Review: The first musical of its kind is coming to Pittsburgh | Entertainment


If the debut of “HITS, The Musical!” national tour was limited to a one-word criticism, this exclamation would be the most appropriate.

So would be “Incredible!” “Sensational!” and “Fantastic”, among many other choices.

Residents of Indiana County were fortunate to be among those in attendance for the song and dance show at the Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh on March 11. many genres – from Broadway to Hollywood and many stops in between.

Dionne Warwick, executive producer of legendary hitmaker and Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner, and her son, multi-platinum record producer/Oscar nominee Damon Elliott, the show is a 90-minute musical journey that recreates the greatest hits from pop, rock, rap, film and Broadway from the 1960s to the present day.

The producers say that “Until ‘Hits! The Musical”, there was no show featuring only performers between the ages of 10 and 22. Some might say they are too young and not ready for the big time. And how mistaken they would be!

In effect!

What an impressive, talented, enthusiastic and tireless group, including Pittsburghers Loren Prisuta, 14, and Nasir Butler, 22!

Everyone offered amazing versatility and maintained a cheerful mood throughout the evening.

AFTER a nationwide search of more than 7,000 auditionees, producers say the cast of 29 represents the nation’s most extraordinary singers and dancers.

They add, “These future recording artists and Broadway stars represent the best of America’s youth.”

Bob Gries, Founder and Executive Producer, created the musical to give performers the opportunity to take center stage and showcase their individual talents.

Welcoming the audience, already pumped up with pre-show recorded music, into the mood, the Cleveland native praised the city and the historic theater, whose roots go back to its beginnings as the Stanley Theater in 1928, where many of America’s entertainment greats over the decades, including Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Lionel Hampton, Laurel and Hardy, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnez and the Three Stooges.


Gries promised, “This is going to be one of the most amazing shows you’ve seen.”

And it was!

Well-spoken and multi-talented, Colin Mash, a native of eastern Pennsylvania who studied at Temple University, was exceptional as a storyteller-singer, carrying the show forward decade after decade as he defined the mood of the different time periods, providing context via news, headlines and music.

Before the tour started, Mash said, “I just wanted to let everyone know that the set is not like any Broadway show. It’s a concert setting that’s so much fun!

It is a fast-paced show constantly in joyful motion. It must also be physically demanding, even for such a young talent. But they were more than up to the task with lots of costume changes, wonderful dancing and singing. They sang solos and in various combinations with others, including full group offerings.


There may not have been this much energy on stage in a very, very long time.

Loren Prisuta, 14, of Pittsburgh, had earlier promised, “If you love music, you’ll love the show!

It is certainly true.

“It’s just a fun show,” she said.

“I like to describe it as a marriage between a concert and a musical, on one of the most impressive and dazzling sets I have ever seen,” she adds. “There’s such a fantastic sampling of a wide range of hits; songs that will take you back in time to the songs of today. This is most definitely a family show and for all ages. Young children all the way up to seniors will appreciate and love it.”

Prisuta is in eighth grade at Pine-Richland Middle School in suburban Pittsburgh.

She bears a great responsibility in the series.

Prisuta has the evening’s opening vocal lines with Carpenter’s “Sing”, the lead in “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” in the “Stage and Screen” medley, solos with “What’s Up” by Four Non- Blondes (written by Kinks alum Ray Davies, who would likely be impressed by Prisuta’s powerful rendition) in the “Rock” medley, lead vocals on “Love Shack” in the 80s medley, solos with Mariah’s “Hero” Carey in the ’90s’ medley and opens with Madonna’s ‘Music’ in the ‘2000s’ medley. She’s also Supreme in the ’60s, Abba in the ’70s, Sporty Spice in the Spice Girls in the ’90s, and various other songs on stage throughout the show.


“It’s a unique chance to work with such an amazing cast and creative team. I’m learning and growing with every performance, and I’m so grateful to be here,” she explains. “Each member of the cast brings their own uniqueness and talent, and that’s what makes the whole show so spectacular. I bring my passion for performing on stage and hope to convey that joy to the public, and hope to inspire other young people to pursue the arts if that’s what they love.

Being part of this tour also means a lot to Nasir Butler, 22, from Pittsburgh.

“I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world and being able to play and do what I love for people from all walks of life,” he explains. “And being able to do it with other people who are so passionate about it makes it an even greater experience for me. I hope I can bring lots of happiness and good memories to those who come to see the show, regardless of age.

He also performs throughout the show, including as one of four soloists on the song “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”.

“It was an honor to have legend Dionne Warwick and her talented son Damon Elliot serve as executive producers on this show,” he adds. “They’re so, so supportive of every cast member on the show and they make sure they let us know how talented and amazing we are and how much we’re helping this show become one of the most America’s Greatest HITS!”

As one audience member remarked after the Pittsburgh show, “They’re really good!”

Rex Rutkoski is a seasoned regional, national, and international freelance writer based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Freeport, Pennsylvania. He can be contacted at rex [email protected]

Related Article

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button