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Hot picks: Greg Warren, Bright Eyes, 'Violet Sharp'

| Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Art: Time to go to 'Work'

David Montano's latest solo exhibit, "New Work," at Christine Frechard Gallery is made up of seven massive mixed-media paintings that use images taken from film stills. The films referenced are mostly French and Italian neo-realism of the 1950s-60s, such as Louis Malle's "Elevator to the Gallows" and Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." But one is a portrait of Francoise Hardy, the '60s French pop singer.

Once the images were selected, Montano paused the film and traced over each image, before finally blowing the images up on canvas. The paintings are large (about 6 feet wide), and also incorporate fabric, paper, sand and other collage elements.

The rest of the works in the show include paper collage, assemblage and drawings. Most of these are smaller and made during the last three years. They will remain on view through July 8.

Christine Frechard Gallery is at 5871 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill, and is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Details: 412-421-8888 or .

— Kurt Shaw

Comedy: More than one-star funny

If you tune into the Morning Show on radio station WDVE-FM, 102.5, on your ride into work, you've probably heard comedian and frequent guest Greg Warren.

The St. Louis native is best known for his "Flute Man!" routine, which has become his own "Stairway to Heaven," because fans still request it.

His observations of tank-top mullet-wearing lowlifes, who he calls "one-star people," spawned a video and a CD, "One Star Warrior." He also tells stories onstage about his year as a failed cadet at West Point. He performs at the Pittsburgh Improv at 8 p.m. Thursday; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $15 to $18.

Details: 412-462-5233 or .

— William Loeffler

Music: Folk beyond Dylan

When Conor Oberst first started getting national press early in the 2000s, the dreaded D-word was used to describe his work. As in "Dylan, Bob." Which is not only unfair, comparing a young performer to a sacred icon, but almost always the kiss of death.

Oberst, to his credit, has carved out his own niche. Appearing Thursday night as part of the trio Bright Eyes at Stage AE, North Shore, his music remains apart from the mainstream, yet accessible. Oberst has found the rarest of sweet spots in the music industry -- wide critical acclaim and a devoted fan base -- because of his folkie, Americana-based sound and songs that shoot straight arrows to the heart.

Dawes is the opening act. Admission for the 7 p.m. show is $35.

Details: 800-745-3000 or .

— Rege Behe

Special event: Dark side of love

Love will turn to the supernatural at the concluding concerts of the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival, which will be presented in the South Hills and Shadyside on Sunday and Monday.

The classic Yiddish play "The Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds" will be performed, with music to tell the tale of a pious young man so in love he turns to mysticism to possess a woman's soul. The show will be performed by three actors and 13 instrumentalists, many from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The performances start at: 7:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday at Temple Emanuel of South Hills and Rodef Shalom Congregations, Shadyside. Admission is $20, $15 for seniors, $10 for students.

Details: 412-393-3353 or .

— Mark Kanny

Theater: Flight of fancy

The Washington-based Terra Nova Theatre Group will perform William Cameron's "Violet Sharp" Thursday through June 25 at the Grey Box Theatre in Lawrenceville.

Cameron's drama focuses on a 27-year-old British domestic who was a suspect in the 1932 kidnapping of the infant son of her employer, famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh.

The kidnapping stirred up a media frenzy that continued up to, through and even long after the baby's body was found and Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted and executed for the crime.

Hauptmann went to his death proclaiming his innocence and some continue to speculate that others, including Sharp, might have been the kidnapper or assisted in the crime.

Using original statements, letters and police reports, Cameron follows Sharp as she tries to clear herself while being pursued by the police and her own personal demons.

Theo Allyn stars as Violet Sharp, and Sam Turich as Sharp's chief nemesis Captain Harry Walsh. Cameron, who is also Terra Nova's artistic director, directs the show.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Grey Box Theatre, 3595 Butler St., Lawrenceville.

Admission: $20; $12 for students and seniors.

Details: 412-394-3353, or .

— Alice T. Carter

Music: Young guns

By name alone, the Smith Westerns seem like they'd be a honky-tonk lovin' bunch of country musicians.

Think again. The Chicago-based trio, appearing Friday at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale, are more David Bowie than Johnny Cash. Call it Top-of-the-Pops ready, worthy of all the young dudes, breathless and vibrant.

Also on the 8 p.m. bill: Satin Gum and I am a Sea Creature.

Admission is $14, $12 advance.

Details: 866-468-3401 or .

— Rege Behe

Music: Jazz with extra flow

Drummer Roger Humphries will be stowing his jazz on the Gateway Clipper for the 10th time Sunday.

This decade of his Jazz on the River cruises has benefited his scholarship fund and provided a good afternoon of music. Trumpeter Sean Jones and singer Spaky Wilson will join Humphries' band of trumpeter James Moore , saxophonist Lou Stellute , keyboardist Max Leake and bassist Dwayne Dolphin .

Boarding begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Clipper dock on the South Side. The cruise is from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $35 or $30 in advance and are available at Dorsey's in Homewood, Stedeford's on the North Side, Centre of Attraction in the Hill District, or at 412-321-1069.

— Bob Karlovits

Murder and mayhem

Acts of embezzlement, infidelity, jealousy and greed could lead to mass murder in "Murder at the Cathedral," an audience-interactive whodunit staged by producers Jude and Shirley Pohl.

