Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, 23 Musical, Twirling, Juggling, Ariel & Acrobatic Acts

the Family Holiday SpectaCular
23 Musical, Twirling, Juggling, Ariel &  Acrobatic Acts to
Amaze & Entertain You
Reviewer:  JoAnn R. Forrester, Empress of Biz,  


Presented by the
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust”
Benedum Center

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE, created and directed by Neil Goldberg presents a spectacular family night of holiday entertainment aimed to amaze, awe and make one wonder  out loud   “How in the world do they do all the singing, dancing twisting, turning, leaping, climbing, juggling, acrobatic and aerial feats and still be smiling and ready to do more?”   The international cast of 30 performers from Armenia, Belarus, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine and the USA are extraordinary as they whirl, twist and perform almost impossible feats through 23 acts, and myriad custom changes as holiday ornaments in a 2 hour plus magical   production.  

 The theme,  Once upon a dream, time awoke suddenly….he turned, smiled and gave a wink…and then saw the ornaments no longer asleep…sets the stage for the performers dressed as holiday ornaments to pull out all stops to perform  amazing feats to entertain the audience.   The action never stop, one amazing performance is finished and the next is moving right on stage.   You just gotta see it to believe it!   All the performers are excellent and many of the performers have been featured on America’s Got Talent and similar TV variety shows in other countries.

Kudo’s to all that design, produce and deliver this holiday spectacular.    Cirque Dreams is also currently airing as a made for PBS television special throughout the country.  The
CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE is part of a franchise by directory Neil Goldberg, who  created the groundbreaking Broadway hits CIRQUE DREAMS and JUNGLE FANTASY.   CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE is a circus show, a Broadway musical, a holiday fantasy spectacular and family show all in one!  Look for them to go to NYC & Broadway in 2016

Great  family entertainment! Amazing show with fantastic skilled performers whose
enthusiasm, talent and boundless energy generates enough holiday cheer to light up downtown Pittsburgh for a week.    Truly a fabulous Holiday performance to entertain all!

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.

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Pittsburgh Symphony Holiday Pops, Nothing Short of Tops!

Pittsburgh Symphony Holiday Pops, Nothing Short of Tops!

JoAnn R. Forrester,
Roving Pittsburgher Reporter
Host of Empress of Biz #Podcast

A great family holiday treat was presented to Pittsburgh “concert goers”   by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Choir, Attack Theatre, the Three Rivers Ringers, Chris Jamison and a very special appearance by Mr. Nicholas Claus at the Holiday Pop Concert.  I wish this performance could have been broadcasted on television by all our major stations in the burgh to brighten everyone’s holiday.  The whole performance by all was uplifting, well executed and magical.

The Pittsburgh Symphony under conductor Daniel Meyer, well known to Pittsburgh audiences was superb.  Mr. Meyer has a wonderful touch that brings out the best in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a lighthearted and capable manner.  He also worked exceptionally well with the other Pops presenters. 

The Mendelssohn Choir , the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra’s “chorus of choice” directed by Acting Musical directory, Maria Sensi Sellner was delightful and it was a “grand treat” for the audience to be able to sing along with three Christmas Carols.

The Attack Theatre, directed by Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza,
was an exuberant part of the evening and their interaction with Mr. Claus was perfect.  I must say Mr. Claus was wonderful with the young members of the audience.  It made me wish I was a kid again and that I could have a special talk with Santa.  The reactions of the youngsters on the "Santa Cam" were priceless.


Attack Theater in Santa's Reindeer Skit

My favorite of the whole wonderful Holiday Pops evening was the Three Rivers Ringers.  They are Pittsburgh’s premier handbell ensemble directed by Nancy R. Lutz.  They charmed the audience and it was just amazing to see them perform…another great treat.    The Carol of the Bells with the Mendelssohn Choir was exceptional…great sound and fascinating to watch.

Chris Jamison and PositivelyPittsburghLive #podcast host,
Joanne Quinn-Smith
To add to the wonder of the evening a special appearance by Chris Jamison, local artist, who appeared as a finalist on The Voice” sang several songs including the one he did on national television, “Georgia on My Mind”.  His voice caresses the words and brings to mind to me Mel Torme (September 13, 1925 – June 5, 1999), nicknamed The Velvet Fog, who was an American musician, best known as a jazz singer.  Keep your eyes on our local guy…he has far to go… and if he keeps on track should have a wonderful career.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Holiday treat with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Chor, Attack Theatre, Three River Ringers, Mr. Claus and Mr. Chris Jamison.  Folks you don’t need to go to New York find world class entertainment…we got it here in Pittsburgh.   I suggest for your 2016 New Year’s Resolution List make one of them get involved and support the marvelous artistic and musical scene in Pittsburgh…it is a sure winner all the time. 

