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Publish date:06-11-2014 20:31:00
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Hometown Tourists in Pittsburgh! Everyday Pittsburghers reviewing events as they see them. Reviews on Pittsburgh Cultural Events, Dining, Night Life, Arts and Business Events.

 

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Samuel Beckett's Sardonic Lament on the 20th Century, "Waiting for Godot."

Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett's Sardonic Lament on the 20th Century

PICT Classic Theatre..JoAnn R. Forrester, Empress of Biz.


Good theater, a play well acted, leaves an impression with the audience for a couple of hours, or maybe  a day or two.   A great play well acted,  stays on one's mind for days and often leaves haunting lingering questions.   Such as it is with the PICT and their presentation of Waiting for Godot .
James FitzGerald, Martin Giles


 Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot, is  purposefully designed to tease, taunt and torment an audience with its dark humor and confusing plot laced with  sardonic laments of its main characters, Estragon and Vladimir.  Two friends, caught  in their own world of forgetfulness and sometimes shared memories.  They wait...they complain, they wait...they're hungry,they wait...they're bored...they wait.   They wait cemented together in their refusal to break free of the interminable waiting. 
Then aha...a break comes-Pozzo, ( Alan Stanford) the pompous rich man carrying a whip and loaded with the burden of his self importance and Lucky (Ken Bolden),the human mule,dying inch by inch from the lack of expectation.  The interplay between the two created a strong reaction in me.  I wanted to stand up and yell, Stop being his human mule, his jackass,  kick him, bite him, leave him wallowing in his own self indulgence.   Great acting gentlemen. 

Martin Giles, Ken Bolden, James FitzGerald, Alan Stanford
 Our two main characters, Estragon (Martin Giles) and Vladimir (James FitzGerald) play exceptionally well off one another.  They reminded me of a despairing and doomed version of Laurel and Hardy, forever caught in a confusing  no-mans land.  Two friends bonded together for 30 years.  They are at the end of their road, depleted, weak, fading memories and poverty stricken and yet they cling to one another without remembering the rhyme or reason of the bond.   Each act at the end has a slender shred of hope dangled by the young boy (Elliott Pullen)  who appears delivering the message that Godot cannot appear today--but please wait for tomorrow.

Often during the play I found myself wanting to stand up and shout, Hey, wait a minute...what the do you mean by this? What
Martin Giles, James Fitzgerald
do you think audience?  Let's discuss this."  After the play, my friend and I had a lengthy conversation  on the meaning of the play.  We both had different spins on the play and what we thought Samuel Beckett was trying to create.  Was it to whine in despair? Or to explain the last 20 years of war and insanity? Or was it to wail a lament on dire conditions of mid 20th century mankind,  or was it  to challenge , to prod to make us move and examine out lives of quiet desperation?
Kudo's to the PICT, its director, Aoife Spillan-Hinks, and the fine crew for presenting this thought provoking performance of Samuel Beckett's play.  The only thing I wish would have been different, that I  could have stood up and yelled hey and started asking questions of everyone and how the play spoke to them. Aha...maybe next time!

PS¦I just loved that Alan Standford, had to keep his promise of shaving off his famous trademark beard if so much money was raised.  Thank you for your sacrifice and fine leadership of Pittsburgh finest Classical Theater.

Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
JoAnn R. Forrester is co-host of the Empress of Biz Talkcast and co-founder, president and partner in S. I. Business Associates, Small Business Solutions, LLC and Celebrate and Share. She is an entrepreneur, writer, business growth specialist, teacher, columnist and award winning writer. JoAnn specializes in helping small businesses grow and prosper. She is the co-developer of the PRICE IT PERFECT„c cost management system for small business, and has secured over 40 million dollars in loans and investment for her clients.
For more information visit Empress of Biz on PPLmag.com

 

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Publish Date: 07-24-2014 13:25:00
 


CATS, Benedum Theater
A FOUR STAR MEOW
JoAnn R. Forrester, Empress of Biz. 

Elizabeth Stanley as Grizabella
Millions of people have seen Cats since 1981 and have just purred over the Jellicle cats and their salute to immortality.  The performance of this weekend at the Benedum Theatre was purrfect.  The audience was immediately in love with the performance from the very talented Broadway quality cast.  They were singing joyfully and dancing exuberantly.  In a nonstop musical acrobatic, twisting, somersaulting, cartwheeling performance that put permanent paw prints of joy into everyone hearts. 


We all know the  favorites Mr. Mistofeles' and 'Memories'., but
Jenna Nicole Schoen as Demeter, Lily Emilia Smith
as Jellylorum and Ashley Chasteen as Bombalurina
wait what about Old Deuteronomy,  Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, once a real looker and now a faded raggedy cat¦and MaCavity the bad boy cat.  All amazing performances and a musical wonder to see

Andrew Lloyd Weber musical masterpiece will go on forever just based on the music, memorable songs and outstanding  choreography, with the wonderful them of  presenting  the captivating story of the Jellicle cats
My view of the play was fantastic.  We were seated in the Directors Circle, second floor.  Where we could look down at the
Will Porter as Mungojerrie and
Mara Newbery as Rumpleteazer
performance and just soak up the energy that flew up from the stage. Amidst that incredible view I found myself developing a different perspective.  In the midst of all the joy and exuberance I was reflexing on the tales of the cats and their possible human counterparts.  There are people I know who, I could swear their lives were being portrayed right on stage¦for better or worse. 
Ken Prymus as Old Deuteronomy






Hmmm¦.I wonder if anyone asked the shows originators who were the models for your cats?   



Anyways, as always excellent quality from the Pittsburgh CLO and Kudos to all those who work so hard to bring the best of the musical theater to our part of the world.  We are so fortunate to have you.



And as a human being who is owned by Ginger the Cat¦I am instructed to tell you the rating is a four meow rating¦the highest praise a cat will give.



Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
JoAnn R. Forrester is co-host of the Empress of Biz Talkcast and co-founder, president and partner in S. I. Business Associates, Small Business Solutions, LLC and Celebrate and Share. She is an entrepreneur, writer, business growth specialist, teacher, columnist and award winning writer. JoAnn specializes in helping small businesses grow and prosper. She is the co-developer of the PRICE IT PERFECT„c cost management system for small business, and has secured over 40 million dollars in loans and investment for her clients.
For more information visit Empress of Biz on PPLmag.com

 

Publish Date: 06-26-2014 03:00:00
 


Lose Your Blues at Footloose.

Pittsburgh CLO's Footloose.

June 24, 2014

By Megan Grabowski

Pittsburgh's debut of Footloose brings to stage  idyllic, youthful and perpetually  poignant  teenage strife with a musical score that is toe tapping and finger snapping.  So long as there
Stephen Wilde, Christine Laitta, Patrick Cassidy,
 Betsy Lawrence and Jeffrey Howell
are teenagers, there will be rebellion, a question of  authority and a free- spiritedness that teeters between innocence and blind stupidity for years at a time.  This message plays without a hiccup on the stage of the Benedum Center from June 24 through June 29, 2014.

Kristen Martin as Ariel, Dee Hoty as Vi Moore
 and Patrick Cassidy as Rev. Moore
The story begins when an average teen, Ren McCormack, moves from the big city of Chicago, to the small country town of Bomont.  His mother chooses to relocate after her husband, Ren's father, abandons them.  Once in Bomont Ren meets Rev. Shaw and quickly learns about a town law banning dancing.  The no dancing ordinance was passed, 5 years prior, after a horrif accident took the lives of 4  Bomont teens who had been out dancing and drinking.  In the beginning Ren struggles to make new friends but soon gains support from his peers  as he attempts to convince the town council and Rev. Shaw that a ban on dancing is not helping anyone, but rather trapping them in the pain of the past.  

Barry Ivan,  director/ choreographer,  is no stranger to the
Manuel Stark as Ren
Benedum Center and CLO. He is attentive to  what Pittsburghers expect and he undrestands what we have grown to demand from CLO productions.  Musical director, Tom Helm, ensures the audience never misses a beat of beloved 80's  top 40 hits;  Let's Hear it for the Boy, Almost Paradise and of course, the title song, Footloose .  The talented and accomplished orchestra duplicate these well known  hits, originally made popular by the 1984 film Footloose, with the same spunk and charm I recall from the radio play of my youth. Together, Ivan and Helm execute another enjoyable night of musical theater in Pittsburgh.

Manuel Stark as Ren and Kristen Martin as Ariel
From the opening number, I quickly caught on to the obvious cast chemistry, which works wonders  with the tightly synced choreography.   The amount of energy emmeniating from the stage throughout this rendition of Footloose is invigorating.  Lead,  Manuel Stark as Ren McCormack, is a showcase of all around talent from the moment he graces the stage.  In scence 2 when the audience is introduced to the troubled young Ren, his mannerisms, depicting an angst filled teen, are spot on, proving he is an exceptional actor and can offer the audience more than just a good voice- he is the whole package.  This is again evident  in scene 4 as  Stark accomplishs numerous dance combinations while simultaneously displaying an superb vocal range.  Opposite Stark, female lead Kristen Martin as Ariel, the teenage daughter of Rev. Shaw,  continually portrays a relatable and resonant adolescent.  Despite my initial disappointment in her vocal performance during scene 3, The Girl Gets Around , Martin quickly reverses  my impression.  In scence 6, Learning to Be Silent , Martin's performance highlights  the dynamic role she is challenged to play.  I give her much credit for  animating an adolescent  with authentic vigor and impertinence . In Act II scene 4, Ren and Ariel's delivery of Almost Paradise is full of the enchantment I love about musical  theater.  Their presentation  further confirms my initial sense of cast chemistry.
Cast

Rusty, played by supporting actor Jessie Hooker, belts out song after song with effortless breaths.  Her strong stage presence and infectious smile light up the stage.   Hooker's  melodious voice and skillful  harmonizing are carried out with ease, most notably  in scene 5, Somebody's Eyes . Hear it for the Boy , another of Hooker's shining moments, is the most memorable musical number from the show.    
 
