Founded in hopes of bringing about a revival of the American brass band, River City Brass aims to share the uniquely joyous art form with audiences across Pennsylvania. And for the past 30-odd years, the group has done just that. River City Brass’s 28-piece ensemble—some of whom have been members since the early ’80s—play more than 50 concerts annually. Their programs span continents and centuries, with every performance bringing a new showcase of styles. Modern music, classical pieces, big-band jazz, and show tunes have all passed through RCB’s bright cornets, chortling tubas, and crisp percussion.
Teaching hips to swivel in style, dance instructors impart their masterful moves unto students in the respected tradition Arthur Murray has upheld since 1912. Arthur Murray dance teachers have inspired steps on the silver screen in a variety of films, including Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever. The franchise has also worked to help ballroom dancing to gain popularity as an Olympic sport and appear in major national magazines such as Smithsonian and Sports Illustrated.
The McMurray and Downton Pittsburgh studios provide a warm, aesthetically sound environment for engaging in private and group dance lessons, surrounding students with smooth wooden dance floors and mirror-lined walls. Embodying the three-count time of a stately waltz brings partners in close, and rumba moves or swing steps add playfulness to one's dance repertoire. Protégés may find their new moves applicable in a number of settings, such as when prepping for a wedding dance or when dodging throws in a game of dodgeball.
Showing a blend of current and classic cinematic entertainment, The Oaks Theater has remained Oakmont's only for-profit single-screen movie theater since its opening night in November 1938. The Junior Chamber of Commerce Players accompany a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dancing, singing, and assembling popcorn monuments to the unfolding onscreen action. Seven feature-length films entice adrenal glands, letting viewers pick their poison from films such as Jonathan Demme's Academy Award–winning The Silence of the Lambs, the fang-centric Let the Right One In, or Halloween 4 featuring lovable loser Michael Myers. After sinking into one of The Oaks Theater's 430 seats, petrified patrons can cower behind a large soda or superstitiously squeeze the earlobe of their moviegoer companion.
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.
South Pike Cinemas showers moviegoers with celluloid visions of first-run films and sweet and salty snacks. Treats such as slushies, Starbucks Frappuccinos, and cheesy nachos join classic popcorn, candy, and sodas at the festive concession stand. At birthday parties, youngsters take a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of cinema as they’re offered a tour of the projection booth, a souvenir strip of film, and the opportunity to try out every seat in the theater to see which is the bounciest.
The sounds of guitars, bodhrans, fiddles, tin whistles surrounds visitors. The aromas of traditional Irish cuisine waft through the air, and around every turn is some new piece of Irish culture. No, this isn't some daydream fueled by too much shepherd's pie. Each year, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival transforms a small part of the city into the Emerald Isle. In total, the festival schedules more than 28 hours of entertainment over the course of three days. Four stages play host to Irish rock and other traditional music. Visitors might also see Irish step dancing and storytellers, who breathe new life into traditional legends and folktales.
Hands-on activities also dot the festival grounds, including the chance to pet native Irish dogs or even search your family tree for Irish ancestors. And in addition to traditional cuisine, the festival hosts a tasting tent with Irish whiskey, Irish cider, and Irish experts who explain how these spirits are made.