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Publish date:05-12-2016 21:42:34

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Publish Date: 05-12-2016 21:42:00

Cirque de la Symphonie
PNC Pops 2015-2016

reviewed by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

Cirque de La Symphonie which performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra April 29 thru May 1, 2016 is a breathtaking bucket list addition if you have not seen it.  It is quite simply a marriage of exciting movement and music with unique elements of danger and comedy when the aerial hoop and aerial silk artists swing out over the symphony crowd.
The sound track other than the music were gasps, chuckles and sighs of relief just when you thought an aerial movement would not make it.  This performance had something for everyone both the casual circus crowd and the elegantly dressed regular symphony devotees. 

Every time I attend I think "oh my granddaughter would love this but I am always so excited to attend myself that I do forget to see if she can come out on a school night.  Sorry Anaiyah.  Next year,
remind me.

Many of the performers perform double acts as Ms. Gavre and Mr. Binayamin.  Talk about role reversals, in their performance to "Por Una Cabeza," in an acrobatic tango.  Ms. Gavre lifts Mr. Binayamin proving that a petite woman can actually balance a muscle bound man.
Mr. Tsarkov is quite resplendent in the most colorful and comedic sequined jester's outfit as he performs to "Devil's Dance," juggling like you have never seen it before.

If you studied geometry in high school or college you might wonder how Mr. Streltsov managed to twirl large cubes on the palm of his hand to the upbeat tempo of "Les Toreadors."
Ms Gavre again proves her strength and dexterity with the spinning hoops dangling high above the stage and the audience. Not to be outdone Ms Tsarkove does a ballet on the uneven pedestals with spinning acrobatics and poses.  The audience is
sure she would have no trouble getting a date as she poses very sensually to "Bacchanale" from "Samson and Delilah"  She is also the quick change artist, donning six different outfits right on stage.

But the PSO is not to be outdone by all of this "big top" excitement and performs stupendously on their own with "Espana." and later "A Comedy Tonight" from "A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

Mr. Steltsov and Ms Van Loo are spectacular on the aerial silks performing dreamily to the Waltz from Swan Lake and also sprach Zarathustra, Opus 30.

The big moment though as you can see from the pictures was the big top finale of Jarek and Darek acrobatics, what feats of strength and synchronicity and seemingly impossible acrobatic poses.  Some will remember Jarek and Darek from "America's Got Talent."

For those who stayed for the post symphony talk, the conversation from performers and conductor Jack Everly was both humorous and informative.  Conductor Everly's banter in between numbers during the performance kept the audience enthralled with not only his symphonic ability but his glib sense of humor.

In a town where sports is king and the symphony is like the regal Queen of England, both symphony audiences and sports fans cheered so loudly it could have been over one of our hometown teams having a big win.  This was definitely a big win for the Pittsburgh Symphony and La Cirque.

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 05-12-2016 19:28:00

Le Corsaire
A Pirate Saga with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Orchestra
April 15, 2016

by Roving Pittsburgher Reporter, Joshua Kurnot 

                My love affair with ballet begins with Le Corsaire. Friday April 15, 2016 was my second, live, full-scale, professional ballet theater experience. I was quickly seduced with its dynamic and explosive character, movement, and scenery. In contrast, I did not fall in love with ballet during my first experience during the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's season opening performances showcasing William Forsythe's work. That stuff was way over my head, too modern and stark for my understanding as a novice ballet spectator. Le Corsairse's classic themes made it easy to sympathize with.
                The stunning sets for this performance were made in Germany and brought from Uruguay after only their first use there. Most striking was the grotto where the pirates hid out after stealing their prize girl and looting the village. The rippling rocks of the cave walls sparkled with gem stones and the allure of its hidden treasures within while the captain of pirates, his bare chested slave, and his newly stolen beauty danced to entertain the troops, but mutiny quickly ensued.

                The obvious crowd favorite that night was the bare-chested slave to the pirate captain being
danced by Ruslan Mukhambetkaliyev. This guy was the muscle behind stealing the prized beauty for the pirates and also stealing the entire show that night. It was a shame that the ladies didn't even have the chance to really captivate the audience, but that's because the ballet wasn't created to showcase the female dynamic. This Russian style ballet showed off the power and strength of the male dancers. Ruslan's training at the Almaty Ballet Academy in Kazakhstan and later performances as a soloist with the Moscow City Ballet and principle with the Russian National Ballet made him perfect for his role. His jumps were the highest, his lines were the strongest, and his endurance was obvious as he effortlessly performed big trick after big trick while being fueled by the excitement and cheers from the audience. The coolest part of having a live orchestra in the pit was that when Ruslan or any other dancer got on a role breaking out the really impressive moves, the maestro could sense the excitement from the audience and direct impromptu repetitions in the musical arrangements to accommodate and accentuate their performances. The synergy between the dancers, musicians, and audience was totally and completely electrifying.

Anna-Marie Holmes was the night's guest of honor. In some way she owns Le Corsaire legally, but artistically she is the absolute authority on its creative subtleties. Talk-back discussions after the performance revealed her humble dedication to the original ideals of the ballet, but also highlighted her passion to perfect it. Many questions were about the originality of the sets, music scores, and choreography. Anna-Marie's eloquent response to these prying questions was honest statements that exemplified how many of the world's greatest artistic performances were conglomerations of artistic collaboration through many decades of dedication and hard work.

Joshua Kurnot is a West Virginia University Graduate of the School of Engineering.  He was also part of the student team of West Virginia University engineering students who won the 2014 24-hour innovation competition held by Ecole de Technologies Superieure in Montreal Canada.  Joshua now makes his home in Pittsburgh and hopes to do his small part to reduce the brain drain in the Pittsburgh area by securing a job as a mechanical engineer. Contact Joshua


Publish Date: 03-25-2016 15:40:00

A modern Opera
Gertrude Stein and Alice Tobias
The Talk of Paris
Music by Ricky Ian Gordon, Libertto by Royce Varvrek
2425 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
 Presented by the Pittsburgh Opera
Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
 Reviewer:  JoAnn R. Forrester, Empress of Biz,  

Pittsburgh has many jewels in its cultural crown. One of the brightest jewels is the Pittsburgh Opera.
Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas
The 77th season began with the Pittsburgh premiere of 
Ricky Ian Gordon's 27.  Spotlighting larger than life novelist, poet, playwright, and Pittsburgh native Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas27 will delight you with Ricky Ian Gordon's "tuneful score" and Royce Vavrek's "quick-witted libretto." 
 The production of 27 was held at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, located at 2425 Liberty Avenue in the Strip District.  This is an amazing well designed renovated space that is the ˜ training ground for the next generation of Opera Stars.  The building and the resident artist program alone deserves its own review.  What a sparkling jewel in our cultural scene crown. 
I was mesmerized by the production of 27 , the life and times of Gertrude Stein and Alice Tobias and their influence on the development of 20th century arts.  I thoroughly enjoyed score of Mr.  Gordon, evoking jazz, foxtrot and musical theater. 
 The opera 27 is in five acts and portrays the life of Gertrude Stein and Tobias from 1910 to 1946.  It demonstrates their influence and impact on the world of art through their stimulating art challenging Parisian saloon.   It was fascinating to watch Gertrude and Alice living in pre War World I  Paris creating a saloon that hosted the emerging 20th century painters, Picasso and Henri Matisse . 

Gertrude and Alice created their own world excluding those who did not accept them including   Gertrude Stein brother, Leo Stein.  Who left 27 rue de Fluerus, when Alice Tobias became a permanent part of the household.  Gertrude and Leo never spoke again. 

World War I comes and goes with all its hardships and sacrifices.  After World War I Gertrude and Alice host emerging writers of the Lost Generation such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the photographer Man Ray.  This period sandwiched in between two World Wars is lived at a frenetic pace with all are trying to make up for the upheaval and destruction of the past war.  Meantime the Great Depression is on horizon and the drums of war start to beat softly and then louder and louder until they thunder and burst on the world stage and War II erupts. 

 World War II brought a drastic change to Gertrude Stein.  Her goal for her and Alice to be safe causes her to do what is necessary to be safe and survive occupied France.  After the war the end come quickly for guilt consumed Gertrude Stein.  The last act features Alice Tobias and Picasso as they say goodbye, pack and send Picasso's picture of Gertrude Stein to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the resident artists as they delivered this Pittsburgh premiere of 27 I was impressed with Laurel Seerdjian (mezzo-soprano) portrayal of Gertrude Stein and Adelaide Boedecker (soprano) as Alice.  Their duets together conveyed great warmth, affection and devotion to one another.  The men, Adam Bonanni, (tenor) Matthew Sciollin (bass baritone) and Brian Tobias (baritone) were versatile and in good voice in their many faceted roles.  The Pittsburgh Opera's Residence artist program is a boon to Pittsburgh and to Opera.   All those in this production of 27 are on the path to artistic success.   

It's a good bet for your money to support and enjoy the Pittsburgh opera.  If you have never attended the opera, you might start with The Barber of Seville, opening on April 2.  

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


Publish Date: 03-09-2016 15:36:00

Bridges of Madison County 

Harlequin Romance or Arthur and Guinevere?

The Bridges of Madison County that opened at the Benedum in Pittsburgh last night has the steaminess of a Harlequin Romance Novel touched with tragic illusions that date back to stories like Lancelot and Guinevere and serenendipitous lovers trapped by a chance meeting between passion, reality and honor.From a slow background start the musical wends its way through the audience's emotions like a rollercoaster between comedy, lust, broken dreams and soulful duets.  Stripped to their private thoughts, even the men in the audience would have to admit that the show tugged at their hearts and returned them to a chance encounter, a furtive one night stand or a glimpse into "what might have been."

This two time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical by composer Robert James Waller has evolved from a bestselling book by Pulitzer Prize Winner Marsha Norman to a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood to a Broadway musical is the stuff of housewives fantasies and romantic tragedies with local color, historic flashbacks and comic relief episodes.   

