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January: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.




photo by Ken Howard

 

Jan. 21-29/ Pittsburgh Opera is behind the second U.S. production of Richard the Lionheart, set to be performed at CAPA Theater. George Frideric Handel’s 1726 Italian-language composition didn’t make its way over the pond until 2015, when it was performed in St. Louis. The story follows King Richard the Lionheart and his fiancé Costanza, who becomes shipwrecked on the island of Cyprus en route to the couple’s wedding. The governing Isacio decides he wants Costanza for himself and tries to trade her for his own daughter. Blood, disguises and trickery ensue. Pittsburgh Opera is partnering with Chatham Baroque and the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama for this production. (CAPA Theater, 111 Ninth St., Downtown; 412/281-0912, pittsburghopera.org)

Jan. 26-Feb. 5/ Pittsburgh Musical Theater will present The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the novel by Victor Hugo with songs from the Disney film. In 15th-century Paris, Quasimodo is a deformed bell-ringer who longs to be out in the world with everyone else. Cue an uncomfortable love quadrangle with a gypsy (Esmeralda), a malicious archdeacon and a military captain and add a fight to save Esmeralda’s people. The production promises to bring a powerful score to the audience in this underappreciated story of life as an outcast. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, pittsburghmusicals.com)

Jan. 21-Feb. 12/ The story of boxer Jack Johnson should inspire audiences anew during the City Theatre’s production of Marco Ramirez’s The Royale. The show, directed by Stuart Carden, depicts Jay “The Sport” Jackson, a fictionalized take on Johnson, and his quest to becoming a heavyweight champion. Set during the Jim Crow era, “The Royale” follows Jackson’s journey and how it impacts those close to him — including his sister Nina, who begs him to consider how his win could impact the country. (City Theatre Mainstage, 1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org)
 


Sylvester Damianos, Windspirit, 2012, American black walnut and lacquered poplar
 

Through Feb. 5/ January is said to be named for Roman god Janus, a two-faced (not in a bad way) deity; he could gaze into the past while looking toward the future, a fitting patron of beginnings and endings. This month then seems to be an especially appropriate time to see a show dedicated to a (seemingly) contradictory but (definitely) creative duality: “Opposites Attract.” The show at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art brings together two venerable local artists with different creative visions: Kathleen Mulcahy and Sylvester Damianos.
 


Kathleen Mulcahy, Tidal, 2008, aluminum form with glass drops
 

But this pairing could not have been accomplished without the curatorial vision of Westmoreland chief curator Barbara Jones. Both artists were recent recipients of The Westmoreland’s award at the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual, earning each a solo show at the museum. Jones, though, proposed joining the honorees into one super-show, adding a yin-and-yang dimension. Mulcahy has been a force in the arts, not only for her award-winning glass and mixed-media work but also as a teacher and founder, along with husband Ron Desmett, of Pittsburgh Glass Center. An architect by profession, Damianos also is an award-winning artist with the ability to draw from his architectural roots or seek inspiration from the Fibonacci sequence to construct abstract, sometimes-gritty, works in canvas, concrete, metal and wood. He can think — and work — big: His largest sculpture was an 85-foot-long aluminum-and-steel vertical landscape created for the Westinghouse Nuclear Energy Center in Monroeville. (The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 N. Main St., Greensburg; 724/837-1500, thewestmoreland.org)

Through Jan. 28/ Seeking some sparkle for the new year? See seven artists strut their stuff in “Sculptural Bias 2” at Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery. Members of the group, hailing from Pittsburgh and far beyond, demonstrate individual creative perspectives but share “a narrative voice that speaks to their passion.” (Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery, 5833 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside; 412/441-5200, morganglassgallery.com)
 


photo Courtesy ABC
 

Jan. 9/ Dancing With the Stars: Live!, the stage version of the popular ABC competition series, hits the road with “We Came to Dance.” The new production features select ensemble dances and duets showcasing ballroom dance styles as well as contemporary choreography and pieces created for the 43-city tour. The roster boasts guest artists and performers including Sharna Burgess, Val Chmerkovskiy, Keo Motsepe and Emma Slater, who appear regularly on the show. (Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown; 412/392-4900, pittsburghsymphony.org)

Jan. 20-21/ Choreographer Maria Caruso founded Bodiography Contemporary Ballet to prove that talent, not body type, creates the artist. Celebrating the nine-member troupe’s 15th anniversary, Caruso offers a Red Carpet Roll Out Performance, an evening of new and repertory works steeped in her eclectic vocabulary that overlays ballet with jazz, modern dance and pedestrian movement. Programming highlights include “Pathways,” a new piece focusing on the dancers’ individual journeys, and Caruso’s signature work “Solace” (2005), a modern ballet inspired by a personal crisis that explores friendship in times of need. The Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra performs the Arvo Part score live. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)

Jan. 20-22/ The Youth America Grand Prix 2017 Pittsburgh Semi-Final is the local round of an international ballet scholarship competition attracting students ages 9 to 19. During the event, aspirants take master classes at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s studios and vie for prestigious educational and employment opportunities during onstage competition rounds, adjudicated by a panel of judges. The event culminates in an awards ceremony. (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, 2900 Liberty Ave., Strip District; Upper St. Clair Theater, 1825 McLaughlin Run Road, Upper St. Clair; 412/851-2599, usctheater.org/calendar/170120-yagp)
 

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