PNC Park Hosts Def Leppard. Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett; PPT Opens ‘Jitney’ at August Wilson House

1) A top-selling, classic rock band, Def Leppard is one of only five bands that have had two original studio albums with sales of over 10 million each. The others sharing this distinction are The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd. Top songs like “Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” are some of the reasons for Def Leppard’s massive success. Leppard is touring behind their latest album Diamond Star Halos, which dropped in March. The album takes its name from a lyric in the 1971 T. Rex song “Get It On.” It reached no. 1 on the Billboard Rock and Metal chart.

Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Home Sweet Home are some of the top hits generated by the group. The Crüe, one of the best-selling bands of all-time, was formed in Los Angles in 1981 by Tommy Lee (drummer) and Nikki Sixx (bass). The band also includes Mick Mars (lead guitar) and Vince Neil (lead vocals). Mötley Crüe is known for living the rock ‘n roll lifestyle to the extreme. Tommy Lee was married to Pamela Anderson of “Baywatch” TV fame for a few years, even starring in a short film with her. A few years back it looked like the band was in its final phase, but they have been reinvigorated and have even signed up for a European tour next year.

Poison hails from not too far away, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, just west of Harrisburg. Their lead singer Bret Michaels was born in Butler and is an avid Steelers fan. His family moved to Mechanicsburg and he grew up there. The glam metal band achieved huge success between 1985 and 1996, generating hits like “Nothin’ but a Good Time,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and “Something to Believe In.” Michaels also has a successful solo career.

Joan Jett, is a talented rocker who also co-founded The Runaways. You can draw a line from Runaways songs, such as “Cherry Bomb,” to riot grrrl acts, like Bikini Kill. After The Runaways dissolved in 1979, Jett went solo. She and her band, the Blackhearts, are best known for their 1982 number one hit, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” “Bad Reputation” was another great track. Outside of rock ‘n’ roll, she co-starred alongside Michael J. Fox in 1987’s Light of Day, and she played Columbia in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show. Jett and the Blackhearts in March released an acoustic album, Changeup, their first ever acoustic album. 4:30 p.m. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Side. (C.M., R.H.)

This fun promo art for Pittsburgh Playwright Theatre's 'Jitney' shows the actors appearing in the production at the August Wilson House. (Artwork by Brandon Jennings)

This fun promo art for Pittsburgh Playwright Theatre’s ‘Jitney’ shows the actors appearing in the production at the August Wilson House. (Artwork by Brandon Jennings)

JITNEY by August Wilson. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre. August 12 – September 18.

2) Back in 1982, some Pittsburgh theater fans began buzzing about a new play by a practically unknown playwright. “Gotta see it” was the word. Hilarious and yet serious, the play didn’t seem to have much of a plot—just a bunch of characters at a jitney cab station in the Hill District, joking and razzing each other—but it drew you in. You felt right there with the guys in their shabby storefront office, where people could call in for rides when a local bookie wasn’t using the phone … and then gradually, as tensions emerged, things got riveting. The play was August Wilson’s Jitney. After its ’82 premiere at the now-gone Allegheny Repertory Theatre, Jitney went nearly forgotten while Wilson moved on to fame with subsequent plays like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Fences. Finally in 1996, a Jitney revival at Pittsburgh Public Theater got Wilson started on multiple revisions to the script. New versions were later staged in New York and London, until Jitney became a cherished part of Wilson’s 10-play American Century Cycle.

Now there is a rare chance to see Jitney performed by the Wilson experts at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre. Mark Clayton Southers directs a cast in which Becker, owner of the jitney enterprise, is played by the longtime actor, social activist, and current Pittsburgh School Board President Sala Udin. Outdoors at the August Wilson House, 1727 Bedford Ave., Hill District. (M.V.)

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Rick Handler

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