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Short List: Week of September 23 - 30

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Thu., Sept. 23 -- Stage

Cultural phenomenon Tyler Perry -- you might know him as Madea -- started his show-business career on stage and made his name nationally on the big screen. Now Perry is back on stage live for the first time in years. Madea's Big Happy Family is the latest in the line of life-affirming comedies featuring the matriarchal Madea. It's at the Peterson Events Center tonight only. Bill O'Driscoll 7:30 p.m. University of Pittsburgh campus, Oakland. $55-65. 412-242-4167 or www.ticketmaster.com

 

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Thu., Sept. 23-- Folk

Great Big Sea's seemingly endless waves of energy crash down on The Byham Theater tonight. Known for its live show, the Canadian band's upbeat folk jumps between Flogging Molly's Celtic sound and bayou blues, and simply oozes enthusiasm. Backed by trembling acoustic and hints of electric guitars, Alan Doyle's big, clear voice belts out songs about being brothers, sailing and how great life generally is, on the band's new album, Safe Upon the Shore. Kelsey Shea 8 p.m. 101 Sixth Ave., Downtown. $37.75. All ages. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

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Thu., Sept. 23 -- Stage

Bricolage has a story for ya; happened right here in Pittsburgh, in 1947. Facing prison, convicted burglar Millard Wright (pictured) agreed to brain surgery meant to cure criminal impulses. Things didn't end well. The incident inspired a novel, cowritten by Wright's surgeon. Bricolage has adapted it as a radio play, to be performed live, with professional actors and surgical sound effects, for its Midnight Radio series. The Dark Side of the House gets a debut run of three performances starting tonight. BO 9 p.m. Also 9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 24, and 9 p.m. Sat., Sept. 25. 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $10-20. www.webbricolage.org

 

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Fri., Sept. 24 -- Rock

It's been 20 years since she showed up on the scene as frontwoman of Ronda & the Arrivals, but tonight Ronda Zegarelli releases her first solo album, Reverie. It's largely downtempo singer-songwriter material, with some danceable electronic numbers. Zegarelli had help on the album from a bunch of local notables like Rick Witkowski and Sam Matthews, and her live band tonight features other well-known names, including drummer A.T. Vish and guitarist Evan Knauer. Andy Mulkerin 7 p.m. Whim Nightclub, Station Square, South Side. $10. 412-281-9888

 

COURTESY OF FELIX BROEDE
  • Courtesy of Felix Broede

Fri., Sept. 24 -- Music

Pop artists aren't the only ones who come young these days. At just 22, pianist Yuja Wang's prodigious technique has garnered her critical accolades earned by performers many years her senior. Wang is the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's featured opening-weekend soloist on Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." Other selections include Gandolfi's "The Garden of Cosmic Speculation" and -- dum dum dum DUM -- Beethoven's Fifth. PSO music director Manfred Honeck conducts. Weenta Girmay 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., Sept. 25, and 2:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 26. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-93. 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org

 

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Fri., Sept. 24 -- Rock

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band sounds like the top indie bands of the past five years poured into a tumbler and shaken up. The result: a likable and impressive (if not totally original) concoction. Hints of Modest Mouse's jarring edge, The Arcade Fire's swelling drama and The Flaming Lips' spastic energy are all present in the band's dramatic lo-fi album, Where the Messengers Meet. Catch the band live tonight at the Rex Theater, opening for Dead Confederate with The Armadillos and Chalk Dinosaur. KS 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $10.50. Ages 17 and up. 412-381-6811 or www.rextheater.com

 

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Fri., Sept. 24 -- Rock

It's a good night for quiet indie at Altar Bar, where a three-act tour of under-the-radar acoustic artists pulls through. Sera Cahoone is a Sub Pop artist who grew up in Colorado, as did Patrick Park, now based out of Los Angeles. The bill is rounded out by Sea Wolf, the L.A. band fronted by Alex Brown Church. All three provide quiet, lyrically driven music that's a notch above the standard singer-songwriter fare. AM 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $10-12. All ages. 412-263-2877 or altarbarpittsburgh.com

 

Sat., Sept. 25 -- Words

It's year two for Pittsburgh's Small Press Festival, presented by local literary collective Open Thread. This year's SPF Expo is held at Artists Image Resource, the screenprinting-and-more venue on the North Side. In addition to workshops and panels about publishing on a small scale, publishing houses will be on hand to sell their wares, and Obscure Games Pittsburgh is organizing games for word nerds. While admission is free, some segments have a fee -- a $5 weekend pass gets you admission to all of the panels and other events. AM Noon-5 p.m. Also noon-5 p.m. Sun., Sept. 26. 518 Foreland St., North Side. www.spfpittsburgh.com

