Friday, October 12, 2018

Broken Biscuit

Michael Macri,  Leigha Kato &
Amanda Jill Robinson

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s all comedy theatre comedy, is presenting the American premiere of Broken Biscuits through October 28, 2018 at Plays & Players Theater, 17th and Delancey Street. Written by Tom Wells, Broken Biscuits toured the UK in 2016. Set in a working class neighborhood of Yorkshire, England, three 16 year-old outcasts plan their last summer together before college. Megan (Amanda Jill Robinson) is fed up with being branded “the fat one”. Her friend Holly (Leigha Kato) is shy and Ben (Michael Macri) is gay. Megan decides the group will become “cool” by forming a band, even though none of them is a proficient musician. This piece is an excellent study of teenage leadership and how fragile it is. Ms. Robinson’s character portrays strong leadership skills. She is very persuasive to her reluctant friends and sets up a weekly band rehearsal in her shed. Ms. Kato’s Holly is like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Shy in the beginning of the performance, her character blossoms near the end, singing a song she has written about a boy who comes to her cash register at work. Michael Macri’s character, Ben, comes to terms with his character’s sexuality. Megan does not react well to her friends’ independence. The set is very creative. The shed has a multitude of items hanging on its walls, some of which are useful to Megan and her friends; some of which are useful only to anyone storing tools in a shed. A poster with rip-off numbers indicates the passage of time. Characters leaving by the rear door of the shed and making quick costume changes indicate time passage as well. This is a first-rate production demonstrating the trials of coming of age. For more information or tickets, call 215-5923-9560 or visit www.1812productions.com


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Once

Lucia Brady & Katherine Fried

Once is a misnomer attributed to one of the most outstanding productions ever to grace a theatre’s stage, for everything about it screams more! Appearing on the main stage of the Arden theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, its run has been extended through October 28 due to popular demand. Thanks to the flexibility of the seating in the F.Otto Haas main stage, the seats are set around the stage on three sides, with the action taking place on the floor, in the aisles and on walkways arranged above the seats. Early arrivals are treated to a concert   by 11 musicians playing both Gaelic and Irish tunes and dancing in a circle in the middle of a rug-strewn floor. A plethora of instruments is used, including violins, guitars, a piano, a melodica, a cajón, a mandolin, a banjo, a tambourine, and a bass. The instrumentalists, dancing and singing as they play, lend an air of exuberance to the evening, not once, but every time they appear. An Irish Guy (Ken Allen Neely) meets a Czech Girl (Katherine Fried) in Dublin and they discover  a common love of music, which leads to complications in their personal lives.  Their harmonies blend together beautifully but the ensemble sings after each scene and when everyone joins together it is nothing short of magnificent. This is not a presentation that you want to see only once. An added treat is the performance of Lucia Brady, an extraordinarily talented 8 year-old who portrays the Girl’s daughter and plays the violin in the show’s final number. For more information or tickets to see this wondrous show, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

iLuminate


Nine extraordinarily talented young men and women dancers took to the Merriam stage for three performances Friday September 22 and Saturday, September 23. iLuminate brings a unique concept to the stage, combining well-choreographed dance moves with state-of-the-art lighting effects. The show was performed on a dark stage with dancers bedecked in neon lighting from head to toe. In the blink of an eye dancers' lights went off and they disappeared, only to reappear on another part of the stage a few seconds later. The results of the appearance and disappearance of the characters on stage as routines were set to music was nothing short of spectacular. Benches, chairs, a wall clock, a door and an easel were all outlined in lights at one time or another. Butterflies flew across the stage in lights, as did symbols of Ms. Pacman, Super Mario, and an arrow hitting a bulls- eye. The rendition of Michael Jackson’s Bill Jean was superb not only for its athleticism but for its astonishing light display. This number, alone, was enough to give the production a WOW factor of 10 but it was only one of many. ILuminate is the brainchild of Miral Kotb who sought to bring together her passions for dance and software engineering. She has been wildly successful with both. The next featured performance at the Kimmel Cultural Campus will be Love Never Dies (October 2-7, 2018) at the Academy of Music. For more information, see www.kimmelcenter.org. 


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Erma Bombeck:At Wits End

Licia Watson as Erma Bombeck

Licia Watson is appearing at Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa. in the persona of Erma Bombeck. Erma Bombeck: At Wits End will be performed through October 7, 2018. The set is a cut-a-way of a split level home, typical of many houses built in the ‘70’s.  Ms. Watson utilizes the entire multi-level set throughout the performance. Performing a “one-man” show is a difficult task and Ms. Watson not only speaks to the audience but also has several phone conversations and mock conversations with invisible family members in her home. This is not a profession for the faint of heart. Several props are utilized without “Erma’s” skipping a beat. “You don’t mind if I iron while I speak to you, do you?” she asks and later does the dishes while she is speaking about Betty Friedan and the Equal Rights Amendment. The monologue gets laughs from the audience several times, including a deadpan from Watson …, “One of my household hints on how to get odors out of the kitchen - stop cooking.” Although much of the material is dated, Licia Watson gives a very credible performance as one of America’s favorite humorists, detailing Erma Bombeck's life as a housewife, columnist and activist for women's rights. For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit brtstage.org.




Monday, September 17, 2018

Hapgood

William Zielinski & McKenna Kerrigan

The Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephen’s Church Theater, 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood through October 14, 2018. British intelligence officer Elizabeth Hapgood, fondly known as Mother, (McKenna Kerrigan) runs a counter intelligence operation against Russian spies. But a question poses itself. Are there twins involved? And then another question… Has the Russian spy Kerner (William Zielinski) which she has cultivated as a double agent, turned back again to his homeland?  If he decides to turn over his scientific discoveries, how damaging will it be? You might need a score card to follow all the shenanigans, and you might need a tally to keep track of all the math and science that is described as particle physics, but you’ll need only your eyes to marvel at the fantastic work of Scenic Designer Nick Embree and the 7 unique set designs presented back to back on the circular stage. The part of Hapgood‘s and Kerner’s son Joe is alternately played by Will Zielinski and Charles LaMonaca. Will is visiting the Philadelphia area for a year from Amsterdam and has just made his professional debut on the Lantern stage. Charles is an eight-grade veteran actor who is making his Lantern debut.  Keep an eye out for more of his performances! For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Holiday Inn

Ben Dibble & Ensemble

Irving Berlin’s music resonates with us as it did with his audiences 70 years ago. Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn will be appearing at the Walnut Street Theatre’s mainstage, 825 Walnut Street, through October 21, 2018 Featuring a score of Berlin’s favorites and many of Philadelphia’s favorite actors, including Mary Martello, Ben Dibble and Fran Prisco, Holiday Inn is a romantic comedy based on the movie of the same name. After Jim leaves Hollywood and buys a farm in Connecticut, he decides the farm cannot sustain itself.  With a little help, he decides to open up the farmhouse as an Inn and have shows on holidays. It is wonderfully suited to be produced on the Walnut’s stage which is conducive to big production numbers like Blue Skies. Beautiful harmonies fill the theatre as Jim (Ben Dibble) and Linda (Cary Michelle Miller) sing “Marching Along With Time.” The harmonies resound time and time again as the two voices blend together throughout the production. Of course Mary Martello is the rock of any production  that has her name on it. In Holiday Inn,she is a farmhand and the guiding force to set  a love story  straight. The set design is ingenious. A quick turn of a door signals an indoor scene to become a breathtaking starry night.  Several scenes later, rotating doors become a pivotal part of Ted Hanover’s (Jacob Tischler) dance routine with the ensemble girls in “You’re Easy to Dance With.” The ensemble is very talented. There is a very exciting tap routine in the first act and Jacob Tischler has an opportunity to show his dancing skills as well.  Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn is a feel-good production. You will feel good while watching it and you will leave the theatre happy you saw the show. For more information, see www.walnutstreettheatre.org. or ticketmaster.              


Monday, September 10, 2018

October Events at the Kimmel



Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies will make its Philadelphia premiere at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music on October 2-7, 2018. Eight performances will tell the continuation of the ultimate love story – The Phantom of the Opera - one of the most successful musicals of all time.  The sequel is set in 1907, 10 years after the Phantom’s disappearance from the Paris Opera House and he has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island. Here he has found a place for his music to soar but he has never stopped yearning for his one true love and musical protégée Christine Daaê. Now Christine accepts an invitation to travel from Paris to New York to perform in a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back Christine‘s love, The Phantom lures her, her husband and son from Manhattan to Coney Island.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales are available for 10 or more and can be purchased by calling 215-790-5883.

20-Time Grammy® Winning Guitar Icon Pa Metheny redefines Jazz on the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Merriam Theater October 5, 2018. Born into a musical family, Metheny has been playing the guitar since the age of 12. He released his first album in 1975 when he was only 21, reinventing the jazz guitar sound.  In addition to being an accomplished musician himself, Metheny has been a music educator at several universities, including being the youngest teacher ever at both the University of Miami and Berkley College of Music.  He has traveled the world to teach music workshops and has been one of the first jazz musicians to treat the synthesizer as a serious musical instrument. He has also been instrumental in the development of several new kinds of guitars, such as the soprano acoustic guitar, the 42-string Pikasso guitar, Ibanez’s PM series jazz guitars and a variety of other custom instruments. See www.kimmelcenter.org for more information.

Internationally recognized activist Black Lives Matter activist  DeRay McKesson will discuss his new book, On the Other Side of Freedom, in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater on Saturday October 6 at 8:00 p.m. McKesson draws from his own experiences as an organizer, educator and public official to discuss  issues of culture, social justice, and politics. The conversation will also examine the core themes of McKesson’s book where he talks about resistance, justice and freedom and offers an intimate portrait of the Black Lives Matter movement from the front lines. McKesson was named #11 on Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list and Harvard’s Black Man of the Year in 2016. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or visiting online www.kimmelcenter.org.. Every ticket includes a copy of the book On the Other Side of Freedom

The Legendary Kathy Griffin will have two shows at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater on October 6, 2018 as part of her Laugh Your Head Off World Tour. With shows at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. the award winning comedian tells all in this more than two-hour, no-holds barred show that is raw and honest. She’s breaking down everything in the pop culture landscape from President Trump to the Kardashians. Griffin has this message for fans: “Donald Trump will not survive the live and hilarious indictment I will be bringing down on his orange head.” She has been very successful overseas and is now bringing her fearless comedy home. For more information see www.kimmelcenter.org

The comedy duo of Jen Smedley and Kristin Hensley will appear in their new show Mom’s Night Out: Round 2! on Wednesday October 19, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. at the Kimmel Center’s Meriam Theater. No one can make moms feel as uncomfortably normal as Hensley and Smedley. They take real-life situations and make them comedic and have over 1.5 million followers on social media and 120 million views of their web series in less than two years. After their first tour of 72 cities with their live stand-up show Mom’s Night Out, they are hitting the road again with Mom’s Night Out: Round 2!

Award-winning radio host Ira Glass gives audiences an inside look into his life in Seven Things I’ve Learned: an Evening With Ira Glass at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater on October 21, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. Glass will deliver a unique lecture experience through audio clips, music and video, sharing lessons from his life and career in storytelling and answering questions. Ira Glass began his career in 1978 with an internship at National Public Radio’s network headquarters in Washington D.C. As his career continued to grow he worked on nearly every production job in NPR’s headquarters, eventually putting This American Life on the air in 1995. Since 1995, Glass has been the creator and host of This American Life, a show played on more than 500 radio stations and heard each week by over 2.2 million listeners with another 2.5 million downloading podcasts.  Additionally, Glass is one of the editors of the widely popular podcasts Serial and S-Town

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is proud to present the Philadelphia engagement of The Tony Award® Nominated Broadway Revival of Fiddler on the Roof on October 23 – October 28, 2018 at the academy of Music on the Kimmel Center Cultural campus. Part of the Kimmel Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Philadelphia series, the tour will launch, October 17, 2018 in Syracuse, New York at the Landmark Theatre. The original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, which opened in 1964, was the first musical in history to surpass 3,000 performances. The show won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as 8 other Tony Awards that year. This revival proudly introduces a new generation to the music beloved across the globe. For more information, see www.kimmelcenter.org.

Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus of Black Violin continue their successful Classical Boom tour in Philadelphia with one performance on October 27, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater. They will be accompanies by their band, featuring turntable whiz DJ SPS and a drummer.  Classically trained, Baptiste and Marcus create an innovative form of jazz. Black Violin has been instrumental in getting the arts into struggling schools and has partnered with the National Association for Music Manufacturers to continue their advocacy for accessible music education.  Black Violin is currently writing and recording their next studio album due out in 2018. For more information visit www.kimmelcenter.org.

Philadelphia’s David Sweeny returns to the Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio as his kid-centric personality Johnny Shortcake. He will have eight family friendly performances October 27-28 and November 3-4, at 11:00 a.m. and 2: p.m. each day. The Johnny Shortcake Show is a children’s show featuring original music by David Sweeny, Michael Baker and Ross Bellenoit and directed by Brad Wrenn. David Sweeny is a graduate of the Kimmel’s Theater Residency Program and has made a name for himself in the Philadelphia music and arts scene. As part of the residency he, Baker and Bellenoit created a musical for kids, resulting in the birth of Johnny Shortcake. For more information, see www.kimmelcenter.org.

Four-time world-champion German breakdance troupe Flying Steps presents Flying Bach is a one- of- a- kind dynamic  dance show that combines hip-hop with  modern ballet.  It will be at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater on Saturday October 28 at 7:30 p.m.  The performance features award winning dancers as they perform their interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” which is regarded by many as one of the most important works in the history of classical music. Combined with electronic music throughout the dance, Flying Steps presents Fying Bach is an energetic dance presentation on a custom dance platform with a grand piano and a harpsichord on stage. Germany’s Flying Steps are celebrating their   25th anniversary and are working to promote projects globally. For more information, visit www.kimmelcenter.org.