Serra’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ is a Family Affair

April 03, 2019 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Dancers rehearse a tap number, under the direction of Serra graduate Cassie Fedor, who returned to her alma mater to choreograph the show. (David P. Adams photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

If you go...

“The Wizard of Oz”
Serra Catholic High School
200 Hershey Drive (Haler Heights)
7 p.m. April 3-6

Tickets: $8 for adults, $5 for students, available by calling the school office at 412-751-2020, or at the door.

If Dorothy Gale had as many family connections as the cast, crew -- and even the director -- have called upon to help produce Serra Catholic High School’s spring musical, she may never have left Kansas.

In “The Wizard of Oz,” which opens today and runs through April 6, siblings are cast as leads, a Serra grad returns as choreographer and gets to work with her brother, while Ryan Gedman’s brother creates his Tinman costume and paints sets.

Although Alani and Abby DiLonardo have performed in previous Serra musicals, this is the first time they have shared some serious stage time.

Alani is Dorothy, while Abby is the Cowardly Lion. Savino DiLonardo is part of the elementary ensemble.

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Family-Friendly 'Shrek Jr.' Takes Stage in Elizabeth

March 21, 2019 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Dylan Stramaski as Shrek and Lexie Dubos as Fiona are featured in Mon River Arts' production of "Shrek the Musical Jr." at the Grand Theatre in Elizabeth. (Submitted photos courtesy Alexis Hawk)


If you go...

"Shrek the Musical Jr." (based on the DreamWorks movie)
Directed by Kathy Hawk
March 21-24
7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

The Grand Theatre, 206 Plum St., Elizabeth
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Reserved seating.

More information: or 412-405-8425

The family-friendly story of a guy just trying to find a little peace and quiet and protect his home – or rather swamp – complete with a cast of storybook characters comes to the Grand Theatre stage in Elizabeth through “Shrek the Musical Jr.”

Familiar to audiences of all ages through the animated DreamWorks film and Broadway musical, the story of an ogre named Shrek and the princess Fiona blossoms under the guidance of Kathy Hawk as director of the Mon River Arts youth theater production, which opens tonight and continues through Sunday (March 24).

Hawk, a music teacher in Baldwin-Whitehall School District, is a veteran director, musical director, and performer in various community theater ventures.

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Durang's 'Bathwater' at MLT is a Farce With Plenty to Ponder

March 14, 2019 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

John (Andrew Wolf) and Helen (Randi Ippolito) have a different approach to bringing up their baby as they adjust to their new roles as parents.

If you go...

"Baby With The Bathwater" by Christopher Durang
(This show contains adult language and subject matter)
March 15-24
McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: Start at $10 each for groups of 10 or more; regular adult tickets, $15

More information: or (412) 673-1100

What happens when a child raised female by well-meaning, unprepared parents who were “too polite” to check the child’s actual gender grows up and becomes a parent himself?

It’s a predicament tackled in McKeesport Little Theater’s production of Christopher Durang’s “Baby with the Bathwater,” which premiered March 31, 1983. The comedy, full of farce and satire, provides audiences with plenty to ponder.

Directed by Dan J. Kirk and produced by Phillip Boatright, the show features a small cast, many who worked together previously, and some in multiple roles. It opens March 15 and runs weekends through March 24.

The audience first meets the baby, eventually named Daisy as a toddler, when parents Andrew Wolf as John and Randi Ippolito as his wife Helen bring their newborn home from the hospital.

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Connick's 'Happy Elf' Offers Holiday Fun for Kids at MLT

December 05, 2018 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Cast members of "The Happy Elf" rehearse a scene. (Photo courtesy of McKeesport Little Theater Juniors)

If You Go:

Harry Connick Jr.’s “The Happy Elf”

Where: McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St., McKeesport, 15132

When: Dec. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $12 for adults, $7 for children 12 years and younger.  Reservations at (412) 673-1100.

Santa will be taking a break from all his duties at the North Pole to spend some more time in the old Tube City as he meets and greets patrons of all ages – and even has lunch with some of them – when McKeesport Little Theater Juniors present “The Happy Elf.”

A musical creation by Grammy Award-winning composer and lyricist Harry Connick Jr., “The Happy Elf” features Eubie, who has set his sights on becoming part of Santa’s sleigh team.

His extremely bubbly personality actually rubs some the wrong way, and he finds himself assigned to checking the naughty-or-nice lists instead.

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Half-Century Later, 'Hair' Remains Relevant at MLT

November 01, 2018 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

The cast of McKeesport Little Theater's production of "Hair," which opens Friday. (David P. Adams photo special to Tube City Almanac)

If You Go: “Hair”

McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St., (412) 673-1100
When: Nov. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
Ticket information: or

Most of the cast of McKeesport Little Theater’s production of “Hair” knew very little about the musical – except maybe a popular song or two – when they were offered their roles.

