It’s Memorial Day weekend; summer is here, and your Tatler has some recommendations for you!
To begin with: this coming weekend, June 3 & 4, the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh is presenting its “Obsessions” concert, which was postponed back in February due to you-know-what. This is a collection of choruses from operas, ranging from the familiar to the rarely performed, including pieces from Porgy and Bess, La Traviata, Carmen, Dido and Aneas, Faust, Mefistofole, Cavalaria Rusticana, Susannah, Madama Butterfly, The Tender Land …and more! The program includes solos by soprano Charlene Canty, mezzo soprano Demareus Cooper, tenor Michael Vallikappil, and bass-baritone Miles Wilson-Toliver; don’t be scared off by the idea of “opera,” the range of styles and moods is thrilling and inspiring. Use BCPALTO21 to get a discount on tickets.
Also opening on June 4 is Two Trains Running, an August Wilson play set in the late 1960’s, which centers on the fight against “gentrification” of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Directed by Justin Emeka, the production features actors Melessie Clark, Brian D. Coats, Ananias J. Dixon, Justin Emeka, Wali Jamal, Brenden Peifer, and Brian Starks. And of course, this week also begins the ten-day Three Rivers Arts Festival.
June is also Pride Month, and in celebration the New York-based theater company Fake Friends is bringing back its Pulitzer Prize-nominated work Circle Jerk, both live and streaming, from June 8-25. The blurb describes it thusly: “It’s winter on Gayman Island, a summer retreat for the homosexual rich and fame-ish. This off-season, two White Gay internet trolls hatch a plot to take back what’s wrongfully theirs. Cancellations, meme schemes, and political and erotical flip flops abound as three actors playing nine parts play out this chaotic live-streamed descent into the high-energy, quick-change, low-brow shitpit of the internet. ”
I watched hundreds of online performances during the pandemic “lockdown”; there were only two or three that felt electrifying and new, and Circle Jerk was at the top of that short list. If I could make it to NYC to see the show live, I would; and if you’re there in mid-June, you should (and if you buy your ticket before tomorrow, you can use the code CJMEMORIALDAY to get a discount). Nonetheless I’m still looking forward to seeing the streamed version again; it’s a blast (and it’s cheap: just $5)! Full disclosure, one of the company members, Cat Rodríguez, is an alum of the dramaturgy program at CMU; but I would find this performance amazing even without the personal connection. Here’s a little teaser:
Early June also sees the world premiere of Simon Bradbury’s new play The Illustrious Invalid at Kinetic Theatre; described as “riotous” and a “madcap romp,” the play imagines the final day in the life of the playwright Molière as he prepares to put on a performance of his play, The Imaginary Invalid. Directed by Andrew Paul, the production features the author in the role of Molière, in addition to ensemble members Derdriu Ring, Joanna Strapp, and David Whalen; it opens June 9 at City Theatre. And, opening that same day, is the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s “Open Air” performance series, which also features performances by the Pittsburgh Festival Opera on June 9: if you are still not ready to see live performance in a closed auditorium, this is your chance to get your fix in the open air, on the riverfront in Sharpsburg. Tickets are free!
Further on in the summer, Off the Wall in Carnegie will open Not My Revolution on June 17 – a one-woman show written and performed by Elizabeth Huffman about two women whose lives are impacted by civil war. Quantum Theatre will open The Cherry Orchard on July 8, directed by Katie Brook and with a cast that not only features three actors from the same family (Gregory Lehane, Laurie Klatscher, and Nick Lehane) but also artistic director Karla Boos herself, in the role of Lyubov Andreyevna. And in mid August, Front Porch Theatricals will produce the musical The Grand Hotel.
There’s more, of course: the Pittsburgh CLO has performances running through the summer, as does the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. I bet I’m missing some; feel free to add recommendations in the comments!