Premiering last Thursday, the 43rd season of Pittsburgh Public Theater began with Equus, the 1973 play by Peter Shaffer. It is directed by Ted Pappas, PPT’s Producing Artistic Director as part of his Grand Finale season. Pappas is leaving the company in August of next year, after working with PPT for 18 seasons. Notable plays during his run included: Medea, You Can’t Take It With You, and The Chief.
Spencer T. Hamp stars as Alan Strang, a stablehand sent to see the psychiatrist Martin Dysart (played by Daniel Krell) after his love for horses turns unhealthy. Other cast members include Timothy Carter and Nancy McNulty as Alan’s father and mother, respectively; the owner of the stable Alan works for (Philip Winters); Alan’s love interest (Jessie Wray Goodman); and the magistrate (Lisa Velten Smith) and the nurse (Amy Landis).
The other most notable role is that of the horses. Equus is famed for using human actors to play the animals, rather than props. Wearing metal horse masks and sculpted hooves, six actors (Ben Blazer, Michael Greer, Lawrence Karl, Ryan Patrick Kearney, Benjamin James
Michael, and Luke Steinhauer) are said to “embody the essence of a stable of horses.”
These masks and other costumes were designed by Tilly Grimes. Pat McCorkle was in charge of casting, with Don Wadsworth as the Dialect coach. Ruth E. Kramer is the Production Stage Manager, and Phil Madore is her assistant. James Noone, Kirk Bookman, and Zach Moore round out the Production team as Scenic, Lighting, and Sound designers.
Equus won the Tony Award for Best Play after being transferred to Broadway the year after its debut. The playwright, Peter Shaffer, won another Best Play Tony in 1981 for Amadeus, which also won him the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 1984. He passed away last year at the age of 90.
This production features nudity and may not be suitable for all audiences. Ticket prices range from $30 to $75, with discounts for students, groups, and those under the age of 26. All performances will be held at the O’Reilly Theater downtown. Showtimes and tickets are available here, by phone (412-316-1600), or at the O’Reilly Box Office.