Skip to content Skip to footer

Front Porch Theatricals Takes Us Back to the Nineties With ‘A … My Name Is Still Alice’

By SHARON EBERSON

For some of us, the 1990s may seem like only yesterday. It was the decade that led to the launch of the Information Age. with the development of smartphones and the World Wide Web. Grunge was on the rise, The Silence of the Lambs swept the Oscars, and the fight for women’s rights was focused on issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace and the shortage of women in positions of power.

It was a time that inspired Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd, who had conceived the award-winning musical revue A … My Name is Alice, to bring their concept into the new era.

That Nineties-set sequel A … My Name is Still Alice opens the 2024 summer season for Front Porch Theatricals on Friday, May 17, at the New Hazlett Theater.

The cast and director of Front Porch Theatrical’s A … My Name Is Still Alice:
Front, from left, Saige Smith, Nancy McNulty McGeever and Delilah Picart.
Back, from left, Kristiann Menotiades, Maya Fullard, Becki Toth, Michaela Isenberg and Natalie Hatcher. (Image: Deana Muro)

Featuring a cast of five women, the revue comprises works by a variety of writers, lyricists and composers, in a wide range musical genres. A hint to topics covered may be found in song titles such as “Sensitive New Age Guys,” “Hard Hat Woman” and “Two Steps Forward.”

A New York Times review noted that Still Alice “forgoes the meat cleaver for the ostrich plume and clearly would rather tickle a male chauvinist pig to death than hack him to pieces.”

Or, as Front Porch co-producer Nancy Zionts puts it, the original “was more male bashing, while A … My Name Is Still Alice is very female affirming.”

While each element covers an issue facing contemporary women of that time, “Every one of these stories has in it something that is about the progress, or the hope, or the steps that have to be taken to move forward,” Zionts said. 

Her co-producing partner, Bruce E.G. Smith, had seen the original Alice (locally, for example, it was produced by Pittsburgh Public Theater in the summer of 1994, and at The Theatre Factory in 2003), and brought versions to the table as suggestions. There are three Alice shows, including  A … My Name Will Always Be Alice.

Nancy Zionts noted that Front Porch has tackled musicals that often deal with tough topics over the years, but emphasizing the positive in this case made Still Alice her choice. 

“I think there are wonderful comedic moments. Also, a few wonderful, really poignant moments. And,” Zionts said, “this also meets our mission of, we want to give people something to talk about on the way home.”

The cast includes familiar faces and newcomers to Front Porch: Kristiann Menotiades, Becki Toth, Saige Smith, Natalie Hatcher and Delilah Picart, with Nancy McNulty McGeever making her directorial debut for the company. Understudies Michaela Isenberg and Maya Fullard will be seen in the finale of each performance. Music director Douglas Levine will be onstage with a three-piece band. 

As a revue rather than a narrative story, you might expect a minimalist staging at the New Hazlett. But Zionts assured that is not the case.

“[Scenic designer] Johnmichael Bohach has built us a set evocative of the Nineties. We’re not doing it with four chairs and four microphones. There’s a real set and real costumes and real lighting … It just doesn’t have a single story arc. That’s the departure for us.”

Some props and references required some explaining among younger members of the cast and crew. For example, an old Zenith TV remote control from Zionts’ home, and mentions of an 8-track tape player.

Since the 2019 death of her husband, the performer and Front Porch producer Leon Zionts, Nancy Zionts tries to have what she calls “Leon legacy pieces” in every show.

In this case, watch for a yellow Sony boombox.

Front Porch’s annual two-show summer season concludes in August with Bandstand, a large-scale musical that skews male, about returning veterans of World War II. Finding a female-oriented musical on a smaller scale to open the season has had practical and unexpected advantages. 

Natalie Hatcher, Saige Smith, Kristiann Menotiades, Delilah Picart and Becki Toth are all Alices for Front Porch’s 2024 season-opening revue. (Image: Deana Muro)

“The most fun night I’ve had in theater in a very long time was callbacks for this show,” Zionts said. “We had 35 women in the outer room at City Theatre, and … the sound of joy and laughter of these women of all ages, some of whom had never met each other, some of whom had known each other for years, it was joyous … and such a right feeling for this show, which does touch on that issue of competition among women in one or two of the vignettes.”

A … My Name Is Still Alice also is a reminder that, as the song says, for every step forward, there are backward steps as well. That holds as true in the 2020s as it did in the 1990s. 

“Essentially,” said Zionts, “it is about this idea of, we’ve all faced this a little bit differently, but we’re all in this together.”

TICKETS AND DETAILS

Front Porch Theatricals’ production of A … My Name is Still Alice runs May 17-26, 2024, at the New Hazlett Theater, North Side. Tickets: Visit