Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PBT"s "The Nutcracker" Dances Its Way Onstage Starting December 2


The Party Scene from "The Nutcracker Credit: Rich Sofranko

Propelled by Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, this soaring story captures the awe and expectation of the night before Christmas when a mysterious gift sparks a wondrous adventure.
As the colossal tree shoots skyward and snowflakes blanket the stage, the journey glides into a radiant Land of Enchantment brimming with virtuosic dances from faraway lands.

Set in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh, this holiday tradition resounds with more than 150 dancers, radiant scenery, astounding magic tricks and new surprises each season.
For tickets, phone 412-456-6666.
Groups 10+ Save: Call 412-454-9101 or email groupsales@pittsburghballet.org.
Build Your Own Subscription: Save 20% over single tickets and unlock VIP benefits.

2016 PERFORMANCE DATES

Friday, December 02, 2016 11:00 AM Student Matinee
Friday, December 02, 2016 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 03, 2016 2:00 PM
Saturday, December 03, 2016 7:00 PM
Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 PM
Sunday, December 04, 2016 4:30 PM

Friday, December 09, 2016 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 10, 2016 2:00 PM
Saturday, December 10, 2016 7:00 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2016 12:00 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2016 4:30 PM

Thursday, December 15, 2016 7:00 PM
Friday, December 16, 2016 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2016 2:00 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2016 7:00 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2016 12:00 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2016 4:30 PM

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:00 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:00 PM
Thursday, December 22, 2016 7:00 PM
Friday, December 23, 2016 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 24, 2016 11:00 AM
Saturday, December 24, 2016 3:30 PM

Monday, December 26, 2016 7:00 PM
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 2:00 PM Sensory Friendly
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 7:00 PM

RUN TIME:
Act I - 57 minutes
Intermission - 20 minutes
Act II - 53 minutes

ENRICH YOUR THEATER EXPERIENCE: PBT educational programs for The Nutcracker

Friday, Dec. 2, 9:30 PM - Afterthoughts: Stay after the performance for this special discussion about The Nutcracker with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and Company dancers. In the theater. No reservations necessary.

Sunday, Dec. 4, 11 AM - Talks with Terry: Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to watch the Company as they finish their warm-up class on stage and talk with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr about The Nutcracker. In the theater. No reservations necessary.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 1 PM - Family Pointe: Explore the story and choreography of the ballet with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr in this entertaining program designed for kids and families. Includes an opportunity
to try out some steps from The Nutcracker! Benedum Rehearsal Studio B (enter on Liberty Ave.) Patrons of all ages are welcome! Reservations: (412) 454-9109 or education@pittsburghballet.org.

Audio-Described Performance

Sunday, Dec. 4, at 4:30 p.m. AND Sunday, Dec. 11, at 4:30 p.m.
Sign out a headset to listen to a live narration of the ballet (designed for visually impaired patrons). For more information about PBT's accessibility services, please call 412-454-9109 or visit PBT's accessibility services page.
Tickets purchased from PBT cannot be resold, transferred or distributed to any ticket broker or any other person or entity for resale. Should PBT suspect that the ticket purchaser may be a ticket broker or associated with any ticket resale program, all current and future orders may be cancelled
without notice or justification of action.  PBT reserves the right to deny admission to any person with a ticket obtained in violation of these terms.

WILL CALL - TO HELP PREVENT RESALE, GROUP TICKETS FOR THIS SHOW WILL NEED TO BE COLLECTED DIRECTLY FROM THE VENUE BOX OFFICE BY THE PURCHASER ON THE DAY OF THE SHOW. PHOTO ID WILL BE REQUIRED TO PICK UP YOUR TICKETS AND THERE ARE STRICTLY NO NAME CHANGES.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chamber Opera Now Getting a Staging by Quantum Theatre

Kevin Glavin, Katy Williams, Ian McEuen In The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Credit: Heather Mull



Known for its cutting edge plays, Quantum Theatreis currently staging an opera based on the book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat!

“I feel...that I am equally, if inadequately, a theorist and dramatist.” So Oliver Sacks states in the preface to his 1985 work. We see just how correct he was when Michael Nyman dramatized that very text four years later.

Oliver Sacks’ compelling case history of a man experiencing the loss of his sight... a victim of “visual agnosia”, deals with his inability to form a whole percept of visual information. In layman’s terms, the Man could look at, say, his wife’s head, see abstract shapes as opposed to her identifying features, and confuse those shapes for a hat.

The opera features sweeping, emotional music by Nyman, composer of The Piano, and an orchestra of seven. Leading the singers is basso buffo Kevin Glavin in the titular role of Dr. P. , Ian McEuen in the tenor role of Oliver Sacks (known as Dr. S.), and soprano Katy Williams as Mrs. P., the patient’s very patient wife. Quantum adds its special twists: a quirky, accessible site, chosen to facilitate visuals by media designer Joe Seamans, who helps us to empathize with Dr. P., to ‘see what he sees’.
A Scene from the Play Credit: Heather Mull

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat By Michael Nyman
Libretto by Christopher Rawlence, Michael Morris and Oliver Sacks, based on his book
Music Direction by Andres Cladera
Stage Direction by Karla Boos

For tickets, phone call 412-362-1713.Performance Location: 200 N. Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, in the heart of East Liberty at the corner of N. Highland Avenue and Broad Street

Where to Park?
Parking lot in the block of the site, at the corner of Centre Avenue and Broad Street. And as always, follow the Q!

No Late Seating. Please be prompt (thank you!).

The show runs 70 minutes with no intermission. If you exit early, you won't be able to be re-seated. Please visit the restrooms before the show starts (very clean Porta-johns. Or be forewarned and make that pit stop at your pre-theatre dining spot!)

Boxed Dinners
If you purchased dinners, your dinner will be waiting for pick up as early as 5:30 for 7 pm shows (Sundays), and 6:30 for 8 pm shows (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays). You’ll eat your boxed dinners comfortably seated in a convivial spot a couple doors down – the former Pig & Chicken Restaurant at 220 N. Highland Avenue (with restrooms!). Please go straight there to begin your evening.
Katy Williams and Kevin Gavin Credit: Heather Mull

Learn More
Visit website www.quantumtheatre.com for more information, photos, and videos.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Phipps Now Featuring Winter Flower Show and Light Garden

Winter Light Garden: Nights Aglow Credit: Paul Wiegman


Staff at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens have been working around the clock to prepare for the most magical holiday show of the year in Pittsburgh – Winter Flower Show and Light Garden, which opens Fri., Nov. 25 and runs through Sun., Jan. 8. To give guests ample opportunity to revel in the glow of the glasshouse, Phipps’ hours are 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day for the duration of the show.*

With more than 1,200 poinsettias and 25,000 twinkling LED lights adorning the Conservatory, weekday musical performances and special holiday events, there is no better way to get into the spirit of the season than by visiting Phipps.

