Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Theater Group Plans to Push Limits Aims to Push Limits

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Theater Group Plans to Push Limits Aims to Push Limits

Article excerpt

When theater buffs Rob Jessup and Nate Newell got together socially, they would talk about how Westmoreland County had an abundance of good theater groups but there was a void of unconventional productions.

They decided to fill that gap by forming Split Stage Productions.

"The idea behind Split Stage is to bring something that pushes the limits for Westmoreland County audiences and doing it at the quality level you get in the city, but spotlighting Westmoreland County talent," Mr. Newell, of Greensburg, said.

Split Stage started in September 2013 with a performance of the Tony Award-winning rock musical, "Rent," based on Giacomo Puccini's opera "La boheme." In 2014, it followed with "Avenue Q," a coming- of-age satirical parable, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross" by American playwright David Mamet.

Its current production is the counter-culture classic, "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical," at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center. Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday and Feb. 5, 6 and 7.

So far all of the productions have been staged at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Road in Greensburg, but Mr. Jessup and Mr. Newell hope to move some productions to other parts of the county.

"Westmoreland has incredible theaters, such as the Lamp Theatre in Irwin, now undergoing a renovation and tentatively set to open in July," Mr. Jessup, of Murrysville, said. "Seton Hill University has two or three differently sized theater spaces, and the All Saints Brewery in Greensburg has an old warehouse space that would be good."

Mr. Jessup and Mr. Newell are also eyeing The Palace Theatre in Greensburg, a much bigger venue, but they said Split Stage does not yet have the finances for that.

"The name of our group comes from the fact that we wanted something catchy with a lot of appeal, and that Nate and I split everything down the middle - from the financial support to the production chores," Mr. …

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