Point Park’s Playhouse Jr. closes 65th season with Tony Award-winning musical ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’


podcast logoPittsburgh-Playhouse-BV-Ad

PITTSBURGH – Point Park University’s Playhouse Jr. closes its 65th season with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the hilarious Tony Award-winning musical that The New York Times called “irresistible and entirely lovable.”

Directed by Zeva Barzell, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens Friday, May 23, and runs through Sunday, June 8, in the Rauh Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave.

Public performances will begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased by calling the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at 412.392.8000, or at www.pittsburghplayhouse.com. Special performances for school field trips are available. For more information about field trips, call the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office. Please note the show contains some adult content and is recommended for audiences ages 13 and older.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee gives the squeaky clean tradition of the county spelling bee a fresh treatment when the gawky contestants – including four selected audience members – compete for local glory, their parents’ affection and, of course, cash. Along the way, they learn the value of doing the best they can and enjoying what they do. Spelling Bee won two Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards and two Lucille Lortel Awards.

The Playhouse Jr. production features scenic design by Michael Thomas Essad, costumes by Don DiFonso, lighting design by Todd Nonn and sound design by Steve Shapiro. Camille Villalpando Rolla is the music director. Hugo Schroeder is the stage manager.


Phipps Discovery Garden Day Offers Fun Among the Flowers


podcast logo

Annual celebration at Pittsburgh’s premier public garden features nature-inspired crafts and activities.

Pittsburgh, Pa. – On May 24, 2014, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites families to join the festivities at Discovery Garden Day, an annual celebration featuring hands-on crafts and activities for kids of all ages. Held from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the public garden’s multi-sensory outdoor garden — a space created to capture the curiosity of young adventurers — all event programs are designed to encourage exploration and observation while kids unwind and have fun.

   At Discovery Garden Day, games, a potting activity, a craft and more will cover a variety of nature-inspired topics. Event participants will also have the chance to simply enjoy the garden, which has a brand-new oversized bird’s nest, a giant tree stump for climbing; plots designed to attract birds, butterflies and bees; a color wheel garden; a bog garden with carnivorous plants; a sensory garden; and a special nature play area, where kids can let their imaginations run wild.

   All Children’s Discovery Garden Day activities, including light refreshments and entertainment, are complementary with regular paid admission, which costs $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $11 for children ages 2 – 18. Members and kids under 2 enter for free. The garden, which is open seasonally, can also be visited daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until dusk on Fridays. Regular offerings include story time and pot-a-plant activities under the Discovery Pavilion.

   To learn more about Discovery Garden Day and other family-friendly programs, including immersive summer camps for ages 2 – 7, please visit phipps.conservatory.org.


About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Learn more: phipps.conservatory.org.


The “Buzz” from Buzzelli: Pittsburgh’s Top To-Do’s THIS WEEKEND (5/15 – 5/18)

Mike Buzzellipodcast logo

by Mike “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant contributor.

Here are the Top Five Fun Things To Do in Pittsburgh May 15 – 18


Games People Play

Itching to play Four-Square, Backgammon, Tic-Tac-Toe or Connect Four? Connect with the Attack Theatre and go to Game Night and the Seven-Minute Dance Series starting May 16.

Between games, enjoy seven minute excerpts from some works-in-progress from the company spread throughout the night.

Gear up for Game Night at the Attack Theatre’s Intergalactic Headquarters, 2425 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Game Night: old school games, new school dance and high school drinks.

For more information, go to www.attacktheatre.com


Broadway goes to Zelienople

Lenora Nemetz returns to Pittsburgh to perform for the Strand Broadway Concert Series. She’ll sing some of her favorites May 16 and 17. She will sing songs from some of the six Broadway shows she’s starred in.

It’s all going down at the Strand, 119 North Main Street, Zelienople, PA 16063For more information go to www.thestrandtheater.org


Zone Out

It’s the last weekend to see “Comfort Zone,” Marlon Erik Youngblood’s play about the aftermath of a shooting and how it impacts a community.

“Comfort Zone” is at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, 937 Liberty Avenue, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh.

