Ryan K. Witt, left, as Rupert Cadall, John Steffenauer as Wyndham Brandon and Nicholas J. Browne as Charles Granillo in the Rep's production of "Rope."
'Rope' on stage
Alfred Hitchcock said of "Rope," his 1948 thriller, "It was an experiment that didn't work out." Perhaps it's because the Patrick Hamilton play was filmed in long takes, like the theatrical production it was meant to be. The Playhouse Rep takes on the kill-for-thrill story, in which two young men murder a fellow undergraduate. Convinced they have escaped justice, they place the body in a wooden chest and host a party with the chest as the supper table.
The award-winning director of "Rope" is Elmore James, whose 40-year career as a director and performer in theater and opera has taken him all over the world. "Rope" is in preview tonight and runs Friday through Oct. 14 at The Studio at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Oakland; 8 p.m. Thursday through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $24-$27 at 412-392-8000 or pittsburghplayhouse.com.
Before the high-pitched, otherworldly electric sound of the theremin became a stamp of eerie settings, ghosts and UFOs in film and TV, it was a serious concert instrument. Performers such as Clara Rockmore performed classical music on stage with it.
Today you have the chance to hear a performer in this tradition of the instrument treated as, well, an instrument when Carbondale native Eric Ross joins with percussionist Kenan Foley to accompany several experimental short films. Mr. Ross has incorporated the theremin in multimedia art, woven with strands of jazz, classic, serial and avant-garde music at the likes of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and the Newport Jazz Festival.
Presented by the Three Rivers Film Festival, the concert/screenings begin at 8 p.m. at Regent Square Theater. Tickets are $12; www.ShowClix.com at the door.
Jerry Butler, who scored the hit "For Your Precious Love" with the Impressions back in 1958, headlines the WQED Doo Wop Spectacular tonight at the Benedum Center.
Mr. Butler, aka The Ice Man, collaborated with the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Otis Redding back in the day, and now sits on the board of the Cook County Commissioners. Last year he talked to the Chicago Reader about his biggest hit, which is ranked No. 327 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, saying, "We were trying to find a new sound. We didn't want to be doo-wop. We wanted to have a different and lasting impression. There's no hook. There's nothing to sing along with. It's a poem set to music."
He is joined by Gene Chandler ("Duke of Earl"), Mitch Ryder ("Devil with the Blues Dress On"), Shirley Alston Reeves (of the Shirelles), Fred Parris & The Five Satins, The Reflections and Pure Gold.
It begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45. Call 412-456-6666.
The artist who goes simply by SJ is a corporate attorney turned acoustic singer-songwriter. Tonight, he returns to his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he will conduct a continuing legal education presentation followed by a concert at New Hazlett Theater to benefit the Innovation Practice Institute and the Center for International Legal Education.
SJ, based in South Florida, is on tour supporting the album "Coffee: Strong Brew Edition," which includes the chilled out singles "Let Me Be" and "I Like You." He will be joined by upright bassist and Pitt Law Professor Harry Flechtner.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Gallery Crawl returns to the Cultural District on Friday with free admission for art exhibitions, bands, DJs, and dance and theater performances.
Among the highlights:
• The Wood Street Galleries show "The City & the City: Artwork by London Writers," curated by Justin Hopper and featuring visual artwork by authors of experimental poetry, fiction, history and geography at 601 Wood St.
• SPACE 812 Liberty Avenue's "Circles of Commotion and Moving Pauses," with digital work by Brandon Boan, Abby Donovan, Tom Hughes and Jason Rhodes, along with music by DJ Edgar Um.
• The August Wilson Center exhibit "Pittsburgh: Reclaim, Renew, Remix," honoring and preserving black culture in southwestern Pennsylvania, along with an exhibit on the wars that African-Americans and Africans fought during the past three centuries, and August Wilson monologues in the theater, 980 Liberty Ave.
• Future Tenant's "A Matter of Convenience" featuring large-scale installations and 2D works addressing the commercial food system, biological systems, local economies, etc. at 819 Penn Ave.
• Philadelphia based R&B/soul band Kindred the Family Soul at Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave., 7:30 p.m.
• Cartoons in the Courtyard at Toonseum, 947 Liberty Ave.
• Project Pop Up installations at various locations.
• Performance by kNOT Dance at Verve Wellness, 142 Sixth St., third floor.
• Live music by Mark Dignam at the Backstage Bar, 655 Penn Ave.
The Crawl runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Information: www.TrustArts.org or call 412-456-6666.
"Modern Chivalry," the satirical novel by University of Pittsburgh founder Hugh Henry Brackenridge, will be the focus of a panel discussion from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Building auditorium, 650 Schenley Drive, Oakland. Three Pitt faculty members -- Jean Ferguson Carr, Courtney Weikle-Mills and Bernard Hibbitts -- will explore the early years of Pitt and Pittsburgh and discuss how Brackenridge's 1815 book gives insights into law, politics, letters and education. Brackenridge also founded the Pittsburgh Gazette, which eventually became the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Those attending the free event can view an exhibit in the Frick Fine Arts Cloister of Volumes 1-2 of "Modern Chivalry," other manuscripts, early newspapers and maps.
