Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Presents “Swan Lake” Valentine’s Day Weekend at the Benedum Center

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PITTSBURGH, PA – Ranked among the most iconic classical ballets of all time, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents the mesmerizing love story of “Swan Lake” with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra over Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 13-16, at the Benedum Center.

“Swan Lake” symbolizes more than 100 years of tradition and some of the most revered roles in classical ballet. In a performance of emotional intensity and technical mastery, the ballerina portrays both eternal love and deception in the coveted dual role of the Swan Queen, Odette, and her dark twin, Odile. Since its 1877 premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, ballet companies all over the world have developed their own interpretations of the traditionally four-act ballet and its dramatic ending. PBT’s version of “Swan Lake” is staged by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr after original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. The ballet is set to one of Tchaikovsky’s most memorable masterworks – and his first original ballet composition – featuring the evocative Swan theme.

WATCH/LISTEN: ‘Burgh Vivant interview with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director, Terrence S. Orr

“Swan Lake” tells the story of a young village girl trapped in a curse by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Bound by day as the Queen of the Swans, she returns to her human form only after nightfall, when she first encounters Prince Siegfried near the enchanted lake during a hunting expedition. Prince Siegfried soon falls in love with the beautiful Odette, but can only set her free by pledging his eternal love and fidelity. In order to thwart the lovers, Von Rothbart transforms his daughter Odile into the dark double of Odette to deceive Prince Siegfried at the royal ball. Performed by the same dancer, the character of Odette/Odile demands great technical and emotional range to morph from the pureness and fragility of Odette to the darkness and deception of Odile.

Ranging from the ornamentation of the court to the lyricism of the Swan scenes, the choreography of “Swan Lake” especially showcases the technical prowess of the ballerina through virtuosity of the Swan Queen, the intricate variations of the Cygnets and the lyrical unification of the corps de ballet. “Swan Lake” features its own signature movement vocabulary, such as the undulating port de bras of the White Swan and the Black Swan’s famous 32 fouettés – consecutive quick turns considered to be one of the highest feats of virtuosity, stamina and strength demanded of a ballerina. The expressive choreography of the Swan Scenes sets one of ballet’s highest standards for the corps de ballet, which moves as one entity with lyrical movements that create images of a swan’s wings, necks and mannerisms.

Danced in four acts, “Swan Lake” alternates between the lavish scenery of The Great Palace and the moonlit Swan Scenes near the enchanted lake. The costumes also vary from the elaborate robes and gowns of the courtesans to the ethereal aura of the swans, which are set apart with pure white, feather-trimmed classical tutus. Created after designs by Peter Farmer, PBT’s “Swan Lake” costumes were built in the PBT Costume Shop under the direction of Costumier Janet Groom Campbell, who celebrates her 40th anniversary with PBT this season.

Tickets start at $25.75, and can be purchased online at www.pbt.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.

World-Renowned Brewmaster Garrett Oliver to Headline First-Ever Pittsburgh Brew ’N Chew

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PITTSBURGH, Pa., November 14, 2013 – GoodTaste! Pittsburgh is excited to announce that legendary Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster, Garrett Oliver will be headlining the first-ever Pittsburgh Brew ‘N Chew on January 11, 2014, at the Monroeville Convention Center. One of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of beer, Oliver will bring his more than 20 years of experience to the event to discuss how to create the perfect pair when matching food with beer.


“When it comes to brewing, I’m not sure it gets any bigger than Garrett Oliver,” said Dee Weinberg, president, GoodTaste! Pittsburgh. “Not only is he one of the most recognizable figures in the industry, he is also one of the best when it comes to pairing beer with food. It’s simply a match made in heaven for the Brew ‘N Chew and we couldn’t be more excited to have him at this year’s event.”


