New Works History
Since 1946, Pittsburgh CLO has been a defining force in the Pittsburgh theater scene, launching the careers of legendary artists, fostering home-grown talent and introducing generations of Pittsburghers to the magic of musical theater. In recent years, the company's focus and success have also expanded beyond the Pittsburgh region. Through a dedication to the creation and development of new works and a commitment to investment in new shows, Pittsburgh CLO has positioned itself to be a national force in the musical theater industry. By devoting time, resources and expertise to the success of new musicals, Pittsburgh CLO is building the future of this important American art form – and ensuring that Pittsburgh audiences will enjoy the best of musical theater for many generations to come.
Pittsburgh CLO’s New Works endeavors include the development of and investment in new works bound for Broadway. Pittsburgh CLO has produced or invested in 27 Broadway shows (30 Tony Awards®) and national tours, including An American in Paris, Kinky Boots, On Your Feet!, Matilda the Musical, The Cher Show, Cats and King Kong. Pittsburgh CLO is a member of the Independent Presenters Network, a founding partner of 5 Cent Productions/Elephant Eye Theatrical and a founding member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.
In addition to its national investments, Pittsburgh CLO also has a history of premiering new musicals right here in Pittsburgh at the CLO Cabaret. World premieres at the Cabaret include 'S Wonderful: The New Gershwin Musical and Judge Jackie Justice, The Trials of Love. In the 2016-2017 Season, thanks to the generous support of the Next Generation Capital Campaign, Pittsburgh CLO renewed its commitment to the development of new work. Through a commissioning program, a national Festival of New Musicals, and a commitment to world-premiere productions, Pittsburgh CLO aims to become both an incubator and a launching pad for new small musicals through its SPARK festival and New Musicals Weekend. Shows developed through Pittsburgh CLO's New Musicals Initiative include the world premiere productions of UP AND AWAY, GAME ON, and THE DOUBLE-THREAT TRIO.
Through all of these efforts, Pittsburgh CLO is not only creating new musicals for Broadway and the CLO Cabaret, but also nurturing artists and developing strategic partnerships and relationships that attract talent to Pittsburgh CLO, create work for our nationally-recognized Construction Center and ensure that Pittsburgh audiences will be among the first to see musical theater hits from Broadway and beyond.
A major initiative of Pittsburgh CLO’s Next Generation Capital Campaign, SPARK was created as an effort to cultivate new and innovative work from emerging and established musical theater artists.
For over 70 years, Pittsburgh CLO has been delighting audiences with Broadway-scale musicals for its main stage subscription season. In 2004, it introduced smaller productions for its newly minted 250-seat CLO Cabaret Theater, where dozens of premieres have since debuted. SPARK was especially designed to cultivate more small-cast shows suited to this venue, bringing their creative teams in residence at Pittsburgh CLO to work in a focused and supportive environment. A commitment to artists is a chief tenet of SPARK.
SPARK showcases new musicals for peers, producers, and the general public through readings, staged readings, and workshop productions. In addition, SPARK welcomes audiences to engage with the new works process through interactive discussions, educational initiatives, and special events.
New Musicals Weekend, the mini version of the SPARK festival, takes the core goals of SPARK:
- Fostering the development of new musicals for the CLO Cabaret
- Supporting writing teams with financial and creative resources
- Building relationships with local and national artists
- Sharing the new works process with Pittsburgh CLO audiences
…and distills them into a week of rehearsals and a weekend of public programming.
The Pittsburgh CLO is a member of the Independent Presenter’s Network (IPN), an association of presenters, theaters and performing arts centers from across the country. Its members bring Broadway productions to more than 110 cities throughout North America and Japan. Recent Broadway, London, U.S. and international tours include An American in Paris, Matilda The Musical, Kinky Boots, 9 to 5 The Musical, Curtains, Legally Blonde, Monty Python’s SPAMALOT, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Bombay Dreams, Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple and Deaf West's Big River. CLO has also invested independently in Broadway’s Flower Drum Song and Chita Rivera A Dancer’s Life.
Through its partnership with Elephant Eye Theatrical (as a founding member of Five Cent Productions), Pittsburgh CLO is working with other musical theater companies across the nation to find new and innovative ways to develop material that can play not only in the Pittsburgh market, but on the world stage as well. Exciting projects include: An American in Paris, The Addams Family, Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, The Boys Are Coming Home and Saved.
The costs of an out-of-town tryout are prohibitive for many new musicals, forcing them to begin previews on Broadway with work still ahead of them. However, producers and directors admit that the chance to develop and fine-tune a new production away from the eyes of New York audiences is one of the most important things afforded to any new production. The company finds and initiates projects, assembles creative teams, funds the ongoing evolution of the projects and serves as the projects’ lead producer.
Elephant Eye was initially founded by producers Stuart Oken and Michael Leavitt, along with five original non-profit regional companies known as Five Cent Productions, including:
The Pittsburgh CLO and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (shared) of Pittsburgh, PA;
The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts of Hartford, CT;
The Citi Performing Arts Center (formally the Wang Center) of Boston, MA;
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts of St. Paul, MN; and
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts of Philadelphia, PA.
Joining forces with Elephant Eye and Five Cent Productions are fellow non-profits: The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, FL; The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, FL; The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, FL; Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY; The Victoria Theatre Association in Dayton, OH; The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ; Theater of the Stars and The Fox Theatre (shared) in Atlanta, GA.The commercial presenters who have come on board include Broadway In Chicago, a Nederlander/Live Nation partnership in Chicago, IL; Dancap Productions, producer Aubrey Dan’s new initiative based in Toronto, Canada; and Starmax, a leading entertainment organization in Seoul, Korea.
Locally, Pittsburgh CLO’s own New Works Program includes a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, The ASCAP Foundation and composer/lyricist and Carnegie Mellon alumnus Stephen Schwartz to develop new musicals. A collaborative effort established in 2001, the Pittsburgh CLO/CMU New Works Project encourages the development and refinement of new works of the American musical theater.
By utilizing the resources of both Pittsburgh CLO and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, this program offers a unique opportunity for writers, lyricists, composers, directors and actors from both the academic and professional worlds to collaborate on new musicals. The ASCAP Foundation and Mr. Schwartz select musicals for this initiative from participants in the prestigious ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop.
The ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop occurs twice a year in New York and Los Angeles and is sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation as part of an ongoing commitment to nurture new American musicals. The selected musical theatre writers have the opportunity to make short presentations from their original works-in-progress for professional critique by a panel of the most prominent theatre producers, directors, lyricists and composers.
The first musical selected for further development through the dynamic partnership between the Pittsburgh CLO/Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama New Works Program and The ASCAP Foundation was Alive at Ten, which was presented at the New York workshop held in May 2007. The most recent musical selected for development was Nero.
Pittsburgh CLO is a proud founding member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT). Founded in 1985, NAMT is a national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. Their mission is to advance musical theatre by nurturing the creation, development, production, and presentation of new musicals. NAMT's 150 members, located throughout 35 states and abroad, are some of the leading producers of musical theatre in the world, and include theatres, presenting organizations, higher education programs and individual producers.
Among the 250 musicals launched by NAMT's annual Festival of New Musicals are Thoroughly Modern Millie, Children of Eden, Honk!, The Drowsy Chaperone, Songs for a New World, I Love You Because, Striking 12, Vanities and many others!
For more information on NAMT please visit www.namt.org.