Tracy Brigden

Tracy Brigden, who is starting her 15th year as Artistic Director of City Theatre Company, shares her itinerary for the week of June 23rd in NEXT Up, including some terrific spots for the under-16 set.

Early Tuesday morning I’ll drop my step-kids off at the South Hills YMCA camp for the day. As a relatively new step-mom, it’s been eye-opening to discover how many amazing activities and organizations there are for the under-16-set in Pittsburgh. My kids are regulars at the incredible Children’s Museum, have slept over at the Carnegie Science Center, learned to make movies and photos at the PCA and have become avid theater–goers (natch). Such an early morning requires a swing by The Big Dog Coffee in the South Side to latte-up for the day.

I’ll have an action-packed day at City Theatre plotting and planning next season’s line-up of plays. First a phone call about casting with Willy Holtzman, the writer of next year’s world premiere, Smart Blonde, a play with music about actress Judy Holliday. Then I’ll dash out to staff lunch favorite, Urban Tap, to say goodbye to marketing phenom Emily Price who is leaving us to work with the smarties over at Deeplocal. We love her and wish her well! Then back to the office to put on my director hat to start the design process on our fall show, Outside Mullingar (penned by John Patrick Shanley of Moonstruck fame) with set designer extraordinaire Anne Mundell.

The start of the week’s home stretch might need to include a mid-morning escape with City Managing Director, Mark Power (aka work husband) to slurp down a delicious smoothie at the newish Amazing Café helmed by actor and chef Mark Staley. It’s so healthy you feel virtuous just walking into the place! (We have also been known to steal over to Dairy Queen for Blizzards as well, but don’t tell.) Then I am hoping I can score a ticket to No Name Players massive hit, Evil Dead: The Musical. It’s selling out, so I’ll have to do some brokering with friends Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio who run the company. I hear you get a poncho at the door because there is so much blood spattered during the production. Gross fun!

Friday night date with my Hubby, Mike DelGaudio. I’ll get my hair spruced up in the afternoon by stylist-to-the-stars Christine Goodis of Salon Christine. She makes me feel like a movie star and I love the atmosphere (shiraz for all!) of the cool and cozy Lawrenceville temple of beauty. For my date, I’ve been hankering for some Umi. Mike and I love sitting in the back of the room at one of the sunken tatami tables. Umi takes sushi to another level. Plus, the service is always terrific, and who doesn’t love a cocktail named “An Offer You Can’t Refuse” made with mole bitters? A perfect place for a yummy and romantic evening.

My Saturday morning ritual is family brunch at Marty’s Market to get fueled up for power shopping in the Strip. The kids love the French toast egg sandwich and I love the fruit and yogurt with organic strawberries (Wow! They taste like strawberries!). We’ll hit the Penn Mac cheese counter on our journey—so I better have a healthy breakfast. At Marty’s we always run into friend and CMU Drama Department Head Peter Cooke who lives down the street—it’s so Pittsburgh. We’ll hit up Wholey’s, Penzey’s, Mancini’s and more—and of course I must take a stroll through Hot Haute Hot to ogle all the gorgeousness in there. Future gift givers—please note.

I want to get over to the Frick Art & Historical Center to be one of the first people to see the Degas works on paper exhibit. I love Degas, and this show also contains drawings by other Impressionists like Manet, Cassatt and Cezanne. And while I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll take a walk through lush Frick Park and get lost in the winding trails. (Still working off that Penn Mac, thanks a lot “Dearheart!”) Then home to Mt. Lebo for a mellow evening. At this time of year, I don’t have to constantly read scripts, so I get to dive into some novels for the summer. I have the Donna Tartt and the Amy Tan on my bedside. Or maybe I’ll just binge on the rest of this season’s House of Cards—I do love the Underwoods—the ultimate modern day MacBeths.

Monday is a big day at the theatre. We are holding our annual local general auditions for the upcoming season. Any actor can sign-up for a slot to perform a three-minute monologue for me. It’s where I get to see the new talent—some who are just out of school, some who just moved to Pittsburgh, some just coming back to acting after a time away. It can be a grueling 8 hours of speeches, but when the real deal walks through the door—it’s worth every second. Every star starts somewhere, why not Pittsburgh?

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.