The Daily News hails as one of Broadway's best scores in the last decade. It's easy to see why.  Although there are no "Oklahoma" catchy tunes that stick in your head they certainly will rap you in their magic while you are there.  There is one show stopper at the end though and both I and my theater partner wished we could have given him a standing ovation for it. With his rendition of "When I'm Gone" Charlie (David Hess) goes from mealy mouthed comic episodes to leading man status and that is one song that you wish was just a bit longer.

The performance of Francesca ( Elizabeth Stanley) was of course stellar even though as a granddaughter of immigrant Italians on both sides of the family I found her Italian accent a bit wanting, but her voice could transport you to the outer limits of heaven.  The real star of the show though is Robert (Andrew Samonsky).  His "The World Inside a Frame" truly creates a picture.  Also the chemistry between he and Francesca did not need shirtless scenes to be steamy and electric even from row P in the orchestra.

Norman also has created a pair of comical neighbors, Marge and Charlie (Mary Callanan and David Hess). Marge spies on Francesca and her hippie Photographer guest through binoculars and tries to engage her passive husband Charlie jealous speculation; their banter is humorous and finally the results are homespun and touching.  Marge also has a huge musical moment along with the Radio Singers in "Get Closer."  While part of the stage is "filled" with Francesca and Robert dancing Marge has her own vicarious experience. For the chick flick or chick theater followers Robert with his superior height to Francesca has an enticing way of wrapping his tall body around Francesca.

The great thing about this show is that fantasies and reality both are all part of life and the interjections of all types of music from country to almost operatic and blues with athletic dancing and movement of scenery really made this show come to life in the theater.  From housewife to construction worker, business women, traveler or handyman everyone can relate to that one moment that "might have been."

 Don't let this be a "might have done" in your life but DO SEE  "The Bridges of Madison County playing at the Benedum on 7th St in Pittsburgh through Sunday March 13, 2016.  Tickets start at $26.00.   

Additional Info and Tickets here

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 02-11-2016 17:04:00

Guys & Dolls:  A Showcase of Talent at PPT
By Good News Reporter, Megan Grabowski

When Pittsburgh Public Theater (PPT) produces a musical you are sure to be wowed.  This season, the American classic, Guys & Dolls will not disappoint.  An audience pleaser all around, Guys & Dolls is entertaining for both the musical maven as well as any theater novice.  Producing artistic director, the esteemed Ted Pappas, has covered all the bases to assure this performance is nothing less than stellar. Guys & Dolls is a must see.

One of America's most beloved musicals, Guys & Dolls takes place in mid-century bustling New York City.  Small time gambler Nathan Detroit (Joel Hurt Jones) is scrambling  to find a location for the next floating crap game, while dodging Lt. Brannigan (Tony Bingham) and  Miss Adelaide, (Kirsten Wyatt) leading performer at the Hot Box night club and his fiancГe of fourteen years.   With help from fellow hoodlums Nicely, Nicely Johnson (Quinn Patrick Shannon), Rusty Charlie (Joe Jackson) and Benny Southstreet (Gavan Pamer), Detroit attempts to arrange the game at the Biltmore Garage.  Owner Joey Biltmore (Daniel Krell) wants a $1000.00 deposit before he agrees and Detroit is broke.   He decides to earn the $1000.00 by making a wager with Sky Masterson (Charlie Brady) a man who will bet on anything. Detroit bets Masterson that he can't convince the beautiful and pious, Sarah Brown, Sergeant of Save- a- Soul Mission, to take a trip with him to Havana, Cuba.  Masterson, accepts the challenge. What follows is a quest for love and redemption depicted through an award winning score and clever choreography.
Charlie Brady and Doreen Burns

The four leading roles, Nathan Detroit, Sky Masterson, Sarah Brown and Miss Adelaide boast notable credits ranging from live theater,  film and television, national as well as local theater.  The leading ladies are exactly what you would expect from a PPT production, refined and skilled in their craft.  Burn's operatic vocal range is resounding and at times nearly drowns out her male counterparts.  Kudos to Wyatt whose New York accent is on spot. She manages to maintain it throughout the entire performance, something I have witnessed many talented men and women struggle with on stage.   Masterson, a ladies' man, can schmooze a woman and roll a set of dice, sing and dance too.  His rendition of Luck Be a Lady was a highlight of the show but my heart melted listening to Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit sing the duet, Sue Me , it was sweet and harmonic.
Although there isn't one single cast member who disappoints, the supporting cast and ensemble are especially brilliant. The beautiful Hot Box girls, as Farmerettes, in A Bushel and a Peck , are just the right amount of risquГ.  Sarah's grandfather, Arvide Abernathy (Larry John Meyers) sings More I Cannot Wish You , a sentimental tune that warms the heart and Nicely, Nicely Johnson and the ensemble receive a roar of applause after Sit Down, Your Rockin' the Boat . 

  The O'Reilly Theater has a mid-sized stage and the choreography is tailored to the space.  Personally, when I see a strong male cast I look forward to powerful leaps and turns.  The dancing in Guys and Dolls doesn't lack these attributes but there were moments when I expected  larger.  The dancing was most engaging during Havana and The Crapshooters Dance . 

Guys & Dolls boasts bright and cheery costumes, an uplifting musical score, energetic dancing and engaging acting.  The show runs through February 28 at The O'Reilly Theater in Pittsburgh's Cultural District. 

  For more information or to purchase tickets visit

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski
Income Maintance Caseworker at State of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast. 


Publish Date: 02-11-2016 13:11:00


An unbiased review by Mr. and Mrs. CardiologyGood News Review by Dr. Santosh and Mrs. Sunita Pandit

The air was electric as we waited for the show to begin!  This was the first time in our simple career of attending shows in the Cultural District that we really noticed the audience's feel of anticipation and awe of what was to come.  My husband,Dr. Santosh Pandit or Mr. Cardiology, as
he has been dubbed, got busy right away using the opera glasses to watch the unusual activity on the stage. There were actors limbering up and actually doing cartwheels and splits! I can understand his curiosity because the gals on stage looked from our seats in row Q as though they were wearing nothing!  They were all wearing skimpy clothing in flesh colors I noticed the stage had a second story where it was filled from end to end with musicians or were they the actors ohhhh they were doing both!

The swell of the audience's energy climaxed as the lights dimmed.  The lead, Emcee Randy Harrison came out from behind a door and started to sing.  Oh but I could not understand his words. I wanted to adjust the acoustics so that I could lower the music and hear him clearly.  It was worse for my husband as he does not understand French!  But to my delight, the loud music became a minor detraction as the actors outdid themselves in producing their heart felt performances.

Pittsburgh is in for a real treat with this rendition of Cabaret.  For those like Mr. Cardiology who did not grow up in America do a little reading so you can follow the story better and that way you can concentrate on appreciating the performances.  Well worth more than the price of the tickets My favorite was Fraulein Schneider Shannon Cochran singing ˜So What' with Sally Andrea Goss singing ˜Don't Tell Mama' a close second!  Randy Harrison as the Emcee was actually like a band leader in his ability to keep the energy level at peak for the entire performance made me think everyone else was making sure they kept up! BRAVO!

To all the cast and crew my Hats Off to YOU! Congratulations and Thank You for coming to Pittsburgh and allowing us to ˜Get Away' from our daily routine

MrsCardiology Sunita S. Pandit

Sunita Pandit, host of Mrs. Cardiology which is an anchor podcast at is also the practice manager for her husband Santosh Pandit's private cardiology practice in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, she is also the Health Director on the Board of NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh. Dr. Santosh Pandit is a private practice cardiologist in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.


Publish Date: 01-30-2016 18:21:00

The Nutcracker, A Holiday Tradition That's New Every Year

by Pittsburgh Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

A nutcracker is a tool designed to open nuts by cracking their shells. But truly in the theater at the family holiday tradition of "The Nutcracker" presented by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, no one cares with the presentation of The Nutcracker during the holiday season of 2015, the Pittsburgh Ballet definitely cracked the code of entertainment for young and old and sheer delight for all ages.

From the beautifully lit backdrops to the exotic flavor of the international dance numbers, the snow flower dance with the bees and the Chinese dragon, the audience can never tire of the enchantment of the Choreographer, Terrence S. Orr's  interpretation of Tchaikovsky's suite from the original ballet derived from the Story of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It seems as though every year that one attends, there is always something new and exciting that wasn't there last year in the performance or that you just notice this year.

And the set designer has made the scenery indigenous to Pittsburgh.  The Showdrop showcases a Pittsburgh home that once existed on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside.  Who can miss that the proscenium clock that was inspired by the famous, "Kaufman's Clock."  The Nutcracker at Christmas is not the only Pittsburgh tradition showcased in this presentation. What Pittsburgher would forget someone saying to them, "I'll meet you under Kaufmann's clock?"

The historic Pittsburgh flavor continues in the naming of the guests as you peruse the program, Mrs. Kaufman, Mr. and Mrs. Heinz and Mr. and Mrs.  Grandview, named for Pittsburgh's internationally known scenic Grandview Avenue. And the topography continues in the turn of the twentieth century rendering of the Snowy Forest.

Also the Magical Land of Enchantment backdrop's string of lights that swirls like and old-fashioned rollercoaster was inspired by visions of Pennsylvania's many amusement parks.

From the human sized rats to the trees laden with sweets and the palace, everything Clara and the audience see is for all intents and purposes made of sugar.  My granddaughter's favorite was the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and also the Arabian dance and the Chinese Dragon Dance. 

I personally have always loved the grand festival portion with its Celebration of Dances.  My favorites are the Dance of the Dolls and the waltz of the flowers with the baby bumble bees.  It's so wonderful how the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater includes its community of talented dancers and youngsters from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, truly making the event a community supported and populated tradition for the Pittsburgh area.

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 12-31-2015 01:15:00

the Family Holiday SpectaCular
23 Musical, Twirling, Juggling, Ariel &  Acrobatic Acts to
Amaze & Entertain You
Reviewer:  JoAnn R. Forrester, Empress of Biz,  


Presented by the
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Benedum Center

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE, created and directed by Neil Goldberg presents a spectacular family night of holiday entertainment aimed to amaze, awe and make one wonder  out loud   How in the world do they do all the singing, dancing twisting, turning, leaping, climbing, juggling, acrobatic and aerial feats and still be smiling and ready to do more?    The international cast of 30 performers from Armenia, Belarus, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine and the USA are extraordinary as they whirl, twist and perform almost impossible feats through 23 acts, and myriad custom changes as holiday ornaments in a 2 hour plus magical   production.  

 The theme,  Once upon a dream, time awoke suddenly.he turned, smiled and gave a winkand then saw the ornaments no longer asleepsets the stage for the performers dressed as holiday ornaments to pull out all stops to perform  amazing feats to entertain the audience.   The action never stop, one amazing performance is finished and the next is moving right on stage.   You just gotta see it to believe it!   All the performers are excellent and many of the performers have been featured on America's Got Talent and similar TV variety shows in other countries.

Kudo's to all that design, produce and deliver this holiday spectacular.    Cirque Dreams is also currently airing as a made for PBS television special throughout the country.  The
CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE is part of a franchise by directory Neil Goldberg, who  created the groundbreaking Broadway hits CIRQUE DREAMS and JUNGLE FANTASY.   CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE is a circus show, a Broadway musical, a holiday fantasy spectacular and family show all in one!  Look for them to go to NYC & Broadway in 2016

Great  family entertainment! Amazing show with fantastic skilled performers whose
enthusiasm, talent and boundless energy generates enough holiday cheer to light up downtown Pittsburgh for a week.    Truly a fabulous Holiday performance to entertain all!

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


Publish Date: 12-30-2015 16:11:00

Pittsburgh Symphony Holiday Pops, Nothing Short of Tops!

JoAnn R. Forrester,
Roving Pittsburgher Reporter
Host of Empress of Biz #Podcast

A great family holiday treat was presented to Pittsburgh concert goers    by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Choir, Attack Theatre, the Three Rivers Ringers, Chris Jamison and a very special appearance by Mr. Nicholas Claus at the Holiday Pop Concert.  I wish this performance could have been broadcasted on television by all our major stations in the burgh to brighten everyone's holiday.  The whole performance by all was uplifting, well executed and magical.

The Pittsburgh Symphony under conductor Daniel Meyer, well known to Pittsburgh audiences was superb.  Mr. Meyer has a wonderful touch that brings out the best in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a lighthearted and capable manner.  He also worked exceptionally well with the other Pops presenters. 

The Mendelssohn Choir , the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra's chorus of choice directed by Acting Musical directory, Maria Sensi Sellner was delightful and it was a grand treat for the audience to be able to sing along with three Christmas Carols.

The Attack Theatre, directed by Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza,
was an exuberant part of the evening and their interaction with Mr. Claus was perfect.  I must say Mr. Claus was wonderful with the young members of the audience.  It made me wish I was a kid again and that I could have a special talk with Santa.  The reactions of the youngsters on the "Santa Cam" were priceless.


Attack Theater in Santa's Reindeer Skit

My favorite of the whole wonderful Holiday Pops evening was the Three Rivers Ringers.  They are Pittsburgh's premier handbell ensemble directed by Nancy R. Lutz.  They charmed the audience and it was just amazing to see them performanother great treat.    The Carol of the Bells with the Mendelssohn Choir was exceptionalgreat sound and fascinating to watch.

Chris Jamison and PositivelyPittsburghLive #podcast host,
Joanne Quinn-Smith
To add to the wonder of the evening a special appearance by Chris Jamison, local artist, who appeared as a finalist on The Voice sang several songs including the one he did on national television, Georgia on My Mind .  His voice caresses the words and brings to mind to me Mel Torme (September 13, 1925  June 5, 1999), nicknamed The Velvet Fog, who was an American musician, best known as a jazz singer.  Keep your eyes on our local guyhe has far to go and if he keeps on track should have a wonderful career.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Holiday treat with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Chor, Attack Theatre, Three River Ringers, Mr. Claus and Mr. Chris Jamison.  Folks you don't need to go to New York find world class entertainmentwe got it here in Pittsburgh.   I suggest for your 2016 New Year's Resolution List make one of them get involved and support the marvelous artistic and musical scene in Pittsburghit is a sure winner all the time. 

Still time to get your picture taken in front of Heinz Hall tree.

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


Publish Date: 12-21-2015 16:52:00

Roving Pittsburgher Report, 

Put Holiday Doo Wop on Your Bucket List

Good News Reviewer, Marlene Reutzel

If you haven't  been to a Doo Wop show, put it on your bucket list!  It's an evening of pure fun and entertainment.  The show at Heinz Hall was just musical magic. Presented by Richard Nader

Entertainment on Wednesday December 16th, 2015, the line up was fabulous. The program started with Johnny Angel and the Halos, a group that started in the corners of the North Side of Pittsburgh.  When the signing started,  the need to sing along began. 

Lenny Welch's voice is still dreamy with his " Since I Fell For You" and " Ebb Tide.  His moves are still as smooth as ever. 

Tommy Mara has an engaging and powerful voice  that immediately pulls you in to that feel good place as the lead singer of the Crests. Singing along to "Sixteen Candles" and "Step By Step" takes
you back to the music that brings back memories.

Ladd Vance is the son of Kenny Vance from Jay and The Americans. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. His voice is wonderfully like his dads'. Singing " Cara Mia" with the Safaris was a perfect fit.

The Shirelles with the original lead singer Shirley Reeves Alston got the audience moving with " Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"  and "Tonight's the Night". Singing along was just second nature.

Everyone was singing  with The Orginal Tymes to " Wonderful Wonderful".  Their black and red jackets made sure your attention was focused on them with classic line dancing.  Truly entertaining!

The Supremes had 12 number one hits, Mary Wilson sang quite a few of them. Aside from sounding great, she looked amazing.  Her white and silver beaded form fitting gown, shows her fabulous figure and that classic look The Supremes always had.  Everyone was singing to "Baby Love" and " Stop, In The Name of Love' .  What a class act!

Each of the entertainers sang a Christmas song and the tribute to our military was inspiring and appreciated by the members of the audience who served. 

Definitely a wonderful entertaining, completed by pictures in front of the spectacular 
Christmas Tree in The Heinz Hall lobby, sponsored by HighMark.

Next time there is a Doo Wop show, throw caution to the wind and go. You won't be sorry.

Marlene Reutzel, Sales Executive for Contact One, Founder, Consultant to those who want to turn their trash to cash.
SpecialiZing in antique furniture reclamation and refurbishing.
Coming website:


Publish Date: 12-12-2015 13:56:00

An Irish Christmas at the Symphony


Pittsburgh Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

There is nothing like the lilt and toe tapping and sometimes raw emotion of Irish music to ring in the holiday season.  And the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra was right on target with the celestial voices of multi-platinum Irish singing sensation Celtic Woman as they presented Home for Christmas -- The Symphony Tour. Featuring music from the all-female music ensemble's second Christmas album, "Home for Christmas," including holiday favorites "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Silent Night" and accompanied by the Pittsburgh Symphony.  On December 7, 2015, symphony audiences and Celtic Woman fans alike were treated to wonderful renditions of Drummer Boy, O Tannebaum and Little Town of Bethlehem along with Irish Classic, Danny Boy and a Celtic Woman favorite, You Raise Me Up.

It was a special treat to hear the history of Auld Lang Syne and hear it sung in the beautiful Gallic language. The Irish sensation who has made America fall in love with them performed spectacularly and the Christmas overtures by the symphony orchestra were outstanding.  The dynamic voices of the of Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, along with the spritely energy  of Celtic Violinist MГirГad Nesbitt filled Heinz Hall with joy and the holiday spirit.

Celtic Woman performed holiday favorites underscored by the stirring
sound of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This holiday spectacular presented a truly festive and celestial live music experience that showcased the dynamic voices of Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, along with the spritely energy and passion of Celtic Violinist MГirГad NesbittThe audience left not with visions of sugar plums but heavenly chords of an old fashioned Celtic Christmas laced with American classics dancing in their heads.


Publish Date: 12-08-2015 18:53:00

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Scrooge A Hit on and Off Stage

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

with additions by Anaiyah Thomas

Have you ever thought about the story line behind "A Christmas Carol" from a pre or grade-schoolers point of view?  While as adults or even adolescents or teens, we think it is an amazing feel good tale of repentance and salvation and find the detestable Scrooge to often be comical.  But remember that part of the story is about his partner Marley "haunting him" in chains with eerie noises.  Well this year while perusing the resurrected Macy's windows and after trying to get her to watch A Christmas Carol on television, my granddaughter seemed to show some interest, in fact excitement.  She was fascinated by the window treatment of the CLO "A Musical Christmas Carol."


So on Friday, December 5, 2015, her mom got her dressed in an adorable dress and jewelry and off we went to see what has become one of Pittsburgh's Christmas traditions with Tom Atkins as Scrooge.  Here's an aside, did you know that not only is he a Pittsburgh native but he made his fame as an actor in the horror genre? Tom is also a Broadway actor but in Pittsburgh he is "Scrooge" at Christmas time and he does the role well and is one of Pittsburgh's most beloved characters during the holiday season, 2015 being his eighth year running to play the role. What a role for an actor as he goes from his Bah! Humbug! attitude to a joyous reveler and philanthropist.  There is an opportunity for Atkins to play everything in between and he does it with passion and lets you know he is having fun doing it.


