This weekend: Living on the Fringe

Pittsburgh Fringe FestivalIf you are looking for experimental plays, one-person shows and performance art without a filter, the second annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival comes to the North Side this weekend, May 8-10. If you are anything like me, I hadn’t heard about the Fringe last year when it took place in Shadyside. And, like so many of the more subversive events I find so fascinating in this city, I found out through old school word-of-mouth. So, after doing my own research, becoming involved and now preparing to participate in Pittsburgh Fringe, here is a quick and easy guide to what you need to know and what you can learn about this hidden Pittsburgh treasure:

A 5 Point Guide to the 2015 Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

1. Festival Details: For show descriptions, tickets and volunteer opportunities on the Fringe, please go to the official website:

Pittsburgh Fringe Festival


2. Location, location, location: the North Side is hosting this year’s artists. Fringe Central is at Arnold’s Tea Room. Here you can see the entire layout:

Map of the 2015 Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

3. Explore the Neighborhood: In between shows, please take advantage of all of our hosting establishments as seen in the map. From food and beverage to art, tattoos and recreation, find more of what they offer here:

4. Podcast: For a more personal touch , listen to an AP collection podcast with Pittsburgh Fringe Artistic/Executive Director, Dan Stiker, and  two Fringe artists (yes, one of them  is me!) here.

5. Social Media Stuff: Follow the Fringe on social media for updates, news, shares and retweets at the following: (and don’t forget to use the official hashtag #makeityourfringe)

And who knows? Once you experience life on the Fringe, you may be inspired to join us next year as the international Fringe phenomenon becomes a local staple for alternative creative practice. Hope to see you there!

See Pittsburgh Batman at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater – March 20-22, 2014

pittsburgh-batmanNot going to see Pittsburgh Batman is one of my biggest regrets of 2013.  Pittsburgh Batman is a play that was performed last year at Bricolage Theater.

Back by popular demand, Pittsburgh Batman will be at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater this weekend.  There are only 3 performances and I’m sure this will be a sell out again.

Pittsburgh Hearts

Pittsburgh Hearts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh Batman is the brain child of Lord Grunge and Jackson who hail from Pittsburgh, but are often traveling as the dou Grand Buffet.  I have the good fortune of getting to know some of the other cast members, who are incredible performers and some of the most creative people in Pittsburgh).

Here is some press on last years performance:

Tickets are $25.00 and available online here.  Follow @PittsburghBTMN on Twitter for updates.


Guide to Pittsburgh’s Independent Movie Theaters

When the weather starts heating up, sometimes the only thing to do is go inside. This season many of us will take to the air-conditioned refuge of our local megaplexes. To switch things up, I offer you a list of local independently owned theaters. Many of the theaters screen the same new releases, but also provide character and unique programming.

Hollywood Theater475193_275212485896001_1501098987_o

1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont


The Hollywood plays a wide variety of movies as well as special film events. Known for its Rocky Horror Picture Show performances, as well as its “Breakfast and a Movie” series (just what it says, breakfast, and a movie) there’s something for everyone. The single-screened theater is a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing Potomac Avenue and Dormont by providing a theater and community center.

The Strand

119 North Main St., Zelienople


The Strand offers a variety of films as well as live performances. The Rocky Horror Picture Show screens regularly (17 & over only) and yes, you can throw things at this performance. The theater screens classics like Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, but you can also find live shows at The Strand. The nonprofit theater was restored in 2002, and wants to expand the project.

The Manor

1729 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh


The Manor theater screens both wide-release and independent movies, at often lower prices than the megaplexes. The Manor also boasts “The M Bar” in the lobby where patrons can bring alcoholic drinks into the theater. Check out the “Manor at Midnight” series, when the theater screens classic movies Saturdays at midnight.

Harris Theater

a little history?

a little history? (Photo credit: macwagen)

809 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh


Owned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and programmed by Pittsburgh Filmmakers ,the Harris Theater is a classic movie house in the heart of the Cultural District. The theater screens foreign and contemporary independent films, and is also part of the Three Rivers Film Festival.

Oaks Theater

310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont


The single screen Oaks Theater screens both new releases and cult classics. Check out the summer series “Moonlit Matinees”, where Oaks screens a cult classic every Friday and Saturday night. Once a month, the theater hosts the “Cine Bruch”, where movie fans can watch and munch on a delicious Oakmont Bakery brunch.

Regent Square

Regent Sq Theater

1035 South Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh


Owned and operated by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, this single screen theater plays limited release independent movies seven days a week. In addition, every Sunday night the Regent Square theater hosts “The Sunday Series”, a monthly series of film screenings based around a theme, era, or director.

Melwood Screening Room

477 Melwood Ave., Pittsburgh


Located within the Pittsburgh Filmmakers building, the Melwood Screening Room is the youngest of the independent theaters on this list. The screening room plays independent features, and hosts “Film Kitchen” on the second Tuesday of every month.“Film Kitchen” is a series featuring local short films. The filmmakers are present at the screening and available for discussion after the show.


View Independent Theaters in Pittsburgh in a larger map

What’s your favorite theater in Pittsburgh? Seen any good movies lately?

