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Hot Ticket: Tom Arnold working Pittsburgh Improv

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Mezzo-soprano Nicole Rodin
Credit: Pittsburgh Opera
Mezzo-soprano Nicole Rodin Credit: Pittsburgh Opera
Tony Orlando 
Credit: John Bshler
Tony Orlando Credit: John Bshler
Tom Arnold
Tom Arnold
“Zampa” by Marco Brun.
“Zampa” by Marco Brun.
Singer Dane Vanatter 
Credit: Dane Vanatter
Singer Dane Vanatter Credit: Dane Vanatter

Tom Arnold is a busy guy these days, so you might want to catch him this weekend at the Pittsburgh Improv while you still have the chance.

Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, he struggled to build a career in stand-up until 1988, when he won first place in the Minneapolis Comedy Competition. He relocated to Los Angeles and got a job as a writer on the TV show “Roseanne,” whose volatile star he ended up marrying. He shook the Mr. Roseanne Barr stigma with a scene-stealing turn in 1994's “True Lies” with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

More recently, he got big laughs and good notices as an incompetent U.S. marshal in last year's “Hit and Run,” a car-chase comedy written and directed by Dax Shepard. He works plenty hard behind the scenes as well, writing, producing and doing charity work.

Admission is $22 for the Improv shows, which are at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

— William Loeffler


It's time to tie a yellow ribbon 'round the ole oak tree on the North Shore!

Tony Orlando will play two evening shows on Saturday in the Banquet Room of Rivers Casino.

Fans of the doo wop-influenced crooner will remember the 1970 hit “Knock Three Times” that he sang as part of the popular group “Tony Orlando and Dawn.” The group's “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” in 1973 propelled its success to new heights, which included the launch of the “Tony Orlando and Dawn Show.” Orlando, 68, has toured consistently since the group broke up in 1977.

Tickets are $35. The shows are at 7 and 10 p.m.

Details: 412-231-7777 or

— Chris Ramirez


During the past 15 years,Marco Brun has painted in Belgium, Italy, and now, Pittsburgh.

From 3 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, join Brun as he unveils his latest works at Christine Frechard Gallery in Squirrel Hill in his solo exhibit, “The Artist: Marco Brun.”

Featuring everything from abstract pieces to figural works, this will be Brun's fourth art show in Pittsburgh. The public is welcome to come meet the artist at this free event.

The exhibit continues through Jan. 30. Christine Frechard Gallery is located at 5871 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill, and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Details: 412-421-8888 or

— Kurt Shaw


When you love to sing, it's a joy to turn from the vast operatic repertoire to the equally vast repertoire of art songs. Mezzo-soprano Nicole Rodin will give Pittsburgh Opera's first Art Song Recital of the new year on Sunday afternoon at Pittsburgh Opera headquarters in the Strip District.

Rodin and pianist Mark Trawka will present a mixed program, including songs by Franz Schubert set to texts by Friedrich Goethe, such as “Gretchem am Spinrod,” Franz Joseph Haydn's “Ariadne auf Naxos” and Six Arab Poems by Louis Aubert.

Rodin is a first-year resident artist who will sing Kate Pinkerton in the company's production of “Madama Butterfly,” which opens March 16.

The concert starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at Pittsburgh Opera headquarters, 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. Admission is free, but reservations are suggested.

Details: 412-281-0912 or

— Mark Kanny


Singer Dane Vanatter will perform a new song by jazz guitarist Joe Negri and Brookline lyricist Lou Tracey Saturday at the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy on the North Side.

Vanatter will premiere “And the Summer Smiles,” the latest collaboration between Negri and Tracey.

He will be accompanied by pianist Alton Merrell, guitarist Ken Karsh, bassist Paul Thompson and drummer James Johnson III.

Music begins at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Details: 412-904-3335 or

— Bob Karlovits


A celebration of all things wintry will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Moraine State Park, Butler County.

Besides chilly weather, the third-annual Winterfest also will offer a chili cook-off among activities at the McDanel's boat launch on the north shore of the park.

The free event will include winter hikes, dog sledding, ice fishing, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing, crafts and a talk on winter survival techniques.

Woodsey the Owl and Smokey the Bear also have booked appearances.

Details: 724-234-4619 or

— Bob Karlovits


The man, the myth, the legend, the drama — Morrissey is coming back to Pittsburgh, for the first time in forever. Legend has it that he took one look at the A.J. Palumbo Center at Duquesne University, where he was booked more than a decade ago, and said something along the lines of “Nope, not playing here.” Maybe he was sick or something, but it's not hard to imagine Morrissey canceling a show in a fit of pique, or spite, or just as a joke.

Then, this past October, he canceled his tour just before a stop in Pittsburgh, to spend time with his ailing mother in England (OK, that's a good excuse). Monday night, that tour resumes. He's booked at Heinz Hall, which is thankfully a nicer venue than your average basketball gym. The cantankerous British exile still finds new relevance with every crop of gloomy, too-smart teenagers, so he won't be fading gracefully into his dotage anytime soon. That's not his style, anyway. Tickets are $43.75 to $83.75, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Details: 412-492-4900;

— Michael Machosky


For an evening of fast, often-funny and imaginative entertainment, check out the Improv Jam, where performers create theater on the spot.

A highlight of these high-energy performances employs professional improvisers who take a single word suggested by someone in the audience and use their creative abilities to spin it into a mini-scene filled with quickly constructed characters and conflict.

Doors open at 10 p.m. Thursday and the inventive fun begins shortly thereafter in the Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown.

Admission: $3 cash, at the door, or free to those with a ticket stub from any earlier Cultural District show on that date. The show is for those 21 or older.

Details: 412-325-6769 or

— Alice T. Carter


Guitarist Stephane Wrembel says being known as a gypsy-jazz guitarist once kept him from “having to work shifts as a waiter,” but, now, he is trying to find a way from under the description.

Wrembel, who will be at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville Thursday evening, says his material is far more a blend of all types of genres rather than the music associated with gypsy great Django Reinhardt.

“But people do feel comfortable being presented with something they know,” he says.

After graduating from the American School of New Music in Paris and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, French-native Wrembel settled in New York City in 2002 to shape a career, he says. At that time, he started billing himself as a gypsy-jazz guitarist as a way of marketing himself.

After all, part of his musical education was spending some time in the gypsy camps in his homeland and learning the music firsthand.

“It was very successful,” he says of the strategy, but now he wants it to stop.

Wrembel, who will play in a quartet of two guitars, bass and drums, says the wide-reaching blend of his music goes far beyond gypsy jazz. It has elements connected to classical music, rock, Greek folk music, as well as a variety of jazz styles.

“It has a lot of passion,” he says. “There is a healing power to it.”

Music begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $20. Details: 412-682-0177 or

— Bob Karlovits


One of the most recognized international vocal groups will perform Sunday at the Byham Theater, Downtown.

Klapa Cambi from Croatia will offer music centering on the Dalmatian region of their homeland.

The one-time winner of a World Choir Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia, Klapa Cambi has been around for more that 25 years and is on a tour of the United States and Canada.

While their program centers on their Croatian material, the group also will create a form of fusion with some American music.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $31.25 to $45.25. Details: 412-456-6666 or

— Bob Karlovits


Poof! Social Change Through Art is on a mission to help people transform their lives.

The pathway to that change is “Prana,” an immersive, multimedia performance installation that uses live music, dance, fabric and video to create an experience that might help them unlock their full potential.

A collaboration between the three artists — Riva Strauss, Hannah G. Thompson and Anna Thompson — “Prana” is a narrative in which a woman abandons her possessions and embarks on a journey to follow the path of enlightenment to reach nirvana.

Eleven performers, including dancers and musicians, will guide those attending through a visualization for the seven chakras — the energy centers of the body. Some believe that when our chakras are in balance, so is our life.

“The audience will become immersed into the experience as they are guided through the space,” says Strauss, founding artistic director of Poof! Social Change Through Art. “This happening intends to awaken the subtle vibrations to unlock our full potential as living beings.”

The evening concludes with open discussions, psychic paintings and circle-card readings.

“Prana” begins at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The Space Upstairs, 214 N. Lexington Ave., Point Breeze.

Admission: $10 suggested donation


— Alice T. Carter

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