1) Is it possible to tell people about In the Heights without mentioning that it’s the musical that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote before Hamilton? Probably, but we’re not fussy about such things. The important point is that In the Heights is pretty good, too. It won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, so it ain’t exactly hígado picado (Spanish for “chopped liver,” according to Google Translate). Some lines in the show are actually spoken or sung in Spanish, because the setting is Washington Heights, a New York neighborhood that’s been home to many Dominican immigrants. The music includes salsa rhythms and high-energy Latin pop, along with the obligatory Miranda warning: Yes, there will be rap. The book (by Quiara Alegría Hudes) provides a story that’s a wide-ranging slice of life in the Heights, as various characters pursue their dreams, look for love, face difficulties, and find happy endings or at least hope. Pittsburgh CLO is presenting In the Heights. Get tickets early. 8 p.m. Continues through July 16. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)
2) Some people like their summertime theater to be light-hearted and frothy. For the rest of us, Pittsburgh Festival Opera is doing Sweeney Todd. This is the musical in which the song “A Little Priest” does not refer to a clergyman’s height, but to the amount of his flesh needed to make a meat pie. The story takes us to London in the 1840s, a bustling city, but also a mean and hard place. For Sweeney Todd, who has suffered a tragic injustice, the city inspires these lyrics: “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit / And it’s filled with people who are filled with shit / And the vermin of the world inhabit it … They all deserve to die.” Many do. Todd, a barber skilled with the straight razor, gives customers the closest (and last) shaves of their lives; the corpses are put to profitable use in Mrs. Lovett’s nearby pie shop. Calling Sweeney Todd a dark comedy sells it short, because the show does more than squeeze laughs out of gore. It’s a compelling work of theater in every sense, and if Stephen Sondheim had never written another musical, this one alone would secure his legacy.7:30 p.m. In the Falk Auditorium at Winchester Thurston School, 555 Morewood Ave. (but enter the side door on Ellsworth), Oakland. (MV)
3) Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn features a variety of visual and performing arts at galleries, clubs, and restaurants along Penn Avenue (4800-5500) in the Garfield, Bloomfield, and Friendship neighborhoods. 6 – 10 p.m. Most events are free.
4) Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District is happening tonight; it features visual arts, musical performances, and interactive exhibits. All events are free and take place at a variety of galleries, art spaces, and venues. Some galleries offer drinks and hors d’oeuvres. What a great way to sample some of Pittsburgh’s great arts and entertainment! 5:30 – 9 p.m., Cultural District.
5) The Frick Art & Historical Center has its Summer Fridays events. Tonight’s featured musician is JD Eicher, a talented area singer/songwriter.. While there check out the antique cars in the car and carriage museum. The Frick Art Museum is also open during the event. Music, art and antique cars, all for a suggested donation of only $5 per adult; no admission charge for children. You can also purchase food and beverages from the cafe which is housed in a quaint cottage on the grounds, bring your own picnic food, or buy from one of several food trucks. Music starts at 6:30 p.m. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze.