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Hot picks: Lady Antebellum, 'Gem of the Ocean,' Moshe Kasher

| Thursday, May 31, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

Music: Class up the neighborhood

Led by resident conductor Lawrence Loh, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will travel to two neighborhoods this week for community-engagement concerts. The programs for the Hill District and for East Liberty are identical.

The orchestra will perform Gustav Holst's St. Paul Suite, Frederick Delius' "On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring" and Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 5. In addition, symphony violinist Jennifer Orchard and violist Marylene Gingras-Roy will be the soloists in the first movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Sinfonia concertante.

The concerts start at 7 p.m. today at the Kauffman Center, 1825 Centre Ave., Hill District, and 7 p.m. Saturday at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Admission today is $8, $6 for seniors and $4 for students in grades K-12. Admission Saturday is $10; $5 for seniors and college students, and free for anyone under 18 accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Details for today: 412-392-6479, and for Friday: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/245290 .

— Mark Kanny

Country: Lady heads the bill

Lady Antebellum, the country-pop trio that formed just six years ago, has now reached the fame level of headlining a concert on Saturday at the giant First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown.

Featuring musicians and songwriters Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, Lady Antebellum has won seven Grammys. The band launched with a self-titled release that went double-platinum, and the sophomore album, "Need You Now," has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. The second album produced three No. 1 hits, including the title track, "American Honey" and "Our Kind of Love." Lady Antebellum's third album, "Own the Night," is scheduled for release on Sept. 13, and includes the fast-rising single "Just a Kiss."

The Lady Antebellum "Own the Night" 2012 World Tour includes fellow artists Darius Rucker and Thompson Square.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $75. Details: 800-745-3000 or www.livenation.com .

-- Kellie B. Gormly

Theater: 'Gem of the Ocean'

Matters temporal and spiritual are the focus of August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean," which begins performances Friday at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre on the third floor of 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

At the center of the play is Aunt Ester, the spiritual gatekeeper and healer of spirits referred to in many of Wilson's series of 10 plays chronicling the African-American experience in the 20th century.

Set in 1904 in Aunt Ester's Hill District home and the more spiritual realm to which she offers entry, the drama of the play revolves around a recent immigrant from the South who visits Aunt Ester to have his soul cleansed. What ensues is a battle for his soul and his future.

Performances: Friday through June 24 at 8 p.m. Thursdays and most Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sunday and June 9, 17, 23-24 and 7 p.m. June 10

Admission: $20-$25; $20 for seniors 65 and older and students at the door on day of show with valid ID

Details: 412-377-7803 or www.pghplaywrights.org

— Alice T. Carter

Rock: Walsh for president of rock

Life's been good to Joe Walsh so far. Back in the day, the hard-rock gunslinger joined the Eagles just in time to play on their mega-monster album "Hotel California." In 1994, he was back with the boys for their highly lucrative Hell Freezes Over reunion tour. On his own and with the power trio the James Gang, he's charted classic FM radio hits like "Funk 49," "Walk Away" and "Rocky Mountain Way." With albums like "But Seriously Folks" and "You Can't Argue With A Sick Mind," he brings a refreshingly irreverent perspective to an industry that can take itself way too seriously. But his playful sense of humor (he once ran for president, promising "free gas" if elected) often overshadows his serious chops as a guitarist. He'll play outdoors at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Stage AE, North Shore. Ticket are $29 to $95.

Details: 800-745-3000; www.promowestlive.com

-- William Loeffler

Art: Box Heart birthday party

Hard to believe, but a dozen years have passed since Nicole Capozzi and Joshua Hogan opened their Box Heart Gallery in Bloomfield. Over those years, the pair have procured works by artists from all around the world and presented them to the Pittsburgh public at large through some really amazing exhibits of international art.

Come Saturday evening, from 5 to 8 p.m., they will celebrate those years of successful exhibits -- as well as Hogan's 40th birthday -- with a special opening reception for "Chapter 12: Box Heart's 12th Anniversary Exhibition," which will feature works by many of the artists the gallery's clients and friends have come to know either through their work, or personally, such as Thomas Bigatel, Charles Caldemeyer, Seth Clark, Susan Constanse, Kyle Ethan Fischer, Keith Garubba, Jackie Hoysted, Tate Hudson, Jay Knapp, Mark Loebach, David Nelson, Meghan Olson, Irena Pejovic, Sherry Rusinack, Nadim Sabella and so many more.

The exhibition continues through June 23 at Box Heart Gallery, 4523 Liberty Ave. in Bloomfield. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-687-8858 or www.boxheart.org

— Kurt Shaw

Music: Double T-riffic

There's some angst in the blues community that all the major figures are closer to B.B. King in age (86) than not. The days when the legends still walked the Earth -- and could be heard live -- are slowly coming to a close.

But there's hope for the blues yet. One good development is the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which combines the forces of two of the most established young (well, for blues) talents, singer-songwriter Susan Tedeschi and now-grown-up blues guitar prodigy Derek Trucks, of the Allman Brothers Band and various solo projects. Plus, Tedeschi and Trucks are married, with two young children, so perhaps the next generation of blues masters isn't far away.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band performs outside at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Stage AE, North Shore. Tickets are $20-$95. Details: 800-745-3000; www.promowestlive.com

— Mike Machosky

Comedy: Use your words

Comedian Moshe Kasher sports a rockabilly quiff, oversize hornrims and an attitude. Onstage, he talks a mile a minute, an aggressively defensive strategy that is frequently deployed by pale, skinny middle-school kids who expect to be slammed into the lockers at any moment. He relentlessly mocks everything from his hairy arms to his Jewish roots, as if he wants to beat bullies and bigots to the punch. Except they wouldn't be as funny. He performs at the Pittsburgh Improv this weekend. Admission is $15 to $17 for the shows, which run 8 p.m. today; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Details: 412-462-5233, www.improv.com

-- William Loeffler

Music: Kick off with Frick Fridays

Summer does not officially begin until June 20, but one of the season's signature events gets under way Friday in Point Breeze.

First Fridays at the Frick starts its 18th season with a performance of the folk, pop and bluegrass band Matrimony, from Charlotte, N.C.

First Fridays take place through September on the lawn behind Clayton, the mansion of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. It is on the grounds of the Frick Art & Historical Center at 7227 Reynolds St.

The concerts are designed to serve as picnic spots for guests who pack their own baskets, but food also is available at the Cafe at the Frick, which begins serving at 5:30 p.m.

Matrimony is a band that started as a duo of Belfast native Jimmy Brown and North Carolinian Ashlee Hardee. It became a quintet in 2011 and started to broaden its already-wide range.

Music begins at 7 p.m. and admission is free but a $5-per-adult donation is suggested. Details: 412-371-0600 or www.thefrickpittsburgh.org .

— Bob Karlovits

Theater: Mix. Match. 'Curtain Up!'

Opening numbers from classic Broadway musicals provide the song list for Jude and Shirley Pohl's latest cabaret show.

The Pohls serve as producers and creators of "Curtain Up!" The show includes attention-getting numbers from "The Sound of Music," "Gigi," "West Side Story" and "Guys and Dolls."

Starring in this musical potpourri are long-time regulars Rebecca Smykal and Corey Nile Wingard, who have a performed in a combined total of 48 shows for Pohl Productions. Joining them are Justin Zeno and Stacey Sedlak, along with musical director and accompanist Carol Karl, who has done 32 shows for the company.

Performances: Saturday through June 16 at 8 p.m. preceded by dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. with dinner at 4:30 p.m. on June 10 at the Crowne Plaza Cabaret Dinner Theatre, 164 Fort Couch Road, Bethel Park.

Price of the dinner-theater package, including tax and tip: $40, $38 for senior citizens, reservations required

Details: 724-746-1178

— Alice T. Carter

Art: Just drawn that way

Before there was Rihanna and Beyonce, there was Betty Boop.

The animated glamour gal drawn by Max Fleischer in the 1930s will bring her sassy spin and pouty good looks to The ToonSeum, Pittsburgh's cartoon arts museum, 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

The Betty Boop Film Festival will run from 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $12.

Participants will be able to watch classic Betty Boop animated shorts, have their picture taken with her and get the skinny on the jazz-age hot girl from Joe Wos, ToonSeum executive director and cartoon historian.

Details: www.boopfest.eventbrite.com .

— Chris Ramirez

Music: Back to the roots at Hartwood acres

Joan Osborne will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. The Grammy-nominated platinum artist's most recent release, "Bring It on Home," is her seventh album.

A collection of vintage blues, R&B, and soul songs, it's also an apt title because it marks a return to Osborne's musical roots. Osborne has mixed a little bit of the old with the new taking vintage songs and giving them some interesting twists in tempo, key and feeling. She tackled songs by Ike and Tina Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters and All Green, among others.

Admission is free. Details: www.alleghenycounty.us/parks

— JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

Music: Embrace the cult

The Cult -- a classic band born out of the British post-punk scene in the early '80s -- is coming on Sunday to Stage AE on the North Side.

The band is touring to promote its brand-new album, "Choice of Weapon," which was released on May 22. The self-penned album features the band's signature vocals and guitar sounds and is The Cult's first studio album in five years. Over the years, The Cult's music has evolved from punk rock to post-punk, psychedelic music, dance music and transcendental hard rock.

