Saturday, May 6, 2023

Day 395- Broadway in Pittsburgh-Dear Evan Hansen-So Real and Relevant


Dear Evan Hansen tackles real life issues, elevating discussions on difficult topics such as suicide and mental health through song. Evan (Anthony Norman) is an awkward high school teen struggling to fit in and Connor (August Emerson) is a troubled teen who doesn’t.  When Connor ends his life, Evan fakes their friendship to help the family cope and befriend the sister, his school crush. Social media adds fire to this fabrication which results in Evan acquiring a group of friends and the sister’s affection.  This all sounds so messed up, which is exactly how life really is at times. Dear Evan Hansen, through a beautifully written musical score, is so real and relevant. It strikes a chord with anyone who has felt left out or alone. 


Opening the play, Evan writes a letter to himself, an exercise given by his therapist to combat his low self-esteem, anxiety, and loneness. He writes, “Today is going to be a good day…” but it really is not.  

In the first song, "Anybody Have a Map?" the mothers (Evan's and Conner's) sing, “I am just flying blind, making this up as I go.”  I felt the exact same way when my son, once my best friend, turned into an alien in high school. I thought, “there is a book called, What to Expect when Expecting, but none to prepare you for the serpentine road of an adolescent child, who proclaims that you know nothing and can do nothing right. That song triggered a river of emotions and then this musical kept them flowing.  

The set consists of a dining room table or a couch surrounded by elaborate floor to ceiling digital displays. The digital set and powerful songs are all that is needed to tell the story. The music fuels memories of an awkward time when we felt alone in “Waving Through a Window." The songs are thought provoking, reminding us that in death no one should “Disappear" and in life “You Will Be Found” because you matter.  

The digital set engulfs the action depicting the way social media creates a story by twisting and turning the truth until it combusts into a new species.  Then the “fake news” motivates behavior.

The theater was packed with many who seemed much younger than I. Even being 30 plus years out from high school, I can still remember my anxiety surrounding who to sit with at lunch when my group of  friends had a different lunch period.  This musical brings to light the void felt when you think that you don't belong and mental struggles to find a place to belong which are topic so real and relevant. Dear Evan Hansen does it all with a brilliant and powerful musical score and an amazing digital stage platform.   

 ( For tickets go to The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust also just released the 2024 Broadway in Pittsburgh series. For more information on this and other shows go to the  home page

Spirituals reflection

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away.  I can never get away from your presence! If I go to the heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. (Psalm 139:1-3 and 7-8)

Other sources

Dear Evan Hansen tour-

 You Will Be Found-

Monday, May 1, 2023

Day 394-Alvin Ailey revisited - Dance for Pittsburgh

 During the pandemic Alvin Ailey kept the dance going with virtual "Ailey All Access."  They are finally back to Pittsburgh after 20 years. Their show was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will bring 2 new works and "Revelations" choreographed by Alvin Ailey in 1960, to Pittsburgh on Tuesday May 9, 2023. For tickets go to

Revisit April 2020 post:
During this “stay home” period, I have been in search of new “art experiences.” New York based Alvin Ailey Dance Theater offers "Ailey All Access"- weekly full-length dance videos from their repertory every Thursday, Ailey dancer conversations on Instagram live every Wednesday and Saturday at 1 pm, and virtual dance classes.  This is an opportunity to experience this modern ballet dance company whose mission is to use “the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds” through dance. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Day 393 Pittsburgh Playhouse, Men on Boats- A Historic Comical Expedition: An Adventurous Spirit is Inclusive


Point Park Conservatory Theater recently brought Men on Boats, a tale of John Westly Powell's 1869 river exploration of the Grand Canyon, to the Pittsburgh Playhouse.  This play inspired by Powell’s actual travel logs intertwines history and humor.  It uses an all-female cast as male explores. This twist  celebrates the adventurous spirit in all of us.   


Powell (Haley Holme), a one armed Civil War veteran and a motley crew of 10, navigate 4 boats through sharp turns, rapids, whirlpools and waterfalls to map out this unknow territory.  There are many punches of humor such as hysteria ensuing when snakes are discovered in a boat and  Powell climbing  to safety with one arm.  

The company’s physicality is impressive as they row, swim when capsized, and kick through the water lined perimeter of the unique set. The occasional crew's rhythmic chants and percussion accompaniment emulates the monotony of a three month river ride. Their body language, like a pantomime, immerses the audience in the adventure.

Similar to the musical “Hamilton,” this play fueled my further investigation of the 1869 expedition. Fact cards about the original journey in the Playhouse lobby heightened the historic experience. 

Powell’s trip was the first recorded passage of  white men entering the Grand Canyon.  Men on Boats, gives us the first women.

It is a fresh perspective to see someone, who looked like me, conquer nature, even if that part is a fiction. What is not a fiction, are the numerous adventurous women that I have met and who’s stories are yet to be told. Men On Boats reminds us that the spirit of adventure and exploration is all inclusive.

(Pittsburgh Playhouse 22-23 season brings a variety of music, dance and drama to downtown Pittsburgh.  The Point Park Conservatory 22-23 season ends with  Sense and Sensibility -  go to  Pittsburgh Playhouse for tickets )

Spiritual Reflection

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ. (Galatians 3:28)

 Other Sources



Saturday, March 11, 2023

Day 392 Le Patin Libre-Pittsburgh Dance Council-Contemporary Dance on Ice- Not Disney on Ice


Pittsburgh Dance Council, a programing division of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust brought a unique outdoor dance experience to PPG Plaza on a chilly night with Le Patin Libre from Montreal. Since 2005, this group has reached the pinnacle of inventiveness by developing their own art form - contemporary skating.  They combine modern dance with the ability to glide which brings a new kind of visual experience that sure is not Disney on Ice.