For more information, go to www.pghplaywrights.com


Delphi be damned

The Arcade Comedy Theater is best known for its improvisational comedy and stand up. On May 16 and 17th sketch comedians will take the stage. It’s Spinster Comedy’s “Oracle of Truth.” Come see Dave Ranallo
Tressa Glover DiGiulio
Laurie B
John Feightner
Eric S. Donaldson
Daniel KelleyDave Ranallo, Tressa Glover DiGuilio, John Feightner and more sketchy people.

It’s all going down at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.

For more information, go to www.arcadecomedytheater.com


Tony Before the Tony’s

Grammy Award-winning music icon Tony Bennett is performing at Heinz Hall. He’ll be there with special guest Antonia Bennett (I suspect it’s Tony in drag).

Step out with your baby, and go see Tony Bennett May 16 at the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, 600 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

For more information, go to www.pittsburghsymphony.org


And now a special sixth thing…

Hockey Sticks

On May 17th, you can eat, drink, swap a hockey stories and strategy, get autographs and photos as well a play corn-hole and bubble hockey with some of the Pens Alumni as well as local TV and Radio personalities when you “Hang Out With The Pros.”   Brian Trottier will play a few songs on his guitar.

This event will feature Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni, including former Stanley Cup winning goalie, Ken Wregget, NHL Hall of Famer and 6-time Stanley Cup Champion, Brian Trottier and a number of others to be announced shortly. Pittsburgh’s own, Dave Hanson of the Hanson Brothers from the 1970’s movie, “Slapshot” will also be hanging out at this fundraiser for PEMF (Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Foundation).

“Hang out with the Pros” will be at31 Sports Bar and Grille, 1020 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, PA 15017 (on the Outside Deck).

For more information, go to http://31sportsbargrille.com/


Hail to thee, BLITHE SPIRIT – PICT Classic Theater

Mike Buzzellipodcast logo

by Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, Contributor for ‘Burgh Vivant.   

The newly renamed PICT Classic Theater (still spraying graffiti on Hadrian’s Wall) opens up their 18th season with Noel Coward’s wickedly funny, paranormal comedy “Blithe Spirit.” The play’s title refers to a line from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, “The Skylark,” but here it is top notch directing, excellent acting, and a classic piece of theater that creates poetry.

Coward perfected the drawing room comedy with his acerbic wit and acid tongue. The characters snipe at one other with urbane, sophisticated humor. “Blithe Spirit” is one of the playwright’s broader comedies, replete with slapstick and the requisite clever repartee.

Charles Condomine (Dan Rodden) is an author with a wicked wit drier than his martini. On the pretense of researching his new novel, Condomine and his second wife, Ruth (Daina Michelle Griffith) hold a séance. Charles invites his friend Dr. Bradman (Jim FitzGerald) and his wife (Lissa Brennan) over to their country home for the occult event.

The Condomine’s have a cook and a maid (writing must have paid better back then). The cook is never seen. The maid, Edith (Karen Baum), however, sprints through the house with manic fervor.

The séance is performed by Madame Arcati (Mary Rawson), a self-proclaimed spiritual specialist. Guests wait with baited breath, half hoping for a magical encounter, even though they remain skeptical.

Then, all hell breaks loose (literally and figuratively) when Arcati conjures up the spirit of Charles Condomine’s first wife, Elvira (Vera Varlamov). Yes. I said Elvira. Giddy up, oom poppa, omm poppa, mow mow.

Only the author, Charles Condomine, can see and hear her.

The verbal sparring of the living Condomines, Charles and Ruth, is exacerbated by the pesky poltergeist. Ruth demands to hold Charles’ full attention, but he’s busy placating the apparition of his first wife. Elvira finds the entire predicament hilarious, and enjoys causing mischief between the couple…until Ruth discovers the truth.

Ruth’s jealously conspires to rid the house of the ghost, and calls upon Arcati. The spiritual advisor doesn’t know how to dispatch the phantom. Meanwhile, Charles battles with both wives, living and dead. The characters vault over each other with a dazzling displays of verbal gymnastics.

