For Lou Valenzi, acting in a professional role after a decade-long hiatus is a good feeling.
“Getting back onstage, working with professionals again, it’s like a rebirth,” said Valenzi of Sewickley, choir teacher and musical director at Quaker Valley.
Valenzi will help bring history alive when the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s performance of 1776 opens Jan. 24. The Tony-winning "best musical" showcases the heroes of the American Revolution through song and dance, comedic encounters and impassioned politics.
Valenzi plays the role of Joseph Hewes, the representative from North Carolina. Hewes, a wealthy man from the North, was a crafty businessman and owned a shipping company. He died at age 50.
“He’s certainly not one of the main characters, but all of the representatives, the delegates from the different colonies were important players in the creation of the Declaration of Independence.”
Directed by Ted Pappas, the muscial play stars George Merrick (South Pacific on Broadway) as John Adams alongside Keith Hines (Lancelot in Camelot at Pittsburgh Public Theater) as Thomas Jefferson, and Steve Vinovich (Lost in Yonkers on Broadway) as Benjamin Franklin. The cast of 26 also includes John Allen Biles of Ohio Township, who plays Lewis Morris, a delegate from New York.
1776 is Valenzi's fourth show with Pittsburgh Public Theater. Valenzi also appeared in The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore, all directed by Pappas. It's been a decade since Valenzi worked with Pappas, whom he said is an extremely organized and amazing director who keeps it fun.
"He knows exactly what he wants to work on, the exact amount of time it takes and he sticks to that schedule. He’s also very entertaining. We laugh a lot,” Valenzi said.
Valenzi worked as a professional actor, starting his career in the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. He has performed throughout the United States and Canada, including on Broadway. His television acting credits include, “Knot’s Landing,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Young and the Restless” and “According to Jim.”
After moving back to Pittsburgh, he spent time directing Pine-Richland’s high school musicals. These days, he’s busy teaching and directing musicals at Quaker Valley—this spring it's Anything Goes—and he serves as the musical director at St. James Church in Sewickley.
Valenzi will have a supportive cast of familiar faces in audience, including several local teachers, administrators, most of the choir from St. James and his pastor.
Schedule: 7 p.m. Tuesday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (except Wednesday, Feb. 6); 2 p.m. Saturday (except Jan. 26 and Feb. 2) and Sunday, and also 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21.
Ticket Prices: $29 to $60. Students and age 26 and younger $15.75 with valid ID. Family Fun Packs, with two student and two adult tickets, are available for $100. For tickets call 412-316-1600 or visit ppt.org
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