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Steel City Secret Cinema: Bill Murray Edition

on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:19

When it comes to comedy, few people have as impressive of a resume as Bill Murray. Former performer with the famed Second City improv comedy troupe in Chicago, cast member of the original Saturday Night Live. Star of such comedy classics as Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. Academy Award nominee for Lost in Translation, regular feature actor in Wes Anderson films. And on Friday, April 25, 2014, the focus of the fourth edition of Steel City Secret Cinema at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. “For Part IV, I knew I wanted to do a Bill Murray film from the start,” organizer Colin Matthews explains. “I’ve noticed a lot of Bill Murray art over our last couple of events and it just seemed like it would be a big draw for the fundraiser. I didn’t have any problems booking the film I wanted to show so it was an easy match.”

The first Steel City Secret Cinema was held on October 25, 2012, and has since evolved into a twice-a-year event at the Hollywood Theater. Modeled after the Mondo Mystery Movie at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, Steel City Secret Cinema features the screening of a movie, the name of which is kept a “secret” until minutes before the opening credits begin to roll. The event is more than just about the film, however, as various local artists produce artwork specifically designed for the screening, and a special limited edition screenprint based on the selected movie is also commissioned. Food and beverages are available beforehand, as well as music provided by the Pittsburgh-based DJ duo Tracksploitation, all adding up to a full night of entertainment.

Arcade Comedy Theater and the Carousel

on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 00:00

In February 2013, five improv comedy compatriots launched the Arcade Comedy Theater on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. The quintet of writers/actors—Abby Fudor, Randy Kirk, Jethro Nolan, Kristy Nolan and Mike Rubino—had performed together numerous times during late nights at the Cabaret at Theater Square, and had reached the conclusion that the Steel City needed a standalone comedy club that offered a wide variety of local and national talents, as well as comedic genres, on a weekly basis. More importantly, the group of comedy entrepreneurs firmly believed that such a theater needed to be located in the downtown area as opposed to nearby neighborhoods.

“There’s still a perception of downtown and Liberty Avenue,” Kristy Nolen told the Pittsburgh City Paper at the time. “First of all, that nothing goes on here. Secondly, that people don’t go downtown after dark. I don’t think everyone in Pittsburgh is aware that there is an up-and-coming arts scene emerging downtown.”

Although they themselves were unaware of it at the time, the founders of the Arcade Comedy Theater picked the perfect location for their endeavor as the 800 block of Liberty Avenue once contained another entertainment venue known as the Carousel. Little Jackie Heller, a nightclub singer born in the Steel City who went on to become a Las Vegas headliner, opened the Carousel shortly after the conclusion of World War II and brought a steady stream of A-list entertainers to the venue during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, for instance, performed one of their earliest shows together at the Carousel, while everyone from Chico Marx, Jackie Gleason, Victor Borge, Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett likewise took the stage at 815 Liberty Avenue, just doors down from where the Arcade Comedy Theater now resides.

Vintage Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center

on Thu, 04/10/2014 - 00:00

“Everything old is new again,” composer Peter Allen sang in the 1979 film version of All That Jazz, and since the early 1990s that has been especially true of vintage clothing, furnishings and collectibles. Actresses like Julia Roberts and Renee Zellweger often appeared in public wearing vintage garments during the decade, while the reemergence of both rockabilly and swing as fashionable music genres—as well as the AMC drama Mad Men—have likewise added to the popularity of nostalgic paraphernalia. The World Wide Web is now dotted with a variety of online vintage clothing stores, eBay offers a steady stream of auctions on every type of vintage ware, and Etsy has become the “go-to” site for connoisseurs of by-gone eras. Despite such virtual shopping malls, however, nothing beats the thrill of walking into a brick-and-mortar store and finding something unexpected on the shelf or rack, and it was in this spirit of discovery that Vintage Pittsburgh was launched.

“Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer was established in 2012 to offer the city of Pittsburgh a vintage event like none other found locally, joining cities like Chicago and New York in hosting a one-of-a-kind vintage vendor fair focused on atmosphere, quality wares, variety, community and accessibility to collectors of all ages and budgets,” the organizers behind Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer explain. While the inaugural edition of the event was held at the New Hazlett Theater, Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer teamed with the Senator John Heinz History Center in 2013 for a vintage fair that coincided with the museum’s 1968: The Year That Rocked America exhibit. Vintage Pittsburgh returns to the History Center on Saturday, April 12, 2014, for an all-day affair of shopping, live music, local DJs and even morning cocktails for early risers.