Oliver is entering his 20th year as brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery. Since joining the Brewery in 1994, he’s been creating unique and delicious brews and hauling in awards both domestically and abroad. He is widely known for his flavorful interpretations of traditional brewing styles and as an avid and entertaining lecturer and writer on the subject of beer, penning “The Brewmaster’s Table” and serving as Editor-in-Chief of “The Oxford Companion To Beer”.


But Oliver is more than just the mastermind behind the bottle; he’s also an expert when it comes to pairing beer with food. In fact, he’s hosted more than 800 beer tastings, dinners and cooking demonstrations in fourteen countries and is internationally recognized as an expert on traditional beer styles and their affinity with good food. To add to his impressive resume, he is also a frequent contributor to beer and food-related periodicals.


To learn more about the inaugural Brew ‘N Chew event, purchase tickets or inquire about participating as a sponsor or vendor, please visit www.goodtastepittsburgh.com.


About GoodTaste! Pittsburgh

GoodTaste! Pittsburgh is Western Pennsylvania’s largest food and cooking extravaganza, dishing up events that showcase food and spirits as an entertaining, exciting and engaging experience. Our plate is full with large one-day shows that feature national and local chefs; corporate events for clients and employees; food events and shows with stellar regional partners like the Heinz History Center; and workshops for foodies.



The Buzz from Buzzelli – This Weekend’s Top To-Do’s (1/9 -1/12)

The ShakerMike Buzzelli

There’s always a lot do in Pittsburgh. Every week we pick five fun things for your weekend. Here’s the list for January 9 – 12

Soussside n’ nat

Tami Dixon returns to the Southside for “South Side Stories,” her one-woman show where she inhabits the lives and stories of some of the residents in Pittsburgh’s busiest, booziest section. Yinz should come dahn to the City Theater n’nat.

South Side Stories are on the South Side at the City Theatre 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh through Jan. 26.

Call 412-431-2489 or visit them at www.citytheatrecompany.org


A Tell Tale Heart

Dixon isn’t the only one-person show in town. David Crawford is Edgar Allan Poe in Explore the life and “Poe’s Last Night.”  Find out why the famous writer would exhale nevermore. The show continues through Jan. 18.

“Poe’s Last Night” is at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre 937 Liberty Ave, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh. More information can be found at www.pghplaywrights.com

An Unreal Reality Show

Ever wonder what would happen if a reality show went really wrong? You can find out in “Dating Can Be Murder,” an interactive murder mystery dinner theater. Solve the crime over a plate of Italian food.

Bring your magnifying glass and deerstalker cap to Gaetano’s Restaurant 1617 Banksville Rd., Pittsburgh.

For more information call 412-343-6640


Medium at Large

There’s a celebrity from an actual reality show in town. Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium. See Theresa Caputo Live in “Theresa Caputo Live the Experience.” Sunday, Jan 12 at 3:00 p.m. Caputo claims she can talk to your relatives on the other side. Find out if she’s a fake or the real deal at the Benedum. Theresa will give interactive readings to audience members throughout the show and will also share personal stories about her life and her unique gifts.

Don’t worry. It’s not like you can drop by unexpectedly. She knows you’re coming!

You can catch the medium at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, 237 7th Street, Pittsburgh, PA. For more information go here: www.trustarts.org/visit/facilities/benedum


The plural for Beer is Beer

Saturday, January 11, 2014, at the Monroeville Convention Center you can get your eat, drink and be merry for a good cause. It’s the first annual Pittsburgh Brew and Chew (A portion of all proceeds will go to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Give Kids The World).

The Brew and Chew promises to not be your ordinary beer fest. They are bringing together pours from dozens of America’s favorite craft beers, bites from some of our region’s favorite restaurants and food vendors, and even stations featuring everyone’s favorite beer-drinking activities!

Legendary Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster, Garrett Oliver will be there. He’s one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of beer, Oliver will bring more than 20 years of experience to show fest-goers how to create the perfect pair when matching food with beer.

We’ll be there, how about you?

For more information go here: http://goodtastepittsburgh.com/pittsburgh-brew-n-chew/

That’s a wrap, kiddies. See you back here next week for five more fun events around Pittsburgh.

Inaugural Pittsburgh Brew ’N Chew Brings Beer Flights and Big Bites to Monroeville Convention Center

 The Shaker

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – There’s a new beer festival on tap for the greater Pittsburgh region, and this one’s got bite. As beerfest buzz continues to bubble across our great city, GoodTaste! Pittsburgh is giving its famed food-show reputation a new twist with the introduction of its first-ever Pittsburgh Brew ‘N Chew, sponsored in part by the Monroeville Convention Center.

The inaugural event, taking place January 11, 2014, at the Monroeville Convention Center, will offer attendees a selection of libations from brewers both big and small, alongside a wide range of food pairings from several local eateries. Not your ordinary beerfest, the Pittsburgh Brew ‘N Chew will also give attendees a chance to work up an appetite or enjoy the sweet taste of victory at a number of interactive stations. Whether it’s darts, pool, bowling or simply taking in the sights, sounds and smells while lounging at golf’s 19th hole, attendees will have the opportunity to eat, drink and be merry throughout the day.

“The Pittsburgh Brew ‘N Chew is a new take on the modern beerfest,” said event organizer and President of GoodTaste! Pittsburgh, Dee Weinberg. “We’re taking an interactive approach by offering more than just beer and food. Visitors will be able to take part in games, learn tailgating tips and tricks and listen to live music from popular Pittsburgh bands. And, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Give Kids the World, visitors can feel good knowing that their participation is helping make a difference in the community.”

To learn more about the inaugural Brew ‘N Chew event, purchase tickets or find out how you can become a sponsor, please visit www.goodtastepittsburgh.com.


About GoodTaste! Pittsburgh

GoodTaste! Pittsburgh is Western Pennsylvania’s largest food and cooking extravaganza, dishing up events that showcase food and spirits as an entertaining, exciting and engaging experience. Our plate is full with large one-day shows that feature national and local chefs; corporate events for clients and employees; food events and shows with stellar regional partners like the Heinz History Center; and workshops for foodies.



Save a snowball now and name your own price on June 21st at Carnegie Science Center

The Shaker


Visitors Can Choose the Amount They Wish To Pay on the Summer Solstice  by Bringing in a Preserved Snowball
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 3, 2014 — Carnegie Science Center is offering a unique opportunity to capture a bit of this week’s snowfall now, preserve it for a few months, then bring it in—and celebrate the Summer Solstice with a special “Name Your Own Price” Day.

All visitors who make a snowball this winter, save it in their freezer, and bring it in on the first day of summer, Saturday, June 21, will be able to choose what they pay for general admission.

In addition to naming their own price, every person who brings a snowball to the Science Center will be able to launch it into the Ohio River (weather permitting).

In past years, hundreds of snowballs survived the winter and spring in freezers throughout the region and made their way to the Science Center—in coolers, freezer bags, frosty coffee cans, and plastic storage containers.

The Science Center invites visitors of all ages to start stockpiling snowballs now and remember these snowy facts:

  • Snow forms from tiny crystals in clouds. Snow is not frozen rain; that’s called sleet.
  • Most snowflakes melt before reaching the ground.
  • No two snowflakes are identical.
  • Each snowflake is made up of two to 200 separate crystals, on average.
  • Although it appears white, snow actually is transparent. Snow crystals act as prisms and break up the Sun’s light into the entire color spectrum. The human eye can’t handle that kind of sensory overload, so it is processed as white. If a region’s soil contains more iron,
    giving it a reddish tinge, snow may appear pink—wind will blow dirt and dust into the atmosphere and clouds, where the snow crystals form initially.


About Carnegie Science Center

Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes and off-site education programs.


About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums dedicated to exploration through art and science: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Annually, the museums reach more than 1.2 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities and special events.



