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Short List: Week of October 15 - 22 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MARK WHITEHEAD

Zombies, like vampires, warrant endless metaphorical revision. George Romero cast the undead as living vessels for, among other things, racism and consumerism. Lately, with zombies only more popular in popular culture, we've heard (in The Wall Street Journal, no less) about "zombie houses," foreclosed and vacant. Now North Hills native Scott T. Barsotti has a new twist. The Chicago-based playwright uses zombification as a metaphor for cataclysmically altered personal relationships -- a new way to explore what makes us human. His The Revenants is set in a suburban cellar where two troubled married couples hide from a zombie invasion. The catch: One member of each couple is already infected. So both "Joe" and "Molly" spend the play's 80 minutes chained and incapable of speech, while significant others Gary and Karen debate their options: Attempt to re-connect, or fire bullet through undead brain? "You get to spend quality time with the zombies you don't in the films," says Barsotti, 28. Revenants resonates with such themes as relationship-death, and disabilities that leave the victim's sentience doubtful. "How much of that person that we knew before is still left inside of them?" asks Mark Whitehead, who directs Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Co.'s new production. It stars Makeda Duncan-Parker, Valentina Benrexi (both pictured), Todd Betker and David Conley. The play premiered in 2006, at the New York Fringe Festival; a 2009 staging by Chicago's WildClaw Theatre Co. earned favorable reviews, often for wildly different reasons. "[A]t once uncanny and emotionally powerful," said The Chicago Reader. Time Out Chicago, meanwhile, called Revenants "a delightful splatterfest." Oh, yes, the splatter: At Playwrights, it comes courtesy of special-effects master Steve Tolin. "People who are looking for traditional horror are not going to be disappointed," says Whitehead. "There's definitely plenty of blood and gore in this." Bill O'Driscoll Fri., Oct. 16-Oct. 31. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, 542 Penn Ave., Downtown. $17.50. 412-394-3353 or www.pghplaywrights.com

 

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Thu., Oct. 15 -- Rock

With definite nods to both '80s pop (The Cure) and the saccharine synth sounds of indie bands from earlier in this decade (My Favorite), We Were Lovers brings its "pop 'n' roll" to Shadow Lounge tonight. The band hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (that's a couple hundred miles north of Moose Jaw, if you're keeping score), and has gotten some warm praise from the likes of CMJ and Austinist (after its SXSW appearance). Fans of synthesizers, catchy pop and Canadians -- and who among us isn't? -- might just want to turn out for this one. Andy Mulkerin 9 p.m. 5972 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. $5 ($3 with college ID). 18 and over. 412-363-8277 or www.shadowlounge.net

 

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Fri., Oct. 16 -- Music

In a night celebrating literature, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs the world premiere of A Woman's Life, a musical interpretation of seven Maya Angelou poems. Known for his romantic and emotional scores, Grammy-winner and PSO composer of the year Richard Danielpour wrote the piece for acclaimed soprano Angela Brown. With guest conductor Leonard Slatkin, the evening includes literary scores inspired by Moby Dick and The Divine Comedy. Lucy Leitner 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 17. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-83. 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org

 

Fri., Oct. 16 -- Rock

If you noticed the odd sight of so many Ontario license plates when The Tragically Hip played the Three Rivers Arts Festival a couple of years back, it's no surprise that the early alternative-era rockers are something of a national treasure in their native Canada. In the U.S., where they've flown a little below the radar, we get to see them at smaller venues, to the envy of our northern neighbors. With a string of No. 1 albums in Canada and 26 years under its belt, The Hip has plenty to draw on for tonight's show at the Byham Theater, including this year's Bob Rock-produced release, We Are the Same. Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $32-42. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

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Washington, D.C. indie-rockers Middle Distance Runner lope into town tonight, for a show at Club Café with Farewell Flight and Cellfish. The band's en route to four shows at the CMJ music festival in NYC, supporting its brand-new full-length album, The Sun & Earth, on Engine Room Recordings. If you're into feelin' good and struttin' your stuff to an urgent Brit-pop groove, this is one not to miss. AJ 10 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $7. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com

 

Sat., Oct. 17 -- Cemetery

Those looking to get the Halloween heebie-jeebies might turn to the cemetery -- but Homewood Cemetery's walking tours, Saturdays this month, aren't about ghost tales. Today's Taking It With You tour explores the denizens of Section 14 -- names like Benedum and Heinz. The tour (which repeats Oct. 31) is followed Oct. 24 by Angels & Obelisks, a look at the aesthetics of the cemetery and its grave markers, plus such lesser-known aspects as the Chinese-American section. AM 11 a.m. 1599 S. Dallas Ave., Point Breeze. $5 donation. Reservations: 412-421-1822

