Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Showers Bring "Singin' in the Rain" to the Benedum

May Showers Bring "Singin' in the Rain" to the Benedum - Lockwood and Lamont Grace Pittsburgh Stage Once More
Review of Pittsburgh CLO’s "Singin’ In the Rain" May 30, 2014 Performance
From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By: Megan Grabowski  |  May 31, 2014

The opulence of the historic Benedum Center is a perfect venue for Singin’ In The Rain. The theater’s original mirrors, woodwork and chandeliers recreate the atmosphere reminiscent of that which fans of the romantic team, Lockwood and Lamont, would have sat amid while witnessing the birth of the talkie.

Opening night for the 68th summer musical season of The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, welcomed to stage David Elder as leading man Don Lockwood; Mary Michael Patterson as his true love, Kathy Selden and supporting cast, Ashley Spencer, starring as Lina Lamont, the beautiful actress opposite Lockwood, and Cary Tedder as Cosmo Brown, Lockwood’s comedic sidekick. The story begins with Lockwood and Lamont, 1920’s Hollywood silent film stars, at the height of their fame and success. In 1927 new technology allowing sound to be placed in film is introduced. The movie studio contracting Lockwood and Lamont, Monumental Pictures, must incorporate sound into their films to stay competitive. For leading lady Lamont, this is a problem. Her diction as well as the tone of her voice does not complement the pretty face her fans adore. Suddenly, Kathy Selden, an unknown girl who dreams of becoming an actress on stage in New York City stumbles into Lockwood‘s life, on the set of his next film and into his heart as a love interest.

Cary Tedder as Cosmo Brown and
David Elder as Don Lockwood
Gene Kelly, Pittsburgh native and star of the 1952 film isn’t just a former Pittsburgh resident. He is an iconic Pittsburgher; adopted by locals; part of our regional soul, so filling the role of Don Lockwood on stage in Pittsburgh requires some pretty big shoes. By scene 9, Elder confirms his worthiness for the role of Lockwood, showing off exemplary foot skills as he and Selden dance together with easy fluid motions, singing, “You Were Meant For Me” . By the final scene of Act 1, the title number, "Singin’ in the Rain," has the audience smiling from ear to ear. Lockwood frolics from one end of the stage to the other, swinging from the lamp post with only one arm and lightly dancing up the stairs while carrying an umbrella as rain falls upon the set drenching the floor of the stage and creating puddles for splashing. His smooth voice, ‘singing and dancing’ in the rain, create feelings of warmth, and familiarity for the viewers.

Cary Tedder as Cosmo Brown, Mary Michael Patterson
as Kathy Selden and David Elder as Don Lockwood
Tedder, a strong supporting character, has marvelous comedic timing and energy on stage that encourages the audience to laugh freely and boisterously. His timeless jokes add depth to the Lockwood character and reinforce Lamont’s mean spirit. In addition, Cosmo dances with boundless energy and is pure pleasure to watch. Spencer’s stage presence screams pomp and glamour. During her diction lesson scene the audience howls in laughter. Selden a small town, girl-next-door type with loads of talent receives applause for her operatic and melodious voice in musical numbers such as “You Are My Lucky Star” and “GoodMornin’ ”. One of the most fun scenes in the show, “Broadway Ballet”, is carefully choreographed to showcase the talents of each cast member.
David Elder as Don Lockwood

The music in Singin’ in the Rain is infectious. Every person I passed by in the lobby, stood next to at intermission or rode in the elevator with in the parking garage after tonight’s performance was humming various tunes from the musical. Tonight’s showcase of vocal talent, dance ability and theatrical execution put a smile on my face. This is a happy and carefree production to celebrate summertime, a timeless show that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 

Singin’ in the Rain runs through June 8, 2014.
For ticket information visit 

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski
Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.  Contact Megan

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Review - Can't Get Enough of Chris Duarte, The Ultimate Guitarist, Review of Chris Duarte Concert May 18th 2014 Performance

Can't Get Enough of Chris Duarte, The Ultimate Guitarist
Review of Chris Duarte Concert May 18th 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Mike Van Stipdonk  |  May 18, 2014

Sunday evening at Moondog’s in Blawnox I reconnected, in a way, with an old friend. Chris Duarte and I aren’t really friends, but after over twenty years of seeing him play live (we’re talking at least 25 times), I’ve decided to make him an honorary one. He provides inspiration, companionship, motivation, and good times – many of the things I expect from such an individual.

First, though, a bit of history. Looking for our usual distraction from the grind of graduate work in chemistry at Texas A&M University, my usual group of friends and I headed to the Stafford Opera House in downtown Bryan, TX to see House in Orbit, our favorite band from Austin, Texas. Their infectious covers of classic and current songs (for that time), done in a style best described as bluegrass-ska, never failed to make us forget whatever was ailing us that day, week or month. Upon arrival that Friday night, we noticed a very different sound coming from the sound-check, and an unfamiliar name on the board outside the entrance. Chris Duarte. Who? Motivated, I’ll admit, by nothing more than a desire to avoid the other club options for the night, I said, “why don’t we check this out?” The cover charge was a reasonable five bucks, and there was something raw and exciting to me about the guitar sounds leaking out from inside the club. So we went in.

If you ask me, some of the best moments in life are those that happen when you chuck the plan and see where things end up. That night, I forgot all about House in Orbit and became a life-long fan of the amazing Chris Duarte. And while I like to think it happened completely by chance, it was probably more a result of my inability to read correctly the weekend’s concert schedule. House in Orbit played the previous night. But who cares?

Chris Duarte is a brilliant guitarist, songwriter, and singer originally from San Antonio; but I will always associate him with what was great about the Austin music scene in the early 1990s. Duarte plays in a Texas blues-rock style that reminds most people of another Texas legend, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. Whether listening to Duarte’s guitar playing or the general style of his original songs, you certainly hear the influence of Vaughan. But you also hear so else, such as jazz influences and whispers of other guitar greats like Johnny Winter, John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix (more on that later). If you’re a fan of guitar, regardless of what style, devote three hours to Chris’ next show (we should all encourage a speedy return to Pittsburgh). You’ll walk away a convert. I swear it.

I last saw Chris play in 2009 in St. Charles, MO while with my two oldest kids. Again, quite by accident, he was playing a free show along Main Street. Martin, Josie and I sat on the street curb, just to the side of the stage, for the beginning of his first set. The kids weren’t sold at first, but they were patient, listening to my requests of “wait for it” and “you’ll see”. From the minute Chris started playing, though, the kids couldn’t take their eyes off of him. The evening ended with Chris signing his latest disc for them, and talking about how important the creativity of music is to life (He’s also a part-time philosopher!)

On Sunday night, Moondogs was a perfect venue for the reunion. Saying that was an intimate is an understatement, as nearly everyone who showed up had a close-up seat. We were treated to over three hours of music by a virtuoso. Backed by Dustin Sargent on bass (guitar), and John McNight on drums, Chris provided a clinic to those who needed to see some good guitar playing and foot-stomping entertainment for those there to hear blues-rock. And, perhaps, others may have, like my first time, experienced their own “why don’t we check this out?” moment?

The first set was devoted to songs that highlighted the great chemistry between Chris and his band and to his talents, both as a guitarist and vocalist. Later, in the second set, he included songs that provided greater opportunity for extended solos. Those are the ones that remind me most what made me a Duarte fan in the first place. On the drive to Moondogs, I excitedly played several songs to Stephanie (The new girl in the ‘burg) to make sure she’d understand what she was about to witness, in case Chris didn’t take care of that himself within the first few minutes of the show. One of the songs was “Like Eric”, off of Duarte’s 2003 album Romp. The song, a tribute to another fantastic guitar player (Eric Johnson), perfectly illustrates the level of Chris’ talent by revealing his amazing ability to channel the spirit and sound of great guitarists into his own performance. This is one of the most impressive things about the guy. He can announce to you, the listener, who his influences are by crafting songs that integrate, seamlessly, each of their unique sounds.

I remember saying to a friend who joined us that night, “He’s amazing. He does this one song that manages to blend Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, with a bit of Duane Allman.” These masterpieces leave you saying, “Good grief…is there anything, or anyone, this guy can’t do?” In return for the impromptu PR work, my honorary friend rewarded me by beginning the first encore with just that song (“Azul Ezell,” off the Love Is Greater Than Me album). When I slapped my friend on the shoulder as the song ended, all he could do was shake his head. Most likely that was part amazement, and part recognition that he just witnessed a performance by someone that is truly the best at his trade.

After the show ended and the road crew was tearing down the equipment, Stephanie and I made our way to the merchandise table. We selected the Chris Duarte Group’s recent 2 CD live disc and made our way to the stage to talk to Chris. After he signed the disc, I told him that this was Stephanie’s first show, and the two of them engaged in an interesting discussion about skill and passion and other things that musicians can relate to. I then told him about my first show. I said “Bryan, Texas”, and he replied with “Wow…Old School. Way back!” He then reminded himself that the show was at the Stafford Opera House. We shook hands, and his parting words were, “We look pretty good for old guys”. I think we do.