A rock solid ensemble is a necessary foundation for any musical.  Footloose's ensemble  is uplifing, talented and vivacious.  Even
Jessie Hooker as Rusty and Billy Hartung as Cowboy Bob
during  the more serious scenes  they keep the audience cheerful and sincerely entertained. 

From the opening scence in a  Chicago night club to the final Footloose number in the high school gymnasium, Footlooseretains its momentum.  The dancing is  fun to watch and  the music encourages the audiene to bounce their knees in their seats.

The show opens with high energy dancing and singing and ends on
Kristen Martin as Ariel and Manuel Stark as Ren
the same note.  A fun performance from start to finish.  Footloose mingles song and dance with a story encompassing the multi- generational  struggles of adult vs. juvenile with a lighhearted mood and just a hint of nostalgia. 
Through June 29, 2014
For  information, on ticket purchase and show times  please visit HERE.
Reviewed by Megan Grabowski
Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.

 

Publish Date: 06-10-2014 16:52:00
 

And the Award for Best Dramatic Backstage Performance Goes To¦
Review of Noises Off, Pittsburgh Public Theater's June 5th 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  June 07, 2014


Upstairs: Garret Long
Downstairs (l to r): Noah Plomgren, Laura Woyasz,
Helena Ruoti, Preston Dyar, Karen Baum
Photo Courtesy: Pittsburgh Public Theater
For anyone who has ever performed on stage, probably the most memorable moments did not occur on stage, but instead at rehearsals and back stage - where there is typically WAY more drama.  The Pittsburgh Public Theater is wrapping up their 39th season with Michael Frayn's comical farce Noises Off, directed by Don Stephenson.  The O'Reilly Theater was roaring with belly-aching laughter at the opening show on June 5, 2014.

Now most businesses have at least one person that is a pro at stirring up workplace drama.  You know the pretty person who somehow skates by on looks and not much more, the annoying over-analyzer, the dinosaur who is way past their prime and barely contributes, or an egotistical, arrogant, condescending boss?  Well in the world of the arts, specifically theatre, those are ALL practically cast staples only amplified a lot.  Noises Off is a hilarious play full of misinterpretations, innuendo, and big personalities that is a window into the world of live stage acting.  Ok, so it may be slightly over exaggerated, that's what a farce is¦ but really, only slightly.

Foreground: Helena Ruoti and Noah Plomgren
Background: Karen Baum
Photo Courtesy: Pittsburgh Public Theater
Noises Off is a show in a show.  No, Nothing On is a show in a show with a cast of actors who play actors in Noises¦  No, that's not right either, did the chicken or the egg?  Ok, Noises Off is a funny show in another funny show, in which the cast portrays a cast of actors with big personalities.  Explaining this is like those little Russian doll things, Matryoshkas or Babushkas.

Wait no I've got this¦ in the hilarious show Noises Off a cast of fabulous professional actors (undoubtedly with big personalities) play a troupe of mediocre British actors with stereotypical theater personalities, in Nothing On, a sexy comedic play about characters who, with the tiresome and haphazard orchestration of a sassy house keeper, unknowingly end up in situations that could be misinterpreted and then intertwine the cast into a swirl of humorous and compromising situations.  Whew!  We see the cast of Nothing On attempt a dress rehearsal, then see the same show a month into the tour, from backstage and after the cast has become shall we say more familiar with each other, and then finally again two months out on tour when the drama from backstage really spills over to the front and the wheels come off.  But the show must go on!

Laura Woyasz
Photo Courtesy: Pittsburgh Public Theater
Just to be clear the wheels didn't come off Noises Off.  It was amazing and so much fun.  The intricate choreography of Noises Off to create the impression of not-quite-perfected or mistake-and-accident-prone staging of Nothing On was outstanding.  Characters going into closets then reappearing through the wrong door, plates of sardines remaining in the kitchen when they are supposed to be brought out by one person for a different character to play off of in the next scene in a different room, missed lines, preempted entrances, props breaking on stage, were all carefully choreographed to purposefully seem like the hokey mishaps of an Ed Wood movie or Night of the Living Dead.  If Nothing On was a movie, the guys from Mystery Science Theater would have a field day.

Led by the accomplished director and actor, Don Stephenson, the cast of Noises off was phenomenal.  Noah Plomgren, Laura Woyasz, Preston Dyar, and Garrett Long were all very funny, as they were creatively corralled by the hilarious Helena Ruoti as the house keeper in Nothing On .  The angst of the on stage director trying to coordinate this show was too funny.  Michael MacCauley reminded me of Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live and Portlandia.  The entire cast was so good and so funny!  Noises Off is a must-see, it was so much fun!

Additional Performances:
Show runs through June 29th, 2014 at the O'Reilly Theater


By:  Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 06-02-2014 21:38:00
 

My Favorite PSO Concert!!!
Review of PSO's Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mozart, and Haydn Concert, June 1st 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  June 02, 2014


I'll lead this review off with the tweet that I sent right after the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Sunday, June 1st 2014 performance.  Today was my favorite @phgsymphony concert of the season!  3 great pieces. Ye-Eun Choi was stunning. Loved Loved Loved Nicholas McGegan!  And, that pretty much sums it up.  In my first PSO concert and review on Jan. 17, 2014 I wrote, Now of course, I should let on that I'm partial to this era of music and the one before it.  So in my opinion Franz Joseph Haydn and his contemporaries of the first Viennese School hit that sweet spot.  So you can imagine my excitement about this concert.  Vivaldi, Mozart, AND Haydn, it was like Christmas morning at the symphony.

Ye-Eun Choi
The concert began with Vivaldi's Four Seasons and got better and better with each concerto.  Violinist, Ye-Eun Choi making her PSO debut played beautifully.  She showcased both energetic virtuosity and lovely lyric lines full of passion.  She is very young and demonstrates the technical capabilities and musicianship that will develop even more with time like a fine wine.  By the middle movement of Autumn the entire ensemble settled into a groove with smiles and acknowledgements to each other that capture the essence and intimacy of chamber music.  The music was gorgeous and full of energy, but it is taken to a whole other level when you can observe sincere enjoyment of the players.  It was fun to listen to and watch Baroque music is fun and makes you want to dance, not like the electric slide, but you know a Gavotte, Minuet or Chaconne!

Nicholas McGegan
The concert was lead by world-renowned conductor Nicholas McGegan, and for the Vivaldi he did so from the console of the harpsichord.  It was a treat to see the work not only played beautifully but also in this configuration that would more than likely have been how it was performed back in 1725.  The only unfortunate thing was that the big, beautiful Heinz Hall kind of swallowed up the harpsichord.  McGegan evoked both the lush swells of passion-filled themes and clean precision, full of energy, from the small ensemble.  More impressive was his ability to quickly lead the shifts from one style to the other at the manic changes characteristic of Baroque music.

The second half of the concert began with a fun and stately Mozart ditty, Chaconne from Idomeneo, Re di Creta.  It showcased several contrasting sections that were each played with due flair.  The featuring of the woodwinds was really quite lovely.  The concert was capped off with Haydn's Symphony #103 in E-flat major and was great.  Beginning with its nickname Drumroll, the work featured a neat timpani part and great wind passages.  A standout was the violin solo in the second movement by concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley.  I love hearing and watching him play; he makes it look and sound so easy.

Did I say I love this style of music?  It makes me feel like Agnes from Despicable Me when she expresses her excitement about the stuffed unicorn, It's so fluffy.  It's just so fun!  The music was expressive and energetic.  I would imagine the rehearsals were fun and productive, and I would have paid to see them too with McGegan's commentary.  The PSO rocked it (Baroque and Classical style you could say they barocked it) and I absolutely LOVED watching Nicholas McGegan conduct!

By:  Stephanie Sue Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 05-31-2014 09:23:00
 

May Showers Bring "Singin' in the Rain" to the Benedum - Lockwood and Lamont Grace Pittsburgh Stage Once More
Review of Pittsburgh CLO's "Singin' In the Rain" May 30, 2014 Performance
From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By: Megan Grabowski  |  May 31, 2014

The opulence of the historic Benedum Center is a perfect venue for Singin' In The Rain. The theater's original mirrors, woodwork and chandeliers recreate the atmosphere reminiscent of that which fans of the romantic team, Lockwood and Lamont, would have sat amid while witnessing the birth of the talkie.

Opening night for the 68th summer musical season of The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, welcomed to stage David Elder as leading man Don Lockwood; Mary Michael Patterson as his true love, Kathy Selden and supporting cast, Ashley Spencer, starring as Lina Lamont, the beautiful actress opposite Lockwood, and Cary Tedder as Cosmo Brown, Lockwood's comedic sidekick. The story begins with Lockwood and Lamont, 1920's Hollywood silent film stars, at the height of their fame and success. In 1927 new technology allowing sound to be placed in film is introduced. The movie studio contracting Lockwood and Lamont, Monumental Pictures, must incorporate sound into their films to stay competitive. For leading lady Lamont, this is a problem. Her diction as well as the tone of her voice does not complement the pretty face her fans adore. Suddenly, Kathy Selden, an unknown girl who dreams of becoming an actress on stage in New York City stumbles into Lockwood˜s life, on the set of his next film and into his heart as a love interest.

