February: Best in Culture in Pittsburgh

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

Feb. 2-10/ The “After Hours Series” at Pittsburgh Musical Theater is for adults and adults only. This month, find “Evil Dead: The Musical,” a comical take on the best horror tropes (a cabin in the woods, demons and a chainsaw) mixed in with some showtunes. Fans of the genre will recognize pieces of “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” and “Army of Darkness.” (Gargaro Theater, 327 S. Main St., West End; 412/539-0900, pittsburghmusicals.com)

Feb. 8-18/ Another musical full of evil comedy comes to the University of Pittsburgh Stages. “Little Shop of Horrors” follows Seymour Krelborn, a simple florist in love with a coworker named Audrey, and his Venus fly trap, Audrey II, which may or may not be trying to take over the world. The beloved musical with a score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman isn’t for the faint of heart, but it absolutely provides “Some Fun Now.” (Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/624-7529, play.pitt.edu)

Feb. 15-25/ Infinitely better than suffering through Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” (or the equally depressing “Les Miserables,” although that show is set after the fact) is experiencing the French Revolution through the iconic “Marie Antoinette.” Not that it’s all fun and cake. Playwright David Adjmi’s contemporary show at the University of Pittsburgh Stages about the young queen promises a satirical take on America today through the lens of 18th-century France. (Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/624-7529, play.pitt.edu)

Feb. 2-18/ A man’s 21st birthday doesn’t usually come with the revelation that his father was murdered while hiking in the Poconos. But that’s what happens to Gene, a college student living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in “A Devil Inside” at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. This murder-mystery features elements of 19th-century Russian novels, hallucinations and train wrecks yet promises “one of the funniest, sweetest and most macabre conclusions in theatre.” (Studio Theatre, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland; 412/392-8000, pittsburghplayhouse.com)
 


PHOTO COURTESY 
CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
 

THROUGH SEPT. 3/ “What a piece of work is man.” Brush up on your Shakespeare, and don’t brush off that double-edged line (and what follows) from “Hamlet.” “We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene” at Carnegie Museum of Natural History reminds us it’s “to be or not to be” a time for us and our planet. Anthropocene refers to the geological era in which we’re now living: a human-centered (anthro is Greek for man or human being) time on Earth during which our species is powering significant influence. “We Are Nature” marks the first exhibition in North America to showcase the Anthropocene, a term that’s still a matter of debate among geologists but one embraced by the Carnegie “as a social and cultural tool for exploring the broad sum effect humans are having on the planet.” And man are we ever: Wander through a “human diorama” to focus your attention on the critical matter at hand and how our everyday lives interact with fragile ecosystems. Taxidermy, minerals and other treasures from the museum’s collection help to illustrate the story of the Anthropocene, and hands-on interactive opportunities allow us to get up close and personal. Topics include climate change, pollution, habitat alteration and extinction. For example: Learn how rising water temperatures imperil the future of sea turtles, or shudder at the ignominious fate of the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird species in North America, with numbers so vast that a flight over the Ohio River eclipsed the sun for three days. There is some counterpoint to all this gloom and doom: Positive stories highlight how we’re fixing what we’ve broken in various ecosystems. (Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, carnegiemnh.org)

THROUGH FEB. 25/ Art was once mostly a man’s world, but Faith Wilding helped to change that. Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University presents the retrospective exhibition dedicated to this Paraguayan-American multidisciplinary feminist artist, writer and educator, born in 1943. “Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries” comprises a selection of works spanning 40 years: paintings, watercolors, collage and drawings. Thematic highlights include transition and transfiguration. (Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/268-3618, millergallery.cfa.cmu.edu)

THROUGH FEB. 11/ “William Henry Fox Talbot and the Promise of Photography” showcases the legacy of this pioneer in his field, whose contributions included inventing the paper-based photography that dominated the genre during most of the 19th century and also the 20th. Because of the fragile condition of his photographs, seeing Talbot’s original work is rare, and this show is a first for Pittsburgh. Talbot not only took pictures around his Lacock Abbey estate home in England, but he also ventured into other sections of Britain as well as onto the European continent. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org)
 
THROUGH FEB. 9/ Although photography was once expensive and rare, today we can’t escape from it. It’s ubiquitous. Everywhere we go there are cameras — surveillance and monitors, in particular — and everyone has a camera as an integral component on their smart phones. “Become Camera” is an exhibition and performance series by Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary artist Samir Gangwani that focuses on this new world visual order and its ramifications. It’s described as an “extended meditation” emanating from a 2016 show, “Always Watching Part I: A Conversation With the TSA.” The current show includes the creation of a new multimedia piece, “Staring Contest,” which invites audience interaction. Catch the closing reception and Gangwani’s final performance from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9. (Pittsburgh Filmmakers Gallery, 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland; 412/681-5449, pfpca.org)
 


PHOTO BY ERIC ROSÉ 
 

Feb. 9-10/ Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Co. offers an evening of repertory works featuring the premiere of Doors and Windows, which promises “a journey that transcends time and space.” Company director Maria Caruso performs Martha Graham’s Lamentation (1930), a four-minute modern dance masterpiece. Also on tap is Caruso’s Kaleidoscope (2007), a music-driven rock ballet of changing color palates accompanied by hit songs by Dave Matthews Band. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, bodiographycbc.com)
 


photo by Duane Rieder

Feb. 16-25/ Mist, moonlight and feathers spin the magic of Swan Lake (1877), a coming-of-age tale of love, lust and betrayal with tragic consequences. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents the four-act crown jewel of classical ballet, renowned for its pristine and virtuosic choreography and P.I. Tchaikovsky’s masterful score. This production, based on the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov choreography, features new scenery by Peter Farmer and live accompaniment by the PBT Orchestra. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, pbt.org
 


PHOTO BY LUKE BEHAUNEK​
 

Feb. 17/ DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion combines modern dance and acrobatics in L.O.S.T. (Losing One’s Self Temporarily), a two-part architecture-based dance production. Cubicle (pictured) is set amid heavy wooden boxes representing workstations as dancers grapple with workday monotony in corporate America, while Passengers, performed on an oversized staircase with shifting surfaces, explores themes of transition and journey. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
 


 

Feb. 22/ Bollywood Boulevard: A Journey Through Hindi Cinema blends dance, live music and film as it follows the evolution of Hindi moviemaking from black and white classics to current dance spectaculars. The 90-minute stage show, choreographed by Rohit Gijare, features 18 dancers accompanied by nine musicians performing choreography that embraces East Indian Classical and folk dance, disco and hip hop. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
 

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