One Allegheny Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA 15212 | 412.237.3400 | CarnegieScienceCenter.org

The “Buzz” from Buzzelli – Top 5 To-Do’s THIS WEEKEND: 1/2-1/5

Mike Buzzelli

The ShakerMike Buzzelli

There’s always a lot do in Pittsburgh. Every week we pick five fun things for your weekend. Here’s the list for January 2 to 5.

Return of the King

The Pittsburgh Public is bringing back an old favorite, literally and figuratively. Tom Atkins reprises his role as the now-legendary Pittsburgh Steelers franchise owner, Art Rooney, Sr. It’s a tour de force with a scrimmage line. Watch Atkins chew the scenery and chomp on a cigar at the same time.

You can catch “The Chief” at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh, stating on January 2.

For more information, hit the Public at http://www.ppt.org/


All Woman

A woman’s role is in the comics. Head down to the ToonSeum and see over 70 pieces of original art by over 50 female artists. The art depicts a historical timeline of the history of women in comics, including landmark events in the quest for equality from 1986 to the present. The show opens on January 4.

You can find the ToonSeum at 945 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh, or go here: http://toonseum.org


History Repeating

In January there are only 12 days left to see the work of Yasumasa Morimura over at the Warhol Museum. Morimura replicates famous photographs and iconic images from art history and popular culture, with a slight twist; he replaces the subjects with his own image. See Morimura as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and more!

Hit the town and take the bridge over to The Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky, Pittsburgh. http://www.warhol.org/


Achtung, Baby

Saturday, January 4, you can head down to the Altar and worship the band, U2 with One: A Celebration of U2. It could prove to be the sweetest thing in town.

Altar Bar is 1620 Penn Avenue in the Strip.



Model Afternoon

If you want to wander around the Remodeling Expo down at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, be sure to check out the “Wine and Canvas Workshop,” where local artists instruct you with step-by-step process to recreate a featured painting. At the end of the event, you can take home that work of art and hang it on your wall!



And now a Sixth Thing…

A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening

Spend a night with Jethro and Kristy Nolen and their special guests Matt and Emma Hartman. They two couples won’t be serving meatloaf and playing gin, but yukking it up on stage playing outrageous improv games guaranteed to bust a gut.

You can have Dinner with the Nolens at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh.


Post-Holiday Haze – are you WELL?

The ShakerBrian Edward Leach

Greetings ‘Burgh Vivants!  A very Merry Christmas from all of us here at BV.

For me, Christmas Day itself has always carried with it a strange energy.  All of the big build-up; the songs, the cookies, the sales, lights and decorations running the gamut from elegant to garish – all of it a technicolor locomotive barreling unrelenting toward Ground Zero: Dec. 25th.    And whether this day itself puts a roll in your eyes or a song in your heart, there comes with it a solemnity of knowing that its all over.  Until, of course, the day after Halloween comes ’round once again, and the cycle begins anew; louder, faster, brighter.  But there’s a stillness upon the summit, after the whirlwind incline of frantic shopping, card writing, and the joy, dread, or indifference of interacting with relations we may only see once a year.  Somehow, you’ve worked.  Whether you were the one preparing the Christmas dinner, or enduring it.  Whether you were a Christmas Commando, charging headstrong through the season, little drummer boy at your side, holly in hand, and knitted sweater ablaze – or a benign “armchair enthusiast” with a more discreet capacity for “jolly,” simply caught up in the current, clinging to the one obligatory Christmas decoration you’ve put up as if it were driftwood upon the churning sea.

It all ends today.

And as we lay we down to sleep tonight, we begin to sulk into the odd twilight zone between Christmas and New Years.  The lights and tinsel are still up, no longer sparkling with the promise of a Christmas Eve sizzling with anticipation, but rather serving a reminder that there’s a chore to be done in boxing them up.  In many hubs of commerce, the familiar music still plays, forcing even the most dedicated elf to say quietly in the private chambers of the mind, “Enough, thank you.”  Just as in a break-up that happened for all the right reasons, we’re ready to move on.  But in the post holiday limbo, we’re still a bit lost.  Business hours are anyone’s guess, and we’re timid to reach out to friends with suggestions of hitting the town for we assume that they too must be bearing the burden of the same limbo, but in a different shade.  With Santa now enjoying a Corona, feet up, on a beach in Cancun, who can possibly entertain us?

Like a beacon in the night, or dare I say a reindeer with a red nose, our friends at Off The Wall Productions have supplied an excellent refuge.

Off The Wall is one of the only professional theatre companies in the city lacing up their boots and getting back to the trenches the very day after Christmas – and just for you.  Dec. 26th, 27th, and 28th mark the closing weekend of its current production WELL, by Lisa Kron, directed by Melissa Hill Grande.  In its inaugural year, ‘Burgh Vivant has been delighted to feature this dynamic, professional company.  They’re small, but they’re mighty, having recently settled into a freshly-designed theatre in Carnegie, just minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.  The productions and performers are consistently top-notch, and WELL is no exception, boasting a stellar cast of Daina Michelle Griffith, Virginia Wall Gruenert, Tony Bingham, Alan Bomar Jones, Linda Haston, and Susue McGregor-Laine.  Nominated for a Tony Award in 2006, the play uses humor and inventive storytelling to depict the relationship between the playwright and her ailing mother.

As contributor Mike Buzzelli points out in the recent ‘Burgh Vivant review of WELL, though it’s not particularly a holiday-themed play, the challenges put forth by the skilled cast may very well be similar to those that we confront while willingly (or unwillingly) spending time with our family during the holiday season.  At the risk of sounding crass, there may be no more deserved remedy on December 26th than to be entertained by someone else’s dysfunctional family.

So, rather than wallow in left over ham and fruitcake, get out there, relax, and take in a little culture.  WELL is without a doubt one of your best bets in town for some post-holiday respite.

WATCH/LISTEN:  ‘Burgh Vivant interview with OTW Artistic Director and leading actress in WELL, Virginia Wall Gruenert


Pgh Ballet Theatre to receive $1million in Commonwealth Economic Growth Funding

The Shaker
Funding to Advance Construction of New Building at PBT’s Strip District Campus

PITTSBURGH, PA – As part of Pennsylvania’s 2013 Economic Growth Initiative grants, Governor Tom Corbett announced today that Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will receive $1 million to fund the construction of a new annex building at the company’s Strip District campus.

WATCH, LISTEN:  ‘Burgh Vivant interview with PBT Artistic Director, Terrence Orr
The $1 million Economic Growth grant will bring PBT to 43% of its total $14 million goal for the PBT School Expansion Project, a four-phase plan to accommodate rising enrollment trends in the company’s official training institution. The grant will advance the fourth phase of the project this spring when PBT breaks ground at its recently-purchased adjoining lot – 2930 Liberty Ave.  – to begin significant site improvements, including leveling and retaining projects, for the future footprint of the annex building. Under Phase IV, PBT will construct a 17,000 square foot building, which will house three new dance studios to expand PBT School’s four training divisions, grow community-based programs and generate at least 13 permanent artistic and administrative jobs. PBT has retained IKM Architects, which has developed a preliminary design for the $10 million Phase IV building project based on input from stakeholders.

With a total enrollment of 1,000 students across its Children’s, Student, Pre-Professional and Adult divisions, PBT School conducts classes six days a week at PBT Studios in the Strip District, which sees more than 2,000 weekly visits from employee, student and family commuters through the school and company. In the past five years, PBT School has increased Children’s Division enrollment by 92 percent while Student Division enrollment has grown by 53 percent in the past two years. Overall, the new building would allow PBT School to increase enrollment by nearly 60 percent to 1,590 students.

