public Theater, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a professional theater company. Led by Producing Artistic Director Ted Pappas and a board of trustees, Pittsburgh Public annually produces a six-play subscription series that mixes classics, works from Broadway, and musicals. Pittsburgh Public Theater has been in continuous operation since 1975, first on Pittsburgh's North Side and since 1999 in the O'Reilly Theater, in the heart of Downtown's Cultural District.


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Early history

1974: Joan Apt and Margaret Rieck start Pittsburgh Public Theater with Ben Shaktman as General Director. The City of Pittsburgh offers Allegheny Theater to The Public rent free. Grants from 37 corporations, foundations and the state arts council, along with 934 individuals, fund the theater's $370,000 budget. With a grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and a design by Peter Wexler, a flexible stage and audience space with movable scaffold seating for 350 is created.

September 1975: First Public Theater production, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, stars Carol Teitel and is directed by Ben Shaktman, at the Allegheny Theater on the North Side.

October 1975: Tom Atkins makes his first appearance as Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

November 1975: Leonard Nimoy begins performances in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as Malvolio.

October 1976: Playwright August Wilson is in the audience to see Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard.

1977-78: Season expands from three to five plays.

1980: Ben Shaktman directs Macbeth. Tom Atkins plays the title role. Jean Smart is Lady Macbeth, and Keith Fowler is Macduff.

1980: Allegheny Theater is renamed the Theodore L. Hazlett, Jr. Theater in honor of the visionary head of the Mellon Trust. Howard J. Millman becomes Executive Director of Pittsburgh Public Theater.

1980-81: Season expands from five to six plays.

February 1982: Ben Shaktman resigns, effective June 30. Dennis Babcock replaces Howard J. Millman in the position of Managing Director.

1982-84: Larry Arrick serves as Artistic Director.

1984: Designed by L.P. Perfido Associates, theater is renovated to increase seating to 471, increase technical capabilities, and enlarge lobby space.

April 1984: William T. Gardner is named Producing Director.

September 1984: Legendary actress Sylvia Sidney appears in Marsha Norman's 'night, Mother, directed by Peter Bennett.

April 1985: Helena Ruoti makes her Public Theater debut in Becoming Memories, written by Arthur Giron and directed by Lee Sankowich.

April 1987: The Public presents its first benefit performance for the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.

1988: Horton Foote directs the premiere of his play Habitation of Dragons.

June 1989: Dan Fallon joins The Public as Managing Director.

July 1989: Cloris Leachman appears in a one-week engagement of Grandma Moses – An American Primitive presented by Pittsburgh Public Theater at the Fulton Theater.

1989-90: The Public has an all-time high subscription base of 16,185.

1990: The musical Eleanor is directed by Mel Shapiro and choreographed by Rob Marshall.

1991: British actor Mark Rylance plays the title role in William Shakespeare's Hamlet and Academy Award winner Kim Hunter stars in A. R. Gurney's The Cocktail Hour.

January 1992: Twenty-five Pittsburgh couples celebrating 50 or more years of marriage are honored at production of I Do! I Do!. Board president Joseph M. Wymard announces The Public's intention to move from the North Side into a new facility Downtown to be built by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

April 1992: William T. Gardner, Producing Director for eight seasons, dies unexpectedly of a heart attack.

December 1992: Edward Gilbert of Toronto, Canada is appointed Artistic Director.

1993: Mad Forest is directed by Mark Wing Davey. Playwright Caryl Churchill attends the first preview.

August 1994: Stephen Klein is appointed Managing Director, to share leadership.

1994: Ted Pappas directs first production at The Public, the musical Wings.

1994: Programmed by the Education Department, the first Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest for students takes place.

1995: Amazing Grace, by Michael Cristofer, is directed by Eddie Gilbert and stars Marsha Mason. The Reduced Shakespeare Company makes its first appearance.

1996: August Wilson is in residence at The Public to rework his play Jitney.

April 1997: Groundbreaking for new theater Downtown to be named for Anthony O'Reilly.

1997: Over the Tavern by Tom Dudzick breaks previous Box Office records.

September 1998: The organization launches the public phase of its $12.8 million capital campaign. More than $8.5 million has already been raised during the behind-the-scenes phase. $10 million is earmarked for an income-producing endowment.

The O'Reilly opened on 11 December 1999 with the PPT's world premiere of King Hedley II, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.

During the late 1970s, TV and film producer Sally Lapiduss worked at the Theater.


Pittsburgh Public Theater Wikipedia