Winter Night Garden at Phipps Credit: Paul Wiegman
A celebratory banner will greet guests in Palm Court, announcing that it’s a snow day at Phipps! As they meander throughout the changing display rooms, guests will see topiary animals enjoying the snow day, highlighted by the glow of holiday lights. Penguins will peek out from behind a snow fort in the midst of a snowball fight, reindeer will ice skate along illuminated paths surrounding an enormous fir tree and a family of bears will cuddle in a blanket fort while their snow clothes dry by a crackling fireplace. Fragrant blooms will fill the air with their lovely scent and poinsettias of every shape, size and color imaginable will overflow from the display beds.

“The Winter Flower Show’s theme is so whimsical,” says Jordyn Melino, exhibit coordinator. “I am looking forward to how much fun we have with it. This show makes me nostalgic of my childhood!”

Of course, the sea of colorful lights in the Outdoor Garden must not be missed. This year’s displays will be bigger and brighter than ever, and include additions such as a tunnel of lights that will make guests feel as though they are standing under a twinkling night sky. Yummy snacks and warm drinks will be available for purchase in the Outdoor Garden, providing sustenance for garden goers.

As the holidays draw near, Phipps offers a myriad of events to entertain guests of all ages. Enjoy musical performances by local groups every Monday through Wednesday and visits with Santa on select dates during the show, free with admission. Additionally, Phipps offers free shuttle service for visitors, with stops at Forbes Avenue and Semple Street Garage, and the Bob O’Connor Golf Course (Schenley Park Golf Course) as weather permits. Shuttle service begins at 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from Nov. 25 – Jan. 8 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25), plus Monday – Thursday, Dec. 26 – 29.

For full details on events, including dates, parking, shuttle services, times and admission fees, please visit phipps.conservatory.org.


*Note: Phipps Conservatory’s hours on Sat., Dec. 24 are 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Conservatory is closed on Sun., Dec. 25.

East Room at Phipps during Christmas Season Credit: Paul Wiegman

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Jazz Concert at Carnegie in Carnegie Spolights Ritchie Cole Orchestra in a Very Carnegie Christmas



Jazz great Richie Cole will be joined by J.D. Chaisson on trumpet: Jeff Grubbs on bass; Reid Hoyson on percussion; Mark Lucas on guitar; Rick Matt on tenor sax; Ken Moore on keyboards and Reggie Watkins on trombone.  Vocalists Reni Monteverdi, Casey Evans and Ian Cane round out the program.

The concert, set at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, showcases Cole's new CD, Richie Cole: Have Yourself and Alto Madness Christmas.  As a special treat, students form Carnegie Elementary School will perform the carol Cole composed just for them.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door, children under 12 free, and are available at www.carnegiecarnegie.org.

A reception with the performers follows the concert in the Lincoln Gallery. There is free shuttle service from the parking lot on E. Main Streeet, opposite Carnegie Coffee Company.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Three Days in the Country" - Two and a Half Hours of Theatrical Perfection

Leo Marks as Ratikin and Nike Dukas as Natalya Credit: Rocky Raco

In the first sentence in the program book of his write up about Kenetic Theatre Company’s latest production, producing artistic director, Andrew Paul, admits that he never liked the Russian playwright, Ivan Turgenev’s "A Month in the Country." He goes on to say he found it old-fashioned, over-written and lacking in dramatic tension. He could also have said that the original four hour run time is probably enough to give theater goers the bucolic version of mal de mer.

All that changed last summer when he caught on a visit to London an adaptation of Turgenev’s work by Patrick Marber retitled "Three Days in the Country"  and came away smitten. Pittsburgh audiences can be thankful for his change of heart because his decision to mount the work, now getting its U.S. premier,  is a perfect storm of great acting, superb writing, stunning costumes by Kim Brown), a non-instrusive minimalist set that encourages a focus on the actors (by Narelle Sissons) and some solid direction by Paul.

Voila! It’s one of the most perfect theatrical experiences to come down the pike in quite a while.

Marber’s pared his script down to a workable two and a half hour time frame, which includes a 15 minute intermission. Even that might be a bit of a stretch for some, but considering the playwright’s lively plot, wit-drenched dialogue, comic flourishes and emotion-packed core time flows by as pleasantly and imperceptibly as a summer boat outing on the Volga.

A play with thirteen characters with lengthy Russian names might seem a bit of challenge to follow. Surprisingly, all of the cast appears scattered about (and above) the stage when the lights go up. Nothing like simultaneously meeting 13 perfect strangers, but things soon get sorted out to a manageable, comprehensible mix.

The play’s major motif is romance (physical, platonic, even mercenary and self-serving). And sexual attraction. The catalyst for much of the fired up libidos is a handsome, tall tutor named Belyaev (Adam Haas Hunter), hired to mentor the young son, Kolya (Will Sendera) of a prosperous landholder, Arkady (David Whalen), whose property is located several days drive from Moscow.

Adam Haas Hunter as Belyaev, Will Sendera as Kolya and Nike Dukas as Natalya
Credit: Rocky Raco


Three of the women on the estate, including the landowner’s wife, Natalya (Nike Dukas) are drawn to the young lothario like moths to the flame. This makes for a potentially combustible scenario, especially when you throw in a strong platonic attraction for the mistress of the house by the landowner’s friend, Rakitin (Leo Marks).

With story line reverberations of Moliere’s "The Miser," there’s even the contrivance of an arranged marriage between a dithering, old, but wealthy neighbor Bolshintsov (Larry John Meyers) and the landlord’s fetching, young ward, Vera (Katie Wieland).

There’s even more amorous intrigue in the mix in the form of a hilarious courtship scene that opens Act Two. This most thrilling comic jewel takes place in a hilarious tete-a-tete between Shpigelsky, a country doctor (Sam Tsoutsouvas), and Lizaveta (Helena Ruoti).

