Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

January: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

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



Jan. 24-Feb. 11/ What could possibly be so great about a musical that tells the origin story of “The Wizard of Oz?” I was asking myself that question before stepping into the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway six years ago to see “Wicked” for the first time, and my question was quickly answered. The epic story that combines love, sisterhood and a fight for social justice set against fantastic sets, flying broomsticks and masterful songs, such as “Defying Gravity,” immediately became a favorite. “Wicked” follows two teenagers at a magical boarding school, Glinda and her roommate Elphaba, who will ultimately become better known as the Wicked Witch of the West. But how do the two — one blond and bubbly, one green and cynical — become best friends, teaming up against the “Something Bad” that’s happening in Oz before learning what they can do “For Good?” And which of the characters who appear along the way will become those friends Dorothy meets along the Yellow Brick Road? If you’re skeptical, as I was, put that aside and experience the magic at the Benedum Center during this PNC Broadway run. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)

Jan. 25-Feb. 25/ The opening song from Tony Award winner “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” says it all: “Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns; Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns. Old situations, new complications, nothing portentous or polite; Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.” Join Pseudolus, Hero, Philia and more at Pittsburgh Public Theater for Stephen Sondheim’s version of this comedy of errors set in Ancient Rome. (O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown; 412/316-1600, ppt.org)

Jan. 20-Feb. 18/ “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is a one-man play by James Lecesne (a LGBT rights activist who won an Academy Award for his 1998 short film “Trevor”) that will take the stage at City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio this month. Adapted from Lecesne’s 2008 young adult novel, “Absolute Brightness,” the story is a poignant, touching and timely tale of a gay teen who goes missing and a detective, and community, who work to find out what happened to the larger-than-life 14-year-old who was just trying to be true to himself. (1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org)
 

  
photos courtesy of the artists
 

EXHIBITS

BY MIKE MAY
 

THROUGH FEB. 17/ A double-header at Silver Eye Center for Photography showcases two very different visual journeys: one biographical, the other autobiographical. Baseball provides the focus for the first show, “Fantasy Life,” described as “a space to contemplate the history of the game, the nature of ambition and the mythos of the American Dream.” Tabitha Soren followed the lives of minor-league draft picks for the Oakland A’s for 15 years. She began in 2002, as these boys of summer — Pittsburgher Brant Colamarino among them — were joining the major-league farm system out of high school or college. With her camera, Soren — a broadcast journalist who went on to pursue the fantasy life of a photographer — captured not only what happened on the field during their quest for glory, but also off: long bus trips, motels, friendships, marriages and other life passages along the way. Some stars rose, and others sank — even to homelessness. Very different places, times, circumstances and perspectives power “SISMOS,” which references the Spanish word for earthquake. Tarrah Krajnak takes us to 1979, the year of her birth in Lima, Peru, a time of seismic unrest and change. That same year, Krajnak was adopted by parents in an eastern Pennsylvania coal town. Although personal photographs are often essential elements to a visual autobiography, Krajnak does not rely on images of her or her family to tell her story. Instead, she retro-focuses back on her birth year and cobbles together archival materials, found photographs and other images “to invent something like a psychic history of that year and locate herself within it.” (Silver Eye Center for Photography, 4808 Penn Ave., Bloomfield; 412/431-1810, silvereye.org)

THROUGH JAN. 12/ Instead of cheaper by the dozen, think better by the dozen. Twelve regional artists converge for “Pittsburgh 10 (+2)”: Zivi Aviraz, Robert Bowden, Eva Damianos, Sylvester Damianos, Kathleen DePasse, Lila Hirsch-Brody, Mark Panza, Phiris Kathryn Sickels, David Sparks, Susan Sparks, Dirk VandenBerg and Francine VandenBerg. The core group started out as just half-a-dozen, six artists who had worked together at Panza Gallery in Millvale and developed strong inter-creative relationships. Their numbers increased in 2015, and they became The Pittsburgh 10 at Eastside Gallery in Forest Hills. Now, they’ve added two more for this show, offering a variety of styles and media, at BoxHeart Expressions’ main gallery. (BoxHeart Expressions, 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412/687-8858, boxheartgallery.com)