The Economic Growth Initiative program provides grants to local communities for the construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. PBT’s School Expansion project is among 58 projects state-wide to receive Commonwealth funding through the program.  PBT has raised $6 million to date for the four-phase project, and will be matching the RACP award at a ratio of at least 4 to 1 through other funding sources.

“In addition to our full-time company dancers, a significant number of PBT School students from around the country and world move to Pittsburgh to take part in our training program. This new space will allow us to continue accepting and recruiting the next generation of professional dancers to Pittsburgh, and it will also help us to broaden our community programs to increase accessibility to the art form,” said PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris. “We see this surge in enrollment as promising not only for the future of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, but also as a positive trend for the city’s thriving cultural community. Our full-time artists and professional-track students not only make Pittsburgh their home, but they also bring hundreds of friends and family members to the city each year to contribute to the downtown and Strip District economies while visiting Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.”

PBT launched its four-phase School Expansion Plan in 2009 with the opening of PBT School’s first student residence, Byham House, which houses up to 21 full-time Pre-Professional Division students and helps to draw aspiring young dancers to Pittsburgh each year. Phase I also included the installation of five new Harlequin floors in the PBT Studios to benefit the safety and health of PBT company and student dancers. In 2012, PBT completed Phase II by opening a renovated lobby with expanded family waiting areas and student study space to accommodate rising enrollment and the need for more public space in the building.  Also in 2012, PBT purchased its neighboring lot at 2930 Liberty Avenue, increased its campus footprint to 60,000 square feet and constructed a new parking lot to improve traffic flow and reduce the need for families and students to cross traffic-heavy Liberty Avenue from PBT’s overflow parking lot. The new building will mark the fourth and final phase in the PBT School Expansion Project.

In addition to PBT School, the PBT’s Strip District Studios currently house five fully-equipped studios for PBT’s professional company of 29 full-time dancers – including eight international dancers – who live and work in Pittsburgh year-round. Throughout the season, PBT also hosts a number of community engagement events at the Studios for patrons, educators, community organizations and supporters.

PBT School’s 2013-2014 enrollment includes 61 out-of-state students and 14 international students, who have relocated to Pittsburgh to enroll in the full-time high school and graduate programs of PBT School’s Pre-Professional Division. In addition to the regular school year, PBT School brings 165 to 200 students to Pittsburgh each summer to participate in its five-week Intensive Summer Program, an immersive training program taught by PBT faculty and prominent guest artists.

About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is a community based and internationally recognized professional ballet company that performs traditional and contemporary ballets and develops innovative works. It seeks to perpetuate excellence in the art of ballet through performances, superior training of student dancers and community engagement initiatives.  Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2013-2014 Season continues with Swan Lake with the Orchestra, Feb. 13-16 at the Benedum Center; 3×3, March 7-16, at the August Wilson Center; and Don Quixote with the Orchestra, April 11-13, at the Benedum Center. Tickets start at $25.75 and are available online at www.pbt.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.

About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School
As the official training institution of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School is recognized as one of the nation’s finest schools for dance education and training. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and School Directors Marjorie Grundvig and Dennis Marshall, PBT School offers classical ballet training and a diverse dance curriculum to more than 1,000 students of all ages, levels and degrees of interest taught by faculty and guest teachers of international acclaim. Strengthened by daily exposure to PBT’s professional company of dancers, PBT School provides dance training through Children’s, Student, Pre-Professional and Adult Open divisions.



The “Buzz” from Buzzelli – Top To-Do’s THIS WEEKEND (12/27 – 12/29)

The ShakerMike Buzzelli

It’s the holiday season, but there are still plenty of things to do in Pittsburgh.   We have things to do from listening to George Bailey to hanging out on Bailey Avenue (on Mt. Washington). Here are Five Fun Things to do this weekend:


Packing them in

The mouse might not be stirring, but the Rat Pack is. If you never got a chance to see Frank, Sammy and Dean live; this is your chance to see them dead. Sort of.  A group of impersonators will be singing their most famous Christmas songs, along with some of their standards. Enjoy the songs they made famous, like ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’, ‘Mr. Bojangles’, ‘That’s Amore’, along with seasonal favorites like: ‘Merry Little Christmas’, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’ ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Mistletoe and Holly’, ‘Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Love To Keep Me Warm.’ The Rat Pack will be backed up by the Buelli Sisters and a live 123 piece big band.

