Arcade Comedy Theater organizes inventive and thunderous stand-up, improvisation and sketch shows every weekend. The best local artists share the calendar with special guests from afar; look for recurring favorites like the Dungeons & Dragons-themed “Knights of the Arcade” and the competition-style “Comedy Royale.”
(943 Liberty Ave., Downtown; arcadecomedytheater.com)
August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a striking and vibrant art space on Liberty Avenue and an anchor of the Cultural District. It focuses on the experience of black arts throughout history and also the experience of black artists in Pittsburgh; a diverse calendar of events includes theatre, dance, music and more.
(980 Liberty Ave, downtown; awaacc.org)
Calliope House is Pittsburgh’s longtime home and host for folk music, traditional American genres and more. The nonprofit brings together local, regional, national, and international artists in a variety of traditional and alternative genres in various Pittsburgh venues. Calliope House also offers programs for creating new folk music and musical jams.
The Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall is both one of Pittsburgh’s oldest performance spaces (dating back to 1898) and one of its busiest. The theater features a full schedule of touring bands, comedians and more, from legends to cult favorites. Stand-up is a specialty here, as many comedy heavyweights opt for the Music Hall when they stop by Pittsburgh; the likes of Marc Maron, Tig Notaro and Sinbad have taken center stage in recent years.
(510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall; librarymusichall.com)
Baroque Chatham specializes in breathtaking music performed in beautiful, acoustically rich spaces. Chatham Baroque shows feature music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque and Early Classical. The ensemble has toured the United States, Canada, South America and the Virgin Islands and has been hailed as “one of Pittsburgh’s greatest treasures” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
city of asylum is a key part of Pittsburgh’s literary ecosystem. The nonprofit hosts (and houses) exiled writers and has become a growing force in the city’s literary community, using its excellent Alphabet City bookstore as its home base. It organizes events that showcase musical and literary talents, often by oppressed or exiled musicians and authors.
(40 W. North Ave., north side; cityofasylum.org)
city theater is a South Side-based company that since 1975 has presented thought-provoking and dynamic plays, with an emphasis on contemporary pieces never before seen before Pittsburgh audiences, including occasional world premieres. The theater’s location next to East Carson Street also makes it a great option for those looking for a pre-show dinner — or, if you’re willing to brave occasional crowds, a drink afterwards. (1300 Bingham Street, South Side; citytheatrecompany.org)
club cafe is a cozy place that serves as a place of discovery – you go to the Club Cafe to investigate an artist. It is a pure and exciting process; pay a few bucks (and usually just a few bucks) and see if an hour of music up close can make you a fan. The Club Cafe schedule, also located in the heart of the South Side, includes live music, stand-up comedy, burlesque and more.
(56 S. 12th St., south side; clubcafelive.com)
The Harris Theater is a historic downtown cinema dedicated to showing contemporary, foreign and classic films. The theater opened its doors over a century ago, undergoing a number of rebrandings and renovations – including, uh, a few more adult incarnations – before becoming the city’s go-to spot for a cinema independent and with a fascinating repertoire.
(809 Liberty Ave, Downtown; trustarts.org)
To Kelly Strayhorn Theater, you’ll find a variety of performances by diverse emerging artists – theatre, music, dance and more fill an unpredictable but always packed schedule. Named after two of the city’s local heroes, Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, it’s a regular stop for small, innovative arts companies.
(5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; kelly-strayhorn.org)
magic freedom unlike any other place in town: a full-time home for parlor magic. World-renowned magicians, mentalists and other practitioners of close-up illusions stay for weeks at this intimate location. Live the VIP experience and you’ll be taken backstage after the show for an extra illusion or two.
(811 Liberty Ave, Downtown; trustarts.org)
MCG Jazz maintains Pittsburgh’s long history of jazz artistry and innovation with a beloved concert series featuring heavyweights from around the world. In addition to its extensive outreach and education efforts, the organization hosts a full season of music, including popular holiday concerts.
