(Gagliano’s article appeared 11/14.)

On 21 November, Pittsburgh’s City Theatre will premiere Willy Holtzman’s, “Smart Blonde” — and I’m delighted. 

Back in the golden age of play development in Pittsburgh, when I was Artistic Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Showcase of New Plays (1987-1998), two of Willy Holtzman’s plays, “The Closer” and “Sabina,” were developed, both going on to major theaters around the country — including Primary Stages in New York. Later, in 1999, I opened the Festival of New Works at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with Willy’s play, “Hearts” (Willy got the first Arthur Miller Award for that one, with Arthur Miller attending).

Judy Holliday

I saw a workshop of “Smart Blonde” last year at Pittsburgh’s City Theatre and was excited, enchanted and moved by the piece and saw its potential for a first-rate production. 

For starters: Judy Holliday as subject? Irresistible. 

Judy Holliday was one of the most attractive, delightful, funny, vulnerable, singing actresses of the golden age of American theatre and film (Born Yesterday and The Bells Are Ringing). 

She was also vulnerable to, and implicated in, the McCarthy era madness, which, Willy feels, not only shortened her career, but may have shortened her life. 


In “Smart Blonde,”  you get all of this —AND— Judy (Broadway’s Andrèa Burns in this City Theatre production) singing standards from the Great American Songbook, including: I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Let's Fall in Love, What'll I Do? Lulu's Back on Town (Mel Tormè’s version attached).

Download Lulu's_Back_In_Town


So: Judy Holliday, American Songbook standards, the superb playwriting artistry of Willy Holtzman and, as Willy just emailed me, “Great cast. Great set.”  

I was at the City Theatre opening of Willy’s The Morini Strad, some seasons back — and I’ll be at the opening of "Smart Blonde," at The City Theatre on 21 November. See you there?

And for you out-of-towners —take note: "Smart Blonde" is bound to "have legs" and will be coming your way! 

Again — Irresistible.

Frank Gagliano 


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