THROUGH JAN. 28/ They’ve got rhythm. That’s the conclusion to reach at “Recurrent Rhythms,” a show of 2- and 3-D creations by glass artists that demonstrate how repetitive motifs and geometric forms can create, through the ensemble as a whole, a “rhythmic quality.” “Color, pattern and texture invite the viewer to explore how both interior and exterior dimensions add depth to the works’ complexity,” an exhibition statement explains. Participating artists include Ben Cobb, Eric Cruze and Tomo Sakai, Chad Holliday, Steve Klein, Weston Lambert, Morgan Madison, Cynthia Miller, Richard Royal and Charonne Ruth. (Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery, 5833 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside; 412/441-5200, morganglassgallery.com)
 

Jan. 17/ Founded in 1975, Brazil’s Grupo Corpo (Body Group) has earned an international reputation for its trademark amalgamation of samba, bossa nova, capoeira, modern dance and ballet. The 21-member troupe, guided by Paulo Pederneiras, maintains 10 works in its active repertory, most featuring original music. On tap for this show is resident choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras’ “Dança Sinfônica,” a retrospective of repertory highlights accompanied by a commissioned symphony, and former company member Cassi Abranches’ 32-minute “Suite Branca,” an exploration of gravity set to music by rock musician Samuel Rosa. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
 


 

Jan. 16/ “Dancing with the Stars: Live! – Light Up the Night” presents a fresh showcase of ballroom and contemporary dance selections performed on the popular ABC network reality show, which has been a TV staple since 2005. An offshoot of “Strictly Come Dancing,” a BBC production, the weekly Los Angeles-based competition features professional dancers paired with celebrity contestants ranging from athletes to opera stars. Eliminations are based on judges’ scores and audience votes. The post-season tour brings fan favorites, such as Sharna Burgess, Artem Chigvintsev and Witney Carson, new partnerships, and favorite dances to the stage. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)

Jan. 17-21/ Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, known for acrobatic, nature-inspired extravaganzas, offers “Crystal,” its 42nd production but first foray on ice. The tale follows the travels of Crystal, a misunderstood young woman who falls through the ice during a midnight skate and discovers a reflection of herself beneath the surface. Sliding and various forms of fast-paced ice skating — including extreme skating on ramps — augment the troupe’s movement vocabulary, which embraces astounding aerial and acrobatic feats. (PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown; 412/642-1800, ppgpaintsarena.com/events)
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Gilligan's Sorbet Will Warm Your Heart ... Even in the Middle of Winter

Ann Gilligan’s frozen treats are so smooth and flavorful you’ll crave them all year long.

February 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

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

What We're Reading in February

Reviews of two books that explore in fine emotional detail the relationships among blood relatives.

The 400-Word Review: The Kid Who Would Be King

Live-action, family adventure is a rarity at the modern multiplex. Fortunately, this one's pretty good.

What Our Film Critic Thought of the Oscar Nominated Movies

Pittsburgh Magazine film critic Sean Collier has reviewed seven of the eight films nominated for Best Picture at the 2019 Academy Awards. Below, a look back at Sean's reviews of those seven movies — plus, to make up for the oversight, one more that should've received a nod.

A (Wedding) Date That Takes the Cake

Some couples choose a random date for their wedding, but others choose something with a lot of meaning behind it.

HGTV Star Leanne Ford Launches New Home Collection at Target

The “Restored by the Fords” designer’s signature lighting line is set to hit shelves in February.

PM on KD: The Turkey Devonshire

PM Associate Editor and dining critic Hal B. Klein appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss his new sandwich obsession, the Turkey Devonshire, and how it ended up on our February cover.

You Try It, Being a Meteorologist In Pittsburgh Isn't Easy

Aside from a Steelers loss, nothing seems to fire up Pittsburghers more than a blown weather forecast.

Our 50 Years: Why I Hate Nostalgia

Enjoying memories is fun – but a far cry from pining for the past.

Perspectives: Finding Grace in #MomLife

A Pittsburgh television reporter learns to embrace the imperfection that comes with being a working mom.

The 400-Word Review: Pledge

IFC Midnight's collegiate terror tale is mostly for genre fans, but it lands a few decent punches.

Capel’s Basketball Resurrection Has the Zoo Rocking Again

Head coach Jeff Capel is restoring respectability and re-establishing the relationship between Pitt’s students and Pitt’s student athletes.

Why Did No One Tell Me Cirque du Soleil is Awesome

A skeptical novice takes in the troupe's "Corteo" production and is stunned at his own delight.

Three Rivers Champion: Julius Boatwright

Boatwright works to connect everyone who needs it with mental health support.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


You Try It, Being a Meteorologist In Pittsburgh Isn't Easy

You Try It, Being a Meteorologist In Pittsburgh Isn't Easy

Aside from a Steelers loss, nothing seems to fire up Pittsburghers more than a blown weather forecast.

Comments

Our 50 Years: Why I Hate Nostalgia

Our 50 Years: Why I Hate Nostalgia

Enjoying memories is fun – but a far cry from pining for the past.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Fresh Fest Beerfest Is Set to Return to Pittsburgh

Fresh Fest Beerfest Is Set to Return to Pittsburgh

The country's first black brewfest looks to double in size this year.

Comments

Pittsburgh Chef Moves: Csilla Thackray Headed to Legume Bistro

Pittsburgh Chef Moves: Csilla Thackray Headed to Legume Bistro

Thackray's departure from The Vandal will result in a new menu at that Lawrenceville restaurant.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Why Did No One Tell Me Cirque du Soleil is Awesome

Why Did No One Tell Me Cirque du Soleil is Awesome

A skeptical novice takes in the troupe's "Corteo" production and is stunned at his own delight.

Comments

My New Neighborhood Bar is The Birmingham Bridge Tavern

My New Neighborhood Bar is The Birmingham Bridge Tavern

After settling into a new neighborhood, PM nightlife editor Sean Collier sings the praises of his go-to corner bar.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Capel’s Basketball Resurrection Has the Zoo Rocking Again

Capel’s Basketball Resurrection Has the Zoo Rocking Again

Head coach Jeff Capel is restoring respectability and re-establishing the relationship between Pitt’s students and Pitt’s student athletes.

Comments

Steelers' Organization Shares Blame for Brown Debacle

Steelers' Organization Shares Blame for Brown Debacle

For years now, the Steelers have been working around Brown’s maladaptive tendencies from Monday through Saturday and throwing him the ball on Sunday and hoping for the best.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: The Kid Who Would Be King

The 400-Word Review: The Kid Who Would Be King

Live-action, family adventure is a rarity at the modern multiplex. Fortunately, this one's pretty good.

Comments

What Our Film Critic Thought of the Oscar Nominated Movies

What Our Film Critic Thought of the Oscar Nominated Movies

Pittsburgh Magazine film critic Sean Collier has reviewed seven of the eight films nominated for Best Picture at the 2019 Academy Awards. Below, a look back at Sean's reviews of those seven movies — plus, to make up for the oversight, one more that should've received a nod.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A (Wedding) Date That Takes the Cake

A (Wedding) Date That Takes the Cake

Some couples choose a random date for their wedding, but others choose something with a lot of meaning behind it.

Comments

Pop Culture Touches Made These Weddings Extra Special

Pop Culture Touches Made These Weddings Extra Special

Whether you love all things Disney, “Game of Thrones” or “Star Wars,” there are lots of ways to add some personal — and fun — details into your wedding day.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
HGTV Star Leanne Ford Launches New Home Collection at Target

HGTV Star Leanne Ford Launches New Home Collection at Target

The “Restored by the Fords” designer’s signature lighting line is set to hit shelves in February.

Comments

Up for Auction: Luxury 200-Acre Ligonier Estate Owned by Former EDMC Exec

Up for Auction: Luxury 200-Acre Ligonier Estate Owned by Former EDMC Exec

Woodmere is one of four high-end properties owned by Robert Knutson scheduled to hit the auction block this week.

Comments