Pittsburgh Ballet's 'Streetcar Named Desire' promises an emotional ride

March 8, 2012 8:43 am
  • Pittsburgh Ballet's Robert Moore as Stanley, Eva Trapp as Blanche.
    Pittsburgh Ballet's Robert Moore as Stanley, Eva Trapp as Blanche.
  • Robert Moore, as Stanley and Alexandra Kochis, as Stella.
    Robert Moore, as Stanley and Alexandra Kochis, as Stella.
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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre knows how to push the boundaries of ballet.

In February 2009, it illuminated the delight and devastation of young love with a bold European retelling of "Romeo et Juliette." That fall, it commemorated the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht with "Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project," a choreographic interpretation of a Holocaust survivor's journey from normalcy to genocide to redemption.

"I think that's what the arts are supposed to do -- help continue people's education and open up awareness," said artistic director Terrence S. Orr.

'A Streetcar Named Desire'

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Benedum Center, Downtown.

Tickets: $22.75-$90.75 at 412-456-6666 or www.pbt.org. The production is recommended for mature audiences. PBT will donate $2 from some tickets sold between now and Sunday to the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Information: For a list of pre- and post-performance events: www.pbt.org/support/events.

This weekend at the Benedum Center, Downtown, PBT will mount its latest drama-packed piece, "A Streetcar Named Desire." It is the first American company to perform Wisconsin-born choreographer John Neumeier's balletic adaptation of the 1947 Tennessee Williams Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

"It's an incredibly powerful and tremendous work," Mr. Orr said. "For us to be able to have the honor by John Neumeier is just huge for us, just like stepping up into that next plate of how good Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is and what kind of mark on the ballet world we can help make."

In 1983, Mr. Neumeier of Hamburg Ballet first staged for Stuttgart Ballet the tattered tale of fallen Southern belle Blanche DuBois as she struggles to come to terms with her post-bourgeois life with her sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley in New Orleans.

But the ballet is not an authentic translation of the play or the Academy Award-winning 1951 film starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando.

"The way John tells the story, it's much more from Blanche's point of view, and you understand her pain of losing her family and her estate and her husband and her complete decay of this high-society type of life that she had disappear," Mr. Orr said.

Audiences are thrust into the scenes, thanks in part to sets constructed to allow dancers to perform atop the orchestra pit.

Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com.
First Published 2012-03-07 23:25:59

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