Saturday, September 24, 2016

South Pacific

Ensign Nellie Forbush singing,
 "I'm gonna' wash that man right out
 of my hair."
South Pacific is playing at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, through October 23rd on the Walnut’s mainstage. This   Rogers and Hammerstein classic, which premiered on Broadway in April of 1949 has stood the test of time. The question of whether or not love can overcome racial prejudice is as topical today as it was when James Michener wrote the tales of the South Pacific upon which the show is based. There have been several revivals and movies made of South Pacific. Rogers and Hammerstein’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical is familiar to all. Walnut Street Theatre’s cast and crew have had the enormous task of making this iconic musical fresh, and they have been resoundingly successful.  Kate Fahrner, as cute and perky Ensign Nellie Forbush, sings one song after another without skipping a beat. Paul Schoeffler, as Frenchman Emile de Becque, sings many a solo (as well as duet) with a deep voice that resonates throughout the theatre.  Also enchanting are the solos of Ben Michael at Lt. Joseph Cable and of course Lori Tan Chinn as Bloody Mary. It is not just these beautiful voices that make the show, however. The fourteen member ensemble is fantastic. Credit must be given to choreographer Michelle Gaudette for the exhilarating moves throughout and to Costume Designer Mary Folino for the exciting apparel. Scenic Designer Robert Andrew Kovach, working in conjunction with Lighting Designer Paul Black has created an island paradise on stage.  Thanks to a revolving section of the stage, elements of scenes can easily be rotated quickly to show different parts of the island. Walnut Street Theatre has succeeded in making a 67 year old show “younger than springtime.”  Don’t miss it.  For information or tickets, call 215-574-3550; 800-982-2787; or visit online at or ticketmaster.

Friday, September 23, 2016

StuPiD F # *@iNG BiRD

Ensemble Cast chanting in tandem,
 "I just want to be loved; I want to
 be liked; I'd rather not be hated."
Stupid Fucking Bird, Aaron Posner’s “sort of” adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, will be playing at the Arden Theatre, 40 N 2nd Street though October 16, 2016. It begins with a high energy upbeat cast running up the aisles and giving the audience hi-fives. Don’t expect to see high energy again during the production. The action begins with a “Performance Event” which the playwright’s mother (Grace Gonglewski) ridicules. This scene, as every other one in the play, ends with a Russian interlude, which not only symbolizes a scene change but also enables the actors  to change positions on the stage. Posner’s work is brilliant. It is both hysterical and heartbreaking. While it is hilarious, frenetic and chaotic; it is also immensely pitiful and wretched. Character after character suffers from unrequited love. As Mash (Alex Keiper) mourns, “To love someone so much and know how he’ll never love you and to have someone love you who you know you can’t return that love if he were the last man standing is God’s big cosmic laugh.” The Seagull symbolizes universal frustration of desires as it just flies away. The characters seem to converse but, in reality, sit side by side and are usually thinking aloud although they sometimes address the audience. Time and again Aaron Posner addresses the unfilled purpose in life. Dr. Sorn (Greg Wood) admits near the end of the play that “Most days I feel like I’m playing a role in life - the role of me.  I really don’t feel all the things I pretend to feel.” Embrace the cacophony when all try to speak at once. Empathize with the pathos. Enjoy the fresh language. Stupid Fucking Bird is a must see production. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122, visit online at or walk-up at the box office, 40 N. 2nd Street.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

November Events at the Kimmel



AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, the most honored new musical of 2015 and winner of four Tony Awards® will make its premiere at the Academy of Music for a one-week engagement November 22-27, 2016. The show, for which the Kimmel Center is a producer, is part of Five Cent Productions and Elephant Eye Productions and will open the 2016-17 Broadway Philadelphia season. Inspired by the Academy award winning film, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is the romantic story about an American soldier, a spirited city and a mysterious French girl, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. The show features music and lyric by George and Ira Gershwin. It has won several Tony, Drama Desk, and Drama League Awards and many others, too numerous to mention.

PBS Kids’ Odd Squad, winner of four Daytime Emmy® Awards, has a new interactive adventure on the stage with Odd Squad Live!  During all three performances, Friday November 25, and Saturday Nov 26, all Odd Squad agents will be able to help solve a strange case at the Merriam Theater.  Geared toward 4-8 year olds, Odd Squad Live! Incorporates lessons in math and problem solving, all paired with music and audience involvement.  Odd Squad is about a spy organization run by kids who investigate anything strange, weird or odd.  These performances are presented in association with Mills Entertainment as part of the Kimmel Center’s Family Discovery Series.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON will go on a scientific journey through our favorite films in An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies.  From Star Wars to Frozen, he will provide an entertaining review of the science in our favorite movies - what the film makers got right and what they got wrong.  He frequently give talks across the country whenever a science issue makes the news and has a knack for taking complex issues and making them relatable to his audience. He is known not only for his speaking skills but also for his sense of humor. He will appear at the Academy of Music on November 30, 2016 at 7:30 pm.