Not yet finished with further complicating the multitude of affairs of the heart, Marber, introduces us to the servant, Matvey (Andrew William Miller), recently jilted by Katya, an estate maidservant (Erika Strasburg), who is recently smitten by Belyaev.

That still leaves two characters unaccounted for, personages above the fray of amorous longing who still manage to add delightful dialogue into this mish-mash of lust and romance. They include Anna, Arkady’s mother (Susie McGregor-Laine), and Schaaf, a German tutor (David Crawford).

If all this seems a bit much to plow through, keep in mind everything unfolds in brilliant fashion in two and half hours of theatrical bliss. A real ensemble work, it would be hard to point to just a few of the actors deserving of kudos. Each one merits  a great round of applause for their work in a play that blind-sided me from the depths of obscurity with its intelligence, literary merit and considerable humor.

"Three Days in the Country," a production of the Kenetic Theatre Company, is at the New Hazlett Theater on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Through December 4. For tickets, visit website newhazletttheater.org.


PSO Releases New Recording



 The latest collaboration between the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Reference Recordings, “Strauss: Elektra, Rosenkavalier,” featuring the world premiere of the first symphonic suite from Elektra, was released in the United States on November 18 as part of the FRESH! series.

This new recording presents orchestral suites based on two of the most significant operas in history. Der Rosenkavalier found its place in the concert hall from the beginning, first with two waltz sequences and later with the famous 1944 suite. But Elektra remained purely on the opera stage until now.

Pittsburgh Symphony Music Director Manfred Honeck has made his own symphonic adaptation, in collaboration with the Czech composer Tomáš Ille. These Strauss suites, new and old, are bold, definitive interpretations from Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in superb audiophile sound.

The release is steadily garnering critical acclaim. HRAudio.net calls this release “simply stunning” and MusicWeb International names it an “essential purchase for Strauss devotees.”

This release is the sixth in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the FRESH! series from Reference Recordings. Each has received dozens of critical accolades. Dvořák/Janáček (FR-710SACD) and Bruckner 4 (FR-713SACD) have each received Grammy® nominations for Best Orchestral Performance.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).  This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986.

The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the groundbreaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.”

The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900—including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

This release and the entire “Pittsburgh Live!” series are recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera and chamber recordings have received more than 80 Grammy nominations and awards! Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, including Reference Recordings.


FRESH! is part of Reference Recordings’ mission to encourage outstanding artists and give them a strong platform for promotion and sales nationally and internationally.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Now in Sixth Season, 12 Peers Plans Exciting, Innovative Productions

12 Peer Announces 6th Season

12 Peers Theater announces their sixth season featuring the continuing Modern Myths Podcast; Will Eno’s Thom Pain (based on nothing); Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play; a benefit performance of Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit; and Mythburgh, a new site-specific performance series.

“12 Peers Theater’s 2017 Season focuses on building myth from the ground up” says 12 Peers Theater Artistic Director, Vince Ventura.  “This season is about exploring myth at the individual, local, national, and cultural levels, both through live performance and through digital storytelling.

Through The Modern Myths Podcast we will continue to highlight playwrights as we bring myths from all around the country to our audiences on demand.  In Mythburgh, we ask our audiences to tell us their experiences, and we spin myths based on the stories that make Pittsburgh unique.  Thom Pain (based on nothing) is an extremely private and individual, but entirely universal myth.  Lastly, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play shows how even pop culture myths can change over time to suit the needs of its audience.”

12 PEERS THEATER 2017 SEASON

MYTHBURGH
Throughout 2017
Locations and Dates TBA

Telling the stories that make Pittsburgh unique, online and in person

MYTHBURGH finds myth and inspiration in the creepy, epic, weird, and truly Pittsburgh stories, told by Pittsburghers and adapted by local playwrights into short plays and digital content.  Featuring a recurring cast of characters with their own online lives and a site-specific location, Mythburgh will push the limits of live theatre and engage audiences online and in person.

THE MODERN MYTHS PODCAST
Throughout 2017
Available at www.12peerstheater.org and on iTunes

Live play readings on demand

12 Peers Theater continues its groundbreaking year-round podcast featuring readings of mythic new plays and exclusive interviews with the playwrights.  The Modern Myths Podcast brings live theatre to you on demand and features some of the most exciting playwrights from across the country.

THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING)
By Will Eno
Directed by Vince Ventura
Featuring Matt Henderson
June 1 - 18, 2017
The University of Pittsburgh Studio Theatre

A moving solo show and Pulitzer Prize Finalist

He's just like you, except worse. He is trying to save his life, to save your life—in that order. In his quest for salvation, he'll stop at nothing, be distracted by nothing, except maybe a piece of lint, or the woman in the second row. Thom Pain (based on nothing) is one man's attempt to mythologize the loss of innocence we all experience when we shift, sometimes in a single moment, from child to adult.

MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY
By Anne Washburn
Directed by Vince Ventura
August 3 - 20, 2017
The University of Pittsburgh Studio Theatre

A “pop culture comedy” in post-apocalyptic America

After the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors share a campfire and begin to piece together the plot of "The Simpsons" episode "Cape Feare" entirely from memory. 7 years later, this and other snippets of pop culture (sitcom plots, commercials, jingles, and pop songs) have become the live entertainment of a post-apocalyptic society, sincerely trying to hold onto its past. 75 years later, these are the myths and legends from which new forms of performance are created.

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play turns an eye to the communal creation of myth by exploring a post-apocalyptic landscape where yesterday's pop culture (an episode of "The Simpsons" pieced together entirely from memory) is rehashed as a myth of perseverance.


Artistic Director Vince Ventura Credit:Praise D. Waters
SPECIAL BENEFIT PERFORMANCE

WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT
March 27, 2017
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Last year’s hit production by experimential playwright Nassim Soleimanpour

Imagine being 29 years old and unable to leave your country. Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour is a conscientious objector who refused to take part in military service, mandatory for all Iranian men. Soleimanpour turned his isolation to his advantage with a wild, utterly original play, an absurdist adventure that blends comedy and drama. In White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, he distills the experience of an entire generation born amid the hardship of the Iran-Iraq war—computer-literate, well-informed young people who have never known an Iran other than the Islamic Republic.