Still time to get your picture taken in front of Heinz Hall tree.

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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Put Holiday Doo Wop on Your Bucket List

Roving Pittsburgher Report, 

Put Holiday Doo Wop on Your Bucket List

Good News Reviewer, Marlene Reutzel

If you haven't  been to a Doo Wop show, put it on your bucket list!  It's an evening of pure fun and entertainment.  The show at Heinz Hall was just musical magic. Presented by Richard Nader

Entertainment on Wednesday December 16th, 2015, the line up was fabulous. The program started with Johnny Angel and the Halos, a group that started in the corners of the North Side of Pittsburgh.  When the signing started,  the need to sing along began. 

Lenny Welch's voice is still dreamy with his " Since I Fell For You" and " Ebb Tide.  His moves are still as smooth as ever. 

Tommy Mara has an engaging and powerful voice  that immediately pulls you in to that feel good place as the lead singer of the Crests. Singing along to "Sixteen Candles" and "Step By Step" takes
you back to the music that brings back memories.

Ladd Vance is the son of Kenny Vance from Jay and The Americans. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. His voice is wonderfully like his dads'. Singing " Cara Mia" with the Safaris was a perfect fit.

The Shirelles with the original lead singer Shirley Reeves Alston got the audience moving with " Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"  and "Tonight's the Night". Singing along was just second nature.

Everyone was singing  with The Orginal Tymes to " Wonderful Wonderful".  Their black and red jackets made sure your attention was focused on them with classic line dancing.  Truly entertaining!

The Supremes had 12 number one hits, Mary Wilson sang quite a few of them. Aside from sounding great, she looked amazing.  Her white and silver beaded form fitting gown, shows her fabulous figure and that classic look The Supremes always had.  Everyone was singing to "Baby Love" and " Stop, In The Name of Love' .  What a class act!

Each of the entertainers sang a Christmas song and the tribute to our military was inspiring and appreciated by the members of the audience who served. 

Definitely a wonderful entertaining, completed by pictures in front of the spectacular 
Christmas Tree in The Heinz Hall lobby, sponsored by HighMark.

Next time there is a Doo Wop show, throw caution to the wind and go. You won't be sorry.

Marlene Reutzel, Sales Executive for Contact One, Founder, Consultant to those who want to turn their trash to cash.
SpecialiZing in antique furniture reclamation and refurbishing.
Coming website:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, An Irish Christmas at the Symphony

An Irish Christmas at the Symphony


Pittsburgh Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

There is nothing like the lilt and toe tapping and sometimes raw emotion of Irish music to ring in the holiday season.  And the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra was right on target with the celestial voices of multi-platinum Irish singing sensation Celtic Woman as they presented Home for Christmas -- The Symphony Tour. Featuring music from the all-female music ensemble's second Christmas album, "Home for Christmas," including holiday favorites "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Silent Night" and accompanied by the Pittsburgh Symphony.  On December 7, 2015, symphony audiences and Celtic Woman fans alike were treated to wonderful renditions of Drummer Boy, O Tannebaum and Little Town of Bethlehem along with Irish Classic, Danny Boy and a Celtic Woman favorite, You Raise Me Up.

It was a special treat to hear the history of Auld Lang Syne and hear it sung in the beautiful Gallic language. The Irish sensation who has made America fall in love with them performed spectacularly and the Christmas overtures by the symphony orchestra were outstanding.  The dynamic voices of the of Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, along with the spritely energy  of Celtic Violinist Máiréad Nesbitt filled Heinz Hall with joy and the holiday spirit.

Celtic Woman performed holiday favorites underscored by the stirring
sound of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This holiday spectacular presented a truly festive and celestial live music experience that showcased the dynamic voices of Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, along with the spritely energy and passion of Celtic Violinist Máiréad NesbittThe audience left not with visions of sugar plums but heavenly chords of an old fashioned Celtic Christmas laced with American classics dancing in their heads.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Scrooge A Hit on and Off Stage

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Scrooge A Hit on and Off Stage

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

with additions by Anaiyah Thomas

Have you ever thought about the story line behind "A Christmas Carol" from a pre or grade-schoolers point of view?  While as adults or even adolescents or teens, we think it is an amazing feel good tale of repentance and salvation and find the detestable Scrooge to often be comical.  But remember that part of the story is about his partner Marley "haunting him" in chains with eerie noises.  Well this year while perusing the resurrected Macy's windows and after trying to get her to watch A Christmas Carol on television, my granddaughter seemed to show some interest, in fact excitement.  She was fascinated by the window treatment of the CLO "A Musical Christmas Carol."