What is chelfitsch?
The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater is host to the Pittsburgh premiere of "Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and the Farewell Speech," chelfitsch Theater Company's dance/theater triptych of short plays capturing the malaise of young office workers in an office break room.
Japan-based chelfitsch is an innovator in combining movement and theater. The trio of plays is in Japanese with English subtitles, but the expressive physicality of the actors is designed to be universal. Writer-director Toshiki Okada mixes dark humor, absurdity and a musical backdrop of John Coltrane, Stereolab and John Cage to capture "the empty and ungrounded nature of Generation Y."
Performances at the East Liberty theater are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and there will be a one-hour artSEEDS program for high school students at 10 a.m. Friday that includes a Q&A.
Audiences are invited to a free pre-show mixer on both nights, and the performers will participate in a post-show talk on Friday. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door and $20 for residents with a 15206 ZIP code; details at kelly-strayhorn.org or 412-363-3000.
The 35th Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race will take place on Sunday. More than a quarter million individuals have taken part in the event, which has grown to include a 5K race, 5K walk and children's race.
This year, there is a salute to 26 "Perfect Great Racers" who have participated in -- and finished -- every Great Race, starting back on Sept. 25, 1977. A 35th anniversary exhibit is in the grand lobby of the City-County Building, Downtown. It features photographs and race memorabilia including the 1977 first-place 10K trophy and a Frisbee used as a 1978 timing device.
The 5K starts at Fifth Avenue and Atwood Street in Oakland at 8 a.m. The 10K course begins in Frick Park at Beechwood Boulevard at 9:30 a.m. They end at Point State Park.
Schubert wrote about a brook in loving terms in "Die schone Mullerin." Likewise, Pittsburgh composer Robert Schultz's "Visions of Dunbar" is a paean to the Dunbar trout stream in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pianist Tina Faigen will perform that work, his "8 Reminiscences" and transcriptions of famous works by Mozart, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky and others in a recital at 7 p.m. at Chatham University's James Laughlin Music Center.
Ms. Faigen, who is a senior piano faculty member of the Carnegie Mellon University Prep School, grew up in Mt. Lebanon. Mr. Schultz, her husband, is a native of Uniontown. "Tina and I collaborate on everything," he says. "She makes it possible for me to sit back and experience new works played at the highest level before I sign off on them. Every composer would benefit from such a relationship." Admission is $15; www.chatham.edu.
NEED 2 KNOW
• Comedy legend Bill Cosby performs as part of the second annual Teal Ribbon Comedy show at the Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland, at 8 tonight. Proceeds benefit ovarian cancer research at Magee-Womens Research Institute. For tickets, $55-$200, www.mwrif.org/384 or 1-888-718-4253.
• The Art Resource Teaching Society hosts its first interactive arts festival, Art Squared, at Market Square, Downtown, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. More than 40 artists of various media will create their art while teaching/involving the public via games and creative activities.
• "Robert Qualters: Recent Work" opens with a reception for the quintessential Pittsburgh artist from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at borelli-edwards galleries, 3583 Butler St., Lawrenceville (free). The exhibition continues through Oct. 26 (412-687-2606).
• Marco Benevento -- a 33-year-old Brooklyn-based artist described as "a musical adventurer who artfully employs pedals, amplifiers, circuit-bent toys and sundry effects around his acoustic piano set-up" -- performs at the Rex Theater on Saturday. He's been part of the Benevento-Russo Duo and has collaborated with the likes of Mark Eitzel and Trey Anastasio. His latest album, "Between the Needles & Nightfall," combines piano rock and arty jazz. It's at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.
• Smithfield Street Theatre -- the New Olde Bank Players now installed at Smithfield United Church of Christ, Downtown -- presents "Inside Out: A Musical Revue," a cabaret of Broadway songs conceived and directed by Tom Protulipac. Janice Rybicki will be at the piano for singers Lori Barrage, Missy Dow, Kate Hagerty, Laura Hoffmann, Michael Hoffmann, Brittany Huffman, Roberta Honse, Sean Michael O'Donnell, Bridget Seer, Tyler Anthony Smith and Stephanie Swift-Antill. Tickets for the shows, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, are $15 in advance or $18 at the door, but reservations are required. More at 412-251-7904 or www.newobt.com.
• Morbid Angel, Dark Funeral and Grave darken the door of the former sanctuary of Altar Bar, Strip, with an evening of black metal/death metal from sunny Florida and snowy Sweden. The show is at 7 tonight. Tickets are $27.50-$30. 1-866-468-3401.
• The Barr Brothers, a folk/blues quartet from Montreal best known for the song "Beggar in the Morning," plays a free show, courtesy of WYEP-FM, at Schenley Plaza, Oakland, at 7 p.m. Friday.
• Los Straitjackets brings its instrumental surf rock to Club Cafe, South Side, at 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $20. 1-866-468-3401.
• Celtic Thunder, a group of male singers celebrating Celtic heritage, returns to the Benedum at 8 p.m. Sunday. Call 412-456-6666.