With no director, no set, and a different guest performer each night, this play is performed by distinct local actors reading a script they see for the first time as they step onstage in front of a live audience. Using a menagerie of allegorical animals, the play is “not about Iran,” but grapples with the social phenomena of power, obedience, and manipulation.


TICKETS

Season Passes: $30 (including THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) and MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY)

Flex Passes: $30 (including two ticket vouchers to be used at any 2017 main stage performance)

Single Tickets range from Name Your Own Price to $20 and go on sale December 1, 2016.

MYTHBURGH tickets are always Name Your Own Price

THE MODERN MYTHS PODCAST is available for free at www.12peerstheater.org or on iTunes

WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT Benefit Performance tickets are $25

All Sunday and Monday performances in the 2017 main stage season are Name Your Own Price.

Season Passes, Flex Passes, Single Tickets, or Reservations for Name Your Own Price performances can be made by calling 412.626.6784 or online at www.12peerstheater.org  starting December 1, 2017


ABOUT THE COMPANY

Founded in 2011, and taking their name from the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne, 12 Peers Theater is a 501(c)(3) organization operating in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.  12 Peers Theater's mission is to provide challenging and engaging theater through contemporary works exploring myth and cultural identity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ips Pop - A Healthier Way to Snack



Earlier this week I posted on my blog an item from Infogroup that declared Pittsburgh the  number 10 city in the nation for  beer lovers (Scroll down to see the post).

 To explain its top ten rankings, Infogroup analyzed more than 15 million verified business database records to identify which metro areas with a population of at least one million residents are home to the most beer retailers and breweries, including craft and microbreweries.

If you like a bit of popcorn with your beer, Ips Snacks™ (www.ipsallnatural.com), has come up with the first and only protein popcorn on the market. With Americans consuming 16 billion quarts of popcorn a year, Ips Pop was a natural addition to the Ips Snacks protein line and takes this category leader from a single product company to a full line of protein snack solutions.

 Ips Pop claims to be  a delicious and healthy popcorn snack made with whey protein and each serving includes 5 grams of protein- the same amount as 20 almonds. Made with non-GMO corn, gluten free, available in 2 delicious flavors, and only 150 calories per serving, this healthy alternative to traditional popcorn satisfies a multitude of dietary and snacking concerns.

Containing no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, Ips Pop – a Kosher product – is available in two varieties: White Cheddar (made with real cheese) and Classic Salted (salt and natural butter flavor). Single-ounce packages retail for $1.49; 5-ounce packages retail for $3.49.  This newest addition was available in retailers across the country in mid-October

About Ips Snacks™

Founded in 2011, Ips Snacks™ are the world’s first snack chip to combine a delicious taste with whey protein. They are made with non-GMO corn, are gluten-free and are powered by whey protein.

Now lead by Adam Kamenstein, the brand’s mission is to make the foods which give your body the protein it craves. Ips chips are available in four delicious varieties: Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Barbeque, and White Cheddar and is now launching its line of popcorn, which are available in Classic Salted and White Cheddar varieties.  Ips Snacks are sold in grocery stores and wellness retailers nationwide including Whole Foods Market, Mollie Stone’s, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and many others, as well as online through Amazon.com.


“We have seen great success with Ips Chips, but knew we wanted to expand on the salty snacks with protein category and popcorn was a natural fit for us and our customer,” says Ips Snack CEO, Adam Kamenstein. “What we have learned is that people want healthy and protein, but they also want flavor, and they will not be disappointed with Ips Pop.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Very Electric Christmas Brightens up the Holidays


 The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces Lightwire Theater in A Very Electric Christmas on Friday, November 25, at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, November 26, 2016, at 2:00 p.m., at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. These performances are part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents Series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Lightwire Theater, known for its electroluminescent characters, will perform A Very Electric Christmas in complete darkness, bringing to life a creative storyline that features Nutcracker soldiers with candy-canes, naughty rats, an electric Christmas tree surrounded by presents, glow worms, dancing flowers and other creatures that light up the stage.

 Lightwire’s captivating and magical tale of adventure, friendship and love, centers around a young bird named Max, trying to make his way home for the holidays after getting separated from his family during their migration south.



Audiences of all ages will also enjoy hearing timeless Christmas classics that have been woven into the production including songs from Nat King Cole, Tchaikovsky, Mariah Carey and of course a few surprises along the way.

"It's hard not to smile watching Lightwire's dancers - who wear puppet-like costumes outfitted with electroluminescent wires and perform in the dark - bring to life tales of colorful creatures for children and adults alike." — New Orleans Magazine

To watch a video clip from A Very Electric Christmas, visit: http://lightwiretheater.com/a-very-electric-christmas/.

Lightwire Theater, based in New Orleans, brings technology, theater and dance together in its illuminating performances. The company was founded by Ian and Eleanor Carne along with Corbin and Whitney Popp. Lightwire Theater competed on America’s Got Talent, finishing as semifinalists during season seven.

Lightwire Theater creators, Ian Carney and Corbin Popp, met while dancing in Twyla Tharp's Broadway show Movin' Out. An immediate connection was made as they discovered their mutual love of art, theater and technology. After coming across a product called, “El wire,” the lights turned on. “

El wire” is short for electroluminescent wire: unlike black lights, the technology can be powered by batteries and requires no theatrical lighting. The possibilities seemed endless. Together, with their wives Eleanor and Whitney, they began to develop puppetry-based creatures that quickly came to life.

Follow Lightwire Theater on Facebook, www.facebook.com/LightwireTheater and Twitter @LightwireTheatr.

Tickets ($20-$30) are available at TrustArts.org, by phone at 412-456-6666, or in person at the Box Office at Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.  Groups of 10 or more, please call 412-471-6930.


Monday, November 14, 2016

A Unique Addition to a Classic Theater Presentation

Make a Mask Before Viewing "Th Merchant of Venice" at PICT


MASKS & MERCHANT - November 18th

Join PICT Theatre for a fun-filled night of creativity and drama, as they begin in the studio at Union Project, 801 N. Negley Avenue in Pittsburgh, for ceramics night. You'll learn to make a mask - Venetian style!

What Venetian night would be complete without a little wine and cheese. Culminate the experience with Shakespeare's tale, The Merchant of Venice. Ceramics studio begins at 6 p.m. and show begins at 8 p.m.

