University of Pittsburgh
March 17, 2003

Grand Reopening of Pitt's Newly Restored Charity Randall Theatre Set for April 4

Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing featured as inaugural production

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

March 18, 2003

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh will mark the grand reopening April 4-5 of Pitt's newly restored Charity Randall Theatre, formerly known as the Foster Auditorium in the Stephen Foster Memorial, Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard, Oakland. The $2 million reconstruction and upgrade of the auditorium, home to countless theater and musical productions over the past 66 years, is the first of its kind since the historic building opened in 1937 to honor Pittsburgh native Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864). The new theater will seat 478 people.

Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, performed by the Pitt Repertory Theatre under the direction of W. Stephen Coleman, will be the inaugural production. Pitt Repertory Theatre will offer a preview of the show April 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. before beginning the official run through April 19. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit or call the box office at 412-624-PLAY (7529).

Dedication festivities on April 4 will include a dinner honoring donors and supporters, a dedication and ribbon cutting at 8 p.m., and an opening night party for the entire company and audience in the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room.

On April 5, several free events are planned for the public:

11 a.m. –12 p.m.

Henry Heymann Theatre, lower level, Stephen Foster Memorial

Master Class in Directing, an inside look at the principles and techniques of backstage directing with Pitt Professor of Theatre Arts Stephen Coleman.

1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Guided tours of Pitt's theater facilities: the newly renovated Charity Randall Theatre, the Henry Heymann Theatre, and the Studio Theatre, in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning.

2 p.m.

Henry Heymann Theatre, lower level, Stephen Foster Memorial

Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, a 50-minute version of the play, appropriate for the entire family. Call the box office to reserve free tickets.

The new theater has been named to honor Charity Randall, a devotee of literature, poetry, and the arts. Funds for the project were made possible through the Charity Randall Foundation, founded in 1977 to carry on Randall's causes following her death in a car accident. Her brother, Robert Randall (CAS, '65), a foundation trustee, calls the theater "a fitting tribute to a sister, daughter, and aunt who loved the arts and had a passion for life."

Buck Favorini, chair of Pitt's Department of Theatre Arts, says, "Pitt students, on stage and back stage, now have a state-of-the-art laboratory in which to develop their talents." He adds that "audiences will enjoy a new level of comfort in a facility whose architecturally distinguished features have been rediscovered, and community partners, in a mutually beneficial relationship with the University, will have another spectacular venue for their art."

Improvements in the new theater include: a complete replacement of the forestage, which includes a larger extension into the house; a new stage rigging system; refurbishment of the 454 original historic plush red seats, which are identical to those manufactured for the original Radio City Music Hall; a Sony DMX-100 digital sound control console with Dolby 5.1 surround sound output; a control booth, "intelligent" computer-controlled lighting fixtures; a spiral staircase to allow easy and safe access to the fly loft; a new center chandelier in the lobby, and many other upgrades.

Additional contributors to the reconstruction include the Robert P. Randall family, Pitt's Office of the Provost, and other local foundations and individuals.