Friday, December 9, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Krampus Krawl, Alternative Christmas Experience



If you were in Market Square at the Holiday Market on December 5, 2016 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, you may have wondered if you were in a time warp that took you back to Halloween. Unsuspecting visitors to the Market Square Christmas Village were treated to a new kind of holiday experience.  Interspersed among the merry making shoppers and visitors were, creatures that appear to be the antithesis of Christmas.





The Krampus Krawl participants who dress as Krampi wear anything from a mask and set of horns to a full blown goat-man costume. Some of the ladies come as «fauns». The wild creatures make quite an impression as they visit each of the taverns on the often improvised route. 


This was the start of the Third Annual Krampus Crawl in Pittsburgh.  Some horror story enthusiasts may remember the movie "Krampus" released December 4, 2015, by Universal Pictures.[3][4] It's an American Christmas comedy horror film based upon the eponymous character from Germanic folklore, directed by Michael Dougherty and written by Dougherty, Todd Casey and Zach Shields. The film stars Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen and Krista Stadler.

In the movie, a boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a festive demon to his family home.  When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family's home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

Krampusnacht, a European tradition that honors Krampus, a horned "half-goat, half-demon" who is said to punish misbehaved children during the Christmas season, took place in Market Square on December 5.


What is Krampus?
In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure. According to traditional narratives around the figure, Krampus punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts.


Revelers dressed up as Krampus and posed for photos before embarking on the Krampus Krawl, a bar crawl following the old European tradition called "Krampuslauf." According to the event's Facebook page, "the procession often takes on the appearance of a parade, with the hairy beasts performing for onlookers." There was also a balloon artist and the band The Cheer'ly Men performed for onlookers.


Some 100 people showed up for the miscreant revelry for in many cases, was their first glimpse of Krampus, the horned anthropomorphic figure known in Germanic folklore at St. Nicholas’ counterpart.
“Krampus is a hundred year old European holiday that Mark Menhold brought to Pittsburgh.  Mark wore an elaborate Krampus costume at ‘Krampusnacht,’ Pittsburgh’s first-ever Krampus celebration. Mark is also known for his creative work with Pittsburgh’s popular Zombie Fest.



“It’s a little Halloween, a little bit of Christmas.  Santa Claus rewards the good childrenand Krampus punishes the naughty ones. ” Mark was heard to tell onlookers.

Krampusnacht is traditionally celebrated in many European countries on the Eve of St. Nicholas.  This goat like creature is the exact opposite of Santa Claus and Krampusnacht was followed not by milk and cookies but by a “Krampus Crawl,” a pub crawl that made its way to several downtown bars and taverns where patrons were expected to buy Krampus schnapps for the Krampus impersonators. 
Reviewer Buddy Smith dressed as Krumpus







Krampusnacht in Market Square was for the naught and the nice to celebrate the holidays in a unique way and for some children to discover that there is a sidekick of Santa Claus who would not just withhold gifts but would also punish them for bad behavior.  




Joseph Budd Smith III is a Retention Specialist for American Income Life Insurance Company.  American Income Lifeprovides life insurance and supplemental health benefits to working families in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.  Budd is also an adult gaming enthusiast and a Shakespeare fan.

Roving Pittsburgher, Review of Christmas's Favorite Nostalgia Show, " A Christmas Story, the Musical"


Reviewed by Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer Angel Quinn

A Christmas Story, The Musical chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”). An infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a double-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas wish. Chock-full of delightful songs and splashy production numbers, A Christmas Story, The Musical has proudly taken its place as a perennial holiday classic for the whole family. The New York Times writes “I was dazzled. You’d have to have a Grinch-sized heart not to feel a smile spreading across your face.” A Christmas Story, The Musical premiered on Broadway in 2012 and was nominated for three Tony Awards® including Best New Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical.



This hysterical musical presents that he will do whatever it takes to make it known that he really wants one. From writing a story about it in school, leaving notes around the house for his parents to even asking Santa-who thinks it's a horrible idea. Thus, the "You'll shoot your eye out kid!" comment.  He'll have to wait until Christmas morning to see if he gets what he wants. This comical rendition of A Christmas story is for all ages and will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit.  It's no wonder that the TV movie version has traditionally amused and entertained families down through generations for years.

In a pre-war 1940 in small-town Indiana, Christmastime turns 9-year-old Ralphie (Austin Molinaro) into an almost maniacal, bespectacled, obsessed child fiend because of his rampant wish that Santa leave an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot BB gun on Christmas Eve.

“A Christmas Story, the Musical,” has been adapted from the ever popular nostalgic Christmas movie of the same never.  Ever popular with baby boomers, the desire to see this movie has been passed on from grandparents to grandchildren and even great grandchildren.  Like the movie the musical takes us back to a time when stay-at-home moms were cooks and dressed like Donna Reed.  Pardon the baby boomer mention, for us millennial, look it up.  My mother in law had to tell me this one. Mothers of the time, wiped noses, scolded, ran up to the school which was close enough to do then when the children got into trouble and dispensed sage advice about bullies.