Cary Tedder as Cosmo Brown and
David Elder as Don Lockwood
Gene Kelly, Pittsburgh native and star of the 1952 film isn't just a former Pittsburgh resident. He is an iconic Pittsburgher; adopted by locals; part of our regional soul, so filling the role of Don Lockwood on stage in Pittsburgh requires some pretty big shoes. By scene 9, Elder confirms his worthiness for the role of Lockwood, showing off exemplary foot skills as he and Selden dance together with easy fluid motions, singing, You Were Meant For Me . By the final scene of Act 1, the title number, "Singin' in the Rain," has the audience smiling from ear to ear. Lockwood frolics from one end of the stage to the other, swinging from the lamp post with only one arm and lightly dancing up the stairs while carrying an umbrella as rain falls upon the set drenching the floor of the stage and creating puddles for splashing. His smooth voice, ˜singing and dancing' in the rain, create feelings of warmth, and familiarity for the viewers.

Cary Tedder as Cosmo Brown, Mary Michael Patterson
as Kathy Selden and David Elder as Don Lockwood
Tedder, a strong supporting character, has marvelous comedic timing and energy on stage that encourages the audience to laugh freely and boisterously. His timeless jokes add depth to the Lockwood character and reinforce Lamont's mean spirit. In addition, Cosmo dances with boundless energy and is pure pleasure to watch. Spencer's stage presence screams pomp and glamour. During her diction lesson scene the audience howls in laughter. Selden a small town, girl-next-door type with loads of talent receives applause for her operatic and melodious voice in musical numbers such as You Are My Lucky Star and GoodMornin' . One of the most fun scenes in the show, Broadway Ballet , is carefully choreographed to showcase the talents of each cast member.
David Elder as Don Lockwood

The music in Singin' in the Rain is infectious. Every person I passed by in the lobby, stood next to at intermission or rode in the elevator with in the parking garage after tonight's performance was humming various tunes from the musical. Tonight's showcase of vocal talent, dance ability and theatrical execution put a smile on my face. This is a happy and carefree production to celebrate summertime, a timeless show that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 

Singin' in the Rain runs through June 8, 2014.
For ticket information visit pittsburghclo.org 

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski
Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.  Contact Megan

 

Publish Date: 05-27-2014 22:48:00
 

Can't Get Enough of Chris Duarte, The Ultimate Guitarist
Review of Chris Duarte Concert May 18th 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Mike Van Stipdonk  |  May 18, 2014


Sunday evening at Moondog's in Blawnox I reconnected, in a way, with an old friend. Chris Duarte and I aren't really friends, but after over twenty years of seeing him play live (we're talking at least 25 times), I've decided to make him an honorary one. He provides inspiration, companionship, motivation, and good times many of the things I expect from such an individual.

First, though, a bit of history. Looking for our usual distraction from the grind of graduate work in chemistry at Texas A&M University, my usual group of friends and I headed to the Stafford Opera House in downtown Bryan, TX to see House in Orbit, our favorite band from Austin, Texas. Their infectious covers of classic and current songs (for that time), done in a style best described as bluegrass-ska, never failed to make us forget whatever was ailing us that day, week or month. Upon arrival that Friday night, we noticed a very different sound coming from the sound-check, and an unfamiliar name on the board outside the entrance. Chris Duarte. Who? Motivated, I'll admit, by nothing more than a desire to avoid the other club options for the night, I said, why don't we check this out? The cover charge was a reasonable five bucks, and there was something raw and exciting to me about the guitar sounds leaking out from inside the club. So we went in.

If you ask me, some of the best moments in life are those that happen when you chuck the plan and see where things end up. That night, I forgot all about House in Orbit and became a life-long fan of the amazing Chris Duarte. And while I like to think it happened completely by chance, it was probably more a result of my inability to read correctly the weekend's concert schedule. House in Orbit played the previous night. But who cares?

Chris Duarte is a brilliant guitarist, songwriter, and singer originally from San Antonio; but I will always associate him with what was great about the Austin music scene in the early 1990s. Duarte plays in a Texas blues-rock style that reminds most people of another Texas legend, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. Whether listening to Duarte's guitar playing or the general style of his original songs, you certainly hear the influence of Vaughan. But you also hear so else, such as jazz influences and whispers of other guitar greats like Johnny Winter, John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix (more on that later). If you're a fan of guitar, regardless of what style, devote three hours to Chris' next show (we should all encourage a speedy return to Pittsburgh). You'll walk away a convert. I swear it.

I last saw Chris play in 2009 in St. Charles, MO while with my two oldest kids. Again, quite by accident, he was playing a free show along Main Street. Martin, Josie and I sat on the street curb, just to the side of the stage, for the beginning of his first set. The kids weren't sold at first, but they were patient, listening to my requests of wait for it and you'll see . From the minute Chris started playing, though, the kids couldn't take their eyes off of him. The evening ended with Chris signing his latest disc for them, and talking about how important the creativity of music is to life (He's also a part-time philosopher!)

On Sunday night, Moondogs was a perfect venue for the reunion. Saying that was an intimate is an understatement, as nearly everyone who showed up had a close-up seat. We were treated to over three hours of music by a virtuoso. Backed by Dustin Sargent on bass (guitar), and John McNight on drums, Chris provided a clinic to those who needed to see some good guitar playing and foot-stomping entertainment for those there to hear blues-rock. And, perhaps, others may have, like my first time, experienced their own why don't we check this out? moment?

The first set was devoted to songs that highlighted the great chemistry between Chris and his band and to his talents, both as a guitarist and vocalist. Later, in the second set, he included songs that provided greater opportunity for extended solos. Those are the ones that remind me most what made me a Duarte fan in the first place. On the drive to Moondogs, I excitedly played several songs to Stephanie (The new girl in the ˜burg) to make sure she'd understand what she was about to witness, in case Chris didn't take care of that himself within the first few minutes of the show. One of the songs was Like Eric , off of Duarte's 2003 album Romp. The song, a tribute to another fantastic guitar player (Eric Johnson), perfectly illustrates the level of Chris' talent by revealing his amazing ability to channel the spirit and sound of great guitarists into his own performance. This is one of the most impressive things about the guy. He can announce to you, the listener, who his influences are by crafting songs that integrate, seamlessly, each of their unique sounds.

I remember saying to a friend who joined us that night, He's amazing. He does this one song that manages to blend Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, with a bit of Duane Allman. These masterpieces leave you saying, Good grief¦is there anything, or anyone, this guy can't do? In return for the impromptu PR work, my honorary friend rewarded me by beginning the first encore with just that song (Azul Ezell, off the Love Is Greater Than Me album). When I slapped my friend on the shoulder as the song ended, all he could do was shake his head. Most likely that was part amazement, and part recognition that he just witnessed a performance by someone that is truly the best at his trade.

After the show ended and the road crew was tearing down the equipment, Stephanie and I made our way to the merchandise table. We selected the Chris Duarte Group's recent 2 CD live disc and made our way to the stage to talk to Chris. After he signed the disc, I told him that this was Stephanie's first show, and the two of them engaged in an interesting discussion about skill and passion and other things that musicians can relate to. I then told him about my first show. I said Bryan, Texas , and he replied with Wow¦Old School. Way back! He then reminded himself that the show was at the Stafford Opera House. We shook hands, and his parting words were, We look pretty good for old guys . I think we do.

By:  Mike Van Stipdonk
Analytical Chemistry Associate Professor
Duquesne University

 

Publish Date: 05-26-2014 03:57:00
 

Gene Kelly¦The Legacy
August 23, 1912 to February 2, 1996
An evening with Patricia Ward Kelly
Pittsburgh's Gift to the World of Dance

Hey folks, way before there was "Dancing with the Stars" making an impact on the dance scene, there was
Gene Kelly. Photo courtesy of Gene Kelly: The Legacy,
An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly.
Gene Kelly, Pittsburgh's gift to Hollywood Dance film musical. 

Gene Kelly, Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly was a dancer, actor, singer, film director producer and choreographer. Kelly was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks and the likeable characters that he played on screen. Gene was born in the Highland Park region of Pittsburgh during the heyday of steel in Pittsburgh and always considered himself the working man's dancer. 

The evening opened up with an opening Film of Gene Kelly top song and dance  routines including, "Singin' in the Rain,", "For Me and My Gal," "It's Always Fair Weather,"  "An American in Paris," "Anchors Away" "The Pirate," Invitation to the Dance Words and Music and "Brigadoon."


Picture FreeWebs.com
Gene Kelly's wife, Patricia Ward Kelly, (1990-1996) was the narrator of the evening and was charming and knowledgeable as she shared the Gene Kelly story and his contribution to the world of film, dance and choreography.    She told their story of their meeting and eventual romance and marriage in an humorous way.  Her description of their May to December romance was touching.  And her devotion to telling his story and preserving his legacy is a gift to all of us.  She clearly tells his story while demonstrating his immense talent through a montage of movie clips.  It is obvious that Pittsburgh is really blessed to have as one of its favorite sons Gene Kelly.  He is one of the 20th century finest artists. His work as a dancer, actor, director and choreographer will forever be a credit to Pittsburgh. 



