Fanfare: August Wilson Center Has Grand Opening

By Guerriero, Kate | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 2, 2009 | Go to article overview

Fanfare: August Wilson Center Has Grand Opening


Guerriero, Kate, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Cornerstone of Culture

It's hard not to notice the gorgeous new piece of architecture sitting snugly on the corner of Liberty and 10th, tucked in as if the land never was intended for any other purpose, and on Thursday, a crowd of more than 700 raised $350,000 on the red carpet for the grand opening of the $41 million August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

Named for Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright (and Pittsburgh son) August Wilson, the ceremony kicked off amid much fanfare and a half-dozen flaming torches that lined our path inside. VIPs toasted the bubbly with honorary chairs Constanza Romero Wilson and Nancy and Milton Washington, air kissing our way through all 65k square feet.

"I've been in the cultural sector for thirty years now ... hopefully I don't look it," laughed former prez Neil Barclay as he thanked friends and supporters.

Making our way into the theater, it was somewhat of a scramble to find a seat, although that certainly never can be considered anything less than a good thing.

"Hello Pittsburgh! I have the pleasure of co-hosting this event with this gorgeous man!" exclaimed Anna Maria Horsford as she introduced her co-host Delroy Lindo to the microphone.

The Harlem Quartet strung us along with a whimsical version of "Take the 'A' Train" before the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble joined the World Chorus for a musical presentation that brought us to our feet.

Later in the evening, the doors opened to welcome the Gen-Xers to an evening of stiletto stomping with DJ Nate Da Phat Barber, while those looking for a more classical musical experience headed back down to the theater for a serenade from the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra.

With the exception of a new weather pattern that includes 365 days of summer, it's hard to imagine what possibly could make our city any more fabulous than it already is. But with the addition of this cornerstone to our cultural district, not only are we reminded of where we've been, we now have a shining example of where we are going.

Who was there? More like who wasn't! We spotted Capital Campaign co-chairs Thomas and Bonnie VanKirk and Karen Farmer White; board chair Oliver Byrd with Karla; prexy Marva Harris with Gene; Sakina Wilson and Hadiyah Shakoor; Freda and Kim Ellis; Elsie Hillman; Tim and Audrey Fisher; Tim and Jennifer Stevens; Hizzoner Ravenstahl; Dan Onorato (flying in, literally, just in time); Kevin and Kristen McMahon; Thomas Kobus; Ken and Pam McCrory; Kathleen Beauman; Sister Sheila Carney; Clyde Jones; Ranny and Jay Ferguson; Jeff and BJ Leber; Drs. Loren and Ellen Roth; Mona Generett; Cristy Gookin and Jonathan Draper; Richard Hinch; Jonathan Floyd; Jerry and Rhonda Lopes; Elaine Effort; Latasha Wilson and Louis Lannutti; Eugenia Barclay.

Grill Masters

Let's face it; presented with the option of 1) slaving away in the kitchen ourselves or 2) having someone else do the dirty work while we sit back and savor the effort, most of us aren't exactly wasting time simmering over which pan to fry. …

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