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REVIEWS

 

The Giver


“Director Melissa Hill Grande doles out the action slowly, building a picture of what could be a perfect 1950s family, except for the monochromatic clothing everyone wears, similar to the conformist garb of Maoist China. Uh oh — dystopia alert! But shrewdly, Grande avoids hitting us with any didactic hammers … And what a sublime ending we are given. Astonishingly, here is a play that can enlighten kids without slam-dunk platitudes, or purple dinosaurs sermonizing in sugary language.”

Stuart Sheppard, Pittsburgh City Paper

 


“The Giver truly “gave” a thought provoking experience for the audience, and it is not one you would want to miss!”

Bethany Puzzini, PA Theatre Guide

 


“In general, this show is fantastic for children who have read The Giver in schools. On the same token, it suits adults in a different way. The thought-provoking material transcends age, as everyone will have a different take on the action as it unfolds on the New Hazlett Theater stage.”

Dylan Shaffer, BroadwayWorld

 


“Director Melissa Hill Grande applies a thoughtful hand to the action on the Hazlett’s thrust stage. These characters are confined by their perceived utopian world and an inability to venture from their regimented days and nights. Grande assigns movement that is functional and practical, like the “Community” where “Rules” dictate appropriate behavior and speech. “

Yvonne Hudson, PGH in the Round

 


“The story the play tells is clear and direct, building suspense through the first act about what, precisely, Jonas will do with the heavy responsibility he’s been given (at intermission, a young boy in front of me exclaimed to his dad: “this is a real cliffhanger!”) The theatrical challenges posed by Coble’s script are handled deftly by Prime Stage’s director, Melissa Hill Grande, and her design team.”

Wendy Arons, Pittsburgh Tatler

 

 

Well


There’s not a second you’d rather be watching anything else… Melissa Hill Grande brings a passionate and precise direction to the production… The sheer volume of talent in the four-person supporting cast of Tony Bingham, Linda Haston, Alan Bomar Jones and Susie McGregor-Laine is so great you’re constantly wishing they had more to do. Virginia Wall Gruenert’s miraculous performance as Ann is as amazing as it is because it’s all happening in miniature — crafted from sidelong glances, barely audible sighs and slight tremors of emotion. And Daina Michelle Griffith is luminous as the wounded, loving and all-too-human daughter Lisa, trying to make sense of own her life. Griffith does a remarkable job making her journey through the play our journey as well.”

Ted Hoover, Pittsburgh City Paper

 


“I liked it a lot. …No one can be anything but pleased with the acting, led by Ms. Griffith as Lisa, a role demanding intimate mastery of tones and facets. Her regression from smart tale-teller to frustrated daughter, with dips into childhood re-enactment, is feelingly portrayed.”

Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 


“As director, Melissa Hill Grande must have exceptional organizational and leadership skills, not only to conceptualize the meanderings of the playwright’s complexly structured machinations but also to inspire the actors to give plausible treatment to the improbable gymnastics of Kron’s creative intellect.”

Dave Zuchowski, Pittsburgh Owl Scribe

 


“It was a great theatrical experience.”

Mike “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant

 


“It was enthralling, from start to finish.”

Lonnie the Theatre Lady, ‘Burgh Vivant

 

The Other Place


“An excellent, moving show handled capably by a sharp team led by director Melissa Hill Grande.”

                                                                                                        Sean Collier, Pittsburgh Magazine

 

“A sobering experience, given capable life as directed by Melissa Hill Grande.”

                                                                                        Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

“Melissa Hill Grande directed this perceptively, getting well-tuned performances from everyone while making effective use of the large stage and an ingenious set…”

                                                                                            Gordon Spencer, WRCT’s Best of Broadway

Garden


“…‘Garden’ though, is funny throughout, a combination of classical farce, physical humor and cute little kids dancing around a maypole. The cast seen most frequently here is a modern version of Shakespeare’s “rustics” … If you can only afford to see one of the PICT productions, see ‘Garden’.”

                                                                                                      Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

“The fine PICT cast plays both the subtleties and the comedy exceptionally well, guided expertly by director Melissa Hill Grande… Considering how well this is all done, I recommend you drop in.”