You don’t have to fly to the moon, or Vegas, just head down to Heinz Hall and catch all the action.

For more information, go here; http://trustarts.culturaldistrict.org/production/37669/the-rat-pack-christmas


Another Bell Rings

If you’re up north, Butler way, check out “It’s a Wonderful Life: A live Radio Play,” at the Butler Little Theater.  See…wait…Hear…a live version of the Christmas classic (I don’t have to explain the plot of the “It’s a Wonderful Life,” do I?).  Get up there before George Bailey jumps off the bridge.

It’s at the Butler Little Theater, 1 Howard Street, Butler. Call 724-287-6781 for details. Or go here: http://www.bltgroup.org


Steel City Laughs

Christmas is over and it’s time to laugh. Come out December 28 to Club Café for the Steel City Comedy Tour. Come see local comedians; Chuck Krieger, Mike Wysocki, Carl Schimmel, Ray Zawandi, Tommy Kupiec. The show starts at 7:00 (early for comedians) at Club Café 56 S. 12th St., Pittsburgh, PA.

Call 412-431-4950 or hit the boys up on their Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steel-City-Comedy-Tour/217936028227905


Italy or Bust

If you’re looking to catch a movie during the holiday break, check out “The Great Beauty.” Palme d’Or nominee and Italy’s official candidate for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this dazzling film is a Fellini-esque homage to the city of Rome.  It’s about a writer, Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo, Il Divo), who gets a shock from his past on his 65th birthday. He sees past the glitz to find Rome in all its glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.

You can find “The Great Beauty” at the Regent Square Theater. Check out Pittsburgh Filmmakers for dates and times here; http://pfm.pittsburgharts.org


Masquerade Ball, Pittsburgh Style

This New Year’s Eve you can go to a classy and exclusive Masquerade Ball at one of the most elegant venues in the city at the Smart House (Peter and Steve’s place; 207 Bailey Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211). What better way to enjoy your New Year countdown than by sipping champagne while overlooking one of the best views in Pittsburgh?  A portion of the proceeds will benefit Humble House. *Part of ticket proceeds with benefit the Humble House.



And now a Sixth Thing…

Ring in the New Year, Yinz Guys!

There is so much going on New Year’s Eve in Downtown Pittsburgh at First Night, an annual celebration of the holiday. It’s got music, magic, comedy and FIREWORKS (I love fireworks)! Some of the highlights include; Johnny Angel and the Halos singing oldies at the Benedum, Jason Hudy performing magic at CAPA, Player One, the Arcade Comedy Theater’s house team, improvising scenes at (you guessed) the Arcade Comedy Theater,  and a spectacular display of Zambelli fireworks over the city. Party till the ball drops, in Downtown Pittsburgh!

Details and a grid map of all the events can be found here; http://www.firstnightpgh.org


Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Premieres First-Ever, Autism-Friendly Performance of “The Nutcracker”

The Shaker

PITTSBURGH, PA – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is preparing to premiere its autism-friendly production of The Nutcracker, the first production by a professional U.S. ballet company to make the magic of the holiday classic accessible to children on the autism spectrum and their families. The autism-friendly performance will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, December 27, 2013 at the Benedum Center.

“The Nutcracker is a holiday staple in ballet companies across the country and an annual tradition for many families here in Pittsburgh, so we are particularly excited to pilot this program with a timeless story that reaches so many people year after year,” said PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr. “With this special performance, we want families to know that we are performing with them in mind and welcome them to experience this production in a comfortable and inclusive atmosphere.”

