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

Donna Bailey Brings Some of Pittsburgh's Best Jazzmen to Carnegie Carnegie Hall!


Jazz Artist Donna Baily Credit: Courtesy Photo

Donna Baily will be joined by Mike Tomaro on sax, Joe DeFazio on keyboards, Jason Hollar on bass and Gordon Grottenthaler on percussion.  They will perform songs from the Great American Songbook, the popular canon and some of Bailey's original compositions -- songs beautifully showcased by the Music Hall's acoustics and ambiance. The date is Friday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets to Donna Bailey & Friends are $15 in advance (through May 3); $20 at the door.  They are available at www.carnegiecarnegie.org/ticketing or call 800-838-3006, x. 1.  A reception in the Studio follows the performance.  Beverages are available by donation.  Free Shuttle Service is available from the parking lot on Main Street, opposite Carnegie Coffee Company.

"Damesfly," from Suzie Sparks' works in pastels Big Bugs series.


On a slightly bittersweet note, the evening will be a swansong for Music Hall Manager Suzie Sparks. As she winds down her tenure at the ACFL&MH she will share some of her wonderful and whimsical and original art, appropriately debuting the Studio as professional gallery space.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater to Stage World Premier


It is 2005. Two men cling for life on a rooftop, surrounded by murky water, festered with disease and the unknown.  Two women are hundred of miles away, striving to see their dreams of life, love and the pursuit of happiness come to fruition.  All of this set against the threat of one of America’s greatest disasters.

"Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water," a world premier written by Michael A. Jones, is directed by Wali Jamal for Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, located at 937 Liberty Avenue, 3rd floor, in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The cast features Sam Lothard, Shanita Bivins, Corey Lankford, Shaun McCarthy and Lamar K. Cheston.

Producing Artistic Director: Mark Clayton Southers
Artistic Associate: Monteze Freeland
Stage Manager: Katy Cotten
Graphic Design: Eric S. Donaldson

May 6th – 21st, 2017. Tickets are $22.50. For ticket reservations, go to www.pghplaywrights.org/hercules/

Monday, April 24, 2017

Red Masquers to Stage Sam Shepard's "True West"


In True West, destroyers will always beat creators. Two brothers—and nemeses—are driven mad by the desert heat. A Hollywood producer pits them against one another. Their mother coldly observes the duel. If they can outwit one another, glory awaits. If they’re outsmarted… they’re toast.

True West by Sam Shepard, and directed by student, Michael Makar, runs April 26, 27, 28, 29 at 8:00 pm and April 30 at 2:00 pm. The show will be at Duquesne University’s new Genesius Theater located at the corner of Seitz and Locust Streets on the Duquesne University Campus, uptown.

Purchase tickets at the door or in advance by visiting www.duqredmasquers.com:
General Admission: $16.50 for Adults, $11.50 for Seniors, $6.50 for Students, FREE with Duquesne ID, Carlow ID, or Red Masquers Card.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The New Hazlett Theatre, 6 Allegheny Square East on Pittsburgh's North Side is hosting three diverse entertainment events. in the next two weeks. Check out their menu of offerings.


Israel Story
Presented by The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
April 27  |  7PM
Inspired by This American Life, Israel Story is a live multi-media performance that shares stories about Israel and its diversity and culture.
When David Ben Gurion envisioned what Israel could be, he thought of diverse cultures, traditions, and backgrounds coming together to form a unique Israeli identity. With their unforgettable blend of storytelling, live music, and dazzling visuals, the Israel Story team sets out to discover how Ben Gurion’s dream became Israel’s modern reality. They ask, in their humanizing manner, whatever happened to that tantalizingly simple, yet intensely complicated notion of an Israeli “melting pot”?
Tickets are $12


Terell Stafford Quintet featuring Tim Warfield
Presented by Kente Arts Alliance
April 29  |  Doors at 7PM, show at 8PM
Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads.
Since the mid-1990’s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band.
Tickets are $30.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Presented by Prime Stage Theatre
May 5 - 14
Written by Stephen Chbosky  |  Adapted by Hailey Rohn
Directed by Jeffrey M. Cordell
Presented by special permission from Summit LLC.
The regional premiere of this coming of age story, set in Pittsburgh, will get audiences wrapped up with Charlie, an observant “wallflower,” as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood.
Sensory-Friendly Performance
Saturday, May 13 at 1:00 PM
Designed to be accessible for individuals on the autism spectrum, those with sensory sensitivities, and families.
Tickets are $10 to $25.

