Short List: Nov. 1-8 | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: Nov. 1-8

Salome at Pittsburgh Opera; a Public Art Walking Tour in Klingon; magician Lee Terbosic takes Houdini Downtown; author recalls local labor hero

SPOTLIGHT: Sat., Nov. 5 – Opera

“Playing a naughty person as opposed to a well-behaved innocent always makes for an interesting role,” says Patricia Racette. The renowned soprano has plenty to work with as the title character in Salome. Strauss’ 1905 opera, based on Oscar Wilde’s play about the teenage New Testament princess who demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter, is both erotic and bloody enough to have been censored in London and banned in Vienna. Salome longs for ascetic preacher John (“Jochanaan”) and is lusted after by her own stepfather, Herod. In 2012, the U.K.’s The Telegraph called Salome “a psychosexual drama full of excruciatingly beautiful music.”

Racette (pictured), a Met regular, first played Salome last year, at Opera San Antonio. “This piece is a notoriously monstrous challenge,” she says by phone. “It’s unrelenting in so many ways, both physically and vocally.” Not least daunting is the Dance of the Seven Veils, a climactic 10-minute instrumental that Strauss (rather wickedly himself) wrote as a movement solo for his lead soprano, sans real stage directions. In Pittsburgh Opera's new production, Racette, who has no formal dance background, worked with Attack Theatre’s Michele de la Reza to craft a dance that both deepens the characterization and advances the story. “The choreography must feel like it is almost spontaneously emerging from her body,” says de la Reza. And while the dance ends in brief nudity (a decided rarity in grand opera), it’s no mere striptease. “It’s much more about her discovering her own power of sexuality,” says de la Reza. Racette, who also did the full Salome in the San Antonio production, says that when the dance ends, she doesn’t feel exposed: “I feel like Salome.”

Salome also stars tenor Robert Brubaker as Herod and multiple Grammy-winning baritone Nmon Ford as Jochanaan. The intermissionless one-act will be performed in the original German, with English supertitles projected above the stage. Bill O’Driscoll 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5. Also Nov. 8, 11 and 13. Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $10.75-159.75. 412-281-0912 or

Thu., Nov. 3 – Stage

PICT Classic Theatre presents a reimagining of The Merchant of Venice at the Union Project, setting Shakespeare’s drama in 1930s America. Directed by PICT’s Alan Stanford, the play stars local favorite James FitzGerald as the moneylender Shylock, with Gayle Pazerski as Portia and Martin Giles as Antonio. The first performance is tonight. Ian Flanagan 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 19. 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park. $15-50. 412-561-6000 or

Fri., Nov. 4 – Vlqraq

Could even a visionary like Gene Roddenberry have foreseen the Klingon Public Art Walking Tour? But then, the Star Trek creator couldn’t have known how Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art might play off this weekend’s Wizard World pop-culture conference (featuring such Trek heavyweights as Nichelle Nichols and Jonathan Frakes). The OPA commissioned Andrew Shull-Miller, a Klingon linguist (really!) from Virginia who has translated Shakespeare’s sonnets and more into Klingon. Miller and Marc Okrand, creator of the Klingon language, crafted translations, including new words like vlqraq (“art”), for these 90-minute tours Downtown and on the North Side, in both English and Klingon. Bill O’Driscoll Noon (Downtown) and 4 p.m. (North Side). Also noon and 4 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5. $10-20. Register at 412-391-2060 x237 or

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Art by Sam Thorp

Fri., Nov. 4 – Art

Unblurred, the Penn Avenue gallery crawl, offers its usual eclectic mix, including: new demolition-derby art (with actual car parts) at Most Wanted Fine Art, by gallery co-founder Jason Sauer, plus art by Sam Thorp; The Craft, featuring work highlighting the connection between nature and the occult, at Local 412; and Toil & Trouble, with screenprints, woodwork and more from James and Laura Gyre, at Artisan. At BOOM Concepts, Grits Capone celebrates the life of late hip-hop executive A$AP Yams in digital art. And Pittsburgh Glass Center offers live glassblowing demos and ongoing exhibition Dissolution. BO 6-11 p.m. 4800-5400 Penn Ave., Bloomfield/Garfield/Friendship. Free.

