Short List: Oct. 12-18 | Short List | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Short List: Oct. 12-18

Alan Cumming talks and sings; the world’s steepest foot race; Science Center debuts BodyWorks; author Kwame Alexander

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SPOTLIGHT: Fri., Oct. 14 - Stage

On Oct. 14, Alan Cumming hits town for not one but two appearances. That afternoon, at Carnegie Lecture Hall, Cumming joins City Theatre’s Tracy Brigden on stage to discuss You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams (Rizzoli), the acclaimed Scottish actor’s new book of photos and stories from life backstage, on the road and more. The Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures New & Noted event is followed that evening at the Byham Theater by Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs, his internationally touring cabaret show.

Reached by phone, in New York, Cumming says Sappy Songs’ eclecticism is partly meant to make audiences hear anew songs ranging from Sondheim to Adele. “A lot of the really contemporary songs that I do — Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne — I think it’s shocking to people to actually hear me singing them,” says Cumming. “Because a lot of these songs, they can have really great lyrics but they’re so overproduced that you don’t hear them very often, or you can miss them.”

As a performer, Cumming has done everything from Shakespeare to the Smurfs, and from the MC in Cabaret to Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United, though he might be best known as political operative Eric Gold on TV’s The Good Wife. But like his sometimes-harrowing 2014 memoir Not My Father’s Son, his new book Bigger Dreams reveals a personal side — though many of these 45 anecdotes, alternately amusing and poignant, involve such famous friends and acquaintances as Liz Taylor, Gore Vidal, Oprah and Iman. Cumming says that as a photographer, he’s just a “snapper,” capturing moments. But writing Bigger Dreams gave him some insights. “I realized in the writing of it that I’m an outsider,” he says. “I’m an outsider in America, I’m an outsider in Scotland. And because I’m an outsider … I’m able to stand back from my own life and look at it and relate to it with other people. At the same time, I’m also standing inside it.” Bill O’Driscoll New & Noted: 1 p.m. Fri., Oct. 14 (4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; $35 ticket includes copy of Bigger Dreams; www.pittsburghlectures.org). Sappy Songs: 8 p.m. Fri., Oct. 14 (101 Sixth St., Downtown; $56.25-86.25; www.trustarts.org)

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUE COFLIN/MAX PHOTOS
  • Photo courtesy of Sue Coflin/Max Photos

Fri., Oct. 14 - Stage

Fans of Black Angels Over Tuskegee, Layon Gray’s play about the Tuskegee Airmen; sports enthusiasts; history buffs; and aficionados of the Harlem Renaissance, take note: Gray’s Kings of Harlem puts onstage the true but little-recalled story of the Harlem Rens, the first all-black professional basketball team. The seven-man squad formed in 1923 and, in the 1930s, barnstormed through segregated America on its way to 2,000 wins. The touring Off-Broadway show’s run of four performances at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater begins tonight. BO 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sun., Oct. 16. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $34-40. 412-431-0773 or www.brownpapertickets.com

Fri., Oct. 14 – Stage

off the WALL productions is known for provocative new works involving female artists. Lydia Stryk’s minimalist 2010 drama An Accident focuses on the aftermath of a car accident through the relationship between the driver and the injured. An Accident, directed by Linda Haston and starring Amy Landis and Ken Bolden, premieres tonight at Carnegie Stages. Ian Flanagan 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 29. 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. $25-40. 724-873-3576 or www.insideoffthewall.com

Sat., Oct. 15 - Sport

Not one but two new foot races get born this weekend. Today, Beechview debuts Hell on Hills, an officially sanctioned 5K that claims to be the world’s steepest. The course incorporates Canton Avenue — billed as the world’s steepest street — and others nearly as challenging; a community party follows. And on Sun., Oct. 16, Allegheny County Parks and the Allegheny County Parks Foundation launch The Allegheny 9 Race Series, a variety of 5K and 10K road and trail races in each of the nine county parks. A 5K in White Oak Park kicks things off; on Nov. 12, it’s on to Settlers Cabin, with the series resuming in February. Proceeds benefit park-improvement projects. BO Hell on Hills: 9 a.m. (Beechview; $40; www.hellonhills.com). Allegheny Race Series: 9 a.m. Sun., Oct. 16 (White Oak Park; register at www.theallegheny9.com).

PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNA BODNAR
  • Photo courtesy of Jenna Bodnar

Sat., Oct. 15 – Exhibit

To celebrate Pittsburgh’s bicentennial, the annual Fall Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory coincides with today’s unveiling of the reinvented Garden Railroad, in the South Conservatory. Five interactive stations chronicle Pittsburgh’s history all in miniature, from the Duquesne Incline to Three Rivers Stadium. Meanwhile, this year’s Flower Show, entitled Bask in Nature’s Bounty, will feature typically ornate decorations. IF 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fall Flower Show continues through Nov. 6. 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland. $11-15 (free for kids under 2). 412-622-6915 or phipps.conservatory.org 

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Sat., Oct.15 - Exhibit

The Carnegie Science Center today opens a new permanent exhibit that “explores the wonders of the human body.” Presented by Allegheny Health Network, BodyWorks incorporates interactive displays that communicate the biology in memorable ways. The program explores five areas: muscles and bones, heart and lungs, the digestive system, brain and nerves, and “body basics.” Ever wonder how your brain can “see” a word? Use a finger-slide to rotate a brain and visualize how we process information. IF 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1 Allegheny Ave., North Side. $11.95-19.95. 412-237-3400 or www.carnegiesciencecenter.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
  • Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum

Sat., Oct. 15 – Festival

Meet your Maker Faire Pittsburgh: The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh describes its annual festival as part science fair, part county fair and more. This all-ages festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness gathers more than 200 exhibits, performances and presentations onto the grounds of the museum, Buhl Community Park and Nova Place to sample the new, the interactive and the DIY, from high-tech to low-tech, robotics and 3-D printing to handmade crafts. The two-day festival of stuff to play with, build and wonder at starts this morning. BO 10 a.m.-6 p.m. North Side. $8-12 in advance through 5 p.m. Fri., Oct. 14; $10-15 at the door. www.makerfairepittsburgh.com

ART BY PAUL BOWDEN
  • Art by Paul Bowden

Sat., Oct. 15 – Art 

The International Sculpture Conference is in town, and what better time to show off homegrown talent? Tonight at SPACE gallery, the Conference itself presents Checks & Balances, a group show of works that “investigate notions of dualities inherent within contemporary sculptural practice.” Curator Murray Horne gathers six local artists including Jasen Bernthisel, Brandon Boan, Paul Bowden, Jill Larson, Shaun Slifer and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Emerging Artist of the Year Sarika Goulatia. The opening reception is tonight. BO 5:30-10 p.m. (free). Exhibit continues through Nov. 27. 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-325-7723 or www.spacepittsburgh.org

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Sat., Oct. 15 – Burlesque

Boys, girls, a stilt-walking drag queen, a metal-grinder, a puppeteer, even Scotty the Blue Bunny — burlesque artists of every stripe are gathering from around the country, and overseas, for Steel City Kitty Burlesque & Variety Show’s fifth-anniversary extravaganza. Steel City regulars Kat de Lac and Smokin’ McQueen are joined tonight at the Rex Theater by the likes of Amsterdam’s Xarah von den Vielenregen; the aforementioned “professional bunny”; towering Caribbean Burlesque Festival queen Isaiah Esquire; California-based Red Herring (pictured); Cleveland’s Rae of Discordia; Rasputin’s Marionettes; and Charlotte, N.C. stilt-walker and drag and boylesque performer Bethann Phetamine. Also: go-go dancers. And cake. BO 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $20-30. www.facebook.com (search “Steel City Kitty Burlesque”)

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Sun., Oct. 16 – Words

Poet, children’s author and activist Kwame Alexander has received acclaim for his youth fiction, from picture books to young-adult novels. His The Crossover was awarded the 2015 John Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Alexander also started the Page-to-Stage Writing and Publishing Program through Scholastic, and co-founded the literacy program LEAP for Ghana. This afternoon, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures presents Alexander’s talk Words and Pictures at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, followed by a book signing. IF 2:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $8-11. 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures.org

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Mon., Oct. 17 – Words

Author Amy Bloom visits Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Building for a craft talk as part of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writer Series, sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Writing Program. Bloom has been nominated for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent novel, Lucky Us, was released in 2014. Tonight’s talk, The Writer’s Life: Where the God of Love Hangs Out, is followed by a reading tomorrow at Chatham University’s James Laughlin Music Hall. IF 8:30 p.m. (Schenley Plaza, Oakland; free). Reading: 8:30 p.m. Tue., Oct. 18 (Chatham campus, Shadyside; free). 412-648-2410

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Tue., Oct. 18 – Stage

Leaving Broadway for its national tour, the musical Finding Neverland arrives at the Benedum Center. The show, directed by Tony-winner Diane Paulus, is based on the 2004 film starring Johnny Depp and Allan Knee’s play The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. The cast is led by Kevin Kern and Christine Dwyer (pictured).There will be eight performances courtesy of PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh, beginning with tonight’s Pittsburgh premiere. IF 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sun., Oct. 23. 237 Seventh St., Downtown $26-80. 412-456-4800 or www.trustarts.org


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