For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for years and do not know this is the plot line. Scrooge is pretty much the meanest, most loathsome, feared, despised and ridiculed man in town who does not believe in fair treatment of his employees, Christian charity, human kindness or even giving a day off for Christmas to his employees.  Eventually convinced he retires to his lonely room to contemplate the ridiculous custom of Christmas with all its trappings including caroling, not giving a thought to his kind employee Bob Cratchet with his barely existing family of five children and the sickly Tiny Tim.  The fates descend upon Scrooge in the night with a last ditch effort at redemption starting with visits from his former, equally odious partner, Jacob Marley and running through three ghosts of Christmas. The resulting story telling leads to emotional action and dialogue running from pathos to mirth, but always entertaining


There are too many delightful characters to .mention all but in addition to Scrooge of course, my granddaughter and I had a couple of favorites.  Terry Wickline plays the dual role of Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge's toddy tipping housekeeper and Mrs. Fezziwig, the bubbly, bounteous wife of the town socialite; good cheer reveler and generous business man. She wisecracks and totters through the role of Mrs. Dilber with a vaudevillian style that will have you laughing out loud.  As Mrs. Fezziwig she plays a delightful airhead full of energy and fun and you have no doubt that her party invitations are the most sought after in town.

Her husband is played by Tim Hartman who has multiple roles as Charity Worker/Businessman/Mr. Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present). This is his 23rd year in Pittsburgh CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol.  His tall stature alone makes him stand out but he rolls through his various characters so distinctively that it leaves you wondering "was that the same guy who played?"  As Mr. Fezziwg he is madcap and merry and a master of slapstick humor.  He is imperious and almost Shakespearean as the ghost of Christmas Present, then humble and endearing as a charity worker.  My granddaughter Anaiyah thought it was hysterical when he came out of the crowd for one of the final scenes and leaned over to one of the audience to say, "You can wake up now, it's almost over."


These holiday events are made for memories and one of Anaiyah's best will always be a chance encounter on Sixth St. with Tom Atkins.  As he was walking by, he leaned over to say, "Did you like the show?" Of course she was bubbling over with enthusiasm, he then said, "I played Scrooge. Hey how about a hug, sometimes Scrooge needs one because nobody likes him." After she recovered her surprise, she said, "Grandma, you should have taken my picture with Mr. Scrooge."  Yes grandma should have but she was equally surprised and she was lagging a bit behind this enthusiastic seven year old.  But Anaiyah will always have that memory of a warm and friendly Pittsburgh/Broadway actor who stopped her on the street to bring a warm moment down from the stage.  She could of course, not wait to tell her Mom and Dad when they picked us up that she met Scrooge.
We did however immortalize our day by having our picture taken complete with hat and scarves on the Christmas red carpet.  I suggest both couples and families do the same to preserve this memory.

Lots of time left to create this memory with a musical show that has something for everyone.  The show runs at the Byham Theater through December 23, 2015.

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 12-01-2015 16:44:00

Roving Pittsburgh Report.
"A Servant" at PBT thru December 6, Feircely Funny

by Megan Grabowski

Pittsburgh Public Theater (PPT) offers city theatergoers a fantastic night with the fiercely funny A Servant to Two Masters.  Ted Pappas celebrates his 50th directorial performance with one of his favorite plays and it's not difficult to see why A Servant, was chosen as a celebratory performance.  The classic Italian comedy written in 1749 by Carlo Goldoni and adapted by Lee Hall in 1999 maintains the original lively love story with a mingling of modern language, retro costumes, an updated setting, (Venice 1965) and fun loving Italian folk music.  The show comprises a cast of both PPT returning actors as well as new faces that enliven the stage and keep the audience in stitches from scene one through final bows.

The plays opens with a celebration; Clarice and Silvio are celebrating their engagement with their
Erin Lindsey Krom and Patrick Cannon.
fathers, Pantaloon and Dr. Lombardi, as well as Smeraldina, Pantaloons's domestic servant, and the town inn keeper and chef Brighella.  The merriment is quickly interrupted when Truffaldino arrives with the announcement his master, Federigo Rasponi, wishes to see them.  The mood of the party promptly down spirals as we learn Clarice was betrothed to Federigo until his death. She and Silvio fell in love and became engaged thinking no more of her betrothal.   Clarice, played by Erin Lindsay Krom, is darling yet melodramatic as she stomps across the stage in a mod fashioned mini dress, 
wailing at the announcement of having to marry Federigo.  Silvio, played by the handsome and talented Patrick Cannon, is desperate to keep Clarice for his own.  He laments to anyone willing to listen to his plight. He is the epitome of Italian lover; slicked back dark hair, designer shoes, gold chains and a stylish paisley jacket, he and Clarice are in the midst of planning a future and like most young lovers are enthralled with each other's company.  Their randy behavior, pawing at one another whenever they are together, could be seen as lewd but their infatuation is so strong no one will deny them the opportunity to enact their feelings. 

Daina Michelle Griffith and Jimmy Kieffe
The story unfolds with a revelation; Federigo is dead and the person proclaiming to be him is actually Beatrice, his sister.  She is impersonating her deceased brother in hope of securing the dowry Pantaloon agreed to pay for his daughters hand in marriage and securing these finances would aid her effort in the search for her true love Florindo.  Included in the plot with the love triangle is a mess of monkey business carried out by Truffaldino.  Jimmy Kieffer as Truffaldino is a servant to two masters.  Already employed as Beatrice's servant, Truffaldino, by chance, meets Florindo at the inn.  Florindo, incognito in leather pants and shades fears someone in Venice will recognize him as the man who murdered Rasponi.  Veteran PPT actor David Whalen cast as Florindo, hires Truffaldino as his servant and what follow is a series or ironies, hilarious antics and mischievous undertakings by each character. 

The set, unembellished black and white sketches is mounted on a turn table which rotates for quick and seamless scene changes. The contrast between the flair of vintage costumes and the black and white is reminiscent of mod culture.  Audience engagement throughout the show is plentiful and adds to the lighthearted nature of the story.  The music, used as a backdrop between acts and at other moments an accompaniment to the farce, keeps the audience connected to the cast. 

The cast of A Servant To Two Masters

What makes A Servant so gratifying are the laughs.  The script is silly, a comedy created from quirkiness, intelligent witticisms, innuendos and a little slapstick.  There is something for every taste in humor.  Still, this wouldn't matter if not for the precisely perfect cast.  A Servant has no small roles.  Each character compliments the next and is essential to the tightly woven plot.  Diana Michelle Griffith's lusty disposition as Smeraldina is not too sexy or uncomfortable but at times mildly inappropriate in a fun way.  Truffaldino, performed by Kieffer is a large man whose stage presence is fulfilling but never overwhelming.  Truffaldino is gullible yet loveable and Kieffer launches his comic timing on spot each and every time.  Bill Buell as Pantaloon is the closest the show comes to a villain.  Pantaloon feels obligated to keep his promise to Rasponi, meanwhile, Scott Robertson playing the role of Dr. Lombardi is more protective.  He is empathetic toward the young lovers, and the two characters play off one another with little to no effort.  A PPT debut performer, Bob Walton, is cast as an eccentric artist named Brighella.  Brighella has a flair for entertainment and we watch in awe as he attempts to perfect a four course meal for each of Truffaldino's masters, in one of the most notable theatrical dinner scenes of all time.

The best part of the show is the final scene.  The audience is directed to open the program to the first page and sing-a-long.  With vim and vigor we sang, swaying slightly, side to side, belting out the lyrics in harmony with the cast.  This uniting moment remind me of just how good it feels to enjoy an honest laugh. 

A servant to two masters plays at the Pittsburgh Public Theater thru December 6, Additional info and tickets available Here

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.


Publish Date: 11-21-2015 16:35:00

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Review 

Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

by Joanne Quinn-Smith

Lights, action, camera, well 3-D projection and pure entertainment!  That was The Tony Award winner for Best Musical," Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder,"   Benedum through November 22, 2015.  From the very first scene where a snapshot is taken of a group of turn of the century mourners in black to the gay entourage at the end of the performance, the show is pure musical comedy perfection.  "A Warning to the Audience" sets the pace for the entire musical.  "You're a D'Ysquith by Miss Shingle (Mary Van Ardel) and Monty (Kevin Massey)  is even more compelling by the fact that the name is so incredibly hard to pronounce.

The plot portrays the hysterical odyssey of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family whose only impediment to becoming an earl is eight cousins in front of him.  Add to that one femme fatale,Sibella Hallward (Kristen Beth Williams), his fiancГ and one ingenue, Phoebe D'Ysquith (Adrienne Eller), his cousin (no one seems to care) and you have an instant love triangle amidst the intrigue. Oh and there is the little drawback of possibly getting caught while he engineers their early demise. And all this is done amidst turn of the century proprieties and few scene changes thanks to modern technology that looks somewhere between cartoonish and genius but always delightful and humorous.

The projection designer, Aaron Rhyne adds more than his share of quality to the production with the simulation of skaters falling through ice, a cleric climbing up and falling from a church tower and splattering to the ground, complete with bloody splatter. IN A MUSICAL ON STAGE, the effect is amazing.
Despite the comedy, the musical element of the show from the live orchestra to the performers was excellent.  Some of the crowd favorite numbers,  "Oh, why are all the D'Ysquiths dying?" "I've Decide to Marry You," with the double door scene of Sibella, Phoebe and Monty is a mastery of vocal excellence and staging.  And "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" by Lord Aldelbert and Company is excellently staged and performed.

In addition to John  Rapson as the D'Ysquith heirs (all eight of them) and Massey as Monty Navarro, the cast of A Gentleman's Guide includes Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella Hallward, Adrienne Eller as Phoebe D'Ysquith and Mary VanArsdel as Miss Shingle.John Rapson has to be the absolute king of musical comedy and of multi portrayal rolls.  What a hoot. Kevin Massey as Monty Navarro is not only a great actor but has an exquisite voice.  

There are also moments of grandeur with the chorus.  Kristen Beth Williams is not only sensuous but has moments of comic genius as Sibella.  Quite frankly there are too many moments of brilliance among all of the characters.  It's easy to see why a Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is the most celebrated musical of the 2013-14 Broadway season

For additional info and tickets:

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 11-02-2015 04:36:00

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Season Opener of PBT, an Eye Opener


Sinfionetta pas de deux
Thursday evening October 22, 2015 The Benedum Theater was a buzz with the sound of show.  Swarming the stage were dancers in leotards and leggings, the slender frames of dancers bodies stretching and leaping across the stage with long lean muscles, men and women practicing Pirouettes and an occasional Grand jete across the stage.  The house experimenting with lighting, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (PBT) orchestra warming up one section at a time for the PBT 2015-2016 full dress rehearsal was open to a select group of press and photographers and I was lucky enough to be invited for a glimpse of the triple bill program which launched Friday October 23, 2015. 
The guests are seated on the mezzanine level overlooking the stage and the pit.  The orchestra warms up, one section at a time, including a full brass section.  The PBT prepares a performance of high energy, emotive and innovative artistic aptitude with a flourish of beauty and grace offering two Pittsburgh premieres Sinfonietta and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated as well as Western Symphony.   The dancers move across the stage with elegance.  Their bodies twist and bend, twirl and leap with technical fluidity to the sounds of pure romanticism. 

The first number, Sinfonietta choreographed by Czech born JiЕ™Г KyliГn,

introduces the Pittsburgh audience to a ballet with precise footwork, powerful gallops and a sea of green, blue and white dressed dancers who  chase each across the stage to the military music by Czech composer JanГД ek.   Sinfoniettais recognized as one of the 20th century's most compelling orchestras and the PBT dancers mimic the movements of horses and birds with animation, their arms and legs in synchronization with the sound of the brass ensemble. 

The second performance on the bill, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, is executed to the sounds of industrial music, and is often referred to as the work which changed ballet forever.  Choreographed by William Forsythe, a visionary of the dance world, the PBT dancers enter the stage in green and black leotards to a stark stage, a simple black drop curtain behind the jolting movements of the dancers' limbs as they flail in expert timing to the challenging sound of the looping percussion.  The arrangements of the dancers' bodies to the nontraditional music is intriguing and emotionally charged offering audience members an experience teetering on experimental,  while maintaining a steady showcase of professional form and function.

The third and final piece of the evening, Western Symphony is a lighthearted ballet featuring cowboys and saloon dancers.  Sure to be a show- stopping number, Western Symphony, created by one of the

best known names in modern ballet, George Balanchine.  This number is energetic and the dancers are buoyant.   The ballet is set in an old west town,   the brightly colored costumes trimmed in magenta, scarlet, golden yellow and teal add to the jovial nature of the performance.  The music, arranged by upbeat adds to.  The stage comes alive with dancers, twirling to the sounds of the orchestra, originally arranged by Hershey Kay simulates classic American Folk music and transports the dancers into the frontier.  The Western Symphony is the most classical performance of the evening but still manages to integrate the impression of a typical western themed hoedown, with classical ballet. 

As a prelude to the PBT season, this remarkable show will not disappoint.  The tremendous talent on stage combined with the eclectic choice of performances is an invitation for dance enthusiasts to enjoy a program of high artistic quality.

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.


Publish Date: 10-14-2015 10:07:00

PPT Opens 2015-16 Season with 

A Diary of Anne Frank.

By Megan Grabowski

Pittsburgh Public Theater's (PPT) 2015-16 inaugural show; The Diary of Anne Frank is a highly emotive performance.  Running approximately three hours, the story does not need synopsized.  Most of us, young and old, are familiar with the chronicles of Anne Frank.  She and her family spent two years in hiding during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands during WWII. The play is based on her diary which was discovered after her death in a Nazi concentration camp.  In her diary she confessed her adolescent thoughts, dreams, fears and desires as well as those pertaining to her persecution because she was Jewish.  Anne's diary was first published in Amsterdam in 1947 and soon became so popular that Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett recreated the accounts as an expressive tribute to her life.  

As the audience we are voyeurs watching, with a strange sense of intuition, the fate of eight people unfold before us.  Producing Artistic Director Ted Pappas has reimagined a time and place from history which allows anyone brave enough to bear witness an opportunity to examine this moment in history. 

The play opens with Otto Frank, played by Randy Kovitz, wobbling up
 Remy Zaken as Anne Frank
the attic stairs, returning to the annex above the warehouse for a final goodbye.   He meanders throughout the historically designed set gently touching items and studying the remains of his last home before being captured by the Nazi's. The set mimics the actual floorplan of the attic space where he dwelled with his wife and two daughters, Anne and Margot.  The stage is arranged with antiquated furniture and bedding which add to the sense of time.  He is accompanied by Meip, a young Dutch woman sensitive to the Jewish cause who assisted the Frank family in securing a hiding place. Her compassion and kindness is exhibited as she escorts Mr. Frank to his family's last residence and gently encourages him to read the discovered diary. Meip is Kelsey Carthew's professional stage premiere. Her supporting role as a connection to the outside world for the household is essential and soul nourishing.  

Meip and Ken Bolden, as Mr. Kraler, each play the part of minor characters yet their presence is felt on stage despite their physical appearances. These characters are the cord which connects the diary entries of a 13 year old girl, relaying everyday life, to the historical events that ultimately generated the possibility of the play. 

Randy Kovitz as Otto Frank, Remy Zaken as Anne Frank and Christine Laitta as Edith Frank
Kovitz an experienced actor of both stage and television is beautifully animated.  His face twists with inconsolable grief as he recites what is written in his daughter's diary.  As the lone survivor of his family, his pain is evident and he shakily speaks his daughter's notes.  The story begins with Mr. Frank reading out loud then the voice of a young girl begins to filter into the theater.  The two voices meet and simultaneously narrate for a moment then only one voice can be heard, that of a young girl.  This ethereal moment reminds us of who the author of the diary really is.  So, the splay continues in Anne's voice, with her words from her ideas, her impressions, and her experiences.  As spectators, our imaginations are instantly transported. 

Zaken's performance as Anne is a poignant personification of a young girl. We witness the pain and frustrations of Anne as she strives for independence from her mother, Mrs. Frank, played by Pittsburgh native Christine Laitta and older sister, Margot played by local performer Erika Cuenca. Despite the living conditions in the attic or the frequent disapproval she receives from the other household members, Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, their son Peter and Mr. Dussel, Anne never gives up expressing her own personality.  She laid her head on her father's shoulder when seeking solace and never stops believing in a better world for all. Zaken's rendition of a young girl, sometimes playful, sometime adversarial and sometimes introspective is profound.  She effortlessly conveys the image of Anne as a child in all her moods while continually maintaining the innocence of a child.

Daniel Krell cast as Mr. Dussel, an older gentleman who joins the household half way through their hiding.  He brings the small bit of comic relief a drama of this nature allows.  His frustration toward living in captivity and sharing sleeping quarters with a child are expressed exceptionally well.  His rebukes at Anne's childish behavior are just tolerable because we know he tries to mask his fear behind his intelligence.   Mr. Dussel is not a likable person, but Krell's portrayal is powerful.  Despite his near constant conflicts with Anne, the humanity of his character cannot be denied. 

 As Anne grows and matures she starts to bond more with her sister Margot, with a do-gooder, mother's helper, quiet and studious personality; the exact opposite of herself.   Cuenca, cast as Margot, does not have much to say, but her presence as a strong supporting cast member is made known during the scenes with Anne when she helps her dress and experiment with hairstyles for a ˜date' with Peter.  David Edward Jackson, cast as Peter, the awkward and introverted teen who initially spends his time alone with his cat, eventually becomes an essential confidant to Anne.  His depiction of a young man struggling to make sense of his world is refined and his blossoming interest in Anne as a young woman is an honest transition. Zaken and Jackson make a dynamic couple, telling the world, despite all the hate and fear, there can be love and beauty.  Their relationship is the polar opposite of Peter's parents'.  

Remy Zaken as Anne Frank and David Edward Jackson as Peter Van Daan
Mr. Van Daan played by stage and film actor David Wohl and Mrs. Van Daan, played by veteran Pittsburgh performer Helena Ruoti spend the early part of the show criticizing Anne for her liveliness and sass.   Wohl depicts a nervous and emotionally detached man who as the performance progresses spends more time concerned with cigarettes and money than his own family.  Mrs. Van Daan disgusts the household with her blatant flirtatious acts toward Mr. Frank.  Ruoti is a brilliant dramatic actor.  Her role as a temperamental and pretentious woman appears effortless.  When Mr. Van Daan plays tug of war with his wife's beloved fur with intentions to sell it, she throws a terrific tantrum, flopping across her bed and wailing.  She grips her coat as her husband rips it from her hands.  He hands the coat to Meip with instructions to sell it, and then coolly requests she buy him cigarettes.  This scene, at first, is humorous.  It seems absurd for Mrs. Van Daan to keep the fur, and her reaction to losing it is melodramatic but no one in the audience laughed.  As bystanders, we begin to acknowledge life under the tense circumstances. 

Laitta as Mrs. Frank is the epitome of devoted wife and mother.  Her role as peacekeeper and protector of all is outstanding.  Her expressions of disheartenment by Anne's obvious favoritism toward her father are candid and her struggle to maintain her role as a parent even as the opportunities to do so diminish are conveyed with passion.   

We know the story.  The ending is apparent, (you can't change history).  It is the talent of the cast that truly make this performance worthwhile.  
The Diary of Anne Frank plays through October 25, 2015.  For tickets please visit :

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.


