Saturday, March 15, 2014

An Iliad: A Journey to the Past, Present and Future

A Journey to the Past, Present and Future

An Iliad, a modern adaptation of Homer’s Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, is the time-honored story of the Greek-Trojan war updated with modern language, contemporary references and future implications of the continued horror that is war.

Teague F. Bougere provides an enthralling performance is this one person show.  Alternately actor and narrator, Bougere as “The Poet” weaves the story of mortals and the gods of Greek mythology interspersed with references to conflicts throughout history up to 2014.  The epic story of Achilles and Agamemnon, Athena and Apollo, Helen of Troy and Hector, Hecuba and Hermes, Paris and Priam, and last, but not least, Zeus is told with an understandable pace, bringing this story with a historic sensibility to a current audience.

Bougere appears dusty and road-weary, then energized by the audience while engaging in easy banter, then repulsed by the dialogue of the classic tale.

The stage of Pittsburgh Public Theater’s O’Reilly Theater has been transformed to a quasi-construction site cum battlefield.   The rough-hewn table becomes Paris’ bed, then a platform for the recitation of conflicts and wars of far-reaching implications.  The scaffolding/ramparts provide a vantage for the observation of the historic battles from afar, as the majority of the audience experience war.

The Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of An Iliad, a 90 minute show without intermission, plays at the O’Reilly through April 6, 2014.

Reviewed  by Joyce Kane on behalf of Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine.  Joyce is the owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Business Support business that helps solopreneurs, business owners and individuals work 'on' their business rather than 'in' the business.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report -
Oh My Stars, Sequins, and Symphony
A Review of the PSO’s March 6th 2014 Pops Concert

Oh My Stars, Sequins, and Symphony
A Review of the PSO’s March 6th 2014 Pops Concert

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  March 7th 2014

What I fun concert! I don’t know how else to start this review, other than that. I was seat dancing practically the whole concert and singing like a song bird all the way home. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Jack Everly presented “All That Jazz”, a musical montage of hits from Cabaret, Chicago, The Act, Kiss of the Spider WomanNew York, New York and more.

Jack Everly
(photo courtesy:
Michael Tammaro)
As the show opened with "Overture", I was thinking, with the Oscars having been just this past weekend, this sounds very movie-musicy sounding. (Yes, I have a music degree and that is a technical term, movie-musicy, well at least it should be.) Anyway, I knew we were in for a treat, because we would hear some of the most well known musicals in robust symphonic stylings. And then out came the singers to join in.

With a proper “Willkomen” from Ron Remke, the musical celebration of the songwriting duo Kander and Ebb was in full swing. Remke was joined by Nikki Renee Daniels, Ted Keegan, Pittsburgh native Kirsten Scott and Tony award-winning Beth Leavel. Though there were only five singers this was no park n’ bark stuffy concert. The audience was both dazzled by the singing stars and bedazzled by all the glitzy costume changes.

Ted Keegan, who has previously sung the role of the Phantom on Broadway, whisked us away with “First You Dream” from Steel Pier. His voice will make you melt. He later showed a light-hearted comical side singing “Mister Cellophane” from Chicago. He is phenomenal!

The girls started spicing things up with “Two Ladies” and “Everybody’s Girl” from Cabaret. One could totally see how Beth Leavel won a Tony. She is a total ham and your eyes will never leave her because she is such an entertainer on every level. The trio of gals kept the heat coming in the second half with “City Lights” from The Act and “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago.

John Kander and Fred Ebb
(photo courtesy:
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
While most of the music of the evening was upbeat, there was no mistaking the beautiful soaring voices of Nikki Renee Daniels and Carnegie Mellon graduate Kirsten Scott. Daniels beautifully performed one of the more tender pieces of the night, “Go Back Home” from The Scottsboro Boys. Scott sang gorgeously as well as showcased some sizzling and sultry dance moves in “Roxie” and “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago.

The works of the super successful songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb have become contemporary musical classics. Their recipe of steamy and provocative story lines, snappy lyrics, and jazzy orchestration led to 5 decades worth of hit musicals and films.

Orchestras for musicals are normally much smaller, maybe to fit down in the close quarters of the pit. But, the PSO brought a robust and studio recording-like sound to these musical favorites, without sounding clunky. It was a great opportunity to hear snappy character and a jazzy side of the PSO’s playing.

Guest Conductor, Jack Everly made two promises to the audience at Heinz Hall - we would leave the concert happier than when we arrived, and though we would hear both songs we knew and some we didn’t, all would be great. He was absolutely right on both counts.

Additional Performances:
Friday, March 7th  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Saturday, March 8th  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 9th  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
(c) 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report - PSO's Joshua Bell and Symphonie Espagnole Performance Feb. 28th 2014

Witnessing Unmatched Musicality
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's
Joshua Bell and Symphonie Espagnole Performance Feb. 28th 2014

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Hank Walshak  |  March 1, 2014

Gianandrea Noseda
(photo credit: Sussie Ahlburg 2012)
Something in me likes to watch professionals, whatever their line of work. This personal bent served me well when I witnessed Joshua Bell display his violin artistry and Maestro Gianandrea Noseda masterfully lead our Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 21 of Edouard Lalo.

For me, watching Joshua Bell is like viewing a professional tight-rope walker quickly skip along a 60-foot rope hundreds of feet in the air, and doing somersaults on the rope at the same time. This kind of doing the seemingly impossible happens only a few times in one’s life, and Bell’s execution was one of these rare times in my life.

To say, he performed the violin solo, would be to vastly understate his performance. He played through the Symphonie Espagnole as though the notes, the phrasing, the melodies, the movements emerged from somewhere within him, not from Lalo’s score. He played as though born into the music, moving forward to punctuate hard-hitting parts, moving back to elicit the more subdued sections of the piece.

Joshua Bell
(photo courtesy:
Lisa Marie Mazzucco)
Talk about violin prowess. From exploring sonorous tones in the lower register to parts that called on his lyricism and flexibilities to those that challenged with incredibly intricate fingerings in the upper register, Bell moved through the Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra with the unerring grace of a male, ballet dancer interpreting the most physical demanding dances without even breaking a sweat.

A brief look, eye to eye now and then, was all Bell and Maestro Noseda as they worked in synchronistic togetherness during the performance. Just as Bell’s body moved in resonance to each symphony part, so too. Noseda physically conveyed his musical intentions to the orchestra by his deft, dance-like movements. He attacked the piece with all the agility he could muster and moved slowly from side to side to convey more lyrical intonations to the orchestra.

Watching Bell and Maestro Noseda was like seeing two, Olympic athletes move in unison as they performed feats of precision one could hardly believe. They complemented each other so nicely without ever once stealing the sunshine away from the other’s performance.

How fortunate for us in the audience to experience these two musical geniuses performing together in a not-to-be-matched rendering of Eduouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra.

Additional Performances:
Saturday, March 1st  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 2nd  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

Written By: Hank Walshak
Founder and President of Walshak Communications, Inc.

The Communications Expert for Experts
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Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter,,
(c) 2014