Friday, October 20, 2017

Six Reasons Dracula Will Give You Goosebumps

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko

Dracula kicks off Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2017-2018 Season with a darkly beautiful ballet perfect for Halloween weekend. Here are the top six reasons it will give you goosebumps.

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko
1. The ballet is adapted from Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic novel – the granddaddy of all vampire dramas.
The ballet tells a dark, yet juicy love story. Dissatisfied with his undead brides, Dracula fixates on Svetlana, a young woman who’s head over heels for a mortal man, to satiate his thirst for fresh blood. His obsession traps Svetlana and her new fiancé Frederick, in a dangerous love triangle.

Tales of vampire-like creatures date back to ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, but today’s depiction emerged during the 1700s in Eastern Europe: evil spirits that lurked in graveyards, entering dead bodies and awakening them to an “undead” state. Along with attempts to explain the unexplainable, vampirism seems to find root in humans’ fear of dying and the desire to live forever. Although vampire lore has existed for centuries, the image Stoker created has become the standard in pop culture and artistic interpretations around the world.

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko
2. Like bats, these vampires take flight.
The choreography includes a spooky levitation scene for Svetlana and eerie flying sequences for Dracula and a few of his leading ladies. For the aerial scenes, choreographer Ben Stevenson recruited Foy Inventerprises (also know as Flying by Foy), the same experts who’ve given wings to film, Broadway and music stars, including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko
 3. The New York Times says, “the sets, costumes and lighting are not just lavish but exquisitely beautiful and atmospheric.”
The ballet opens in the Count’s candlelit crypt, a “dark, nocturnal world in which vampires thrive,” explains set designer Thomas Boyd.

To depict 19th-century Transylvania (the central part of present-day Romania), both Boyd and costume designer Judanna Lynn studied the fictional world of Stoker’s novel and the traditional dress and architecture of the actual region. The ballet features three distinct scenes –  the crypt, the village and Dracula’s bedroom – and over 70 costumes. Most elaborate is the Count’s.

When Dracula fully unfurls his 30-pound cape, its bat-like edges reach an imposing wingspan of 23 feet. His brides wear tattered wedding gowns, streaked with the dirt of the grave and adorned according to the era they became vampires.

For the scenery, Boyd said, “The works of 19th century German painter Caspar David Friedrich are very evocative of the feeling and style that I was seeking. In his work, there is a sense of immortality, of timelessness, of an energy that transcends time.  And it is this feeling that I am seeking to evoke in setting the scene for the ballet.”

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko
4. The dancing has teeth (and so do the dancers).
Some say the ghostly corps de ballet scenes, with 18 swirling vampire brides, reminds them of a spin on Giselle’s veil-wearing Wilis, zombie-like maidens jilted before their wedding days. Although the choreography is worlds away, choreographer Ben Stevenson employs similar “ballet en blanc” conventions for the corps of vampire brides: all-white wardrobe and unified movements.

Meanwhile, in the village, normal life goes on, with bright folk dances and joyful variations for the newly engaged Svetlana and Franz…at least until Dracula crashes the party and abducts the belle of the ball. As Boyd puts it, “This is not your typical ‘happy peasants in the village scene.’ There’s a classic dichotomy here: These peasants live near Dracula’s castle, under the shadow of evil.”

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko
5. Pyrotechnics raise the stakes.
Garlic, crosses, stakes – the villagers try it all in their quest to rescue Svetlana from the Count’s clutches.

But a vampire’s ultimate kryptonite is sun exposure, so we’re pulling out the pyrotechnics for the Count’s final blaze of glory and Svetlana’s only saving grace. Keep your eye on the chandelier.

PBT's 2011 Production of Dracula Credit: Rich Sofranko
6. Franz Liszt’s Dance of the Dead inspired Ben Stevenson to set the choreography to this composer.
Liszt took the melody for this music from a 13th-century Gregorian chant called the Dies Irae, a piece of music that has been adapted for many works, including film scores for The Shining and even The Lion King. Hear some of this theme in this Dracula trailer.  Another musical highlight is an Act I dance with two brides and Dracula to The Lugubrious Gondola (1882), an atonal work Liszt originally wrote for a funeral procession. Stevenson and John Lanchbery, the renowned music arranger and ballet conductor, chose the music of this famous 19th-century Hungarian composer and pianist, because they thought it was capable of creating the “atmosphere of terror” that descends on this 19th-century Hungarian village.

Experience all the chills for yourself! Dracula returns Oct. 27-29, at the Benedum Center with tickets starting at $28. Get yours now by phoning 412-456-6666.

4 x 4 Ephemeral Architectures Coming to August Wilson Center

Saturday, November 4 • 8pm
August Wilson Center
For tickets phone 412-456-6666.

Formed by world-renowned jugglers Sean Gandini and Kati Ylä-Hokkala, Gandini Juggling is at the vanguard of contemporary circus, reinventing and reinvigorating juggling for the 21st Century.

Four jugglers and four ballet dancers share a stage for the first time, tracing pathways in space. Both of these formalized systems are ephemeral journeys through time and space, leaving an unseen trace, describing an imaginary architecture. 4 x 4 Ephemeral Architectures is a celebration of the intersection where these paths meet.

Directed by world renowned juggler Sean Gandini, choreographed by the Royal Ballet’s Ludovic Ondiviela, with original composition, Suspended opus 69, by Nimrod Borenstein.

“★★★★ Jaw-dropping. A show of elegant, wistful beauty.”
-The Guardian, UK

“★★★★ Mesmerizing. The interweaving of ballet and juggling
creates something astonishing.”
–Broadway Baby

PSO TO perform Beethoven's Eroica

Beethoven "Eroica"
Friday, October 27 | 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 28 | 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 29 | 2:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $20! Phone 412-392-4900

Manfred Honeck, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello

MacMillan: Manfred Honeck 10th Anniversary Commission - Larghetto for Orchestra (World Premiere)
Schumann: Cello Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Manfred Honeck’s 10th Anniversary celebration continues with a premiere by former Composer of the Year Sir James MacMillan, an orchestration of his beautiful Larghetto for Orchestra, originally for a cappella choir. Following a recent performance of Schumann’s Cello Concerto in San Francisco, critic Joshua Kosman wrote of Alisa Weilerstein: “This was a luminous account of a work that has the potential to be problematic, and Weilerstein didn’t so much finesse those issues as face them head-on in an explosive show of artistic strength.” Audiences are surely in for a treat when Weilerstein brings the concerto to Pittsburgh.

Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony take center stage to bring the performance to a powerful close with Beethoven’s famous “Eroica” Symphony, which will be recorded for future commercial release. Springing to life from two brusque opening chords, this revolutionary symphony has been described as “the greatest single step made by an individual in the history of the symphony.”

After Friday and Saturday’s concerts, a group of PSO musicians will be performing the first and last movement of Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-Flat Major. These musicians include: Jeremy Black, Erin Keefe, Laura Motchalov and Christopher Wu (violins); Andrew Wickesberg and David Harding (violas); and Anne Martindale Williams and David Premo (celli). These performances, happening on stage immediately following the concert, are free and open to ticketholders.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CLO Auditions for Roles in The Roberto Clemente Story

The Roberto Clemente Story
Part of the Gallery of Heroes School Series
Who: Male and female actors and singers ages 20-40. All ethnicities welcome.
Adult Non-Equity Auditions for Pittsburgh CLO's Gallery of Heroes production: ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! The Roberto Clemente Story
VERA CLEMENTE (Roberto's Wife)
LUIS CLEMENTE (Roberto's Brother)
DOT (Stadium peanut vendor; female)
Pittsburgh CLO Academy
130 Cecil Way
8th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
When: Monday, October 23 • 2:00-6:00 pm
Email us to set up a time for your appointment
Head shot and resume
One-minute cuts two contrasting musical theater songs
Bring legible sheet music in your key and clearly marked
Completed audition application
Audition Process:

All the information you need is available on our website. Just follow these simple instructions:
Set up a time for your appointment by emailing us using the link above.
Download and complete the Audition Application. You will need to bring this to your audition appointment.
If you are having trouble downloading the application, arrive a few minutes early to complete; we will have them available on the day of your audition.
Note: No housing, transportation or per diem available to out-of-area performers.
About the Program:

The 2018 Gallery of Heroes school tour will offer local actors the opportunity to perform in ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! The Roberto Clemente Story. The spring tour will run from January through May, 2018. The Gallery of Heroes program offers an entertaining alternative to traditional lectures and books.

Forty-five years after his untimely death, the hopes and dreams of Roberto Clemente are still making a difference in the lives of people everywhere. Pittsburgh CLO pays tribute to this Pittsburgh Pirates legend in ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! The Roberto Clemente Story, an original musical depicting the inspiring life of the hero, Hall of Famer and humanitarian, Roberto Clemente. Pittsburgh CLO brings history to life through this educational musical about the magnificent man who once said, “I want to be remembered as a ball player who gave all he had to give.”

¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! The Roberto Clemente Story is a musical with book, music & lyrics by Jason Coll. With direction by Jason Coll and choreography by Alivia Owen. Performers must be available during the day Monday-Friday from January through May. Rehearsals begin January 2, 2018. Both rehearsal and performances are in the daytime.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pittsburgh CLO Academy Seeking Internship Candidates for the 2018 Gene Kelly Awards

Attention: Communication, Arts and Entertainment Management Majors

Applications are now being accepted for college sophomores, juniors and seniors to coordinate the 2018 Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards. Two candidates are being sought to work in tandem on this program. The internship placement will run January 3 – June 8, 2018.

The Gene Kelly Awards interns will organize, manage and assist with all aspects of producing this annual high school musical theater awards show. Duties include: event planning, marketing support and administrative responsibilities, as well as website updates, serving as liaison with participating school directors, coordinating schedules with Gene Kelly Awards judges, planning and implementing social media strategy, writing the Gene Kelly Awards blog, presenting scholarship information to participating schools and providing production assistance.

For a complete description of the internship and position requirements, visit or contact Michael Cerchiaro at, or 412-281-2234. Applications will be accepted through December 1, 2017.

Pippa Pig - Full of Interactive Fun, Games and Surprises

Pippa Pig Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the North American Tour of Peppa Pig’s Surprise, visiting more than 60 cities in 2017 and beyond, will make a stop in Pittsburgh on Sunday, October 22, 2017, with performances at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

This event is presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, part of the 2017-2018 Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents series.  The Peppa Pig stage show, based on Entertainment One’s (eOne) top-rated TV series, airing daily on Nick Jr., is one of the most successful family theater tours in U.S. history.  Peppa Pig’s 2016 national tour was rated the “#1 box office family tour” by Pollstar.

Tickets starting at $43.75, and VIP tickets at $143.75, are available at the following official Pittsburgh Cultural Trust ticket sources: online at, by calling Guest Services at 412-456-6666, or in person at Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue.  For groups of 10+ call 412-471-6930, online at, or in person at Theater Square Box Office.

In Peppa Pig’s Surprise, it’s a lovely day and Peppa is playing outside with her friends. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig have got a surprise for her and her younger brother George, but no matter how hard they try, they cannot guess what it is.

Audiences will enjoy interactive fun, games and, of course, many surprises. The live show encompasses the charming, colorful nature of the incredibly popular television series and features brand-new songs and life-size puppets that walk, talk, dance, and jump up and down to give audiences a unique, interactive theatrical experience from the moment the curtain opens. The fun-filled show brings the hit TV series to life on stage, giving families the opportunity to engage with their favorite characters like never before in an unforgettable first live theater experience.

“Peppa Pig’s Surprise promises to be the perfect theater show for all preschoolers,” said Director Richard Lewis, who returns to adapt episodes from the hit TV show for stage as he did with the touring smash hit Peppa Pig’s Big Splash. “It’s been an incredible experience seeing the children’s reactions to the live stage show. It just confirms that Peppa Pig really is a worldwide phenomenon.”

“Audience response has been overwhelmingly positive to the first tour and we look forward to bringing Peppa’s story to life on stage once again with a whole new adventure,” said Jonathan Shank, Executive Producer, Red Light Management. “Kids love interacting with these characters on stage.”

Peppa Pig Surprise is directed by Richard Lewis, with composer Mani Svavarsson, lyricist Matt Lewis, designer Simon Scullion, music director Andy Booth, and produced by Red Light Management, Fiery Angel, and eOne.

For more information and tour dates, please visit  Follow Peppa Pig Live on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

For Fans of Opera and Voice

2017 Semifinalists

The Mildred Miller International Voice Competition in Pittsburgh is slated for this weekend and the public is invited to attend. You can read my advance on the competition, which was posted today to for more information. Simply go to 

Opera Diva Mildred Miller

Saturday's semi-finals are free and open to the public, although advance reservation are strongly recommended. The Final Round is from 2 to 5 p.m. on October 22 at the Frick Art and Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood. WQED-FM’s Jim Cunningham will  host the Final Round. For more information and tickets, go to