Mt. Lebanon grads highlight CLO performance in Pittsburgh
The Civic Light Opera’s upcoming production of Pump Boys & Dinettes might be set right off of rural Highway 57, but it has connections much closer to the South Hills. Two Mt. Lebanon natives are making their return to Pittsburgh to take part in the musical.
Music Director Isaac Harlan graduated from Mt. Lebanon in 2003 and Luke Steinhauer, who plays LM in the production, graduated in 2012. Both have since shipped off to New York City to pursue careers in musical theater, but being back in the ‘Burgh has shown them both a new side of the city.
“It’s my first time working back in Pittsburgh,” Harlan said. “It’s my first time living downtown, so I’m kind of getting a new appreciation of the city.”
Before studying classical piano at Penn State, Harlan was in the jazz band at Mt. Lebanon and honed his piano, jazz and improvisation skills at the City Music Center of Duquesne University. He found musical theater at Penn State, moved to New York City and said he’s never had to work outside of his passion since.
Steinhauer calls NYC home now, as well, but says he got his start performing and learning at Mt. Lebanon High School.
“I’m really, really thankful for the fine arts program that Mt. Lebanon had,” Steinhauer said. “I had great musical theater experience there. I had great choir training, some band training. At Mt. Lebanon, it’s almost better than an arts school, because I was getting my normal classes and then my really high arts training within the same building.”
All of that training, plus the education he received in musical theater from the University of Michigan, is being put to the test in Pump Boys & Dinettes. Steinhauer, one of the four gas station pump boys, sings, dances, acts and plays piano live on stage during the production.
“All the actors are playing the instruments and singing and acting and sometimes dancing,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s fun to create music while telling a story. It’s just really creatively fulfilling to do that.”
It’s been a creative experience for Harlan as well, who was given the opportunity to step out from behind the piano and let the pump boys play their instruments.
“It’s really just the pure joy of making music and getting to watch actors play and sing at the same time,” he said. “I think you can’t really go wrong with that.”
The production began Jan. 26. See Harlan’s work and Steinhauer’s song and dance in Pump Boys & Dinettes at the CLO Cabaret from now through April 15.