Sunday, April 27, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report - What's Up Doc: Review of the PSO's Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II Performance April 12th 2014

What’s Up Doc?
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II Performance April 12th 2014

From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester, Host of Empress of Biz  |  April 13, 2014

Saturday night April 12, was FUN! It was a night of wonderful music with lots and lots of laughs and giggles from the usually pretty serious classical music crowd. We were treated to a multi-media experience of What’s Up Doc, “Bugs Bunny “ cartoons, witty dialogue and great music by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra very ably led by guest conductor and co-creator of the Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II, George Daugherty.

George Daugherty brings an impressive resume to the Pittsburgh symphony. He is one of the classical music
world’s most diverse artists. His 3- year conducting career has included appearances with the world’s leading orchestras, ballet companies, opera houses and concert artists. He is also an Emmy Award winning creator and along with his producing partner David Ka Lik Wong created The Bugs Bunny Symphony tradition. He was a delightful host. His dialogue with the audience on the background of the music and cartoons was informative with a whimsical touch. A thoroughly charming man.

One of the things I did not realize, much of the music in cartoons was based on many of the classical composers such as, J. Strauss II, Wagner, Rossini, von Suppe’, Smetana, Liszt. Reading the credits from the cartoon was like a trip back in time, Jonny Mercer, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Chuck Jones, and Mel Balanc, the great voice of Warner Bros Cartoon. And of course the lovable wacky cartoon characters of Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E Coyote, Tweety (I Tawt I Ta A Puddy Cat) Bird, Pepe Le Pew and the Penelope Pussy Cat were funny as ever.

George Daugherty
As the music and cartoons play I was flooded with memories of my childhood. A time when I went to the movies and was enthralled by an afternoon of cartoons and cowboy/ space invader monster/Tarzan of the Jungle. It was a simpler and less stressful time; NO cell phones, texting, and NO parents hovering over you, urging you to hurry, to rush from one activity to another. It was a time when I could walk to the local neighborhood show with friends. Go to a shopping district, that were alive and vibrant and filled with friendly people walking on sidewalks, and stopping in their favorite ice cream store, shoe store, grocery store, ladies dress store and buying what they needed. Back then, my neighborhood gave me a feeling of identity and security. If you lived in one of them you know what I mean. Today’s suburban sprawl with our mega shopping centers, frantic pace and a life built around the automobile racing from one event to another has taken a lot of that sense of belonging away.

In conclusion the night was delightful fun for young to old. All delighted by the antics on screen and being charmed by the music and conductor on stage… a delightful evening… and a secret trip back in time when it was all simpler.

Additional Performances:
Sunday, April 13th  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

JoAnn R. Forrester
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on

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.
For more information visit Empress of Biz on

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Youth is Wasted on the Young

Youth is Wasted on the Young . . . George Bernard Shaw

The prolific playwright, critic, novelist and essayist, George Bernard Shaw is featured with the current production of the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s British Invasion.  Candida, one of Shaw’s earlier works and part of the trilogy penned under Plays Pleasant,  is a study in human relationship’s: husband/wife, employer/employee, poet/enabling wannabe (to the poet) paramour, father –in-law/son-in-law.  Shaw weaves the playful rhythm, tone and wit of language bred from his native Ireland.  Humor is frequent and the audience appreciates the well-phrased and delivered commentary of the then-current societal mores.  While some elements of the conversations appear dated (the use of cant, for example, was last heard in a long ago class on literature) , the majority of the dialogue transcends time, as appropriate in Victorian England as it is in the 21st Century Pittsburgh.

In Candida, the audience is treated to a preview of the characters that will be arguably Shaw’s most recognizable players from Pygmalion/My Fair Lady.  The dissolute Eugene Marchbanks (Jared McGuire)  is a precursor (at least to this viewer) of Freddie Aynsford-Hill;  Candida’s father,  Mr. Burgess (John O’Creagh) is reminiscent of Alfred P. Doolittle, the common dustman with his broad cockney accent juxtaposed with the costume finery of a gentleman after he is thrust directly into middle class morality by Henry Higgins’ recommendation, getting to the church on time.  The audience is reminded that in Shaw, one finds a Nobel Prize winner and an Oscar winner, an unlikely and unique combination of tributes held solely by him.
Gretchen Egolf as Candida and David Whalen as Vicar Morell (Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater)

Candida (Gretchen Egolf), the namesake of the work, is a beautiful woman who is coveted by both her husband, The Reverend James Mavor Morell (David Whalen) and Eugene, the young poet who is clearly enamored with her.  Candida appears to be initially oblivious of being the object of Marchbanks’ attentions, almost like a cat playing with a mouse.  Later, we realize she is much more self and situationally aware. 

Gretchen Egolf as Candida and Jared McGuire as Eugene Marchbanks (Photo Credit:  Pittsburgh Public Theater)
Her husband, also initially oblivious, is astounded when his wife demonstrates an insight on his relationship with his trusted assistant and the reason for his popularity as a much sought after orator.  The cast is rounded out by Meghan Mae O’Neill playing the long suffering Miss Proserpine (Prossie) Garnett and Matthew Minor as The Reverend Alexander Mill, assistant to Vicar Morrell.

