Wheeling Native Earns High Reviews

Playwright Sean O’Leary, a Wheeling native, is receiving good reviews for the Pittsburgh premiere of his play, “Valu-Mart.”

The production of “Valu-Mart,” directed by Mark Clayton Southers, is being presented at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. through Sunday, March 28. O’Leary is the guest playwright for Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. this season.

In a review published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, drama critic Christopher Rawson opined that it is “a skillful, engaging production of an audience-friendly play with substance.”

Critic Ted Hoover, writing in the Pittsburgh City Paper, described “Valu-Mart” as “an immensely satisfying work of theater.” Hoover also called O’Leary’s work a “truly remarkable play.”

Performances of “Valu-Mart” at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. continue at 2 p.m. today, March 21; at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 25-27, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 28. The theater is located at 542 Penn Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh.

Area theater-goers will recall that “Valu-Mart” had its Wheeling premiere at Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre a couple of years ago. That production was directed by O’Leary’s father, Hal O’Leary, founder and retired artistic director of Towngate.

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Congratulations are extended to officials of Oglebay Institute which received a Leadership in the Arts award at the 2010 Governor’s Arts Awards gala at the Culture Center in Charleston Monday, March 15.

State officials noted, “Since 1930, OI has served an average of 116,000 residents per year from the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and other locations throughout the region.” The institute, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary next month, operates six facilities in Wheeling and the Terra Alta Mountain Camp in Preston County.

The Old Brick Playhouse, founded in Elkins in 1992, also received a Leadership in the Arts award.

Other honorees recognized at the Governor’s Arts Awards gala were Parkersburg painter and professor Lynn Boggess. who earned the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement; Jeanne Mozier of Berkeley Springs and Zachary J. Orcutt of Parkersburg. Awards also were given to the Appalachian Education Initiative in Morgantown and West Virginia Dance Company in Beckley.

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Congratulations also go out to Wheeling Jesuit University employee Carolyn Dalzell of Moundsville. She was given the St. Francis Xavier Award at the university’s spring honors convocation Friday, March 19.

School officials said the Francis Xavier Award is the highest award given to a community member by the university annually and honors leadership and service.

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Wheeling storytellers Andy Fraenkel and Rich Knoblich have been invited to present storytelling workshops for the Mountain State Storytelling Institute on the Fairmont State University campus Friday and Saturday, March 26-27.

Fraenkel’s presentation, “In Search of Story,’ is designed to help people explore and share their own stories. Incidentally, Fraenkel is scheduled to speak at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling Tuesday, May 18, on his work-in-progress, “Zhukov’s Barber,” which is based on his father’s experiences on the Russian Front during World War II.

Using a collection of letters, Knoblich plans to show storytelling as a community that has evolved into a stage performance art. Knoblich is the “Ghost Host” for Steel City Bus Tours in Pittsburgh, telling of historical hauntings at various sites.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net