Publish Date: 10-06-2015 14:49:00

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Diana Ross, 

"In the Name of Love," Don't Stop

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

As a baby boomer, myself I am ecstatic to know that Diana Ross has not stopped performing and has a timeless appeal to multiple generations. Let's not talk about her age.  It was enough to know that each time she came out on stage at the Benedum on Saturday, September 12, 2015, that as she appeared in yet again another astounding costume that she appeared each time to be even more timeless.

Way to rock out an opening!  Diana brought the audience to their feet as she belted out "I'm Coming Out" as en entrance.
A trendsetter, a pacesetter and a legend, her performance was dazzling.  At one point in time, she said, "I feel like I am singing to I phones" and asked that the audience send her the pictures.  She lamented that she was not as thin as she was in the sixties but I am sure that the audience will agree that she looks absolutely flawless.

The color pictures here on the blog, are by Kelli Robbins, my concert partner.  By the time we left the theater and were on our way home in the Lyft, Diana had liked a picture that Kelli had posted on Instagram.

Her encore was emotional and brought the audience together as she sang Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand) and I Will Survive
As Diana continues her "In the Name of Love" Tour we wish her prosperity, love and the fulfillment that she obviously gets from performing.  It was so easy to see that she was thoroughly enjoying herself on stage and the contagion infested the audience.

Set list

1. I'm Coming Out
2. More Today Than Yesterday (The Supremes)
3. My World Is Empty Without You (The Supremes)
4. Baby Love (The Supremes)
5. Stop! In the Name of Love, (The Supremes)
6. You Can't Hurry Love (The Supremes)
7. Touch Me in the Morning
8. Love Child (The Supremes)
9. The Boss
10. Upside Down
11. Love Hangover
12. Take Me Higher
13. Ease on Down the Road (Diana Ross and Michael Jackson cover)
14. Don't Explain (Lady Sings the Blues )
15. Why Do Fools Fall in Love (Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers cover)
16. Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To?)
17. Ain't No Mountain High Enough
18. I Will Survive  

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 10-06-2015 12:14:00

Distant Worlds; an Otherworldly Event.

By Megan Grabowski

August 1, 2015, a sultry evening in Pittsburgh.  An audience consisting of primarily Gen X through Gen Z, gathered outside the lavish Heinz Hall home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the Cultural District.  The buzz is absolute anticipation for the long awaited music of the media franchise Final Fantasy (FF).  The repertoire is a revered piece of the 25 year history of the fantasy video game, as well as a free standing esteemed collection of an infinite number of scores and emotionally charged compositions.  

The ambience of Heinz Hall encourages a higher level of respect for the world of gaming than I ever imagined I could hold.  The orchestra situated downstage, warms up as patrons file into the posh red upholstered seats, some dressed in FF cosplay and others dressed to the nine. I quickly realize this will be a performance like nothing I have ever seen before. 

Quietly the Mendelssohn Choir moves into place.  They position themselves tucked behind the orchestra and the large projection screen hanging from the ceiling, fusing into the black curtain, a subtle backdrop creating a mysterious presence on the stage.  Arnie Roth parades onto the stage, under the spotlight, hand in hand with Hitoshi Sakimoto.  Together they bow and the audience and the crowd erupt in cheers.  As the applause subsides, the Prelude begins; next the music flows into another score, Liberi Fatali.  With each set the projector illuminates with images of FF characters, complete with fantastical places, battles and dancing. The assorted edits are date stamped; 1989-12-17, 1990- 4- 7, 2000-7-7 and so forth, highlighting more than two decades of an industrious advancement of the graphics in tandem with the ethereal sounds of the symphony and choir.

Grammy award winning music director Arnie Roth turns to face the crowd.  With sweeping gestures of his arm he waves to the audience, motions to the spectators on the balcony, and then urges the orchestra to stand.  The audience rises to their feet, the hall fills with a roar and whistling and shouting all in praise of the performance about to unfold.  Roth speaks with pride about Distant Worlds.  He expresses his passion for the show when sharing some background:  over 100 performances worldwide in a span of 8 years and always remaining open to new ideas and selections of music the fans would enjoy.  Then with dynamic enthusiasm Roth introduces Hitoshi Sakimoto, best known for his orchestral compositions for FF VII, one of the series most popular games. Sakimoto waves appreciatively and the audience continues to cheer.    

Roth then takes his place at the podium and cues up the orchestra.  A cacophony of sound ignites into the frenzied Victory Theme and The Dalmasca Estersand from FF IX.  We lose ourselves to the Roses of May, and FF XIV, Torn from the Heavens.  The layered sounds of the symphony and the choir create a synergy unique to this place at this time.  The lost score of FF VIII, transcribed for Distant Worlds, Balamb Garden conjures an auditory awakening that transports the listeners' minds directly into the scenes shown before us; a raging battle in a fantastical land or the serenity of airy, grassy plains beneath falling feathers.  Distant Worlds is more than a symphony, it is a full sensory experience.

Next we enjoy the arrangements for FF III, DS Opening, from FF VI, a Character Medley and the 2012 Chocobo Medley, an audience participatory piece which further engages us before intermission and the mad rush to the merch tables.

Returning from intermission we are entertained by the recently composed Battle and Victory Theme Medley, FF VII, Jenova Complete and the FF X, Zanarkand.  Both Jenovaand Zanarkand possess the complementary sounds of the Mendelssohn Choir. Lightning Returns: FF XIII: Light Eternal is a beautiful medley filled with the sounds of mystery, intrigue, discovery and innovation.   Next is the FF IV, Battle with the Four Fiends, which is a great gateway to the Opera, Maria and Draco from FF VI.  Tim Hartman, professional actor of stage and film, narrates the story, The war between East and West   The three soloists; tenor George Milosh, mezzo- soprano Amelia D'Arcy and baritone Skip Napier, operatically share the story or a war, a fallen castle and a surviving soldier, narration by Hartman is interspersed between the various numbers.  The choir joins this distinct performance and the audience's reception is wildly approving.   The evening culminates with the FF Main Theme.  At the conclusion of the final piece, the house nearly simultaneous gets up for a standing ovation.  After the bows cease, Roth returns to the stage announcing an encore number.  Once again rallying the audience into a participatory opportunity- shout it out Roth says and you know when, Sephiroth

A night listening to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is always gratifying.  The Mendelssohn Choir is nothing less than angelic sounding.  FF is engrained into the social stratosphere of our culture.  Together, these melodious elements bring a breath of fresh air into the hearts of FF fans.

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.


Publish Date: 07-30-2015 23:12:00

Concert Review Diana Krall 

with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

From the candlelit stage sitting at a grand piano the British Columbia native softly peddled songs that reminded one of a young Peggy Lee.

Her opening number, "Just Couldn't Say Goodbye" featured two of her five band members, Stuart Duncan and Guitarist Anthony Wilson.  What talent and such a match to Diana Krall's.

Chris Walden conducted the symphony for Diana's rendition of "Do It Again," what a treat for the audience.

But the piece de resistance of the entire concert was Tom Watts "Temptation" featuring Mr. Duncan, the drummer Kareem Wiggins and even the bass player. Also loved the old movies and clips on the screen behind the symphony, I am sure it was just one more thing to attract and entrance new symphony attendees.

There were other great renditions like "Summer Song,"  "Let's Fall in Love," "Love Letters" and an old standard "The Sunny Side of the Street."  What fun!

For those who remembered the 60's and 70's we were treated to Diana's renditions of "California Dreamin"" and "Operator" by Jim Croce.

Her finale was soulful and haunting, "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars."  

Truly this was a night of romance even with the early symphony performance of Overture to "Le Nozze Di Figaro" from "The Marriage of Figaro" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and "Sicilienne" from Pelleas et Melisande, Opus 80.

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. 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. JQS is the online publisher of, 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. 


Publish Date: 07-21-2015 09:34:00

Johnny Mathis Music Made for the Symphony

Review of July 17, 2015 Concert

by Good News Reporter Joanne Quinn-Smith

What a night for dinner and the symphony.  We started off dinner at Alihan's Mediterranean on Sixth St. with shiskabob and seafood raviolis topped with shrimp and baklava for dessert.  Or should I say the Pittsburgh Symphony and Johnny Mathis show for dessert on July 17, 2015. If it were not the PSO Thursday night icons and just a normal concert what an opening band for a performer.  The symphony started the show with three selections:  Henry Mancini's, "The Pink Panther," Cole Porter's
"Begin the Beguine" and a medley of songs from "The Sound of Music."  Such a beginning and then a brief intermission before the star of the show hit the stage and the audience was awe struck before he sang the first note at how amazing he looked for 79 years old and logging over 60 years in show business.

From movie themes to Mathis classics, his performance was flawless.  My cousin said his performance made her want to slow dance all night. When he performed early on "When I Fall in Love," it was easy to see how far back the song took even the men in the audience.  Another Mancini classic, "Days of Wine and Roses" was at the top of the audiences list of favorites and of course "Moon River."

But "It's Not for Me to Say," "Chances Are."  and "Gina" of course made the audience roar with applause.  So it went also with "Secret Love" and "Strangers in Paradise."  Then John hit the stage with his guitar player Gil Reigers for "Misty," "My Foolish Heart," and the much awaited, "Twelfth of Never." For his finale Johnny really showed his range and talent with a medley of Brazilian songs:  The concert ended with a Medley of Brazilian music, "Mas Que Nada",  "Manha de Carnaval" medley of Brazilian music, with Mr. Reigers soloing  and, at the very end, Brazil. His encore was, "You'll Never Know."

On seeing other artists with the Pittsburgh symphony I have always felt, "How nice, the symphony is trying to bring the music to the masses."  But with Johnny Mathis the masses were brought to the symphony and more than any other artists this reviewer has seen perform with the symphony, Johnny Mathis music was made for the symphony and our PSO did it proud.  What a performance and so complementary for the symphony and Johnny Mathis.


Publish Date: 06-02-2015 22:43:00

Roving Pittsburgh Report,  Cocktails and Cuisine, 

A Magical Night in an Idyllic Setting


Kelli Robbins, President Contact One

The judge said: ˜Lady, just because he hurt you, doesn't mean he'll hurt his own kids.' But then, he murdered my little babies.

These words hung quietly in the warm spring air over the hundreds of people gathered for Cocktails and Cuisine , the popular annual fundraiser for Crisis Center North, which was held on May 15th from 6-pm at The Woodlands of Bradford Woods.  Crisis Center North is a nonprofit domestic violence counseling and educational resource center, which has served the community since 1978. Their mission is to empower victims of domestic violence and cultivate community attitudes and behaviors that break the cycle of violence. All monies raised from this event goes toward providing victims of domestic violence the advocacy and support needed to chart a path toward safety and self-sufficiency.

The 8th CCN Cocktails and Cuisine is an exceptional grazing and sipping event with fabulous food from top restaurants, including local favorites such as Bella Frutteto, Wood Fired Flatbreads, John Marshall Catering, Aladdin's Eatery, The Tuscan Inn, Willow and The Walnut Grill. Participants compete for the Best Overall Taste Treat; and the coveted title of People's Choice Award for Overall Favorite. This year's Celebrity Foodie Judges included Christina French, publisher of Table Magazine; Amanda Smith, Talent Competition Winner in the Miss America Pageant 2015;  and Doug Oster, Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Backyard Gardner and co-host of KDKA Radio's The Organic Gardners.

Libations were plentiful and provided by the generosity of sponsors
First Commonwealth Bank; Bird Dog Whiskey; Fuhrer Wholesale; Soergel Orchards; Achieve Realty, D'Andrea Wine & Liquor Imports; State Farm Insurance and Turo Family Chiropractic.

The evening's festivities under the tents included live music from one of Pittsburgh's favorite jazz singers, Antoinette. Jon Burnett, broadcaster at KDKA TV, served as Master of Ceremonies for The Northern Star Awards Presentation. Every year, Crisis Center North recognizes the contributions of key individuals and community groups who support and further the mission of CCN.  This year's honorees included Individual Honoree Lisa Wagner, for her fundraising and community awareness efforts;  Community Award Honoree UPMC Health Plan for their community support and advocacy programs; System Honoree Shaler Township Police Department, for their multiple large-scale projects for education and prevention initiatives, as well as betterment of the criminal justice system; and Lifetime Achievement Honoree Anna Belle-Few, who has provided vision and leadership to CCN for 37 years.

The live auction, hosted by the renowned husband and wife emcee duo, Paul and Beth Kelly of Orlando Florida, included such crowd pleasers as an all expenses paid trip to the Castles of Ireland. Guests also enjoyed an eclectic array of upscale items in the silent auction including jewelry, spa baskets, jewelry, sports collectibles, a barrell of booze, theater tickets and weekend get-away packages.

This much anticipated fundraising event draws celebrated chefs from local caterers and fine dining restaurants throughout the region to compete for
Best Overall Taste Treat and Overall Favorite .

Silent Auction Guests were treated to a wide array of goodies, including spa packages, jewelry, sports collectibles, a barrell of booze, theater tickets and get-away packages.

Wine hosts, John McClay and Scott Vidovich of First Commonwealth Bank, and guests Kelli Robbins of Contact One Communications and Roxanne Buckels of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County enjoy a Chardonnay under the stars.
The early spring Pittsburgh weather could not have cooperated more for the evening's festivities!
A Magical Night!
An idyllic setting!

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Publish Date: 05-25-2015 22:46:00

PPT's Cast of Othello Mesmerizing

by Megan Grabowski

Othello, a poignant conclusion to the Pittsburgh Public Theater's
(PPT) paramount anniversary, is a time- honored and recognized dramatization of humanness. Othello, one of Shakespeare's most emotive and prototypical tragedies, boasts a dazzling cast and is sure to be a performance you won't forget. 

Live theater, especially Shakespeare, is an opportunity to bear witness to the enormous expression of human emotion.  Who is better, at verbally exposing the vast range of humanity, than Shakespeare?   PPT's cast of Othello delivers a near 3 hour account of erroneous relationships heavily laced with all the elements that make a classic tragedy mesmerizing.

Othello's world is filled with deceit and rage, injustice and passions beyond a normal scope. Under the directorial influence of Ted Pappas the cast play their parts perfectly. Initially, it appears the sensational characters are charming but as the story unfolds, they quickly turn to reveal themselves as teetering on the edge of insanity.  The Shakespearean players, Teagle F. Bougere as Othello, Jeremy Kushnier in the role of Iago, Amanda Lee as Desdemona and Jessica Wortham who plays Emilia, Iago's wife and Desdemona's maid appear comfortable in their part and absolutely  in tune with the traditional melodrama. 

Othello begins as Iago and Rodergio, (Christopher Michael McFarland) cunningly expose the recent elopement of Othello the moor and general to the lovely and chaste Desdemona.  By exposing the secret marriage to Brabantio, (Edward James Hyland) Desdemona's father, Iago begins his conspiring manipulation in hope of seeking revenge upon Othello, for choosing Cassio, (Paul Terzenbach), as lieutenant, over him.  The story progresses rapidly as Iago devises a scheme to ruin Othello, in any way possible, as repayment for his slight.  Iago plots retributions, which draw each character into a web of shame and lies and emotional anguish. 

Bougere's performance as Othello's is a powerhouse of uncensored emotional flares.  In the presence of his arousing turmoil I shirked
slightly in my seat as he spread his arms and strut across the stage.  The anguish in his roars and his steady decline into insanity is expertly crafted.  Othello is dark skinned and muscular. His voice is deep and commanding, much like you would expect from a man with military rank and authority.  Bougere uses his physical appearance to bolster his part as Othello. 

Cobb's performance as Desdemona the unwavering devotee, to her lord, captivates. Her final scene, a moment that will not leave my mind, brings the idea of martyrdom to the forefront of my thoughts.  The instant she begins to panic; fearing she may lose her love- I am moved almost to tears.   Cobb keeps her voice steady yet gentle.   Desdemona is not afraid to challenge Othello with her questions. She remains strong even in his weakest hour.  

The guile of Iago and all the characters susceptibility to his deviousness is striking.  Kushnier designs Iago to be dark and manipulative.  His primary role is to inflict pain, both physical and mental, upon Othello and anyone else who might possibly have a
vested interest in Othello's happiness and success. Iago's soliloquies are callous but enthralling.  In the final scene, Iago raises his head and looks out toward the audience, his jaw drops slightly and his lips part as if ready to say speak the final word and I realize I am holding my breath; waiting.   Although, as audience we are not supposed to ˜like' the villain, based on the applause Kushnier received, it is safe to say he was very well received. 

Emilia is not just Desdemona's maid.  They are confidants;   Emilia empathizes with Desdemona over the tribulations of marriage, she is a shoulder to lean on and always has an ear to lend.  Emilia is a protector too, looking out for Desdemona, trying to guide her by offering sound advice.  Wortham plays the part of the level headed maid, but soon enough, we learn she too is a victim of Iago's scheme.  When it comes time for Emilia to confess her involvement, she is an accessory; her exaggerated laments give rise to Wortham's stage status; soaring her from supporting cast to star. 

PPT's cast of Othello draw you in with their embellished gestures, overstated facial expressions and crisp, clear delivery of Shakespeare's poetry.  The stage is sparse but full.  A wooden stage, two benches and two oversized, handsome wooden doors do not allow the audience to make any presumptions about the performance or the performers. There are very few props to move on and off of the stage which keeps the focus solely on the cast. 

Othello is about pure raw emotion.  Good or evil, right or wrong, Shakespeare doesn't worry about the moral so much as that it exists.  Pappas discovered a cast that executes the passion behind the play with precision. Othello will surely be considered one of PPT's most memorable productions. 

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski
Income Maintance Caseworker at State of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast. 


Publish Date: 04-22-2015 03:00:00

Quest for the Woman He Never Knew
Review of All the Names, Quantum Theatre's April 12th 2015 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  April 14, 2015

With the sound of every eerie gong, the Quantum Theatre's world premiere of All the Names kept the audience moving towards the light, falling deeper and deeper into the life and mind of Senhor Jose. In this adaptation of Jose Saramago's Nobel Prize winning book All the Names, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, we are reminded that everyone has a story. Small objective parts of that story are kept in official records and the rest is in the hearts and minds of those we interact with over time.

He said he must know what happened to her. But it seemed more an obsession. And why her? Of All the Names? As a clerk at the National Registry, he had seen millions of names pass by, including celebrity names and information that he personally documented for hobby. But her file with discrepant and missing information, led Senhor Jose, played by James Fitzgerald, on a tangled investigation. It was a quest that would challenge the square introvert's inner sense of purpose and place in the vast world we live in. Answers led to more questions, and more questions started to cut deep and personal. The line between right and wrong became blurred as he justified abusing his access to official documents and avoided being caught by the stoic Registrar, played by CMU Assistant Professor Cameron Night.

As Senhore Jose's every decision and indecision is weighed out, his conscience is brought to life by actor and writer Mark Conway Thompson. Senhore Jose's conscience is always with him, like a shadow. As his quest grows more complicated and he becomes more emotionally entangled, it becomes hard to tell whether it is he or his conscience that is at the helm. Along his journey he meets two women, both played by Point Park Instructor Bridget Connors. In the course of providing leads for his investigation both women ruffle his square demeanor and challenge his emotional frailness. We see into one of the women's mind by her conscience also being personified, not mistakenly played by the same actor as the Registrar.

