‘Matilda the Musical’ Running at The Benedum; The Summer Co. Stages ‘The Consorts’ (Fri., 6/10/16)

Childhood is strange and Roald Dahl's vision of it was stranger: This photo from the Broadway production of "Matilda the Musical" may clue you to what the touring show is like.

Childhood is strange and Roald Dahl’s vision of it was stranger: This photo from the Broadway production of “Matilda the Musical” may clue you to what the touring show is like. photo: Joan Marcus.

1) Maybe the sirens aren’t wailing but a Roald Dahl alert is in effect. Matilda the Musical, based on Dahl’s novel about a 5-year-old girl with telekinetic powers, visits Pittsburgh in an acclaimed touring production. Dahl (1916-1990) ranks with Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling in the category called “British authors of children’s literature that adults love, too.” A mercurial man who’d had a mischievous and oft-troubled childhood himself, Dahl engaged in fierce combat as a fighter pilot during World War II, then turned to writing wild stories for kids and grown-up kids. Those made into movies include James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (twice); Danny DeVito’s 1996 film of Matilda used “Send Me on My Way” by Pittsburgh’s Rusted Root as its theme music. Playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian Tim Minchin then adapted Matilda as a full-blown stage musical, premiered in 2010 in England by none other than the Royal Shakespeare Company—which also produced the current touring show. If you’re a Dahl fan you know the plot, and if not, bring the children but leave your logic at home. 8 p.m. Continues through Sunday. Benedum Center, 237 7th Avenue, Cultural District. (MV)

2) Dark comedy? It’s everywhere. But dark historical religious comedy is rare. The Consorts, a new play by local playwright Tim Ruppert, re-imagines the very strange end to the hectic life of a famous English churchman. Thomas Cranmer was named Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533 under Henry VIII, the king who married six times. Cranmer helped start the merry-go-round by annulling Henry’s first marriage and blessing his second, a move that greatly irked the Pope. This prompted the Church of England’s split from Rome and made the Archbishop answerable only to his monarch—a friendly setup until Henry died. When the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I (a.k.a. “Bloody Mary”) took the throne, Cranmer was sentenced to burn as a heretic. The Consorts depicts him before the roast, trying to wriggle out of it while visited by dueling spirits: the ghosts of Henry’s wives number one and two. The Summer Company is giving the play its world premiere. 8 p.m. Performances through Sunday.  In the Genesius Theater at Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Ave., Uptown. (MV)

3) Our battlin’ Bucs take on the St. Louis Cardinals tonight in a 7:05 p.m. game. It’s also Free Shirt Friday, with the first 20,000 fans receiving a Pirates T-shirt. Tailgate before the game at the Friday Night Block Party featuring live entertainment, food and beer options, games and more. You can even meet former Pirate pitcher Jim Rooker. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Shore.

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Rick Handler

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