                                                                                             Gordon Spencer, WRCT’s Best of Broadway

 

“PICT has assigned the two plays to separate directors, “House” to Andrew S. Paul, the company’s artistic director, and “Garden” to Melissa Hill Grande. Their joint efforts are completely consistent in tone, as well as logistically impeccable.”

                                                                                                       Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal

When the Moon has Set


“Director Melissa Hill Grande lets the spooky and hopeful reside comfortably beside each other.”

                                                                                              Anna Rosenstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me


“The result, as directed by Phase 3 artistic director Melissa Hill Grande, is an examination and celebration of basic humanity, veering well away from both the maudlin and the over-cheery.”

                                                                                                   Michelle Pilecki, Pittsburgh City Paper

 

Animal Farm


“Director Melissa Hill Grande leads an energetic and fully committed cast as well as a clearly capable production team through this journey. This production truly embraced the ideals of Bertolt Brecht and his Epic Theatre … The goal of Brecht and his approach to theatre was to make the audience think—to think critically about social and political issues as well as their own personal involvement in the world around them—and this production honors that.
This production is going to be a very polarizing one—you’re either going to love it or you’re going to hate it. I don’t think there will be many people who fall in the middle. Even though it may not be everyone’s “cup of tea,” per se, it is definitely a fantastic tool for entertaining, educating and enriching as well as “bringing literature to life.”

Dale Hess, PGH in the Round

 


“This play was directed by Melissa Hill Grande, and she did a wonderful job directing it because there were eight cast members, much of the time they were on the stage together, and when they were on the stage there was movement … the blocking on this was amazing. I can’t say enough about it.”

Lonnie the Theatre Lady, Burgh Vivant

 

Much Ado About Nothing


“Credit director Melissa Hill Grande for bringing that out and for making good and colorful use of the natural scenery with actors striding and gamboling purposefully amid the trees and on the grass.  The cast uniformly did well making the words heard and understood despite unexpectedly strong winds and regular overflights by airplanes. Moreover several people in major roles ably got across the essential meanings and intricacies of the text, especially Ricardo Vila-Roger as Benedick.”

                                                                                               Gordon Spencer, WRCT’s Best of Broadway

 

REVIEWS

 

The Giver


“Director Melissa Hill Grande doles out the action slowly, building a picture of what could be a perfect 1950s family, except for the monochromatic clothing everyone wears, similar to the conformist garb of Maoist China. Uh oh — dystopia alert! But shrewdly, Grande avoids hitting us with any didactic hammers … And what a sublime ending we are given. Astonishingly, here is a play that can enlighten kids without slam-dunk platitudes, or purple dinosaurs sermonizing in sugary language.”

Stuart Sheppard, Pittsburgh City Paper

 


“The Giver truly “gave” a thought provoking experience for the audience, and it is not one you would want to miss!”

Bethany Puzzini, PA Theatre Guide

 


“In general, this show is fantastic for children who have read The Giver in schools. On the same token, it suits adults in a different way. The thought-provoking material transcends age, as everyone will have a different take on the action as it unfolds on the New Hazlett Theater stage.”

Dylan Shaffer, BroadwayWorld

 


“Director Melissa Hill Grande applies a thoughtful hand to the action on the Hazlett’s thrust stage. These characters are confined by their perceived utopian world and an inability to venture from their regimented days and nights. Grande assigns movement that is functional and practical, like the “Community” where “Rules” dictate appropriate behavior and speech. “

Yvonne Hudson, PGH in the Round

 


“The story the play tells is clear and direct, building suspense through the first act about what, precisely, Jonas will do with the heavy responsibility he’s been given (at intermission, a young boy in front of me exclaimed to his dad: “this is a real cliffhanger!”) The theatrical challenges posed by Coble’s script are handled deftly by Prime Stage’s director, Melissa Hill Grande, and her design team.”

Wendy Arons, Pittsburgh Tatler

 

 

Well


There’s not a second you’d rather be watching anything else… Melissa Hill Grande brings a passionate and precise direction to the production… The sheer volume of talent in the four-person supporting cast of Tony Bingham, Linda Haston, Alan Bomar Jones and Susie McGregor-Laine is so great you’re constantly wishing they had more to do. Virginia Wall Gruenert’s miraculous performance as Ann is as amazing as it is because it’s all happening in miniature — crafted from sidelong glances, barely audible sighs and slight tremors of emotion. And Daina Michelle Griffith is luminous as the wounded, loving and all-too-human daughter Lisa, trying to make sense of own her life. Griffith does a remarkable job making her journey through the play our journey as well.”