At the center of the original musical, co-written by Pittsburgh native Gerome Ragni and James Rado, were issues surrounding the war in Vietnam, with a country deeply divided about the conflict and what America’s role should be.

But after researching and rehearsing since September, cast members came to agree with director Edward Bostedo that issues presented in the rock musical when it premiered in 1967 remain relevant.

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Dark Comedy 'Sordid Lives' Brings Plenty of Laughs at MLT

September 13, 2018 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

The cast of McKeesport Little Theater's season-opening "Sordid Lives" rehearses a scene from the funeral of Peggy Ingram, whose unexpected death prompts some soul-searching among family members and friends. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo)

A comedy --- albeit a dark one --- is sure to bring plenty of laughs to the audience as McKeesport Little Theater kicks off its 58th season with a strong ensemble cast in “Sordid Lives.”

If the title sounds somewhat familiar, it probably is. Del Shores originally wrote “Sordid Lives” as a play, then directed an independent film with the same name in 2000, followed by a television series in 2008 called “Sordid Lives: The Series.”

Producer Anthony Gomez, who also is president of McKeesport Little Theater’s board of directors, said “Sordid Lives” is all about family and acceptance.

The play is set in Winters, Texas, and was nominated for more than 30 awards. Family matriarch Peggy Ingram, known in the community as an upright, Christian woman, dies in an unfortunate accident when she trips over her lover’s wooden legs and hits her head, causing quite a stir.

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Mon Valley Author Expo Connects Local Writers, Readers

September 04, 2018 |

By Charlotte Hopkins | Posted in: Entertainment

Editor's Note: Charlotte Hopkins was one of the hosts of this event.

Local authors --- including two from McKeesport and one from Pleasant Hills --- met with readers and members of the public at an event in Washington County last month.

The Monongahela Area Library and the Just Write Literary Group held the first-annual Mon Valley Author Expo on Aug. 25. Also in attendance was Rebecca Benston, the CEO of Springfield, Ohio, based Higher Ground Books and Media.

The authors who attended the event shared their background and motivation behind their published work.

Yasmin Brown

Last year, Yasmin Brown of McKeesport released her memoirs in a two-part series. Her first book, “The Silent Destruction,” tells how, as a young girl, she was forced into silence regarding sexual assaults that she suffered by a close friend and family member.

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Dravosburg Celebrates 115th Birthday -- With a Bang

August 29, 2018 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Entertainment

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)

Dravosburg Borough celebrated its 115th anniversary on Saturday with daylong festivities, including a parade, a carnival, a lantern launch at dusk, and fireworks.

Above, the Syria Shrine Highlanders Pipes and Drums from Pittsburgh.

Doug Baxter served as event coordinator. More photos after the jump.

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MLT Stages One-Act Drama During New Works Festival

August 29, 2018 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Darrin Mosley as graduate student James Stevens exchanges heated remarks with Andy Pivarnik as Holocaust denier William Whitehead during a rehearsal of "The Survivor," McKeesport Little Theater's entry in Pittsburgh New Works Festival. (David Adams photo special to Tube City Almanac)

If you go

What: “The Survivor,” produced by McKeesport Little Theater for Pittsburgh New Works Festival
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 30, 4 p.m. Sept. 1, 2 p.m. Sept. 2, 8 p.m. Sept. 7, 8 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie
Tickets: Single tickets available for $17 online or $20 at the door; $15 for students with valid ID. Festival passes and other ticket options available online

At the helm as director of “The Survivor,” McKeesport Little Theater’s production for Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Ed Bostedo is pleased with how his luck of the draw turned out.

The festival, in its 28th year, is an opportunity for regional theater companies to introduce a series of new, one-act plays. The catch? After directors review available scripts and get a chance to see actors complete generic auditions, is they have to bid on the play, then the cast, of their choice.

“I was second to last to bid (on the play) and got the show, then was second for the cast and got my first choice both times,” Bostedo said.

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Serra Band Has Big Plans For 2018-19 Season

August 24, 2018 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Members of Serra Catholic High School's colorguard practice their moves during band camp. (David Adams photo special to Tube City Almanac)

(* -- Correction made, Aug. 25. See editor's note.)

With most of his students in choir and musicals, in addition to playing instruments, Serra Catholic High School marching band director Jesse Bush said he was looking for something different and unique to match their skillset when selecting a theme for the season.

“I wanted to do a Latin-themed show,” he said. “I watched the Disney movie ‘Coco’ last year and thought the Day of the Dead holiday was something that could work.”

Following their appearance in Kennywood’s Fall Fantasy Parade on Aug. 18, the band kicks off its season tonight when the Eagles open their football season at Yough in a non-conference game starting at 6 p.m.

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