The cast includes Gary Baughman, Greta Englert, Tim Grantz, Barb Machesky, George Machesky, Tony Puzzini, Bill Slivka and Nicole Somplatsky.

Cabaret dinner-theater packages include dinner and a show in a single location, the Crowne Plaza Hotel , 164 Fort Couch Road, Bethel Park.

"Murder at the Cathedral" continues through June 18 on Fridays with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and show at 8 p.m.; and this Sunday with the show at 2 p.m. followed by dinner at 4:30 p.m. Price of the dinner theater package is $40, $38 for seniors. Reservations are required.

Details: 724-746-1178.

— Alice T. Carter

Opera: Greatest hits at Hartwood

Pittsburgh Opera will be singing under the stars again when it returns to Hartwood Acres on Sunday evening to perform in the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series.

Many of opera's greatest hits will be heard, including the "Seguidilla" from "Carmen"; "O mio babbino caro" from "Gianni Schicchi"; the Quartet from "Rigoletto"; and the Drinking Song from "La Traviata." The concert also will include some Broadway numbers.

Soprano Katy Shackleton-Williams, mezzo-soprano Olga Perez-Flora, tenor James Flora, baritone Dan Kempson, and pianist Mark Trawka will be the performers.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Hartwood Acres, Hampton Township. Admission is free.

Details: 412-281-0912.

— Mark Kanny

Music: PSO in Hill District

The Pittsburgh Symphony returns to the Hill District Tuesday evening for its fourth annual community engagement concert at the Kauffman Center. All ticket proceeds will benefit the arts programs of Hill House Association.

Symphony assistant conductor Thomas Hong will lead a substantial program that will culminate in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 40, in G minor. Sylvia Kim, a member of the orchestra's first violin section, will be soloist in Ludwig van Beethoven's Romance No. 2 and Fritz Kreisler's Liebesfreud (Love's Joy).

The performance starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Kauffman Center, Hill House Association, Hill District. Admission is $8, $6 for seniors, $4 for students.

Details: 412-392-6479.

— Mark Kanny

Music: Pianist Alton Merrell

By Tuesday, the arts festival will have left the streets of Downtown, but jazz will carry on.

Pianist Alton Merrell, who is fast becoming a recognized keyboard presence in this area, will offer his varied sounds at the weekly, happy hour show that has moved to Katz Plaza on Penn Avenue.

Merrell is capable of taking his music many ways. That shows up as he appears in small groups, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra and as director of music at the Covenant Church of Pittsburgh in Wilkinsburg.

Music Tuesday begins at 5 p.m. and is free at the plaza outside the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's performance site at 655 Penn Ave.

Details: 412-456-6666.

— Bob Karlovits

Special event: Riverview Park Heritage Day

Families can enjoy a day of free outdoor activities, and free refreshments on Saturday at the North Side's Riverview Park.

Riverview Park Heritage Day, from noon to 4 p.m., lets visitors explore nature, tour the Allegheny Observatory, meet birds from the National Aviary, and participate in a hands-on adventure from the Frick Environmental Center. Representatives from the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania and the Humane Society of Western Pennsylvania will bring furry friends to show to visitors.

Other activities include the Citiparks Roving Art Cart, where kids can use their creativity for hands-on art projects. Officials from the city's Department of Public Safety will be at the event, where paramedics, police officers and firefighters will offer interactive educational experiences for all ages. McGruff the Crime Dog and a real K-9 pooch will join the officials. Adults attending the event can get free health screenings.

Details: 412-255-2493 or .

— Kellie Gormly

Kids: Summer reading program

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on Sunday is kicking off its annual Summer Reading Program with a big party on the lawn of the central Oakland library.

The Summer Reading Extravaganza -- from noon to 5 p.m. on the lawn outside the library and the Carnegie museums -- features activities and entertainment for people of all ages. Participants can learn folk dancing, watch the Obama Academy Steel Band perform, create balloon art with the Balloonatic Fringe, decorate Eat'n Park Smiley cookies, and dance to Radio Disney. Visitors can browse homemade craft items at the "I Made It! Market."

At the free event, anyone can sign up for summer reading programs.

Details: 412-622-3114 or .

— Kellie Gormly

Special event: Fire Truck Day

On Saturday, Old Economy Village will display fire trucks and equipment for Big Red Fire Truck Day, where local fire companies will bring restored, vintage trucks and other equipment for visitors to explore.

Visitors can meet firefighters and explore equipment -- including two 19th-century firefighting pumpers owned by the communal Harmony Society -- and participate in children's games with prizes and water-pumper competitions. Each child will receive a free firefighter hat. Picnic foods and beverages can be purchased.

The village, a National Historic Landmark, is in Ambridge, Beaver County. Admission is $10 for age 12 and older, and $5 for ages 3 to 11.

Details: 724-266-4500 or .

— Kellie Gormly

Theater: Snow White, dwarfs jazz it up

A fresh twist on a Disney classic will play at the Grand Theatre, which is presenting "The Rockin' Tale of Snow White."

The Elizabeth theater's Petite Players, a children's troupe, will act out the play -- a jazzed-up version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" with additional characters and plot twists. The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8.

Details: 412-384-0504 or .

— Kellie Gormly

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