Chaos ensues, leading to several unexpected twists and turns.

The brilliant script is enhanced by the superb acting of Pittsburgh’s finest performers, such as Rawson, FitzGerald, Griffith and Baum (sounds like a law firm).

Rodden, new to the Pittsburgh stage, is spot on as the British author. It’s a joy to watch his stiff upper lip quiver when he is besieged from the beautiful bride from beyond.

Varlamov is luminescent as the ethereal Elvira. Kudos goes to hair, make up and especially, Costume Designer Joan Markert.

Griffith’s Ruth is spectacular. The actor immerses herself in the role. It’s little wonder why the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette crowned her Performer of the Year in 2013.

Baum plays the goofiest of goofballs. Edith, the maid, is always sprinting to the door, nervously setting down tea, and generally crashing about. Slight spoiler (Can one call spoilers on a 73 year-old play?): the maid is not as inconsequential to the play as many would be led to believe. Baum handles it with aplomb. She remains in character even during the closing bow.

Rawson plays the buoyant clairvoyant as a kindly grandmother with a love for cucumber sandwiches. Someone invite Coward’s Arcati and Wilde’s Algernon to a Victorian tea. They are both fond of the classic canapé.

Director Alan Stanford brings this glorious farce to life (pun always intended). It’s rife with droll humor, slapstick and supernatural fun. It is one enchanted evening, or to paraphrase Shelley, “Hail to thee, Blithe Spirit!”


– MB.

Pittsburgh CLO Announces Nominees for the 2014 Gene Kelly Awards

podcast logo

Pittsburgh, PA • May 7, 2014– Pittsburgh CLO and the University of Pittsburgh are proud to announce the nominees for the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater. The awards show will take place on Saturday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Benedum Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Over the past three months, a panel of 30 judges have attended the performances by the following 29 Allegheny County high schools: Avonworth, Baldwin, Bishop Canevin, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Central Catholic, Chartiers Valley, Elizabeth Forward, Hampton Township, Keystone Oaks, McKeesport, North Hills, Northgate, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Penn Hills, Pine-Richland, Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy, Pittsburgh Brashear, Pittsburgh CAPA, Pittsburgh Perry, Plum, Quaker Valley, Riverview, Shady Side Academy, Springdale, St. Joseph, West Allegheny, West Mifflin, Winchester Thurston and Woodland Hills.

The judging panel was comprised of performing arts educators, arts administrators, entertainment professionals and performers. On May 2 these judges met and reviewed highlights from each high school performance. The scoring was then tabulated by Deloitte LLP.

The Nominees for the 2014 Gene Kelly Awards are:

Best Scenic Design  
Budget Level I  
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart The Wiz
Pittsburgh Perry Seussical
St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical
Budget Level II  
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Riverview Fiddler on the Roof
Budget Level III  
Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie
West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can
Woodland Hills Sweeney Todd


Best Costume Design  
Budget Level I  
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart The Wiz
Quaker Valley Pirates of Penzance
St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical
Budget Level II  
Bishop Canevin The Drowsy Chaperone
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Budget Level III  
Baldwin Shrek, the Musical
Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie
Woodland Hills Sweeney Todd


Best Lighting Design  
Budget Level I  
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart The Wiz
Pittsburgh CAPA Footloose
St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical
Budget Level II  
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Riverview Fiddler on the Roof
Budget Level III  
Avonworth Man of La Mancha
West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can
Woodland Hills Sweeney Todd


Best All-Student Orchestra  
Baldwin Shrek, the Musical
Hampton Young Frankenstein
North Hills 42nd Street
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz
Pittsburgh CAPA Footloose
West Mifflin Bye Bye Birdie


Best Supporting Actor    
Rush Hodgin Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie “Trevor Graydon III”
Noah Baynes Lheureau Bishop Canevin The Drowsy Chaperone “Robert Martin”
Drew Praskovich Pittsburgh CAPA Footloose “Willard Hewitt”
Julius Ralph Penn Hills The Wiz “The Wizard”
Quintin Reynolds CW North Catholic Children of Eden “Cain/Japeth”
Michael Zak Central Catholic Spamalot “Patsy”