Disenchanted Puts New Spin on Disney Classic

The cast of Sisenchanted Credit: Courtesy Photo


The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces Disenchanted on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street. This performance is part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents Series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

This hilarious, not-for-children musical, follows Snow White and her posse of sassy storybook princesses as they set the record straight. Creator, Dennis T. Giacino came up with the idea for the musical while teaching a history class. While teaching his students about the Jamestown settlement, he thought about how the real Pocahontas would react to her Disney counterpart. From there he created the hit musical. The musical, which premiered in 2011, has been performed to sold-out crowds across the country.

CBS New York says “Disenchanted puts a new spin on Disney classics, leaving audiences doubled over in laughter.” Huffington Post claims it is “funny and a touch of wicked.”

For more about the musical visit: http://www.disenchantedmusical.com/
Show includes adult content, haze and strobe lights. Recommended for ages 14+.

Tickets start at $30.   Tickets are available at TrustArts.org, by phone at 412-456-6666, or in person at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue.   Groups of 10+ please call 412-471-6930.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble Comes to August Wilson Center Wed., April 26


Hypnotic Brass Ensemble Credit: Courtesy Photo

HBE (Hyopnitiuc Brass Ensemble) are seven brothers from the south side of Chicago who come from an extraordinary musical family. The band freely mix the brass band tradition with generous doses of hip hop, soul and funk, creating an intoxicating and boisterous blend that is just barely contained on their newest release Fly: The Customs Prelude.

They have toured throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America playing with everyone from Prince, Mos Def , Mick Jones (The Clash) and Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz). They’ve performed Coachella, WOMAD AU, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. The documentary film Brothers Hypnotic, explores their music, work ethic, life and experience of being raised by their jazz legend father Phil Cohran. After screening in major cities and festivals, it aired on PBS. Their song, “War” was featured in the blockbuster hit movie, Hunger Games.

HBE is at the August Wilson Center,in Downtown Pittsburgh at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26. Matinee tickets are $22.25, School Matinee $11.25. Phone 412-456-6666.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Week of Will kicks off Friday!




Week of Will kicks off Friday night at the monthly Gallery Crawl in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District with scenes from Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ Supernatural Shakespeare. Compiled and directed by Helen M. Meade, his premiere production is a collaboration of PSIP and the Trust.
Fri., April 21 begins at 6 pm and runs each hour at 6, 7 and 8 pm
Cultural Trust Pierce Theatre, 805 Liberty Ave. (15222).

Supernatural Shakespeare includes scenes from Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Featuring Jennifer Tober, Tonya Lynn, Parag S. Gohel and Aaron Crutchfield, with each playing multiple roles. Original music performed by Dennis Garner and Gil Teixeir.


ON SHAKESPEARE'S 453rd BIRTHDAY
Sunday, April 23 - 11 am
Shakespeare Statue Tribute, featuring Mrs Shakespeare (portrayed by Yvonne Hudson), a 20-minute program at Pittsburgh's William Shakespeare statue, with surprise guests including company members of Brawling Bard with “Hamlet on the Boat” and birthday treats for the audience.
Carnegie Music Hall steps, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland (15213)

The Britsburgh Beer Society Launch
Celebrate Saint George’s Day for its patron saint on the day of Shakespeare’s birth with Britsburgh and Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks on Sunday afternoon.
3 pm  The party kicks off with a with a meet and greet and beer sampling.
3:45 pm  A short talk on Shakespeare’s life, family, and love of ale features Mrs Shakespeare (Yvonne Hudson) with a toast to St. George, England, and Britain’s fine beers.
Through 6 pm  Beer tastings, pairings, and networking.
Northern Beer Traders, 190 Rochester Rd., West View (15229)
Join Britsburgh as a member for free admission or buy a $12 ticket online for this event via website. ($20 at door)