Synopsis of “The Merchant of Venice”

One pound of flesh is the price demanded for a loan gone unrepaid. In a reimagined setting of the 1930s, the deal is struck by Jewish moneylender Shylock, who is too jaded for negotiation. The stunning, noble Portia fights back against his unfair terms, and the resulting verdict leaves one questioning whether justice is necessarily just.

This is one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays, with some of his most adored and vilified characters, telling a complex tale of love, deception and consequence. Appropriate for all ages.


For tickets, phone (412) 561-6000.

Winterreise- a Eulogy Concert for Schubert on the Anniversary of His Death

Baritone Joel Goodloe will sing with accompaniment bypianist Brian Gilling in "A Requiem in Song"

A Requiem in Song is a eulogy concert for composer Franz Schubert, who died on November 19, 1828 at the age of 31. Baritone Joel Goodloe and pianist Brian Gilling will perform Schubert’s Winterreise, or Winter’s Journey, in honor of the anniversary of the composer’s death at the First Unitarian Church, 605 Morewood Avenue in Pittsburgh (Shadyside) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 19.

 This 24-song cycle is one of the darkest and most spine-chilling works Schubert ever created. He completed the piece, setting the final poems by Wilhelm Müller, in the last year of his life as his health was rapidly fading.

The work is rife with psychological distress, obsession, anger, and distortion of reality by the main character as he makes his pilgrimage in the dead of night from the town where he leaves behind his former lover. The piece will be sung in English using Jeremy Sams’ groundbreaking new translation. This will mark the North American premiere of this unpublished text.

Joel Goodloe


Suggested donation: $10

Estimated run time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Pittsburgh Ranked Number Ten for Beer Lovers

Penn Brewery's Penn Pilsner Credit: Courtesy Photo


A new study by Infogroup reveals the top 10 U.S. cities for both beer and wine. Pittsburgh came in number 10. Now let's try for a high wine ranking. The full lists for each are as follows:

Beer Cities
Portland, Ore.
Denver
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Seattle
Detroit
Raleigh, N.C.
San Diego
Cincinnati
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh

Wine Cities
Portland, Ore.
San Francisco
Seattle
Sacramento, Calif.
Rochester, N.Y.
San Jose, Calif.
New York
Washington, D.C.
Hartford, Conn.
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bougainvillea: A Botanic Permutation Opens at 709 Penn Gallery Friday

709 Penn Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the opening of BOUGAINVILLEA: A BOTANIC PERMUTATION at 709 Penn Gallery, 709 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exhibition features 2D artwork by Don Dugal, an artist inspired by the showy-colored, warm-weather bit of flora which has traditionally been overlooked by artists because of its amorphous blooms and inability to ‘pose’ as a cut flower.

Dugal explains: “My interest in Bougainvillea stems from my intimate contact with it during my residence in Honolulu, where the plant is a common garden feature. For 20 years I lived with a huge mass of Bougainvillea growing outside my kitchen windows, where in bloom and full sun, it would flood half of the house with a surprisingly intense, reflective, pink glow. Having taught Art courses that emphasized the importance of color in Nature, as well as those that explored the historical use of artist’s pigments, Bougainvillea presented itself as a natural subject. My art has always leaned to a synthesis of the perceptual with the psychological – accompanied by garnishes of Art and Music history.”

Don Dugal was born and educated in Detroit when automobile culture, devotion to beer and frantic urban expansion were at their zenith. He received a BFA in Painting from Wayne State University, studying under professors David Mitchell and Robert Wilbert, and then found his way to the state of Hawaii, where, having studied with professors Ben Norris and Ken Bushnell, he received, in 1969, an MFA in Drawing and Painting, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Successful exhibitions in Honolulu prompted him to stay on in Hawai’i where he initiated a 41-year career of teaching Painting, Drawing and Design at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Significant solo exhibitions include those at the Contemporary Museum in 1980, 1994 and 1999 and the Honolulu Academy of Arts (now the Honolulu Museum) in 1983 and 2007. His work is in the collections of the Hawaii State Art Museum, the Honolulu Museum, the Honolulu City Arts Commission and the Springfield, Illinois Arts Commission. He was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts in 1999, and several commissioned works by Dugal may be found at the Hawaii Convention Center and the Honolulu City Medical Examiner’s Office. He retired from the University of Hawaii in 2010 and in 2011, after careful research, chose Pittsburgh as a home.
709 Penn Gallery.

NOVEMBER 18, 2016 – JANUARY 22, 2017 | 709 PENN GALLERY
OPENING RECEPTION | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18 | 5:30-8:00 PM

A project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust  and managed by the Trust’s Education and Community Engagement department, 709 Penn Gallery features exhibits by local and regional artists working in multiple disciplines and is located at 709 Penn Avenue near the intersection of Penn and Seventh Street. Gallery hours are Wed., Thurs. from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Fri., Sat. from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Sun. from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please visit www.trustarts.org.

Off-Road to Open at 707 Penn Gallery

707-709 Penn Gallery Pittsburgh Credit: Courtesy Photo


The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces Off-Road, an exhibit by Sarah Keeling, will be on view from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 707 Penn Gallery, located at 707 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222. An opening reception will be held on Friday, November 18 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

With Off-Road, Sarah Keeling uses images and hand-made objects to explore subtext within the representation of landscape scenes. Playful photographs bring the outdoors into a portrait studio and images borrow from classic portrayals of idealism and nature in relation to the female figure. Keeling’s work often seeks to question our relationship to the built environment in which we live; Off-Road addresses landscapes as a timeless place where solutions are sought and asks, is it misguided to look? Off-Road presents a creative process that parallels a search at the heart of landscape imagery.

Keeling says of her work, “I'm finding ways to visualize the underlying meanings or feelings landscape imagery can draw out. I'm making work about the reaction to it and trying to visualize that aspect of the subject. For me history plays a huge role in this, as well as advertising, literature, films, etc., but through a personal response.”

Sarah Keeling is a multidisciplinary artist whose work considers the landscape, both natural and built. She looks at design as a set of instructions and creates intuitive responses through photography, video, sculpture and public works. The images and objects she creates combine familiarity and humor to make comedic yet contemplative works. Keeling’s work has been exhibited at ISEA2015, Vancouver, Canada; Bronco Gallery, Portland, OR; the Queens Museum, Queens, NY; The Visual Studies Gallery, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY; 937 Liberty Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA; the Billboard Project and the West Virginia University Arts Museum & Education Center. In 2015, Keeling was a Top 10 Finalist for the Crusade for Art Engagement Grant. She currently resides in Pittsburgh and holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University (2014). For more information on Sarah Keeling, please visit www.sarahkeeling.net.

