Last Chance to See ‘The Fantasticks’ at The Public; The Steel Cactus’ Sunday Brunch (Sun., 10/30/16)

So simple and yet so puzzling: Jason Shavers (center) says it all with a look while Mary Elizabeth Drake and Jamen Nanthakumar expound in "The Fantasticks."

So simple and yet so puzzling: Jason Shavers (center) says it all with a look while Mary Elizabeth Drake and Jamen Nanthakumar expound in “The Fantasticks.” photo: Pittsburgh Public Theater.

1) The longest-running musical in the history of show business? It’s not Phantom of the Opera, which holds the Broadway record at nearly 12,000 performances and still counting, but a modestly scaled off-Broadway musical. The Fantasticks opened there in 1960 and finished its initial run in 2002, after 17,162 performances. Part of the show’s charm is its mixture of simplicity and surreal strangeness.

Using only a few actors and rudimentary stage props, The Fantasticks conjures up a bizarre tale. Two neighboring dads concoct a surefire scheme to make their children fall in love with one another: they forbid the young man and woman to have any contact. Then, as surreptitious romance blooms, the fathers hire a dashing stranger to pretend to kidnap the girl so the lad can “rescue” her—a twist that brings unexpected consequences. The show also mixes haunting music (such as the song “Try to Remember”) with wry humor, and Pittsburgh Public Theater has chosen The Fantasticks to open its 2016-17 season. 2 p.m. Ends Today. At the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

2) The Steel Cactus on Walnut Street is open for Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.—perfectly timed to get you filled up and out before your Sunday activities. The brunch menu includes Huevos Rancheros, Spicy Southwest Omelet, Fajita Breakfast Burrito, Breakfast Nachos, Steak and Eggs, Pancake of the Week, and French Toast served with eggs and bacon or sausage. “Salud!” with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa. There’s also a Steel Cactus on the South Side at 19th and E. Carson Street that also serves brunch. 5505 Walnut St., Shadyside.

3) The Girl on the Train, a novel by British writer Paula Hawkins, was the subject of many a book club on both sides of the pond. In 2015, it debuted at number one on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list and was the number one hardback in the UK for 20 weeks. DreamWorks Pictures soon acquired the film rights with Universal Pictures distributing. As with the book, the movie concerns Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt), an alcoholic whose husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), left her for another woman. Watson commutes by train past her old home, where Tom lives with his new family. To distract herself, she fantasizes about the presumably happy couple living on the same block: Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans). The fantasy is shattered when Watson witnesses something horrible from the train. She wakes the following day, bruised and hungover, but with no memory of last night. Megan Hipwell, however, is missing. Tate Taylor (The Help) directs. For screens and times, check Fandango. (CM)

Emily Blunt at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. photo: gdcgraphics and Wikipedia.

Emily Blunt at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. photo: gdcgraphics and Wikipedia.