(1815 Metropolitan Street, Castle; mcgjazz.org)
To Mr. Smalls Theater and Entertainment House in Millvale you’ll see national tours, favorite local bands and new artists – all coming to play in a carefully converted former church. Downstairs, rock and hip-hop artists headline the main stage; upstairs, you’ll stand just steps away from the band in the funhouse rock space. A visit is a good opportunity to explore the neighborhood, too.
(400 Lincoln Ave, Millvale; mrsmalls.com)
The Theater of Oaks still shows movies (often accompanied by a beer tasting), but there’s plenty more to see at this long-running Oakmont cinema. Between stand-up comedy, touring bands, trivia and tribute acts, there’s likely to be something unexpected and entertaining at the Oaks, a historic venue tucked away in an unassuming suburban enclave.
(310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont; theoakstheater.com)
The Star Lake Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater with a seating capacity of over 20,000, has hosted a who’s who of legends over its three-plus decades: David Bowie, the Grateful Dead, Tina Turner, Elton John, Janet Jackson and countless others graced the stage. It’s a bit of a drive from downtown (and allow some time to park), but if one of your favorites is playing, it’s a good place to see them.
(665 Route 18, Burgettstown; livenation.com)
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater performs frequently at the Benedum Center as well as occasional shows around town – some outdoors. The 53-year-old theater has an eclectic history of performances, from new material to traditional shows, all presented by a world-class cast of professional dancers.
Pittsburgh Musical Theater has been the local specialist in timeless Broadway hits for over 30 years. The troupe performs at their home turf, the Gargaro Theater in the West End, as well as other venues around the city. The company is committed to the development and education of young people with a cast made up of professionals and young artists.
Pittsburgh Opera is the seventh oldest opera company in the United States and has a rich history of high quality productions. On its program you will find works by legendary composers, masterpieces by lesser-known composers and contemporary works by rising stars.
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company specializes in continuing the legacy of Pittsburgh-born playwright August Wilson; it remains one of the few companies in the world to have produced all 10 pieces of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cycle of the Century. The group also performs new works by local playwrights, including as part of its annual black and white theater festival.
Pittsburgh Public Theater settles in the heart of the cultural district in the welcoming and versatile O’Reilly theatre. Expect a variety of productions, from Shakespeare and classics to cutting-edge new shows, performed by top performers from Pittsburgh and beyond; upcoming productions include “A Raisin in the Sun”, “A Christmas Story”, and “Steel Magnolias”.
(621 Penn Ave, Downtown; ppt.org)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs in the majestic Heinz Hall of the Cultural District. Throughout its 120+ years, the orchestra has toured Europe, Asia and the Americas with classical works by some of the greatest composers through the ages. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra hosts performances of contemporary masterpieces and soundtracks in addition to local programs for youth education and community engagement.
(600 Penn Ave., downtown; pittsburghsymphony.org)
Prime Stage Theater is an all-ages nonprofit that performs at the New Hazlett Theater. The organization focuses on shows that connect children with literature, filling most of its schedule with shows adapted from books. It also offers a variety of public shows accessible to people with reduced mobility as well as deaf and/or visually impaired people.
(6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; primestage.com)
To quantum theater, you never know where you might be heading; the traveling group specializes in finding unconventional spaces for their performances, from temporary tents erected in city parks to shows performed in the shadow of towering local landmarks. The company also occasionally mounts immersive productions, centering the audience at the heart of the story.
Visit Row home theater for a favorite movie from the past – or something you’ve never seen before. Weekly themes, ranging from genre and director celebrations to offbeat concepts linking a series of films, bring back classics, rediscover lost gems and feature films never before seen in Pittsburgh. Enjoy your movie with a draft beer from the adjacent bottle shop and Bierport dining room.
(4115 Butler Street, Lawrenceville; rowhousecinema.com)
Stage AE is a North Shore entertainment venue best known for its indoor and outdoor concerts, with a full schedule moving outdoors when the weather warms up. The place brings together musicians of all genres, but focuses on rock bands. Stage AE organizes an average of around 110 events per year, including occasional sporting events, exhibitions and charity fundraisers.
(400 North Shore Drive, North Shore; promowestlive.com)