August Wilson’s “How I Learned What I Learned” Opens at PPT; Lights Appears at Mr. Smalls (CPs Thurs., 3/5/15)


Channeling August Wilson is Eugene Lee in The Public's 'How I Learned.'

Channeling August Wilson is Eugene Lee in The Public’s ‘How I Learned.’ photo: PPT

1) Every theater fan knows about the ten plays of August Wilson’s famous “Pittsburgh Cycle” but there was an 11th that few have seen. How I Learned What I Learned is a one-man autobiographical show. First performed by Wilson himself in Seattle in 2003, just two years before his death, How I Learned is a memoir of his early days. As a precocious young man in Pittsburgh, Wilson dropped out of high school to become a full-time student of the human condition. He worked odd jobs while reading books from the library; he took notes about the colorful characters he met; he experienced the thrills and laughter—and also the shocks and awe—that came with being young, irrepressible, and African American. How I Learned has been revived in New York and elsewhere recently. Pittsburgh Public Theater brings it home with co-creator Todd Kreidler directing the show, and actor Eugene Lee as Wilson. 8 p.m. Runs through April 5. The O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District.


2) Singer/songwriter Valerie Anne Poxleitner, better known by her stage name Lights, broke onto the music scene touring the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada in 2008. The daughter of missionary parents, she lived in many interesting countries growing up including Jamaica and the Philippines, before the family settled in Canada. Her energetic synth-pop sound has helped her garner a large fan base and the 2009 Juno award for New Artist of the Year. She’s had additional success with hot tracks including “Toes” and “Drive My Soul.” Lights is touring in support of her latest album Little Machines.  X Ambassadors opens. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

3) Poor Frankenstein. The doctor and his creature were first brought to life in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s touching, tragic fantasy novel about science and the nature of humanity. Then their story got adapted and re-done until it was mangled beyond recognition in a long series of corny monster movies. Finally Mel Brooks came to the rescue with his 1974 film Young Frankenstein, a brilliant parody of those movies. Later, Brooks adapted that creature into a stage musical—which fortunately keeps the fun alive, incorporating high points such as the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” dance number. Now Pittsburgh Musical Theater performs the tuneful Young Frankenstein for your enjoyment on some dark and stormy night. 7:30 p.m. Continues through March 15. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District.