Point Park Conservatory Theatre opens its 2014-2015 season paying homage to Pirates great Roberto Clemente in the new work “21.”
Written by Pittsburgh native Alki Steriopoulos and directed by seasoned Broadway actor Richard Sabellico, “21” tells the life story and untimely death of legendary Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Pirates player Roberto Clemente and the three women that were instrumental in making Clemente the man that he was—his mother Dona Luisa, wife, Vera and sister, Anairis.
“This is a full-fledged musical with a cast of 31 people,” explained Sabellico. “It opens with a ball game when he’s being scouted by the Dodgers at the age of 17 and it ends with him getting on the plane that eventually crashes.
“It also deals with his sister who died in a fire. Most of the play is spent dealing with how he broke through the color barrier and that negativity. He was also very manipulated in the beginning of his recruitment. “21” also deals with Clemente’s rise to success and his charity work,” Sabellico added. “Clemente was a very vibrant individual.”
The production, which will be held in the Rockwell Theatre of the Pittsburgh Playhouse, will run from Oct. 17-26 with a preview screening on Oct. 16. Performances will be 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets range from $18 to $20 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 412-392-8000 or visiting http://www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.
Music direction for “21” is by Doug Levine and orchestration is by Michael Zsoldos. Kristiann Menotiades will serve as associate director and choreographer. Scenic Design is by Michael Thomas Essad, costumes by Joan Markert, lighting by Scott Nelson, sound by Steve Shapiro, and video design by Jessi Sedon-Essad. Hugo Schroeder is the stage manager.
Steriopoulos conducted the music for Broadway’s “Those Were the Days.” He played keyboards for “Tommy” and served as associate director for “A Chorus Line” and conducted the US tour of “Five Guys Named Moe.”
Sabellico said he enjoyed working with the Point Park students on this new production.
“I’m so proud of these kids. When I give them something new they step up to the plate. They want to work hard. I’m asking them to understand the life issues of someone 20 to 30 years older than them and they seem to get it,” he said.
Although this is his first time directing a production for the Point Park Conservatory Theatre, Sabellico is not a stranger to the Steel City. He has directed several Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera productions including “The Music Man” with Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr., “The Bells Are Ringing” with Ana Gasteyer and “Mame” with Michelle Lee.
In 2000 he directed “Anything Goes” at Penn State University. He returned to the university six years later to direct “The Boy Friend” and teach a senior performance class. In 2003 Sabellico directed a pre-Broadway try-out of “Dr. Doolittle” at Carnegie Mellon University and taught senior master classes at the school.
“I like Pittsburgh very much. Roberto Clemente is like a God here,” he said. “I was a full-grown adult when Clemente died I was 22 years old and I remember thinking what a shame and where was the justice in him dying,” said Sabellico who was born and raised in Manhattan. “He was someone that I had heard about and I just questioned his death and it made me celebrate and enjoy my own existence. I hope his death did that for other people too.”
“Roberto Clemente is a big deal here and Point Park University does what they do because it’s in the best interest of their students and audiences,” Sabellico continued. “I try to teach kids to find the joy in the work and they’re doing a great job.
Occasionally I forget that they are students. It’s always great to support student theater. Come out and support these kids. ’21’ is paying homage to Roberto Clemente. If you love Roberto Clemente, come see the production.”
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