For the autism-friendly performance, the entire theater will be reserved for families with individuals on the autism spectrum – and others with intellectual or developmental disabilities – to create a fully supportive audience environment. Autism-friendly accommodations will include designated quiet areas and activity stations in the lobby, relaxed house rules, adjustments to potentially startling light, sound and special effects and opportunities for families and children to familiarize themselves with the production in advance. Throughout the performance, the house lights will remain dimly lit and audience members will be free to come and go from their seats as needed. In advance of the performance, PBT will distribute online an illustrated guide, or social story, to walk audience members through the theater experience from the layout  of the Benedum Center to the characters, scenery and music of  The Nutcracker production.

“This is a performance where families can come as they are and be who they are. Whether they are looking for a new artistic experience, bonding time with their family, or simply an escape into a magical world, we can offer all of that through this performance, “said PBT Education Director Alyssa Herzog Melby, who heads Accessibility Initiatives at PBT. “We hope that we can become a model for other ballet companies across the country to open their doors to people on the autism spectrum, sharing the beauty of what we do with all people in our community.”

Autism Spectrum Disorders affect 1 in 88 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effects of autism are unique to every individual, though ASD characterizations usually include difficulties with social interaction and communication.  Many children with autism have sensory sensitivities in response to sounds or sights, which is one of the focused areas of adaptation for autism-friendly productions.

Although autism-friendly productions have begun to establish a foothold in the theater world, autism-friendly performances are relatively new to ballet. This year, for example, New Jersey Ballet presented an autism-friendly version of Pinocchio; but, to date, no other U.S. ballet company has presented an autism-friendly version of The Nutcracker.

“Very few times in our careers as dancers will we get the chance to do something this important. The autism-friendly performance will be one of those defining moments for me,” said PBT Dancer Stephen Hadala, who has performed in all 11 seasons of Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker. “This performance gives us an opportunity to use our art form to do something for the community, and it’s exciting to be able to share ballet with children who might not ordinarily experience a production.”

In order to adapt the ballet, PBT worked with a focus group represented by local autism advocacy groups – including Autism Speaks of Greater Pittsburgh and ABOARD’s Autism Connection of Pennsylvania – parents of children with autism and individuals on the autism spectrum. After watching the production and learning about the characters, music and scenery, the group submitted recommendations to adapt the production to viewers on the autism spectrum or with other sensory sensitivities.

PBT also looked to other organizations as models, including the Theatre Development Fund’s Autism Theatre Initiative, which presented the first autism-friendly performance of a Broadway show in October 2011 with Disney’s musical The Lion King. PBT thanks TDF’s Autism Theatre Initiative for serving as an advisor during the planning process. Locally, PBT acknowledges The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for its leadership in establishing best practices and providing Benedum Center staff training for autism-friendly performances. Funding support for PBT’s autism-friendly production of The Nutcracker comes from the Edith L. Trees Foundation, Giant Eagle, Pitt Ohio, The Children’s Institute, and FISA Foundation.


Tickets for the autism-friendly performance are available at a discounted rate to families with members on the autism spectrum. For more information about tickets, please call 412-454-9107 or visit www.pbt.org.

Featuring more than 200 costumes, 100 colorful characters and Pittsburgh-inspired set design, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s grand-scale production of “The Nutcracker” illuminates the holiday season Dec. 6-29, at the Benedum Center. Tickets start at $25.75, and can be purchased online at www.pbt.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.


The autism-friendly performance fits into PBT’s overarching Accessibility Initiative, which made several significant strides during the 2012-2013 Season. 2012-2013 accessibility accomplishments included the introduction of PBT’s Audio Description for Dance program, large-print and braille programs and other accommodations for people with visual impairments and special needs. For more information about Accessibility at PBT, please visit www.pbt.org/plan-your-visit/accessibility.