Short List: February 24 - March 2 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: February 24 - March 2

Failure:Lab returns; The Bluest Eye on stage; Tyler Perry at the Benedum Center; Pittsburgh Symphony turns 120; Geri Allen’s Mary Lou Williams tribute

SPOTLIGHT: Fri., Feb. 26 — Stage

Failure doesn’t get enough credit. Or so say the folks in Michigan who in 2012 founded Failure:Lab, a storytelling series meant to remove the stigma around failure, which they view as often being merely the first step toward success. The series has spread nationally; its Pittsburgh incarnation, which debuted in December, is organized by Daniel Bull, whose own bounce-back story started with him serving jail time for mail fraud. Bull subsequently launched Zer068, an entrepreneurial incubator that aims to aid other ex-convicts. Failure:Lab evenings alternate storytelling with sets by local performers. On Fri., Feb. 26, the series returns to the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater with stories of personal failure told by prominent Pittsburghers including: Mayor Bill Peduto (pictured); chef Kevin Sousa; TV anchorwoman-turned-lifestyle-entrepreneur Darieth Chisholm; and singer and actress Holly Joy Gaines. The performers include the aerialists of the bombyx collective; singer Adam Brock; singer Jasmine Tate; artist D.S. Kinsel; and I Medina. The event is a social affair: Doors open at 5 p.m. for a reception, and the ticketed after-party is catered by Smallman Galley and The Brew Gentlemen. Bill O’Driscoll 7 p.m. Fri., Feb. 26. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $25 (after-party: $20). 412-363-3000 or

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ED SALOMONY
Photo by Ed Salomony

Thu., Feb. 25 — {EXHIBIT}

Peruse rare photographs and the only 16 shots in existence documenting a Depression-era encampment in the now-gentrified Strip District at Shantytown, a special exhibition at Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History. The sepia-toned images depict middle-class folk reduced to living in shacks. The shots were taken in the 1930s by Ed Salomony of the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. The show is scheduled to close Feb. 29. Courtney Linder 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 531 E. Ohio St., North Side. $10-20. 412-231-7881 or

Thu., Feb. 25 — Dance

Find your rhythm at the opening performance of the Conservatory Dance Company’s newest show. Point Park University dance majors will perform eclectic works in ballet and contemporary jazz under the direction of faculty choreographers. The series of weekend performances will highlight the strength and versatility of the company dancers at Downtown’s George Rowland White Performance Studio. CL 8 p.m. Continues through Sun., Feb. 28. 201 Wood St., Downtown. $10-20. 412-392-8000 or

Thu., Feb. 25 — Stage

In 1970, Toni Morrison burst onto the literary scene with her powerful debut novel, The Bluest Eye. Lydia Diamond drew heavily on Morrison’s language for her acclaimed stage adaptation, which premiered in 2005. The play, set in small-town 1940s Ohio, centers on Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl who’s been told her dark skin makes her ugly and who longs to be white, like her baby doll. Monica Payne, a freelance director and founder of Maryland’s Theatre Lumina, directs the Pittsburgh-premiere production, by Point Park University’s Conservatory Theatre Company. The first performance is tonight. Bill O’Driscoll 8 p.m. Continues through March 13. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $10-24. 412-392-8000 or

Fri., Feb. 26 — Stage

Tyler Perry has certainly carved a unique niche: a series of hit, way-way-off-Broadway stage plays starring him as an outlaw Southern grandmother, followed by a hit series of films featuring that character. Perry’s huge — and he’s back on tour, this time with his new musical play, Madea on the Run. Bewigged and befrocked, he’ll play Madea as she causes trouble, sings some songs and imparts life lessons to an unhappy family. Cassi Davis co-stars. Madea on the Run hits the Benedum Center for three performances starting tonight. BO 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 26, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sat., Feb. 27. 237 Seventh St., Downtown. $44.25-71.25. 412-456-6666 or

Fri., Feb. 26 — Variety

The Girlie Show — it’s maybe not what you think. Rather, it’s an evening of music, poetry and stand-up comedy, conceived, booked and performed by women. The third annual show, tonight at Hambone’s Pub, features rock bands Victory at the Crossroads and Blue Clutch; spoken-word artist Joanna Lowe; singer-songwriters Toria Susan and LRAD; and comedian Liz Tripoli. The evening is hosted by Liss Victory, of Victory at the Crossroads, and Blue Clutch’s Sarah Halter. BO 9 p.m. 4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $5. 412-681-4318

Sat., Feb. 27 — Film

Nothing says warm and cozy quite like a film and a bowl of hot, homemade soup. Organizers Tom Poole and Maritza Mosquera take this classic comfort for a spin with their new series, Cinema Justice Soup. The six afternoon programs at Artists Image Resource will explore the intricacies of our flawed justice system. Today’s opening film, Paul Brill’s Gideon’s Army (2013), is a documentary about the determination of public defenders in the South. Don’t forget to RSVP, since only 25 seats are available. The afternoon concludes with a post-film discussion and a bowl of hot soup. Future screenings will feature Every Mother’s Sons, The House I Live In and The Central Park Five. CL 1-4 p.m. 518 Foreland St., North Side. Free. or

Sat., Feb. 27 — Words

The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, the city’s newest literary publication, has a live incarnation. And tonight, the Pittsburgh Poetry Review Roadshow hits East End Book Exchange with some of the region’s more accomplished poets. Philip Terman, Ellen McGrath Smith, Shannon Sankey, Michelle Maher and Kelly Andrews all read tonight. BO 7 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free.

click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Pearlann Porter
Photo courtesy of Pearlann Porter

Sat., Feb. 27 — Stage

After 12 years, Pearlann Porter is moving on from her Pillow Project, which created so many memorable dance and multimedia performances. Tonight, Porter debuts her new initiative, The Ellipses Condition. The improvisation-based project blends dancer and choreographer Porter’s talents with those of poet and violinist John Lambert. The program at The Space Upstairs includes three “post-classical improvisations” on the theme of “closeness through listening,” performed with local pianist and composer Dubravka Bencic. It’s titled Intimancy, and audience members are invited to roam among the performers. BO 8 p.m. 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze. $10-12.

Photo courtesy of Juergen Frank

Sat., Feb. 27 — Music

Tonight, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 120th birthday with an anniversary concert at Carnegie Music Hall, in Oakland — site of its very first show. Music Director Manfred Honeck will lead the symphony in works including Saint-Saëns’ “Marche héroïque,” which the symphony first played back in 1896. There will also be displays of photos, programs and other memorabilia. Guest violinist Jennifer Koh (pictured) and principal tuba Craig Knox are the featured soloists. CL 8 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $20-60. 412-392-4900 or

Sat., Feb. 27 — Burlesque

It’s the busiest night so far of the winter arts season, but surely there’s time for a little late-night burlesque? The Steel City Kitty Burlesque & Variety Show opens its fifth season with the annual Totally Heart-Lesque, a Valentine’s-themed show featuring nationally and internationally known performers. Blaze (“The Red Rose of Texas”) is a Dallas Burlesque Festival favorite; other performers include New York City’s Dangrr Doll and, from Chicago, Dahlia Fatale, Dusty Bahls and Red Rum, who blends “burlesque, sex, death and humor.” Also performing is New York-based Hazel Honeysuckle, whose credits include Orange is the New Black. Local talents at this Rex Theater show include Steel City Kitty producer Kat de Lac and boylesque artist Smokin’ McQueen. BO 10:30 p.m. 1605 E. Carson St., South Side. $20-25 (VIP: $50-80).

Sun., Feb. 28 — Comedy

Since relocating to Nashville a few years back, Ron Placone has become host of “Indie Bohemians,” a podcast and syndicated radio show. He’s also continued his career as a comic and college speaker, typically on topics related to Madness in the Message, his one-man show about our dysfunctional mass media. Now the politically minded comic is on a cross-country, Los Angeles-bound comedy tour called Well, Here It Goes. Tonight, his Orlando, Fla.-based tourmate Carmen Morales joins Placone and Pittsburgh native Krish Mohan, now of Washington, D.C., at Hambone’s Pub. BO 8 p.m. 4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $5. 412-681-4318 

Photo courtesy of Healsburg Jazz

Wed., March 2 — Music

Geri Allen — world-renowned jazz pianist and inaugural recipient of the Lady of Soul Award — leads the University of Pittsburgh’s symphony orchestra as soloist in Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite. Williams, who grew up in East Liberty, recorded the 12 movements in 1945. The suite offers songs detailing musical friends of Williams — one for each sign of the zodiac, including “Aries” for Billie Holiday and the boogeying “Taurus” for Duke Ellington. Join Allen and the symphony for a jazzy night at Bellefield Hall Auditorium. CL 8 p.m. 315 S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-624-4126 or

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