The woman at the center of this picture wears a feathered hand band and leads a dance ensemble at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland.
The year is 1989 and she’s playing Velma in the musical “Chicago.”
You may not recognize her face but if you like Broadway musicals, you know her name. That’s Kathleen Marshall and legions of theater fans know her as an outstanding choreographer.
Since 2004, she has won three Tony Awards for best choreography plus two Drama Desk Awards for outstanding choreography. (Her brother, Rob Marshall, won an Oscar for his direction of the movie version of “Chicago.”)
A Pittsburgh native, Ms. Marshall is among a long parade of people who started to learn their craft on the boards of the Pittsburgh Playhouse. The list of people who either studied or performed at the theatrical complex includes Cicely Tyson, Rene Auberjonois, Sada Thompson, Shirley Jones, Barbara Feldon and George Peppard.
A golden age for the Pittsburgh Playhouse was the 1950s. On Saturdays, teen-agers learned acting, dance and the technical side of stagecraft. The Playhouse School, a two-year program, launched young actors and technicians into professional careers. By the mid-1950s, the Playhouse had two auditoriums, offices, scenery shops, a cocktail lounge and a popular restaurant.
In the 1980s, people flocked to the Playhouse to see classic and foreign movies brought to Pittsburgh by Richard Rauh. His mother, Helen Wayne Rauh, starred in Pittsburgh Playhouse productions for more than 30 years.
Point Park University took over the facility in 1973. Today, the Pittsburgh Playhouse is home to The REP, a professional theater company and plus three student companies.