So on Friday, December 5, 2015, her mom got her dressed in an adorable dress and jewelry and off we went to see what has become one of Pittsburgh's Christmas traditions with Tom Atkins as Scrooge.  Here's an aside, did you know that not only is he a Pittsburgh native but he made his fame as an actor in the horror genre? Tom is also a Broadway actor but in Pittsburgh he is "Scrooge" at Christmas time and he does the role well and is one of Pittsburgh's most beloved characters during the holiday season, 2015 being his eighth year running to play the role. What a role for an actor as he goes from his Bah! Humbug! attitude to a joyous reveler and philanthropist.  There is an opportunity for Atkins to play everything in between and he does it with passion and lets you know he is having fun doing it.


For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for years and do not know this is the plot line. Scrooge is pretty much the meanest, most loathsome, feared, despised and ridiculed man in town who does not believe in fair treatment of his employees, Christian charity, human kindness or even giving a day off for Christmas to his employees.  Eventually convinced he retires to his lonely room to contemplate the ridiculous custom of Christmas with all its trappings including caroling, not giving a thought to his kind employee Bob Cratchet with his barely existing family of five children and the sickly Tiny Tim.  The fates descend upon Scrooge in the night with a last ditch effort at redemption starting with visits from his former, equally odious partner, Jacob Marley and running through three ghosts of Christmas. The resulting story telling leads to emotional action and dialogue running from pathos to mirth, but always entertaining


There are too many delightful characters to .mention all but in addition to Scrooge of course, my granddaughter and I had a couple of favorites.  Terry Wickline plays the dual role of Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge's toddy tipping housekeeper and Mrs. Fezziwig, the bubbly, bounteous wife of the town socialite; good cheer reveler and generous business man. She wisecracks and totters through the role of Mrs. Dilber with a vaudevillian style that will have you laughing out loud.  As Mrs. Fezziwig she plays a delightful airhead full of energy and fun and you have no doubt that her party invitations are the most sought after in town.

Her husband is played by Tim Hartman who has multiple roles as Charity Worker/Businessman/Mr. Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present). This is his 23rd year in Pittsburgh CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol.  His tall stature alone makes him stand out but he rolls through his various characters so distinctively that it leaves you wondering "was that the same guy who played…?"  As Mr. Fezziwg he is madcap and merry and a master of slapstick humor.  He is imperious and almost Shakespearean as the ghost of Christmas Present, then humble and endearing as a charity worker.  My granddaughter Anaiyah thought it was hysterical when he came out of the crowd for one of the final scenes and leaned over to one of the audience to say, "You can wake up now, it's almost over."


These holiday events are made for memories and one of Anaiyah's best will always be a chance encounter on Sixth St. with Tom Atkins.  As he was walking by, he leaned over to say, "Did you like the show?" Of course she was bubbling over with enthusiasm, he then said, "I played Scrooge. Hey how about a hug, sometimes Scrooge needs one because nobody likes him." After she recovered her surprise, she said, "Grandma, you should have taken my picture with Mr. Scrooge."  Yes grandma should have but she was equally surprised and she was lagging a bit behind this enthusiastic seven year old.  But Anaiyah will always have that memory of a warm and friendly Pittsburgh/Broadway actor who stopped her on the street to bring a warm moment down from the stage.  She could of course, not wait to tell her Mom and Dad when they picked us up that she met Scrooge.
We did however immortalize our day by having our picture taken complete with hat and scarves on the Christmas red carpet.  I suggest both couples and families do the same to preserve this memory.

Lots of time left to create this memory with a musical show that has something for everyone.  The show runs at the Byham Theater through December 23, 2015.

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, 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. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Roving Pittsburgh Report. "A Servant" at PBT thru December 6, Feircely Funny

Roving Pittsburgh Report.
"A Servant" at PBT thru December 6, Feircely Funny

by Megan Grabowski

Pittsburgh Public Theater (PPT) offers city theatergoers a fantastic night with the fiercely funny A Servant to Two Masters.  Ted Pappas celebrates his 50th directorial performance with one of his favorite plays and it’s not difficult to see why A Servant, was chosen as a celebratory performance.  The classic Italian comedy written in 1749 by Carlo Goldoni and adapted by Lee Hall in 1999 maintains the original lively love story with a mingling of modern language, retro costumes, an updated setting, (Venice 1965) and fun loving Italian folk music.  The show comprises a cast of both PPT returning actors as well as new faces that enliven the stage and keep the audience in stitches from scene one through final bows.

