Friday, September 25, 2015

Stand-Up Horror Opens Tomorrow at ModernFormations

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 1:58 PM

Halloween comes a little early as local performer Michael McGovern reprises his Stand-Up Horror show, reportedly a favorite at this year’s Pittsburgh Fringe Festival.

stand-up_horror.jpg
McGovern, a performer with a taste for the macabre, offers this blend of stand-up comedy, horror movie and cabaret show.

McGovern, also known for his Beat Cabaret variety shows, takes the stage at ModernFormations to channel characters including “a two-headed killer, a college girl who majors in horror, Linda Blair’s prom date, … Renfield, Hitler’s brain [and] Drac the Knife.” Hannibal Lecter's in there, too. All those bits were from the Fringe performance, and McGovern is adding “an unconventional rendition of Poe’s ‘The Raven,’” a scene backstage at a nightmare, and more.

It’s a one-man production, complete with music, sound effects and lighting.

“All done severed tongue-in-cheek!” McGovern promises.

The first performance is at 8 p.m. tomorrow. A second show is at 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 3. Tickets are $15 at the door.

ModernFormations is located at 4919 Penn Ave., in Garfield. 

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Art Opening Friday at Trundle Manor

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 9:44 AM

Pittsburgh’s house of the odd and the macabre (think bizarre tourist-trap taxidermy, gothic themes, etc., all offered with a slightly unnerving grin) hosts an opening reception for an exhbition of paintings by Shawn Beeks.

"Tender Hearts," a painting by Shawn Beeks
  • "Tender Hearts," a painting by Shawn Beeks
Beeks, writes Mr. Arm, the lord of Trundle Manor, “explores those moments in your dreams where you feel your insides telling you to flee but your feet are cemented with fascination.

"That is the theme of his September show opening September 4th at Trundle Manor; a fitting location for depictions of miserable caricature that present themselves as beautiful artworks too fascinating to run from.”

The event starts at 7 p.m.

Trundle Manor is located at 7724 Juniata St., in Swissvale.

Learn more here.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pop-Up Gallery at Arts Fest Through Sunday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 6:22 PM

A dozen artist-members of Lawrenceville studio space Radiant Hall are showing work at PPG Place Wintergarden Building through Sunday.

The artists, selected by Ikechukwu Oneyewuenyi, include such prominent local names as Seth Clark, Mia Tarducci Henry, Ryan Lammie and Madelyn Roehrig. The studio-tour preview exhibition, which opened today, is happening in conjunction with the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

The Wintergarden space is open for viewing from noon-8 p.m. daily through Sunday, concluding with the festival itself.

Admission is free. More info is here.

The Wintergarden is located at 1 PPG Place, Downtown, off Fourth Street near Stanwix.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Final Weekend for Kinetic Theatre's "Dance of Death"

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 2:45 PM

August Strindberg is considered one of the progenitors of contemporary theater, and you can get a strong taste of his work in the Pittsburgh premiere of a new translation of this play.

Sam Tsoutsouvas and Helena Ruoti in "Dance of Death" - PHOTO COURTESY OF KINETIC THEATRE CO.
  • Photo courtesy of Kinetic Theatre Co.
  • Sam Tsoutsouvas and Helena Ruoti in "Dance of Death"
Kinetic's Andrew Paul explained in this CP preview piece why he thinks Dance of Death is important if seldom produced. But in the adapted translation by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, the dark comedy feels like it could have been written yesterday (or at least by Edward Albee) rather than in 1905.

The show's three actors, Helena Ruoti, Sam Tsoutsouvas and Mark D. Staley, make the words sing — and cut — at the specially outfitted New Hazlett, where most of the usual seating is shrouded and the audience sits in chairs on the stage itself.

The show has three more performances tonight through Sunday. 

Tickets are $20-38 and are available here.

The New Hazlett is located at 6 Allegheny Square East on the North Side.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Final Week for Quantum’s "All the Names"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 2:45 PM

Most estimable works of literary art are arguably “about” everything — or, at the very least, they’re about life and death.

From left: Cameron Knight (background), James Fitzgerald and Mark Conway Thompson in Quantum's "All the Names" - PHOTO COURTESY OF HEATHER MULL
  • Photo courtesy of Heather Mull
  • From left: Cameron Knight (background), James Fitzgerald and Mark Conway Thompson in Quantum's "All the Names"
So it is with Jose Saramago’s All the Names, as well as Quantum Theatre’s terrific adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning 1997 novel.

The story — about a clerk who quietly (and fearfully) defies the gigantic bureaucracy that employs him to go on a sort of latter-day knightly search for a mysterious (and anonymous) woman – is fairly slight. But Saramago’s vision, as faithfully translated to the stage by Quantum, is large enough to encompass questions about identity (how it’s formed, what it is), epistemology (what it means to “know” something) and more.

More than simply inhabiting an old building, the show is truly site-specific, with the decommissioned Carnegie Library of Allegheny standing in for the government hall where “all the names” are kept. And this original production, a collaborative creation of Quantum’s Karla Boos, Barbara Luderowski of the Mattress Factory and other artists, makes imaginative and expansive use of several rooms in this old North Side landmark (so be prepared for a little walking).

Here’s Tyler Plosia’s review for CP.

There are four more performances beginning with tonight’s. 

Tickets are $38 and available here. Expect thematically appropriate snackies and a little drink at the intermezzo.

The former Carnegie Library of Allegheny is located on Allegheny Square on the North Side (part of the same complex as the New Hazlett Theater). 

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Point Park Connections Dance Show This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 8:34 AM

Point Park Connections, a showcase for Point Park University's student dancers in new short works choreographed by adjunct dance faculty, has four performances Downtown starting tomorrow.

From Shanna Simmons' "Crunch" - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SWENSEN
  • Photo courtesy of Jeff Swensen
  • From Shanna Simmons' "Crunch"
Students in Point Park’s nationally known dance program will perform in works including: “Descent,” by Daniel Karasik; “Crunch,” by Shana Simmons; “Libertango,” by Sarah Everhart; “Paiju,” by Matt Pardo; and “Cello Molto Espressivo,” by Ernest Tolentino.

The shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The venue is the GRW Performance Studio, at 201 Wood St. (Wood and the Boulevard of the Allies).

Tickets are $18-20 and are available here.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

"At Once There Was a House" at the New Hazlett Theater

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 10:51 AM

Beth Corning finds something both very adaptable and very compelling about her concept for At Once There Was a House.

Beth Corning in a promotional still for "At Once There Was a House" - PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANK WALSH
  • Photo courtesy of Frank Walsh
  • Beth Corning in a promotional still for "At Once There Was a House"
The veteran performer and choreographer has revived and revamped the show multiple times since its first showing, in 2005. The last time was a few years ago, with Pittsburgh’s Dance Alloy Theatre. But the current production, which runs through Sunday, has a new cast and evening-length scope, and is to a large extent a new show.

The clever premise remains: It’s “whatever happened to Dick and Jane,” the treacly juvenile protagonists of the old grade-school readers. Corning and the five guest performers of her Corningworks’ Glue Factory Project (for performers over age 40) frame the show as a high school reunion where the graduates are still preening, still vying for attention, but still unfulfilled.

It’s dance-theater partly in that the show’s multiple vignettes let the cast's four professional dancers do some acting, while the two non-dancers engage in some movement work. One draw is the cast itself. Corning; Attack Theatre’s Michele de la Reza; Squonk Opera artistic director and keyboardist Jackie Dempsey; and actor John Gresh – all familiar faces on local stages – are joined by former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal dancer Tamar Rachelle Tolentino and Yoav Kaddar, whose resume includes Paul Taylor Dance Company and Pilobilus.

The overall effect is both comic and dark, and cast is used to fine effect. Highlights of the 70-minute show include: Kaddar and Tolentino’s emotionally charged duet (set to a passage from Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist); Gresh’s funny interpretation of Larry Siegel’s The Dick & Jane Hamlet; and a piece choreographed to Dempsey’s rendition of a rock classic on accordion. The evening is bookended by pieces set to Tom Waits’ “Table Top Joe.”

Four performances remain of At Once There Was a House, from tonight’s at 8 p.m. through this Sunday’s matinee. Tickets are $25-30, although admission to Friday night’s Corningworks 5th-birthday bash are $50, and Sunday’s show has a pay-what-you-will option at the door.

The New Hazlett is located at 6 Allegheny Square East, on the North Side.



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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Associated Artists Show Opens Friday

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 4:10 PM

The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh opens its Black & White show at Lawrenceville’s Framehouse/Jask Gallery.

Nancy McNary Smith's porcelain sculpture "Fruit and Veggies," part of "Black & White"
  • Nancy McNary Smith's porcelain sculpture "Fruit and Veggies," part of "Black & White"
The show features works in a range of media by two dozen of AAP’s 550-some members from the region. The exhibit – all work in black and white, naturally – was juried by Jeff Jarzynka, an independent creative director and consultant with a background in design and marketing.

The artists featured include Ruthanne Bauerle, Richard Claraval, Rae Gold, Paula Garrick Klein, Mark Panza, Christopher Ruane and Bob Ziller.

The opening reception runs 6-9 p.m. this Friday at the Framehouse/Jask Gallery. The building, located at 100 43rd St., is the IceHouse complex, which also houses AAP itself.

The show runs until April 17.

AAP, at 102 years old, is among the nation’s longest-running artist-member organizations.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“For the Tree to Drop” at PICT Classic

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Four performances remain of this striking premiere of a work by local playwright Lissa Brennan.

Linda Haston (left) and Siovhan Christensen in "For the Tree to Drop" - PHOTO COURTESY OF SUELLEN FITZSIMMONS
  • Photo courtesy of Suellen Fitzsimmons
  • Linda Haston (left) and Siovhan Christensen in "For the Tree to Drop"
It’s an interesting selection for PICT to launch its first-ever Downtown performance series: Inspired by Antigone, For the Tree to Drop finds common ground between Greek tragedy, psychodrama and experimental theater.

Like Antigone, the play depicts a woman who in the face of opposition by the authorities and her community insists on her right to bury her dead brother’s body. Brennan sets the action on a plantation in the pre-Emancipation South. But costumes aside, this doesn’t pretend to be an historical drama.

For instance, though Estella, the sister, is a slave (as was her lynched brother), she converses and disputes with plantation owner Edgar in a candid manner that – in any other historical or even fictional rendering – would surely get her whipped. The fact of Edgar’s “ownership” prevents them from being equals, and of course anchors the play’s power dynamic. Yet Brennan’s portrayal feels like an almost expressionistic way of insisting on the pair’s equality as humans. It's weirdly charged and quite effective.

The play lacks conventional narrative motion, and often feels more like a dream: a single moment stretched out for exploration, with a week or more of narrative time played out in one continuous scene, with night and day only mentioned, never portrayed. That impression is abetted by the fact that while all five actors are on stage for the whole show, at any given moment most of them neither speaks nor moves.

The production, directed by PICT’s Alan Stanford, features fine performances by the cast, led by relative newcomer Siovhan Christensen, as Estella, and PICT veteran David Whalen, as Edgar.

Still, the show’s biggest strengths just might be Brennan’s vivid, poetic dialogue and the play’s powerful portrait of resistance to injustice. (Full disclosure: Brennan’s a frequent contributor to CP’s visual-arts coverage.)

Here’s Colette Newby’s review of For the Tree to Drop for CP.

The show is staged in the Peirce Studio, the nicely turned-out basement space at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Trust Arts Education Center, at 805 Liberty Ave.

Tickets are $48 and available here.

One of the four remaining shows is tonight. Performances tomorrow and Saturday are sold out. However, standing-room tickets for those two are available at half-price – not a bad deal on a show that runs just 70 intermissionless minutes.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

August Wilson doc premieres tonight on WQED

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 11:11 AM

August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand is surely required cultural viewing – for everyone, but perhaps especially for Pittsburghers.

A 34-minute condensed version of this 90-minute PBS American Masters documentary was screened last night for an invited crowd of a few hundred at none other than the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

The full program airs at 9 p.m. tonight on QED. If the teaser was any indication, this is a respectful yet insightful look at the Pittsburgh-born playwright’s life, work and legacy, and by necessary extension at race in America. (This year is also the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, and the 10th anniversary of his death.)

The film is a co-production of WQED Multimedia and American Masters. It features interviews with copious experts including actors Viola Davis and Laurence Fishburne; playwright Suzan Lori-Parks; the late Wilson’s sisters Freda Ellis and Linda Jean Kittel; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette theater critic Christopher Rawson; Pitt history professor Laurence Glasco; and New York Times critic Frank Rich. Not to mention archival interviews with Wilson himself.

There are also vibrant video excerpts from stage and broadcast productions of plays from Wilson’s century-spanning Pittsburgh Cycle, including The Piano Lesson, with Charles Dutton (who’s also interviewed), and Fences, with James Earl Jones (ditto).

Continue reading »

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