“Gypsy” Opens at CLO; Altar Bar Hosts Insightful Rapper Talib Kweli (Tues., 7/14/15)

1) Pittsburgh CLO cranks up its summer season with a bizarre and brassy musical that seems to never grow old. Gypsy, which opened on Broadway in 1959, tells the story of a domineering stage mom who finally sees her daughter rise to fame … as a striptease artist. The musical is based on the real-life memoir of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee but the most prized role is that of Gypsy’s mother, Rose. Great actress/singers who’ve played the volatile mum range from Ethel Merman and Angela Lansbury to Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone. Pittsburgh CLO brings in TV’s Kim Zimmer (of “Guiding Light” and other series) as Mama Rose. Songs in Gypsy include “Let Me Entertain You” and—pun intended—“Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” “Gypsy” is by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents. 8 p.m. Continues through Sunday. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)


2) “If lyrics sold, then truth be told / I’d probably be just as rich and famous as Jay-Z.” So raps Brooklyn’s Talib Kweli on “Ghetto Show” featuring Anthony Hamilton and Common, off Talib Kweli’s sophomore album, 2004’s The Beautiful Struggle. It’s been over ten years since Kweli (born Talib Kweli Greene) rapped those lines, but they still ring true. Despite acclaim for his socially conscious, politically insightful lyrics, Kweli will be playing Altar Bar. A hip venue, yes, but, in terms of attendance, a far cry from Consol Energy Center, which Jay-Z played the last time he was in town (though even he had trouble filling seats). Kweli has plenty of material to mine for the show. 20 years, seven solo albums, and collaborations too numerous to name, though we will cite one—1998’s Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. It’s the only album by Black Star, but cuts like “Defintion” garnered it instant canonization as well as hopes that Kweli and Mos Def will record another one someday. Two years have passed since Kweli released a solo album, but seeing as 2013 saw the release of two (Prisoner of Conscious and Gravitas), no wonder he just wants to tour for now. Space Invadas, Palermo Stone, Chris Allen, and DJ Selecta open. 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. (CM)


3) Self/less — In 1966, John Frankenheimer, following up on his successful “paranoia thrillers” The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May, directed the film version of a novel by David Ely called Seconds in which a wealthy man with the help of a shadowy group known only as The Company transfers his consciousness into the body of a younger man, played by Rock Hudson. The film was a flop, but through the years it has garnered a huge cult following. (Interesting trivia: The movie so frightened an already unsteady Brian (Beach Boys) Wilson that he didn’t see another movie in a theater until E.T. was released in 1982.) Self/less is a remake of sorts from Tarsem Singh, a director with a most singular vision. He’s responsible for Immortal, The Cell, and, one of my favorites, The Fall. Even when he’s treading familiar ground (a.k.a. Mirror Mirror about Snow White with Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen), the results are bizarre, so heaven knows what he’ll do with this tale in which Ben Kingsley wakes up inside the brain of Ryan Reynolds. Matthew Goode, Michelle Dockery, and Victor Garber are also on hand to add to the weirdness. Check Fandango for screens and times. (TH)

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Rick Handler

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