The Hot List of events for the coming weekend

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ALL WEEKEND

Batch and Seuss

Former Steelers quarterback and Dr. Seuss fan Charlie Batch will make a special appearance in the Pittsburgh Musical Theater production of "Seussical the Musical," opening tonight and running through May 11 at the Byham Theater.

"Dr. Seuss has always been my favorite children's author, so I am thrilled to have this opportunity to be a part of Seuss' world as it comes to life on stage," Mr. Batch said in a statement. "Every time I read his books to children at schools throughout the region, their faces light up. There's just something magical about Seuss."

In partnership with Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Mr. Batch is sponsoring a book drive at the Byham Theater to benefit his Best of the Batch Foundation, an organization dedicated to giving Pittsburgh city kids a safe place to learn and grow. Ticketholders for "Seussical the Musical" are encouraged to bring a new copy of their favorite Dr. Seuss book to the theater. Donations will be accepted throughout the run.

"Seussical the Musical" stars Tim Hartman as The Cat in the Hat.

Times are 7:30 tonight through Saturday and May 9-10 and 2 p.m. Sunday and May 11. Tickets begin at $12. Call 412-456-6666 or go to www.pittsburghmusicals.com.

'Inky' Off the Wall

A Slavic au pair is introduced into a Manhattan apartment to care for the 9-year-old daughter and infant son of a young couple determined to "have it all during the high-rolling, morally skewed 1980s" in "Inky." The dark comedy has "cheeky appeal ... a revenge fantasy in which the humble prevail," according to The New Yorker magazine.

The play opens Friday and runs through May 17. Showtimes at the Off the Wall Theater, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie, are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $35 with discounts for students and seniors, at showclix.com or 1-888-71-TICKETS; more at insideoffthewall.com.

In the 'Comfort Zone'

The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company discovered Marlon Erik Youngblood's "Comfort Zone" during the 2012 Black and White Festival and gives the play its first full-length production. It stars Kevin Brown and Playwrights founder Mark Clayton Southers in the story of a neighborhood thrown into turmoil after a shooting in the local "mom and pop" store.

Friday's opening night is a fundraiser, with the $35 admission including a post-show discussion and reception. Showtimes at the Downtown Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, 937 Liberty Ave., third floor, are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, plus 3 p.m. on the final day, May 24. Tickets are $20 for Thursdays and matinees, $25 for Friday and Saturday evenings ($5 more at the door) at showclix.com; more at pghplaywrights.com.

FRIDAY AND SUNDAY

Mozart Fest continues

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concludes its Mozart Festival with a program showcasing the composer's sacred and operatic works. Highlights include Mozart's Mass in C minor, Requiem, "Don Giovanni," "The Marriage of Figaro," "The Magic Flute" and more.

Conducted by Manfred Honeck, the concerts also feature soprano Sunhae Im, baritone Lucas Meachem and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Former Carnegie Mellon University professor and actor Don Marinelli will host, taking on roles from Leopold Mozart to Joseph Haydn.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25.75-$105.75; 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

FRIDAY

Wye Oak at Smalls

Baltimore duo Wye Oak arrives at Mr. Smalls, having just released its fourth album, "Shriek," on Merge Records.

This is a departure in that the indie-rock/folk pairing of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack shifts away from guitars for bass, synths, drums and keyboards textures.

"The guiding force of this band from the get-go has been the strength of the songs themselves," she told Spin. "It's never been about the guitar -- we gravitated toward that setup for a while because it was working for us and we were excited about it. But once that becomes tapped out, you have to move on."

Braids, an indi-rock band from Montreal, opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15; www.mrsmalls.com.

SATURDAY

Free comics

Comic shops in more than 60 countries, including seven in our area, are gearing up for the 13th annual Free Comic Book Day on Saturday.

More than 4.5 million comics will be given away free and more than 50 special Free Comic Book Day editions are being published.

This year's list of free comics include Guardians of the Galaxy, Archie, Hello Kitty, SpongeBob SquarePants, Transformers vs. GI Joe, Sonic the Hedgehog and the Smurfs.

Here are stores in the Pittsburgh area participating in Free Comic Book Day: New Dimension Comics (Ellwood City, West Mifflin's Century III Mall, Butler's Clearview Mall, Cranberry's Piazza Plaza, Tarentum's Pittsburgh Mills); Phantom of the Attic (Monroeville); and Pittsburgh Comics (McMurray).

Details: www.freecomicbookday.com/comics.

Bulging muscles

Bodybuilders and fitness athletes from across the country will flex their muscles Saturday at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.

Sponsored by GNC Live Well, the NPC Pittsburgh Championships in bodybuilding, fitness, figure, bikini and physique will be held. About 400 strength and fitness athletes are expected to compete in several age groups. Prejudging will start at 9 a.m., with the finals starting at 6 p.m. Tickets, available at the door, are $20 for prejudging and $40 for the finals.

Also in attendance will be 10 of the top bodybuilding professionals in the world, including current Mr. Olympia Phil Heath. Information: http://npcnewsonline.com.

Choral send-off

After 27 years, Christine Jordanoff is retiring as artistic director of the Children's Festival Chorus. That's 90 percent of the chorus' 30 years of existence, so a celebration is in order.

A concert at 4 p.m. and gala at 5:30 p.m. will serve as a proper farewell. The performance features soprano Jennifer O'Loughlin, and the Scott Boni Trio will play at the gala. Both take place at the Hillman Center for the Performing Arts at Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. Tickets for the concert are $20-$25, available at the door. $100 tickets for the concert and gala are available at 412-281-4790.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

'Hope and Gravity'

Beginning in previews Saturday is the world premiere play "Hope and Gravity" by Michael Hollinger and directed by Tracy Brigden, who calls it "a smarty-pants rom-com for men and women." City Theatre's artistic director chose the jigsaw-puzzle of a play, with nine intersecting pieces, as the season-ender to City's 39th season because of its themes of spring and renewal, Ms. Brigden said.

The South Side theater company also has premiered the playwright's "Opus" and "Incorruptible" in co-productions with Arden Theatre Company of Philadelphia but has nurtured "Hope and Gravity" from the beginning, including readings in NYC and the Momentum Festival.

"Hope and Gravity" has its official opening May 9. This weekend's preview performances are 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $35-$55; citytheatrecompany.org or 412-431-CITY.

SUNDAY

Run day

It's not just Sunday. It's Marathon Sunday. The Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, which is sold out, begins at 6:50 a.m. on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, with the departure of the wheelchair participants, followed at 7 by the runners. It ends with a Finish Line Festival at Point State Park with live music and food.

The course winds through the Strip, the North Side, West End, South Side, Oakland, Shadyside, Point Breeze, Homewood, East Liberty, Highland Park, Friendship and Bloomfield.

Along the route there will be performances by such bands as Code Whiskey, the Blues Devils, School of Athens, Damaged Pies, Eddie and the Bruisers, Face Box and the Inconsiderate Few.

Details: www.pittsburghmarathon.com.

NEED TO KNOW

• The Aquabats. New Wave band and crime-fighting superheroes led by The MC Bat Commander, co-creator of "Yo Gabba Gabba," invade Mr. Smalls at 7 p.m. Saturday with Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Tickets are $18; www.mrsmalls.com.

• The Garfield Night Market returns Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. on North Pacific Avenue with art, craft and food vendors. It coincides with the Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn art walk.

• Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, the oldest site of human habitation in North America, kicks off its season at noon Saturday in Avella, Washington County. Visitors to the 16th-century Eastern Woodland Indian Village can step inside a wigwam, pound corn into meal or try their hand at throwing the atlatl, a spear thrower used by prehistoric hunters. Throughout May, Meadowcroft is open noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $12; $11 seniors; $6 kids ages 6-17. Information: www.heinzhistorycenter.org and or 724-587-3412.

• New Horizon Theater presents Grammy-winning vocalist Regina Belle at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The R&B/jazz singer from New Jersey is known for the hits "A Whole New World" (with Peabo Bryson), "If I Could," "Make It Like It Was" and "Dream In Color," and she released her first gospel record in 2008. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets: $40 to $100, www.kelly-strayhorn.org or 412-431-0773.

• Italian mandolinist Carlo Aonzo and guitarist Rene Izquierdo will join the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra in a 7:30 p.m. Saturday concert at Synod Hall, 125 N. Craig St., Oakland. The performance features the premiere of "Japanese Spring," a tone poem by 14-year-old Mt. Lebanon resident Hannah Ishizaki, and Vivaldi's Mandolin Concerto for Two Mandolins. Tickets: $10-$15, free for children under 12, at www.showclix.com, 1-888-71-TICKETS or Acoustic Music Works, 2142 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill.


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