Ted Hoover, Pittsburgh City Paper

 


“I liked it a lot. …No one can be anything but pleased with the acting, led by Ms. Griffith as Lisa, a role demanding intimate mastery of tones and facets. Her regression from smart tale-teller to frustrated daughter, with dips into childhood re-enactment, is feelingly portrayed.”

Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 


“As director, Melissa Hill Grande must have exceptional organizational and leadership skills, not only to conceptualize the meanderings of the playwright’s complexly structured machinations but also to inspire the actors to give plausible treatment to the improbable gymnastics of Kron’s creative intellect.”

Dave Zuchowski, Pittsburgh Owl Scribe

 


“It was a great theatrical experience.”

Mike “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant

 


“It was enthralling, from start to finish.”

Lonnie the Theatre Lady, ‘Burgh Vivant

 

The Other Place


“An excellent, moving show handled capably by a sharp team led by director Melissa Hill Grande.”

                                                                                                        Sean Collier, Pittsburgh Magazine

 

“A sobering experience, given capable life as directed by Melissa Hill Grande.”

                                                                                        Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

“Melissa Hill Grande directed this perceptively, getting well-tuned performances from everyone while making effective use of the large stage and an ingenious set…”

                                                                                            Gordon Spencer, WRCT’s Best of Broadway

Garden


“…‘Garden’ though, is funny throughout, a combination of classical farce, physical humor and cute little kids dancing around a maypole. The cast seen most frequently here is a modern version of Shakespeare’s “rustics” … If you can only afford to see one of the PICT productions, see ‘Garden’.”

                                                                                                      Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

“The fine PICT cast plays both the subtleties and the comedy exceptionally well, guided expertly by director Melissa Hill Grande… Considering how well this is all done, I recommend you drop in.”

                                                                                             Gordon Spencer, WRCT’s Best of Broadway

 

“PICT has assigned the two plays to separate directors, “House” to Andrew S. Paul, the company’s artistic director, and “Garden” to Melissa Hill Grande. Their joint efforts are completely consistent in tone, as well as logistically impeccable.”

                                                                                                       Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal

When the Moon has Set


“Director Melissa Hill Grande lets the spooky and hopeful reside comfortably beside each other.”

                                                                                              Anna Rosenstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me


“The result, as directed by Phase 3 artistic director Melissa Hill Grande, is an examination and celebration of basic humanity, veering well away from both the maudlin and the over-cheery.”

                                                                                                   Michelle Pilecki, Pittsburgh City Paper

 

Animal Farm


“Director Melissa Hill Grande leads an energetic and fully committed cast as well as a clearly capable production team through this journey. This production truly embraced the ideals of Bertolt Brecht and his Epic Theatre … The goal of Brecht and his approach to theatre was to make the audience think—to think critically about social and political issues as well as their own personal involvement in the world around them—and this production honors that.
This production is going to be a very polarizing one—you’re either going to love it or you’re going to hate it. I don’t think there will be many people who fall in the middle. Even though it may not be everyone’s “cup of tea,” per se, it is definitely a fantastic tool for entertaining, educating and enriching as well as “bringing literature to life.”

Dale Hess, PGH in the Round

 


“This play was directed by Melissa Hill Grande, and she did a wonderful job directing it because there were eight cast members, much of the time they were on the stage together, and when they were on the stage there was movement … the blocking on this was amazing. I can’t say enough about it.”

Lonnie the Theatre Lady, Burgh Vivant

 

Much Ado About Nothing


“Credit director Melissa Hill Grande for bringing that out and for making good and colorful use of the natural scenery with actors striding and gamboling purposefully amid the trees and on the grass.  The cast uniformly did well making the words heard and understood despite unexpectedly strong winds and regular overflights by airplanes. Moreover several people in major roles ably got across the essential meanings and intricacies of the text, especially Ricardo Vila-Roger as Benedick.”

                                                                                               Gordon Spencer, WRCT’s Best of Broadway

 

Allons-y!

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