JoAnn R. Forrester
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com

JoAnn R. Forrester is co-host of the Empress of Biz Talkcast and co-founder, president and partner in S. I. Business Associates, Small Business Solutions, LLC and Celebrate and Share. She is an entrepreneur, writer, business growth specialist, teacher, columnist and award winning writer. JoAnn specializes in helping small businesses grow and prosper. She is the co-developer of the PRICE IT PERFECT„c cost management system for small business, and has secured over 40 million dollars in loans and investment for her clients.

For more information visit Empress of Biz on PPLmag.com

 

Publish Date: 05-26-2014 03:37:00
 

CELTIC WOMAN CAPTIVATES BENEDUM AUDIENCE

by Carl Bromley


What started as a soft whisper of music turned into a crowd favorite as the lyrics of "Danny Boy" filled the Benedum Theater on Saturday evening.  Sweet voices, seconded by the sweet smiles on the three female singers' faces, placed the audience under a hypnotic spell.  Harmony swirled through the room.  Time stood still. 

But, as in all songs, Danny Boy has both a beginning and end.  The end came much too soon for me.
The percussionists in the Celtic Woman troop made the room come alive, often using silence as an accent to
Left to Right: MГ¡irГ©ad Carlin, Susan McFadden,
Lisa Lambe, MГ¡irГ©ad Nesbitt. Photo by Lili Forberg.
their drum beat and somehow sounding as loud as the drums.  How?  Just by being exceptional at what they do and I'm not the one to figure it all out.  Like everyone around me, including fellow reviewer Joanne Quinn-Smith, I mostly sat back and enjoyed the show or clapped along during a half dozen songs where audience clapping was encouraged.
OMG, the dancing!
If you've never seen Celtic dancing, commonly called clogging, you gotta!
Intricately choreographed and expertly performed, I didn't see a single misstep except the guy who almost danced off the stage and his lady partner pulled him back.  But here's the thing...  I've been around long enough that I knew in a heartbeat the misstep was choreographed.

Ahhhh, nicely done.

Here's what you missed if you weren't there.

CELTIC WOMAN EMERALD 2014 - SETLIST 
SKY AND THE DAWN AND THE SUN
CailГ­n Ailinn - DULAMAN
NEWGRANGE
THE BUTTERFLY 
THE NEW GROUND
ORINOCO FLOW
THE MOON'S A HARSH MISTRESS
AMAZING GRACE
PERCUSSION DANCE NUMBER
TEIR ABHAILE
I KNOW MY LOVE 
LAGAN LOVE
THE CALL
RAY/MAIREAD
NIL SE'N LA
GRANUAILE'S DANCE
DANNY BOY 
MO GHILE MEAR
YOU RAISE ME UP
PARTING GLASS


Carl Bromley,  Networker, Publcist, Community Activist
Founder and Co-Owner Local4All
"The PlaceMat Guy"
Idea Guy for Hire for Small Businesses Who Want to Grow
WEBSITE
CONTACT
724-822

 

Publish Date: 05-12-2014 03:47:00
 



A whispered "Wow!"  That was my initial reaction.
Suggested to me earlier in the day in a telephone conversation with the inimitable, irrefutable queen of what Pittsburgh events are happening, Joanne Quinn-Smith of Eventsburgh, I met up with a friend and we entered the free concert "Festival of Bach" at about 7:30 PM.  Within moments we were swept up in the music, with excellent acoustics provided by Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside in their elegant sanctuary.  The ornamentation, inscriptions on stained glass windows, and carved woodwork were such that this church might belong on every list of 'places to visit in Pittsburgh',even without the music.
Since I had mentioned to Joanne earlier of dabbling in music earlier in life, she asked me to 'review' the performance.  In a nutshell and considering this free concert was in a church, I'm giving it a "Wow!" in mezzo forte.  Anything as grand as what we heard should be given respect.
The audience reaction at the end of the performance?  A standing ovation plus applause at triple forte if not more.
A brief glimpse of what we missed and what we didn't miss...

Missed between 10am and early afternoon:
  • "Toccata and Fugue" in D Minor
  • "Concerto for 4 harpsichords" followed by two concertos for 3 harpsichords
  • "Fantasie and Fugue" in G Minor
  • "Selections from Lute Suite" in G Minor
  • Chorale Prelude
  • "Prelude and Fugue" in C Major
and 4 1/2 more hours' worth before my friend and I arrived

What we enjoyed, in progress at approximately 7:25 pm:
  • Prelude and Fugue in E minor (underway when we arrived, nicely done)
  • Flights of Fancy:  A Flurry of Fugues (by the Zephyr Recorder Consort)
  • Chorale and Contata
  • Cello Suite in E-flat Major (by soloist Hannah Whitehead)
  • Magnificat! (punctuation added, separate review follows)
The Magnificat was a blending of voices from five separate Pittsburgh musical groups including:
  • The Bach Choir of Pittsburgh,
  • Chamber Music Pittsburgh,
  • Chatham Baroque,
  • the Pittsburgh Camerata, and
  • Renaissance and Baroque
Bach Choir, couresty http://bachchoirpittsburgh.org

12 hours of THIS music for free?  In a word, magnificent!
Credits:  Coordination by and through the Pittsburgh Music Alliance, Andrew Swenson, General Manager.  Additional information can be found at www.pittsburghmusicalliance.org
And, from the printed program:  The Festival of Bach has been made possible through the generosity of the Fine Foundation, an anonymous donor, and individual donors.  The members of the Pittsburgh Music Alliance would also like to thank the Allegheny Regional Asset District and Heinz Endowments for their sustaining support of PMA over the last three years.  This commitment has made it possible for us to collaborate on many things, and has supported our work throughout the planning phases for the Festival of Bach.  We thank Calvary Episcopal Church and all their staff, for their help and hospitality, and our meda sponsor WQED-FM for helping to spread the word about great music in Pittsburgh.


Carl Bromley,  Networker, Publcist, Community Activist
Founder and Co-Owner Local4All
"The PlaceMat Guy"
Idea Guy for Hire for Small Businesses Who Want to Grow
WEBSITE
CONTACT
724-822-4249

 

Publish Date: 05-12-2014 02:00:00
 


A Blythe Spirit ¦a Haunting Good Time at the PICT Classic Theater
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester  |  May 11, 2014
A Blythe Spirit, written by the British playwright, Noel Coward in 1941, during the dark days of the German Blitz, is a biting farce about marriage, death, declining morals, infidelity and the traditional British stiff upper lip. Rule on Britannia, Rule on!

The opening scene occurs in the home of Charles and Ruth Condomine, a British upper crust couple who are waiting for their dinner guests, Doctor Bradman and wife. As entertainment for the evening a sГ©ance has been arranged. This sГ©ance of course is being treated as ˜silly thing' with no expectations other than some fun at the antics of the medium, Madame Arcati .

Both Charles and Ruth have been widowed for a number of years and just recently married one another. During the pre-dinner conversation one gets a glimpse of jealously of the first wife Elvira, by Ruth the second wife. Ruth constantly tries to wheedle out of Charles that she is more desirable and attractive and that he loves her more than the first wife, Elvira. Charles manages to somewhat dodge the wheedling and before the conversation becomes nasty the dinner guests, Doctor and Mrs. Bradman arrive and off to dinner they go.


The next scene, that silly little meaningless entertainment, produces one former deceased wife Elvira, who is beautiful, witty, charming and ruthless. The antics between the living wife and the deceased wife are priceless. The snide catty remarks are classic and the women playing the part are superb. It is so much fun watching first wife, Elvira, played by Vera Varlamov and second wife played by Daina Michelle Griffith vie for Charles attention and get him to ˜get rid of the other .

As the play progresses and Madam Arcati, played hysterically by Mary Rawson, is called back to dispatch the unwanted wife it becomes even funnier. She carries on with the right combination of comedic flair and drama¦and the result? Well you have to go and see

One of the characters who almost steals the show, Edith, the inexperienced over anxious to please maid, played by Karen Baum is a comedic delight. She reminds me in many ways of an early Carol Burnett who could make physical comedy so appealing


And let's not forget Charles, (Dan Rodden) the poor besieged husband, who more than holds his own with his dueling wives. A treat to watch!

If you want an evening of haunting good laughter, British style, then you must go and see the PICTS's newest offering "Blythe Spirit." The play is directed by Alan Stanford, a very good director and a wonderful, charming host. May the PICT Classic Theatre continue to thrive and prosper in Pittsburgh!

Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com

JoAnn R. Forrester is co-host of the Empress of Biz Talkcast and co-founder, president and partner in S. I. Business Associates, Small Business Solutions, LLC and Celebrate and Share. She is an entrepreneur, writer, business growth specialist, teacher, columnist and award winning writer. JoAnn specializes in helping small businesses grow and prosper. She is the co-developer of the PRICE IT PERFECT„c cost management system for small business, and has secured over 40 million dollars in loans and investment for her clients.

For more information visit Empress of Biz on PPLmag.com

 

Publish Date: 04-28-2014 02:40:00
 


What's Up Doc?
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II Performance April 12th 2014

From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester, Host of Empress of Biz  |  April 13, 2014

Saturday night April 12, was FUN! It was a night of wonderful music with lots and lots of laughs and giggles from the usually pretty serious classical music crowd. We were treated to a multi-media experience of What's Up Doc, Bugs Bunny cartoons, witty dialogue and great music by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra very ably led by guest conductor and co-creator of the Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II, George Daugherty.

George Daugherty brings an impressive resume to the Pittsburgh symphony. He is one of the classical music
world's most diverse artists. His 3- year conducting career has included appearances with the world's leading orchestras, ballet companies, opera houses and concert artists. He is also an Emmy Award winning creator and along with his producing partner David Ka Lik Wong created The Bugs Bunny Symphony tradition. He was a delightful host. His dialogue with the audience on the background of the music and cartoons was informative with a whimsical touch. A thoroughly charming man.

