April: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh
Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.
photo courtesy Lynn lane
by lauren davidson
April 21-29/ It’s a classic plot of a comedic opera: Boy pines for girl and girl notices boy, but confusion ensues. Then, fate intervenes. Happy ending. But setting The Elixir of Love, written in the 1800s, into a 1950s Italian coastal town (complete with Vespa scooters and a hot air balloon) in this Pittsburgh Opera production gives the amusing show new life. The opera is sung in Italian and presented with English subtitles. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, pittsburghopera.org)
April 5-28/ PICT Classic Theatre concludes its “Expect the Best” season of classic tales with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, adapted by PICT Artistic and Executive Director Alan Stanford. The epic story follows Jane from her orphaned childhood to her difficult position as a governess in the house of Rochester, where she finds romance, tragedy, and, perhaps most importantly, her place in the world. (WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio, 4802 Fifth Ave., Oakland; 412/561-6000, picttheatre.org)
April 7-May 6/ When The White Chip premiered in 2016 at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Massachusetts, a reviewer wondered how the company could have hired the show’s author, Sean Daniels, as its artistic director. After all, as depicted in the autobiographical play, his alcoholism, for a time, sent him spinning out of control. But “The White Chip,” named for the beginners token in Alcoholics Anonymous, is the story of a journey, an important one, and it’ll be well told at City Theatre. (City Theatre Mainstage, 1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org)
April 6-15/ Anton Chekhov composed glorious short stories in his time, but his plays, especially when performed live, are just as masterful. Conservatory Theatre Company, under the direction of Philip Winters, presents a Chekhov classic, Uncle Vanya. In the late 1800s Russian countryside, Vanya falls for the young, beautiful second wife of his late sister’s husband. So does his friend, whom Vanya’s niece pines for, and the entire family is consumed with drama at every turn. “Uncle Vanya” will mark the company’s final show at the current Oakland site of the Pittsburgh Playhouse before the theater moves this summer to its new home Downtown. (The Rauh Theatre, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland; 412/392-8000, pittsburghplayhouse.com)
April 5-15/ What does it mean to hold a gun, to fire one, to face one?” That will be explored in Recoil, a world premiere presented by University of Pittsburgh Department of Theatre Arts students under the direction of professor Cynthia Croot. Croot grew up around guns, but once she started exploring the topic in her classes she knew there were plenty of perspectives she hadn’t experienced. Thirteen actors will incorporate projection and video footage into the piece, which will explore the history of guns in the United States, how guns play into family relationships and many other issues. The show was devised well before the February shooting in Parkland, Fla., but the events after the tragedy, when students demanded immediate action on gun-control reform, make this show all the more relevant by using first-person accounts to examine how firearms have transformed our world. (Richard E. Rauh Studio Theatre, 4200 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/624-7529, play.pitt.edu)
“The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks, c. 1837, oil on canvas | Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art, Bequest of Charles J. Rosenbloom
by mike may
THROUGH JUNE 24/ Pity poor Faust. The iconic man who made the deal with the devil is caught up in a watercolor-and-gouache hell in this riveting visual interpretation. Ary Scheffer’s “Faust in His Study” encapsulates much of what Visions of Order and Chaos: The Enlightened Eye wants to tell us. Lots can change when the world advances and one century turns into another. But there’s a price to be paid. No, we’re not talking 20th to 21th, but 17th to 18th century. This show at Carnegie Museum of Art rewinds to a time (1750-1850) much like ours, when the world convulsed and lurched forward. The Enlightenment was inspiring new ways to examine, question and even discard traditions and beliefs, including those dealing with religion. Revolutions were churning in America and France. Equality was a mantra. Scientific discoveries were making the world modern. More than 200 pieces from the museum’s collection — paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, furniture, even personal objects — have been assembled by Louise Lippincott, curator of fine art. Look for an idealized “Peaceable Kingdom” painting by Edward Hicks and a print of a woman contemplating suicide by Caspar David Friedrich. “This exhibition is especially exciting, because around 75 percent of the art has never been shown here before,” says Lippincott. “After years of research and conservation, we’re able to present hundreds of works from a time of public debates and discussions that shaped our world. They remind us that the questions of the Enlightenment still hang in the air — as well as in museums.” (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org)
THROUGH JUNE 15/ Hate unloading the dryer? Is picking up your stuff at the dry cleaners a drag? Be thankful you didn’t live back in the good old days. Washed and Hung: Laundry and Textiles in America is a soap opera that exposes all of the dirty secrets of one of life’s most arduous and despised tasks. (Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery, St. Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe; 724/805-2188, mccarlgallery.org)
THROUGH APRIL 22/ To coincide with the 52nd annual conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, held in March in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts hosted three shows as well as the NCECA National Juried Student Exhibition:
• “Wood Fired” brings together early- to mid-career ceramic artists from the Pittsburgh region who explore contemporary practices of wood firing.
• “Crossing Paths” features seven locally based ceramics artists and looks at their relationship to Pittsburgh and their artistic community.
• “Mixed Signals” showcases local ceramic artist Yoko Sekino-Bove in a one-person show.
• NCECA National Juried Student Exhibition presents 65 pieces from fledgling artists who are forging the future of ceramics and sculpture.
(Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Fifth Ave., Point Breeze; 412/361-0873, center.pfpca.org)
THROUGH APRIL 15/ “Stories of immigration, culture and inclusion” power the theme for “LAS (Latin American Status),” a show organized by Colombian American artist Natalia Arbelaez that features six Latin American artists (Arbelaez, April Felipe, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, Morel Doucet, Christina Erives, Renata Cassiano) from Central and South America and the Caribbean. (707 Penn Ave., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
photo by Kitoko Chargois
by Karen Dacko
April 19-20/ STAYCEE PEARL dance project & Soy Sos presents “worx,” a repertory concert. Featured is the premiere of sol. an athletic, upbeat dance piece driven by soul music from the 1950s through the mid-1970s — including tunes with Pittsburgh origins. Programming includes the pop culture-inspired “circlePOP” (2010) and “…on being...” (2013), an examination of Post-Blackness in America. (Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; pearlartsstudios.com/events/worx)
April 10/ Direct from ABC-TV’s “Dancing With the Stars,” ballroom and Latin dance champions Peta Murgatroyd, a lithe, leggy New Zealand-born dancer, and the Ukrainian Chmerkovskiy brothers — the debonair Valentin and the sexy Maksim (Murgatroyd’s husband) — waltz into town with Maks, Val & Peta Live on Tour: Confidential. This celebration of dance and life is inspired by their personal and family relationships. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
photo by rory Doyle
April 14/ The internationally recognized BodyTraffic, a Los Angeles-based contemporary dance company directed by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Berkett, performs select repertory works. Anton Lachky’s “Private Games” (2017) explores a mysterious and explosive world, while ballet and hip-hop movements drive Richard Siegal’s jazzy and humorous “o2Joy” (2012). Hofesh Shechter’s “Dust” (2015), an examination of power and commercialism, completes the program. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
April 13-29/ Attack Theatre premieres the site-specific “If|Maybe|Then,” an immersive dance-theater production that weaves new media technologies into live performance. Developed in collaboration with company member Dane Toney, who has experimented with interactive media, the work offers audiences opportunities to traverse through various chambers and develop individual perspectives on the proceedings. (610 E. Waterfront Drive, Homestead; 412/281-3305, attacktheatre.com/maybe)