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New comedy club added to Pittsburgh Cultural District lineup

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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 2:10 p.m.

Arcade Comedy Theater is on a mission to bring more laughter to Pittsburgh's Cultural District.

On Jan. 25, the company will debut in a newly renovated, 60-seat performance space at 811 Liberty Ave. as part of the Gallery Crawl.

The newly formed company is a spinoff of the improvisation and comedy performances that have been a popular offering of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust-sponsored Late Night Cabaret performances in the Theater Square Cabaret, says Randy Kirk, the manager at the Theater Square Cabaret and managing director of Arcade Comedy Theater.

“We've had good success with the improv jams and comedians,” Kirk says. “We will now be able to expand into earlier time slots to expand our audiences.”

Joining Kirk as founders of Arcade Comedy Theater are Abby Fudor from the female comedy group Frankly Scarlett, Michael Rubino from the comedy group Cellar Dwellers and improv artists Kristy and Jethro Nolen, who recently moved here from Chicago.

Kirk emphasized that the new company is an addition to the Downtown entertainment scene, and Late Night Cabaret will continue to offer a full, diverse schedule of performances that include improv and comedy.

Arcade Comedy Theater will begin with weekend performances of stand-up comedians, performances by improv and sketches comedy teams, and jugglers and other vaudeville-style acts.

But Kirk expects the schedule will quickly expand to Wednesdays and Thursdays and as many as three performances in an evening.

“The idea is that you can come out, see a show, go have a beer and come back to see a second show,” Kirk says.

Ticket prices will range from $8-$10 but may go as low as $5 for some events.

When the company performed as a First Night feature, it attracted lots of families with children, Kirk says. Encouraged by the response, the company plans to begin offering early evening shows aimed at younger audiences later this spring.

“In addition to performances, we will have workshops on improv and sketch comedy writing for kids and adults across all skill and interest levels,” Kirk says.

Arcade Comedy Theater is another project that extends the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's mission, says Marc Fleming, vice president for marketing and communications for the Trust, which owns the building.

“It's about bringing the arts to the Cultural District and keeping Liberty Avenue lively,” Fleming says.

The Trust is leasing the space to Arcade Comedy Theater on a temporary basis while it pursues plans to convert the building to residential housing. The arrangement is similar to those the Trust has with Bricolage Production Company and Pittsburgh Playwrights' Theatre.

Kirk knows the location is temporary and expects to find another similar space nearby if or when it becomes necessary.

In the meantime, he says, the company is happy to be sharing this high-traffic block with neighbors such as Crazy Mocha, Go Pretzel and the Harris Theater:

“We love the street level location,” Kirk says. “We love the block.”

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808.

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