One of the things I did not realize, much of the music in cartoons was based on many of the classical composers such as, J. Strauss II, Wagner, Rossini, von Suppe', Smetana, Liszt. Reading the credits from the cartoon was like a trip back in time, Jonny Mercer, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Chuck Jones, and Mel Balanc, the great voice of Warner Bros Cartoon. And of course the lovable wacky cartoon characters of Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E Coyote, Tweety (I Tawt I Ta A Puddy Cat) Bird, Pepe Le Pew and the Penelope Pussy Cat were funny as ever.

George Daugherty
As the music and cartoons play I was flooded with memories of my childhood. A time when I went to the movies and was enthralled by an afternoon of cartoons and cowboy/ space invader monster/Tarzan of the Jungle. It was a simpler and less stressful time; NO cell phones, texting, and NO parents hovering over you, urging you to hurry, to rush from one activity to another. It was a time when I could walk to the local neighborhood show with friends. Go to a shopping district, that were alive and vibrant and filled with friendly people walking on sidewalks, and stopping in their favorite ice cream store, shoe store, grocery store, ladies dress store and buying what they needed. Back then, my neighborhood gave me a feeling of identity and security. If you lived in one of them you know what I mean. Today's suburban sprawl with our mega shopping centers, frantic pace and a life built around the automobile racing from one event to another has taken a lot of that sense of belonging away.

In conclusion the night was delightful fun for young to old. All delighted by the antics on screen and being charmed by the music and conductor on stage¦ a delightful evening¦ and a secret trip back in time when it was all simpler.

Additional Performances:
Sunday, April 13th  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

JoAnn R. Forrester
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com

JoAnn R. Forrester is co-host of the Empress of Biz Talkcast and co-founder, president and partner in S. I. Business Associates, Small Business Solutions, LLC and Celebrate and Share. She is an entrepreneur, writer, business growth specialist, teacher, columnist and award winning writer. JoAnn specializes in helping small businesses grow and prosper. She is the co-developer of the PRICE IT PERFECT„c cost management system for small business, and has secured over 40 million dollars in loans and investment for her clients.
For more information visit Empress of Biz on PPLmag.com

Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com, TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 04-26-2014 15:07:00
 
Youth is Wasted on the Young . . . George Bernard Shaw

The prolific playwright, critic, novelist and essayist, George Bernard Shaw is featured with the current production of the Pittsburgh Public Theater's British Invasion.  Candida, one of Shaw's earlier works and part of the trilogy penned under Plays Pleasant,  is a study in human relationship's: husband/wife, employer/employee, poet/enabling wannabe (to the poet) paramour, father in-law/son-in-law.  Shaw weaves the playful rhythm, tone and wit of language bred from his native Ireland.  Humor is frequent and the audience appreciates the well-phrased and delivered commentary of the then-current societal mores.  While some elements of the conversations appear dated (the use of cant, for example, was last heard in a long ago class on literature) , the majority of the dialogue transcends time, as appropriate in Victorian England as it is in the 21stCentury Pittsburgh.

In Candida, the audience is treated to a preview of the characters that will be arguably Shaw's most recognizable players from Pygmalion/My Fair Lady.  The dissolute Eugene Marchbanks (Jared McGuire)  is a precursor (at least to this viewer) of Freddie Aynsford-Hill;  Candida's father,  Mr. Burgess (John O'Creagh) is reminiscent of Alfred P. Doolittle, the common dustman with his broad cockney accent juxtaposed with the costume finery of a gentleman after he is thrust directly into middle class morality by Henry Higgins' recommendation, getting to the church on time.  The audience is reminded that in Shaw, one finds a Nobel Prize winner and an Oscar winner, an unlikely and unique combination of tributes held solely by him.
Gretchen Egolf as Candida and David Whalen as Vicar Morell (Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater)

Candida (Gretchen Egolf), the namesake of the work, is a beautiful woman who is coveted by both her husband, The Reverend James Mavor Morell (David Whalen) and Eugene, the young poet who is clearly enamored with her.  Candida appears to be initially oblivious of being the object of Marchbanks' attentions, almost like a cat playing with a mouse.  Later, we realize she is much more self and situationally aware. 

Gretchen Egolf as Candida and Jared McGuire as Eugene Marchbanks (Photo Credit:  Pittsburgh Public Theater)
Her husband, also initially oblivious, is astounded when his wife demonstrates an insight on his relationship with his trusted assistant and the reason for his popularity as a much sought after orator.  The cast is rounded out by Meghan Mae O'Neill playing the long suffering Miss Proserpine (Prossie) Garnett and Matthew Minor as The Reverend Alexander Mill, assistant to Vicar Morrell.

The play is set in Victoria Park on the outskirts of London at the turn of the 20th century spanning a single day in the study and sitting room of St. Dominic's Vicarage.


Candida is directed by the venerable Ted Pappas and continues at the O'Reilly Theater through May 18th.

This  review of Candida was written by Joyce Kane on behalf of Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine and Roving Pittsburgher.  Joyce is the owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Assistant service company providing on demand business support services for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and anyone else needing help.  We help businesses work on their business rather than in their business.  www.cybertary.com/Pittsburgh

 

Publish Date: 04-14-2014 03:30:00
 




Magical Inspiration
Review of the PSO's Bolero and the Sorcerer's Apprentice March 14th 2014 Performance
From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By: Josh Kurnot  |  March 15, 2014

Walking down the aisle to row k, right in the middle of the orchestra, I notice the grand piano on the forefront of the stage. I wonder what celebrity the orchestra would entertain on their stage that night. Little did I know, some of the world's most powerful fingers were waiting just off stage left. I cannot place the feeling at first while taking my seat, but there is a kind of quiet anticipation lingering in the theater. My only precedence to this performance is the childhood memory of the Disney movie Fantasia. In my ignorant bliss, I sit with my date grinning from ear to ear waiting to reminisce on fond innocent memories from my younger years, but little did I know¦

With due respect, the audience graciously welcomes Maestro Leonard Slatkin to the stage. Prodigy to his parents, the founders of the famed Hollywood String Quartet, Slatkin was born to conduct this very show. The show opened with French composer Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice. This is the familiar tune from Disney's movie Fantasia, and its sounds coming from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's stage are just as whimsical and magical as I remember it as a kid. The simplest theme of the entire show was perfectly and playfully portrayed in this first piece, repetition. The Lucian tale of a sorcerer and his apprentice tell the story of how an apprentice's eavesdropping on the master's incantation to turn a common household broom into a drone for filling the water basin from the well leads the novice to an almost certain demise. The repetition in the orchestra starts low and mysterious as the sorcerer's stern words work in private. It then grows in volume and multiplies seemingly uncontrollably as the apprentice attempts to stop the drone from overflowing the water basin by chopping it in half; only creating yet another. The magnitude of the impending doom on the apprentice is magnificently displayed by the alternating unison of the violin section's two explicit parts. While the bows of one violin part are thrust into the air, the bows of the other part are pulled swiftly back down the opposite direction creating a magnificent but furious dancing effect atop the heads of the entire violin section. Towards the end of the piece, this effect is sustained for so long that I think it would last forever, leaving no refuge for the poor apprentice. Although I don't particularly care for all of the antics of Mr. First Violinist, I found quite a bit of entertainment in the fly away hairs of his bow flailing frantically about during this ferocious first piece. And at the end of it, Mr. First Violinist proudly grasped those few retired hairs from his bow and most triumphantly ripped them right out of their roots.

Michel Camilo
Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
The next appearance on stage is Michel Camilo. The audience welcomes him with kindly as he takes his seat on the front of the stage at the keys of the grand piano. As Camilo's fingers began to strike the first few notes of his Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, Tenerife , his Latin heritage and Jazzy style are instantly apparent. Camilo's inspiration for this piece is Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. In his own words, My intention was to compose about its great majesty, reflect on the warmth of its people, and portray the vibrant light so full of contrasting texture and color I have always perceived there. The first movement is inspired by a visit to the island's volcano and does an excellent job of personifying this wondrous place giving it absolute strength, a mind of its own, and a heart beat. Matching the strength of this volcano is Camilo's left hand pounding away at the repetitious rhythm that is the heart beat of this beautiful place. The community and warmth of the island's people is found in the echoing rhythms of the symphony orchestra. As the power of the volcano has a rhythm, so do the people who live who live in its shadow. This appearance marks the debut of Michel Camilo's performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. At the end of the first act finishing the third movement of Tenerife the crowd exploded with applause and cheers, especially from the balcony. So long did we applaud and cheer, not accepting no for an answer, that Camilo had to feel obligated to end his performance with a little extra personal flair. Not only did he flair, but his fingers fumed as Slatkin, the Symphony Orchestra, and entire crowd listened in awe.

Additional Performances:
Saturday, March 15th | 8 PM | Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 16th | 2:30 PM | Heinz Hall


Written By: Josh Kurnot
 Josh Kurnot is a student of engineering at West Virginia University in his senior year. He loves to visit relatives in Pittsburgh and attends as many cultural events as he can. He is an award winning photographer whose photograpy was featured on PositivelyPittsburghTV in a video, Roving Pittsburgher and Mountaineer Cheerleader, Josh Kurnot Tour the Strip.


Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com, TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 04-14-2014 02:46:00
 


A Superlative Combination
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Evening with Mandy Patinkin Performance April 5th 2014

From: Roving Pittsburgher and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester, Host of Empress of Biz  |  April 6, 2014

On Saturday evening April 5 downtown Pittsburgh was filled with two types of fans, baseball and music. Both type of fans excited and looking for their team to deliver a winning performance. And my team, starring the Pittsburgh Symphony with Mandy Patinkin delivered a superb win. Our star player, Mr. Mandy Patinkin, singer, actor, performer well known for his Broadway roles in Evita and Sunday in the Park with George and beloved for his characters from film and television, such as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride and Saul Berenson in Homeland, the Tony delivered an unforgettable evening of popular song and Broadway Classics.

Mandy Patinkin musical range from baritone to tenor is incredible. His choice of songs demonstrated his amazing range of voice. His charismatic performance had all of us in the palm of his hand. Opening the show slow, easy and whimsical with It's not Easy being Green, he proceeded to deliver 90 minutes of pure Broadway delight with the following On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," Mr. Arthur's Place," Bohemian Rhapsody - dedicated to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," "Anyone Can Whistle," "Sunday in the Park With George" medley, "Rock Island"/"Ya Got Trouble, The Band Played On"/"Marie"/"Once Upon a Time," "Soliloquy," "Sorry/Grateful" and "Being Alive."

Mandy's performance was infused with wonderful personal stories with an easy interplay with the Pittsburgh symphony orchestra. He brings everyone along on his musical journey and personal memories on his career. It was fascinating for me to hear how he started as a teenager, with his first role as Billy Bigelow in "Carousel" and how he evolved and eventually performed with many of the great stars of Broadway.

The evening started with the Pittsburgh symphony led by conductor Fawzi Haimor. They played three selections with Broadway and movie themes: the "West Side Story" overture, selections from "My Fair Lady" and a medley from "Pirates of the Caribbean." I thoroughly enjoyed the symphony and their Fawzi Haimor exuberant and enthusiastic leadership of the symphony.

Hey Pittsburghers! Isn't it great that we have so many fantastic winning choices here in town? And if you wanted to make sure you had a winning outing then it's to the Pittsburgh Symphony you would be going.

JoAnn R. Forrester
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com

JoAnn R. Forrester is co-host of the Empress of Biz Talkcast and co-founder, president and partner in S. I. Business Associates, Small Business Solutions, LLC and Celebrate and Share. She is an entrepreneur, writer, business growth specialist, teacher, columnist and award winning writer. JoAnn specializes in helping small businesses grow and prosper. She is the co-developer of the PRICE IT PERFECT„c cost management system for small business, and has secured over 40 million dollars in loans and investment for her clients.
For more information visit Empress of Biz on PPLmag.com

Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com, TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 04-13-2014 11:30:00
 

"Once" Not Enough, Must See Again!
Review of the Once the Musical's March 11th 2014 Performance
From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  March 12th 2014


From the get-go, Once the Musical had the audience of the Benedum Center captivated and it remained that way the entire performance. Lacking jazz hands, kicklines, hammy acting and spontaneous group song and dance numbers, Once the Musical felt more like an episode of tv sit-com How I Met your Mother peppered with organic radio-worthy music that was somewhere between the style of the Lumineers and Lady Antebellum. It was awesome. I loved it. And you should totally go see it!

Apparently the show is based off of the 2006 movie also called Once, which didn't fair so well at silver screen box offices. Obviously I didn't see it. But I'm telling you the musical is terrific. It is a romantic comedy and romantic tragedy in one. Fresh and set present day;  Witty and tender;  If you've ever loved, been heartbroken, felt loss, or felt giddy anticipation, you'll see yourself in the story and music of Once the Musical. Laughter and tears included.

The very organic and intimate feel of the entire production is initiated 15 minutes before the show begins when audience members can join the cast on stage of the Dublin pub set for drinks and music. As audience members are privately asked to take their seats, the cast continues to play another couple of songs and seamlessly transition into the show. The house lights finally go down a solid 10 minutes into the show as the unnamed Czech Girl enters the pub after hearing the moving voice and guitar playing of unnamed Irish Boy.

The typical romantic story unfolds. Stricken by woes of the heart, Boy swears off playing music; classically trained pianist, Girl has Boy fix her Hoover vacuum, Girl helps Boy piece his life back together; annoyed humoring begets a tentative friendship; friendship begets romantic hopes; but there's always something that complicates things¦ life, commitment, bad timing. I won't give away the ending, but will say true love is powerful.  Equally relatable themes are the importance of family and community:  small family business, loss of a parent, the new life as a widow, struggling to advance professionally.

The content of the show was touching, but how it was delivered was unique as well.  Every character plays an instrument.  Not only are they the cast, but the orchestra too.  And to prove it the pub set is lined with framed mirrors, which showcased the piano playing skills of Girl and brought a dimension to the set that pulled you in more.  To create different scenes great lighting was used and encouraged the imagination of the audience, including when they were on top of the set looking out into the ocean.

The whole experience was a fresh take on "going to a Broadway musical" and it was great.  I loved it so much I came home and downloaded the music on itunes and looked up when the show would be in the cities of my parents and siblings and told them that they had to go.  So I'll say to you too, take a break from kicklines and showtunes, not that I don't love me some traditional musicals, this is a show that you don't want to miss!

Additional Performances at the Benedum Center:
Wednesday, March 12th  |  7:30 PM
Thursday, March 13th  |  7:30 PM
Friday, March 14th  |  8 PM
Saturday, March 15th  |  2 PM and 8 PM
Sunday, March 16th  |  1 PM and 6:30 PM


By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 03-15-2014 20:50:00
 
A Journey to the Past, Present and Future

An Iliad, a modern adaptation of Homer's Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare, is the time-honored story of the Greek-Trojan war updated with modern language, contemporary references and future implications of the continued horror that is war.

Teague F. Bougere provides an enthralling performance is this one person show.  Alternately actor and narrator, Bougere as The Poet weaves the story of mortals and the gods of Greek mythology interspersed with references to conflicts throughout history up to 2014.  The epic story of Achilles and Agamemnon, Athena and Apollo, Helen of Troy and Hector, Hecuba and Hermes, Paris and Priam, and last, but not least, Zeus is told with an understandable pace, bringing this story with a historic sensibility to a current audience.


Bougere appears dusty and road-weary, then energized by the audience while engaging in easy banter, then repulsed by the dialogue of the classic tale.

The stage of Pittsburgh Public Theater's O'Reilly Theater has been transformed to a quasi-construction site cum battlefield.   The rough-hewn table becomes Paris' bed, then a platform for the recitation of conflicts and wars of far-reaching implications.  The scaffolding/ramparts provide a vantage for the observation of the historic battles from afar, as the majority of the audience experience war.

The Pittsburgh Public Theater's production of An Iliad, a 90 minute show without intermission, plays at the O'Reilly through April 6, 2014.

Reviewed  by Joyce Kane on behalf of Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine.  Joyce is the owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Business Support business that helps solopreneurs, business owners and individuals work 'on' their business rather than 'in' the business.

 

Publish Date: 03-07-2014 16:00:00
 

Oh My Stars, Sequins, and Symphony
A Review of the PSO's March 6th 2014 Pops Concert

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  March 7th 2014

What I fun concert! I don't know how else to start this review, other than that. I was seat dancing practically the whole concert and singing like a song bird all the way home. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Jack Everly presented All That Jazz , a musical montage of hits from Cabaret, Chicago, The Act, Kiss of the Spider WomanNew York, New York and more.

Jack Everly
(photo courtesy:
Michael Tammaro)
As the show opened with "Overture", I was thinking, with the Oscars having been just this past weekend, this sounds very movie-musicy sounding. (Yes, I have a music degree and that is a technical term, movie-musicy, well at least it should be.) Anyway, I knew we were in for a treat, because we would hear some of the most well known musicals in robust symphonic stylings. And then out came the singers to join in.

With a proper Willkomen from Ron Remke, the musical celebration of the songwriting duo Kander and Ebb was in full swing. Remke was joined by Nikki Renee Daniels, Ted Keegan, Pittsburgh native Kirsten Scott and Tony award-winning Beth Leavel. Though there were only five singers this was no park n' bark stuffy concert. The audience was both dazzled by the singing stars and bedazzled by all the glitzy costume changes.

Ted Keegan, who has previously sung the role of the Phantom on Broadway, whisked us away with First You Dream from Steel Pier. His voice will make you melt. He later showed a light-hearted comical side singing Mister Cellophane from Chicago. He is phenomenal!

The girls started spicing things up with Two Ladies and Everybody's Girl from Cabaret. One could totally see how Beth Leavel won a Tony. She is a total ham and your eyes will never leave her because she is such an entertainer on every level. The trio of gals kept the heat coming in the second half with City Lights from The Act and Cell Block Tango from Chicago.

John Kander and Fred Ebb
(photo courtesy:
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
While most of the music of the evening was upbeat, there was no mistaking the beautiful soaring voices of Nikki Renee Daniels and Carnegie Mellon graduate Kirsten Scott. Daniels beautifully performed one of the more tender pieces of the night, Go Back Home from The Scottsboro Boys. Scott sang gorgeously as well as showcased some sizzling and sultry dance moves in Roxie and Hot Honey Rag from Chicago.

The works of the super successful songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb have become contemporary musical classics. Their recipe of steamy and provocative story lines, snappy lyrics, and jazzy orchestration led to 5 decades worth of hit musicals and films.

