It used to be that street astronomers would criticize Gustav Holst's "The Planets" for not including Pluto. Well, now that Pluto isn't considered a planet, that burning controversy is over, and we can all just enjoy one of the most colorful tone poems ever written (finished around 1916).
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and women of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh will perform the suite of seven movements under the direction of conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier. The PSO will partner with the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh's NASA Educators Resource Center for displays in Heinz Hall's lobby. By the way, "The Planets" has only seven movements because Holst didn't include Earth, but our planet is well documented in the other piece on the program, Berlioz's "Harold in Italy," which features PSO principal violist Randolph Kelly. At Heinz Hall, Downtown, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $12.50-$83; 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
Pittsburgh's own Tim Hartman, fresh off his stint in the Broadway revival of "Finian's Rainbow," is back onstage in the Cultural District in Pittsburgh Musical Theater's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
It's hard to believe Mr. Hartman has somehow missed the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, but this is his first time in "Joseph," playing the dual roles of Potiphar and Jacob.
Catch a video with the multitasking Pittsburgh actor and cartoonist at post-gazette.com/theater.
The show runs today through March 28 at the Byham Theater. Tickets: $12-$50; pittsburghmusicals.com, pgharts.org or 412-456-6666.
The Westmoreland Cultural Trust presents the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players in a one-off performance of "The Pirates of Penzance," the classic operetta performed with a cast of 23 and a 17-piece orchestra at the Palace Theatre, Greensburg.
You know this one -- the New York Public Theater did an all-star stage version of the comic romp, with Kevin Kline, Rex Smith and Linda Ronstadt, and they were all on deck for the 1983 movie as well. The lyric "I am the very model of a modern Major-General" has become an integral part of the musical theater lexicon.
The company's managing director (and Pirate King), David Wannen, will offer a free master class before the show, at 4 p.m. Friday in The Palace, for students 16 and older who were nominated by faculty members. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $26 and $38, $13 for 18 and under; 724-836-8000 or www.thepalacetheatre.org.
Alternative hip-hop innovator RJD2, best known for doing the "Mad Men" theme, arrives at Mr. Small's Friday with a number of tricks up his sleeve. The DJ and producer from Columbus (now Philly) first hit the scene in the late '90s with two instrumental hip-hop records for Def Jux. Moving on to XL and then his own label, he started to mix it up with straightforward songs using guitar and vocals.
On this tour, fans will get the full range of his talents. He's joined by Break Science and Happy Chichester at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12; 1-866-468-3401.
The Senator John Heinz History Center will kick off the third annual community-wide "Won't You Be My Neighbor Day" celebration with the unveiling of a new figure recognizing Fred Rogers Saturday at noon on what would have been the children's television pioneer's 82nd birthday.
The figure will sit on the original bench from the television set where WQED filmed the "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" television show for more than 30 years. Other items from the show will also be part of the display, including one of Mister Rogers' famous cardigan sweaters and trademark pair of his sneakers. Information: www.heinzhistorycenter.org.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium's "Neighbor Day" will offer free admission on Saturday for children age 13 and under when accompanied by an adult. 412-665-3640 or www.pittsburghzoo.com.
And the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh will celebrate the life of Mister Rogers with free admission on Friday. Activities will include music from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" sung by CAPA students, a chance to meet Mister McFeeley, and a performance from PSO musicians. 412-322-5058 or www.pittsburghkids.org.
Grasslands at the Aviary
The National Aviary's newest free-flight space, Grasslands, opens Saturday, allowing guests to enter a natural environment inhabited by finches, doves, plovers and other birds that rely on grassland habitats for survival.
"Grasslands" will feature a boardwalk trail and rope railings for a close-up view of the action. The exhibit's plantscape comprises sea oats, bayberry, birch and dogwood as well as other greenery.
Special events for the weekend include tours of the space with "Professor Finch," takeaway gifts for the first 100 children visiting each day, and special appearances by birds not seen on exhibit, including the debut of the National Aviary's new southern ground hornbill.
Hours on Saturday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details: www.aviary.org or 412-323-7235.
Music of Italy
Pittsburgh Philharmonic bills itself as a great entry point for experiencing live classical music, and with prices such as $12 for adults and $8 for seniors (slightly more at the door), $5 for students and free for children 12 and under, it's hard to argue with it. At 7 p.m. Saturday, guest conductor Walter Morales offers a collection of Italian works at the North Hills Junior High School auditorium, 55 Rochester Road, Ross. On the program are Rossini's Overture to "The Italian Girl in Algiers," his Introduction, Theme and Variations from "La Donna del Lago," opera scenes from "Cavelleria Rusticana" and "Madame Butterfly" with soprano Kelly Lynch, and Respighi's "Pines of Rome." Information: 412-394-3353 or www.proartstickets.org.
The finalists for Campus Superstar have been narrowed to 10 and will be judged Sunday night at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland on their originality, song selection, "pitchiness" and other factors.
Campus Superstar, in its third year, is a fundraiser for Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh. The winner will receive a $5,000 grand-prize scholarship, and the two runner-ups will receive $1,000 scholarships. Last year, it was a sweep by students from Carnegie Mellon University, led by winner Roberta Burke.
The show, hosted by Jimmy McGuire, begins at 7 p.m. Student tickets are $1 and benefit Hillel JUC's student effort for hunger relief. Adult seating is $75; $25 for kids.
• The McKeesport Symphony Pops will feature pianist Xiaoyuan Huang, winner of the Western PA Steinway Society Competition, performing Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 19 in Bb major by Beethoven. Also featured will be flutist Audrey Whartonby performing the first movement of Mozart's Flute Concerto in G Major on a program that includes "London Suite" and selections from "Miss Saigon" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The concert is at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at McKeesport Area High School. Tickets are $15 adult, $12 senior, $8 student, age 6 and under are free; www.mckeesportsymphony.org or 412-664-2854.
• "Jocks and Sex" will be the topic Saturday night for The John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy Show at the Cabaret Theater, Downtown. Joining the comedian host will be sidekick Gab Bonesso, John Steigerwald, PG columnist Tony Norman, 'DVE Morning Show and Pittsburgh Sports Report's Sean Collier. It begins at 10 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 412-551-3077.
• Tuvan ensemble Chirgichin features a rare female throat singer named Aidysmaa, and three guys named Igor, Mongun-Ool and Aldar who are prize-winning standouts in their field. They make their fourth area appearance at Shadyside's First Unitarian Church sporting colorful costumes, handmade folk instruments, and songs about goats and horses. It's at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15-$20; 412-361-2262.
• The Spencers, a husband-and-wife team, bring their high-tech Theatre of Illusion show to the Hillman Center for Performing Arts, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel, at 7 p.m. Saturday. A Carnegie Science Center hands-on science demonstration will precede the show at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10-$20; 412-968-3040 or www.shadysideacademy.org/page.cfm?p=4628.