Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Evening in Paris at the Pittsburgh Ballet, Moulin Rouge

An Evening in Paris at the Pittsburgh Ballet

by Good News Reviewers, 
Helene Vidovich and Martin Thomas

Valentine’s Day on the bank of the Seine, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, was extra special this year. The Benedum had a full-house of sweethearts. There was an expectant tingling of electricity in the air as the Pittsburgh Ballet Corps took to the stage.

The inside and outside of the Moulin Rouge were nicely delineated by dropping a semi-transparent scrim painted with a fa├žade of the establishments on the street. When this was dropped, the backlights and silhouettes were visible, but somewhat obscured. The use of the scrim, the colors and fabrics of costuming, the array of lights and the quartet of musicians, were layered together to take us back to Toulouse Lautrec and Impressionistic France. What a time it must have been...although it was also before penicillin.

It was fun to watch the painters dancing and spinning with their easels on wheels, one-foot-on and one-foot-off. We watched a band of gypsies as they spun and twirled, showing off their expert moves, as they auditioned for the Moulin Rouge. It was romantic and a feast for the eyes as the costumes, stage-set and dazzling lights blazed in a kaleidoscope of colors. The swirling petticoats were magnifique and occasionally led to a peek of little red-ruffled gutchies. I am quite sure the Theatre could have made at least as much selling Moulin Rouge dresses at intermission as it did selling tickets. Do we get a press discount with that?

A special treat was a cameo appearance of Sally Wiggins. And, as mentioned before, "Pittsburgh has a tremendous amount of talent." Whether musicians, tailors, set and lighting designers, builders or dancers, the ’burgh has at least, if not more, of its share of artistic ability. 

Not professional reviewers just everyday Pittsburghers availing themselves of Pittsburgh Cultural and Dance Events by as Mark Freeman says,  "Being a Tourist in their Hometown."

Helene Vidovich, Freelance Cultural Reporter
Martin Thomas, Videographer ~ Troubadour

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Sister Act" is a Class Comedy Act

"Sister Act" is a Class Comedy Act

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

I went to see Sister Act, the Movie in 1992 armed with twelve years of Catholic Education with the Penguins as we called them but more reverently, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary or IHM.  I went with the same armor but a little more jaded and the laughter came more easily as the sting of the stringent years and the smile of the loving care of the sisters of the IHM wore off.   I wanted to write this review much sooner but unlike the holy water in the Catholic Church, the bottled water that I took to the musical on opening night did not ward off the flu.

The Glorious Nuns ensemble, voices raised! Photo, Joan Marcus
If you were going to Sister Act, the Musical expecting to see the same plot as the movie and hear the same songs, then you got a pleasant surprise.  You will not hear “My Guy” or “I Will Follow Him.” You will however hear a Comic rendition of “It’s Good to Be a Nun.  You will not hear “Rescue Me” but you will hear a rousing rendition of “Take Me to Heaven.”  "If My Sister's In Trouble" is suitably replaced by “Sister Act”

And then there is irreverence with “Lady in the Long Black Dress” and “When I Find My Baby” by the gangster Curtis played by Kingsley Leggs.  He was so good as Delores’s murderous boyfriend that at the finale, everyone got rousing applause except him. He was the villain you loved to hate even after the play was over.
I found it delightful that Delores in the beginning of the musical downplays her energy and feistiness but really comes into her own in the habit of a nun as the director of the choir.  Well done Ta’Rea Campbell.  

 Other characters who were larger than life Sweaty Eddie played by Pittsburgh native E. Clayton Cornelius, big voice on a not so large guy and his comic antics were titan.  Absolutely the best casting however was the Mother Superior played by Hollis Resnik with her classical voice and almost Shakespearean portrayal which makes it even more hysterical when she takes the stage in the finale in a sequined habit to dance with Delores Van Cartier.  But kudos also have to be given to the casting of Lael Van Kuren as Sister Mary Robert—truly a little girl with a big voice who shined in “The Life I Never Lead.”

Finale  Sisters in Sequins, Disco Madonna, photo  by Joan Marcus
The Somber Scenery except for the church makes quite a statement   with the Disco Madonna in the finale and the silver sequined nun’s habits.  Richard Pruitt’s Monsignor O’Hara was inspired with his Barry White imitations.

And Sister Mary Patrick (Florrie Bagel) and Sister Mary Lazarus (Diane Findlay) gave new meaning to madcap hysteria and anachronistic rapping respectively. Because of them if you weren’t smiling when you entered the theater you were definitely smiling on your way out.

The Audience laughed out loud at Sister Act especially at the end with the Disco Madonna and the nuns dressed in silver sequin habits in the finale.  As the preview by-line stated: 
“A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, SISTER ACT is reason to REJOICE!”
 Radio Host and Serial Blogger, Joanne Quinn-Smith is the host of PositivelyPittsburghLive™ Internet Talkcast and TechnoGrannyShow™  On her shows, Joanne has interviewed over 1800 guests.  As an advocate for small Business, she was awarded the National Small Business Administration Journalist of the Year Award.  She is also the publisher of which is a 2010 National Stevie Award finalist for best Media Website or Blog. PPL Mag features the GOOD NEWS, about Pittsburgh  and is  Pittsburgh’s First internet radio and TV network. PPL Mag attracted 2.25 million visitors last year.  Her radio network has accumulated over one million listeners. The Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, Joanne also teaches her online media platform building to small businesses in a client personalized, “Web2.0 Gorilla Branding Training™”.  Connect with Joanne at:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

1776, A Musical Play

Roving Pittsburgher Review

“ 1776”A Musical Play

by Pittsburgh Event Planner and Talkcast Host, Mary Pam Kilgore

Presented by Pittsburgh Public Theater

George Merrick as John Adams.

O’Reilly Theater                                           

Shows till February 24th

I was very excited to see the Tony award winning musical “1776” currently playing at the O’Reilly Theater presented by the Pittsburgh Public Theater.  I have seen the movie version so I knew the story and even some of the music.

Without issuing the phrase “Spoiler Alert,” “1776” is a musical that takes place in the last couple of months prior to the signing of the Declaration of the Independence.  The representatives of the Continental Congress are meeting in Philadelphia and they are trying to make a decision about independence from England.  They seem to be deadlocked. How they overcome this is the story behind “1776” What makes “1776” a timeless musical is that it portrays the Continental Congress as divided and nothing is getting done.  Sound familiar?  And even the Declaration of Independence, the document, is a victim of compromise and some of those compromises still haunt us today.  

(left to right) Keith Hines as Thomas Jefferson, Steve Vinovich as Ben Franklin and George Merrick as John Adams.     
Favorite characters of the audience seemed to be:  George Merrick presents John Adams as the man you love to hate.   Steve Vinovich's Ben Franklin is seems to be exactly as you would imagine Ben Franklin, a public figure with a flair for fun but nevertheless the consummate politician. 

This is the largest production that Pittsburgh Public Theater has done.  And the production is magnificent!  26 people on stage at the same time!  And on the night I saw it, everything was flawless.  All the actors were wonderful.  A musical play is always a huge undertaking and the music did not disappoint.  The stage moved on a turntable effortlessly from one scene to the next.  On stage till February 24th so take an evening to see this most engaging musical.


Mary Pam Kilgore, CMP
Kilgore Events and Meetings
Helping corporations and nonprofit organizations serve their target market with effective meetings and events.  Host of the popular internet radio show, Planners Pointers syndicated at: