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Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Arts & Entertainment

From waking the dead to a jazz conspiracy to an act of grand larceny –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in arts and entertainment.

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photo by chuck beard

May we suggest you steal the crown jewels? Preferably not the genuine article (they’re busy over there with weddings and babies at the moment) but rather via the thrilling and challenging game at Escape Room 51 in Pleasant Hills. The challenges in this multi-room puzzle range from the labyrinthine to the deceptively simple, all leading up to a painstaking swiping of the crown itself — and a last step toward victory that makes “The Royal Heist” quite possibly the most satisfying escape-room game in the region. (8 Clairton Blvd., Pleasant Hills; 412/714-8076, escaperoom51.com) —SC

photo courtesy the space upstairs

Artistic experimentation flourishes amid coffee tables and upholstered furniture in this unpretentious loft in Point Breeze. Glimpse into the artistic process of post-jazz dance maven Pearlann Porter with co-director John Lambert, her multidisciplinary collaborators and guests in The Sessions Upstairs or immerse yourself in The Invisible Jazz Labs where improvisation and science converge to explore compelling topics. For budding wordsmiths, unleash your inner bard at Poetry Night, a monthly writing workshop with open mic readings. (214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze; 412/225-9269, thespaceupstairs.org) —KD

photo by cory morton

Acoustic Brunch at Hambone’s is not your average Sunday affair. In addition to all of the familiar eggs and bloody Marys, the weekly brunch offers an intimate acoustic performance from a variety of musicians. While there is regularly a “featured performer,” the event is open stage, and local musicians are encouraged to come play for an audience as hungry for the soothing sounds of an acoustic guitar as they are for the Hambones Hangover Special. Acoustic Brunch also frequently serves as a fundraiser for local nonprofits and advocacy groups. (4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/681-4318, acousticbrunch.com) —CG

photo courtesy ABC/American Idol

Nine years ago, a young girl stood in front of a stunned pastor and sang “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, starting her music career. In May, 18-year-old Gabby Barrett climbed to success in the 19th season of “American Idol,” finishing as the second runner-up. Barrett’s YouTube channel caught the attention of the “American Idol” team; they reached out and invited her to audition in front of judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. Though this season of the recently rebooted singing competition went by faster than most, Barrett says she still learned a lot about performing from the judges. Now the Munhall native juggles TV appearances and concerts, along with her increasing fame. The biggest change for this Pittsburgh girl? She “can’t walk out in public wearing sweatpants and socks that don’t match.” Though fame may haunt and hurt some people, Barrett finds it encouraging. Seeing her face plastered everywhere for something she and her father — her biggest and most dedicated supporter — have been working toward for so long is a great relief to Barrett. The country star recently released an original song, “Jesus and My Mama,” which hit the iTunes chart. (facebook.com/gabbybarrett5) —AB

photo courtesy pittsburgh glass center

“We’ll blow your mind” the Pittsburgh Glass Center promises in rolling out its new venture, Hot Wheels, which brings the glass-making experience to you. See molten magma turned into works of glass art right before your eyes at the mobile studio, which is available for bookings and will wheel into schools and events, including Three Rivers Arts Festival, KidsPlay at Market Square (July 7), Squirrel Hill Night Market (Aug. 25), A Fair in the Park (Sept. 7-9) and Festival of Combustion at Carrie Furnace (Sept. 29). (Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/365-2145, www.pittsburghglasscenter.org/hotwheels) —MM

photo courtesy potters water action group

Water in the developing world is often unclean and unsafe to drink, leading to waterborne diseases such as intestinal diarrhea, typhoid fever and cholera. That’s where Potters Water Action Group comes in. Retired Slippery Rock University pottery professor Richard Wukich was involved with the international group Potters for Peace, which was making a clay and sawdust water filter fired in a kiln and treated with a small amount of bacteria-killing colloidal silver. Wukich took on the project and has worked all over the world, including Sudan, Iraq and Nepal, setting up filter factories where clean water is needed. “Puerto Rico has a big, bad water problem,” he says. “Someone asked how do we decide where we want to build a filter factory, and I said, ‘Throw a dart because pretty much everywhere in the world map you hit there’s a need for clean water; there’s a need for our water filter.’” —LD

photo by richard cook

Sometime after Halloween, Colin Dunlap, host of the 93.7 The Fan Morning Show, noticed a lone pleasure boat docked in the Allegheny River near PNC Park. He mused about its origins on the air. “It became this running thing,” explains morning show producer Matt Koll. Throughout the winter, the boat, which eventually began to list and take on water, remained a fixture on the banks of the North Shore — and the Morning Show — with listeners regularly calling in with updates. (The boat’s owner even emailed the show once, Koll says, although he stopped responding to inquiries in short order.) The last person to report to Dunlap: The man who was towing the boat away. (937thefan.radio.com) —JFC

Celebrate with many of the winners at the annual Best of the 'Burgh Party on July 19 at Stage AE. Learn more here.

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2018 Best of the 'Burgh

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Readers' Choice Poll Results

Diners, food trucks, dive bars and more. Here's the most popular stuff in town.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Food and Drink

From a goat rodeo farm and dairy to a Spanish revival to a secret lunch –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in food and drink.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Fitness and Outdoor

From a way to be shady to a (literal) tailgate to letting the moon be your guide –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in fitness and the outdoors.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Arts & Entertainment

From waking the dead to a jazz conspiracy to an act of grand larceny –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in arts and entertainment.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Cultural Attractions

From a tiny history lesson to a secret garden to a hidden shrine –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in cultural attractions.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Business and Education

From a pierogi you can't eat to a hidden toy chest to the rehab of a dying mall –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in business and education.
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