The songwriters, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and book writer Joseph Robinette sentimentally stayed close to the movie that runs endlessly on TV during the holidays. But they added their own individuality to with big production numbers by choreographer Warren Carlyle and a dozen singing, dancing kids.

The most fun thing about this musical was the kids.  Often the two Ralphies are onstage together singing about disasters and triumphs and being an older brother and bullies and the general would be malaise of childhood.  
“You’ll shoot your eye out,” is an oft-repeated phrase and the title of a big second-act dance number for Miss Shields. Ralphie fantasizes that Miss Shields is a sexy flapper and his schoolmates do a Gene Kelly type tap with an impressive tap solo by Lucas Marinetto.
Just like the movie there are allusions to the horrendously gauche leg lamp that emits “the soft glow of electric sex,” as Ralphie puts it; his pal Flick getting his tongue stuck on a flagpole, the ridiculously fru-fru pink bunny suit sent to Ralphie by a well-meaning aunt and the Old Man’s mumbled curses. 

What a musical funfest for the entire family, young and old.  It was a bit edgy and your mind could wonder to adult unsaid content if you let it and there is of course the hysterical slide scene with the bad Santa in the department store but overall it's a funny story narrated by the adult Ralphie which recounts his hysterically amusing childhood which wasn't so hysterical to him.  And then there were the kids and I wonder if they will be as nostalgic about their performances as fans are about the movie and the musical.  Another great feather in the cap of Pittsburgh as it brings grand theater and musicals to Pittsburgh.


 Angel Quinn is a graduate pharmacy technician and business student at Carlow University, a wife, mother and sometimes Wonderwoman and also Hometown Tourist Reviewer for Roving Pittsburgher Report and pplmag.com

The Roving Pittsburgher Report is one of sixteen good news segments on the PositivelyPittsburghLive podcast and is one of the good news pages on http://pplmag.com, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network and Pittsburgh's Premiere Podcasting Portal.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Fallen Woman Theme Inspires Once Again in "La Triviata."


The Fallen Woman Theme Inspires Once Again in "La Triviata."

by Hometown Tourist, Clarine Lizana

The story of a fallen woman with a noble heart has inspired theater and opera goers for centuries. The Pittsburgh Opera opened their 2016-2017 season this month with Verdi’s “La Traviata”, as did the Florentine Opera. “La Traviata” translates as “The Fallen Woman”, a subject that may seem a little trite and sexist in this day and age. The heart of the story, however, deals with the life choices made by young people of every age, the decision to lead a life of hedonistic pleasure, or a life of true devotion. Whether to another person, a cause or an ideal, this sublimation brings the fullness of life and joy. Sadly for Violetta, this realization comes too late in life.



The performances of the cast and orchestra were excellent. Danielle Pastin as Violetta sets the bar for any who would follow her on the Pittsburgh stage. Her voice is not only strong and precise, but has a certain melodic quality that makes one wish that she were available to lullaby them to sleep at night. Every note that issued from her throat mesmerized me. The pairing of the two lovers, Danielle Pastin as Violetta and Cody Austin  as Alfredo Germont was powerful and touching but could not compare to that of Sebastian Catana as Giorgio Germont.  I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.




The minimalistic set design created a stark contrast to the ornate costumes of the era. A large framed painting, present during the first and third act, made to resemble a fresco created an excellent backdrop to the story. It gave an old world feel to the opera setting. My only complaint was with some of the staging, which allowed performers to be turned from the audience or blocked by other performers.  

Sung in Italian with English subtitles, this two hour and twelve minute opera with two intermissions left you wanting more instead of wondering when it would end.
For late comers, you can still see “La Traviata” on Sunday at October 16 at 2PM.  Well worth the trip.

As an opera enthusiast, my greatest joy of the night was the size of the crowd. For a Tuesday night, the theater was quite full. Even more exciting was the fact that a good portion of those in attendance appeared to be 30 years and younger. Perhaps the millennials will bring a revival in the arts.


Clarine Lizana is a retired electrical engineer who is a former native of Republic, Pa and returned to Pennsylvania after retirement. She was formerly a training director at Crater Lake Electrical. She now lives in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and spends her retirement crafting, visiting family, golfing and travelling, having just returned from a trip to Italy where "La Trviata" of course was playing.

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Back to the Future, A Retro Blast to the Past!