Best Supporting Actress    
Leah Prestogeorge Woodland Hills Sweeney Todd “Joanna Barker”
Amanda Rulis Hampton Young Frankenstein “Inga”
Jillian Schmidt Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie “Muzzy Van Hossmere”
Mara Singleton Plum My Favorite Year “KC Downing”
Ashley Sitarik Our Lady of the Sacred Heart The Wiz “Addaperle”
Brook Taylor Woodland Hills Sweeney Todd “Beggar Woman/Lucy Barker”


Best Ensemble  
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz
Quaker Valley Pirates of Penzance
St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical
West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can


Best Crew/Technical Execution  
Baldwin Shrek, the Musical
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz
Riverview Fiddler on the Roof
Woodland Hills Sweeney Todd


Best Choreography  
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz
Pittsburgh CAPA Footloose
West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can


Best Direction  
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz
Quaker Valley Pirates of Penzance
St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical


Best Actor    
Ryan Borgo West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can “Frank Abignale, Jr.”
Connor Cook Plum My Favorite Year “Benjy Stone”
Tom Curry West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can “Carl Hanratty”
Peter Heres Quaker Valley Pirates of Penzance “Pirate King”
Adam Rayan Penn Hills The Wiz “Tinman”
Nathanial Yost Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot “King Arthur”


Best Actress    
Abby Dionise Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie “Miss Dorothy Brown”
Alexandra Illescas Pittsburgh CAPA Footloose “Rusty”
Alexis Loiselle Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie “Millie Dillmount”
Mallory Milberger St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical “Princess Fiona”
Marnie Quick Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz “Tinman”
Savannah Wiggins Penn Hills The Wiz “Dorothy”


Best Musical  
Budget Level I  
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy The Wiz
Quaker Valley Pirates of Penzance
St. Joseph Shrek, the Musical
Budget Level II  
Bishop Canevin The Drowsy Chaperone
Central Catholic Monty Python’s Spamalot
Hampton Young Frankenstein
Budget Level III  
Penn Hills The Wiz
Pine-Richland Thoroughly Modern Millie
West Allegheny Catch Me If You Can

The nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress will be competing for the opportunity to represent Pittsburgh CLO’s Gene Kelly Awards in the sixth-annual National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City on Monday, June 30. For more information on the National High School Musical Theater Awards, please visit www.nhsmta.com.

In addition to the more than 20 Kelly Awards presented at the event, several cash and university scholarships will be awarded.  These scholarships are made possible through the generous donations of Paul Block, Virginia S. Nicklas, the CLO Ambassadors, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and participating colleges. Winners will be announced at the ceremony on May 24.  More information is available at pittsburghCLO.org.

The Gene Kelly Awards are co-presented by the University of Pittsburgh with additional support provided by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, PNC Bank, Virginia S. Nicklas and the CLO Ambassadors. Deloitte Consulting, LLP is the official auditor for the Gene Kelly Awards.

Pittsburgh CLO is also pleased to announce that Gene Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, will once again participate in the awards show.

What:              24th Annual Gene Kelly Awards

Where:             Benedum Center for the Performing Arts

When:              Saturday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets:            On sale May 13.  Call 412-456-6666

The “Buzz” from Buzzelli: Pittsburgh’s Top 5 To-Do’s THIS WEEKEND (5/8 – 5/11)

Mike Buzzellipodcast logo

Every week we pick the Top Five Fun Things to do in and around Pittsburgh. Here’s the list for May 8 – 11.


A Bronx school principal and nun takes matters into her own hands when she suspects the young priest of improper relations with a male student in “Doubt.” It’s a modern day parable or perhaps it’s a modern day “Crucible.”

You can find “Doubt” at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, 300 Beechwood Avenue, Carnegie. Call 412-429-6262 or click www.carnegiecarnegie.org


Spirited Away

It’s the mysterious return of Elvira (Giddy up, oom poppa, omm poppa, mow mow)! Following a séance, Charles Condomine finds his late wife is back for an extended visit in “Blithe Spirit.” It’s kinda hacking off Condomine’s current wife.

