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Pittsburgh CLO Launches ‘Remove the Barriers’ Initiatives

Suburban shuttles, childcare and family discounts are added to patron engagement programs


Pittsburgh CLO is shaking up how it does business for year No. 78, including a summer season spread among three venues and, just announced, patron enticements targeting affordability.

Launching for the 2024 are three “Remove the Barriers” initiatives that will include parking and transportation to and from four suburban areas, family discounts and childcare for specific performances among PCLO shows: West Side Story, The Music Man and The Color Purple at the Benedum Center, Seussical at the Byham Theater and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill and Young Frankenstein at the Greer Cabaret Theater.

“It’s time to do new things, and let’s see what the results are,” said PCLO executive producer Mark Fleischer, who has previously shared the need to stem the tide of a 20-percent downturn in subscriptions and attendance since the pandemic shutdown.

Previously, Fleischer said, there had been a balanced flow of losses and gains in subscribers. Two dark years changed the equation, “or, as one of my board members has said, it takes nine months to build a habit,” Fleischer said.

He and his team began audience-building conversations to determine what were the real and perceived barriers to bringing people back or bringing new patrons into the PCLO fold.

The feedback led to the following initiatives for the upcoming season, which begin May 13, with the Billie Holiday biomusical Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.


For select summer shows, and starting from specific locations in suburbs of the city, patrons can park for free before boarding ticketed transportation provided by Molly’s Trolleys, with Audacy Radio providing onboard entertainment, for the journey to and from the theater. At the point of purchasing a PCLO show ticket online, guests can then add-on a trolley ticket for $10, directly through Molly’s Trolleys. 

The free-parking locations are lots at the Tanger Outlets in Washington, PA; the Mall at Robinson; and Target stores in Cranberry and Monroeville.

A trolley can hold up to 30 people. After 30 is reached, Molly’s Trolleys will determine the number needed to add more transports.

Besides “the convenience and ease” and avoiding parking rates that can go as high as $30, “I love theater for community building, and my hope is that people get on the trolley, and they’ll drive down and get to know each other. And then when they’re coming back after the show, hopefully they’re excited about what they saw, and they’re talking and making friends,” Fleischer said.

(Kgtunney Photography for Pittsburgh CLO)


For every adult ticket purchased, up to four child tickets can be added for $10 each. FAMILY PASS tickets can be purchased in all price zones for any date or time of four Summer Series productions: West Side Story, The Music Man and Seussical  (ages 3-18) and The Color Purple (ages 13-18).

The initiative is patterned after the Travelex program at the National Theatre in London, and funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The idea was appealing to a foundation with the mutual concern of bringing families and young people Downtown. Fleischer adds his pride in that these discounts are for all seating areas, “so if parents buy $90 tickets, they can have their kids sit beside them for $10 each.”

(Kgtunney Photography for Pittsburgh CLO)


While adults enjoy specific Saturday matinee shows, children ages 3 (fully potty trained) to 12 can be left to the care of Pittsburgh CLO Academy of Musical Theatre faculty. SHOW CARE is described as “not just childcare; it’s peace of mind and a fun-filled show themed creative opportunity for children.” 

The CLO Academy faculty has clearance and skills to work with “Promising Preschoolers” on up, and will tailor programs to the ages of participants.

PCLO SHOW CARE is available for Saturday matinees of West Side Story, The Color Purple and The Music Man. Space is limited, and advance registration is required when buying tickets for those performances. 


The new PCLO summer initiatives are in addition to the RAD Pass, ASL Interpreted shows, Audio Description shows, Pre-Show Talks, Post-Show Talks and a Quiet Room (in partnership with the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh) for every production.

The evolving face of Pittsburgh CLO, a stalwart of America’s musical theater tradition, represents the need for change that has been challenging and inspiring arts groups of all sizes. The trio of initiatives announced on April 9 have come from listening to patrons and potential audience members, and recognizing “a need to make sure that we’re meeting them where they’re coming from,” Fleischer said. 

That’s not just literally, as in the case of the PCLO SHOW SHUTTLE, but in ways that are engaging and welcoming in the After Times of a long, hard shutdown.

“I think for a long time, arts groups just sort of said, ‘This is how it’s done,’” Fleischer said. “And now, I’m sort of excited by rolling up our sleeves and seeing other ways of doing it.”

All offerings available on select show dates and times. PCLO SHOW SHUTTLE, in partnership with Audacy Radio and Molly’s Trolleys, and PCLO SHOW CARE and PCLO FAMILY PASS were made possible by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with additional support from RAD. Single tickets for the 2024 Pittsburgh CLO Summer Series Single –  May 17, 2024 through September 1, 2024 – are now on sale at PITTSBURGHCLO.ORG or by calling 412-456-6666. 

Pittsburgh CLO Adapts its 78th Summer Season to Evolving Audience Preferences