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Short List: October 9 - 17 

Sheila McKenna (on left), Helena Ruoti and Harry Bouvy.

Photo courtesy of Mike Del Gaudio

Sheila McKenna (on left), Helena Ruoti and Harry Bouvy.

SPOTLIGHT: Sat., Oct. 12 — Stage

City Theatre artistic director Tracy Brigden and playwright Christopher Durang go back to Brigden's days with the Manhattan Theatre Club. When she came to City, one of her first initiatives was to feed Durang the commission for a Christmas Carol spoof that became Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge. The play world-premiered here in 2002 and is still produced around the country. Brigden's appreciation for Durang as a seasoned comic playwright with something to say convinced her to book his latest, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, even before the hit comedy won its 2013 Tony for best play. City's season-opener depicts a madcap, weekend-long family reunion: Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia, who stayed in the family home in Bucks County, Pa., to care for their now-deceased parents, are visited by their movie-star sister, Masha, and her much younger boyfriend, Spike. Brigden directs a top-shelf cast including local favorites Helena Ruoti (as Masha) and Sheila McKenna (as Sonia) alongside Harry Bouvy and Karl Glusman. As the character names impishly suggest, the play explores Chekovian themes of family. So while Vanya and Sonia is full-blooded comedy, "It's not just fluffy farce," says Brigden. "It has things to think about and characters you care about." Bill O'Driscoll First performance: 5:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 12. Continues through Nov. 3. 1300 Bingham St., South Side. $15-55. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org

click to enlarge Jack Greene, Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
  • Photo courtesy of Jack Greene/The Rose Went Lovely Photography

Thu., Oct. 10 — Words

What a résumé has Anne Waldman. Born in New Jersey, in 1945, the much-honored poet grew up on the Beats and jazz; in the '70s, she co-founded, with Allen Ginsberg, Colorado's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and was poet-in-residence on Bob Dylan's legendary Rolling Thunder Revue tour. The New York- and Colorado-based Waldman, who's published more than 40 books, is known for her performative readings. Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers series hosts her tonight, at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Bill O'Driscoll 8:30 p.m. Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6508 or www.pghwriterseries.wordpress.com

Fri., Oct. 11 — Comedy

It's National Coming Out Day. Even if coming out isn't on your to-do list this week, the holiday's a good excuse to visit Arcade Comedy Theater for Coming Out for Comedy, tonight's celebratory line-up of LGBTQ performers. Arcade regular Mike Buzzelli presents talent including Chrissy Costa, Abby Denton, Brian Edward, Ian Insect, Stacy Keene, Christine Marie, John Pridmore and Carl Schimmel. BO 8 p.m. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $5-10. www.arcadecomedytheater.com

click to enlarge Art by Eleanor Ray, Gloryhair hair salon
  • Art by Eleanor Ray

Fri., Oct. 11 — Art

Calling all college students: Take a break from Supercuts and get a free haircut for a reason by visiting Daniel Allende at his two-day pop-up hair salon, Gloryhair. As a member of San Francisco-based collective Future Farmers, this Carnegie Mellon grad student has exhibition credits at venues including the Guggenheim. Tonight and tomorrow only, Gloryhair offers hairstyles that flirt with the line between conformity and nonconformity, while drawing inspiration from the political and stylistic aspects of hair. Brett Wilson 10 p.m. Also 1-6 p.m. Sat., Oct. 12 (DJ set at 10 p.m.). 5139 Penn Avenue, Garfield. Free. www.danallende.com

Fri.., Oct. 11 — Comedy

Six regulars on the local improv scene have teamed for two nights of sketch comedy called Rein in the People. The show, at Steel City Improv Theater, features "obnoxiously eccentric characters, wildly uncomfortable group situations and sage-worthy words of wisdom from taxidermy animals ..." The nine sketches, plus songs and music, are by Ben Amiri, Nicole Antonuccio, Dillon Diatlo, Greg Gillotti, Tessa Karel and Travis Koury. BO 10 p.m. Also 10 p.m. Sat., Oct. 12. 5950 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside. $7. www.reininthepeople.com

Sat., Oct. 12 — Energy

Our political leaders might be fiddling while the planet burns. But some folks have boldly pursued renewable energy. On today's 2013 Pittsburgh Solar Tour, the group PennFuture showcases 22 properties that have gone solar. Buildings on the free tour are mostly in and near Pittsburgh; other communities include Moon Township, Rochester and Bentleyville. Start the self-guided tour at any property. One stop includes activities for kids; another offers free electric-bike rides. Another new wrinkle is a ticketed, guided cycling version of the tour. BO 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (Bike tour starts at 10 a.m., at Point State Park). Free (Bike tour: $10). www.pennfuture.org