 

Sat., Oct. 17 -- Clothes

You know that total fail of a dress you bought last year that makes you look kind of like a Smurf? It would look absolutely perfect on this girl you've never met. Luckily, today you can meet her, and a bunch of other ladies and gents cleaning out their closets for an excellent cause. Bring your clothes to the New Amsterdam café this afternoon, and pick out replacements for them, or else donate cash for clothes. All the money, and the leftovers, benefit the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh. Melissa Meinzer Noon-4:30 p.m. 4421 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-904-2915

 

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Sat., Oct. 17 -- Rock

The Fervor's 2008 album, Bleeder, balanced appealing off-hand casualness with haunting, sculpted sonics and confessional lyrics -- a sound that's part druggy mess, part gauzy daydream. The Louisville, Ky., band consists of vocalist Natalie Felker and hubby Ben on guitars, with LEO Weekly music editor Mat Herron on the drums. Prepare to be irreparably smitten when the band plays tonight at Smiling Moose, with Country Music Gas Station and Sleep Experiments, and consider picking up the brand-new limited green-vinyl release, a split 7-inch with Wussy. AJ 9:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.com

 

Sun., Oct. 18 -- Dance

With more than 1,200 costumes (some a century old), several singing techniques and traditional music and dance from a bevy of countries in Eastern Europe, LADO (the National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia) has been called a "traveling museum." Touring for its 60th birthday, LADO brings its musical and visual spectacle to the Byham Theater tonight, with a troupe of 37 dancers who can seamlessly shift into a folk choir. The orchestra's 15 virtuosos, equally diverse, can collectively play more than 50 instruments. LL 7 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $20.50-32.50. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

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Sun., Oct. 18 -- Film

Before gore, profanity and realistic violence invaded movies, the very worst of cinema's villains had to rely on acting chops to convey the blackness of their souls. One such baddie -- Pinkie, the teen-age gangster of Brighton Rock -- is portrayed with dead-eyed, chilling perfection by Richard Attenborough in John Boulting's 1947 adaptation of the Graham Greene novel. This rarely screened film plays tonight at the Regent Square as part of Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Sunday-night series of British noir. This is one trip to the sunny English seaside that is deliciously dark and cold. Al Hoff 8 p.m. 1035 S. Braddock Ave., Edgewood. 412-682-4111 or www.pghfilmmakers.org

 

Mon., Oct 19 -- Words

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What? Ralph Nader proposes that Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!? The legendary consumer advocate's first novel (on Seven Stories Press) finds Warren Buffet, stunned by government's Hurricane Katrina failures, recruiting 16 fellow gajillionaires -- from Ted Turner to Yoko Ono -- to spark political reform, save the environment and curb the excesses of global capitalism. Nader calls it "a fictional vision that could become a new reality." Following a 3-5 p.m. signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, he lectures at Point Park University tonight. Lest you think Nader's mellowed, his free talk's titled "The Mega Corporate Destruction of Capitalism and Democracy." BO 6 p.m. GRW Theater, 414 Wood St., Downtown. 412-392-3938. RSVP at www.pointpark.edu/ces

click to enlarge COURTESY OF WILLIAM FURNISS
  • Courtesy of William Furniss

Paul Theroux's travels have taken him through war zones, leper colonies and benders on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Tonight, the prolific travel writer and novelist arrives at Oakland's own Carnegie Music Hall to speak about his latest book, Ghost Train to the Easter Star, as part of the Drue Heinz Lecture Series. Detailing the fascinating sights and colorful characters he meets journeying through Eastern Europe, Asia and Siberia, Theroux chronicles the vast changes that have transpired since he visited for his 1975 bestseller The Great Railway Bazaar. LL 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $10-25. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

 

Wed., Oct. 21 -- Rock

The two-humans-and-a-drum-machine setup is risky: Will the combination of organic and digital sounds come off as intentional, or like a band that just can't find a reliable drummer? Will the record translate to a live experience? New York City's Blues Control has the first part down for sure: The psych-rock band's throbbing jams create a sound continuum that makes it tough to discern what's organic and what's synthetic. Find out how it sounds live at Garfield Artworks in a show co-presented by frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner. With Puffy Areolas, Centipede Eest and Cottonballman. AM 8 p.m. 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. All ages. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com

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