Orchestras for musicals are normally much smaller, maybe to fit down in the close quarters of the pit. But, the PSO brought a robust and studio recording-like sound to these musical favorites, without sounding clunky. It was a great opportunity to hear snappy character and a jazzy side of the PSO's playing.

Guest Conductor, Jack Everly made two promises to the audience at Heinz Hall - we would leave the concert happier than when we arrived, and though we would hear both songs we knew and some we didn't, all would be great. He was absolutely right on both counts.

Additional Performances:
Friday, March 7th  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Saturday, March 8th  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 9th  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 03-01-2014 19:15:00
 

Witnessing Unmatched Musicality
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's
Joshua Bell and Symphonie Espagnole Performance Feb. 28th 2014

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Hank Walshak  |  March 1, 2014


Gianandrea Noseda
(photo credit: Sussie Ahlburg 2012)
Something in me likes to watch professionals, whatever their line of work. This personal bent served me well when I witnessed Joshua Bell display his violin artistry and Maestro Gianandrea Noseda masterfully lead our Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 21 of Edouard Lalo.

For me, watching Joshua Bell is like viewing a professional tight-rope walker quickly skip along a 60-foot rope hundreds of feet in the air, and doing somersaults on the rope at the same time. This kind of doing the seemingly impossible happens only a few times in one's life, and Bell's execution was one of these rare times in my life.

To say, he performed the violin solo, would be to vastly understate his performance. He played through the Symphonie Espagnole as though the notes, the phrasing, the melodies, the movements emerged from somewhere within him, not from Lalo's score. He played as though born into the music, moving forward to punctuate hard-hitting parts, moving back to elicit the more subdued sections of the piece.

Joshua Bell
(photo courtesy:
Lisa Marie Mazzucco)
Talk about violin prowess. From exploring sonorous tones in the lower register to parts that called on his lyricism and flexibilities to those that challenged with incredibly intricate fingerings in the upper register, Bell moved through the Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra with the unerring grace of a male, ballet dancer interpreting the most physical demanding dances without even breaking a sweat.

A brief look, eye to eye now and then, was all Bell and Maestro Noseda as they worked in synchronistic togetherness during the performance. Just as Bell's body moved in resonance to each symphony part, so too. Noseda physically conveyed his musical intentions to the orchestra by his deft, dance-like movements. He attacked the piece with all the agility he could muster and moved slowly from side to side to convey more lyrical intonations to the orchestra.

Watching Bell and Maestro Noseda was like seeing two, Olympic athletes move in unison as they performed feats of precision one could hardly believe. They complemented each other so nicely without ever once stealing the sunshine away from the other's performance.

How fortunate for us in the audience to experience these two musical geniuses performing together in a not-to-be-matched rendering of Eduouard Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra.

Additional Performances:
Saturday, March 1st  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 2nd  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

Written By: Hank Walshak
Founder and President of Walshak Communications, Inc.

The Communications Expert for Experts
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Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com, TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 02-27-2014 18:33:00
 

Porgy and Bess, an American Operetta
A Review of Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Feb. 26th 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Joanne Quinn-Smith  |  Feb. 27th 2014

Some would like to call Porgy and Bess a Folk Opera, I prefer the work operetta. Even though there was serious content about a close knit group in Charleston's fabled Catfish Row, there still was light hearted banter at times and light footed music also. It might also be called a folk opera because of the cultural and political milieu when the residents of Catfish Row refer to the sheriff as "Boss."
Alicia Hall Moran as Bess
Nathaniel Stampley as Porgy
(photo courtesy: Michael J. Lutch) 

The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess was first on the stage in 1935. Now the Tony award winning musical graces the Benedum Stage from February 25 thru March 2, 2014.

A musical playwright and composer can of course never go wrong opening any production with Summertime, one of the most recorded songs of all time.

Accompanied by a lush 23-piece orchestra, this re-envisioned Broadway production includes such legendary songs as Summertime, It Ain't Necessarily So, and I Got Plenty of Nothing.

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess is set in Charleston's fabled Catfish Row, where the beautiful Bess struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the courageous Porgy. Porgy and Bess's relationship is threatened by her volatile lunk of a lover, Crown, and the seductive narcotic enticements of the dandy vice purveyor Sporting Life. The role of Sporting Life was originally developed by Sammy Davis Jr. but Kingsley Leggs and the ensemble reproduce a movie moment with It Ain't Necessarily So."

Porgy and Bess' unconventional romance triumphs as one of theater's most exhilarating love stories.

Kingsley Leggs as Sporting Life
(photo courtesy: Michael J. Lutch)
The power couple in the musical are young parents Jake and Clara, played with warmth and strength by Pittsburgh native David Hughey and Ms Ali. Jake is a fisherman and captain of the Sea Gull. He is willing to brave any danger to provide for his wife Clara. Jake believes with hard work, he can help his son go to college, but he's also part of a testosterone-fueled culture where men are judged by their muscle, and gambling and drinking are expected among peers. He leads the ensemble in the only half-joking "A Woman Is a Sometime Thing." But it makes no matter what scene he is in David Hughey commands the stage each time in duets and ensembles. His tall muscular frame is almost anachronistic in a musical. But he manages to create exaggerated movements reminiscence of a panther and the audience has a hard time keeping their eyes off his majestic presence. You could certainly see this at the end of the production when he and Sporting Life receive the most applause. Sumayya Ali's version of "Summertime," will haunt you long after you leave the theatre.

When it was introduced on Broadway in 1935, "Porgy and Bess" was a revelation not only for its depiction of a close-knit black enclave in the South, but for its mix of musical genres.

Director Diane Paulus and writer Suzan-Lori Parks have revived the classic folk opera of American theater. With all of its cultural stereotypes, still it brings a powerhouse production to a very receptive 21st Century audience.

Additional Performances at the Benedum Center:
Thursday, Feb 27th  |  7:30 PM
Friday, Feb 28th  |  8 PM
Saturday, Mar 1st  |  2 PM  and  8 PM
Sunday, Mar 2nd  |  1 PM  and  6:30 PM

Written By: Joanne Quinn-Smith
Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. She is a grandmother and great grandmother, an unlikely trendsetter for online journalism and broadcasting.

Joanne is internationally known as the Get Your Google On Gal, but better known as Techno Granny„c to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation that represents the new second generation of World Wide Web interactions, known in technology circles as Web 2.0. JQS is the online publisher of PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh's First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities.

Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com, TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 02-23-2014 17:00:00
 

Dandy Dreams
A Review of Paul's Case, Feb. 22nd 2014 Performance
From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By: Stephanie Curtice | Feb. 23, 2014


Some things have not changed since 1906. Times are tough, but America still is the land of opportunity. In school, society encourages kids to dream big and work hard to be successful. But young, starry eyed Paul went off the rails at the work hard part. When the young and dumb blaze their own trail and buck the system, there can be stark consequences to pay.

Last night Paul's Case fittingly made its local debut at the Pittsburgh Opera. The 2013 American opera is half set in Pittsburgh, including the Carnegie Music Hall. Based on the like-titled 1905 story by Willa Cather, composer Gregory Spears and co-libretist Kathryn Walat bring together minimalistic and baroque musical elements to depict Paul's self-centered life.

Paul's Case at the Pittsburgh Opera
(photo courtesy: David Bachman)
Paul is a polite, but smart-alecky high school student who wants to break free of the working class life of Pittsburgh and enjoy the glitz and glam of New York City's easy street. The allure of the shiny stage lights and fame are fed by his part-time job as an usher at the Carnegie Music Hall. After getting expelled from school his father shows Paul some tough love by forcing him to work a real job.

After stealing a hefty sum from his new employer Paul a makes run of it in New York City. He uses his stolen funds to bankroll a lavish up-scale life with new dapper duds and residency at the Waldorff Astoria. With one poor decision after another, he spends a drunken night on the town, only to find himself waking to more than a hangover. He is found out and his actions begin to catch up with him. Revolver in hand and no further dreams than living the high life, young Paul goes into a tailspin.

The cautionary tale is chock-full of hopes and dreams, disappointment and failure, depicted with dissonant tonal clusters, large oscillating jumps, and repetitive melodic snip-its. The performance featured fine singing, a small chamber orchestra, and very minimalistic production. Of the small 7 person cast, Daniel Curran (Paul) and Alex DeSocio (Father) were my favorites with clear and beautiful singing that was easy to understand. The intimacy of the Pittsburgh Opera in the Strip District was the perfect setting for this opera. The engaging performance will leave you feeling truly connected to Paul and his father, and bewildered by the tragic ending.

Additional Performances:
Friday, Feb 25th  |  7 PM  |  Pittsburgh Opera
Friday, Feb 28th  |  8 PM  |  Pittsburgh Opera
Sunday, Mar 2nd  |  2 PM  |  Pittsburgh Opera


By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 02-22-2014 16:30:00
 

Symphonic Test of Endurance
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's
Casella, Prokofiev and Schumann Feb. 21st 2014 
Performance
From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  Feb. 22, 2014

Gianandrea Noseda
(photo courtesy:
Sussie Ahlburg 2012)
A flurry of musical energy filled Heinz Hall as guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a vivacious set of works that some may find a little less well known. The intensity each of the works demanded was shown in the aerobic conducting, feverish bowing, hustling percussion, and dramatic playing by piano soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

The concert opened with two sets from Alfredo Casella's 1932 opera La Donna Serpent. Both featured bombastic martial themes peppered with lush melodies that beautifully highlighted the woodwinds. The second set began with a tinge of Middle Eastern sounds in King Altidor's Dream, and then with each piece layering more and more energy the work culminated with a return to the blustering fury of War March.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
(photo courtesy: Paul Mitchell)
The intensity of the concert continued with Sergei Prokofiev's Concerto No. 5 in G Major, featuring Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. The work has numerous thematic passages that are woven together through five movements with the complexity of a patterned friendship bracelet. Each of the colored strands represented by the piano soloist, trumpet proclamations, and swelling strings, intricately patterned with jarring syncopations, tangled dissonances, and large leaps in the prickly keyboard part. And as erratic as the piece itself maybe, Bavouzet played with a flair and confidence that both balanced with the orchestra and brought the chaotic piece into a very appreciable focus.

