Washington Observer Reporter, 10/19/2011

‘Good Times’ are back for satirical theater productions
by Doug Shanaberger

“Did you hear? Did you see? Is a parade in town? Are there drums without me? Is a parade in town? Well, they’re out of a step, the flutes are squeaky, the banners are frayed. Any parade in town without me must be a second class parade,” sang Angela Lansbury in the little-known Broadway musical “Anyone Can Whistle,” an early effort from Stephen Sondheim.

It occurred to me recently how much that song, “A Parade in Town,” applies to Winnie Flynn.

After my pal Winnie moved away from Pittsburgh 17 years ago – leaving behind a history of writing, producing, directing and appearing in musical comedy revues inspired by the specialness and oddness that make her hometown unique – the theater community was never quite the same without her.

And now that she’s back, ready to unveil a brand new show called “Good Times” at the Passavant Hospital Foundation Legacy Theatre in Allison Park, I’m anxious to see what antics and parodies she’s hiding in her magician’s hat.

The show premieres this Friday with a dream-team cast that, besides Winnie, includes Jeannie Wattras, Terry Woods McGuire, Sam Carmella and Billy Hepfinger. Ever the perfectionist, Winnie will refine her satirical take on current events and fleeting fads right up until a day or so before she and the other performers meet their first audience. This process means that “rehearsals are fun, but we are never finished until we open,” she said. “It takes a special caliber of performer to make it work, and this cast is simply the best.”

Expect pie-in-the-face treatment given to celebrities, headline makers and 15-minute attention grabbers who have somehow reached celebrity status, along with gentle or not-so-gentle ribbing of Pittsburgh figures. And while a collection of familiar songs will be humorously altered to suit Winnie’s sketches, straight renditions of theater classics and contemporary hits are on the program, too. The bottom line: There’s “a parade in town,” and Winnie Flynn wants you to see it. For information, visit www.winnieflynn.com, and to make reservations, call 412-394-3353.

Hot picks 10/19/2011

Theater: ‘Good Times’
By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — Alice T. Carter

After an absence of 17 years, producer Winnie Flynn returns with “Good Times,” a brand new musical revue.

Before leaving for Cleveland in 1994, Flynn wrote, produced, directed and appeared in more than 40 musical revues as well as special events, corporate and convention entertainment throughout Pennsylvania.

She’s back in town and ready to roll out “Good Times,” which opens Friday.

It reprises her well-tested format of a 90-minute revue that parodies current events, love and marriage, and celebrates the good times in our lives.

Utilizing comedy sketches and music that ranges from Stephen Sondheim to Lady Gaga, Flynn and her cast will spoof Bizet’s opera “Carmen,” explore computer dating and deliver musical valentines to the city of Pittsburgh.

“Good Times” opens Friday and runs through Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays in the theater at Cumberland Woods Village, 700 Cumberland Woods Drive, Allison Park.

Admission: $25; $20 in advance.

Details: 412-394-3353 or www.proartstickets.org.

Washington Observer Reporter, 8/5/2011

Young Billy
by Doug Shanaberger

Winnie Flynn recruited Billy Hepfinger over to the cast of her revue “Good Times,” which opens this fall in the North Hills and will also star Jeannie Wattras, Terry Woods McGuire and Sam Carmella.

I guess you’d call Hepfinger a newcomer to this area, though “new” he’s not. The actor/singer recently played Corny Collins in “Hairspray” for Pittsburgh Musical Theatre and toured the school circuit in “Young Washington” with Pittsburgh CLO’s Gallery of Heroes program.

But it’s at Princeton University where, as a student, he chalked up most of his theater credits. And they’re impressive. He had roles in “Tick, Tick … Boom!,” “Boy Gets Girl,” “Assassins” and one of my favorites, “Company.”

He also performed with the Princeton Nassoons and travelled with the a cappella group to New York (for a gig at Carnegie Hall, no less), Chicago, Florida, Germany, Mexico and Brazil.

Want to read more?

Visit www.WinnieFlynn.com for the whole scoop about “Good Times” and everything else the magical Ms. Flynn has up her sleeve.


Washington Observer Reporter 7/6/2011

Flynn back to celebrate good times
by Doug Shanaberger

After reading a press release that found its way into my email last week, I asked Winnie Flynn if nostalgic feelings inspired the title of her first musical revue in Pittsburgh since 1994. It’s called “Good Times.”

Because she’s reflecting on good times of the past, when she wrote, produced, directed and co-starred in numerous shows at the Holiday Inn on McKnight Road? Because she’s longing for what used to be versus developing a comically critical evaluation of what is?

Her answer: an unequivocal “No.” My friend Winnie would rather take one step forward than two steps back, and now that she has a new performance venue – Passavant Hospital Foundation Legacy Theatre at Cumberland Woods Village in the North Hills – she’s eager to create shows that are lively, upbeat, entertaining and focused on what’s happening today. If anything inspired her, it was Kool and the Gang’s old R&B hit, the highly danceable one that goes “celebrate good times … ”

And she will. So if a few sketches and musical numbers address getting older and, say, becoming a grandmother (which Winnie now is), others might have fun at the expense of reality TV, national political affairs and the changes Pittsburgh has undergone since the ’90s.

“There’s a little bit of something for everyone,” Winnie says of “Good Times,” which opens in October with a cast that also includes Jeannie Wattras, Terri Woods McGuire and Sam Carmella. “I’ve been keeping notes for years, always writing, waiting for the opportunity to weave the concepts into a show.”
As people who “remember when” can tell you, Winnie Flynn satirized pop culture and local events with wit and flair while giving her audiences a taste of the latest and greatest from contemporary theater.

In her musical comedy revues, we heard showstoppers from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables” and “Chess” long before those blockbusters ever visited Pittsburgh’s cultural district, and just as Don Brockett held court in the Greentree Radisson (when it was still the Marriott) and Jude and Shirley Pohl reigned in the South Hills, Winnie enjoyed her position as the first lady of dinner theater in the North Hills. An “entertainment treasure,” one critic called her.
Where was she, then, between 1994 and 2010?

With her husband, Bill, while he moved up the career ladder, and keeping pretty active herself. But after Bill’s retirement, the couple moved back to Pittsburgh last summer, to their daughters, their grandchildren, the Steelers and the theater community. It didn’t take Winnie long to find an ideal venue for starting over, the Passavant Hospital Foundation Legacy Theatre, which “has surround sound and a beautiful stage,” she said. “Audiences will love this theater.”
No wonder she can’t wait for the show to open. “For me, it’s been a 17-year journey home,” said Winnie, whose website, www.winnieflynn.com, should be up on its feet soon. “These are the good times.”