Monday, April 24 - 7:30-9 pm
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bard) - Cowboy Shakespeare
Readings and performances of Shakespeare's zaniest characters - with a twist. A Brooklyn accent? A cowboy hat? A yinzer Lady Macbeth? Open to actors and non-actors alike. Kids welcome. Free admission with $10 suggested donation appreciated. All funds to support PSIP's Henry V production in September.
Te Cafe, Squirrel Hill (15217)

Tuesday, April 25
Twitter Party  Talk Henry V with show director Alan Irvine on Twitter @Pgh Shakespeare. Explore themes of leadership, loyalty, friendship, and bravery with Irvine and other Shakespeare Fans.

Wed., April 26 -  5-7 pm
Fundraising Happy Hour with Jennifer Tober and PSIP company and board members. Eat, drink and be merry to support PSIP during our two-hour event. Everyone is a player when we read or perform a favorite Shakespeare pieces impromptu - prizes and appreciation are given. Selfies with Will and more Shakespearean surprises.
Franktuary, 3810 Butler St., Lawrenceville (15201)

Friday, April 28
Trivia Contest on PSIP's Facebook page for the most knowledgeable fans.

WEEK OF WILL events are open to the public at no charge with donations accepted.
We count on your support to keep Will's works free for all in our beautiful parks.

WORLD RENOWNED ARTIST RETURNS TO PITTSBURGH TO CREATE MURAL IN WILKINSBURG COMMUNITY


Hebru Brantley, the Chicago based world-renowned artist, made his Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania debut in May of 2016 with I WISH I KNEW: HOW IT FELT TO BE FREE.  This exhibit by Brantley was presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Avenue, located in the Cultural District.

Nearly a year later, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will bring Brantley back to Pittsburgh to leave his mark yet again, this time with a much more permanent piece of art, in the form of a large scale mural that community members and art lovers can admire and be inspired by for many years to come. The mural is to be completed by April 29.

A community and press event will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 28 at 501 Wallace Avenue to celebrate the unveiling of Brantley’s mural and Wilkinsburg’s newest international attraction. The event will feature brief words from the artist and those involved in making this public art project a success. The mural will be painted along a large wall of a former meat warehouse, a generous donation of space from Bill McDonough, born and raised in Wilkinsburg. It is a highly visible facade that both Wilkinsburg residents, businesses and commuters see daily.  It is also directly across from the Port Authority park & ride where hundreds of vehicles enter and exit for bus commuting to downtown Pittsburgh.

“Street art is a way of campaigning for me, getting my work out there to people who may not typically be exposed to it.  It gives the community something to connect with.” said artist Hebru Brantley.  The mural in Wilkinsburg will be a ‘Flyboy’ flying.  It is important to me to depict a black kid traveling safely through the city.  Flyboy is a symbol of what it means to fly in your imagination and community.  This idea is carried out through murals all over, from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Chicago.  I am excited to work with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust again and to add Pittsburgh to the list.”

Conversations around creating a Pittsburgh mural began in 2015.  “I first saw Hebru Brantley’s work at the American’s for the Arts Conference,” shared Marqui Lyons, Program Manager of  Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  “Hebru and poet, Kevin Coval, were discussing the impact Hip Hop has had on their work, and I was mesmerized by Hebru’s illustrations that covered Coval’s book, The BreakBeat Poets, and later with the character ‘Flyboy’  that I saw in a nearby mural.  I became determined to bring this unique artist and his work to Pittsburgh for an exhibit and possible community mural.”

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust can add our city to the notable list of locations Hebru Brantley has presented his mural masterpieces and works of art,” commented Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  “Presenting contemporary art and artists of Hebru’s caliber is crucial to advancing Pittsburgh’s arts scene and to developing Pittsburgh into a more inclusive and welcoming city.  Giving the gift of art to a community like Wilkinsburg ties in to the mission of the August Wilson Center: promoting, celebrating and supporting African American culture.”