A delightful and fun addition to the concert was a quick little encore by French pianist, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, playing Debussy's La fille aux cheveux de lin.

After a well deserved intermission break for Noseda and the orchestra, the concert ramped back up to finish with Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C Major. The robust work had a stirring feel that culminated in a Beethoven Ode to Joy feel that was victoriously grand and full of inspiration.

The programming of this concert was intense and a test of endurance. After noticing a smile on the face of almost every cellist during the second movement of the Prokofiev, I spoke to principle cellist Anne Martindale Williams. She said that pieces were fun, and confirmed the demand of this concert both due to the nature of the music itself and because they are less frequently played pieces. The exciting evening of symphonic grandeur was celebrated with standing ovations both at intermission and the end of the concert.

Additional Performances:
Sunday, Feb 23rd  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

By:  Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 02-19-2014 02:41:00
 

 

Publish Date: 02-16-2014 17:00:00
 

Dance of Heritage
Review of Dhirana Feb. 15th 2014 Indian Classical Dance Competition

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  Feb. 16 2014


Stories of the Indian culture and Hindus religion were brought to life Saturday night with lively dancing, bright costumes, and ethnic music. Eight college teams from across the country gathered at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on the University of Pittsburgh campus for Dhirana 2014, an Indian classical dance competition. The very unique routines included grace like a ballet, transitioning floor work similar to a marching band, dramatic energy akin to Broadway musicals, and multi-level formations that were almost cheerleader-like. The dancing was amazing and unlike anything I have ever seen.

Natya from Rutgers University
Winning 1st place and the Most Traditional Dance Award, Natya from Rutgers University showcased the story of how the Hindu deity Genesha came to have the body of a man and head of an elephant. The way the team created a formation to portray the elephant flapping its ears and trunk was very creative. Second place Pulse from Georgia Tech brought big time intensity of fast moving floor work to the competition with the theme of Ravana: The Tragic Hero. Some of the other themes included Pandora's Box by Boston University's Dheem, Navarasas (9 Emotions) After the Storm by Johns Hopkins University's Shakti, and Ravanasura's Fall to Rama by Penn State's Natya.

Indian classical dance is very different from Western styles. Compared to ballet, which emphasizes leg action, a still upper body, lightness, high jumps, and pointed toes, Indian dance utilizes very active upper body movement, expressive hand and facial gestures, bent legs, low jumps, flat feet and intricate stamping foot work. Both styles have one very important aspect in common though. They both require masterful control to execute the dances with fluidity and grace.

Moksha from University of Maryland
(3rd Place)
Indian Classical Dance has a rich heritage dating back to 2nd century B.C. and broadly encompasses two main aspects. Nritta, pure dance, is the expression of rhythmic movement primarily through the use of hands and feet mostly in specific poses. Nitrya is more of an interpretative dance which uses gestures and facial expressions to show the poetic or emotional meaning in combination with rhythmic gaits and postures. Specific Indian dance styles showcased in this competition included Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali, Mohiniattam, and Manipuri. These styles utilize elaborate prescribed postures of the torso, hands, neck and even eyes. They also involve intensive footwork, acrobatic energy, and very stylized pantomime.

Nrityamala from
University of Pittsburgh
The competition also featured several exhibition acts. The show opened with world renowned Carnatic vocalist Arthi Kumar singing Prayer Song, accompanied by violin and percussion. The host dance team, Nrityamala, performed two classical dance routines including Pushpanjali. Two local teams also performed, showcasing more contemporary styles from Western India that are very high energy dances. PantheRass danced in the Garba and Raas styles, which utilized props and acrobatics. And Steel City Bhangra danced in the popular Punjabi folk dance style Bhangra.

The dancing was amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen before, but also impressive were the students who hosted the event. Not only did they plan, produce, and dance at the event, but the hosting Pitt University students also chose to donate the proceeds to Birmingham Free Clinic, the only local free healthcare provider. They also honored the memory of Vasu Srinivasa Prasad Gutti, who was not only a local, but worldwide champion of South Asian Performing Arts. Srinivasa Prasad International Fund for the Performing Arts (SPIFPA), the foundation created in tribute to his legacy, was the lead sponsor of Dhirana 2014.

I'd like to say a great big Thank You! to Mrs. Cardiology, Sunita Pandit and her husband Dr. Santosh Pandit for not only the invitation to attend this great event, but also sharing their cultural and religious insight throughout the show.

By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014

 

Publish Date: 02-14-2014 17:00:00
 

Are You a Good Swan or a Bad Swan?
Review of Swan Lake, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Feb. 13th 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  Feb.14, 2014

I have been to many classical performances, yet at this one I found myself as one of those people confused about when to clap. At the symphony, don't clap between movements. But, at the ballet? I didn't know. Surprisingly, I had only been to a ballet one other time, as a child when I went for a school field trip to the Nutcracker. This is, of course, another ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. I don't know why I hadn't gone more, but I'm glad this was my first big kid trip to the ballet. And what better one, than the quintessential Swan Lake? It was beautiful and astonishingly athletic. I was worried that I wouldn't follow the plot without words or singing, but there was no need. The story line was clear and medium of ballet told it perfectly. I was surprised of how moving the story was. It was truly beautiful.

Julia Erickson
(photo credit: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre)
So, being the New Girl in the Burgh but a Kansas girl at heart, I'd have to ask. Are you a good swan or a bad swan? To which Odette would reply, Oh, I'm not a swan at all¦ I'm a princess. One could tell from the opening night crowd at the Benedum, Swan Lake is a classic fairy tale. There were many tutu and crown wearing little girls gazing in aw of the swan princess ballerina story. Very cute!

The ballet begins kind of like Cinderella. The Prince Siegfried (Robert Moore) at the castle, being told by his Queen Mother there will be a ball. And to that ball all eligible princesses shall attend, each in hopes that he will choose her to be his bride. After planning, the Prince and his friends go hunting in the forest. Then taking aim at a beautiful swan, he sees the most amaizing thing. The white swan magically turns into a beautiful maiden named Odette (Julia Erickson). They quickly fall in love and she tells him of her curse.

Julia Erickson, Robert Moore, and swans
(photo credit: Nick Coppula)
The third act begins at the ball where the Prince is presented several princesses, who showcase dances of their native lands. Though he still has Odette in his heart, he is captivated by Odile, whose likeness is of Odette's but darkly enchanting as a black swan. As he professes his love to Odile (also danced by Julia Erickson), the evil Sorcerer (Nurlan Abougaliev) exposes his disguise and trickery.

After a second intermission, Odette and the other swans share in their sadness of the curse, turn of events, and impending doomed life of forever living as a swan. The Prince arrives to beg for forgiveness and their true love is reaffirmed. Unfortunately, because the Prince was tricked into falling for Odile, Odette is destined to remain a swan forever. The only way to break the curse and kill the evil Sorcerer at this point is Odette's death. Together in true love, the Prince and Odette leap to there deaths, off of a cliff, into the lake. The end.

Ok, so maybe instead of fairy tale like, its more Romeo and Juliet like, and the happily ever after is more suggested to be restricted to the afterlife. But I think that minor detail floated right over the heads of all of the little princesses in the audience.
    Yoshiaki Nakano
    (photo credit:
    Rosalie O'Connor Photography)
    Things I did not know about Swan Lake the ballet:
    • There are a few prescribed sets of choreography for the entire show, and the choreography used in this presentation was by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, circa 1895.
    • There are multiple possible endings for the ballet.
    • Originally Odile was just an enchantress, not a swan/girl like Odette
    • The score most frequently used is actually an arrangement by Tchaikovsky's brother Modeste and Ricarrdo Drigo.
    • The Swan Theme was used in Dracula, the 1931 film starring Bela Legos, and The Mummy, the 1932 film starring Boris Karloff.
    How you might ask do I know these super informative tidbits? Well, that last one was compliments of my sweet boyfriend, who loves old movies. And for the others, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre posts a very useful resource for called the Audience Production Guide at their website. If you are a fledgling ballet attendee, like myself, I would definitely recommend checking it out before you see the show.

    The evening was full of graceful dancing including the signature fluttering of wing by the swans, fun and athletic leaps by the Jester (Yoshiaki Nakano), pristine pirouettes by Odette, and festive dances by the hopeful princess guests in the Czardas, Spanish, Neopolitan and Mazurka styles. Every aspect of the dancing and finely played music was engaging. It was a great first experience at the ballet!

    Additional Performances:
    Friday, Feb 14th  |  8 PM  |  Benedum Hall
    Saturday, Feb 15th  |  2 PM  |  Benedum Hall
    Saturday, Feb 15th  |  8 PM  |  Benedum Hall
    Sunday, Feb 16th  |  2 PM  |  Benedum Hall

    By: Stephanie Curtice
    Good News and Cultural Reporter
    PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com
    RovingPittsburgher.blogspot.com
    TheNewGirlintheBurgh.blogspot.com
    (c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2014