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HIT STORY ABOUT STEELERS FOUNDER 'THE CHIEF' OPENS AT SAINT VINCENT SUMMER THEATRE JULY 26

Public Relations
Posted: Tuesday Jul 17, 2012

 

July 17, 2012

A special presentation of The Chief by Rob Zellers and Gene Collier about Art Rooney, Sr., the legendary founder and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will conclude the 2012 season of Saint Vincent Summer Theatre from Thursday, July 26 to Sunday, August 19 – concurrent with the 47th annual Pittsburgh Steelers summer training camp at Saint Vincent.

“We are grateful that arrangements could be made to bring this wonderful show to the summer home of the Pittsburgh Steelers here at Saint Vincent,” commented Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., president of Saint Vincent College. “We look forward to welcoming thousands of theater and sports fans to campus this summer.”

Arrangements for the special production were made by Saint Vincent with the assistance of Mr. Rooney’s son, Art Rooney, Jr., a 1957 graduate of Saint Vincent. “Gene Collier and Rob Zellers have gathered the wonderful stories that Dad used to tell. They organized them into a play, The Chief,” Mr. Rooney commented. “No one in the Steelers family ever called Dad ‘The Chief’…the media loved the title. My Dad was not very good at making a speech before a large gathering. He would be very structured and formal. It would always be short and sweet, just the facts. On the other hand, when he was speaking to one to five people, he would be relaxed and animated. He had timing and a sense of wit. He loved irony. Mr. Collier is truly a gifted humorist who can work magic with anecdotes. Mr. Zellers is a master of dialogue and stagecraft. Together they have created a masterpiece. My advice to the actor who portrays Dad is to play it as if he were talking to a small group…breathe life into Gene’s and Rob’s words. Just let it flow…it will be great!”

“To me, the play was like ‘going home,’ to hear Dad share his stories,” Mr. Rooney concluded. “I know that all of the people who visit Saint Vincent will feel as I do…’going home.’”

Saint Vincent has chosen SVST stage veteran Philip Winters, assistant professor at Point Park University, to play the title role. Mr. Winters, who is well-known to Saint Vincent audiences for his performances in The Ladies Man, Is He Dead?, and Moonlight & Magnolias, works regularly on the Pittsburgh and regional stages as an actor and occasional director. He has been featured at the Playhouse REP, Pittsburgh Public Theatre and Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre among many others. Recently, Mr. Winters was seen as Mickey in the regional premiere of Mojo at the Playhouse REP, as George in the REP’s production of That Championship Season and as Marshall in the Pittsburgh Public Theatre’s production of The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman. In addition to his work in the classroom and on the stage, Mr. Winters has been featured in many film and television roles, as well as on radio for numerous voice-over performances.

Mr. Winters earned a bachelor of arts degree in English at the University of Pittsburgh and master of fine arts degrees in acting from the University of Connecticut and in theatre arts from Point Park where he teaches acting, voice and speech, theatre history, improvisation and experimental theatre. He is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association, SAG, AFTRA, Michael Chekhov Association and VASTA.

Saint Vincent Theatre Artistic Director Colleen Reilly will direct the production. “This dazzling, funny and moving play will delight Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans...and everyone who loves good stories that are well-told,” Ms. Reilly commented. “The year is 1976 and Art Rooney, Sr., the legendary founder of the Steelers organization, sits in his office, reminiscing. He recalls his colorful upbringing in Pittsburgh’s First Ward, his years as a boxer and baseball player, his associations with politicians, gamblers and bootleggers. And, of course, he talks about the Steelers: from the team’s humble beginnings through the decades of setbacks and struggles, culminating in the championship-winning Steelers of the 1970s – one of the finest teams the game has ever seen. Along the way he spins a colorful American saga – full of faith, love, laughter and some of the most unforgettable characters you will ever meet. Spend an evening with the Chief and we think you’ll agree – there’s no better company.”

When the play debuted at The Pittsburgh Public Theatre in 2003, it broke all previous box office records for single ticket sales and attracted a new audience that filled the O’Reilly Theatre as well as more traditional theatergoers. A feature film based on the play was released nationwide in 2010 and has been described as “a rich, inspirational piece of Americana.”

A preview performance is scheduled at 8:10 p.m. Thursday, July 26. Performances are at 8:10 p.m. July 27-28, 31, August 1-4, 7-11, and 14-18. Three matinees are scheduled at 2:10 p.m. Sunday, August 5, Wednesday, August 15 and Sunday, August 19.

Saint Vincent Summer Theatre patrons are asked to make ticket reservations in advance because seats are reserved at all performances except Thursday evening preview shows, which are general admission. Reservations may be made by calling the theater box office, 724 537-8900, or online at www.svst.org.

Individual tickets are $10 for preview performances, $19 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings, $22 on Friday and Saturday evenings and $16 for matinees. Special theatre party group rates apply to groups of 20 guests or more. Senior citizens, 62 or older, are eligible for a $2 discount upon request on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings only. In addition, student tickets are available for $10 for any seat, any performance.

Saint Vincent Summer Theatre performances are all scheduled in the comfortable, air-conditioned Performing Arts Center of the Robert S. Carey Student Center on the Saint Vincent College campus. Free van shuttle service is provided to and from the spacious and convenient parking areas adjacent to the Saint Vincent Basilica.

Saint Vincent Summer Theatre will continue to feature its well-known cabaret, the special after-the-show party to which all theatre patrons are invited. Saint Vincent students serve snacks, hot dogs and beverages after the production and also provide entertainment. The cabaret is open after all performances except Thursday preview shows and all matinees. Theatre officials encourage donations if patrons enjoy themselves at the after-the-show party.

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Photo: Philip Winters 

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