‘Idol’ coming to Pittsburgh for auditions

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l After a one-year absence, “American Idol” is back, and the show is coming to Pittsburgh this weekend for auditions for the singing competition television series.

The singing series that helped ignite the reality television explosion was canceled on FOX after the 2015-16 season, but it’s returning on a new network — ABC — with a new panel of judges, including Katy Perry.

Auditions can be submitted online, but Pittsburgh is the nearest in-person audition site for those with dreams of being the next Carrie Underwood … or the next William Hung.

Auditions will be held Sunday at Bakery Square, 6425 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh. The general information form says on-site registration will start no later than 9 a.m. I’m sure the line will start forming earlier than that.

Those interested can register in advance at www.abc.go.com/shows/american-idol or register in person the day of event. There’s a 12-page set of rules and guidelines and frequently asked questions on the website that I would advise checking by anyone thinking about auditioning.

l Other commitments kept me away opening weekend, but I’m glad I was able to catch Youngstown Playhouse’s production of “August: Osage County” before it closed on Sunday.

Like the classic stage dramas of the mid-20th century, Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a three-act, three-hour powerhouse filled with rich characters. And director Matthew Mazuroski assembled a cast that was more than up to the challenge.

Regular theatergoers locally are used to be wowed by the work of Molly Galano, but her take on the pill-popping, manipulative matriarch of the Weston clan is a true thing of wonder. Even in a drug-addled haze, her Violet Weston has a savage survival instinct that guides her behavior, regardless of who might get hurt in the process.

But, really, singling anyone out in the cast seems unfair. Everyone — J.E. Ballantyne Jr. Stephanie Cambro, Nick Mulichak, Selena Phillips, Laura J. Phillips, Rachel Katz, Maria Petrella-Ackley, Terry Shears, Johnny Pecano, Candance DiLullo, Brian Suchora and David El’Hatton — delivers.

The technical elements are equally impressive, from Pecano’s multi-level set to Leslie Brown’s lighting design, which focuses the audience members’ attention while letting them see the other activity going on in the house. The cricket noises and other effects in Jude Ambrose Mikulich’s sound design also help establish the Oklahoma summer setting.

I saw the national tour of “Osage County” when it was in Cleveland in 2010, and the Playhouse production was just as satisfying. If it’s a sign of things to come at the Playhouse, the 2017-18 season is going to be a great one.

l We also made it to JD’s Summer Songfest over the weekend.

The festival organized by JD Eicher moved to downtown Youngstown for its third year after starting at Quaker Steak & Lube in Austintown, and Champion Street turned out to be a great location for the event.

The old loading dock area next to the building that houses SOAP Gallery made for a natural stage, and the empty lot in front of it provided ample room for concertgoers to use the seating provided or set up their own chairs for viewing.

The festival maintained the laidback vibe Eicher wanted, the sound was good and the beers were quality (Great Lakes and Platform), so I was happy to support SMARTS, which handled the beer concessions. And Quaker Steak had a food truck on site for those who still wanted wings and O rings with their music.

I think JD’s Summer Songfest has found a new home.

l Was anyone lucky enough to get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway starting in October? Online sales started Wednesday for the 40-show run starting Oct. 3. I tried, even though I couldn’t justify the cost. But if I’d gotten a pair of cheap seats ($75), the temptation might have been too great to resist.

Instead, the best I could do was a $300 single seat. It was easy to throw back, especially since I’d need to find someplace else to live after telling my wife I was going without her.

Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at agray@tribtoday.com

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