707 Penn Gallery
A project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust  and managed by the Trust’s Education and Community Engagement department, 707 Penn Gallery features exhibits by local and regional artists working in multiple disciplines and is located at 707 Penn Avenue near the intersection of Penn and Seventh Street. Gallery hours are Wed., Thurs. from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Fri., Sat. from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Sun. from 11:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please visit www.TrustArts.org.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Sweet It Is! - Not Your Ordinary Chocolate Bar



Tantalize your senses at The Chocolate Bar. A blissful evening of sweet indulgence brought to you by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at this second annual celebration of the confectionary arts.

A decadent dessert-lover’s paradise. Guests will be lured with artisan candies, ganache creations, handspun milkshakes and more from Pittsburgh’s finest chocolatiers and restaurateurs including A519 Chocolate, Braddock’s Pittsburgh Brasserie, The Capital Grille, Cioppino, Diamond Market, Eddie Merlot’s, Enrico Biscotti, Grandview Bakery, Market Street Grocery, Milk Shake Factory, Nicholas Coffee & Tea, Osteria 2350, Poros, Revel + Roost, Sarris Candies, Senti, Ten Penny and Vallozzi's Pittsburgh.

A spectacular night of sweet sights and savory sounds. From chocolate-adorned fashionistas to the feel-good mix of DJ SMI. Special appearance by The Chocolate Girls -- Staycee Pearl Dance Project dancers styled in rich cocoa splendor by fashion curator Richard Parsakian with Izzazu Salon, Spa & Serata and Amanda Wright.

General Admission
$35 per person includes event admission, one complimentary signature cocktail and a one-year Pittsburgh Cultural Trust membership.

Sweet Dreams VIP Lounge
$75 per person includes all of the above plus a premiere experience at the new private Benedum lounge, featuring additional savory appetizers and open bar all evening.

Ages 21 and over ONLY

Saturday November 12 • 8-10:30 pm
Benedum Center Grand Lobby
237 7th Street  • Downtown Pittsburgh

To Purchase Tickets:
Online at TrustArts.org
Call 412-456-6666
Box Office at Theater Square
(655 Penn Avenue)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fort Necessity Plans Veterans Day Activities

Reenactors at Fort Necessity Credit: Courtesy Photo


Fort Necessity National Battlefield will present a living history program and encampment on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12, 2016 to commemorate veterans. The program will consist of a military timeline representing America’s conflicts from the French and Indian War (1754-1760) through World War II.

 Park staff and volunteers will represent the individual wars through uniform and equipment display and look forward to sharing with the public information on each persona.  The program will be offered Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the battlefield near the fort.

Veterans’ Day has its origins with the Great War or better known as World War One.  America entered the war in 1917. An armistice went into effect on November 11, 1918 ending hostilities. Initially this date was commemorated in America as Armistice Day until changed to Veterans’ Day to remember all American veterans.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is located eleven miles east of Uniontown, Pa. on US Route 40. The site commemorates the opening battle of the French and Indian War in which a young George Washington was involved.

A reconstructed fort on the original site along with exhibits in the visitor center help to tell the story. The visitor center is open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on the following holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day) when the building is closed.


Park entrance and all park activities are free to the general public.  For more information on the park please visit our website at www.nps.gov/fone or call 724-329-5811.


Monday, November 7, 2016

"Messiah in Space" - a Novel Way of Interpreting Handel's Masterpiece Oratorio



By popular demand the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh again presents “Messiah in Space,” a moving interpretation of Handel’s masterwork with staging and new ways to look at one of the most celebrated oratorios in the choral repertoire. The Bach Choir re-imagines this perennial favorite and presents interesting new ways to view its importance.

“Our interpretation helps underscore the biblical text and uses the beautiful open space of the St. Agnes Center to tell this timeless story," said Thomas W. Douglas, artistic director.. "The glorious music is among the best known of the classical literature, and we celebrate the season by lending our special touch to it.”


Performances will be held Saturday, December 3 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 4 at 4 p. m. at St. Agnes Center (Carlow University, 3235 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213).

Buy tickets online at BachPgh.ShowClix.com.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pittsburgh CLO Academy Seeking Internship Candidates for the 2017 Gene Kelly Awards

Pittsburgh-born Dancer and Actor Gene Kelly Credit: Courtesy Photo


Attention: Communication, Arts and  Entertainment Management Majors: 
Applications are being accepted for college sophomores, juniors and seniors to coordinate the 2017 Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards. The internship runs January 3 – June 9, 2017.

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: administrative responsibilities, marketing support, updating the event webpage, serving as a liaison with participating school directors, coordinating schedules with Gene Kelly Awards judges, planning and implementing a social media strategy, writing the Gene Kelly Awards blog, presenting scholarship information to participating schools and providing production assistance.

Pittsburgh CLO’s 26th Annual Gene Kelly Awards will be held on May 27, 2017 at the
Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.

For a complete description of the internship and position requirements, visit pittsburghCLO.org or contact Michael Cerchiaro at mcerchiaro@pittsburghclo.org, or 412-281-2234. Applications will be accepted until December 2, 2016.

Applications for the 2017 Gene Kelly Awards Internship are now being accepted.

The Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater were launched in 1991 as a means to recognize and encourage student achievement and to focus the attention of the community and school districts on the importance of musical theater and arts education.

Patterned after Broadway’s Tony® Awards, this event celebrates the power of the Arts to significantly improve all areas of education! High school theater programs are the real winners as show business veterans and community celebrities help to spread the word about the achievements of high school students and their school’s musical theater programs. Over the past 20 years, Gene Kelly Award winners have gone on to Broadway and Hollywood careers.

Last year's winners Devin Moore (Best Actor) and Marnie Quick (Best Actress) traveled to New York City to represent Pittsburgh in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards on June 27, 2016. Marnie placed in the top three of the performers in her category in 2016.

Here’s a section of the Wikipedia write up of Kelly:
Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly (August 23, 1912 – February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director, producer and choreographer. He was born in Pittsburgh and known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good look, and the likeable characters that he played on screen.

Best known today for his performances in films such as An American in Paris (1951), Anchors Aweigh (1945), and Singin' in the Rain (1952), he starred in musical films until they fell out of fashion in the late 1950s.