Five Things To Do This Week (and One Next Week)

Tuesday 7p
ToonSeum, Cultural District

Based on the groundbreaking cartoon series, this 1988 animated Japanese film is set in an obsessively detailed version of a post-apocalyptic Japan.
More info:


Obscure Game Night
Wednesday 9p
Hambone’s, Lawrenceville

Not much on the website, but it looks as if it’s a night dedicated to weird and obscure board games. Sounds ridiculously fun.
More info:


Thursday 6p-9p
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, North Side

Create keepsake items, feast on local artisan foods & specialty cocktails, more. Ages 21+.
More info:


Gojira with Devin Townsend and The Atlas Moth
Saturday 8p
Mr. Smalls, Millvale

If you’re at all into metal, this is an awesome lineup. That’s a lot of musicianship for one evening.
More info/tickets:


Pulp Fiction
Saturday Midnight
Manor Theatre, Squirrel Hill

Tarantino’s classic 1994 film shown in all its glory on the silver screen. If you’re like me, you were too young to see it when it was new.
More info:


Arcade Comedy Theater Grand Opening
Friday, Feb 15 8p
Cultural District

I’m a week early on this one, but let’s support our newest comedy club. Their mission statement: “Arcade Comedy Theater provides an interactive platform for players of all levels, both onstage and off, to experience various forms of theatrical comedy, from proven standards to offbeat styles.”
More info:


Some information provided by:

Monster Ink

Please welcome two new authors to IheartPGH – Wendy and Lance will be writing about theater in Pittsburgh.  And I apologize for taking so long to get this posted – but you still have a few more days to catch The Monster in the Hall at the City Theater.

So, you may ask yourself, what are those two doing writing theater reviews? Well, long story short, we wanted to celebrate the Pittsburgh theater community that has fostered us lo these many years, and the editor of this fine blog supported the concept. (Thanks Lindsay, you’re the goods.)

First assignment: City Theater’s The Monster in the Hall, by David Greig.

Returning to City Theatre, for us, is a lot like visiting with your edgy, provocative, collage paramour some twenty years later. We were both heavily involved in the productions back in the mid-1980s when the company was producing out of a converted bar in Oakland and the staff looked like members of The Doobie Brothers (before the Michael McDonald era, thank you very much).

But back to the show…

City Theater’s production is like a finely tuned Superbike barreling around the track. The play is a one act, day in the life of 16 year old Duck (Ducati Macatarsney), a motherless, myopic, daydreamer who is trying to prepare her home and her biker dad for a visit from social services. She is trying to hide that her dad is not well and that she has become his care giver instead of the other way around. This sounds like the makings of an angst-driven tragedy but Greig creates his tale as a frenetic, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World-like, play-with-music, comedy.

The cast of four play a humungous number of roles. Melinda Helfrich as Duck, and David Whalen as Duke, her dad, mostly get to stay in singular roles allowing Matt Dengler and Sheila McKenna to deftly ricochet between innumerable characters. However, Greig’s multi-style narrative allows Helfrich to show her chops in an exposition-turned-quiz show scene, and Whalen, as Duke’s avatar in an online role-playing game. But it’s McKenna’s quick transformations as both Agnetha and Mrs. Underhill that take the show into the comic ionosphere.

This is more, however, than just a play – – it is a piece of theatrical candy, with projections, movement, rock-show lighting, and sound design, all of which reinforce the frantic storytelling. Director (and the company’s Artistic Director) Tracy Brigden never release the accelerator on this bike, and her designers don’t let her down. Narelle Sissons’ “cyclorama of doors” set allows Larry Shea’s projections to support the tale without intruding. Eric Shimelonis’ sound design is seamless, but his original music sometime has the feel of a Wiggle’s concert. (Not that we’re ever been… Really). Andrew David Ostrowski’s lighting design was workin’ overtime – – lights were literally hanging all over the place: they were packed into the on-stage overhead truss, there were cute little 3½” instruments perched on the edge of the stage as footlights, and still more were hangin’ from the rafters behind the audience. (Nice gobo special on Duc as bookends at the beginning and end of the play, by the way). Angela M. Vesco wisely keeps the costumes simple, allowing just a coat or sweater to indicate a character change. (Gotta love those boots, on Duc, though!)

The pit crew for this piece has to be consummate to keep this hog running. We are both sure that with all the elements and moving parts in this production, Stage Manager Patti Kelly’s cue calling in the booth must be a grand show in itself.

Ultimately, our Superbike on a race course simile is realized. We both truly enjoyed the fun as the machine sped around but finally it ended were is started. The production is an entertainment that lacks the stuff to make the mind engage or allow the audience to ponder after exiting the building.

Which brings both of us back to that college reunion. That former paramour is now older, more respectable, and less edgy and provocative. Maybe that is how it should be. Ah, but it doesn’t stop us from pining for the fjords.

The Monster in the Hall, by David Greig
City Theater Mainstage

Running currently through April 1, 2012

  • Tuesday 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday Mar 21, 2012 1:00 & 7:00PM
  • Wednesday Mar 28, 2012 1:00 PM
  • Thursday & Friday 8:00 PM
  • Saturdays, 5:30 & 9:00 PM
  • Sundays, 2:00 PM

1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203

412 431 CITY