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Short List: Week of June 3 - 10 

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In the theatrical franchise known as Celebrity Autobiography, actors -- and sometimes actual celebrities -- read aloud excerpts from the often painfully narcissistic memoirs of movie idols, rock stars and professional athletes. Audiences come to laugh. But Eugene Pack, a TV writer and producer who's watched his concept become an award-winning stage phenomenon, insists Celebrity Autobiography isn't out to mock anyone. From the show's first performances, a decade ago in Los Angeles, he says, "Nothing was mean-spirited about it." Audiences here can see for themselves June 3, when Celebrity Autobiography opens at City Theatre. Local luminaries and name guests, with casts changing weekly, will read from a rotating array of 300 books -- opuses by everyone from Liz Taylor and Madonna to Tiger Woods and the Jonas Brothers. The evening includes both short solo readings and group pieces -- dueling excerpts, say, from Sly Stallone and Tommy Lee, one on sex, the other on food, and you guess which is which. ("People really love anything from Tommy Lee or Mötley Crüe," Pack notes.) Another set piece finds Liz Taylor, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds individually recounting their famed love triangle. The show's long off-Broadway run earned a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. At City Theater, visiting celebrities who'll read in week one include Pack himself (pictured); Lee Meriweather (Catwoman on TV's Batman) and John Marshall Jones (TV's The Smart Guy). These aren't impressions: The casting tends against type. For instance, Taylor's been read by famed comedy writer Bruce Vilanch (who's slated to perform at some Pittsburgh shows). "We're not making fun of anybody ... in particular. If anything, we're poking fun at the memoir genre," says Pack. "Why are we so fascinated with these details?" Bill O'Driscoll Shows begin Thu., June 3. City Theatre, 1300 Bingham St., South Side. $35-40. 412-431-2489

 

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Thu., June 3 -- Stage

The pleasures of watching actors stage live, often-wacky radio plays made a hit first season for Bricolage Production Co.'s Midnight Radio. Season two of the monthly series blending A Prairie Home Companion with Saturday Night Live starts tonight. The cast --Tony Bingham, Gab Bonesso, Lisa Ann Goldsmith and John McIntire -- perform "Our Top Story Tonight," a comic superhero tale by Ken Kaissar, and Ray Bradbury's sci-fi suspenser "Zero Hour." Interspersed are fake news reports, audience games, musical guests and more. Bill O'Driscoll 9 p.m. Also 9 p.m. Fri., June 4, and 9 p.m. Sat., June 5. June 3 is Pay What You Can Night (reserve at tami@webbricolage.org). Other shows: $20. 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-381-6999

 

Fri., June 4 -- Pride

The Pride Advocacy Rally takes to the steps of Downtown's City-County Building at 6 p.m. today, kicking off Pittsburgh Pride's annual week of LGBT events, organized by the Delta Foundation. Speakers include Nate Phelps, estranged son of Pastor Fred Phelps of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church -- his first time speaking at a gay-pride event. On Sat., June 5 in Bloomfield, check out the Dyke and Trans march; meet at Morrow Triangle at 2 p.m. And on June 9, organizers want to see you in a forum and training session themed "You Belong" (7-9 p.m. at the Delta offices, 429 First Ave., Downtown.) It all leads up to June 12's Pride in the Street festival and the June 13 Pride Awareness March. Lauren Daley Full schedule at www.pittsburghpride.org

 

Fri., June 4 -- Music

Tonight things get romantic on the lawn. The opening of the First Fridays at the Frick 2010 concert series features vocal duo Grande Romanza, accompanied by pianist Maria de los Angeles Rivera. The vocalists will perform opera, operetta and Broadway classics, including selections from Phantom of the Opera and composer Victor Herbert. Arrive early to enjoy a gourmet picnic available a la carte at Café at the Frick. Or bring your own treats to enjoy on Clayton's Great Lawn. Jenelle Pifer 7 p.m. Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. $5 suggested donation. 412-371-0600 or www.thefrickpittsburgh.org

 

Fri., June 4 -- Music

The naughty, naughty boys and girls of the Renaissance City Choirs wink and say, "Let's Talk About Sex, Baby." Eight singers from the groups offer selections from Broadway's Avenue Q, Tom Lehrer's "The Masochism Tango," "Gratuitous Nudity" (from Naked Boys Singing!) and more. Parental discretion is advised; likewise, a sense of humor. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., June 5, and 8 p.m. Sun., June 6. Greybox Theatre, 3595 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $29.99. 412-362-9484 or www.rccpittsburgh.com

 