Actors playing multiple characters, omnipotent narration, and exaggerated sets that were almost like installation art, skewed the hierarchy of exactly which character's course we were seeing play out. At times the audience spied down on the characters from second floor balcony. We sat across an oversized desk from the Registrar staring down on us, feeling small, inconsequent, and judged, just as Sehore Jose. Other times we were amidst the journey in a huge dark room transformed into a dreary abandoned school, where a cachophony of ghostly whispers chilled the air and walls were covered with names in chalk of those who had been there before including mine now.

We walked amongst file boxes and documents seemingly suspended in midair. It transported the audience to a dream state where the line between reality and imagination blurred. The vastness and somewhat disorganization of the national registry poured over into the turmoil and chaos of the characters consciousness and the boundless ether of Senhor Jose's mind or even one's own. A trippy talking ceiling really brought the threshold of sanity into question. Becoming Senhore Jose, some audience members were instructed to sit, sit in his place to hear investigation testimonies. This world premiere adaptation of Jose Saramago's novel All The Names could not have been so exquisitely brought to life without artistic contributions of several talented people. Quantum's Artistic Director Karla Boos, and Dramaturge Megan Monaghan Rivas, were committed to bringing this complex story to life. Each member of the small cast was intense and commanding. The masterful scenic design in the original Carnegie Free Library by Barbara Luderowski and Narelle Sissons was technically enhanced with lighting effects by Cindy Limauro; fantastic and engaging multimedia projections by Joe Seamans and enriching sound production by Chris Evans and Sarah Pickett.

After staying for the post performance discussion, some audience members shared that they found the work to be akin to Kafka's works, filled with loneliness, inner turmoil, and the repressive confinement of societal convention. Artistic Director Karla Boos shared the inspiration and evolution of bringing this story to stage and it was clear that this project was an original and creative passion. And one that paid off. My friend Sandra, who went to the performance with me, said the real life little lambs were a nice touch. It is not your conventional play, it is absolutely excellent. The show is mesmerizing!

Additional Performances:
April 15th - May 2nd  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
For more information and tickets visit

By:  Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
(c) 2015


Publish Date: 04-19-2015 11:55:00

Roving Pittsburgher Report, If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It, Slapstick Rule Boeing Boeing

Most people don't realize when they attend Boeing Boeing at the Cabaret Theater presented by the CLO that there was a movie.
Boeing Boeing) is a 1965 American bedroom farce comedy film, based on the 1960 French play Boeing-Boeing, and starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis. It was released on December 22, 1965, and was the last film Paramount Pictures made with Lewis, who had made films exclusively with the studio since My Friend Irma (1949).
You could see the comic antics of Jerry Lewis and the physical comedy and body language translate into the CLO presentation as Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis roles are recreated by Connor McCanlus (Robert) and Tony Bingham (Bernard.)

Cast of Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

Bernard Lawrence (TonyBingham) is a philandering three timing American journalist stationed in Paris, France. A serious womanizer, he has invented a devious system for juggling three different girlfriends: by dating stewardesses who are assigned to international routes on non-intersecting flight schedules.  For some time only one woman has been in the country at any given time! Bernard's romanced are run by a timetable of their landings and departures.
Tony Bingham and Connor McCanlus in Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

Much of the real comedy is developed by the machinations his long-suffering, straight laced housekeeper Bertha (Elizabeth Ruelas). She swaps the appropriate photos and food in and out of the apartment to match the incoming girlfriend”none of the ladies is aware of each other's presence in the apartment. They regard Lawrence's flat as their "home" during their Paris layovers.

Connor McCanlus in Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

But for those like Bernard operating on the edge of morality, all good things must come to an end.  His foolproof agenda is interrupted when his girlfriends' airlines begin using the Boeing aircraft. These faster flights change all of the existing route schedules and allow the stewardesses to spend more time in Paris. Without warning his three girlfriends will now all be in Paris at the same time. Fair warning at that time and now that it's important to pay attention to the news.  Although with a profession and three fiancГs the audience is left to wonder how he had much time for anything especially the news.

Robert Reed (Connor), a fellow journalist and an old acquaintance, arrives in town and is unable to find a hotel room. He insists on
Connor McCanlus and Amanda Pulcini in
staying in Bernard's apartment for a few days. When he sees Bernard's living situation, he clumsily begins to take over Bernard's apartment, causing even more chaos.

The comedy except for Berthe's adept one liners is slow until the arrival of Gretchen, the German stewardess played by Lisa Ann Goldsmith.  Her lusty, brash German antics seem to challenge all other players to come up to her level of both slapstick and verbal comedy.  But the broad antics that characterized 1950's comedy reins throughout Boeing, Boeing.
Director Van Kaplan managed to get perfect humorous timing, great body language, facial expression and sheer audience delight out of his actors.
The on stage comings and goings remind one of Feydaux's plays which ruled the Theater of the Absurd.
Boeing Boeing has an extended run at the Cabaret Theater through May 10, 2015.  The two gentlemen at my table, my companion and another's husband laughed so hard they had streaming tears.  The wife and I were given to unmitigated belly laughs.  So if mom loves to laugh this would be a great mother's day outing.  It might also be a cautionary tale to individuals who juggle women or men.

Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Tony Bingham and Kelly Trumbull in Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

About the Show ONE MAN + THREE STEWARDESSES = NON-STOP COMEDY! This Tony Award-winning swingin' ˜60s farce features Bernard, a wannabe-Casanova, with Italian, German, and American fiancГes, each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent layovers. He keeps one up, one down and one pending until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris and Bernard's apartment at the same time.
Performance Schedule
 Wednesdays 7:30pm Thursdays 1:00pm* & 7:30pm
Fridays 7:30pm Saturdays 2:00pm & 7:30pm Sundays 2:00pm
*With optional buffet at the CLO Cabaret on March 26 and April 23 Tickets Tickets start at $34.75 and are available online at, by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square.

purchase tickets here:

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, 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. 


Publish Date: 04-01-2015 12:58:00


By Tamar Cerafici

I live in rural New Hampshire. It's a hike to get to anything artsy. So when my friend Bunbury said, When you come to Pittsburgh, we'll go to Carmen, I sort of jumped at the chance.
To be frank, I'm not a fan of Carmen. My mother was a coloratura soprano with a specialty in the Bel Canto style, so I was raised on the works of Donitzetti and Puccini, where the mezzo soprano provides nice support in quartets, and the melodrama is all focused on the woman with tuberculosis. And I can never listen to Carmen without thinking of the Gilligan's Island Hamlet episode. But I was starved for culture so of course I went.

The Pittsburgh Opera's production changed my mind about Carmen. Here is a heroine full of fire and determination, played with dark fervor by Rinat Shaham. Not a hint of a cough in site. Not one asthmatic wheeze. She is a gypsy, used to the company of thieves. This is a character that lives right up to the moment she doesn't.
I guess this production is just different from the many others I've seen, or perhaps I was paying attention. Maybe the deft casting of an intense mezzo and fine actress (Ms. Shaham is both) against a rather aggressive (as opposed to lovesick) Don JosГ underscored the violence that most productions hide.

Michaela fends off Morales
David Bachman Photography

Rinat Shaham +
And this is a violent opera. Don JosГ (AJ Glueckert) is violent man. He tells his lieutenant, Zuniga (sung superbly by Philip Gay), that he joined the army because he got in a fight with a man in his village given his jealous proclivities throughout, one assumes it was over a girl and he was forced to leave. JosГ kills Zuniga to join Carmen and a band of thieves. But I wonder: did he kill Zuniga primarily because the officer had a rendezvous with Carmen? Then I wonder, what if he had to leave his village because he killed his victim in a jealous rage? Little acts of violence permeate Marc Astafan's bleak production, and they all lead to the ultimate act of violence. Carmen's world itself is violent; Carmen's murder seems a fait accompli. JosГ is drawn to her like a moth to the flame: we know somebody's going to get hurt.

While Carmen is all fire and blood, Glueckert's Don JosГ seemed a little pale. Glueckert's tenor is light and seemed out of proportion to Shaham's rich and vibrant vocals. On the other hand, this seems intentional, a result of Astafan's direction and not the lack of vocal skill or quality. His French diction could have been a little crisper, and he could have been more ardent in his more important arias. I applaud his effort to draw sharp contrasts between Carmen and her lover, though.

Escamillo greets the ladies
David Bachman Photography

Morgan Smith +
Speaking of Carmen's lovers, Morgan Smith's Escamillo was the highlight of this production. He is a presence to contend with - the only character that seems to match Shaham's Carmen. They are perfect together. If the Pittsburgh Opera want to bring him back, I can only say: Yes, please. This was his debut performance with the company, and I wonder why it took Christopher Hahn so long to find him. I would listen to him sing the phone book, or even the editorial page of the Tribune-Review. That's how good he is.

Carmen Dances for Jose
David Bachman Photography

Jasmine Muhammad *
The supporting cast was marvelous, but artist-in-residence Jasmine Muhammad gets my vote as a standout. Micaela is a thankless part. All she does is try to save Don JosГ and remind the lost sheep of his fold back home. She is the Greek Chorus to the larger tragedy playing out on stage, and she really has no other job except to remind us that JosГ had some worthy characteristics at one time. She Micaela, not Muhammad always seems a little co-dependent to me. But Muhammad played her character with clarity of voice and urgency that rose above the part. Her Micaela was a woman of purpose.

Gypsies surround Zuniga
David Bachman Photography

On the whole, this Carmen is a production worth seeing. The orchestra and chorus do solid credit to Bizet's music. I would have really like to see a flamenco or two (in that regard, Astafan fell short of the mark). I might have wished a more impassioned Don JosГ. But I understood Astafan's spare style, and appreciated it. Really, this is a spare opera. It is stark and lush at the same time. The Pittsburgh Opera production gets that.

Carmen accepts her fate.
David Bachman Photography

Former Pittsburgher and Environmental Attorney, Tamar Cerafici is author of the book Dominate, How Smart Lawyers Crush the Competition  and the blog Legal Shoe.