The play is set in Victoria Park on the outskirts of London at the turn of the 20th century spanning a single day in the study and sitting room of St. Dominic’s Vicarage.

Candida is directed by the venerable Ted Pappas and continues at the O’Reilly Theater through May 18th.

This  review of Candida was written by Joyce Kane on behalf of Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine and Roving Pittsburgher.  Joyce is the owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Assistant service company providing on demand business support services for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and anyone else needing help.  We help businesses work on their business rather than in their business.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report - Magical Inspiration: Review of the PSO’s Bolero and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice March 14th 2014 Performance

Magical Inspiration
Review of the PSO’s Bolero and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice March 14th 2014 Performance
From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By: Josh Kurnot  |  March 15, 2014

Walking down the aisle to row k, right in the middle of the orchestra, I notice the grand piano on the forefront of the stage. I wonder what celebrity the orchestra would entertain on their stage that night. Little did I know, some of the world’s most powerful fingers were waiting just off stage left. I cannot place the feeling at first while taking my seat, but there is a kind of quiet anticipation lingering in the theater. My only precedence to this performance is the childhood memory of the Disney movie Fantasia. In my ignorant bliss, I sit with my date grinning from ear to ear waiting to reminisce on fond innocent memories from my younger years, but little did I know…

With due respect, the audience graciously welcomes Maestro Leonard Slatkin to the stage. Prodigy to his parents, the founders of the famed Hollywood String Quartet, Slatkin was born to conduct this very show. The show opened with French composer Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This is the familiar tune from Disney’s movie Fantasia, and its sounds coming from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s stage are just as whimsical and magical as I remember it as a kid. The simplest theme of the entire show was perfectly and playfully portrayed in this first piece, repetition. The Lucian tale of a sorcerer and his apprentice tell the story of how an apprentice’s eavesdropping on the master’s incantation to turn a common household broom into a drone for filling the water basin from the well leads the novice to an almost certain demise. The repetition in the orchestra starts low and mysterious as the sorcerer’s stern words work in private. It then grows in volume and multiplies seemingly uncontrollably as the apprentice attempts to stop the drone from overflowing the water basin by chopping it in half; only creating yet another. The magnitude of the impending doom on the apprentice is magnificently displayed by the alternating unison of the violin section’s two explicit parts. While the bows of one violin part are thrust into the air, the bows of the other part are pulled swiftly back down the opposite direction creating a magnificent but furious dancing effect atop the heads of the entire violin section. Towards the end of the piece, this effect is sustained for so long that I think it would last forever, leaving no refuge for the poor apprentice. Although I don’t particularly care for all of the antics of Mr. First Violinist, I found quite a bit of entertainment in the fly away hairs of his bow flailing frantically about during this ferocious first piece. And at the end of it, Mr. First Violinist proudly grasped those few retired hairs from his bow and most triumphantly ripped them right out of their roots.

Michel Camilo
Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
The next appearance on stage is Michel Camilo. The audience welcomes him with kindly as he takes his seat on the front of the stage at the keys of the grand piano. As Camilo’s fingers began to strike the first few notes of his Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, “Tenerife”, his Latin heritage and Jazzy style are instantly apparent. Camilo’s inspiration for this piece is Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. In his own words, “My intention was to compose about its great majesty, reflect on the warmth of its people, and portray the vibrant light so full of contrasting texture and color I have always perceived there.” The first movement is inspired by a visit to the island’s volcano and does an excellent job of personifying this wondrous place giving it absolute strength, a mind of its own, and a heart beat. Matching the strength of this volcano is Camilo’s left hand pounding away at the repetitious rhythm that is the heart beat of this beautiful place. The community and warmth of the island’s people is found in the echoing rhythms of the symphony orchestra. As the power of the volcano has a rhythm, so do the people who live who live in its shadow. This appearance marks the debut of Michel Camilo’s performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. At the end of the first act finishing the third movement of “Tenerife” the crowd exploded with applause and cheers, especially from the balcony. So long did we applaud and cheer, not accepting no for an answer, that Camilo had to feel obligated to end his performance with a little extra personal flair. Not only did he flair, but his fingers fumed as Slatkin, the Symphony Orchestra, and entire crowd listened in awe.

Additional Performances:
Saturday, March 15th | 8 PM | Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 16th | 2:30 PM | Heinz Hall

Written By: Josh Kurnot
 Josh Kurnot is a student of engineering at West Virginia University in his senior year. He loves to visit relatives in Pittsburgh and attends as many cultural events as he can. He is an award winning photographer whose photograpy was featured on PositivelyPittsburghTV in a video, Roving Pittsburgher and Mountaineer Cheerleader, Josh Kurnot Tour the Strip.

