Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sold on Public Theater’s "Death of a Salesman

 Kathleen McNenny and Zach Grenier Credit: Michael Henninger


Fifteen minutes into Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of Arthur Miller’s American classic tragedy "Death of a Salesman," I felt like getting up out of my seat and buying something from the distraught itinerant salesman. Such was the empathy I shared with the title character.

One "W" short of Lowman, Willy Loman worked for decades at the same job, peddling merchandise from a sample case up through New England from his home base in Brooklyn. As a young man enthused about the possibilities of a career in sales, he helped build the company he worked for and became one of its early golden boys.

Now at the age of 63, his glitter is tarnished, his enthusiasm waning, his energy level plummeting, his sales few and far between, his physical and mental health degrading, his bills hard to meet.

Furthermore, he’s becoming physically inept and prone to wrecking his car on his extensive sales route. To make things easier on his aging body and mind, he begs his boss, the original owner’s son, (Joseph Domencic) to let him work the New York store where he offers to put in hours for peanuts. Instead of getting this paltry golden parachute (the best he could muster), he gets the suggestion that he take time off and rest at a time when he desperately needs money.

To make matters worse, his two sons, both in the early 30s are living at home. Biff (Alex Mickiewicz), 34, is back from a stay out West where he worked the farms and ranches. It was a far cry from what Willy expected of a son who starred on his high school football team and seemed to have a promising future.

Hap (Maxwell Eddy), 32, while employed, is in a dead end job and seems motivated only by the thought of seducing young ladies. (Two of his encounters are played saucily by Kristiann Menotiades and Daina Michelle Griffith). Philandering, it appears, is his major life goal.

Add into the mix a heap of guilt, disillusionment, family bickering and a dose of poverty and you end up with a formula for disaster that almost lets you foresee what’s coming.

(left to right) Zach Grenier and Tuck Milligan Credit: Michael Henninger
One shining light in the dark scenario is Linda (Kathleen McNenny), the family matriarch, an adoring wife and warm mother who holds the family together like duct tape on a cardboard box. Another plus is neighbor, Charley (Randy Kovitz), who lends him money when needed but cultivates the same sort of contentious relationship with Willy Neil Simon created for "The Odd Couple."

In his play, Miller incorporates an interesting device that skews time and actually calls for Willy’s memories to be acted out in real time. Characters from his past, especially that of his successful brother Ben (Tuck Milligan), appear on stage interacting with him simultaneously with others living in the present. As a result, Willy’s past accomplishments and lost opportunities live along side his current malaise like some banshee ghost, some gadfly intent on tormenting him.
 Alex Mickiewicz, Zach Grenier, Maxwell Eddy Credit: Michael Henninger

As the titular salesman, veteran film, stage and television actor, Zach Grenier, handles the hefty, demanding role with an uncanny ease and brings a palpable believability to the character. To paraphrase an old saw, true artistry is making something tough and arduous look like a day in the park.

Like the play’s other characters, Grenier doesn’t attempt to mimic the accents of his Brooklyn neighbors but speaks his lines with clarity and deep-voiced vigor with the inflection of.network news anchor.
His Willy can show weakness and vulnerability as well as strength. He can flare up into a rage, retreat into a emotional shell and portray the depth of his character’s anxiety, fears and panic with equal dramatic veracity.

Because I didn’t get to see the great Willy Lomam’s of the past like Brian Dennehy, Dustin Hoffman and Philip Seymour Hoffman, so touted by the theater connoisseurs of Broadway, I have no previous experience to serve as a template to compare Grenier’s performance. It was my first live performance of the 1949 classic, and I was truly impressed with Grenier as well as the rest of the Public Theater ensemble.
Shaun Hall and Zach Grenier Credit: Michael Henninger

In a minor role that makes a major impact, Shaun Camneron Hall as Bernard, Charley’s son, maneuvers an impressive metamorphosis from a submissive bookworm to later become a lawyer with so much clout he gets to argue a case before the Supreme Court. The latter revelation smacks Willy particularly hard in light of the mediocre accomplishments of his own two sons.

James Noone’s simple set (two twin beds on a raised dais in one corner for the boys and another full sized bed in the other for Willy and Linda) plus assorted ephemera was substantial enough to let the imagination fill in the blanks in a production that’s really performance-centered.

The bent time element of the play was underscored and enhanced by lighting designer, Dennis Parichy’s clever splashes and splays of  illuminated hues and costume designer, Tilly Grimes’ outfits were spot on for their post-World War Two feel.

It takes nearly three hours for the drama to reach its climax, but it’s time well spent and flies by quickly. Director Mary B. Robinson sold me on the merits of Miller’s best-known work. My only regret is that it took me so long to see it live, on stage and so well-conceived and performed.

"Death of a Salesman," a production of Pittsburgh Public Theater, is at the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh through May 21. For tickets, phone 412-316-1600 or online at www.ppt.org.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Glimpse of the Recently Released Production Photos of Pittsbrugh Opera's "The Summer King"

Patrons enjoy themselves at the Crawford Grill  Credit: David Bachman Photography

Pittsburgh Opera’s 2016-17 season concludes with the first world premiere in its illustrious 78-year history. Opera lovers, baseball fans, and Pittsburghers of all stripes will be dazzled
by Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King - the Josh Gibson Story, at the Benedum
Center April 29 – May 7.
.
As baseball fans and proud Pittsburgh history enthusiasts know, Josh went from the
sandlots of Pittsburgh’s North Side to the pinnacle of greatness on the baseball diamond in
the Negro Leagues, before ultimately being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame
in Cooperstown, New York.

The opera begins with a father and son debating about great baseball players. When the
father mentions Josh Gibson, the son thinks his father is living in the past. But as his father
retorts, “Who’s got those numbers today?”

The Summer King follows Josh at key points in his life, including his playing days in the
Negro Leagues as well as in Mexico, where he was awarded the MVP award while playing
for the Veracruz Azules. The robust supporting characters include his wife Helen, who dies
in childbirth, his girlfriend Grace, sung by the legendary Denyce Graves in her Pittsburgh
Opera debut, and teammates such as Sam Bankhead and Cool Papa Bell.

Also featured in prominent roles are the gregarious Gus Greenlee, who owned not just the
Pittsburgh Crawfords but also the legendary Crawford Grill in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and
Wendell Smith, an intrepid reporter for the celebrated African American newspaper The
Pittsburgh Courier.

Like all African Americans at the time, Josh was prohibited from playing in the Major
Leagues by what was disingenuously referred to as a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the
Major League clubs. Sadly, Josh died at the age of 35, felled by a stroke shortly before
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Pittsburgh Opera is proud and privileged to premiere The Summer King, Josh Gibson’s story.

Here's a sneak preview of one of the just-released production photos.

Josh Gibson (Alfred Walker) charms Grace (Denyce Graves) at the Crawford Grill with his enthusiasm about the future Credit: David Bachman Photography


A Menu of Upcoming Programs at The Warhol



On Pittsburgh's North Side, the Andy Warhol Museum holds more than just artworks and archival materials of one of its best known native sons. It also offers a mix of Warhol-related exhibits by other artists, musical events, workshops, even an annual  LGBTQ+ Youth Prom, one of only four in Southwestern Pennsylvania.Looking for some interesting summertime things to do, then check out the menu of Warhol events below:

EXHIBITIONS

Firelei Báez: Bloodlines
Through May 21, 2017
Tracing the history of social movements in the Unites States and the Caribbean, Firelei Báez: Bloodlines presents a new body of work by Firelei Báez. Báez, born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, is inspired by lineages of black resistance and works primarily with large-scale drawings on paper, making connections that further our understanding of dispersed groups. Bloodlines showcases paintings and drawings depicting textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments, linking symbols of power with human gestures. The work is labor intensive, delicate, rich in color, and presents female subjects as strongly connected to both a past and present understanding of race. The exhibition includes several new works shown for the first time.

Jace Clayton: Silver Clouds
Through June 11, 2017
The Warhol and Powdermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental research station, invited interdisciplinary artist Jace Clayton to compose a sound installation for Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds installation. This audio intervention is inspired by both the work of museum researchers at Powdermill and by Warhol’s futuristic floating sculptures, which hover between the natural and the artificial. Clayton’s piece reflects the bird-like sounds created by oscillators in David Tudor’s original score for Rainforest, Merce Cunningham’s 1968 dance performance set amidst Warhol’s Silver Clouds. This installation is co-presented with Carnegie Nexus as part of the series Strange Times: Earth in the Age of the Human.

Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen
June 16–September 24, 2017
Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen explores Andy Warhol’s fascination with Hollywood, fame, and stardom. Warhol’s desire to look at the stars was ignited while attending his neighborhood cinemas with his brothers in gritty, industrial 1930s Pittsburgh. He reveled in the glamorous actors, elegant costumes, and sophisticated settings of the movies from Hollywood’s golden years. This exhibition considers celebrity through hundreds of archival items from The Warhol’s vast collection of Warhol’s personal items and related artworks, including paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, publications, film excerpts, television episodes, and video diaries. Part of Warhol’s Pop style had its genesis in images of the stars, and this exhibition examines some of the inspiration behind the work that kick-started the current age of global celebrity culture. Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen is generously supported by Cadillac.

Farhad Moshiri: Go West
October 13, 2017–January 14, 2018
Go West is the first solo museum exhibition of Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri. Encompassing several bodies of work created over decades, this mid-career survey focuses on Moshiri’s varied subject matter, deft use of language, and wide-ranging materials and methods. While Moshiri addresses contemporary Iran’s traditions and historic isolationism, he simultaneously acknowledges the powerful appeal and influence of Western culture in his homeland. Moshiri spent a portion of his formative years in the United States during the Iranian Revolution, returning to Iran years later as a young adult and artist. Moshiri’s interest in kitsch resonates throughout his work. Many of his visuals are pulled from cartoons, films, comic strips, children’s books, and advertisements, and phrases appropriated from classical poetry, soap operas, and pop songs blur the lines between art and cliché. By selecting ambiguous source images that reference both American and Iranian popular culture, Moshiri’s work takes a complex look at how we define our own cultural identity.

Activist Print
Ongoing
Activist Print is a collaboration between The Warhol, BOOM Concepts (a creative hub for artists to incubate ideas), and the North Side printmaking studio Artists Image Resource (AIR). Activist Print is inspired by the long history of artists using silkscreen and print-based media to raise awareness of contemporary issues and inspire change. Three Pittsburgh artists, Bekezela Mguni, Paradise Gray, and Alisha B. Wormsley, have been invited to create socially and politically inspired print work in this yearlong project. The Activist Print series is exhibited on the windows of the Rosa Villa, a building across the street from The Warhol.

PROGRAMS

Youth Open Studio
Wednesdays through May 31, 2017 – 4–8 p.m.
Artists Image Resource (North Side)
Youth Open Studio is a collaboration between The Andy Warhol Museum and Artists Image Resource (AIR), an artist-run printmaking facility on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Teens learn the photographic silkscreen printing process, experiment with new artmaking tools and techniques, and work on independent projects in a relaxed, creative environment. The studio at AIR is open from 4–8 p.m. each Wednesday for youth ages 13–18, and it is staffed by The Warhol’s artist educators. There is no fee to visit, watch, or learn, but youth pay between $5–10 for each silkscreen needed for independent projects. Youth Open Studio is supported in part by The Buhl Foundation.
FREE; registration is suggested for all free events; visit warhol.org

Youth Invasion: Circus
Friday, April 28, 2017 – 5–10 p.m.
The Andy Warhol Museum
The Warhol is excited to present its annual Youth Invasion! This program features teens’ unique take on Andy Warhol’s artwork, with their points of view, ideas, and creative expressions energizing the entire museum. The event highlights youth performers in the museum’s entrance space, theater, and galleries, as well as presents an exhibition of youth artwork.
Tickets $10 / $5 students; visit warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

Sound Series: San Fermin with special guest Low Roar
Thursday, May 11, 2017 – 8 p.m.
The Warhol entrance space
The Warhol welcomes back the Brooklyn-based ensemble San Fermin, led by songwriter and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, on a tour supporting the group’s third studio album Belong. The new record features vocalists Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, trumpet player John Brandon, saxophonist Stephen Chen, violinist Rebekah Durham, drummer Michael Hanf, and guitarists Tyler McDiarmid and Aki Ishiguro. This latest release builds on the group’s 2013 debut, which NPR called “one of the year’s most ambitious, evocative, and moving records,” and its sophomore 2015 release Jackrabbit, which debuted at #8 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. The ambient Icelandic band Low Roar opens the show. This event is co-presented with 91.3 WYEP.
Tickets $15 / $12 members & students; visit www.warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

Factory Swing Shift
Friday, May 19, 2017 – 5–9:30 p.m.
The Factory
The Factory stays up late! Visit our hands-on underground studio to make art after dark during Factory Swing Shift. Visitors can drop in to experiment with a range of materials and techniques in a relaxed creative environment with skilled artist educators, special guests, and music. This program is presented as part of Art Museum Day 2017.
Free with museum admission

Teacher Workshop: Art and Activism
Saturday, May 20, 2017 – 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
In conjunction with our collaborative public art project Activist Print, this workshop examines the long history of artists using silkscreen and print-based media to raise awareness of contemporary issues and inspire change. Learn how to use silkscreen, stencil, and collage in the classroom to create activist prints and engage students in timely community concerns. Tickets include museum admission, materials, and a private exhibition tour.
Tickets $30; visit www.warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

Sound Series: Nightlands with special guest The Building
Friday, May 26, 2017 – 8 p.m.
The Warhol theater
The Warhol welcomes Philadelphia-based, multi-instrumentalist Dave Hartley (aka Nightlands) on a tour supporting his latest release on Secretly Canadian Records. Hartley is also the bassist for the War on Drugs, and he has been releasing his own richly layered dream-pop music as Nightlands since 2010 with Forget the Mantra, followed by the much lauded Oak Island in 2013. Opening the evening is the Youngstown, Ohio-based The Building, featuring Anthony LaMarca, who is also a member of War on Drugs and has recorded and performed with Dean & Britta and St. Vincent and is co-founder of the Primary Records label.
Tickets $15 / $12 members & students; visit www.warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

LGBTQ+ Youth Prom: Outer Space
Saturday, May 27, 2017 – 6–10 p.m.
The Warhol entrance space
The Warhol hosts its fourth annual LGBTQ+ Youth Prom, one of the only LGBTQ+ youth proms in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Prom is often considered a “rite of passage” and creates memories that last a lifetime. The LGBTQ+ Youth Prom allows a safe opportunity to participate in an experience every youth deserves.
Tickets $5 / $10 door; visit warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

SOLD OUT
Sound Series: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Thursday, June 8, 2017 – 8 p.m.
Carnegie Music Hall (Oakland)
The Warhol in association with Goldenvoice welcomes Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to the opulent Carnegie Music Hall on a 19-date North American tour supporting their 16th studio album Skeleton Tree. It was released in September 2016 along with the companion film One More Time With Feeling directed by Andrew Dominik. The new album has topped the chart across the globe and its songs are featured heavily in this performance along with classics from the band’s more than 30-year catalog. The touring line-up includes Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, Thomas Wydler, Jim Sclavunos, Conway Savage, George Vjestica, and Larry Mullins.

Factory Swing Shift
Friday, June 16, 2017 – 5–9:30 p.m.
The Factory
The Factory stays up late! Visit our hands-on underground studio to make art after dark during Factory Swing Shift. Visitors can drop in to experiment with a range of materials and techniques in a relaxed creative environment with skilled artist educators, special guests, and music.
Free with museum admission

Double Feature: Andy Warhol’s Tarzan & Jane Regained… Sort Of (1963) and Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) at Ace Hotel
Sunday, June 18, 2017 – 8 p.m.
Ace Hotel – Gym (East Liberty)
The Warhol and Ace Hotel Pittsburgh present a double feature film screening of Andy Warhol’s Tarzan & Jane Regained… Sort Of (1963) and Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) in the Ace Hotel gym. Many of Warhol’s 1960s films reflect the influence of movies he watched in Oakland cinemas when he was a child in 1930s Pittsburgh. Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort Of, one of his earliest films, is a Warholian take on jungle adventure films and features Superstar Taylor Mead and Naomi Levine and Dennis Hopper as the title characters in a romp around Hollywood. This film is paired with the classic Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) starring Olympic swimmer Johnny Weismuller, whose life-size portrait Warhol kept in his collection. Ace Hotel Pittsburgh is The Warhol’s official hotel sponsor.
FREE; registration is suggested for all free events; visit warhol.org

Teacher Workshop: Pop Culture in the Classroom
Friday, July 21, 2017 – 5–8 p.m.
Explore Andy Warhol’s lifelong fascination with Hollywood, fame, and stardom in the exhibition Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen. Learn how to integrate pop culture into the classroom, fostering critical thinking and media literacy in an age of global celebrity culture. This workshop explores techniques for linking learning and creative expression to popular music, celebrity, and contemporary media. Tickets include museum admission, materials, and a private tour of Stars of the Silver Screen.
Tickets $30; visit www.warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

Factory Swing Shift
Friday, July 28, 2017 – 5–9:30 p.m.
The Factory
The Factory stays up late! Visit our hands-on underground studio to make art after dark during Factory Swing Shift. Visitors can drop in to experiment with a range of materials and techniques in a relaxed creative environment with skilled artist educators, special guests, and music.
Free with museum admission

Half-Pint Prints
Saturday, August 5, 2016 – 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
The Factory
Families work with The Warhol’s artist educators to create silkscreen prints during this drop-in silkscreen printing activity for children ages 1 to 4 years old.
Free with museum admission

Night of 1,000 Marilyns
Saturday, September 16, 2017 – 8 p.m. VIP & General, 10 p.m. Late Night
Feel like a Hollywood star at The Warhol’s third annual fundraiser. This year’s theme, “Night of 1,000 Marilyns,” invites you to dress up as your favorite Hollywood silver screen star, like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Stewart, or Greta Garbo. Our seven floors are open to explore, and spaces are activated with a DJ, dancing, and an underground VIP lounge. The evening features a DJ set by Title Town, and a late-night drag show featuring Bambi Deerest, among others. Glam yourself up with Cardamone’s Salon free hair and makeup styling in The Warhol theater. This is the closing event for the exhibition Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen, which closes September 24, 2017. VIP tickets include access to the VIP lounge in The Factory underground studio, unlimited drinks, and hors d’oeuvres. Get the celebrity treatment in the VIP lounge with food, casino games, and portraits by caricature artist Jeffrey Harris. General admission tickets include one drink ticket and hors d’oeuvres. Late-night tickets include dessert. Cash bars are available. Wigs, glasses, and other iconic Warhol- and Marilyn-themed items are available for purchase in The Warhol Store. Tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. Night of 1,000 Marilyns is generously supported by FAROS Properties, Wigle Whiskey, Cardamone’s Salon, WHIRL Magazine, and Yelp. Free parking is available in The Warhol lot.
Tickets $200 VIP; $50 general admission; $45 members; $25 Late Night; visit warhol.org or call 412.237.8300

Half-Pint Prints
Saturday, December 2, 2016 – 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
The Factory
Families work with The Warhol’s artist educators to create silkscreen prints during this drop-in silkscreen printing activity for children ages 1 to 4 years old.
Free with museum admission

Read the full release and access images in the museum's press room.

Sound Series: San Fermin with special guest Low Roar, May 11, 2017
About The Andy Warhol Museum
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Warhol is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Additional information about The Warhol is available at www.warhol.org.

The Warhol receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and The Heinz Endowments. Further support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.4 million people a year through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Neil Sedaka Coming to Heinz Hall May 12-14

Neil Sedaka Credit: Courtesy Photo
Since first achieving fame as a teen pop sensation in the 1950s, Neil Sedaka has kept America singing for six decades. He brings the timeless hits of his storied career to Heinz Hall to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra during the PNC Pops weekend May 12-14.

The concert will begin with a first half directed by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco and featuring the orchestra performing solo. Sedaka and guest conductor Jeffrey Reed join the orchestra in the second half to perform songs from Sedaka’s catalog such as "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," "Love Will Keep Us Together," "Laughter in the Rain," and so many more. The orchestra will also perform the classically-trained Sedaka’s first symphony, “Joie De Vivre.”

Showtimes are Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 14 at 2:30 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to concert start times. A Pops Talk will be held on stage following the Friday performance only. Pops Talks are free and open to ticketholders.

Tickets, ranging in price from $22 to $99, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/Sedaka.

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank PNC for its 2016-2017 title sponsorship of PNC Pops. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

About the Artist
Singer. Songwriter. Composer. Pianist. Author. NEIL SEDAKA’s impressive 60-year career ranges from being one of the first teen pop sensations of the ’50s, a successful songwriter for himself and other artists in the ’60s, a superstar in the ’70s, remaining a constant force in writing and performing presently. This is all thanks to the countless songs he has written, performed and produced that continue to inspire artists and audiences around the world.

Sedaka was born on March 13, 1939. His interest in music began at the young age of eight, when he would listen to The Make-Believe Ballroom. But, it was not rock and roll, but classical music that would shape Sedaka into the musician he is today. By the time he was nine years old, he had already begun his intensive classical piano training at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. At 16, Arthur Rubinstein voted Sedaka as one of the best New York high school pianists. Though Sedaka considered pursuing a doctorate in music, his next choice became his chosen vocation.

Eager to gain acceptance from his peers at Abraham Lincoln High School, Sedaka began performing rock ’n roll outside of his classical training. At this time, he would form the doo-wop group The Tokens; they would record two singles that would go on to be regional hits. But, it was his introduction to his young neighbor, Howard Greenfield, by Greenfield’s mother, that began one of the most prolific songwriting partnerships of the last half-century that sold 40 million records between 1959 and 1963.

Sedaka and Greenfield became one of the original creators of the “Brill Building” sound in the late fifties and early sixties when they were the first to sign with Don Kirshner and Al Nevins at Aldon Music. Aldon Music would go on to sign Neil Diamond, Carole King and Paul Simon among many others, and they became the center of the pop world.

Sedaka catapulted into stardom after Connie Francis recorded his “Stupid Cupid.” She then sang the theme song Sedaka and Greenfield had written for the 1960 MGM spring break classic, Where the Boys Are, which would be her biggest hit. Rhythm and blues stars Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker also scored hits with his songs. As a result of these hits, Sedaka was able to sign a contract with RCA as a writer and performer of his own material. Sedaka soon recorded chart toppers "The Diary," "Oh! Carol," " Stairway to Heaven," "Calendar Girl," "Little Devil," "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen," "Next Door to an Angel" and "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," songs that have become a part of peoples' lives and can instantly take listeners back to special moments.

In 1964, the direction of American music changed drastically when The Beatles launched The British Invasion. It became very hard for most male solo artists to continue to pursue their career in music. Due to his many talents as a songwriter, Sedaka was able to prevail, writing hit songs for such artists including Frank Sinatra (“The Hungry Years”), Elvis Presley (“Solitaire”), Tom Jones (“Puppet Man”), The Monkees (“When Love Comes Knocking at Your Door”), and The Fifth Dimension (“Workin’ on a Groovy Thing”).

Sedaka’s journey continued in the UK with the release of his album Emergence in 1972. This was the first step of redefining himself as a solo artist. It was Elton John who decided to sign Sedaka to his up-and-coming record label, Rocket Records, and begin to re-introduce Sedaka to American audiences. The two albums he recorded for the Rocket label, Sedaka's Back in 1974 and The Hungry Years in 1975, both became top selling albums around the world. His comeback was further heralded by two of his songs co-written with Phil Cody, "Bad Blood" and the quintessential "Laughter in the Rain," both reaching the #1 position on the music charts. In Rolling Stone magazine, Sedaka was hailed as "the new phenomenon." The song "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" was re-released as a ballad in 1975, and made music history when it reached #1 on the charts, becoming the first song recorded in two different versions by the same artist to reach #1. During this time, Sedaka also helped to launch the career of the Captain and Tennille with their version of his "Love Will Keep Us Together," which won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year for this worldwide, number one hit.

The accolades showered on Sedaka have been numerous. Among the honors he has received, Sedaka has been inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, has had a street named after him in his hometown of Brooklyn and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

With a career spanning six decades, a rare feat in the entertainment world, Sedaka never ceases to amaze. He shows no signs of slowing down. Neil has appeared on FOX’s hit Television show American Idol, as a guest judge – in which Clay Aiken would perform Neil’s “Solitaire,” which saw an inevitable release, reaching #4 on the Hot 100 Singles chart, and was one of the Top Selling Singles of 2004.

On June 10, 2004, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization's 35th annual induction and awards ceremony in New York. Named for the former president of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, this award is given to individuals in recognition of their outstanding achievements in furthering the successes of songwriters.

In 2006, Sedaka concluded a 10-city tour of the United Kingdom, where he filmed a Live Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall for PBS (which was released as Neil Sedaka: The Show Goes On – Live at the Royal Albert Hall). During this historical evening, Sedaka was presented with The Guinness Award for his song “(Is This the Way to) Amarillo,” as the best-selling single of the 21st century in the UK, a song that was originally performed by Tony Christie more than 35 years ago.

On April 24, 2007, Sedaka released The Definitive Collection, a career-spanning retrospective released in honor of his 50th anniversary in show business. The Definitive Collection debuted at #22 on the Billboard Chart.

On October 26, 2007, Sedaka was honored with a tribute at Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center. Neil Sedaka: 50 Years of Hits, a benefit for The Elton John AIDS Foundation, showcased Sedaka’s songs, with performances by Connie Francis, Dion, Paul Shaffer, Natalie Cole, Clay Aiken, Renee Olstead, and Captain and Tennille. The evening was hosted by Cousin Brucie Morrow and David Foster. Sir Elton John and Barry Manilow sent video tributes in their absence.

Sedaka has been married for 54 years to his wife, Leba, and they have two children: daughter Dara is a recording artist and vocalist for television and radio commercials, and son Marc is a successful screenwriter in Los Angeles. Sedaka has three grandchildren, twin granddaughters Amanda and Charlotte, and a grandson, Michael.

Inspired by his grandchildren, Sedaka released Waking Up is Hard to Do, a collection of Neil Sedaka hits that have been reinvented as children’s songs. Waking Up is Hard to Do was a family collaboration, in which Sedaka’s son Marc adapted four of his father’s classic songs, and Sedaka’s five-year-old granddaughters made their recording debut as his backup vocalists. Since the release of the CD, Imagine Publishing has begun releasing a series of books based on these songs. September 2010 saw the release of Waking Up Is Hard to Do. Its follow up, Dinosaur Pet, featuring Marc's new lyric to “Calendar Girl,” was released in May 2012 and peaked at #3 on The New York Times Bestseller List.

In May 2010, Sedaka was awarded The Special International Award from The Ivors, honoring excellence in songwriting. On October 8, Sedaka was the Variety Club’s recipient of The Silver Heart Award, for his outstanding service to the music industry and his charitable work.

Sedaka has returned to his classical roots, composing his first symphonic piece, “Joie De Vivre,” and his first piano concerto, “Manhattan Intermezzo.” In October 2010, Sedaka recorded these two pieces with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London at the famed Air Studios in London. “Manhattan Intermezzo” was released on 2013’s The Real Neil.

In addition to his extensive worldwide tour schedule, Sedaka has just released I Do It for Applause, a CD of 12 new Sedaka songs and the official release of “Joie De Vivre.”

“The album is the culmination of 64 years of writing,” says Sedaka. “This is a gift I was born with. My main objective is to always top the last collection, raise the bar and reinvent Neil Sedaka.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Primanti Bros. Names Marc-Andre Fleury Honorary Pittsburgher, Releases Sandwich in His Honor


Ahead of the start of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ round two playoff series, Primanti Bros. Restaurant and Bar is releasing a very limited supply of “Canadian Pitts-Burger” sandwiches – celebrating the play and commitment of honorary Yinzer and French Canadian Pittsburgher, Marc-Andre Fleury.

The sandwich, built on Primanti Bros.’ famous number two selling Pitts-Burger, is then piled high with Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg and fries, slaw and tomato.

“The Flower’s been in town since 2003,” said Toni Haggerty, iconic staple of Primanti Bros. original location in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District. “At this point, he’s practically a hometown boy.”

The sandwich is available starting today – but is only around while very limited supplies last. The cost is $9.29.

When asked if she was hoping to see Fleury stop by for the sandwich, Haggerty replied, “He better not. He’s got a lot of work to do. We’ll see him in a few weeks.”

In addition to The Canadian Pitts-Burger, Primanti Bros. has game time drink specials for all Pens games.

To catch all the evolving info about The Canadian Pitts-Burger, check out #FleuryOfMeat on all social platforms.

About Primanti Brothers

In 1933, Joe Primanti opened a lunch cart in Pittsburgh's Strip District selling sandwiches to the hungry truckers who were coming and going at all times of the night. Encouraged by sales and positive feedback, Joe expanded to a small storefront where he was joined by his brothers Dick and Stanley and their nephew John DePriter. And that's how the very first Primanti Bros. location was born - Primanti Bros. currently has 38 locations, all dedicated to that early notion that folks deserve great food, with no pretense, for a good price.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Monologue Project - An Evening of Performance and Activism



The Monologue Project invites you to a special event that celebrates Women of the African Diaspora and their impact on theater and the world.

Charlayne Woodard Credit: Courtesy Photo
Join us for an afternoon of performance and activism. Writers from across the nation including such luminaries as Amy Evans, Pia Wilson, Charlayne Woodard, Dominique Morisseau, Mfoniso Udofia, Cori Thomas and Chisa Hutchinson have contributed audition-length monologues to this event, many of them original.

Professional and student actors will perform the monologues, which span the gamut from intensely moving to intensely funny. Theater makers: Don't miss this opportunity to meet a talented pool of Pittsburgh performers.

Hosted by:

• Advisory Committee: Siovhan Christensen, N’Jameh Camara, Ife Foy, Alexis Cash, Alesia Etinoff, Sara Williams, Dominique Brock and Dave Harris.
• Gab Cody, Pittsburgh Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild
• Reginald Douglas, Artistic Producer of City Theater
• Kyle Haden, Director and Assistant Professor at CMU
• Teresa Coleman Wash, Bishop Arts Theatre Center

We believe hearing voices that have not been heard and providing greater opportunity for Women of the African Diaspora will be of benefit to all. The Monologue Project aims to increase the number of audition-length monologues available to Women of the African Diaspora. We acknowledge those women who have already contributed to this canon and who have paved the way for other writers and actors.

We join in solidarity with the woman-driven activism of movements like Black Lives Matter, acknowledging the essential role of black women in America. The event will be followed by a discussion and call-to-action. Please follow up for a list of panelists and speakers.
Kia Corthron Credit: Courtesy Photo

Performances will be scheduled for other cities including New York and Los Angeles. After these performances conclude, the monologues will be free and available for use online.

WHEN: Saturday May 6th, 2pm
WHERE: University of Pittsburgh, Charity Randall Theatre
TICKETS: Free and open to the public, please RSVP to gcody@dramatistsguild.com

Monologue Project Writers (in alphabetical order): Mando Alvarado, Chrystal Bates, France-Luce Benson, N’Jameh Camara, Zina Camblin, Kia Corthron, Gethsemane Herron-Coward, LeKeithia Dalcoe, William Duell, Kim El, Alesia Etinoff, Amy Evans, Rob Florence, Imani Maryahm Harrington, Dave Harris, Yona Harvey, Chisa Hutchinson, Levi Jelks, Christine Toy Johnson, Jewell McPherson, Dominique Morisseau, Ife Olujobi, Maxie Rockymore, Bianca Sams, Cori Thomas, Pamela Turner, Mfoniso Udofia, Keith Wallace, Amy Gijsbers van Wijk, Pia Wilson and Charlayne Woodard.

Resonance Works presents Verdi's FALSTAFF!



Resonance Works brings its fourth season to a rousing conclusion with the wit and genius of Verdi’s Falstaff! Written at the age of 80, Verdi’s final opus sparkles with freshness and originality.

The story follows the travails Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff, a portly, aging knight who has come upon hard times. Ever the optimist, he endeavors to improve his stature by seducing married women away from their husbands (which doesn't turn out quite as he'd imagined…) Mistaken identities, thwarted assignations, hapless misadventures, fairies, disguises, and a wedding -- these all combine to form a delightful comic farce that is a tour de force for a stellar ensemble cast.

Directed by Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumna Stephanie Havey, the tight-knit cast features emerging opera talent from Pittsburgh and across the country.  Baritone Benjamin Bloomfield (Castleton Festival, NY City Opera) makes his Pittsburgh debut with the title role of Sir John Falstaff. Benjamin Robinson (Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh) and Matthew Scollin (Pittsburgh Opera, Glimmerglass Festival) portray his cronies Bardolfo and Pistola.

In the roles of the merry wives, local favorites Kara Cornell (Trouble in Tahiti) and Amelia D’Arcy (Macbeth) play Meg Page and Alice Ford, with returning mezzo Brooke Larimer (Song of the Earth, Macbeth) in the mischievous role of Mistress Quickly. Newcomer Natalie Polito (Opera Saratoga, Virginia Opera) and Resonance Works veteran Christopher Lucier (Elixir of Love, Macbeth) will sing the pair of young lovers, Nannetta and Fenton, with baritone Joshua Jeremiah (Arizona Opera, PROTOTYPE Festival) making his Pittsburgh debut as the jealous husband, schemer, and disapproving father, Ford. Former Pittsburgher and founding Resonance Works board member Joseph Gaines returns to reprise the role of Dr. Caius, which he previously performed at Pittsburgh Opera and covered at the Metropolitan Opera under the baton of James Levine. Falstaff also features our flagship ensemble, the Resonance Chamber Orchestra and chorus, all conducted by Artistic Director Maria Sensi Sellner.

Falstaff will be sung in the original Italian with English supertitles projected over the stage.

Join us on Mother's Day weekend for Verdi's frolicking finale, and save $5 by getting your tickets now online!For tickets, go to www.showclix.com/events/24341

Friday, May 12 @ 8 pm
Sunday, May 14 @ 3 pm

Verdi's Falstaff

Charity Randall Theater
4301 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Oakland

Benjamin Bloomfield*, Falstaff
Amelia D'Arcy, Alice Ford
Joshua Jeremiah*, Ford
Natalie Polito*, Nannetta
Brooke Larimer, Mistress Quickly
Kara Cornell, Meg Page
Joseph Gaines, Doctor Caius
Matthew Scollin*, Pistola
Christopher Lucier, Fenton
Benjamin Robinson*, Bardolfo

Stephanie Havey*, stage director
Maria Sensi Sellner, conductor
Resonance Chamber Orchestra

* Resonance Works debut