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What to do in Pittsburgh this weekend: June 23-25

Four dancers in black suits and ties lean on a stage.
Shana Simmons Dance
Shana Simmons Dance is among the troupes performing at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air series, June 22-25.

Check out a new play about Steelers Hall of Fame center "Iron Mike" Webster and hear great artists at this weekend's WYEP Summer Music Festival in Schenley Plaza.

Dance in Open Air

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Open Air performance series, launched early in the pandemic, returns in a new location for four days of free shows. On a big mobile stage at Wilmerding’s Westinghouse Academy, Shana Simmons Dance teams with Texture Contemporary Ballet to open the series at 4:30 p.m. Thu., June 22. PBT dancers perform both Thursday and Friday nights, and Saturday brings a full day of dance and music by local troupes.

12:52: The Mike Webster Story

Steelers Hall of Fame center “Iron Mike” Webster was the first NFL player diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. “12:52: The Mike Webster Story,” a new play by Randall Benson and Ross Howard, explores the tragedy that followed his football triumphs. It premieres courtesy of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. Five performances remain Thu., June 22, through Sunday, at the Madison Arts Center, in the Hill District.

Music in the plaza

The WYEP Summer Music Festivalhits Schenley Plaza starting 3 p.m. Sat., June 24. This year’s lineup features acclaimed R&B singer-songwriter Devon Gilfillian, indie rock band Illiterate Light, and singer-songwriter Allison Ponthier. As always, the all-day fest is free. (WYEP is WESA’s sister station.)

Unseen Cinema

Noted curator and film historian Bruce Posner visits the Harris Theater with “Unseen Cinema,” a program of key digitally restored American avant-garde shorts from 1894 through 1941. Filmmakers represented in the show include Man Ray, Joseph Cornell and Fernand Léger. The show’s at 7:30 p.m. Sat., June 24.

Look to the stars

Just days after the summer solstice, see what’s on in the night sky with the Carnegie Science Center’s Sky Watch, on Thu., Jun 24. Doors open at 9 p.m. for the ticketed planetarium performance followed, weather permitting, a chance to explore the firmament through one of the Center’s telescopes. Additional Sky Watches follow monthly through September.

Giants in the sky!

There’s no bad reason to revisit the genius of Stephen Sondheim. And starting Tue., June 27, the Pittsburgh CLO stages one of the master’s signature works. “Into the Woods,” with a book by James Lapine, explores Grimm’s fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood through a sly, modern lens. The musical comedy takes over the Benedum Center for eight performances through July 2.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: