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Hot Ticket: The Penguins Pond is back

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Patrons skate at the “Penguins Pond,” the Pittsburgh Penguins’ outdoor ice rink, which opened for public skating Friday, December 14, 2012 at Highmark Stadium in Station Square. Highmark Stadium, the $10.2 million new home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, offers a spectacular setting for public skating and youth and amateur hockey.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Patrons skate at the “Penguins Pond,” the Pittsburgh Penguins’ outdoor ice rink, which opened for public skating Friday, December 14, 2012 at Highmark Stadium in Station Square. Highmark Stadium, the $10.2 million new home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, offers a spectacular setting for public skating and youth and amateur hockey. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Jim Brickman
Credit: Jim Brickman
Jim Brickman Credit: Jim Brickman
Kids can enjoy making a mess with Oobleck, a green mixture of water and cornstarch, at the Carnegie Science Center as it celebrates  New Year's Day with Mess Fest.
James Knox
Tribune-Review file
Kids can enjoy making a mess with Oobleck, a green mixture of water and cornstarch, at the Carnegie Science Center as it celebrates New Year's Day with Mess Fest. James Knox
Rob Johnston will perform with Mondo at the Cabaret at Theater Square.
Jeremy Lynch
Rob Johnston will perform with Mondo at the Cabaret at Theater Square. Jeremy Lynch
'The Last Unicorn' movie poster. 1982 film.
'The Last Unicorn' movie poster. 1982 film.

Sharpen up those ice blades, Pittsburgh. The Penguins Pond is back!

The newHighmark Stadium in Station Square will be home to Pittsburgh's pro soccer team, the Riverhounds, starting next spring. But, for now, ice-skating fans have the chance to break it in until Jan. 13 as part of the popular public outdoor-skating extravaganza.

The rink opened Dec. 14. Admission is $7 per person.

The public can skate at Penguins Pondfrom 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 3 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 to 7 p.m. Sundays.

The Pond will be open New Year's Day.

— Chris Ramirez


A chance to mess with the best

You might admonish your kids not to make a mess at your house, but at the North Side's Carnegie Science Center on New Year's Day, making a mess is the point of an annual event. At MessFest, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, kids can get messy, slimy, gooey and yucky as they learn all about messy science. Visitors can stick their hands in globs of slimy Oobleck, turn an egg into an “egg-stranaut” and launch it into the air, dig into Mars soil, play with food during a ‘pi'-eating race, finger-paint and more. Be sure to dress appropriately, because you will get messy. MessFest activities are included with general admission of $17.95, and $11.95 for ages 3 to 12. Details: 412-237-3400 or

— Kellie B. Gormly


Granting a wish to help

Have some laughs and help a child Thursday at the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square. Pittsburgh comedian Amy Capiross headlines a music-and-comedy showcase, proceeds from which will benefit Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. The show, starting at 9 p.m., includes musical guest Mia Logan, who will perform her song “Pittsburgh,” and the band Shooting Ghost. It also features comedians Chris Kemp, Nick Froehlich and Jason Russ. Admission is $10. Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children, ages 2½ to 18, with life-threatening medical conditions.

Details: 412-481-7625,

— William Loeffler


Warm up the night

Jim Brickman will take some of the edge off a chilly Friday night at the Byham Theater, Downtown.

The pianist and composer will bring his 16th annual winter show, “On A Winter's Night,” to the theater. Brickman was born in the Cleveland area and started recording his contemplative, New Age look at music in the mid-'90s.

He writes a great deal of his music, but has taken individual looks at other types of songs, like he has done on public-radio specials featuring love songs and Disney movie hits. Friday's solo show will have seasonal favorites, standards, along with new items.

His albums have generated platinum sales, and he has been nominated for two Grammy awards.

Music starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $41.25 to $77.25. Details: 412-456-6666 or

— Bob Karlovits


Mondo fun

Hold that thought. Carry it to the Cabaret at Theater Square on Thursday. It could become the inspiration for Mondo's improv and comedy.

The Mondo cast turns audience suggestions into spontaneously created, often-funny and always-unpredictable improvised scenes. Scenes are created by randomly generated teams which the audience can watch — or even sign up to perform with.

Joining the December show as its special guest is Rob Johnston, the host of segments “See & Be Seen” and “Rob on the Run.”

The action begins at 10 p.m. Thursday in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Admission: $3 or free to ticket holders of any earlier Cultural District show. Admission restricted to 21 or older.

Details: 412-325-6769 or

— Alice T. Carter


Chance to see ‘the last unicorn'

Before Michael Chabon became literary royalty, another University of Pittsburgh student was creating his own myth as an author. New York nativePeter S. Beagle wrote his first novel, “A Fine and Private Place,” while on a scholarship at Pitt. The novel was published in 1960. Beagle also wrote the screenplay for an animated version of “Lord of the Rings.” But his best known is “The Last Unicorn,” which was made into an animated film in 1982. Beagle will host screenings of the movie at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. A 30-minute Q&A will precede each showing, with a book signing after the movie. Admission is $7; $5 for seniors and children under 12. Proceeds and 10 percent of book sales will be donated to the Hollywood Theater, a non-profit organization.


— William Loeffler


Charlie's story time

Charlie Murphy doesn't have to tell jokes. He could fill two hours by telling stories about his career, which includes his 1989 film debut with his brother, Eddie, in “Harlem Nights,” and roles in Spike Lee's “Jungle Fever” and Chris Rock's hip-hop send-up “CB4.” And, of course, he was an indispensable part of “Chappelle's Show,” the now-legendary short-lived series in which he got slapped by Dave Chappelle (in the guise of Rick James).

But you can get a lot of that stuff in his book, “The Making of a Stand Up Guy.” He'd rather tell jokes.

He performs Friday through Monday at the Pittsburgh Improv at the Waterfront in Homestead. Admission is $27 to the shows, which are 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. He also does two New Year's shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Monday. Admission is $35 for the show-only package at 8 p.m., which includes a glass of champagne, and $60 for the 8 p.m. dinner package. Admission to the 10 p.m. Countdown to Midnight show is $65 and includes a fruit, cheese and cracker plate and free-flowing champagne.

Details: 412-462-5233,

— William Loeffler


Foxy sounds

The unironic party-rock thing has kind of been done to death by now, from the euphoric silliness of Andrew W.K. to the overblown goof-metal of The Darkness. But it's hard to say anyone commits to it more than Foxy Shazam. You'd have to be a particular kind of Scrooge to not at least occasionally give in and crack a smile at this act. Imagine if Queen was a garage band from Cincinnati — with most of the over-the-top pomposity intact — then their appeal starts to make sense. Or, if Tenacious D was a full band, but more androgynous and ‘80s-focused ... you get the idea. Singer Eric Sean Nally even wrote songs for a recent Meat Loaf album, which kind of says it all.

Foxy Shazam will be ringing in the New Year on Monday night, with a show at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale. Tickets are $25. The show starts at 9 p.m. Details: 412-821-4447;

— Michael Machosky


Electronica psychedelia

Think of the electronica outfit Gang Gang Dance crossed with the Grateful Dead, and you might approach the essence of Lotus. Equally at home at a festival or hip urban club, the Indiana quintet traffics in dense dreamy soundscapes that mix rock hooks with samples and synths. Lotus first flowered in 1999, where brothers Luke Miller (bass, sampler) and Jesse Miller (guitar, keyboards) attended Goshen College and hooked up with drummer Mike Greenfield, guitarist Mike Rempel and percussionist Chuck Morris.

They're touring in support of their new release, “Build,” which is set for release Feb. 19 on SCI Fidelity Records. Opening track “Break Build Burn” melds a Kraftwerk-style synth groove with funk bass and soulful horn samples. Lotus plays Saturday at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale. Opening act is Moon Hooch. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $22.50 to $50.

Details: 866-468-3401,

— William Loeffler


Last chance for ‘The Nutcracker'

Weekend performances are the final chances this season to experience Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's colorful production of “The Nutcracker.” Conceived by the ballet's artistic director Terrence Orr, this production is filled with iconic Pittsburgh images.

The enchanting story of a girl's unforgettable Christmas Eve is lifted by the tuneful and vibrant music composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The ballet includes a big Christmas Eve party and our heroine Marie's discovery of romance amid fantasy. The entire cast, including children, numbers more than 180 performers.

Pittsburgh Ballet's production will be repeated at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday at the Benedum Center, Downtown. Admission is $22.75 to $95.75. Details: 412-456-6666 or

— Mark Kanny


A merry old Cole

Walt Maddox pays tribute to music legend Nat King Cole in a one-man show embellished with songs and images.

“He really has captured his style,” says producer Jude Pohl, whose company, Pohl Productions, is presenting the show.

Many will remember Maddox as a member of the doo-wop group The Marcels. In “Nat,” he brings his voice to some of Cole's best-sung tunes, which include “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” and “They Tried to Tell Us We're Too Young.”

The show will have a single performance Friday at the Crowne Plaza Cabaret Dinner Theatre in Bethel Park at 164 Fort Couch Road.

Dinner-theater performances, $45, begin with dinner from 6:30 p.m. and show at 8 p.m. Friday.

Details: 724-746-1178

— Alice T. Carter


They call him Bruce

Who needs Ryan Seacrest when you've got Bruce Bruce? The hefty comedian with the player's wardrobe and sly wit is a born wisecracker who pokes fun at his girth before calling out everyone else, laugh by laugh. Plus, he's got that lover man thing going on.

Bruce headlines the New Year's Comedy Explosion at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland.

Saturday's showcase includes DeRay Davis and Lil Duval with Pittsburgh's J. Russ and host T-Robe.

Admission to the 7 p.m. show is $25 to $65. There also will be a cash bar. Tickets can be purchased at Dorsey's Record Shop in Homewood, Stedeford's Discount Records and Tapes on East Ohio Street on the North Side and Sister Beauty Supply on Fifth Avenue, Downtown. Online tickets also can be purchased. Details:

— William Loeffler

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