ShareThis Page

First Night Pittsburgh giving comedy a bigger showcase

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 12:42 p.m.

Laugh a little more this New Year's Eve.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh announced it will be moving the New Year's Eve Comedy Showcase on Dec. 31 to a much larger venue — from Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts school to the Byham Theater, which has 1,300 seats.

"The smaller spaces filled up quickly, so we decided to move to a bigger space," said Sarah Aziz, festival director of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, at a press conference on Dec. 5 inside the Trust Arts Education Center, in Pittsburgh. "This event is for the people of Pittsburgh and they will now have more space to enjoy great local and national comedians. Smiling and laughing are a big part of this family-friendly, non-alcohol event. We have fun things to do for everyone."

That includes the annual parade, children's activities and a wide selection of musical entertainment.

The 24th annual event's theme is Love. Peace. Pittsburgh. It kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks on the Highmark Stage. Immediately following, the steel pan band Barrels to Beethoven will launch the musical programming for the evening.

The Allegheny Health Network Parade returns with honorary grand marshal Randy Gilson, creator of Randyland. The parade will be packed with performance groups, along with the traditional art cars and signature giant puppets from Studio Capezzuti. This will be the 19th year artist Cheryl Capezzuti of Brighton Heights has been creating puppets and art cars for this event.

"I love creating the puppets and I love having people wear the puppets and walk in the parade — something they may never have done before," Capezzuti said. "First Night is a celebration and a time to have some fun. The puppets are part of the tradition of this evening and I am psyched to be part of that tradition."

This year's headliner is Lee Fields & The Expressions. Fields has been making soul and funk anthems since 1969. He has toured the world with musical legends Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V. Wright, Darrell Banks and Little Royal.

His performance will culminate in the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale, taking place above the Highmark Stage. As the crowd counts down to midnight, the Future of Pittsburgh Ball will rise in the air above Penn Avenue Place with a Zambelli fireworks finale.

"This year's festivities continue the tradition of bringing everyone together to ring in the New Year," Aziz said. "We are excited to present a variety of culturally diverse programming from comedy, music, dance and magic that welcomes all ages to participate in our city's New Year's Eve celebration.

Admission buttons provide access to more than 100 events in 30 venues throughout Pittsburgh's Cultural District. Some of the most in-demand events also require seat reservations such as Penny Arcade and Player One in the new Arcade Comedy Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and Texture Contemporary Ballet shows at the August Wilson Center Theater and the comedy showcase.

Also new this year will be warming stations and cell-phone charging stations.

At the Benedum, the Williams Sing-Off Competition winner will open for Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers. The Cabaret at Theatre Square will feature Pittsburgh's own CLO Ministars. In the Highmark Auditorium, Littsburgh will present "Creative Firsts."

Family-friendly activities such as face painting, caricaturists Jordan Callahan and Shawnelle Dodds, and hands-on crafts with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse will be at Fifth Avenue Place. A family tent at Penn and 7th St. will feature hands-on activities.

Admission buttons are $10, children under 5 are free

Details: 412-456-6666 or trustarts.org/firstnightpgh

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or jharrop@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

Yanlai Dance Academy dancers perform in front of people gathered for the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Yanlai Dance Academy dancers perform in front of people gathered for the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Sarah Aziz, Director of Festival Management of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, speaks during the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Sarah Aziz, Director of Festival Management of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, speaks during the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
J. Kevin McMahon, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, speaks during the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
J. Kevin McMahon, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, speaks during the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald listens as speakers speak during the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald listens as speakers speak during the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Press Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.