By:  Mike Van Stipdonk
Analytical Chemistry Associate Professor
Duquesne University

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Pittsburgh's Gift to the World of Dance

Gene Kelly…The Legacy
August 23, 1912 to February 2, 1996
An evening with Patricia Ward Kelly
Pittsburgh's Gift to the World of Dance

Hey folks, way before there was "Dancing with the Stars" making an impact on the dance scene, there was
Gene Kelly. Photo courtesy of Gene Kelly: The Legacy,
An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly.
Gene Kelly, Pittsburgh’s gift to Hollywood Dance film musical. 

Gene Kelly, Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly was a dancer, actor, singer, film director producer and choreographer. Kelly was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks and the likeable characters that he played on screen. Gene was born in the Highland Park region of Pittsburgh during the heyday of steel in Pittsburgh and always considered himself the “working man’s dancer. 

The evening opened up with an opening Film of Gene Kelly top song and dance  routines including, "Singin' in the Rain,", "For Me and My Gal," "It’s Always Fair Weather,"  "An American in Paris," "Anchors Away" "The Pirate," Invitation to the Dance Words and Music and "Brigadoon."

Gene Kelly’s wife, Patricia Ward Kelly, (1990-1996) was the narrator of the evening and was charming and knowledgeable as she shared the Gene Kelly story and his contribution to the world of film, dance and choreography.    She told their story of their meeting and eventual romance and marriage in an humorous way.  Her description of their May to December romance was touching.  And her devotion to telling his story and preserving his legacy is a gift to all of us.  She clearly tells his story while demonstrating his immense talent through a montage of movie clips.  It is obvious that Pittsburgh is really blessed to have as one of its “favorite sons” Gene Kelly.  He is one of the 20th century finest artists. His work as a dancer, actor, director and choreographer will forever be a credit to Pittsburgh. 

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



by Carl Bromley

What started as a soft whisper of music turned into a crowd favorite as the lyrics of "Danny Boy" filled the Benedum Theater on Saturday evening.  Sweet voices, seconded by the sweet smiles on the three female singers' faces, placed the audience under a hypnotic spell.  Harmony swirled through the room.  Time stood still. 

But, as in all songs, Danny Boy has both a beginning and end.  The end came much too soon for me.
The percussionists in the Celtic Woman troop made the room come alive, often using silence as an accent to
Left to Right: Máiréad Carlin, Susan McFadden,
Lisa Lambe, Máiréad Nesbitt. Photo by Lili Forberg.
their drum beat and somehow sounding as loud as the drums.  How?  Just by being exceptional at what they do and I'm not the one to figure it all out.  Like everyone around me, including fellow reviewer Joanne Quinn-Smith, I mostly sat back and enjoyed the show or clapped along during a half dozen songs where audience clapping was encouraged.
OMG, the dancing!
If you've never seen Celtic dancing, commonly called clogging, you gotta!
Intricately choreographed and expertly performed, I didn't see a single misstep except the guy who almost danced off the stage and his lady partner pulled him back.  But here's the thing...  I've been around long enough that I knew in a heartbeat the misstep was choreographed.

Ahhhh, nicely done.

Here's what you missed if you weren't there.

Cailín Ailinn - DULAMAN

Carl Bromley,  Networker, Publcist, Community Activist
Founder and Co-Owner Local4All
"The PlaceMat Guy"
Idea Guy for Hire for Small Businesses Who Want to Grow

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A whispered "Wow!" for the Festival of Bach

A whispered "Wow!"  That was my initial reaction.
Suggested to me earlier in the day in a telephone conversation with the inimitable, irrefutable queen of what Pittsburgh events are happening, Joanne Quinn-Smith of Eventsburgh, I met up with a friend and we entered the free concert "Festival of Bach" at about 7:30 PM.  Within moments we were swept up in the music, with excellent acoustics provided by Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside in their elegant sanctuary.  The ornamentation, inscriptions on stained glass windows, and carved woodwork were such that this church might belong on every list of 'places to visit in Pittsburgh',even without the music.
Since I had mentioned to Joanne earlier of dabbling in music earlier in life, she asked me to 'review' the performance.  In a nutshell and considering this free concert was in a church, I'm giving it a "Wow!" in mezzo forte.  Anything as grand as what we heard should be given respect.
The audience reaction at the end of the performance?  A standing ovation plus applause at triple forte if not more.
A brief glimpse of what we missed and what we didn't miss...