You can catch “Blithe Spirit” at the Charity Randall Theatre, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.

For more information, go to: http://picttheatre.org/


Under Where?

A young bride is met with instant celebrity after her bloomers drop to her ankles at a parade for the king. It’s not exactly the Britney Spears story, but it is adapted from Carl Sterheim’s farce by standup comedian, actor and playwright Steve Martin.

You can find “The Underpants” at the Little Lake Theater, 500 Lakeside Drive, Canonsburg, PA. Please wear your own to the show.

For more information, call 724-745-6300 or visit www.littlelake.org/on_stage.htm


You can’t have a what?

Over at the Grey Box (there’s a joke in here somewhere) three women each visit their therapist on a typical Tuesday evening in “You can’t have an orgasm with me.” It’s a provocative, hilarious and touching look at the healing power of vulnerability.

For more information, go to their Facebook Events page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1402806613328748/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming


Noodling Around

Standup Comedian Krish Mohan brings his online video “Fork Full of Noodles” to a live audience at the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival. See some of Pittsburgh’s best standup comedians and improvisers noodling around on the Pittsburgh Fringe stage. See comedians Derek Minto, Ray Zawondni, Zach Funk and improvisers like Justin Vetter, Brett Goodnack and more…

May 10: 2pm-3pm
May 10: 8:50p-9:50pm
May 11: 7:20pm-8:20pmShow times are May 10 2:00 – 3:00 pm, 8:50 – 9:50 pm, and 7:20-8:20 on May 11.

For tickets and more information go to http://pghfringe.org/

Gay For Good brings international Harvey Milk Day to Pittsburgh again

podcast logo

Pittsburgh, May, 2014 – On Saturday, May 17, 100+ Gay For Good volunteers will descend on to Downtown Pittsburgh in the hope of doing good in their community and to participate in the international Harvey Milk Day. Working with two different nonprofits, The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. With the PDP, the majority of volunteers will be split up into smaller groups and be painting, trash and litter removal, weeding, etc. Simultaneously, a group will help with spring cleaning at the GLCC’s Downtown office.

Last year was the first time Gay For Good brought the Harvey Milk Day of Service to Pittsburgh; joining a host of cities around the world in celebrating the life and work of LGBT pioneer Harvey Milk. Last year, Gay For Good had nearly 100 volunteers participate in projects in three different Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Working with Lawrenceville United, WQED and Tree Pittsburgh.

“Gay For Good’s main mission is to get the LGBT community out of our bubble and work to create a better community for everyone in general. Politics aside, we want to make a difference.” says Jared Pascoe, co-founder of Gay For Good: Pittsburgh.

About Gay For Good: The Pittsburgh chapter of Gay For Good was founded in 2011. G4G is a national community service group that volunteers with a different nonprofit each month. Since its inception, G4G Pittsburgh has worked with over 25 area nonprofits, donating nearly 4,500 volunteer hours. There are ten G4G chapters across the country.

About Harvey Milk Day: The Harvey Milk Foundation marks every May 22 as a day to honor what Harvey stood for and asks people “to celebrate Harvey Milk’s life story, message and legacy in celebrating globally on his birthday to give hope and inspire disenfranchised communities.” Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California until he was assassinated in 1978.


Pittsburgh Playwrights “Comfort Zone” about violence & redemption

Pittsburgh Playwrights Comfort Zone picture

The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is presenting “Comfort Zone” – a searing production about violence and redemption May 2–24 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, 937 Liberty Avenue, 3rd floor downtown.

Directed by Mark Whitehead and written by Marlon Erik Youngblood as a one act play – “Comfort Zone”  won rave reviews during the 2012 Black and White Festival.

Youngblood has now expanded his work into a gripping full length play.

The main character Checkers, played by acclaimed actor Kevin Brown, is a very loyal and simplistic man.

Playwrights’ founder, Mark Clayton Southers, also stars in this dramatic production along with a dynamic cast.

