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'Bat Boy' to land here

| Friday, April 25, 2003

"Bat Boy" will be flapping its wings in Pittsburgh this winter.

Pittsburgh Musical Theater and the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Theatre Arts will co-produce the musical, which appeared off-Broadway in 2001. Performances are scheduled for Feb. 11 through 29 in the Charity Randall Theater at the Stephen Foster Memorial on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

"When I saw it at the Union Square Theater (off-Broadway in New York City), I thought it the most interesting possiblity since I saw "Little Shop of Horrors" in the '80s, says Ken Gargaro, Pittsburgh Musical Theater's founding artistic director.

The Pittsburgh Musical Theater season will begin with the Andrew Lloyd Webber pop-rock musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in the Charity Randall Theatre from Dec. 2 through 14.

The theater company will split its season between the Charity Randall and the Byham Theater, Downtown. The two musicals that will play at the Byham are "West Side Story" slated for Jan. 14 through 25 and "Evita," which will be performed April 27 through May 2, 2004.

Four-show season subscription packages for adults range from $72 to $124. The company has rolled back its student prices from the current $19.50 top student price to $10. Four-show season subscriptions are $40 for children and students with valid identification.

Details: (412) 539-0900.

- Alice T. Carter

OPERA ALUMNI TO PERFORM

Performances are the way to celebrate musical anniversaries. On Sunday, Pittsburgh Opera Theater will celebrate its quarter-century of existence by recalling its singular contribution to local musical life.

The program is a point of pride for the company, says its artistic director Jonathan Eaton, because it consists of excerpts from American operas that either were or will be Pittsburgh premieres. "Our concert charts the growth of American opera, only in the 20th century, of course, because there was no American opera before then," he says.

Eaton has brought a string of Opera Theater alumni to perform, including Anna Singer ("The Consul" by Gian Carlo Menotti), Raymond Very and Laura Knoop Very ("The Tender Land" by Aaron Copland), and Cheryl Evans ("Candide" by Leonard Bernstein). The Duquesne University Symphony will be conducted by Sidney Harth.

Two selections will be teasers for next season. Charline Canty will sing an aria from "Just Above My Head," a jazz opera by Nathan Davis that will have its world premiere here next spring. And there'll be an except from "Summer and Smoke," by Lee Hoiby based on Tennessee Williams' play.

"Summer and Smoke" was to have concluded the current season. It was rescheduled because of a cash-flow problem, with Sunday's program assembled as a substitution.

"We are at a turning point in our fortunes," Eaton says. "It is critically important to us that we develop a strong group of supporters to take the place of foundation monies no longer so readily available. It is no less important for us to build a core of followers who attend our performances regularly. Actually, attendance was excellent at our last performances of 'The Magic Flute.'

"But we need to back up our artistic successes with financial solidity," he says. "We've been skating on thin ice for quite some time, and that needs to change."

The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. at Bellefield Auditorium, opposite Heinz Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus. Tickets are $15 to $65.

Details: (412) 394-3353.

- Mark Kanny

QUIET STORM CONCERT

Michael Zapruder is one of those musicians who seems to be always moving on to the next thing. His album "52 Songs" is a three-CD release from a yearlong experiment of writing a song per week. The San Francisco-based musician has also been lauded by "Guitar Player" magazine for his skills.

Change, however, seems to be Zapruder's mantra. His new album, "This Is a Beautiful Town," is full of songs that are piano-based -- not like Elton John or Billy Joel, but more akin to Randy Newman's sly, quirky compositions. There's a delightful sense of experimentation and playfulness in Zapruder's work, especially in "Oh Cho Li," and "See You in Paradise." And by title alone, "This Is a Sinecure" indicates Zapruder is working on an entirely different lyrical level than most musicians.

Zapruder will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse, 5430 Penn Ave., Friendship. John Vecchiarelli, Sam Henderson and Chris Kinsey are also on the bill. Tickets are $5.

Details: (412) 661-9355.

- Regis Behe

WORKSHOPS WITH WRITERS

Emerging Literary Voices 2003, a gathering of new and underground writers, will be held Saturday at Chapters Books and Music, Hillcrest Shopping Center, Lower Burrell. Among the authors attending will be Carmella Antonino, Ralph Bieber, R.W. Clinger, J.W. Coffey, Jacqueline Druga-Marchetti, Gerald Myers, Allyson Pollack, Lorrieann Russell, Michael Vaughn, A.B. Wallace and Carole Waterhouse.

The free event, set for noon to 5 p.m., will include workshops and sessions with the authors.

Details: (724) 337-7303.

- Regis Behe

HEALTH MEETING SLATED

A meeting for families and friends who are dealing with Huntington's Disease will be held 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the doctor's conference room, behind the cafeteria, at Mercy Jeannette Hospital. The latest HD research will be presented and new treatments will be discussed.

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