This past weekend, Pittsburgh Musical Theater (PMT), a staple in the performing arts community, hosted their second annual Hard Hats and Heels Gala in order to raise funds for their ongoing expansion efforts.
The gala, which was held at PMT Headquarters, The Gargaro Theater, in Pittsburgh’s West End, started off with a VIP reception and silent auction, followed by loads of food, music, dancing, and copious amounts of theater people doing theater people things. On more than one occasion, on-the-fly, perfectly choreographed dance routines seemed to materialize out of thin air. And that’s what happens when you throw a theater party.
On the softer side, PMT’s Executive Artistic Director, Colleen Doyno, gave a heartfelt speech about the organization and its place within the city’s theater infrastructure, but her love for the students and alumni of PMT stole the show. Doyno held back tears as she proudly gushed over her brood of students and how they made strides not only inside the walls of PMT, but as they moved on to other projects.
Lending to the impact that PMT has on its performers, Disney’s Newsies’ star and PMT kid, Dan DeLuca, flew in for a special performance.
The Elite Show Band, PMT’s resident swinging ensemble, performed a medley of old school tunes, peppered with a few modern day trinkets. Surprisingly enough, most of the younger attendees knew the words to songs pre-dating the proverbial “gleam in their father’s eye.” And yet again, we witnessed another testament to the soul PMT instills in their students. There was no Whip…and definitely no Nae Nae. And we were all okay with that.
PMT is good for the city, plain and simple. If more kids had access to programs like these growing up, their paths could be vastly different. I discovered early on in life that our world is not geared towards the creative spirit. Creatives are often cast for a role they never signed up for, the black sheep or the band geek. Seeking solace and understanding, they stray away from what they truly love in order to confirm to the status quo. The penance of being different often carries a heavy weight on the young psyche.
And while we all struggle to find purpose early on in life, it is critical to have a human component of togetherness, family, and encouragement. It pushes us to new heights and allows us to jump when we don’t 100% know that the parachute will open. And this is why Pittsburgh Musical Theater exists. Not to provide the chute, but to foster the desire to jump in the first place. It’s a true family unit that is by no means perfect, as you would expect from any normal family, but at the end of the day, love and passion is the fuel that drives them to do great things.
Last year, the theater completed Phase I of their expansion plan, raising 1.2 million dollars, and now with Phase II on the docket, they hope to continue on with their vision of creating an epicenter for the arts, creativity, and unabashed dancing in the streets.
The evening concluded with a rendition of, “We’re not gonna take it”, a song fitting for the rebellious nature of those who dare to dream big.
For more information on Pittsburgh Musical Theater, their fundraising efforts, and upcoming season, visit them at pittsburghmusicals.com