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Hot picks: Lynyrd Skynyrd, 'The Mistakes Madeline Made,' Tommy Johnagin

| Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Music: Meet Meat Loaf

Meatloaf never goes out of style.

We're not talking about the comfort food your mom dishes out, but the singer Meat Loaf , who will perform Thursday at the T rib Total Media Amphitheatre at Station Square.

He isn't the most prolific artist. But the material he's released in a career that spans four decades -- specifically, three albums built around the "Bat Out of Hell" motif -- seem to resonate with fans old and new.

Meat Loaf -- whose first gig of note was touring with the National Lampoon Road Show in the 1970s -- has also acted in films. And earlier this year, he made news when he went ballistic at actor Gary Busey on an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice," giving a whole new meaning to "Bat Out of Hell."

Admission for the 7:30 p.m. concert is $40 to $81.

Details: 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com .

— Rege Behe

Art: Big Apple, small canvas

For a slice of the big-city life, stop by Boxheart Expressions in Bloomfield for the exhibit "24 Hours In The Subway." This solo show features the work of Brooklyn-based artist Isabelle Garbani. Inspired by her daily commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan, her pastel paintings evoke the rush of New York City, yet, seen together, create a sea of calm.

But in true New York City fashion, you better rush to get there before the show closes Aug. 13.

Boxheart Expressions Gallery is at 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield and is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Details: 412-687-8858 or www.boxheart.org .

— Kurt Shaw

Comedy: If laughter suits you

If you splice the DNA of a Rat Pack swinger with that of a chipmunk, it might come out looking something like Tommy Johnagin. With his baby face, stubble and player's suit and tie, he sometimes looks a little like a kid wearing his dad's clothes.

This disarming persona and his deadpan wit got him runner-up in last year's "Last Comic Standing" on NBC. His dry sensibility is evident from the title of his two CDs: "Stand Up Comedy" and "Stand Up Comedy 2." He's appeared on Letterman and had his own Comedy Central special. Before he became a big-time stand-up comedian, Johnagin broke his parents' heart by dropping out of college to pursue comedy.

He's promised to pay them back for the six semesters of college he wasted, so you'd be doing his folks a big favor by catching him during his four-night stand at the Pittsburgh Improv.

Shows are 8 p.m. Thursday; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15-17.

Details: 412-462-5233 or www.improv.com .

— William Loeffler

Theater: Coming clean onstage

No Name Players get down and dirty this week with "The Mistakes Madeline Made."

Elizabeth Meriwether's quirky comedy focuses on a woman with a high-pressure-but-meaningless job who is struggling with unresolved emotions over the death of her brother.

Her stresses and anxieties bring on a case of abultophobia -- the fear of bathing -- which creates problems with her job and provides an allegory for Meriwether's commentary on contemporary issues.

Marci Woodruff directs a cast that includes Todd Betker, Don DiGiulio, John Feightner, Tressa Glover and Liz Roberts in the production that begins Friday in the Studio Theater in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

Performances are through Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and Aug. 8.

Admission: $20; $15 in advance.

Details: 412-207-7111 or www.nonameplayers.org .

— Alice T. Carter

Theater: 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Andrew Lloyd Webber's groundbreaking rock opera, "Jesus Christ Superstar," has gone from controversial to mainstream without losing its ability to entertain lots and lots of people.

The story follows the tumultuous final days of Christ and his disciples with a contemporary score that includes "Everything's Alright," "I Don't Know How To Love Him" and "Superstar."

Broadway performer Doug Kreeger makes his Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera debut as Jesus in the production that begins performances Tuesday at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

Robert Cuccioli, fresh from his appearance as Capt. von Trapp in the company's "The Sound of Music," will play Pontius Pilate, and Josh Tower, who played John in the company's production of "Miss Saigon" last season, returns as Judas.

Performances are through Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 1 p.m. Aug. 4.

Admission: $20.75-$65.75.

Details: 412-456-6666 or www.pittsburghclo.org .

— Alice T. Carter

Music: The Skynyrd goes on

There's just one original member left in Lynyrd Skynyrd: guitarist Gary Rossington.

That kind of attrition would devastate almost any other band.

But Lynyrd Skynyrd, appearing Friday at Stage AE, North Shore, soldiers on because of the music. Be it "Sweet Home Alabama," "Gimme Three Steps" or "Free Bird," these are songs that almost everybody knows. While Rossington stands alone from the original lineup, Skynyrd has replaced its fallen members with like-minded souls. Singer Johnny Van Zant joined after his brother Ronnie Van Zant died in the tragic plane crash of 1977. Guitarist Rickey Medlocke was in the band briefly in the early '70s, then rejoined in 1996. The players may be different, but the attitude and spirit remains the same.

