Short List: May 21 - 28 | This Week's Top Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: May 21 - 28

Spring Awakening is the rock musical that's not a "rock musical." It's an apt second life for an infamously repressed and later heavily censored play about infamously repressed and heavily censored adolescent sexuality in 19th-century Germany. The show hit Broadway in 2006, with playwright Frank Wedekind's 1891 work adapted by playwright Steven Sater, with music by rocker Duncan Sheik and choreography by the legendary Bill T. Jones. Spring Awakening won critical acclaim and eight Tony Awards. (New York Times critic Charles Isherwood called it "a straight shot of eroticism ... haunting and electrifying by turns.") It closed this past January -- but spawned a national touring version that hits Pittsburgh for six shows starting May 26. Reached by phone in Los Angeles, on his return from the Japanese premiere, lyricist and book-writer Sater discussed how Spring Awakening differs from conventional stage musicals. First, his and Sheik's songs are songs, not dialogue by other means. ("If you can talk about it, you don't need to sing about it," Sater contends.) Second, it's really two shows running parallel: The straight play, plus a series of musical interior monologues for which the action stops while adolescents in Kaiser Wilhelm-era school uniforms grab the mic and sing their horny little hearts out, indie-rock style. Third, while tunes like the lushly melodic "Song of Purple Summer" might grace any musical, several in Spring Awakening wouldn't sound too lost on a Green Day album: "Totally Fucked," for instance, or the masturbation ditty "The Bitch of Living." Moreover, says Sater, Spring Awakening seems to bridge the generation gap. "When you watch the show, no matter what age you are, you're identifying with the kids," he says. "It opens a certain empathy [by] the parents [for] their kids." Bill O'Driscoll Tue., May 26-Sun., May 31. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20.50-62. 412-456-6666 or


Thu., May 21 -- Environment

Climate change is upon us -- not just in splintering Antarctic ice shelves, but in the gradual northward (or altitudinal) migration of wildlife as habitats heat up. It's happening everywhere, here included. Tonight, Mount Lebanon Library's environmental-lecture series continues with "The Effects of Global Warming on Pennsylvania's Fish and Wildlife." It's by Ed Perry, who after 30 years as an aquatic biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now volunteers for the National Wildlife Federation's Global Warming Campaign. BO 7 p.m., 16 Castle Shannon Blvd., Mount Lebanon. Free. 412-531-1912


Fri., May 22 -- Outdoors

Communing with nature sounds like a great way to spend a Friday morning. Hike the Butler Freeport Trail with the Wissahickon Nature Club. Guides will point out birds, butterflies and heaps of flowers in blazing late-May glory. On last year's walk, hikers spotted everything from violets and ferns to Northern two-lined salamanders, red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures. Bring a lunch and dress for the weather. The group meets in the bike-trail parking area by the Sarver Buffalo Township Fire Hall. Melissa Meinzer 10 a.m. Sarver, Butler County. Free. RSVP at 412-771-4737


Fri., May 22 -- Spanking

The Asylum Street Spankers revisit Club Café tonight, plying their blend of acoustic old-time virtuosity, punky ethos and humorous social commentary, and promoting the new live double CD, What? And Give Up Show Biz?, drawn from their recent Broadway stage production. Those who've seen the Austin band on its many previous visits should note that cofounder Christina Marrs is staying home with her new baby, Spanky. (OK, we made up the name.) Accordingly, the tour is dubbed "SausageFest 2009," and promises "the raunchier and rowdier side of the Spankers in a hilarious concert of great picking, great singing, heavy drinking and misdirected testosterone." Aaron Jentzen 7:30 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.) 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $15. 412-431-4950 or


Fri., May 22 -- Variety

It's fitting that John Wesley Harding, a folk singer and best-selling author (of Misfortune and by George under his given name, Wesley Stace) would team with quirky stand-up comedian Eugene Mirman to host the variety show Wes & Eugene's Cabinet of Wonders. The multitalented men perform and curate a different lineup for every tour date. Tonight they'll unite Chris Mills, an indie-pop singer/songwriter; Meghan Reilly, a Tennessee-born folk singer who draws comparisons to Loretta Lynn; and locals including garage-rock stalwarts The Cynics; Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root; and poet Terrence Hayes. Lydia Heyliger 8 p.m. Thunderbird Café, 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $14 ($16 at the door). 412-682-0177 or