Checkers life and others around him are thrown into turmoil after a shooting in his neighborhood “mom and pop” store.

There will be a special fundraiser on opening night, Friday May 2nd. Each ticket includes a post-show discussion with the playwright Marlon Erik Youngblood, activist Brandi Fisher, CEO/President of the Alliance for Police Accountability, as well as the legendary Cyril Wecht, the former Allegheny County coroner. The discussion will be moderated by veteran broadcaster Tené Croom.

Following the discussion there will be a wine and cheese reception with the cast, director, managing director, artistic director and board members.

Complete listing of dates and times of “Comfort Zone”:

  • Friday, May 2 (opening night) – 8 pm
  • Saturday, May 3 –  8 pm
  • Sunday, May 4 –  3 pm
  • Thursday, May 8 – 8 pm
  • Friday, May 9 – 8 pm
  • Saturday, May 10 – 8 pm
  • Sunday, May 11 –  3 pm
  • Thursday, May 15 – 8 pm
  • Friday, May 16 – 8 pm
  • Saturday, May 17 – 8 pm
  • Sunday, May 18 – 3 pm
  • Thursday, May 22 – 8 pm
  • Friday, May 23 – 8 pm
  • Saturday, May 24 – 3 pm & 8 pm

Tickets are $20 for Thursdays and weekend matinees, $25 for Friday and Saturday evening shows. Tickets are $5 more at the door except for students with valid ID and theatre artists. All tickets for opening night on Friday May 2nd are $35. Seating is general admission.

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company (http://www.pghplaywrights.com/) was founded by Mark Clayton Southers in 2003. The Playwrights is committed to developing and showcasing the works of local playwrights; from accomplished masters like August Wilson and George S. Kaufman to promising new talents. We seek to nurture a racially and culturally diverse community of playwrights, directors, actors and technical specialists to hone their craft and to network creative opportunities.

The “Buzz” from Buzzelli: Pittsburgh’s Top To-Do’s THIS WEEKEND (5/1 – 5/4)

Mike Buzzellipodcast logo

There’s always something going on in Pittsburgh. Every week we pick the Top Five Fun Things to do in Pittsburgh. Here’s the list for May 1 to May 4. May the Fourth be with you.

Silky Smooth

It’s not too late to catch a bunch of screenings at the 9th Annual Silk Screen Film Festival. The festival runs all week long but check out the various events and various locations.



Green Eggs and Singing!

Only a Grinch wouldn’t buy tickets to “Seussical the Musical.”  He’d sneak in through the chimney! Come out and see a Cat in a Hat, or a Horton hearing a Who. See Tim Hartman in a hat almost as tall as he is! Who knows what else in “Seussical the Musical.”

“Seussical the Musical” is at the Byham Theater, 101 6th Street, Pittsburgh, PA.

For more information, go to www.pittsburghmusicals.com



Join the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival at the Arcade Comedy Theater on Thursday May 1, and help raise money for the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival 2014. The party will feature some of Pittsburgh’s best improvisers, stand up comedians and special guests. For twenty bucks you get into the fundraiser, two drink tickets and a chance to win prizes!

Arrive any time! There will be performances and activities all evening.

Pittsburgh Comedy Festival Launch will be at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh PA, 15222

For more information, go to www.pittsburghcomedyfestival.org/event/launch-party-2014-05-01/


Money Changes Everything

There’s a lot of confusion when an earnest aerobics instructor unknowingly acquires a suitcase full of cash in “Bottoms Up.”

“Bottoms Up!” is at the South Park Theatre, Corrigan Road at Brownsville Road, Bethel Park, PA.

Call 412-831-8552 or click http://www.southparktheatre.com/


Hope Floats

Sandra Bullock was in a movie called “Hope Floats.” She was also in a movie called “Gravity. “ The show at the City Theater has nothing to do with either of those things. “Hope and Gravity” is a non-linear comedy about fate, just as this paragraph is a non-sequitur apropos of nothing.

Float over to “Hope and Gravity” at the City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, South Side, Pittsburgh.

