Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse is collaborating with the entertainment production company RWS Entertainment Group to identify and put on new theatrical productions.
The shows will debut in the university’s new; 90,411-square-foot, state-of-the-art teaching and entertainment center, with the hopes that these plays; and musicals will eventually make their way to New York City or other major metropolitan areas.
The first show borne out of this alliance will be “The Old Man and the Sea,” an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s Nobel Prize-winning novella about an aging Cuban fisherman.
It’s the work of A.E. Hotchner, a friend of the novelist and his official biographer, who is also 102 years old. The play will have just three actors and will also rely heavily on video.
“It’s immersive storytelling about the struggle that Hemingway had to write the novel,” said RWS CEO and founder Ryan Stana. “It’s also a major vehicle for a Cuban or Hispanic actor.”
Stana received a bachelor of fine arts in theater arts from Point Park and serves as a current university trustee. After visiting the new space, he became convinced it could be a major launching pad for shows that would have a tougher time getting a venue without the benefit of a conservatory or repertory run.
“There’s such a craving for new work, but it’s harder to do them commercially,” Stana said.
There’s an educational component to the collaboration as well.
“Our students will be involved in every aspect of this production — from the creation of the stage sets to the lighting,” said Point Park University president Paul Hennigan. “It gives them invaluable hands-on experience.”
“The Old Man and the Sea” will be staged by Point Park’s Conservatory of Performing Arts; and Playhouse artistic director Ronald Allan-Lindblom. Principal casting will be handled by Binder Casting, a subsidiary of RWS Entertainment Group, which has cast the Broadway productions of “The Lion King,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” and “Gypsy,” as well as the film adaptations of “Dreamgirls” and “Hairspray.”
Founded in 2003, RWS has worked with resorts, theme parks, and special events, as well as such clients as Holland America Line, NBCUniversal, and Six Flags.
“The Old Man and the Sea” runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 17. The hope is that Point Park University and RWS will mount at least one production a year together.