BWW Feature: It's Valentine's Weekend in Pittsburgh! Go See a Show!
To paraphrase Yitzhak from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, "Whether you like it or not... Valentine's Day." The most romantic three-day weekend of the year has descended upon us, and if you're single, looking, taken or looking to get promptly (*checks Urban Dictionary*) boo'd up, Pittsburgh has a wide variety of artistic offerings for you and/or the special-ish someone of your choice this weekend. Let's take a look.
If you're looking for timeless love stories, this might not be the year for you, but if you're looking for immensely flawed love stories that seem romantic when you're fifteen but you quickly see the truth later, you're in luck. For starters, Split Stage's production of the Frank Wildhorn musical Bonnie and Clyde runs this weekend at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin, PA, featuring local favorite Victoria Buchtan as Bonnie and Brendan Conaway as Clyde. Conaway has recently made a name for himself as an artist and craftsman- if you're on Facebook, you've probably seen his elaborate pumpkin carvings in October- so it's nice to see him back onstage again, alongside a uniformly solid cast and a great band. Before Joker and Harley, there was Bonnie and Clyde- it's much the same thing, but with less face paint. DATE NIGHT DINNER RECOMMENDATION: Irwin happens to have my two favorite "your mileage may vary" pizza places close to the Lamp. If you want something fun and shareable, take your significant other to Bubba's for their signature focaccia- based pizza, and order some pierogies and "chicken lips" as an appetizer. But if you and yours have stomachs of steel, check out Conforti's, for the most intense, decadent pizza experience of your life. Just save some time for a bathroom break between dinner and a show- Conforti's pizza is notoriously rich and indulgent, and packs a digestive punch the first time you eat it.
Is the tale of two star-crossed mass murderers too romantic for you? Do you want something REALLY cynical this year? Try the ballet adaptation of The Great Gatsby currently playing at the Benedum. With music by Carl Davis and choreography by Jorden Morris, this promises to be the most gloriously danced deconstruction of romantic love and the American Dream since... I guess Hamilton, maybe? You caught me, I'm not a ballet guy, but I WAS an English major and I love Gatsby. Chances are this show is way more interesting and exciting than I'm prejudiced to expect, and it's the perfect chance to prove to your date that you're sophisticated and you like fancy-schmancy things: ballet AND F. Scott Fitzgerald! DATE NIGHT DINNER RECOMMENDATION: Singer-songwriter Peter Allen was obsessed with the Roaring Twenties era, so why not hit up the Peter Allen Italian restaurant (no relation) before the ballet? Of course, if you're running late to the Cultural District like I usually am, the 7/11 on the corner by the Pittsburgh Public just introduced a new Cajun sausage and a genuinely tasty apple fritter. For five dollars, you and a lucky, lucky person can both eat to your heart's content. (Don't laugh, this is Pennsylvania- it's clear 7/11 is stepping up their food game in an attempt to compete with Sheetz and Wawa, and should be encouraged in their endeavor.)
So maybe you DO want something equal parts lovey and dovey. Or maybe you wish Valentine's day wasn't so heteronormative- which is fair. Either way, perhaps a little Shakespeare is in order. Check out Marya Sea Kaminsky's adaptation of The Tempest, currently playing at Pittsburgh Public Theatre with an all-female cast. Tamara Tunie's majestic but wounded Prospero may be the above-the-title name, but this whole cast is a must-see, and the visual and musical effects (including a cameo by the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus) are stunning. DATE NIGHT DINNER RECOMMENDATION: Given the earthy vibe of the island and the repeat presence of sea imagery and shipwrecks, hearty food from a seafaring culture is called for, and I recommend the gyros and lemon-chicken soup at The Simple Greek in Market Square.
Are you a music lover? Are you trying to impress a music lover? Have you spent the last thirty years trying to figure out the name of that classical snippet they always used on Looney Tunes? The answer to all of the above: Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy, as presented by the award-winning Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Featuring pianist Emanuel Ax on a Mozart piece, the evening of lush romantic classics is sure to leave you saying "I remember that one from a Wendy's commercial!" DATE NIGHT DINNER RECOMMENDATION: If you're a symphony-goer, you probably have an elegant and refined palate, and so I recommend you stop by fusion-cuisine mainstay TAKO for some culinary experiments. They say the octopus taco is delicious, but that's a little advanced- and chewy- for me. Instead, I'd recommend the Korean waygu or duck confit tacos. Quack quack.
Not in the mood for love? Just want to laugh for a bit? Check out The Double-Threat Trio at the Greer Cabaret Theatre, part of CLO's ongoing commitment to developing and premiering new small-cast musicals in Pittsburgh. As a writer myself, I am immensely grateful to CLO for the existence of this program, and the cast, featuring Alex Noble and Jerreme Rodriguez, promises big laughs. Plus, stay after the show on Friday night for salsa dancing! DATE NIGHT DINNER RECOMMENDATION: Order off the cabaret menu during the show, or stop by Meat and Potatoes afterwards while you're in the building.
Finally, if you're in the mood for a delightful downer this weekend, or you just want to be disillusioned about life for a while, A Chorus Line opens Valentine's Day and runs the rest of the weekend at the Geyer Theater in Scottdale. The non-equity production features cast members recently seen with PMT, Split Stage, Stage Right, Comtra and even PICT, plus a rare onstage appearance by local photographer and headshot guru Kelly Tunney. DATE NIGHT DINNER RECMMENDATION: Mount Pleasant eatery The Filling Station is only about five minutes away, and boasts the best fried zucchini and tastiest lobster mac and cheese or Mediterranean chicken wrap around. However... am I the only one who sometimes gets a powerful craving for Long John Silver's/A&W? With the chain slowly going out of business, it's harder and harder to find cheap, tasty, admittedly greasy seafood or triple-thick milkshakes when you want them, so sometimes it's hard for me to pass up the opportunity to indulge. What can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic.