Yanni in Concert at The Benedum; ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Continues on Local Screens (Mon., 12/9/19)

1) The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents Yiannis Chryssomallis, better known as Yanni, at Benedum Center. This legendary composer and pianist truly defies classification; his largely instrumental compositions borrow from cultures all over the world. He and his sizable orchestra employ a mind-blowing variety of both traditional and exotic instruments and borrow from an impressive assortment of musical modes and genres, from jazz to classical to soft rock, as well as a commendable collection of traditional ethnic music. The venues that Yanni has chosen during his more-than-30-year career are equally varied, ranging from the Taj Mahal to the Kremlin to the Forbidden City in China. Yanni has left as much of an impression with his career in general as he has with his music itself, given that, globally, he has accrued dozens of gold and platinum albums and has performed his high-energy live shows for millions of people in many countries. This appearance will feature Yanni performing his music on his piano and speaking to the audience about the stories behind his music, how he creates music, and will also detail some of his inspirations. The concert is billed as Pure Yanni. 7:30 p.m. 237 7th St.., Cultural District. (RH)

2) The new movie about Fred Rogers has surprised some early viewers who thought it would trace his life and career. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based, loosely, on a single true story. It dramatizes how this creator of a children’s TV show could move people—including adults—to live better, happier lives. True story: In 1998, Esquire magazine asked journalist Tom Junod to write an in-depth profile of the famous Mister Rogers, who at age 70 was still making episodes of his show. The reporter found himself warmly welcomed and personally uplifted. Junod’s account of the days he spent with Fred, titled “Can You Say … Hero?,” became a profoundly moving classic in its own right. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood fictionalizes the interplay between the two men. While many true elements are kept—such as carefully re-created scenes of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” being produced in WQED’s Studio A—interpersonal dynamics are cranked up for dramatic effect. 

The magazine reporter (renamed Lloyd Vogel, and played by Matthew Rhys) is portrayed as a cynical young man with a screwed-up family life, upset at first about having to write a piece on a sweet-talking kiddie icon. But Fred (Tom Hanks) doesn’t just talk goodness and love; he embodies it, projects it, and a tortured soul is transformed. A Beautiful Day comes to Pittsburgh theaters trailing strong reviews. (MV)

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Rick Handler

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