Among others, he starred in many musical films throughout the 1940s, including For Me and My Gal (1942), Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), Thousands Cheer (1943), The Three Musketeers (1948) and On the Town (1949). In his later career he starred in two films which were outside the musical genre. They are Inherit the Wind (1960) and What a Way to Go!, although his 1955 film It's Always Fair Weather, in later life, gained recognition among his fans largely due to his musical and dance performances.

Throughout his career he had directed films, some of which he starred in. Kelly did not star in Hello, Dolly he directed. Despite being a commercial failure at the time, it is now more highly regarded as a musical film. The film was even nominated in 1969 for the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 42nd Academy Awards.

His many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences.

Kelly received an Academy Honorary Award in 1952 for his career achievements. He later received lifetime achievement awards in the Kennedy Center Honors (1982), and from the Screen Actors Guild and American Film Institute. In 1999, the American Film Institute also numbered him 15th in their Greatest Male Stars of Classic Hollywood cinema list.



"The Wiz" Costumes in Free Exhibit at August Wilson Center



FashionAFRICANA is pleased to announce the world premiere of COSTUMES of THE WIZ LIVE!, presented in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on display September 23, 2016 through November 30, 2016.

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is pleased to collaborate with FashionAFRICANA on this historic world premiere,” shared Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  “Programs of this kind set the standard for the type of unique, collaborative, trend-setting and preserving national work that can—and should—be featured at the cultural gem at the helm of the Cultural District.  People will leave this experience exclaiming, there’s no place like the August Wilson Center.”

This one-of-a-kind multi-media exhibition celebrates the work of Tony Award winning costume designer, Paul Tazewell and features costumes and other theatrical pieces from the critically-acclaimed NBC televised broadcast, THE WIZ LIVE!, directed by Kenny Leon.  Pittsburgh is the only city to see these costumes up close before they hit Broadway in 2017.

The exhibit will be located in the Claude Worthington Benedum Gallery,  Second Floor and gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday: 11am-6pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am-8pm; Sunday: 10am-5pm.
A special Opening Celebration will be hosted on Saturday, September 17, 2016 by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield at the August Wilson Center.  The Emerald City-themed celebration will open its doors at 6PM.

At 6:30PM there will be a VIP Private Exhibit Tour led by Paul Tazewell.  The evening’s program will begin at 7:30PM in the theater with a special presentation to Paul Tazewell as well as performances by Broadway sensation vocalist, Brynn Williams and Pittsburgh’s Kingdom People.  Following the presentation, there will be a cocktail reception at 8PM and tour of the costume exhibition.  The celebration will culminate with an Emerald City Dance Party in the August Wilson Center’s dance studio featuring DJ Nate da Phat Barber.  The hottest dance party in Pittsburgh will be re-imaged – FashionAFRICANA style – as a land of emerald green-colored beauty, FashionAFRICANA models, cocktails and great music.

The event will be chaired by Pittsburgh's very own Kiya Tomlin, renowned fashion designer and wife to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Proceeds from the exhibit's opening celebration will support The Education Program for The Wiz Live! sponsored by Mike and Kiya Tomlin.  The program consists of a series of workshops targeting youth in grades 6 to 8 that will inspire students to consider careers in fashion and theatre arts.  The programming is designed to allow students to unleash their creative powers and celebrate African-American heritage.
Tickets to the opening celebration can be purchased online through Showclix at https://embed.showclix.com/event/the-wiz-live-costume-exhibit-opening-celebration/pre-sale.
For information on the opening gala and other special programming, please visit WizLiveExhibit.com.

HISTORY OF THE WIZ!

Literature and theater have long held the capacity to delight, to entertain, to educate, and to carry the components of culture across generations. Over 100 years ago, the characters first given life by Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, provided generations of people a pathway for self-discovery.

Through characterization, theme, narrative, and a beloved film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (1939), adults and children alike experienced the fantastic tale in a vivid new format. Through song, costuming, and set design, consumers of the new medium of film could envision what words could only partially convey.

In 1939, only 74 years after the abolition of slavery in the United States, the cultural contributions originated by African Americans were scarcely included within the mainstream entertainment and social landscape. The Yellow Brick Road may have embodied the pathway to the dreams of some, but it certainly was not true for all.

The Wiz! debuted on Broadway in 1975 and answered the call for a funky new and more inclusive interpretation of Baum’s tale. The musical piece won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Audiences filling the seats more closely resembled the diversity of characters portrayed in this newer more relevant rendition.

The Wiz Live! premiered live on NBC on December 3, 2015. Bursting on the scene of the small screen, the live broadcast was viewed by millions on the day of its debut.  The vibrant remake was directed by Tony-Award winner, Kenny Leon, and co-produced by Universal Television and Cirque du Soleil Theatrical.  Paul Tazewell, Tony-award winning costume designer of Hamilton, created the production’s masterful costumes. Luminaries such as Queen Latifah, Mary J Blige and Common, among others—all artists of color—drew from their meaning and memory to make this story one that was interwoven with the fabric of a many-peopled nation.

Through the initiative and foresight of local arts organization FashionAFRICANA, the larger-than-live costumes of The Wiz Live! along with set pieces, drawings, and other engaging material serve as a testament to the fine workmanship, verve, and cultural excellence—the likes of which embodied and emboldened August Wilson himself.

“Quality African-American programming like this exhibit demonstrates to our community that they are welcomed, valued and capable of greatness.  Honoring our rich culture and the talents of African-American artists encourages our youth to believe in their dreams, their possibilities and their own worth.”  Kiya Tomlin, Event Chair

“It is insightful and impressive that Demeatria Boccella and the city of Pittsburgh have chosen to present the extraordinary design work of Award winning artist Paul Tazewell. The Wiz as presented on Television was a revolutionary event and was second to none because of the singular efforts of the costume designer. To feature this exhibit as a world premiere event in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh is indeed a gift to the world.”  Kenny Leon, Tony Award winning Broadway Director and Director of THE WIZ LIVE!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Visiting the Flight 93 Memorial a Memorable Experience

Walkway to Visitors Center and  Overlook Credit: Bill Rockwell

As dramatically horrible the events of September 11, 2001 were, the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Somerset County, Pa. really hit home on a personal level. The last of four terrorist attacks on the nation that day took place just 80 miles from my Southwestern Pennsylvania home.

