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"Pittsburgh Batman" rises from mind of Grand Buffet



Published: Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Back in the early 2000s, Nyabinghi had the coolest rock shows in Youngstown.

Most memorable at the wild and woolly West Side bar were the frequent double bills with Grand Buffet and Gil Mantera’s Party Dream.

Those were nights of hilarious debauchery. The one-of-a-kind acts commanded attention with their antics and went perfectly together.

Some things are just too good to last, and it all ended when Nyabinghi closed in 2006.

Youngstown’s GMPD moved on but would later call it quits just as it was knocking on the door of bigger things. Grand Buffet, the Pittsburgh-based hip-hip duo whose songs were densely packed with sharp-but-wickedly funny wordplay, tried to keep its momentum up but with mixed success.

All of this is to jog your memory before bringing up “Pittsburgh Batman,” a play written by Lord Grunge of Grand Buffet. It stars Grunge, Jackson (the other half of Grand Buffet), plus the artist formerly known as Ultimate Donny (aka DJ Richard Elmsworth) of GMPD.

“Pittsburgh Batman” opens at 8 tonight at Bricolage Theater, 937 Liberty Ave., in the theater district of downtown Pittsburgh, and runs through Saturday. Go to pittsburghbatman.com.

It’s not mainstream stuff. A typical reaction to any scene might be stunned speechlessness, followed by uncontrolled laughter.

It’s the story of Pittsburgh Batman. Imagine a hard-working, blue-collar, beer-and-cigarette caped crime fighter who — with deep irritation — manages to get his job done. You know, a real Pittsburgher. It’s drenched in Steel City culture, then filtered through the bizarre humor of Lord Grunge, who also scored it with original music.

In the play, a crime wave has broken out, and Pittsburgh Batman (played by Grunge) consults with some epic city figures — Andy Warhol is one of them — to find out who is behind it.

Elmsworth plays some joker from Youngstown who just might be that mastermind villain.

Lord Grunge describes the target audience as “pretty much just me. Maybe some day I’ll venture out into trying to come up with [stuff] that other demographics would enjoy, but thus far the only [stuff] that I’ve cranked out is stuff that I would pay to go see. This is no different.”

Those who do go should expect “a lot of laughs, a couple of excellent musical numbers and an experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen on a stage,” he said.

Quick question: Did the filming of director Chris Nolan’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” in Pittsburgh two years ago inspire Grunge?

Answer: “No, and I actually despise the Chris Nolan take on Batman,” said LG. “I wrote this play back in winter of 2008, months before the first of that [expletive] franchise was released. I could [complain] for miles about why I think those movies [are terrible], but I’ll just say this: if Chris Nolan can butcher Batman, then [expletive], so can I.”

NUMBERS ARE ADDING UP FOR ‘THE POWER OF FEW’

“The Power of Few” racked up $7,600 in box office last weekend at just two theaters, which put it in the top 20 for per-screen average of the 300 films that opened in theaters nationwide last weekend.

The action-drama movie with a sci-fi twist written and directed by Boardman native Leone Marucci. Fred D’Amico, also of Boardman, was a producer and has a small role in it.

“Power” marked Marucci’s debut as a filmmaker. The flick has an impressive cast that includes Christopher Walken, Christian Slater, Anthony Anderson, Q’orianka Kilcher and Moon Bloodgood.

“Power” will remain at Tinseltown in Boardman at least through this coming weekend. It is also playing in Columbus

This Friday, the film will expand to theaters in Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, La., and New Orleans, where it was filmed. It will open in Philadelphia and Boulder, Colo., on March 1.

TICKETS ARE GETTING SCARCE FOR FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE

Country duo Florida Georgia Line is currently in that fleeting moment of transition from a club act to a theater headliner, and Youngstown is witnessing it.

The rising act, which just picked up an ACM award for New Vocal Duo, will be at Stambaugh Auditorium on March 3, and fewer than 200 tickets remain. The last time FGL was in the area was an October show at the Dusty Armadillo in Rootstown.

All tickets for the Stambaugh concert are $22. Most of the remaining seats are in the gallery, but there really isn’t a bad seat in Stambaugh. Go to stambaughauditorium.com, or call 330-259-0555.


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