Back to the Future
A Retro Blast to the Past! 
Film with Orchestra
Performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
 “Summer with the Symphony Series”
Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh  
Reviewer:  JoAnn R. Forrester, Empress of Biz, Listen, Learn, Prosper





Whoa…wait a minute here. Wasn’t it only a few years ago that the hit movie BACK TO THE FUTURE was released?   And now in 2016 it is being proclaimed a classic!  And it being shown as one in a series of shows in the “Summer with the Symphony Series” performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony. What happened? Have I somehow been transported to the future?

 Nope! It is just something that happens along the way when one is raising a family, starting and running a business and just living life.  Ok, now that I am somewhat over 30 years that has come and gone in a blink of an eyelash let’s focus on the review.
 
Back to the Future is celebrating a 30 year anniversary.  It was a mega hit when it debut in 1986.  To celebrate its 30th anniversary the Pittsburgh Symphony in its “Summer with the Symphony” has come up with a fun and captivating way to present it.  The movie was shown on a big hi-def screen with a full symphony orchestra performing Emmy and Grammy Award composer Alan Silvestri’s dazzling musical score in synch with the movie.  As a special treat Silvestri composed an additional 15 minutes of music to enhance a live performance with an orchestra. 

live characters opening show

It was fun to go Back to the Future and watch another grand escapism adventure by Steven Spielberg.  It was very enjoyable to relive the performance of the exceptional cast, Michael J.Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover as they deal with various twists and turns and quirks of time travel.  The movie hods well and does not appear out of date..it fits admirably into our gadget loving crazed era.  Young and old in the audience were enthralled, calpped and cheered periodcially and gave a rousing ovation at the end.  

As usual the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, led by
Francesco Lecce-Chang performed superbly.  And it was fun watching a few members posing as the main characters with a real DeLorean for photo opps.   The “Summer with the Symphony” series is a hit.  It is a great way for people to come downtown and become familiar with our excellent Pittsburgh Symphony. 

The most amazing thing about the show was being able to see the symphony play right below the screen and feeling disappointed for them that they had to concentrate on the music and not enjoy the show.  

Now if I could just find those 30 years that flew bye…where is my flux capacitor?  

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, "39 Steps" is Non-Stop Hilarity!



"39 Steps is Non-Stop Hilarity."

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

If you want side splitting laugh a minute entertainment then see Tony Award Winning Hit Comedy thriller, "39 Steps" at the Cabaret Theater.  What an uproarious experience in minimalistic stage effects with maximum hilarity. Four players take you through the twists and turns of a comedic plot using 1940's or Mel Brooks type music spots to hi-light the intense "drama."  Sorry, no drama just madcap hysteria. 


It's interesting to note that everything old is new again as the original globe theater had no curtain to rise and fall between scenes and 39 Steps was not much different.  The Cabaret Curtain fell possibly once during intermission.   In Shakespeare's time a wall and a door were used to signify comings and goings, in this slapstick comedy there was no wall, just a door. For comings and goings and quick changes of characters costumes and being able to actually see some of that going on, added to the comedic impact of the actors.

Allan Snyder and Luke Halferty, photo:  Matt Polk

There is no lack of talent either on the part of the actors, Quinn Patrick Shannon and Allan Snyder are the perfect clowning partners reminiscent of old time comedy such as the Keystone cops and Abbot and Costello playing multiple parts of spies, law enforcement and husband and wife (yes wife) villains and innkeepers.  Please don't discount the element of outrageous drag in this play.  Did I say 39 Steps has something for everyone? And it' s hard to believe that with all this hilarity the show could be G rated, not even PG.


The femme fatale of the play, Megan Pickrell also moves easily between three parts from the manipulative spy to the farmer's wife and the aloof career woman. On the other hand Richard.  Luke Halferty as Richard Hannay only plays one part through multiple assumed identities that allows for everything from comedy to drama and slow motion silent film effects.

Luke Halferty and Quinn Patrick Shannon, photo by Archie Carpenter

The Director Guy Stroman deserves huge commendation for a great work of comedic art.  This is also the one time that I must mention the technical side of the show and all deserve equal kudos.  Scenic Desinger Tony Ferrieri, loved "the car and its lights."  Lighting Designer, Andrew David Ostrowski, were you responsible for the dancing stick puppets?  Costume Designer Stephanie Shaw, what genius in designing quick changes for comedic transition of characters!  Sound Designer Bob Bollman's precision with sounds at the mention of "39 Steps" and the scenes behind the opening and closing of doors!  And not to be left out Production Stage Manager Tim Brady!  All I can say is, "wow." 

The cast, photo by Archie Carpenter

Enough! Enough, I could write for hours about this play.  This reviewer personally thinks it is the best play that the CLO has done at the Cabaret.  Just go see it, it runs thru August 14, 2016.  And bring the out of town visiting relatives, they will love it too.



Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning podcaster, 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™ 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 PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities. 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Cirque de la Symphonie a Big Win in a Sports Town


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™ 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 PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities. 

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Le Corsaire A Pirate Saga with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Orchestra



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