Sat., Oct. 12 — Zombies

Will you survive the zombie apocalypse? World Zombie Day, part of the 2013 Pittsburgh Zombiefest, is your chance to find out. The event will include: The Zombie Olympics; a "Brain Eating" contest; an "ugly pageant"; and a "Best Scream" contest. The undead will also attempt to capture the world record for largest gathering of zombies, and festivities culminate in a "Zombie Walk," a bar crawl around Lawrenceville. Since you zombies don't need the food, bring by some nonperishable food items for donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. BW Noon. Arsenal Park, 39th Street, Lawrenceville. Free. www.pittsburghzombiefest.com

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID BACHMAN
  • Photo courtesy of David Bachman

Sat., Oct. 12 — Opera

Verdi's masterpiece Aida opens the 75th season of the Pittsburgh Opera. The production is led by tenor and Aida veteran Carl Tanner and soprano Latonia Moore, also hailed for her past work in this opera. With musical direction by Antony Walker and stage direction by Crystal Manich, this opera will be sure to open the season at the Benedum Center on a note as big as the Nile. BW 8 p.m. Also 7 p.m. Tue., Oct. 15; 8 p.m. Fri., Oct. 18; and 2 p.m. Sun., Oct. 20. 803 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $12.75-179. 412-456-6666 or www.pittsburghopera.org

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MINIATURE CURIOSA
  • Photo courtesy of Miniature Curiosa

Sat., Oct. 12 — Stage

Following a 17-city tour of its show Tonight a Clown Will Travel Time, Miniature Curiosae returns with its biggest production — and some of its smallest sets. Birds of America is the puppet troupe's "horror play" about a bird scholar and his wife, inhabiting a lonely house on a seaside cliff. Birds employs three puppeteers, two actors and three big screens fed by video cameras cinematically navigating tiny sets. The show — part of the New Hazlett Theater's subscription-based CSA Performance Series (but open to the public) — sprang from writer Murphi Cook and director Zach Dorn's love of movies like Rosemary's Baby and The Birds. "It's gonna be spooky-scary," promises Cook. BO 8 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20 ($100 for CSA share). www.newhazletttheater.org

Wed., Oct. 16 — Screen

The touring Wild & Scenic Film Festival makes its Pittsburgh premiere at Phipps Conservatory. The short-film festival, sponsored tonight by groups including Allegheny Defense Project and the Sierra Club, means to inspire activism; this year's theme is "A Climate of Change." Shorts include: "Second Nature: The Biomimicry Revolution," about South African Janine Benyus' efforts to get engineers, chemists and architects to think more like nature; "The Soil Solution," about nurturing the soil to combat climate change; and "The Water Tower," which uses mountain-climbing in Kenya to explore threats to the glaciers supplying the nation's water. BO 6-10 p.m. Schenley Drive, Oakland. Free (suggested donation: $10). www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org

Wed., Oct. 16 — Stage

Enduring cult classic The Rocky Horror Show gets another twist: A local stage production features multiple venues ("a mobile audience experience") and encourages audience members to join in singing "The Time Warp" and other songs from Richard O'Brien's campily ghoulish musical. The location details for the 12 performances, in Munhall, will be kept secret until you buy a ticket. The production company, Brisbane Management Group, is run by area native and theater veteran Kelly Brisbane; the show, directed by Lisa Ann Goldsmith, opens tonight. BO 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 31. Munhall. Brisbane-management-group.com

Thu., Oct. 17 — Art

The 2013 Carnegie International just opened; tonight's your chance to corner at least one of the exhibition's three curators and learn the thinking behind this massive show, featuring 35 artists from 19 countries. At the Culture Club event, at the Carnegie Museum of Art, sign up to join a small-group discussion of selected works, starting at either 6 or 6:45 p.m., with Dan Baumann, Dan Byers or Tina Kukielski. There's also a cash bar, and the galleries stay open late. BO 5:30-9 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $10 (includes drink ticket). 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org

click to enlarge sl_lawton_41.jpg

Thu., Oct. 17 – Words

British author John Lawton made his name with his Inspector Troy series of mysteries — books like Black Out and Riptide, set at mid-century, with World War II or Cold War backdrops. Lawton set Troy aside for his latest historical fiction. The amoral protagonist of Then We Take Berlin (Atlantic Monthly Press) is Joe Wilderness, a Cockney war orphan turned Cold War spy. Lawton, who's now garnering comparisons to LeCarre and Graham Greene, takes his five-city U.S. tour to Mystery Lovers Bookshop tonight. BO 7 p.m. 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Free. 412-828-4877 or www.mysterylovers.com

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