Collaborating with Wilkinsburg councilwoman, Marita Garrett, the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, and the Wilkinsburg Arts Council, a location was identified in the fall of 2016.   “With numerous lists and articles that discuss the most livable cities in our nation; we all find ourselves asking what makes a livable community.  Is it nice houses?  Variety of businesses?  Schools?  While these all play a role – it is vital to look at the arts and culture of a community,” shared Marita Garrett, councilwoman and Wilkinsburg mayoral candidate.

Councilwoman Garrett further noted, “For any community, the arts and culture are an essential.  As an art commissioner and vice president of Council, I’m thrilled that Hebru and the Pitsburgh Cultural Trust chose Wilkinsburg to place this mural.  Hebru’s message through his work is important for our residents, especially our youth to see that they can thrive and be whomever they strive to be.  We are honored to have his work during this time of rebirth of Wilkinsburg, as we keep moving forward.”

The mural will be located at 501 Wallace Avenue in the city of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.  The building was once a meat warehouse with a large wall that faces Penn Avenue.  It is a highly visible facade that both Wilkinsburg residents, businesses and commuters see daily.  It is also directly across from the Port Authority of Allegheny County's park & ride where hundreds of vehicles enter and exit for bus commuting to downtown Pittsburgh.  A community and press event will be held on Friday, April 28, 2017 to celebrate the unveiling of Brantley’s mural and Wilkinsburg’s newest international attraction.  More details to be announced at a later date about the community press event.

About Hebru Brantley

Hebru Brantley breaks down the walls of cultural boundaries through his art. Inspired by his 1980’s Chicago upbringing, Brantley’s work touches on tough subjects in a way that may be easily digestible to the viewer, by telling his stories through youthful characters and their adventures.  Brantley’s work can be described as pop- infused contemporary art inspired by Japanese anime and the bold aesthetics of street art pioneers Jean Michel Basquiat, Kaws and Keith Haring.  While spray paint is often at the forefront of his mixed-media illustrations, Brantley utilizes a plethora of mediums from oil, acrylic and watercolor to non-traditional mediums like coffee and tea.

 keen observer of life, Brantley calls upon his characters to help create different narratives throughout his work.  Brantley’s recent focus is to share energetic narratives— moments of reality from his life and the lives of his peers, mixed with fantastical fiction— to create a fragmented environment of make believe.  Brantley’s pieces evoke the quintessential combination of nostalgia and inspiration in those who are able to experience his works.  Recognized nationally for public works and solo shows, Hebru Brantley has exhibited in cities around the globe- London, Geneva, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York, as well as Art Basel Switzerland, Art Basel Miami, Scope NYC and frieze London.

SMOOTHFEST WEEKEND to FEATURE GERALD ALBRIGHT AND JONATHAN BUTLER

Gerald Albright Credit: Lori Stoll

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces Smoothfest Weekend, a weekend of smooth jazz performance at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Smoothfest Weekend will feature Gerald Albright on Friday, May 5th at 8:00 p.m. and Jonathan Butler on Saturday, May 6th at 8:00 p.m.

“We are excited to have both Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler at the August Wilson Center for Smoothfest! Both artists are stars in their own right, and it is an honor to have their unique stylings in Pittsburgh on the same weekend,” shared Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President, Strategic Partnership and Community Engagement and Director of Jazz Programs at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

About Gerald Albright

One of the biggest stars of R&B, contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, Gerald Albright has earned his reputation as a “musician’s musician.” Albright has performed with such luminaries as Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Olivia Newton-John, Whitney Houston, and many others.
Albright has been nominated for multiple Grammy ® Awards, including Best Pop Instrumental Album for New Beginnings (2008), Sax for Stax (2009), Pushing the Envelope (2010) and his collaboration with Grammy®-winning guitarist Norman Brown, 24/7 (2012). Slam Dunk, Albright’s newest album, released in 2014, was nominated for a Grammy® award in the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category.

