Gray Areas: Beer Fest highlighted local brewers

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

• The Youngstown Craft Beer Fest at Austintown Plaza last Friday was a great time as always.

Held in the tent that will host O’Donolds’ St. Patrick’s Day festivities this weekend, the event gave attendees a chance to sample more than 60 brews.

The only problem with that is they all start to blur together after a while, both because of the sheer quantity of options and the high-alcohol content in some of those craft brews.

This year, I texted myself notes so I could remember some of the ones I liked best.

Since Christian Rinehart started the event, the emphasis has shifted to showcase local beer makers more and more. And several stood out alongside their nationally distributed peers.

Pipette, a Belgian tripel from Warren’s Modern Methods, has become a personal favorite. Even with so many beers available that I hadn’t tried, I couldn’t resist a pour.

I love citrus forward IPAs, but Numbers Brewing from Lisbon had a Blood Orange Lager that showed how citrus could complement a less-hoppy style. And Penelope, a stout from Youngstown’s Noble Creature, was as good as any stout I had Friday, with the possible exception of the Single Origin Coffee Stout from Cleveland’s Masthead.

Southern Tier, a western New York-based brewery with taprooms / restaurants in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, offered the best pairing of the night. Samoa This essentially is a Samoa Girl Scout cookie in a glass — an imperial stout filled with coconut, chocolate and caramel flavors. And to cement the comparison, the beer was served with Samoa cookies.

• Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced the 2019-20 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh season this week, following Cleveland’s KeyBank Broadway Series announcement last month.

For Mahoning Valley theater fans trying to determine which series best suits their needs, there is plenty of overlap.

In fact, the one show coming to Pittsburgh that can’t be seen in Cleveland is “Escape to Margaritaville,” the musical built around the songs of Jimmy Buffett that had a short Broadway run last year. It will be in Pittsburgh May 12-17, 2020, at the Benedum Center.

Four of the seven shows in the 2019-20 season are on both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland lineups — “Mean Girls” (Oct. 28-Nov. 3); “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Dec. 31-Jan. 5, 2020); 2018 Tony winner “The Band’s Visit” (March 10-15, 2020); and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” (April 7-12, 2020).

The other two shows are part of Cleveland’s current season — “A Bronx Tale” (Nov. 19-24) and “Miss Saigon” (Feb. 4-9, 2020).

Season tickets are on sale now at TrustArts.org/Broadway and range from $205 to $723 for the seven-season schedule.

Several other shows are coming to the city outside of the subscription series, including a four-week run of “Disney’s The Lion King” that starts Sept. 4 at the Benedum Center. Other attractions will include “Les Miserables” (Nov. 26-Dec. 1), “The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays” (Dec. 26-29) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” (Feb. 26-March 1, 2020).

Pittsburgh has one additional incentive to dangle — “Hamilton” will return to Pittsburgh as part of its 2020-21 season and 2019-20 subscribers who renew the following year will receive priority seating.

• A live version of “The Price Is Right” has been a big draw, filling theaters nationwide (including dates at Packard Music Hall and Powers Auditorium).

“Family Feud Live! Celebrity Edition” will try to duplicate the success. The production comes to Cleveland’s State Theatre at 8 p.m. June 14.

Audience members will be selected randomly to participate on stage, and those who aren’t selected still will have a chance to win prizes. A celebrity host and two celebrity team captains to be announced will join the audience members on stage to recreate the popular syndicated game show.

Tickets range from $25 to $45 and go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday through Playhouse Square.

Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at agray@tribtoday .com

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