The show begins at 7 p.m. on the indoor stage. Tickets are $30; $28 in advance. Details: 800-745-3000 or www.promowestlive.com .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Music: Summer strings

Guitarist Mark Lucas will be the first guest of the summer at Katz Plaza, Downtown.

He will be the opening act as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust moves its weekly jazz concerts outdoors for the season.

Lucas studied guitar at Duquesne University in the '70s, before moving his career to Boston in 1984 and staying there until 1999, playing in various settings.

Back in his hometown, Lucas is following the same pattern, playing acoustic and electric guitars, classical music or jazz and in solo or group settings.

He will be showing some of that variety at the 5 p.m. happy-hour get-together Tuesday on Penn Avenue, next to the Trust's Theater Square complex. Admission is free. Details: 412-456-6666.

— Bob Karlovits

Music: Brazilian blend

Choro No Vinho blends music as much as it does meanings in its Brazilian name.

The band of musicians from various parts of the area blends choro, a type of Brazilian music, with jazz and improvisation. The band will perform at Bar Marco in the Strip District on Wednesday as part of the series of concerts called Classical Revolution.

Those shows take various forms of chamber music -- traditional and modern -- and puts them in settings far from the concert hall.

The name of the group comes from a popular choro tune that deals with wine -- "vinho" -- but also is geared to one section of the audience with "novinho," the word for "brand new" in Portuguese.

Music will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Bar Marco, 2216 Penn Ave., Strip District. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Details: 917-363-6089.

— Bob Karlovits

Special event: Dragon's Den

If you and the kids are ready to put on swimsuits and have wet summer fun, head to Sandcastle Waterpark, which is open for the season.

This year, visitors to the park can try out the new ride: Dragon's Den, which shoots riders through a 45-foot tunnel slide, drops them into a rotating bowl with a misting dragon, and then, drops them into a landing pool. Dragon's Den will join the park's 14 other water slides, along with the Mon-Tsunami Wave Pool, the Lazy River, Tad Pool and more.

Admission is $31.99; and $21.99 for age 55 and older, and guests up to 48 inches tall. Sandcastle will be open Saturday and Sunday this week. The daily schedule starts June 9, and lasts through Aug. 19. Gates open at 11 a.m., and the park usually closes at 6 p.m.

Details: 412-462-6666 or www.sandcastlewaterpark.com

— Kellie B. Gormly

Kids: Make Dad a card

Kids who want to express their love to their Dads can come to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, where they can make Father's Day cards with audio CDs in the Saturday Light Brigade's studios.

Brigade workers will interview kids about their fathers and record the interviews on audio CD cards, which kids can decorate, affix to a special card, and bring home with them. Kids can record their cards alone or with their parents, and they also can record a special song or poem. No appointment is needed. Participants need to purchase a CD card kit at the museum store for $12. Kids can make Father's Day cards through June 17.

Also at the North Side museum, local artist Elise Walton will lead an eco-friendly activity in the Makeshop this weekend. Walton invites kids to bring 2-liter plastic bottles, which they will use to create take-home reservoir planters.

This activity is included with a general admission of $12; $11 for ages 2 to18 and senior citizens.

Details: 412-322-5058 or www.pittsburghkids.org

— Kellie B. Gormly

Kids: Bees, bugs and crafts

It's the summer season of gardens, and kids can celebrate with an artsy angle on Saturday at the "Bees, Bugs and Butterflies" event at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze.

The free event, sponsored by People's Natural Gas, teaches kids about the many insects found in the garden. The activities start at 11 a.m. with GreenKids: "Bees, Please," held at the Frick's Greenhouse. Kids will learn the buzz about bees, and the role they play in the ecosystem, and the kids will make take-home bee crafts. Children then can enjoy many craft activities until 4 p.m., including weaving a spider web, making flyswatter art and a giant junebug.

Details: 412-371-0600 or www.thefrickpittsburgh.org

— Kellie B. Gormly

Families: Cool off with ice cream

To cool off from a summery day, take the kids to the Carnegie Science Center's Kitchen Theater for the "Science in a Scoop" show, which explores the chemistry of ice cream.

At the show -- which runs 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday -- science chefs will make custard and cool it with liquid nitrogen, and the audience can taste it. In the North Side center's Works Theater, you can watch how cold liquid nitrogen chills balloons, rubber balls, batteries and others.

Guests also can taste a frozen marshmallow. This "Freeze!" show plays at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, and noon Sunday. The shows are included with general admission of $17.95; and $11.95 for ages 3 to 12.

Details: 412-237-3400 or www.carnegiesciencecenter.org

— Kellie B. Gormly

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