Private Lives at the Public Theater

As most of you know by now, I work at the Public Theater, also known as the O'Reilly Theater, in downtown Pittsburgh and one of its perks is to be able to see all of their shows for free. Currently, Noel Coward's Private Lives is wrapping up this season at the theater and it is quite the show to see. (And if you keep reading, you can win the chance to see this one for free...just like I did!)

Private Lives runs at the Public until June 24th.
Private Lives, which takes place in France, happens while two couples are honeymooning. Imagine a romantic evening on a beautiful terrace, overlooking a gorgeous view of the beach. Now imagine that moment while your terrace is connected to your ex-wife/husband's terrace. That's where this show begins...so I'm sure you can also imagine the hilariousness that happens from there. While Sibyl and Elyot Chase have just wed, so have Amanda and Victor Prynne. However, it hasn't been too long since Elyot and Amanda were once married to each other and in an unfortunate chain of events, end up honeymooning with their new spouses, right next to each other.

To bring this "RED HOT" season to an end, Ted Pappas, the Public's Producing Artistic Director, has taken on the role of director for the third time this season and has truly brought this show to life. And I'm sure you know by now that I cannot talk about a Public Theater show without raving about how fabulous I think the set is. I feel like the Scenic Designers at the theater keep trying to one-up each other with each show, because they are always so gorgeous, but James Noone will remain the winner in that category since it's the last show of the season. Also, there's a revolving stage included in this show, so that's pretty much the trump card. However, I'm sure you all also know that I'm obsessed with clothing so of course the costumes are always the most interesting part of a show to me and this one is no different. Andrew B. Marlay did a beautiful job with this show and has mimicked the time period of the '30's flawlessly.

Amanda and Elyot first realizing the other is there. CityPaper photo.
Now to be honest, the show itself is not what I would consider my style of theater because there are a lot of easy jokes that keep the tone light hearted and upbeat, but seems too obvious for me to find too much excitement in. Also, there is a good bit of domestic violence that to me wasn't really funny, but was played off decently well in the script to keep it from getting too serious. There is also one point during the second act when I got bored simply because Amanda and Elyot are the only two on stage and it feels like you're the third wheel on their date. I'm sure you know how it is when you're out with a couple who have clearly been together for so long that they have too many inside jokes, but haven't been together long enough to realize that they're being obnoxiously cutesy. That's how Act II felt to me. However, that's a beef I have with Noel Coward and not the actors on stage and considering how infamous Coward is in the theater world, I think that's one battle I'll just admit to lose.

Overall, the five actors cast in this show were each the perfect pick for their roles. Their acting was clean and easy and felt like they didn't even have to try. Victoria Mack (Amanda) and Michael Brusasco (Elyot) were fabulous as two people who are very use to getting everything they want and who will stop at nothing to win a fight and Laird Mackintosh (Victor) and Amanda Leigh Cobb (Sibyl) were flawless as two lonesome lovers, who whine their way out of fights, while Elena Alexandratos (Louise, Amanda's housekeeper) does amazing work as someone who doesn't speak a word of English and refuses to put up with any one's shit. Great cast!

Of course, like I always say, no matter what my opinion is, you should check out this show for yourself.  And I'd like to give you a great opportunity to do so! This is the first ever contest on Chels & the City, so we'll see how it goes - but I have TWO TICKETS to see Private Lives at the Public Theater so you can judge the show for yourself! All you have to do is successfully be the first one to answer the question below and you and your guest can see the show for free next week - on whichever date works best for you. For. Free.

CONTEST QUESTION: Chels & the City is a play on words for one of my favorite TV shows, Sex and the City...SO...Which Sex and the City star once portrayed the role of Amanda in Private Lives?

Leave your response of the actress' real name, not who she portrays in Sex and the City, as a comment! Good luck, readers!


Dreamers Paradise

Nothing is better on a summer day than some yummy ice cream! Today while I was out and about doing some mundane Monday errands, I stopped by one of the latest Pop-Up projects to come to downtown: Dream Cream Ice Cream.

Dream Cream Ice Cream logo found on their Facebook page.
If you have yet to hear about Project Pop-Up, they are all a part of a program by Luke Ravenstahl, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Department of City Planning and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to bring some more life to downtown Pittsburgh. And they are doing a great job! All of the Pop-Up's that I have been to so far have all been awesome additions to the downtown area and Dream Cream is no different.

I stopped in today on my way back to my apartment and walked into a greater treat than I expected. While the space itself can still use a set or two of tables and chairs, or the Pittsburgh favorite, a bar facing out the window, the cute little shop has a great minimalistic and bright look. The staff is friendly and their sky blue t-shirts with the word dreamer across the chest is the perfect uniform that also matches the decor. 

The greatest thing about Dream Cream though, besides the taste of the ice cream, is the cause behind each scoop. Each month, the flavors of the ice creams are changed, given new titles and assigned to new dreams. On the Dream Cream website, you can apply to be a dreamer, allowing you to pick a flavor and part of the proceeds of each sale of that flavor goes to your cause. Awesome, right?! Pittsburghers are doing awesome things. 

Yvette Shipman just one of this month's dreamers!
Today I picked, Yvette's Fools Gold ice cream, which was so yummy and perfect for this humid day! It is peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter swirls and chocolate covered toffee pieces. Perfect! Yvette's dream is to open her own business, Moteasa, a specialty tea shop, where she will make her own teas, inspired by the different neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Like I said, Pittsburghers are doing awesome things! I'm glad my little splurge today can help Yvette grow her business in some small way because I cannot wait to check out her tea shop when it's up and running! 

Be sure to come downtown and check out Dream Cream Ice Cream, I'm sure you'll see me there more than I need to be - this place is entirely too close to my apartment. It's located at 539 Liberty Ave. and I promise it is super yummy and a super great cause. Opened just in time for summer too!


So Many Arts!

Well for the past week, downtown has been invaded by people coming to and from the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The festival, which boasts of being one of the biggest of it's kind started on June 1st and will wrap up tomorrow night.

The festival sponsored by Dollar Bank.
All of Point State Park and the Hertz Gateway Center have been taken over by vendors for food and art booths and a great creativity zone for the kids, all while tours are being given of the entire Cultural District. To say the least - this event has entirely taken over my main stomping grounds and is showing the greatest side to downtown.

Ashley Hodder working on "The Catch of the Day." Photo by CityPaper.
The festival which is "Celebrating creativity and promoting environmental responsibility," is doing a great job of keeping people entertained and well fed, all while making sure that everyone in attendance is making conscience efforts to be "green." All throughout the festival, there are trash and recycling containers that are greatly decorated and show how things can be reused, called the 3R's: Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose. As well as a tent dedicated to collecting ideas about how to better Pittsburgh and polling to see how people got to the festival via "The Green Machine" hoping it will all make people more aware of how to be more green! My favorite art was actually not for sale and was a giant fish made out of a bunch of trash that was found in the rivers. It was super cool, but kind of annoying to see the kinds of things people throw in the river without thinking of how it could effect the environment.

Since it's opening, I have been to the festival about three times. The first time was solely to eat, while on Tuesday afternoon it was to see my friends Caleb and Shawn play on the Dollar Bank Stage, which was an awesome experience for them and a great entertainment session for everyone stopping by and then on Thursday to actually take in the whole festival with Eric, who found an awesome digital art print of one of his music idols, Johnny Cash. Although I probably won't be heading down anymore this weekend - if you have yet to head down or just need a bit more family fun in your week, tonight and tomorrow are you last chances to experience it all. Have fun!


Ben Folds and the Symphony

So this actually took place about a week ago, but it was quite possibly the greatest thing I have ever seen...or heard. Ben Folds joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on the Heinz Hall stage on Friday, May 25th for the greatest show Pittsburgh could possibly use as it's opener to the summer season.

I was accompanied by MJ, Eric and Eric's roommate, Alex, for this fabulous evening and had the absolute best time being taken back to my glory days of junior year in high school when I first fell in love with Ben Folds. His amazing and strikingly unique voice filled the theater and the talent of the PSO was the perfect addition to bring his songs to their greatest potential. While they played songs from Ben's solo albums, Rockin' the Suburbs, Songs for Silverman and Way to Normal; he also led the PSO in a few songs from his Whatever and Ever Amen album from his time with Ben Folds Five. All of which, made for an overwhelmingly beautiful sounding evening.

Ben Folds, picture from City Paper.
What I loved most about the concert was that there was a great mix in the audience. Most were Ben Folds fans, but there were plenty of PSO regulars there as well which made for some interesting reactions since if you know Ben, you know he's got a bit of a potty mouth. I also loved the lighting going on throughout the show, since it was a seated concert, there wasn't much to actually watch so the beautiful lighting effects brought a great extra element to the songs and the show overall. Basically this whole show just reeked of talent.

Even the audience had talent this evening, with Ben leading us all in signing a four part harmony during the song Not the Same. Only Ben Folds could take center stage and make a professional orchestra sound beautiful with thousands of amateur singers in the audience. I actually stopped singing to just listen to it all going on and the sound of it all was too great for words.

Ben also offered the audience a secret email to receive a free track off of his upcoming album coming out this fall with Ben Folds Five and of course, by audience request, he "rocked this bitch" by making up on the spot his Pittsburgh song for our entertainment. Rock this Bitch is a song that Ben makes up on the spot, when someone from the audience yells it during a break between shows. He tells the orchestra which chords to play and when and how to play them and then sings along with fun facts that he has picked up from his time in the city in which he is performing. Below is the video of it happening live, thanks to someone who was also at this event, enjoy it and be sure to see Ben with PSO the next time he makes his way to the city of bridges!

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