Fri., June 4 -- Rock

With a career spanning almost four decades, Americana rocker Alejandro Escovedo is still going strong, and returns to the Three Rivers Arts Festival tonight for the second year running. After bouncing back from a brush with death in 2005, Escovedo's music has shown signs of new life: Since his recovery, Escovedo has released two albums; been picked up by Bruce Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau; played Carnegie Hall; and still found the time to publicly insult then-President Bush (apparently an Escovedo fan). His new album, Street Songs of Love, will be released in late June. Kelsey Shea 8 p.m. Point State Park, Downtown. All ages. Free. 412-281-8723 or www.artsfestival.net

 

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Sat., June 5 -- Film

It's not part of the official World Environment Day festivities, but it should be. Tonight, at the Byham Theater, Pitt's Center for Healthy Environments and Communities screens Gasland, Josh Fox's new documentary about the natural-gas boom in Pennsylvania and New York. The film documents the risks deep-well drilling poses to human health and the environment. Don't think corporate promises of financial bonanzas; think poisoned water, dead cattle and gas explosions. Gasland won Sundance's Special Jury Prize for Documentary. A panel discussion follows, featuring experts including local researchers and environmental activists. BO 7 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. Free. chec@pitt.edu

 

Sat., June 5 -- Words

Poetry Without Walls, an annual open reading, is an evening without rules. There is no admission charge, no sign-up sheet and no featured reader. Performers don't even have to stand at the front of the room -- or stand at all. Established poets and first-timers alike should bring books, zines or unpublished poetry to read to a crowd in Garfield Artworks. For 14 years the reading has featured a variety of voices on a wide range of themes. No censorship. No screening. Just words. JP 8 p.m. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. Free. 412-231-1581

 

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Sun., June 6 -- Words

School's out for summer, but the 10th annual Summer Reading Extravaganza at Oakland's Carnegie Library will make sure the pages keep turning. At today's kick-off, attendees can pick up program materials and enjoy a bit of summer fun. And you don't need to be on break -- the reading program is for adults, too. Indoor and outdoor activities include dancing with Radio Disney, glass-blowing demonstrations, steel-drum performances and a used-book sale. Online pre-registration is suggested. JP Noon-5 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-622-3114 or www.clpgh.org

 

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Sunday June 6 -- Rock

Holy Broken, the latest from Sin Ropas, is a folky pop trip; airy, patient, sometimes dirgelike, but always accessible, it represents a more grounded approach than Califone, the band in which these musicians previously performed. The husband-and-wife duo of Tim Hurley and Danni Iosello pursue their art armed with everything from banjos to fuzzed-out electric guitar and all manner of percussion tools. They bring the act to ModernFormations Gallery tonight for a show with locals Pairdown and Sundog Peacehouse. Andy Mulkerin 7:30 p.m. 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $6. All ages. 412-362-0274 or www.modernformations.com

 

Sun., June 6 -- Rock

On the road to Bonnaroo, The Avett Brothers stop by Pittsburgh's Ches-A-Rena. North Carolina brothers Seth and Scott Avett, joined by bassist Bob Crawford, are touring with their 2009 masterpiece, I and Love and You. The country-folk album ranges from energetic, banjo-heavy songs that'll make you want to put on your cowboy boots to ballads that will break your heart. Tonight is The Avett Brothers' first performance in Pittsburgh in nearly a year. Acoustic folk singer Jessica Lea Mayfield will open. KS 8 p.m. Ches-A-Rena, Cheswick. $30. All ages. 412-589-4244 or www.chesarenapgh.com

 

Tue., June 8 -- Rock

It's a strange road that takes a guy from California to leading a band hailing from Barcelona -- and in David Brown's case, it led through a gig with Beck's band in the '90s. Brown's current band is Brazzaville, a pop group with a Spanish flair: Its influences are split between straightforward American rock and traditional Iberian folk. The globetrotting Brown brings Brazzaville to Pittsburgh for the first time tonight; the band appears in a somewhat unconventional venue: the Allegheny Elks Lodge #339 (home of the famed Pittsburgh Banjo Club). AM 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave., North Side. $10. 412-321-1834 

 

Wed., June 9 -- Rock

Les Claypool is an acquired taste -- much like his old band Primus -- but many are those who've learned to appreciate the virtuoso bassist whilst sailing the seas of cheese. Opening for Claypool at Greensburg's Palace Theatre tonight is a new act worth special notice: Hot Head Show, a London-based trio whose erratic grooves and twisted lyrics combine elements of Captain Beefheart, deranged ska, The Birthday Party and Tom Waits. To quote singer Jordan Bennett's monologic lyrics, "Run for the early train that gets you there before the rush / 'Cause then the entrance fee won't sting so much." Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. $25. All ages. 724-863-8000 or www.thepalacetheatre.org

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