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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, A MODERN OPERA … GERTRUDE STEIN AND ALICE TOBIAS THE “TALK” OF PARIS



“27”
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 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, March 9, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Bridges of Madison County Harlequin Romance or Arthur and Guinevere?


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™ 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, February 11, 2016

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Guys & Dolls, A Showcase of Talent at PPT


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 fiancée 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 risqué.  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 http://trustarts.culturaldistrict.org/production/44232/guys-and-dolls

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. 

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Wilkommen to "CABARET" AT THE BENEDUM CENTER


Wilkommen to "CABARET" AT THE BENEDUM CENTER

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 http://pplmag.com 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.