Jonathan Butler Credit: Courtesy Photo

About Jonathan Butler
Jonathan Butler is an icon in the smooth jazz realm. Butler began his singing career at age 7, releasing his first album in 1973 and winning the Best New Artist Grammy
in South Africa at age 12. He made history by being the first black artist played on white South African radio, earning three gold records.
He received Grammy® nominations for Best R&B Song for his R&B-pop vocal hit “Lies” and for Best Jazz Song for the instrumental “Going Home.” His genre-busting material earned songwriter’s awards and received abundant airplay in multiple radio formats: pop, urban, contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and gospel. Butler’s 2004 album, Surrendor, went gold in South Africa where he remains a superstar. With legions of fans, this international superstar continues to make music that feeds the soul in new and inventive ways.

Tickets ($45) are available at these Pittsburgh Cultural Trust official ticket sources: www.TrustArts.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
August Wilson Center

The August Wilson Center is an architectural gem that offers multiple exhibition galleries, a 472-seat theater for performances in all genres, an education center for classes, lectures and hands-on learning, and dazzling spaces for community programs and events.
The African American Cultural Center is the non-profit organization that owns the August Wilson Center. For rental inquiries, visit the African American Cultural Center pages on CulturalDistrict.org.

SCIENCE CENTER HOSTS 21+ CONSTRUCTION NIGHT

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Carnegie Science Center invites guests to learn about the science of construction at the next no-kids night. 21 + Construction happens Friday, April 28, from 6 – 10 pm. The event theme is inspired by the current Science Pavilion construction, which will expand the Science Center’s exhibit and event spaces. As always, 21+ Night features cash bars, snacks available for purchase, and the chance to experience the exhibits with no kids! Live music will be provided by local band “Nightly Standard” in the Science Center’s Robot Lounge.

Guests will join City Theatre staff members and the production team from the theater's upcoming play Ironbound, a riveting portrait of an independent Polish immigrant searching for the American Dream. Theatre staff will discuss the process of bringing a play from the page to the stage. Guests will have the opportunity to build their own scene with recycled materials in front of the Science Center's Green Screen using lines from the play and virtual backdrops. City Theatre scenic designers will also host interactive demonstrations about set construction using auto and hand drafting and display scenic models from past and current productions.

Other activities will include making boats out of foil and testing various vessels to see which holds the most weight, creating structures out of the blocks from the science center’s BLUE! exhibit, and engineering with construction tables full of LEGO bricks and K’nex pieces. Guests will also learn about modern rapid prototyping with a 3D printer demonstration from the Science Center’s FabLab.

For a few dollars more, guests can watch the newest Omnimax Movie Dream Big. See firsthand how bridges are made in undeveloped countries, how buildings are designed to survive an earthquake, and how a high school team used feminine hygiene to compete in a robotics competition against elite colleges.

Proper identification is required, and all guests must show ID at the door. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $17 at the door. For more information and to register, visit CarnegieScienceCenter.org.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4.48 Psychosis at off the Wall - Not for the Feint of Heart

Siovhan Christensen, Erika Cuenca and Tammy Tsai in 4.48 Pyschosis Credit: Heather Mull

off the WALL productions presents 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane.

In one last act of love to the theater,  Sarah Kane wrote what many consider her greatest play, 4.48 Psychosis.   A subjective story of clinical depression, the audience is given insight into one particular case – a young woman who stands in the place between life and death. Certain issues are clearly dealt with: whether or not to take medication, the effects and effectiveness of such medication, self-harm, suicide and possible causes of depression. Combined with themes of isolation, dependency, relationships, and love, the result is not just a painfully funny play about one person’s struggle with mental illness, but also one that scratches at the scabs of inadequacy, failure and despair that we all bear at times.

Credit: Heather Mull
Director Robyne Parrish, drawing from her recent experience with “Physical Theater”, movement specialist Moriah Ella Mason, and an original musical score by Reni Monteverde guide the all-female cast (Erika Cuenca, Tammy Tsai, and Siovhan Christensen) in the exploration of this stream of consciousness work.

