Short List: December 23 - 31 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: December 23 - 31

Citizen Kane and Casablanca at Filmmakers; Holiday Family Free Day at the Children’s Museum; Darth Vader and Friends at the ToonSeum; and Cirque Dreams Holidaze at the Benedum


SPOTLIGHT: Sat., Dec. 26 — Screen

Three decades after his death, Orson Welles remains a figure of fascination for writers, scholars and cinephiles. The latest of his many biographies, Patrick McGilligan’s Young Orson, covers Welles’ life right up until what remains his best-known achievement, Citizen Kane. The 1941 classic, in which director and co-writer Welles stars as an arrogant newspaper tycoon, still regularly tops best-ever lists, and no mystery: With its still-stunning cinematography, brilliant editing, innovative use of sound and clever script, it’s a treasure trove of cinematic delights, the overall effect a potent exploration of identity and obsession. Pittsburgh Filmmakers closes the calendar year by pairing Citizen Kane with an all-time crowd-pleaser, Casablanca. Released a year after Kane, Michael Curtiz’s story set in wartime Morocco is thoroughly traditional in style but still indelible, with its snappy dialogue and romantic leads Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. And don’t forget either film’s stellar supporting cast: For starters, Kane had Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane and Agnes Moorehead, while Casablanca boasted Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Both films screen daily Dec. 26-30, at either the Regent Square or Harris theaters, and tickets are just $5. BO Casablanca: Dec. 26 and 27 (Regent Square, 1035 S. Braddock Ave., Edgewood) and Dec. 28-30 (Harris, 809 Liberty Ave., Downtown). Citizen Kane: Dec. 26 and 27 (Harris) and Dec. 28-30 (Regent Square). $5.

Thu., Dec. 24 — Exhibit

It’s a Holiday Family Free Day at the Children’s Museum — the perfect time to check out the interactive exhibit Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tét Festival. The exhibit (which runs through Jan. 17) evokes the Vietnamese new year, which is the year’s most important festival, and focuses on children’s perspective. Take a seat on a motor scooter; visit an outdoor food market and a kitchen mockup; design your own fireworks display; take a photo in traditional clothing; see a water-puppet show, don a costume for the lion dance or try music-making with Vietnamese instruments. Like the rest of the museum, it’s all admission-free today. Bill O’Driscoll 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 10 Children’s Way, North Side. 412-322-5058 or

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK SI
Photo courtesy of Mark Si

Thu., Dec. 24 — Outdoors

Whether you’ve already paid your homage to holiday commerce, or figure you’ll still have plenty of time for gift-shopping tonight, you might want to squeeze in today’s free Nature Hike through Frick Park. It’s the third annual iteration of this all-ages jaunt, led by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy naturalist educator Mike Cornell. The leaves are down, and the sightlines are good for a 90-minute guided hike that highlights the mammals, birds and plants that make up Frick’s winter landscape. BO Noon. Meet at Blue Slide Park, Beechwood Avenue at Nicholson, Squirrel Hill.

Sat., Dec. 26 — Screen

Way back in 2001, big-budget movie series based on young-adult novels weren’t really a thing yet. (Even “young-adult novels” weren’t the phenomenon they are today.) Arguably, it was the blockbuster Harry Potter movies that set the template for multi-film adaptations of serial bestsellers. Today and tomorrow, the Hollywood Theater offers two chances to see each of the first three Potter films in order of release: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). All three films star Daniel Radcliffe as J.K. Rowling’s intrepid boy wizard — as did, of course, the five Potter films that were yet to come. BO 1, 4 and 7:15 p.m. Also 1, 4 and 7:15 p.m. Sun., Dec. 27. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $6-8 ($15 for all three). 412-563-0368 or

Sat., Dec. 26 — Sport

Sure, they have a lot of tricks up their sleeveless jerseys, and they haven’t lost to those ever-hopeful Washington Generals since the Nixon administration (the first Nixon administration). But what’s mostly kept the Harlem Globetrotters going since 1925 is their ability to charm thousands of fans at a time by showing one little kid that she, too, can spin a basketball on her finger. Today, the Globetrotters begin their 90th anniversary tour with their annual stop in Pittsburgh, including two shows at Consol Energy Center. BO 1 and 6 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. $10-170.

Sat., Dec. 26 — Comedy

One of Pittsburgh’s busier comics is Tony “T-Robe” Roberson. The Aliquippa native started out doing open mics; he’s since toured nationally, and at his home base, the Pittsburgh Improv, he’s opened for such name talents as Tommy Davidson and John Witherspoon. T-Robe, who plays off everyday topics in a deceptively casual style, is himself the marquee name tonight at the Improv, where he hosts the T-Robe and Friends Holiday Show. BO 7 and 9:30 p.m. 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, West Homestead. $10. 412-462-5233 or

Photo courtesy of Renee Rosensteel

Sat., Dec. 26 — Variety

What if, with yesterday’s business completed, St. Nick relaxed by helping program a little R&R at the Moulin Rouge? Phat Man Dee suggests you’d get something like A Phattie Little Holiday, the jazz songstress and emcee’s burlesque-infused tribute to the holidays, featuring “Candy Cane Strip Teases, dancing dreidels and Elf-lesque.” Phat Man Dee is hoping this event at Altar Bar launches a new holiday tradition. With her band, The Cultural District, she sings classics like Duke Ellington’s “Sugar Rum Cherry” to accompany such top local burlesque talent as Macabre Noir, Lita D’Vargas, Lilith Deville and Kat de Lac. BO 9 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $15-20 (VIP: $75 couple, $50 single).

Sun., Dec. 27 — Art

Jeffrey Brown is making a career of tweaking pop culture’s premier villain in amusingly counterintuitive ways. The Chicago-based cartoonist’s 2014 book Goodnight, Darth Vader, was a bestseller that asked, “What if Darth Vader were a dad like any other?” Brown has followed up with Darth Vader and Friends, whose cover depicts the merciless Dark Lord of the Sith seated in an armchair, reading to little Luke, Leia and assorted Star Wars characters. In the midst of fresh Star Wars mania, an eponymous ToonSeum exhibit of Brown’s Vader illustrations offers either a reprieve or a complement, depending on your perspective. BO 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 10. 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $4-8 (free for kids under 5). 412-232-0199 or

click to enlarge ART BY CRAIG DONGOSKI
Art by Craig Dongoski

Mon., Dec. 28 — Art

James Gallery Select is a James Gallery show featuring some of the West End venue’s favorite artists from around the country. The eclectic bunch of nationally and internationally exhibited contributors includes: New Jersey-based abstract painter Michael Madigan; Atlanta-based Craig Dongoski, whose drawings seek “to expose the nervous system”; textile artist Tim Harding, of Minneapolis; and Roland Kulla, a Chicago-based painter drawn to architectural subjects. BO 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 30. 413 S. Main St., West End. 412-922-9800 or

Tue., Dec. 29 — Cirque

If it’s stage spectacle you’re after in the waning days of 2015, you won’t do better around here than Cirque Dreams Holidaze. This touring show from Neil Goldberg’s long-running troupe Cirque Dreams boasts “over 300 costumes, 20 acts and 30 performers from 12 countries” in a variety of acrobatic and musical sequences. In three family-friendly performances starting with tonight’s, you’ll see gingerbread men doing flips; toy soldiers, snowmen and penguins walking the high wire; big musical production numbers; and a colossal set featuring 30-foot trees. Cirque Dreams hits the Benedum Center courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. BO 7:30 p.m. Also 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wed., Dec. 30. 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $39.75-59.75. 412-456-6666 or

Thu., Dec. 31 — Party

We know: New Year’s Eve or not, some kids just can’t stay awake until midnight — and hopefully, it’s not because they’ve passed out, like some of their elders. Even at Downtown’s family-friendly annual First Night celebration (more on which next week in this space), kids who want the countdown experience have to last past 11:59. So Phipps Conservatory again offers its New Year’s Eve Family Celebration. It comes complete with activities for kids complementing access to the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden, the Tropical Forest Congo and other attractions — and with the countdown to 2016 coming at the very civilized hour of 8:45 p.m. BO 6-9 p.m. 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland. Free with admission: $11-14; free for kids under 2. 412-622-6914 or

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