For more information, go to www.citytheatrecompany.org

And now a sixth thing….

Girls Gone Mild!

Goody Plenty and the Amlets are back, baby! You can catch “Amish Burlesque; Featuring Goody Plenty and the Amlets” at the McKeesport Little Theater.  The Plenty and her Amlets lampoon Broadway show tunes with an Amish flare, or lack of flare. It’s the cleanest dirty show in town.  ‘Burgh Vivant contributor Andy Coleman plays Jebadiah, the Emcee, in a show directed by the vivantiest ‘Burgh Vivant himself, Brian Edward.

Get in your buggy and drive over to “Amish Burlesque” at the McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin Street, McKeesport, PA.

For more information, call 412-673-1100 or visit www.mckeesportlittletheater.com

Oh, CANDIDA: “perfectly pleasant in every way” at Pittsburgh Public Theater

podcast logoMike Buzzelli

by Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant contributor.

Oh, Candida

Even in Edwardian England when many men considered women little more than property, women knew a deeper secret. They were the center of the universe for many a man. Such is the case for “Candida” Pittsburgh Public Theater’s take on the George Bernard Shaw classic play.

Reverend James Mavor Morell (David Whalen), a pious man with more than a streak of socialism is vexed by his materialistic father-in-law Mr. Burgess (John O’Creagh) adored by his secretary, Miss Proserpine Garnett (Meghan Mae O’Neill), and deeply in love with his wife, Candida (Gretchen Egolf).

When Candida (pronounced Can-Did-Da not Can-dee-dah) brings home a stray in the form of a young nobleman and poet, Eugene Marchbanks (Jared McGuire), the status quo erupts, albeit briefly.

Had television been invented when this play was written, it would have been part of a Thursday night line-up. It had a few familiar tropes; the handsome yet repressed hero, his befuddled and lazy sidekick, Lexy Mill (Matthew Minor), and the aforementioned disagreeable father-in-law. It even had the beautiful wife whose name is the title of the show.  At one point, the secretary, Miss Garnett calls Morell’s father-in-law a “fathead.”  Just like a 60s sitcom, all the toys are put back in the toy box for the status quo is only briefly interrupted.

In the hands of a lesser director, Shaw’s “Candida” would deteriorate into a sitcom, but Ted Pappas saves the show from being a mildly entertaining evening out, into an event; thanks to the talented list of actors in his employ.

The actors elevated the play beyond its stature. For many people, Benedict Cumberbatch or Johnny B. Miller will be Sherlock Holmes. David Whalen will always be Pittsburgh’s Sherlock. He’s played the part deftly in several productions at PICT (Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre). Now, Whalen not only embodies the role of the Reverend, he enlivens it.

O’Creagh’s Burgess is a brilliant buffoon. He plays him as a money-grubbing cretin, but you sort of root for him.  He spouts off the best lines in the play. He is also the most contemporary of all the characters. Unfortunately, greedy capitalists never go out of style.

Jared McGuire is delightful as the passionate poet, a lunatic for love. In the first act, the timid creature first bares his teeth. In the second act, he bounds around on the furniture like a wild animal. In the third…[spoilers redacted].  It’s a star turn for McGuire.

Egolf is amazing as the eponymous Candida, witty, well-traveled and well-heeled (her costumes perfectly punctuate her character). She is also beautiful, and it’s easy to see why men would fight so vigorously to be in her company.

Minor and O’Neill complete the cast. Another minor (pun not intended) gripe; they’re such fun characters and so well-played, you’re hoping to see more of them.

The set looks as if set designer James Noone time-traveled back to Edwardian England in a battered, blue police box, and plucked it out of the north-east suburbs of London.  The set is exquisitely detailed.

There are a lot of ideas Christian Socialism, poetry and materialism laced throughout “Candida,” but luckily you don’t have to know any of that to enjoy the show.

Note; the show has two intermissions, which unnecessarily lengthen the evening.

Shaw wrote the play under an umbrella he dubbed “Plays Pleasant,” a series of comedies he wrote. “Candida” is perfectly pleasant in every way.


– MB.