Performance dates: Apr 21-22, 27-29, May 4-6 @ 8:00 pm,  Apr 23 & 30 @ 3:00 pm
Tickets: $ 5.00 - $ 40.00  www.insideoffthewall.com
Phone: 724-873-3576


New Exhibit of Paintings and Drawings Opens at CMOA


Michael Williams, “The Truth About Painting 2,” 2017, inkjet on canvas, Courtesy of the artist; CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, © Michael Williams

Michael Williams, an exhibition of new paintings and a series of drawings, opens April 21, 2017 at Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA). The exhibition is the 78th installment in the museum’s Forum Series. Featuring a suite of new paintings and a series of drawings, the presentation is Williams’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States.

On April 20 at 7 p.m., join the artist and curator Eric Crosby for an in-gallery conversation about contemporary painting and the creative process. CMOA's Third Thursday follows at 8 p.m., and the museum remains open until 11 p.m.

Over the last 10 years, Michael Williams has created paintings known for their layered imagery, eye-popping color, and use of techniques such as airbrushing and inkjet printing. His large-scale works often begin as drawings either on paper or on the computer screen before they are printed or transferred to canvas and then embellished with oil paint. The narrative content of Williams’s work reveals his dark sense of humor and exploration of the role of the painter as observer.

Three large canvases in the exhibition, for example, develop from the same scene from one of the artist’s drawings: a student seated in a classroom daydreaming about lacrosse during a lecture about global warming. Williams’s wickedly funny allegories merge with abstract painting and amoebic shapes, which sometimes fill the entirety of his canvases. The resulting works offer the eye a dense and absorbing terrain of color and form. Pushing his experiments with a large-scale latex printer one step further, Williams also presents two paintings that are wholly printed in contrast to his works in oil paint.

Upstairs in CMOA’s Scaife Galleries, which house the museum’s collection, a satellite installation of Williams’s “puzzle drawings” reveals a different aspect of the artist’s process. Since 2010, Williams has traveled with photocopies of his own drawings. While on the road, he cuts up and collages these copies to make new works on paper. The rough outline of a jigsaw puzzle piece is a consistent motif in the ongoing series; Williams also uses it as a tool for pure visual invention. Creating gaps in his preexisting imagery, the puzzle shape allows him to discover new forms of abstraction between recognizable things.

Michael Williams is organized by Eric Crosby, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Carnegie Museum of Art.

About the Artist
Michael Williams was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in 1978 and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2000. Since that time, he has exhibited widely at institutions and venues in North America and Europe. In recent years, he has presented solo exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Gladstone Gallery, Brussels; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; CANADA, New York; VeneKlasen/Werner, Berlin; and Michael Werner Gallery, London. Additionally, his work has been featured in notable group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Art; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas; Secession, Vienna; and the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow. Williams lives and works in Los Angeles.

Related Events

Opening Reception, Thursday, April 20, 7–8 p.m., CMOA Forum Gallery
Be the first to see CMOA’s newest exhibition. Join the artist Michael Williams and exhibition curator Eric Crosby for an in-gallery conversation about contemporary painting and the creative process. Free and open to the public.

Third Thursday, Thursday April 20, 8–11 p.m., CMOA
Stay after the opening reception for our monthly late-night hours. Advance: $10, members $8, students $5; Door: $15, members and students $10. Opening reception attendees $5.

Gallery Guide App
Visitors to the museum may also hear from the artist directly. Williams has selected highlights from CMOA’s world-class painting collection and shared his impressions in a sequence of audio recordings for the museum’s Gallery Guide app. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History’s Gallery Guide app may be downloaded at itunes.apple.com (search: CMOA).

Exhibition Catalogue
Michael Williams is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by CMOA and distributed by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers. Contents include a text by exhibition curator Eric Crosby and an interview with the artist by art historian Suzanne Hudson. Available July 2017. For pre-order inquiries, please call the CMOA Store at 412.622.3216.

About the Forum Series
CMOA’s Forum Series is a dynamic program of exhibitions by some of today’s most innovative contemporary artists. Initiated in 1990, the series, which is presented in a dedicated gallery just off the museum’s main lobby, remains a vital aspect of CMOA’s contemporary program. It has presented more than 75 exhibitions since its inception, many of which have been museum debuts for artists who have gone on it achieve international renown. Artists featured in past Forum exhibitions include Jeff Wall, Yasumasa Morimura, Ann Hamilton, Thaddeus Mosley, Kiki Smith, Mel Bochner, Rivane Neuenschwander, Ragnar Kjartansson, Cory Arcangel, Alison Knowles, and many others.

Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our world-class collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Learn more: call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.

Copyright © 2017 Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

JFilm Festival presents “Mr. Gaga” screening with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

An Image from the film Mr. Gaga Credit: Courtesy Photo


The JFilm Festival, a program of Film Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre present a screening of award-winning Israeli documentary “Mr. Gaga” on Tuesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at the Manor Theatre, 1729 Murray Ave. “Mr. Gaga” took home the Audience Award for Best Documentary at both the SXSW Film Festival and the Aspen Film Festival. This will be the film’s Pittsburgh premiere.

The visually stunning “Mr. Gaga” chronicles the story of Ohad Naharin, renowned choreographer and artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, who has spent the past 25 years pushing the boundaries of physical and political expression through the language of body movement. Naharin developed “Gaga” – a singular choreographic style that emphasizes seeing and imagining over performing. Israeli filmmaker Tomer Heymann pulls out all the stops in his profile of this dance rock star, known for both his bluntness and charismatic genius.

The screening will be followed by a conversation featuring Saar Harari, manager of Gaga USA., as well as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s executive director, Harris Ferris, and director of education and community engagement, Christina Salgado. The discussion will be moderated by Kathryn Spitz Cohan, executive director of Film Pittsburgh.

Screening and post-film programming are generously sponsored by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, which gave Naharin’s acclaimed “Tabula Rasa” its world premiere in 1986.

TICKET INFORMATION
General admission - $12
Youth (18 and under) - $6
Reserved seating - $18 (advance only)
Tickets and additional information are available at FilmPittsburgh.org.

GAGA MASTER CLASSES
Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body. Gaga provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while lightening the senses and imagination.

In conjunction with the “Mr. Gaga” screening, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is offering two Gaga Master Classes:

Gaga for Dancers:
When: April 25, from 3-4:30 p.m.
Where: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre - 2900 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Teacher: Saar Harari, manager at Gaga USA
About: The Gaga/dancers class is open to professional dancers or advanced dance students ages 16+. Gaga for Dancers deepens dancers’ awareness of physical sensations, expands their palette of available movement options, enhances their ability to modulate their energy and engage their explosive power, and enriches their movement quality with a wide range of textures. Master class fee is $15 per person; class size is limited to 45 people. To register go to https://www.pbt.org/event/gaga-master-classes-gaga-people/

Gaga for People:
When: April 25, from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Where: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre - 2900 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Teacher: Saar Harari, Manager at Gaga USA
About: Gaga/people classes are open to people ages 16+, regardless of their background in dance or movement. No previous dance experience is needed. Gaga/people classes offer a creative framework for participants to connect to their bodies and imaginations, increase their physical awareness, improve their flexibility and stamina, and experience the pleasure of movement in a welcoming, accepting atmosphere. Participants should wear comfortable clothes and be prepared to dance barefoot or in socks. It is advisable to bring a bottle of water and a towel for use after class. Master class fee is $15 per person; class size is limited to 45 people. To register go to https://www.pbt.org/event/gaga-master-classes-gaga-people/

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Film Pittsburgh (formerly JFilm) presents independent films from around the world, helping audiences discover the stories, history and shared experiences that connect us all. We believe film is a powerful visual medium that thrives in the digital era by transcending cultural boundaries and inspiring change. Our broad range of programming is designed to reach people of all races, religions, ages and abilities, and emphasis is placed on collaboration with other organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has built a legacy of excellence since 1969. Led by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr, former American Ballet Theater ballet master and principal dancer, the company has built an eclectic repertoire that honors the company’s classical roots and explores ballet’s contemporary innovations. Through its official training institution, PBT School, the company cultivates the next generation of professional dancers and guides students of all ages and abilities in discovering the expression, discipline and joy of ballet. Throughout the community, PBT takes ballet into classrooms, libraries and community centers with programs that promote dance as a catalyst for creativity and learning in every phase of life.