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

Roving Pittsburgher Report - A Superlative Combination: Review of the PSO's Evening with Mandy Patinkin Performance April 5th 2014

A Superlative Combination
Review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Evening with Mandy Patinkin Performance April 5th 2014

From: Roving Pittsburgher and
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester, Host of Empress of Biz  |  April 6, 2014

On Saturday evening April 5 downtown Pittsburgh was filled with two types of fans, baseball and music. Both type of fans excited and looking for their team to deliver a winning performance. And my team, starring the Pittsburgh Symphony with Mandy Patinkin delivered a superb win. Our star player, Mr. Mandy Patinkin, singer, actor, performer well known for his Broadway roles in Evita and Sunday in the Park with George and beloved for his characters from film and television, such as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride and Saul Berenson in Homeland, the Tony delivered an unforgettable evening of popular song and Broadway Classics.

Mandy Patinkin musical range from baritone to tenor is incredible. His choice of songs demonstrated his amazing range of voice. His charismatic performance had all of us in the palm of his hand. Opening the show slow, easy and whimsical with “It’s not Easy being Green,” he proceeded to deliver 90 minutes of pure Broadway delight with the following “On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," “Mr. Arthur's Place," “Bohemian Rhapsody” - dedicated to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," "Anyone Can Whistle," "Sunday in the Park With George" medley, "Rock Island"/"Ya Got Trouble,” “The Band Played On"/"Marie"/"Once Upon a Time," "Soliloquy," "Sorry/Grateful" and "Being Alive."

Mandy’s performance was infused with wonderful personal stories with an easy interplay with the Pittsburgh symphony orchestra. He brings everyone along on his musical journey and personal memories on his career. It was fascinating for me to hear how he started as a teenager, with his first role as Billy Bigelow in "Carousel" and how he evolved and eventually performed with many of the great stars of Broadway.

The evening started with the Pittsburgh symphony led by conductor Fawzi Haimor. They played three selections with Broadway and movie themes: the "West Side Story" overture, selections from "My Fair Lady" and a medley from "Pirates of the Caribbean." I thoroughly enjoyed the symphony and their Fawzi Haimor exuberant and enthusiastic leadership of the symphony.

Hey Pittsburghers! Isn’t it great that we have so many fantastic winning choices here in town? And if you wanted to make sure you had a winning outing then it’s to the Pittsburgh Symphony you would be going.

JoAnn R. Forrester
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester
Host of Empress of Biz
Anchor Internet Radio Show on

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.
For more information visit Empress of Biz on

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

Roving Pittsburgher Report - "Once" Not Enough, Must See Again! Review of Once the Musical March 11th 2014 Performance

"Once" Not Enough, Must See Again!
Review of the Once the Musical’s March 11th 2014 Performance
From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  March 12th 2014

From the get-go, Once the Musical had the audience of the Benedum Center captivated and it remained that way the entire performance. Lacking jazz hands, kicklines, hammy acting and spontaneous group song and dance numbers, Once the Musical felt more like an episode of tv sit-com How I Met your Mother peppered with organic radio-worthy music that was somewhere between the style of the Lumineers and Lady Antebellum. It was awesome. I loved it. And you should totally go see it!

Apparently the show is based off of the 2006 movie also called Once, which didn’t fair so well at silver screen box offices. Obviously I didn’t see it. But I’m telling you the musical is terrific. It is a romantic comedy and romantic tragedy in one. Fresh and set present day;  Witty and tender;  If you’ve ever loved, been heartbroken, felt loss, or felt giddy anticipation, you’ll see yourself in the story and music of Once the Musical. Laughter and tears included.

The very organic and intimate feel of the entire production is initiated 15 minutes before the show begins when audience members can join the cast on stage of the Dublin pub set for drinks and music. As audience members are privately asked to take their seats, the cast continues to play another couple of songs and seamlessly transition into the show. The house lights finally go down a solid 10 minutes into the show as the unnamed Czech Girl enters the pub after hearing the moving voice and guitar playing of unnamed Irish Boy.

The typical romantic story unfolds. Stricken by woes of the heart, Boy swears off playing music; classically trained pianist, Girl has Boy fix her Hoover vacuum, Girl helps Boy piece his life back together; annoyed humoring begets a tentative friendship; friendship begets romantic hopes; but there’s always something that complicates things… life, commitment, bad timing. I won’t give away the ending, but will say true love is powerful.  Equally relatable themes are the importance of family and community:  small family business, loss of a parent, the new life as a widow, struggling to advance professionally.

The content of the show was touching, but how it was delivered was unique as well.  Every character plays an instrument.  Not only are they the cast, but the orchestra too.  And to prove it the pub set is lined with framed mirrors, which showcased the piano playing skills of Girl and brought a dimension to the set that pulled you in more.  To create different scenes great lighting was used and encouraged the imagination of the audience, including when they were on top of the set looking out into the ocean.

The whole experience was a fresh take on "going to a Broadway musical" and it was great.  I loved it so much I came home and downloaded the music on itunes and looked up when the show would be in the cities of my parents and siblings and told them that they had to go.  So I'll say to you too, take a break from kicklines and showtunes, not that I don't love me some traditional musicals, this is a show that you don't want to miss!

Additional Performances at the Benedum Center:
Wednesday, March 12th  |  7:30 PM
Thursday, March 13th  |  7:30 PM
Friday, March 14th  |  8 PM
Saturday, March 15th  |  2 PM and 8 PM
Sunday, March 16th  |  1 PM and 6:30 PM

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