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Short List: Week of January 21 - 28 

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Hello Kitty may be cuddly, charming and cute as a button, but to Jeremy Wade, she and her sickly-sweet counterparts aren't as innocent as they seem. For him, the characters of Japan's kawaii (or "cute") culture resonate with sinister undertones, perpetuating what Wade calls "infantile escapism." Wade, an American choreographer living in Berlin, studied kawaii in Japan, where cute style and characters adorn everything from airplanes to government property. With collaborators including actor/dancer Jared Gradinger, musician Brendan Dougherty and Brooklyn-based Japanese illustrator Hiroki Otsuka, Wade created There Is No End to More, an intricate collage of movement, sound, text, video and animation. The piece mirrors the structure of a children's television show: A host guides the audience through "lessons" on such familiar subjects as government, the body and community. But this is no Sesame Street: Wade emphasizes that his show, as cynical as it is playful, is not for kids. Speaking by phone from Brooklyn, he excitedly describes the piece as a "hyper-layered" and "schizophrenic" study of "the relationship between man and the unattainable, and an overwhelming sense of consumerism." The piece develops slowly from the infantile to the "dark nightmare" of infinity (where, Wade notes, "there is no end to more"). Wade's delivery -- his somewhat abstract "Cage/Cunningham" style, as he calls it -- evokes the contrary nature of his subject: "It's full of contrast and contradiction -- always pulling you in one direction and pushing you in another. ... I don't want to illustrate something. I want [the audience] to deal with the contradictions on their own." After premieres in New York and Berlin, There Is No End to More visits the New Hazlett Theater, as part of the Andy Warhol Museum's Off the Wall performance series. Anna Reilly 8 p.m. Sat., Jan. 23. New Hazlett Theater, Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20 ($10 students). 412-237-8300 or www.ticketweb.com

 

Thu., Jan. 21 -- Benefit

As so often happens when tragedy strikes, news of last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti rallied local musicians and performers. One of numerous fundraisers for relief efforts happens tonight at Shadow Lounge. Sending Back the Spirit: A Benefit for Haiti finds a massive cast of performers donating time and talents. Jazz trumpeter Sean Jones, singer-songwriter Joy Ike, poet Christiane D and singer and general alt-scene roustabout Phat Man Dee are among the many appearing. For a round-up of other fundraisers, see our special section under "Benefits" in this week's Big List. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. 5972 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. 18 and over. $10. 412-363-8277

 

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Thu., Jan. 21 -- Rock

Jess Klein got her start in Boston's late-'90s singer-songwriter scene, later joining the collective Voices on the Verge and landing a solo deal with Rykodisc. While Klein's music has long courted the rootsy side of Triple-A, a recent move to Austin, Texas, has brought out a more Americana and country side on the new album Bound to Love, on indie label United for Opportunity. The Deceptions open Klein's show tonight at Club Café. Aaron Jentzen 7 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $7. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com

 

Thu., Jan. 21 -- Stage

Mortals have been quoting Shakespeare's Puck about what fools we are for, like, 400 years now. Hard to argue. But we do have the sense to occasionally stage A Midsummer Night's Dream, the classic comic fantasy about mismatched lovers and a fairy kingdom that's just silly enough to feature a character named "Bottom." Director Ted Pappas says his new production's sets and large cast constitute the Pittsburgh Public Theater's biggest show ever. Actors include local standouts Tony Bingham and David Whalen, plus Harris Doran (from the Public's Cabaret) as Puck. Performances begin tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Show continues through Feb. 21. 650 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15-55. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org

 

Thu., Jan. 21 -- Rock

The best way I can describe The Van Allen Belt is ... if Gnarls Barkley had a girl singer, wrote songs about Akron and watched a lot of The Lawrence Welk Show while tripping ... OK, that's still way off. Basically, the local group blends vintage samples, live instrumentation and the playful soul vocals of Tamar Kamin into a surreal psych-pop stew. "It's just my mind -- it's out to lunch yet again," she sings on the opening track of the group's new album, Superpowerfragilis: Or How I Learned to Stop Caring and Love the Drug. Maybe they're crazy. The Van Allen Belt's release show is tonight, at Lava Lounge; also performing are Lord Grunge and Rich Mahogany & the Leather Bound Books. AJ 10 p.m. 2204 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-5282 or www.lavaloungepgh.com

 

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Fri., Jan. 22 -- Gallery Crawl

Those who fear neither art nor the cold will populate tonight's Gallery Crawl. The mid-winter incarnation of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust series features exhibits and performances at nearly 20 Downtown venues. Included: opening reception for a show by Argentinean artist Martin Bonadeo, at Wood Street Galleries; rare original Rouault prints, at Shaw Galleries; art by Anjali Srinivasan (707 Penn Gallery) and Adam Welch (709 Penn); free dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studios; and acoustic folk by Emily Rodgers, at the Backtage Bar. The prize for variety, however, goes to 937 Liberty Avenue, whose three floors host an installment of the new For Real For Real storytelling series; Robot Resolution, an exhibit of robotic and mechatronic sculptures; and a performance by Pittsburgh Gospel. BO 5:30-9 p.m. Downtown. Free. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

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Fri., Jan. 22 -- Music

Sharon Van Etten's music might at first blush recall the "freak folk" of some of her Brooklyn cohorts. But digging a little deeper, one finds differences. Compared to the abstract and sometimes playful and ironic folk business of mid-last decade, Van Etten's work is quite personal: Her lilting, mournful vocals give voice to lyrics with lots of first- and second-person pronouns, perhaps recalling a slightly more subdued and grounded Jolie Holland. Van Etten appears tonight in a show presented by frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner at Most-Wanted Fine Art Gallery; Thin Sketch and The Four Roses open. AM 8 p.m. 5015 Penn Ave., Garfield. 412-361-2262

 

Sat., Jan. 23 -- Comics

Bill Watterson is among the most mysterious contemporary comics artists. His smart and cheeky Calvin & Hobbes strip ran in newspapers from 1985 to 1995. It was wildly popular, but at age 37, Watterson retired the strip and has rarely been seen or heard from since. New York pop-culture writer Nevin Martell attempted to track down what information is available about Watterson, and published Looking for Calvin & Hobbes last year. The book chronicles his search, and encompasses interviews with both cartoonists and Watterson confederates. Martell speaks tonight at Downtown's Toonseum. AM 5:30 p.m. 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free with museum admission ($4 adults, $3 children). 421-232-0199 

 

Sat., Jan. 23 -- Stage

"Equal parts comic love story and metaphysical murder mystery," explains the press release for City Theatre's production of The Clockmaker. The story involves a woman, a clockmaker and her husband's cuckoo clock; it's by playwright Stephen Massicotte, creator of 2009 City hit Mary's Wedding. Tracy Brigden directs the U.S. premiere of this award-winning play from Canada's Massicotte, which the Calgary Herald called "brilliant and wonderfully funny." The show's first performances are tonight. It stars Harry Bouvy, Tami Dixon, Daryll Heysham and Joel Ripka. BO 5:30 and 7 p.m. Continues through Feb. 14. 1400 Bingham St., South Side. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org

 

Sat., Jan. 23 -- Music

Tonight, Renaissance & Baroque presents Arcadia Revisited: A Garden of Earthly Delights, a concert featuring music by Henry Purcell, Nicholas Lanier and other 17th-century English composers, focusing on the theme of utopian pastoral fantasy. Performing this repertoire is The Newberry Consort, an acclaimed and long-running early-music ensemble from the Chicago area. Want to know more ... about either the mythical Arcadia or lutes? A 7 p.m. talk precedes the performance; a Q&A with the musicians follows. AJ 8 p.m. Synod Hall, Fifth Avenue and N. Craig Street, Oakland. $35 ($10 students; additional discounts). 412-361-2048 or www.rbsp.org

 

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Sun., Jan. 24 -- Words

If you have a kid in grade school (or are a kid in grade school), you probably know Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the illustrated story of a gawky tween-ager and his hilarious middle-school mishaps. Today, at the Carnegie Music Hall, author Jeff Kinney chats with fans as part of Black, White & Read All Over, a kid-lit series from Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. Children will hear all about the best-selling series, get to ask questions, and have their books signed. Space is limited, and a sell-out is expected. Anna Reilly 2 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $10 ($8 children). 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

 

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Wed., Jan. 27 -- Words

Jessica DuLong wasn't satisfied with her desk job. So in 2001, she left the office for a Hudson River fireboat, and a new life as a marine engineer. DuLong docks in Pittsburgh tonight for a discussion and signing of her memoir My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson. The book recounts DuLong's dramatic career (her crew was recognized by Congress for its service on 9/11), shares the perspective of a woman in a typically masculine field, and discusses what's missing in the cubicles of postindustrial America. Revisit America's blue-collar background tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. AR 7 p.m. 2705 E. Carson St., South Side. Free. 412-381-3600 or www.josephbeth.com

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