Fri., Nov. 4 - Theater

Prime Stage Theatre begins its season with To Kill a Mockingbird. Pittsburgh native Brian Ceponis, who recently returned from Hollywood, takes on the role of Atticus Finch in Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel of race and justice in the South. Tonight’s the first performance at the New Hazlett Theater; the Sat., Nov. 5, show is followed by Prime Stage’s 20th-anniversary celebration. And the Nov. 12 performance boasts a VIP reception with actress Mary Badham, who played Scout in the famed 1962 film adaption. IF 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 13. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $10-25. 412-320-4610 or

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Art by Kathleen Mulcahy

Sat., Nov. 5 – Art

Two veteran local artists will see their work shine side by side at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Kathleen Mulcahy is widely known for her glass work, and for co-founding Pittsburgh Glass Center. Syl Damianos, though perhaps best known as an architect, has also made a name with works in metal, canvas, concrete and wood. Opposites Attract: Kathleen Mulcahy and Sylvester Damianos opens with tonight’s reception. BO 6:30-8 p.m. ($15). 221 N. Main St., Greensburg. 724-837-1500 or

Sat., Nov. 5 – Comedy

Wait, there’s a presidential election? Why didn’t someone say something? Anyway, it’s all but upon us now, and whether your thoughts are “what’s next?” or “thank God,” the Almost Over edition of the John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy/Talk Show has something for you. At the Parkway Theater, join comedian McIntire and guests including comedian Gab Bonesso; former state House majority leader Mike Veon; and Doug Saltzman, a former staffer for the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, to discuss the nuttiest election in modern U.S. history. BO 8 p.m. 644 Broadway Ave., McKees Rocks. $15 (cash bar). (“McIntire dangerously live”)

Sun. Nov. 6 – Magic

Mayor Bill Peduto has officially designated Nov. 6, 2016, as Lee Terbosic Day, and for good reason. Terbosic, a nationally touring Pittsburgh-native comedian and magician, will perform a straightjacket escape whilst suspended upside-down on the same day and in the same Downtown location that Houdini executed the stunt a century ago. At 10:30 a.m., the streets will close to traffic for the main event of Houdini 100, staged at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Wood. Tickets are available for an after-party to watch the Steelers game with Terbosic, at Ten Penny. IF Noon. Downtown. Free.

Sun., Nov. 6 – Drag

Drag has become nearly ubiquitous in recent years, on concert stages alike as in clubs. But one top date on the local drag calendar is also the longest-running. Tonight, Kierra Darshell presents the 24th annual Miss Tri-State All-Star Pageant. The contest, is hosted at the Cabaret at Theater Square by Jennifer Warner (pictured), who herself won the crown 20 years ago. Earlier today, pre-game with Darshell’s Sunday Drag Brunch, held from noon-2 p.m. on the first and third Sundays of each month, at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy. BO Pageant: 7:30 p.m. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $25-30.

Mon., Nov. 7 – Words

The story of Katherine Wright was defined by her liberating yet devastating separation from her possessive brother Orville in order to marry Kansas City Star editor Henry J. Haskell, at age 52. Their love affair is imagined in the novel Maiden Flight (Chicago Review Press), by Haskell’s grandson Harry Haskell, and based on letters written by the “Wright sister.” Haskell (pictured) was an editor at the same paper as his grandfather and at Yale University Press. The author, whose books include three works of nonfiction, visits Penguin Bookshop tonight for a signing and talk. IF 6 p.m. 417 Beaver St., Sewickley. Free. 412-741-3838

Tue., Nov. 8 – Words

There’s a local angle to the story of labor activist Fannie Sellins, but not a happy one. Born in 1872, in Cincinnati, Sellins became nationally known for confronting powerful interests on sweatshops, child labor and union-busting, and helped create Ladies’ Local 67 of the United Garment Workers of America. She died in 1919, of a crushed skull suffered at the hands of sheriff’s deputies in Natrona during a United Mine Workers of America strike. Sellins’ story of courage and tragedy is told in Fannie Never Flinched (Abrams Books for Young Readers), a new book by Mary Cronk Farrell. This week, the award-winning Spokane, Wash.-based children’s and young-adult author visits local schools and for two public events, including tonight’s talk and signing at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Allegheny, hosted by Phenomenal Women of Pittsburgh. BO 6:30 p.m. (1230 Federal St., North Side). Also 1 p.m. Sat., Nov. 12 (Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum, 224 E. Seventh Ave., Tarentum). Both events are free.

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Photo courtesy of Stuart Bernstein

Tue., Nov. 8 – Words

City of Asylum’s Alphabet City venue hosts acclaimed writers Mary Gaitskill and Helena María Viramontes as part of the Aster(ix) Reading Series. Gaitskill’s stories have appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her novel The Mare was released last year. Viramontes, now working on her third novel, became an important voice in Latino fiction with novels such as 1995’s Under the Feet of Jesus. She is a professor of creative writing at Cornell University and has received the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature. IF 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave., North Side. Free. 412-323-0278 or