South Side Johnny & The Asbury Jukes at Rex; Last Day for ‘A Lesson Before Dying’ at Prime Stage (Sun., 3/13/16)

1) Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes are bringing their wall-of-sound to the Rex Theater. The band features a New Jersey rock sound complemented by a talented horn section. Southside Johnny’s first three albums were arranged and produced by the co-founder of the band and Bruce Springsteen associate Steven Van Zandt. The albums were mainly composed of songs written by Van Zandt and/or Springsteen. They are known for the songs “Trapped Again,” “Without Love,” and “We’re Having A Party.” Southside Johnny should feel right at home on Pittsburgh’s South Side. 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St.

2) Prime Stage Theatre has an educational mission as well as an artistic mission. The company presents plays that raise social issues (such as, recently, The Crucible), brings in school groups to see the shows, and conducts related programs. But one does not have to be a student to appreciate Prime Stage: Good plays are chosen and they’re done well. Romulus Linney’s A Lesson Before Dying, is a tense drama set in a small town in the pre-integration South. A young black man is wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to die. As he awaits execution, members of his community resolve to help him come to terms with his fate—and in doing so, they must confront how courage, injustice, and faith are manifested in their own lives. A Lesson Before Dying is based on Ernest J. Gaines’ 1993 novel, which was also made into an HBO movie. 2:30 p.m. State Rep. Edward Gainey of the 24th District and Stephan Broadus, ‎assistant to the publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier conduct a post-show discussion of themes in A Lesson Before Dying. Ends today. At the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. (MV)

3) Toni Morrison’s first novel—the one that set her on the path to a Nobel Prize for Literature—also ranks high on banned book lists. There have been frequent attempts to keep The Bluest Eye out of schools and libraries nationwide. It won’t be kept off the stage in Pittsburgh, as Point Park Conservatory Theatre performs playwright Lydia R. Diamond’s adaptation of the controversial story. The Bluest Eye is about a preteen African American girl who dreams of becoming white, thinking she’d then be prettier. Instead she becomes pregnant after being raped by her estranged father. Many twists and turns follow, played out both in surreal visions and on the level of harsh reality. Diamond’s The Bluest Eye was commissioned by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, which premiered it in 2005 for audiences teenaged and up. The play is reputedly not as brutal as the novel but not for small children, either. In the Rauh Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. 2 p.m. Ends today. (MV)

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Rick Handler

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