Missed between 10am and early afternoon:
  • "Toccata and Fugue" in D Minor
  • "Concerto for 4 harpsichords" followed by two concertos for 3 harpsichords
  • "Fantasie and Fugue" in G Minor
  • "Selections from Lute Suite" in G Minor
  • Chorale Prelude
  • "Prelude and Fugue" in C Major
and 4 1/2 more hours' worth before my friend and I arrived

What we enjoyed, in progress at approximately 7:25 pm:
  • Prelude and Fugue in E minor (underway when we arrived, nicely done)
  • Flights of Fancy:  A Flurry of Fugues (by the Zephyr Recorder Consort)
  • Chorale and Contata
  • Cello Suite in E-flat Major (by soloist Hannah Whitehead)
  • Magnificat! (punctuation added, separate review follows)
The Magnificat was a blending of voices from five separate Pittsburgh musical groups including:
  • The Bach Choir of Pittsburgh,
  • Chamber Music Pittsburgh,
  • Chatham Baroque,
  • the Pittsburgh Camerata, and
  • Renaissance and Baroque
Bach Choir, couresty

12 hours of THIS music for free?  In a word, magnificent!
Credits:  Coordination by and through the Pittsburgh Music Alliance, Andrew Swenson, General Manager.  Additional information can be found at
And, from the printed program:  The Festival of Bach has been made possible through the generosity of the Fine Foundation, an anonymous donor, and individual donors.  The members of the Pittsburgh Music Alliance would also like to thank the Allegheny Regional Asset District and Heinz Endowments for their sustaining support of PMA over the last three years.  This commitment has made it possible for us to collaborate on many things, and has supported our work throughout the planning phases for the Festival of Bach.  We thank Calvary Episcopal Church and all their staff, for their help and hospitality, and our meda sponsor WQED-FM for helping to spread the word about great music in Pittsburgh.

Carl Bromley,  Networker, Publcist, Community Activist
Founder and Co-Owner Local4All
"The PlaceMat Guy"
Idea Guy for Hire for Small Businesses Who Want to Grow

A Blythe Spirit …a Haunting Good Time By Noel Coward

A Blythe Spirit …a Haunting Good Time at the PICT Classic Theater
Written By: JoAnn R. Forrester  |  May 11, 2014
A Blythe Spirit, written by the British playwright, Noel Coward in 1941, during the dark days of the German Blitz, is a biting farce about marriage, death, declining morals, infidelity and the “traditional” British stiff upper lip. Rule on Britannia, Rule on!

The opening scene occurs in the home of Charles and Ruth Condomine, a British upper crust couple who are waiting for their dinner guests, Doctor Bradman and wife. As entertainment for the evening a séance has been arranged. This séance of course is being treated as ‘silly thing’ with no expectations other than some fun at the antics of the medium, Madame Arcati .

Both Charles and Ruth have been widowed for a number of years and just recently married one another. During the pre-dinner conversation one gets a glimpse of jealously of the first wife Elvira, by Ruth the second wife. Ruth constantly tries to wheedle out of Charles that she is more desirable and attractive and that he loves her more than the first wife, Elvira. Charles manages to somewhat dodge the wheedling and before the conversation becomes nasty the dinner guests, Doctor and Mrs. Bradman arrive and off to dinner they go.

The next scene, that silly little meaningless entertainment, produces one former deceased wife Elvira, who is beautiful, witty, charming and ruthless. The antics between the “living wife and the deceased wife” are priceless. The snide catty remarks are classic and the women playing the part are superb. It is so much fun watching first wife, Elvira, played by Vera Varlamov and second wife played by Daina Michelle Griffith vie for Charles attention and get him to “‘get rid of the other”.

As the play progresses and Madam Arcati, played hysterically by Mary Rawson, is called back to dispatch the unwanted wife it becomes even funnier. She carries on with the right combination of comedic flair and drama…and the result? Well you have to go and see

One of the characters who almost steals the show, Edith, the inexperienced over anxious to please maid, played by Karen Baum is a comedic delight. She reminds me in many ways of an early Carol Burnett who could make physical comedy so appealing

And let's not forget Charles, (Dan Rodden) the poor besieged husband, who more than holds his own with his dueling wives. A treat to watch!

If you want an evening of haunting good laughter, British style, then you must go and see the PICTS’s newest offering "Blythe Spirit." The play is directed by Alan Stanford, a very good director and a wonderful, charming host. May the PICT Classic Theatre continue to thrive and prosper in Pittsburgh!

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