Pittsburgh Dance Council brings new dance experiences to Pittsburgh (see Day 263  and Day 352 ). A cold Pittsburgh night could not keep many adventurous patrons way from  this dance on ice. These six skaters, or should I say dancers, transformed PPG Plaza into a magical world of storytelling by combining  movement, music and skating.  Their name, Le Patin Libre (French for “Free Skate”) is fitting. They were  not confined to any particular style of skating. They moved with intense speed, slow grace  and enough control to be motionless. 

tap skating 
The skates were fitted with microphones to amplify the sounds during “tap skating.”  The added clapping on the ice and from the  audience heightened the beat.

They called the second part of the show “pure glide.” The motion was freeing like watching the murmuration of birds in the sky with coordinated patterns or the changing configurations of a school of fish in the ocean.  At other times it was eerie  when the music clamored and creaked  like a sinking ship as they moved forward and back resembling a wave. 

motion resembling a wave

Le Patin Libre pushes the limits of dance with contemporary skating.  The excitement in seeing something so different yet so beautiful made this "not Disney on Ice experience" super cool on a cold night (pun intended). 

Braving the cold for Le Patin Libre

( For more information on upcoming events from the Pittsburgh Dance Counsel go to  or here. The next show is Alvin Ailey on May 9, 2023, see Day 376.)

Other Sources


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Day 391- My First Celebration of International Women's Day revisited: Use March to celebrate the special women in your life.


 March 8th, International Women’s Day, is a day worth embracing.  It is a celebration with a political history but it is also a day to appreciate women.  In psychologist  Maslow's principle, the human need for  love and belonging  is third on  his  list to reaching our best self or self-actualization. This need can be  expressed in deep friendships  so I was excited when my friend invited me to my first celebration of La Festa Della Donna  (Italian International Women's day) in 2016.  Since then, throughout the month of March I  try to find creative ways to reach out and  celebrate the special women in my life. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Day 390- Carnegie Science Center- Fun for Adults-Climb Aboard for Locomotion Weekend


When my son was younger, a visit to the Carnegie Science Center was more like a mad dash though the exhibits. You can take your time to explore when it's an all adult excursion. The Carnegie Science Center has so much to absorb and stimulate new knowledge even for us older folks: Sky Watch, lectures, 21+ Nights  (Day 217), the Rangos Giant Theater (Day 277) and traveling exhibits. Recently, my father and I climbed  aboard during the Science Center’s train weekend.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Day 389-Liberty Magic-Pittsburgh’s Venue Dedicated to the Slight of Hand- Ran’D Shine-Dazzles by Things Seen and Unseen


Pittsburgh joins, Chicago, New York, Nashville and Los Angles, with a club dedicated solely to the art of magic.  Liberty Magic, located in the same block that Houdini mesmerized Pittsburgh audiences in 1916, pays homage to his famous Chinese Water Torture Cell illusion in the lobby. At Liberty Magic you are just feet away from famous magicians from all over the world as cards fly, coins appear and vanish, and minds are read. It’s a place to be dazzled by things seen and unseen.    

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Day 388- Straight No Chaser – A cappella, Their Song and Instrumental Sound is Magic (Pittsburgh 2022)


 Straight No Chaser  celebrates 25 years of wowing audiences by using only their voices to produce a rainbow of sounds and song. These nine men are the vocals, orchestra and/or band all rolled up into one.  This a cappella group started in 1996 at Indiana University with the purpose, according to one member, “to get girls.”  Since then, they have produced 5 albums, the latest "Straight No Chaser: Social Christmasing." They have taken a cappella to another level as master entertainers in using the voice as an instrument.  It’s like magic.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Day 387 Steubenville Ohio-Holiday Nutcracker Village- A Christmas Story of Hope and Resilience.


 Just about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh in Steubenville, Ohio you can enter a festive world of life-sized Nutcrackers during the Holidays. From November 22, 2022 through January 7, 2023 the downtown streets of Steubenville are transformed into a village of these happy fellows and gals.  Lined along the streets you will find one representing almost every profession, sports team, and/or hobby that you can imagine.  These brightly colored Nutcrackers gave this town a needed boost after it was hit hard when the steel mills closed. Thanks to these beautifully crafted friends, Steubenville is a magical Holiday destination. The making of  The Nutcracker Village is a true Christmas Story of  resilience and hope. 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Day 386- A Christmas Story (The Play)-Pittsburgh Public Theater-A Simpler Christmas


My son and I make it an annual holiday tradition to watch the movie "A Christmas Story" that takes place on Cleveland Street, Indiana in the 1940’s. We laugh over and over at nine-year-old Ralphie’s quest for a “Red Ryder, Carbine Action, two-hundred shot, range rider air rifle with a compass  in the stock” and his father’s acquisition of the “major award,” the tacky leg lamp. The movie has become an iconic classic. Even if you never watched the movie, the story elicits memories of our own childhood. It reminds us of a simpler Christmas, a time when the holiday focus was on those around the tree and not what was under it, unless of course, you are Ralphie.      

Friday, December 2, 2022

Day 385- Pittsburgh Opera -Free Brown Bag Concerts -Experience Opera Up-Close with the 22-23 Resident Artists


Every Year the Pittsburgh Opera gets over 500 applicants from around the world for their Resident Artist two-year program. This program gives the artists a chance to work on a variety of opera productions. Several times a year during the opera season  they preform free one hour "Brown Bag Concerts"  in the Bitz Opera Factory (Opera Headquarters) located in the Strip District. This is great opportunity to meet the new talent and experience opera up-close.