Fri., May 22 -- Tribute

If you're among the mopey mods who missed Morrissey's Pittsburgh appearance earlier this year, take heart. Tonight, celebrate the Mozfather's tenure on this planet with Unhappy Birthday: Morrissey 50th Birthday Tribute show, featuring members of local bands Life in Bed, The Wilsons, Meeka in Jail, The Bee Gentles and DJs Juddy and Gordy. All proceeds support the Animal Friends no-kill shelter. The pleasure, the privilege is yours. AJ 9 p.m. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $3. 412-621-4900 or


Fri., May 22 -- Music

The sounds get wild tonight for the late show at Your Inner Vagabond. After an early performance by The Great American Gypsies, the doors re-open at 10 p.m. for a set by veteran Boston improv artists Steve Norton and Vic Rawlings. Norton, a saxophonist, promises the use of game calls and percussion instruments in addition to woodwinds, while Rawlings' modus operandi involves cello and exposed-circuit electronics. Local improv player Ben Opie opens. Andy Mulkerin 10 p.m. 4130 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $7. All ages. 412-683-1623 or


Sat., May 23 -- Health Care

Jude Vachon's Be Well! Pittsburgh is dedicated to helping the uninsured through such resources as its guidebook on health-care procurement and advocacy. The project, unfortunately, is more relevant than ever, and now Vachon and project partner Kate Joranson have released a revised edition of the 2006 guide. Tonight, Be Well! celebrates its fourth birthday with a benefit show at Brillobox featuring David Vachon, Slim Forsythe, Marvin Dioxide and Jonathan Brodsky; Weird Paul appears via video, and Mary Mack DJs. AM 7:30 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5 donation. 412-621-4900 or


Sat., May 23 -- Do-Over

If prom wasn't the dazzling, romantic night of your 17-year-old life -- and even if it was -- the Union Project offers a second chance. At Pittsburgh Prom 2009 (billed as "a spectacularly tacky fundraiser"), dates are optional and unorthodox threads are strongly encouraged. Attendees can pop kitschy snacks, vie for King and Queen, and groove to DJs Honeycombs, Supa C and Omar Abdul. Can't dance? Don't worry: Lessons are included with admission. Proceeds benefit the Union Project. Andrea Bullard 8 p.m. 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park. $20-35 (19 and older). 412-363-4550 or


Sat., May 23 -- Poetry

Like plenty of things, poetry always seems a little groovier late at night. The New Hazlett Theater, a cool space for any soiree, hosts poetry starting at 10:30 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of each month. With chair massages, drinks and DJ Shade Cobain spinning soulful tunes, tonight's installment is sure to be a sophisticated enterprise. Hear a blend of featured artists and up-and-comers during the open mic. Last month featured members of the 2007 Pittsburgh Poetry Slam Team. MM Allegheny Square East, North Side. $5. 412-320-4610


Sun., May 24 -- Stage

Acclaimed British playwright Caryl Churchill has raised hackles -- and drawn praise -- in London and Toronto for her new 12-minute work, "Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza." In the play, adults during the Holocaust, Israel's recent bombing of the Gaza Strip and five time periods in between ask, "What should we tell the children?" Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East present a top-notch cast including Chris Josephs, Elena Alexandratos and Ken Bolden tonight, as well as during morning services, at First Unitarian Church. BO 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. 605 Morewood Ave., Shadyside. Free. 412-621-8008


Mon., May 25 -- Memorial

With all the picnics, parades and lazing about, it's easy to forget what Memorial Day is for. This year, we recommend the day-long Fallen Not Forgotten Pittsburgh Police Memorial Benefit Concert at the Amphitheatre at Station Square. Performers include a who's who of Pittsburgh music, past and present (mostly past). That means Rusted Root, Joe Grushecky, B.E. Taylor, Bill Deasy, Punchline, Wiz Khalifa, Mercury, The Boogie Hustlers, Good Brother Earl, the Buzz Poets and many, many more. The $10 minimum donation supports the Fallen Hero Fund, Pittsburgh's Heroes Fund, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1 and the Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union. AJ 1:30 p.m. Station Square. 800-859-8959 or


Tues., May 26 -- Rock

The Long Time Darlings aren't hard to sum up: The Pittsburgh band plays straightforward rock 'n' roll somewhere between classic rock and the '90s alt scene. Brett Staggs' project, which has hosted a rotating cast of backers, might not have been out of place on the harder edge of the local scene that brought us The Clarks and The Gathering Field over a decade ago -- and the band was a perfect fit at the Downtown Steelers rally they rocked in January. Fresh off an EP release, The Long Time Darlings play Club Café tonight at the release show of another Staggs-related band, Ricky Stein & the .44, from Austin, Texas, with Kith and Kin opening. AM 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $7. 412-431-4950 or