I’d already visited the crash site eight years ago, when there was hardly anything to see. But after learning that a new $20 million visitors center opened in September 10 last year, I made a vow to return for a look around.

Last week, I finally made the trek to Shanksville, not only to see the memorial but to enjoy the fall foliage in the lofty elevation of Somerset County. What I discovered at the memorial was an emotionally moving experience.

In their design for the site, Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles created a flight path walkway directly underneath the route taken over the fields by the downed aircraft. 
With high walls intentionally shielding the view on both sides, the walkway eventually leads to an overlook that opens dramatically onto the crash site and surrounding meadow. Clear panes of Plexiglas that serve as a protective railing at the end of the walkway are imprinted with the words "A Common field one day. A field of honor forever."

Overlook at End of Walkwa
The pathway itself has several inscriptions embedded on its surface, a sort of timeline that chronicles the events of 9/11. The first reads 8:46:30 a.m. 1 WTC hit by American Airlines Flight 11. Lining the walkway, the walls are gray and rough, mimicking the scorched look of the grove of  80 to 100 hemlock trees scorched by the fiery explosion of the plane’s impact.

Inside the visitor center a series of panel walls tell the story of Flight 93 - why it crashed, why it did not hit its intended target (presumably the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC) and the heroic efforts of its 33 passengers and 7 crew.

Panel 1 - An Ordinary Day - starts the exhibits off by relooking at the day’s events with an entry that innocently mentions Rick King opening his store in Shanksville at 7 a.m. Adjacent photos show Captain Jason Dahl early in the day preparing to fly Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco, a cloud of black smoke produced by the crash hovering over a red barn taken by a local resident and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge arriving at the crash site by helicopter.

Rolling footage of planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are augmented by screening the horrific news stories of the day as shown on several networks..

At one panel, visitors can listen to recordings of three of the 37 attempted phone calls 
made by the passengers. Through their contacts, the callers learned about the other airplane attacks, an insight that led them to surmise that their plane had a similar terrorist mission which led them to vote to taking action to stop it.

One display shows the layout of the plane and where the passengers and terrorists were seated. Another shows a map of the U.S. with the location of the nearly 4,500 aircraft in the air the morning of the hijacks. All were subsequently grounded for the sake of national security.

As the exhibits point out, the passengers moved to the back of the plane to plan their attack, and a timeline display shows how they fought back. (Some reports claim the terrorists ordered the passengers and crew to move to the back of the plane). One poignant video shows an animated rendition of the plane’s final six minutes using data obtained from the recovered cockpit voice recorder. It plots the route of the plane rocking from side to side, then banking on its side at a 90-degree angle before turning upside down and crashing into the ground at 553 miles per hour. The time of impact was at 10:03 a.m.

Video clips of the crash site taken by a helicopter shortly after impact and photos of the massive investigation that took place add an eerie postscript to the disaster. At one time over 1,000 people participated in the investigation, the largest ever conducted by the FBI.
Panel with Photos of 33 Passengers and 7 Crew Credit: Bill Rockwell

Throughout the exhibit, displays of recovered artifacts include many parts of the plane, including a section of the tail stabilizer, a driver’s license of one of the passengers and a bank card of one of the terrorists that proved a help in tracing the financial trail of Al-Qaeda.

Perhaps the most important find was the cockpit voice recording (black box) discovered fifteen feet inside the impact crater. It was the only one recovered from the four planes that took part in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Near the end of the exhibits a panel holds the photos of each of the 40 passengers and crew who died as heroes and were awarded a Congressional Gold medal for saving additional lives and preventing a probable destruction of the nation’s Capitol building.

A nearby touch screen allows visitor to read the biographies of the passengers, all of whom were identified during the subsequent investigation via fingerprints, x-ray dental records and DNA research.

Memorial Plaza Credit: Bill Rockwell


From the visitors center, two paths lead down to the Memorial Plaza looking over the crash site. One is three quarters of a mile long and zig-zags down the hill; another is somewhat longer, about a mile, that takes you  past 40 groves (one each for the passengers and crew) of 40 trees native to Pennsylvania that are dedicated to the Flight 93 heroes.

Those who may not want to hike to the Memorial Plaza may drive their vehicles from the visitor center to the plaza, where the Wall of Names consists of a series of marble slabs engraved with the names of each of the passengers and crew. Set for a 2018 opening is the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot tall stone tower with 40 tubular wind pipes that will chime in honor of the deceased heroes.

View of Visitors Center from Near the Memorial Plaza Credit: Bill Rockwell


Visitors can also explore the story of Flight 93 trough outdoor exhibits, a cell phone tour, ranger-led programs and conversations with rangers and park volunteers. For more information, phone 814-893-6322 or visit website www.nps.gov/flni.

Pine Grill in Somerset Credit: Bill Rockwell
For a place to dine, the Pine Grill, 800 N. Center Avenue in Somerset, is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday. A family run business since 1941, Pam and Mark Miller have been the current owners for the past 29 years. Mark, by the way, is the cousin of county coroner, Wallace Miller, who played a leading role in the crash investigation.

The Grill’s extensive menu includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps as well as seafood, grass-fed beef, chicken, pastas and desserts. Full service cocktail bar with wine and beer, including draft and bottled selections from the White Horse Brewery of Berlin, Somerset County’s only brewery. .

Every Thursday evening is Pasta Night which include pastas not normally found on the menu; Friday and Saturday features 6 to 8 chef specials..

Interiro of Pine Grill Credit: Bill Rockwell


My waitress informed me that the pies are made in the Pie Shoppe in Laughlintown, but the signature dessert is a "Skillet Cookie," a large, fresh chocolate chip cookie, warmed in a skillet and topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and a cherry. It’s served hot in a skillet and costs $6.49.

The restaurant is large, comfortable, cozy and well maintained. Recommended dishes include the mussels in garlic, butter and wine sauce appetizer ($7.99),  the spinach and artichoke hearts dip appetizer ($7.99), the 10 oz. hickory smoked pork chop, cut in-house, char grilled and topped with rosemary Dijon cream sauce ($14.59), the char-grilled, marinated chicken served with fresh-cut, steamed vegetables ($13.99) any of the pies and of course, the Skillet Cookie.

Phone 814-445-2101 or visit website www.pinegrill.com.

Smoked Pork Chop Entree Credit: Bill Rockwell