Admission is $39. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Details: 800-745-3000 or www.promowestlive.com .

— Rege Behe

Music: Many talents at Soldiers & Sailors

Brian McKnight's career has taken the same range as his talents.

He plays nine instruments, wrote a song for Disney World's 25th anniversary and has collaborated with stars from Mary J. Blige to Josh Groban. The arranger, singer-songwriter even has had an album that sold 2 million copies and was nominated for a Grammy award.

He will bring those multiple talents to the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland on Saturday in a concert that also will feature Chrisette Michelle, who has won a Grammy award for her soulful work.

Music begins 6 p.m. Admission starts at $40 and runs up to some VIP seating at $200.

Details: 800-745-3000.

— Bob Karlovits

Music: Star-studded country

John Michael Montgomery -- the country singer known for hits like "I Swear," "Be My Baby Tonight" and "Letters From Home" -- will be performing at the Indiana County Fairgrounds on Sunday for the 37th Annual Star Studded Country Music Show, presented by the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter. Montgomery will play two shows, at 1 and 6 p.m., at Mack Park in the fairgrounds.

Tickets are available for a donation of $25; $22 in advance.

Details: 724-349-9114.

— Kellie B. Gormly

Special event: 'Cindystock,' times 8

The eighth Annual "Cindystock" concert, which benefits local cancer charities, will be held at the Wexford-area home of Cindy and Ted Yates. Performers for the concert -- which begins at 3:30 p.m., rain or shine -- include Incendio, Ellen Bukstel, The Bereznak Brothers and Maura Elyse. Proceeds from the event benefits the Yates Fund for Cancer Hope, a nonprofit that Cindy Yates started after seeing so many friends and family members suffer from the disease.

Tickets are $35 each; the cost includes food and soft drinks, and is tax-deductible. Beneficiaries include the Cancer Caring Center, Adagio Health, and more. Last year's Cindystock raised more than $10,000.

Details: www.cindystock.org .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Special events: Adopt an animal

If your children are pushing you to add a furry, four-legged child to your family, you can take them to two animal adoption events this weekend. At the National Aviary on Saturday, representatives from area animal rescue organizations -- including the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Hello Bully and Hidey Hole Ferret Rescue -- will gather under a tent in the North Side aviary's Rose Garden. Representatives will have animals available for adoption at the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Details: 412-323-7235 or www.aviary.org.

At Animal Friends, a shelter in Ohio Township, baby cats will be mingling with potential adopters at the Beach Baby Kitten Party. The kitten shower is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The beach-themed event includes music, summer snacks and ice-cold lemonade. Each adopted kitten will go home with a special gift.

Details: 412-847-7000 or www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Kids: Downtown fun with the kids

Every Friday this summer, you can take your kids Downtown for KidsPlay in the Square, a free event from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Market Square. KidsPlay features stories, crafts and special guests, including representatives from the fire department and John Lege, known as "That Guy With the Birds." The WISH 99.7 Street Treat Patrol will be on-site to pass out goodies to visitors.

KidsPlay is designed for kids in pre-school and elementary school.

Details: www.downtownpittsburgh.com .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Theater: Outside with 'Alice'

Families can grab blankets and lawn chairs and head to South Park, where they can catch an outdoor stage version of a book about the northern lights. "Roaring, Boring Alice," the latest play in South Park Theatre's children's season, is based on the book "Roaring, Boring Alice: A Story of the Aurora Borealis" by P.K. Merski.

The story is about a little girl and how her tempter tantrum streaked the sky with colorful lights. "Roaring, Boring Alice" shows at 6:30 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and 10 a.m. Wednesday, through Aug. 10. Tickets are $2.

Details: 412-831-8552 or www.southparktheatre.com .

— Kellie B. Gormly

Kids: Lil' Jolly Rogers

Young pirate fans can create their own Jolly Rogers this week at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, which is offering Pirate Flag Making opportunity at 2 p.m. Monday through Aug. 4. Kids can use materials to make flags in the Traveling Gallery, which houses the temporary exhibit Dora the Explorer LIVE: "Dora's Pirate Adventure."

The exhibit -- where kids can explore the theatrical set from "Dora's Pirate Adventure," climb Purple Mountain and more -- stays through Sept. 4.

On Saturday at the North Side museum, kids can relive the '80s and Michael Jackson with a breakdancing performance. "We Can! B-Boying" -- part of the national "We Can!" campaign to promote healthy weight in children -- begins at 1 p.m., and kids can learn a few steps themselves.

Activities are included with general admission of $12, $11 for ages 2 to 18 and guests older than 65.

Details: 412-322-5058 or www.pittsburghkids.org .

— Kellie B. Gormly

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