Point Park develops 'The Umbrella Man' for stage and screen
The REP will produce world premiere for stage; cinema and digital arts department will work on film
The Point, Fall 2010
During the initial meeting with producer and director Robert A. Miller and two screenwriters, Ronald Allan-Lindblom sensed that The Umbrella Man could become an important project for the University. Yes, the screenplay could be adapted for the stage and possibly premiere at The REP, the University's professional theater company, said Lindblom. But let's not stop there. Let's shoot the movie version in Pittsburgh and involve Point Park in all aspects of the film.
That's exactly what's happening this fall. In September, The REP will produce the world premiere for the stage. In November, the University's cinema and digital arts department will begin work on the full-length feature film.
"We take great pride in providing students with access to internationally recognized professionals through our guest artist program and our teaching artists," said the dean of the Conservatory of Performing Arts. "The Umbrella Man creates an opportunity for Point Park's cinema students to be involved with some of the best in the business from the start of shooting through post-production."
Miller, the film's producer and play's director, knew the partnership would be fruitful based on his past work with the University and more than 30 years as a director, producer and screenwriter. "Pittsburgh and Point Park have the talent, the locations and the editing facilities to make this project work," he says.
Richard Arlook and Jonathan Miller are executive producers. Michael J. Grasso and Joseph M. Grasso are co-directing. The Grasso brothers and Edward J. Delaney wrote the story on which Delaney based The Umbrella Man screenplay and play.
"The play will showcase the depth of the characters," says Miller of The REP production September 10 - 26, at the Rauh Theatre in the Pittsburgh Playhouse. "The adaptation works on so many levels. And there is enormous value in having the play done first, then the movie made. The play will inform the movie, no doubt about it."
The Umbrella Man is a tale of love, loss and against-all-odds survival of one couple's relationship. Set in the late 1980s in Pittsburgh, the play follows Lyle Asay's downward spiral from grief and guilt over his young son's death and an obsession with conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Equity production features David Cabot as Lyle, Dana Hardy as Deborah Asay and 10 other Pittsburgh-based actors. Scenic design is by Stephanie Mayer-Staley. Lighting design is by Lloyd Sobel, sound design is by Steve Shapiro, and video design is by Jessi Sedon.
With the three remaining REP productions directed by women - Kim Martin directs The Lonesome West, Robin Walsh directs La Ronde, and Melissa Martin directs the world premiere Mercy and the Firefly - this fall the Playhouse will host a panel discussion about women directors, playwrights and other professionals.
In late October through early November, Conservatory Theatre Company dances its way into the Rockwell Theatre with Thoroughly Modern Millie, directed by Scott Wise. In November the company welcomes George Ferencz of New York's La Mama Experimental Theatre Club to direct Casino Real by Tennessee Williams. The student company then produces the musical She Loves Me, directed by Jack Allison, to round out the semester.
The Conservatory Dance Company presents the Student Choreography Project and Pittsburgh Connections in the George Rowland White Performance Studio downtown before returning to the Playhouse for The Bench, a new holiday favorite conceived and choreographed by Kiesha Lalama-White.
To purchase tickets for The Umbrella Man on stage, visit the Pittsburgh Playhouse website.
Article by Colleen C. Derda
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of The Point, a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University.