Now in its 51st year, the McKeesport Little Theater puts on a rollicking adaptation of Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, a comedy-drama that follows the roguish Randle Patrick McMurphy as he combats the draconian culture of a mental institution with a charming streak of rebellion. After successfully faking insanity to serve out his prison sentence in the hospital, Randle squares off with the sociopathic Nurse Ratched and enlists the support of an Indian whose presumed deafness and dumbness have enabled him to learn the benefits of deep introspection and the access codes for the ward’s chocolate-pudding fridge. The McKeesport Little Theater’s mission to bring quality theater to Western Pennsylvania benefits not only its audiences but also the play’s community-based actors, many of whom whittle their thespian teeth on the stage of the 207-seat theater, formerly a synagogue.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1896, and its reputation was as big as its sound right from the start. Andrew Carnegie was an early backer, and reportedly claimed that it was the best orchestra in the country. More than a century later, it still enjoys its status as a nationally renowned organization. And the PSO continues to take pride in its acclaim?perhaps expanding on Carnegie's earlier view, current Music Director Manfred Honeck called the company "one of the world's finest orchestras."
The long-lived PSO makes its home in an equally historic venue. Converted from an opulent movie palace in 1971, when Americans swore off movies in favor of high culture, Heinz Hall proves itself an exceptional music venue. Fine acoustics please the ears, while eyes take in glittering chandeliers and glints of gold leaf.
A nonprofit arts organization, Pittsburgh Musical Theater has energized the tapping of toes for more than two decades. The historic Byham Theater dates back to 1903, when the venue was originally erected as the Gayety Theater, and now fills its flashing marquee with Broadway shows, dance troupes, and films.
Every weekend, Twin Hi-Way Drive-In’s dual screens come to life with double-feature showings from a schedule of current films. Viewers tune their radios to the audio track’s frequency, directly transmitting the movie’s dialogue and soundtrack to their car, or fiddle with the knob to recast Ira Glass as the lead in Die Hard. The concession stand dispenses movie-night treats, such as hot dogs, popcorn, and sodas. On Saturdays, the drive-in hosts classic-car shows, where owners can show off their ’67 Mustang or their ’66 GTO.
Under the sprawling roof of First Niagara Pavilion, music greats such as Billy Joel, Rush, and Jimmy Buffett have all taken over the stage as fans throughout the amphitheater space watch, transfixed. Whether enjoying the show from the open-air pavilion or the verdant lawn, concertgoers demonstrate their love for the performers by dancing along to the music or holding up lighters engraved with the lead singer’s astrological sign.
After five years away from American stages, the immutable hard-rock juggernaut Guns N’ Roses reuses its illusions to whip crowds into a frenzy during a notoriously raucous live show. Enigmatic siren Axl Rose, beloved for his punk-rock stance against prolificacy, leads his wrecking crew of Roses through a two-hour tour of greatest hits culled from the band's groundbreaking debut album, Appetite for Destruction, the long-awaited Chinese Democracy, and everything in between. The group soars and shines throughout a marathon performance, ranging from turbo-charged rockers such as “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” through ballads such as “November Rain.” With hatless new axeman Dj Ashba stepping into the shoes of Slash, and The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson replacing Duff McKagan, Guns N’ Roses is recharged and ready to quench destructive appetites with pure organic rock wrung from handpicked bandanas.