Best of Culture: 'Strength & Grace,' 90 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

You'll want to make time this month to see these fine plays, dance performances and exhibits.

Three’s company and makes up the charm at Pearlstein, Warhol, Cantor: From Pittsburgh to New York. It’s the first exhibition to explore the careers of Philip Pearlstein, Andy Warhol and Dorothy Cantor — first as students at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) and then as young artists trying to break into the New York scene in the early 1950s. Keep an eye out for a new work Pearlstein created this year.
[The Andy Warhol Museum, through Sept. 6, 117 Sandusky St., North Shore; 412/237-8300,; photo by Leonard Kessler, courtesy the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution] — Mike May


Dance By Karen Dacko

Texture Contemporary Ballet, July 16-19
For an evening of Strength & Grace, associate director Kelsey Bartman teams up with sister and vocalist Krysta Bartman for a premiere exploring female roles and stereotypes during the World War II era, while artistic director Alan Obuzor offers “Feel of Fire” (2006) set to Spanish and Brazilian music and an “earthy” new work for a cast of 15. A ballet by Gabriel Gaffney Smith completes the program.
[New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 888/718-4253,; photo by Katie Ging]

Alumni Theater Company, July 24-26
Chicago, the seamy, steamy musical about homicide in the Prohibition-era Windy City, provides ATC’s 18-member cast of high-school students with an opportunity to hone its skills at satire and refine its stylized jazz dance technique. The two-act production, directed by Hallie Donner, follows the arrest and incarceration of murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart as they work the criminal justice system and vie for fame as media darlings. Choreographer Staycee Pearl accents the dance numbers, including “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango,” with a modern flair while recording artist Bridgette Perdue coaches vocal numbers, including “Funny Honey” and “When You’re Good to Mama.” A live, six-piece band under the direction of Douglas Levine provides accompaniment.
[New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 412/945-0282,]

Reed Dance Intensive, July 18
Choreographer Greer Reed, who has a strong commitment to arts education, spearheads an annual two-week summer study course for students (ages 8 to 12) that culminates with an informal showcase.
[Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666,]


Butler Institute of American Art, Trumbull Branch, Through July 19
The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh organization heads west this year for its 104th Annual Exhibition. The juror is Louis Zona, director of Youngstown’s Butler Institute of American Art. Paintings, sculpture and photography as well as digital and fabric art constitute this show featuring 63 artists chosen from 162 entrants. Don’t miss another Pittsburgh connection at this location: A ceramic mural by French artist Pierre Soulages, “14 May, 1968,” which once graced the lobby at downtown’s One Oliver Plaza, was acquired by the Butler Institute and installed at the Trumbull Branch in 2010.
[9350 E. Market St., Howland Township, Ohio; 330/609-9900,; 412/361-1370,; "Marked" by Mia Tarducci Henry]

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Through Aug. 9
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh — 90, to be exact — when Ron Donoughe paints them. During the course of a year, this Lawrenceville resident visually explored and documented the city, almost on a quantum level, starting and progressing alphabetically one neighborhood at a time from Allegheny Center to Windgap (sorry, no X, Y or Z). The tesserae of this Pittsburgh mosaic, 90 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods, not only record the manmade but also the natural environment, which adds the capriciousness of light and the colorful shadings of the changing seasons that occurred during the progression of the project.

After doing similar projects in other western Pennsylvania locations, Donoughe set his sights on its epicenter. “A woodcut map of the city made me think how much of it I didn’t know. It appears to be a divided amoeba,” he says. “That was the most interesting part, discovering so much about a place I thought I knew.” Ditto for most Pittsburghers, he adds. “Places [such as] Fairywood and New Homestead are rarely known as city neighborhoods.” Adding another dimension to the project, Donoughe maintained a blog about his experience, which in turn has culminated in a book. Also on view at PCA are solo shows by seven artists: Danny Bracken, Haylee Ebersole, B A Harrington with Chele Isaac, Brett Kashmere, Derek Reese, Mark Schatz and Steven Sherrill.
[6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside; 412/361-0873,]



Little Lake Theatre Company, July 9-25
Living in a remote town in northern Maine and operating the “Last Convenient Store” before the Canadian border, 30-something yokel Nat seems to be the center of everybody’s unrequited attention in the area premiere of Last Gas by John Cariani. Nat’s caring teenage son wants to know why he’s so moody, while his imposing ex-wife pines to get him back in the mood. Adding to the mashup, Nat’s alluring high-school sweetheart is home for a visit at the same time a close friend wants to whisk him away. Will Nat ever find his own personal road to “happy?” Up-and-comer James Curry co-stars in this endearing dramedy with a twist.
[Little Lake Theatre, 500 Lakeside Drive, North Strabane Township; 724/745-6300,; photo by Heather Spirik]

Civic Light Opera, July 10-19
Longtime “Guiding Light” star and four-time Daytime Emmy Award-winner Kim Zimmer makes her CLO debut as the “mother of all dance moms” in Gypsy, widely considered to be one of the greatest American musicals of all time. Broadway legends Jule Styne (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Arthur Laurents (book) loosely adapted the story from the 1957 memoir by burlesque superstar, Gypsy Rose Lee. She recounts a childhood breaking into show business along with her sister, actress June Havoc, under the tutelage of their larger-than-life mom — Rose. Whether you’re a “Gypsy” newbie or a longtime fan, such popular show-stopping tunes as “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Together Wherever We Go” and “Let Me Entertain You” may leave you belting in the aisles.
[Benedum Center, 803 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666,]

PICT Classic Theatre, July 16-Aug. 8
PICT Classic Theatre’s aptly themed “A Place of Saints & Sinners” season continues with Sharon’s Grave by John B. Keane — a captivating combo of romantic suspense, Irish wit and gothic horror. This time around, the saints are siblings Trassie and Neelus, whose father’s impending death has attracted vulture relatives eager to oust them from their home. The spooky legend of a deep hole by the sea cliffs known as “Sharon’s Grave” haunts Neelus to the point of madness, making him easy prey for his sinister cousin Dinzie and Dinzie’s henchman and fraternal twin, Jack. That is, until a handsome stranger smitten with Trassie, a comical “out-there” medicine man and a surprise move by Neelus turn the tables.
[Henry Heymann Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/561-6000,]


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