The plays opens with a celebration; Clarice and Silvio are celebrating their engagement with their
Erin Lindsey Krom and Patrick Cannon.
fathers, Pantaloon and Dr. Lombardi, as well as Smeraldina, Pantaloons’s domestic servant, and the town inn keeper and chef Brighella.  The merriment is quickly interrupted when Truffaldino arrives with the announcement his master, Federigo Rasponi, wishes to see them.  The mood of the party promptly down spirals as we learn Clarice was betrothed to Federigo until his death. She and Silvio fell in love and became engaged thinking no more of her betrothal.   Clarice, played by Erin Lindsay Krom, is darling yet melodramatic as she stomps across the stage in a mod fashioned mini dress, 
wailing at the announcement of having to marry Federigo.  Silvio, played by the handsome and talented Patrick Cannon, is desperate to keep Clarice for his own.  He laments to anyone willing to listen to his plight. He is the epitome of Italian lover; slicked back dark hair, designer shoes, gold chains and a stylish paisley jacket, he and Clarice are in the midst of planning a future and like most young lovers are enthralled with each other’s company.  Their randy behavior, pawing at one another whenever they are together, could be seen as lewd but their infatuation is so strong no one will deny them the opportunity to enact their feelings. 

Daina Michelle Griffith and Jimmy Kieffe
The story unfolds with a revelation; Federigo is dead and the person proclaiming to be him is actually Beatrice, his sister.  She is impersonating her deceased brother in hope of securing the dowry Pantaloon agreed to pay for his daughters hand in marriage and securing these finances would aid her effort in the search for her true love Florindo.  Included in the plot with the love triangle is a mess of monkey business carried out by Truffaldino.  Jimmy Kieffer as Truffaldino is a servant to two masters.  Already employed as Beatrice’s servant, Truffaldino, by chance, meets Florindo at the inn.  Florindo, incognito in leather pants and shades fears someone in Venice will recognize him as the man who murdered Rasponi.  Veteran PPT actor David Whalen cast as Florindo, hires Truffaldino as his servant and what follow is a series or ironies, hilarious antics and mischievous undertakings by each character. 

The set, unembellished black and white sketches is mounted on a turn table which rotates for quick and seamless scene changes. The contrast between the flair of vintage costumes and the black and white is reminiscent of mod culture.  Audience engagement throughout the show is plentiful and adds to the lighthearted nature of the story.  The music, used as a backdrop between acts and at other moments an accompaniment to the farce, keeps the audience connected to the cast. 

The cast of A Servant To Two Masters

What makes A Servant so gratifying are the laughs.  The script is silly, a comedy created from quirkiness, intelligent witticisms, innuendos and a little slapstick.  There is something for every taste in humor.  Still, this wouldn’t matter if not for the precisely perfect cast.  A Servant has no small roles.  Each character compliments the next and is essential to the tightly woven plot.  Diana Michelle Griffith’s lusty disposition as Smeraldina is not too sexy or uncomfortable but at times mildly inappropriate in a fun way.  Truffaldino, performed by Kieffer is a large man whose stage presence is fulfilling but never overwhelming.  Truffaldino is gullible yet loveable and Kieffer launches his comic timing on spot each and every time.  Bill Buell as Pantaloon is the closest the show comes to a villain.  Pantaloon feels obligated to keep his promise to Rasponi, meanwhile, Scott Robertson playing the role of Dr. Lombardi is more protective.  He is empathetic toward the young lovers, and the two characters play off one another with little to no effort.  A PPT debut performer, Bob Walton, is cast as an eccentric artist named Brighella.  Brighella has a flair for entertainment and we watch in awe as he attempts to perfect a four course meal for each of Truffaldino’s masters, in one of the most notable theatrical dinner scenes of all time.

The best part of the show is the final scene.  The audience is directed to open the program to the first page and sing-a-long.  With vim and vigor we sang, swaying slightly, side to side, belting out the lyrics in harmony with the cast.  This uniting moment remind me of just how good it feels to enjoy an honest laugh. 

A servant to two masters plays at the Pittsburgh Public Theater thru December 6, Additional info and tickets available Here

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.