 

Sat., Sep. 25 -- Library

The very first library Andrew Carnegie built has had a rougher time than most. The Braddock Carnegie Library, after all, is independently run; it once had to close down, and still scrapes for funds. But it's a marvelous old building and community asset, as visitors can see today at Library Pop! The Andy Warhol Museum co-sponsors an afternoon for anyone to screeenprint their own T-shirts and totes (among other arts activities) and to explore the 1889 building's nooks and crannies. There's also food -- and, we hear, a special interior-decorating surprise courtesy of the Warhol. BO 1-4 p.m. 419 Library St., Braddock. Free. 412-351-5356

 

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Sat., Sept. 25 -- Stage

From creators Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson comes World of Jewtopia, a one-act comedy in which Fogel and Wolfson attempt to navigate the peculiarities of their culture. The two star in the touring production, based on Jewtopia, their smash hit that became New York's longest running Off-Broadway comedy. This 90-minute version, hosted by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, combines scenes from "Jewtopia" with standup comedy and excerpts from the partners' bestselling book, Jewtopia: The Chosen Book for the Chosen People. Expect one big matzo ball of laughter. WG 8:30 p.m. Also 2 p.m., Sun. Sept. 26. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $28.75-43.25. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

Sat., Sept. 25 -- Film

After a decade as Pittsburgh's monthly showcase for experimental film, it's the final reel for Jefferson Presents ... Proudly defying the video age, the series has long been the only place to see new and classic work in its original 16 mm format. For the last show -- and we'd expect nothing less -- something a little different: a program consisting of 16 mm films by locals or former locals, including Olivia Ciummo, Michael Johnsen, Ross Nugent, Brian Dean Richmond ... and Jefferson's curator himself, Adam Abrams (with Steve Boyle). BO 9 p.m. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. presents.jefferson@gmail.com

 

Sat., Sept. 25 -- Rock

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's used to be known for their orchestral rock. But fans will see a heavier side of Margot when the band plays tonight at Brillobox on the heels of its new album, Buzzard. Released on Sept. 21, Buzzard swings closer to The Strokes, but it's a little more fuzzed out, and with wailing vague enough to match the band's name. Also on tonight's bill are The Lonely Forest and Cameron McGill and What Army. KS 10 p.m. (doors at 9:30 p.m.). 4041 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $12. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net

 

Tue., Sept. 28 -- Words

Susan Henderson is used to asking the questions, not answering them. A Carnegie Mellon alum, in 2006 she began the insightful blog LitPark, which presents a monthly literary question and interview on the same topic. Now, Henderson returns to talk about her forthcoming novel, Up From the Blue (Harper). The story follows the flashbacks of an adult Tillie Harris, forced to revisit memories from when she was 8 years old, in 1975 -- the year of her mother's sudden disappearance. WG 7:30 p.m. Giant Eagle Auditorium, Baker Hall, CMU campus, Oakland. Free. 412-268-2842

 

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Tues., Sept. 28 -- Rock

Lovers making music together is nothing new; the pop world has seen it plenty. What's unique is a couple releasing and supporting an album after they've broken up. But that's what J.P. Jones and Chrissie Hynde have done. The pair had a love affair after meeting at a party (though he's barely more than half her age) and documented it in an album called Fidelity! The Pretenders frontwoman and the Welsh singer-songwriter appear at the New Hazlett Theater tonight as J.P., Chrissie and the Fairground Boys. AM 8 p.m. Allegheny Square East, North Side. $25-30. All ages. 412-320-4610 or www.newhazletttheater.org

 

COURTESY OF HOA NGO
  • Courtesy of Hoa Ngo

Wed., Sept. 29 -- Words

"A miscellany of sorts, or a cabinet of curiosities," says Tina May Hall of her collection of prose and poetry titled The Physics of Imaginary Objects. Winner of the 2010 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and three times nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Hall opens this year's Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers series tonight. Her stories live in the limbo between standard prose and undulating poetic rhythms where "the power, insistence, occasional humor and frequent beauty of the author's voice carry the reader as surely as conventional fiction used to," says Renata Adler, this year's Drue Heinz Prize judge. WG 8 p.m. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6506

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