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Short List: Week of February 25 - March 4 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DREW YENCHAK

Two young men in Victorian England are best friends. One is a utopian who trusts that science will perfect civilization; the other believes human nature is inherently brutal. That these comrades happen to be H.G. Wells and the man who's secretly Jack the Ripper is one conceit of Time After Time, the Karl Alexander novel that has inspired a world-premiere musical at Point Park University. The other conceit (as viewers of the 1979 film version will also recall) is that Wells has invented a time machine that lets the Ripper flee into the future -- present-day New York. Wells chases him there, only to fall in love with Saucy Jack's next victim. It was all the stuff of a musical for Stephen Cole, the New York-based writer and lyricist whose credits include Night of the Hunter, After the Fair and Casper. Working with composer Jeffrey Saver, Cole crafted what director Gabriel Barre calls "a good old-fashioned contemporary romantic science-fiction thriller." The premiere landed at Point Park partly because Saver -- a musical director and pianist for 13 Broadway shows -- is a teaching artist-in-residence there. Barre, a New Yorker who directed the national tour of the recent revival of Pippin, wraps Time After Time's action, suspense and romantic and philosophical considerations around a dozen Broadway-style songs. The student cast of 30 is joined by a 10-piece orchestra. (John Wascavage, playing Wells, and Michael Campayno, as Jack, are pictured in rehearsal, above.) The fantastical set consists of a series of steps and platforms rising to seven feet above the stage; an array of movable screens will show video projections transporting the audience and characters between 1895 London and 2010 Manhattan, and from the heights of the Empire State Building down to Central Park. "It's written very cinematically," says Cole. He adds that mounting so big a show was likely beyond the means of most independent theater companies, and thus possible only at a university: "We're doing it larger than we'll ever do it again." Bill O'Driscoll Time After Time: Fri., Feb. 26 through March 14. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $18-20. 412-621-4445 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com

 

Fri., Feb. 26 -- Pop Culture

Jedi be warned; General Grievous is coming to town, and he's bringing Marty McFly's Delorean, Bo Duke and that girl from the GoDaddy.com commercials with him. Steel City Con, Pittsburgh's own pop-culture convention, lands in Monroeville today, for three days of celebrity guests, vendors and more dedicated geekdom than you can shake a lightsaber at. (But please don't; they're very dangerous.) Anna Reilly 2-7 p.m. Also 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat., Feb. 27, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun., Feb. 28. New Monroeville Convention Center, 209 Mall Blvd., Monroeville. $10 (three-day pass $20). 412-213-0224 or www.steelcitycon.com

 

Fri, Feb. 26 -- Rock

This weekend marks the end of the Mr. Roboto Project show space in Wilkinsburg; after the 28th, the venue goes dormant until a new space is secured. In immediate terms, that means a lot of punk shows packed into one weekend. Tonight is a sendoff from a bunch of locals: hardcore stalwarts Brain Handle; noise-band-turned-punkers Slices; Phil Boyd's Hidden Twin; and Ice Capades, the drum-and-guitar duo that hasn't reared its head in a few years. More shows follow at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. It all leads to the space's final show, at 5 p.m. Sunday, featuring Braveyoung, Broken Neck, No Time For Love and Dead Horse. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. 722 Wood St., Wilkinsburg. $5-10 donation. All ages. www.therobotoproject.org

 

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Fri., Feb. 26 -- Rock

Where has the time gone? In 1999, the band that started out as A New Found Glory dropped the indefinite article ... and then dropped an eponymous LP that would take the teeny pop-punk world by storm. A decade and four albums later, New Found Glory remains. Tonight at Club Zoo, the band celebrates that breakout album, performing its songs from beginning to end. Joining them is another band that's been around for over a decade, Saves the Day, along with Hellogoodbye and Fireworks. AM 7:30 p.m. 1630 Smallman St., Strip District. $19.99-23. 412-201-1100 or www.clubzoo.net

 

Sat., Feb. 27 -- Exhibit

Be it mansion or yurt, home is more than where someone lives -- it's a physical representation of who we are and what we aspire to be. The Carnegie Museum of Art's Imagining Home explores shifting attitudes toward home design through the Heinz Architectural Center's extensive multimedia collection. Video, installations, drawings and games show how shelter has changed from the 19th century to now. AR 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through May 30. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $11-15. 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org

 

Sat., Feb. 27 -- Stage

Here's a chance to sample one of Pittsburgh's best small theater troupes for free. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. presents From Page to Stage, featuring staged readings of scenes from upcoming shows. They include Sean O'Leary's drama VALU-MART; P.J. Gibson's The Ancestor Series; and August Wilson's Jitney. Film actor and Pittsburgh native Bill Nunn hosts performers including Lynne Hayes-Freeland, Anji Corley, Vanessa German and Sala Udin. BO 8 p.m. August Wilson Center, 907 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Reservations required at 412-377-7803 or www.pghplaywrights.com

 

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Sat., Feb. 27 -- Rock

Philadelphia's A Sunny Day in Glasgow is on a tear: Tonight the band appears at Brillobox early in a tour that takes it across the nation and across Europe, as well (including a date in its namesake town). The ambient outfit, centered on songwriter Ben Daniels, has released a series of records -- LPs, double LPs, digital downloads -- on the micro-indie Mis Ojos Discos, and just hatched a new EP, Nitetime Rainbows, packed with hypnotic synth swirls and ethereal, echoing vocals. With Lohio, Landline. AM 10 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net

 

Sun., Feb. 28 -- Music

Playing Chopin takes some chops, and British pianist, conductor and teacher Ian Hobson has plenty. The Boston Globe touts the "experience and authority" he brings to Chopin, developed playing with the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and notable stateside symphony orchestras (including ours). Today's recital by Hobson, courtesy of the Steinway Society, includes the "Ballade No. 1 in G minor" and "Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Opus 58." AR 3 p.m. CAPA High School, 111 9th St., Downtown. $20 ($10 students). 412-559-8210 or proartstickets.org

 

Sun., Feb. 28 -- Music

Though likely best known hereabouts for the vocal harmonies on Paul Simon's Graceland, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has a pretty fair resume in its own right. The internationally acclaimed South African a cappella troupe's skill and style -- borrowing heavily on traditional Zulu music -- has earned it three Grammies, plus nominations for records including its most recent, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu. Tonight's performance is at the Byham Theater. BO 7 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $20.50-37.50. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

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Sun., Feb. 28 -- Rock

In the age of Pro Tools and Auto-Tune -- when any musical "mistake" can be eradicated with a mouse-click -- it's an odd feeling to hear a commercially released CD that's casually out of tune and out of time. But Fred and Toody Cole have been playing music their own way for decades, earlier in the cult band Dead Moon and now in the trio Pierced Arrows, and such concerns seem wholly irrelevant to their garage-punk ethos. The band's new album on Vice Records is Descending Shadows; it plays 31st Street Pub tonight with Kim Phuc and The Mount McKinleys. Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $8. 412-391-8334 or www.31stpub.com

 

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Tue., March 2 -- Talk

Some artists use paint, some clay -- and some, like Daniel Bozhkov, make a Larry King-shaped crop circle in a hayfield. The internationally exhibited artist's ironic, oddball displays -- an Old World fresco in a Wal-Mart; a Pieta trapped in glass block; a Sith Lord remedying pollution with a Brita filter -- suggest curious, sometimes uncomfortable interpretations of society. Bozhkov, a lecturer at Columbia and Yale universities, speaks today at Carnegie Mellon University's Spring 2010 Lecture Series. AR 5 p.m. McConomy Auditorium, University Center, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-268-2409 or www.art.cfa.cmu.edu

 

Tuesday, Mar. 2 -- Words

We all know Bill Ayers as the "unrepentant" Weather Underground founder -- the one who refuses to tone down the rhetoric. Mark Rudd represents the flip side: After charges against him were dropped, in the late '70s, Rudd became a math teacher and spoke little of his days as a Weatherman. Last year, though, he released Underground, a book about his days with the American New Left group known for its politically motivated bombings. Now against the use of violence for political purposes, Rudd offers a thoughtful but critical take on the movement he helped found. He appears tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. AM 7 p.m. 510 S. 27th St., South Side. Free. 412-381-3600 or www.josephbeth.com

 

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Tue., March 2 -- Flamenco

If you've ever wondered what Metallica's instrumental opus "Orion" would sound like played by two flamenco guitarists -- and c'mon, who hasn't? -- Rodrigo y Gabriela have the answer: pretty awesome. Although the duo built their career in Dublin, they hail from Mexico City, where they started out in metal bands, a legacy that's evident in adaptations of "Orion" and "Stairway to Heaven" on their self-titled 2007 album. Rodrigo y Gabriela play the Byham Theater tonight -- hang onto your bustles and hedgerows. AJ 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.). $42.50. All ages. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

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