Short List: December 24 - 30 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: December 24 - 30

Motown the Musical hits Heinz Hall; DJ Buscrates is back in town; Blade Runner on the big screen; First Night for New Year's Eve

SPOTLIGHT: Tue., Dec. 30 — Stage

Starting in the 1960s, Motown really was, as it claimed, "The Sound of Young America." More subtly, the iconically black-owned hit factory founded by Berry Gordy, with its African-American producers, songwriters and musicians, helped bridge racial divides during the Civil Rights era and beyond. According to Jesse Nager, it's doing so still. Broadway hit Motown The Musical's inaugural tour was playing St. Louis, in November, when a grand jury announced it wouldn't indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. "I've never done a show to an audience that needed it so much," says Nager, who plays Smokey Robinson, by phone from the road. "They needed the joy, they needed to be reminded that even though there is struggle, it's going to be all right." Motown tells Gordy's story from Motown's founding through its famous 25th-anniversary TV special, with dramatic scenes but mostly with 60-some songs, from "My Guy" to "My Girl," "Dancing in the Street" to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." The leads are Gordy (played by Julius Thomas III) and Diana Ross (Allison Semmes); others include Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and more. PNC Broadway Across America hosts eight performances starting Dec. 30. As Nager says, "These songs are ingrained in the fabric of American history." Bill O'Driscoll Tue., Dec. 30-Sun., Jan. 4. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $30-90. 412-456-6666 or

Fri., Dec. 26 — Sport

The Harlem Globetrotters make their annual Boxing Day visit to Pittsburgh. (Who's taking the Washington Generals plus points?) Today actually marks the start of the Globetrotters' 2015 season, during which the famous troupe's split squads will play more than 300 matches in North America alone. But the gymnastic feats of comedy and basketball get started with two shows today at Consol Energy Center. Bill O'Driscoll 1 and 6 p.m., Uptown. $20-195.

Fri., Dec. 26 — Comedy

Comedian Chuck Krieger has been a favorite on stages across the region since the 1990s. Whether he's talking about bringing food into the bedroom — "There's nothing sexy about pancakes. So there I am slapping my wife's ass with a flapjack" — or cutting up on WDVE, Krieger has honed his sarcastic, regular-guy humor to an edge. This weekend he headlines four shows at Latitude 40, in Robinson Township, with Sean Collier. Charlie Deitch 7 and 10 p.m. Also 7 and 10 p.m. Sat., Dec. 27. 200 Quinn Drive, Robinson. $15-25. 412-693-5555 or

Fri., Dec. 26 — Music

DJ Buscrates has been busy since leaving town for Atlanta earlier this year: a solo EP, collaborations as Extra Medium and East Liberty Quarters. But he's got time for a Yuletide visit to his old stomping grounds. Tonight, DJ Buscrates The 16-bit Ensemble performs at Brillobox, joining J. Malls to spin five hours of the 1980s funk and soul (a.k.a. boogie) that's influenced him lately. It's Buscrates' first local show since April. BO 9 p.m.-2 a.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5 (21+). 412-621-4900

Fri., Dec. 26 — Screen

When it was released in 1982, Ridley Scott's stylish sci-fi thriller Blade Runner, adapted from a Philip K. Dick story, astutely foretold a dark future, marked by broken cities, man-machine hybrids, corporate dominance and neon-lit nights. But wait: This dystopia is set in 2019 — four years from now! Get a jump on the immediate future when the Hollywood Theater screens this influential classic, starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. The first of four screenings is tonight. Al Hoff 10 p.m. Also 9:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 27; 7 p.m. Sun., Dec. 28; and 7 p.m. Wed., Dec. 31. Hollywood Theater, 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $8. 412-563-0368 or

Sat., Dec. 27 — Words

Geoff Camphire offers yet another twist on the undead with his new novel, Charlie Dead and the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse. Living in a world already rife with zombies, the book's high school protagonist has just been bitten by one, and has mere days to figure out how to avoid his fate. The book is part one of a trilogy. Camphire, a Pittsburgh native now living in Washington, D.C., returns to sign copies at — where else? — House of the Dead, Lawrenceville's zombie-themed boutique. BO Noon-2 p.m. 4110 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Free.

Sat., Dec. 27 – Screen

This week's top free, family-friendly screening of a film you never heard of comes courtesy of Sembène — The Film & Arts Festival. With gorgeous hand-painted visuals, French filmmaker Michel Ocelot's animated 1998 feature Kirikou and the Sorceress tells the compelling story of a precocious newborn boy who sets out to confront the sorceress who afflicts his village. The award-winning film (the DVD is available from is based on a classic West African children's tale. The Sembène festival, which shows films of the African diaspora, also screens "Sneaker Madness," an episode of the Wayans brothers' NickToons Thugaboo cartoon series. After these Carnegie Library of Homewood screenings, all attendees receive a Kwanzaa treat. BO 1:30 p.m. 7101 Hamilton Ave., Homewood. Free.

click to enlarge Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Photo courtesy of Cirque Publications

Mon., Dec. 29 — Stage

If you'd prefer your holidays to incorporate a literal circus, Cirque Dreams Holidaze is probably the ticket. In this Broadway-style show, gingerbread men flip in the air and toy soldiers march the tightwire, with additional acrobatics by snowmen, icemen and ... wait for it ... penguins. (Probably not actual penguins.) Plus singing, dancing and giant candy canes. The touring extravaganza from Cirque Productions includes 30 performers from around the world in 20 acts and, promises the press release, "over 300 costumes." Shows tonight and tomorrow at the Benedum Center are courtesy of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents series. BO 7:30 p.m. Also 2 p.m. Tue., Dec. 30. 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $39.75-59.75. 412-456-6666 or

Tue., Dec. 30 — Music

Jevon Rushton & Friends close out 2014 at Jazz Live. Rushton, a top young Pittsburgh-based jazz drummer, is a protégé of the great Roger Humphries who has played with names like Kirk Franklin, Dwayne Dolphin and Sean Jones. He's a mainstay of the local scene, and tonight he helps this BNY Mellon Jazz series ring out the year with a free evening show at Backstage Bar. BO 5 p.m. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-456-6666 or

Tue., Dec. 30 — Word

Another of Pittsburgh's suddenly numerous storytelling nights continues, this one with its year-end All-Star Night. The monthly Story Night series, at Riley's Pour House, in Carnegie, is run by educator and fiction author Lawrence C. Connolly. Tonight, the top storytellers from each month of 2014 returns to tell a new yarn and compete for the title of Year's Best Storyteller, complete with trophy. BO 8 p.m. 215 E. Main St., Carnegie. Free. 412-279-0770

Wed., Dec. 31 — Festival

What's new at Highmark First Night Pittsburgh? Besides the year, obviously? The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's alcohol-free New Year's Eve festival annually draws some 40,000 visitors, with about 150 performances, exhibits, activities and more at 50 Cultural District venues. While 90 percent of First Night events are indoors, it's those outdoor attractions — from live bands and ice-sculpting to line-dancing and the big community parade down Penn Avenue — that give the evening its character. Outdoors, you'll see the First Night debut of Beauty Slap, the new band whose danceable electronic beats with live horns and guitar are winning fans all over town (Dollar Bank Stage). And for the first time, the Highmark Stage headliner — leading to the midnight countdown and Zambelli fireworks finale — goes country-flavored, with those favorites from The Voice, The Swon Brothers. Elsewhere, Cello Fury and Texture Contemporary Ballet premiere a new collaborative dance-and-music work. Lee Terbosic Magic joins Japanese sword-dancers, Indian dancers, belly-dancers and First Night Salsa (with Machete Kisumantao) during a packed evening on the CAPA High School stage. And art-robot guy Toby Atticus Fraley offers his latest Lost Sound Search Engine, which promises to scour the air for seemingly vanished sounds from the past. There's also comedy, from standup to improv; live theater; visual-art exhibits in multiple galleries; hands-on art activities for kids (and adults); and more. All First Night events are free with your button, which still costs $8 in advance (and is free for kids under 5). However, some events require seating vouchers (obtainable in advance by phone or at the Theater Square box office). The Trust also offers VIP tickets ($75), which include priority seating, parking and more. Bill O'Driscoll 6 p.m.-midnight. Downtown. $8-10 (children under 5 are free). 412-456-6666 or

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