Upcoming Events at the Kimmel



Smokey Robinson, “The King of Motown” will be playing hits from the 1060’s and ‘70’s on Friday, November 18, 2016 at 8:00 p.p. at the Academy of Music.  Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Robinson founded The Miracles while still in high school.  Following multiple #1 hits, he continued to write for them and other Motown recording artists. He has received numerous awards, including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, and The National Medal of Arts Awards from the President of the United States.  He has also been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

The collaboration of  two of Philadelphia’s greatest dance companies, Rennie Harrie Peremovement and Kimmel Center’s PHILADANCO will perform in a program that blurs the lines between modern dance and hip-hop entitled “Straight Outta Philly.”  The program will include a story about Philadelphia featuring new choreographer Rennie Harries.  It will run at the Perelman Theater on Friday November 18 through Sunday November 20.  PHILADANCO is celebrated for its innovation, creativity and preservation of predominantly African American traditions in dance.  Rennie Harris Puremovement dance company works to encompass rich and diverse African-American traditions of the past while including the voices of a new generation.

November Events at the Kimmel



Two artists from the Blue Note Record label, pianist Chucho Valdes and saxophonist Joe Lovano will come together for a first time collaboration at the Merriam Theater on November 4 at 8:00 pm. Demonstrating the leading edge of jazz, they will be joined by a bassist, drummer and percussionist as part of the Kimmel Center’s jazz series.   Chucho Valdez has been a key figure in the evolution of Afro-Cuban jazz for the past 50 years. He has won numerous Grammy® and Latin Grammy awards. Throughout his career he has released many albums. Joe Lovano is also a Grammy® Award winner. He played his first Carnegie Hall gig in 12974, toured with many major jazz musicians, and then signed with Blue Note records in 1991.  Since then he has produced nearly 25 recordings as a leader, becoming one of the great jazz artists of our time.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will collaborate with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia (MCC) for British Organ Invasion at Verizon Hall on November 5, at 3:00 pm. The presentation will feature a program of works by British composers performed by the Mendelssohn Club. The Keystone State Boychoir will also share the stage for selected works. As one of the country’s longest-standing choruses, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia strives to develop choral music as an art form through taking artistic risks that stretches and challenges their singers and audiences.

Lewis Black brings his infamous yell and sarcastic wit to the Academy of Music in The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour on November 5, 2016 at 8:00 pm. Known for his bitter rants and angry finger pointing, Lewis Black will present his candid humor combined with his self-proclaimed “pissed-off optimism in this show which is presented in association with Live Nation. “Best known for his intense release of anger during live performances, Lewis Black has had comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime and EPIX. He has also won multiple Grammy awards for his comedy albums and has published threeThe Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will collaborate with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia (MCC) for British Organ Invasion at Verizon Hall on November 5, at 3:00 pm. The presentation will feature a program of works by British composers performed by the Mendelssohn Club. The Keystone State Boychoir will also share the stage for selected works. As one of the country’s longest-standing choruses, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia strives to develop choral music as an art form through taking artistic risks that stretches and challenges their singers and audiences.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Back-To-School Family Programming at the Kimmel





The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts celebrates the start of the school year with two new music technology classes, an extension to the popular Show Stoppers musical theater program and a second season of the successful Family Discovery Series. Each month in Commonwealth Plaza families join professional artists for a one-hour program designed for the youngest music lovers. This FREE program, GROW UP GREAT introduces children between the ages of 1 and 5 to jazz concepts, songs, musical instruments storytelling with song and musical theater. THE FAMILY DISCOVERY begins its second season aiming to introduce children to a variety of events that families can attend together. Shanghai Acrobats, Elephant + Piggie and Paw Patrol Live are just three of the programs.
The Kimmel Center’s Education initiatives return for another season to engage and inspire the next generation of artists. There are new music technology courses, free performing arts classes, jazz camp of Philadelphia, the business of making music, student matinees, (grades k-12) creative music program for jazz, (ages 11-22) show stoppers (after school musical theater program for grades 9-12) Broadway Dreams Foundation Summer Initiative (week long personal instruction- ages 6-67) and jazz standards (new three year program designed to introduce students to jazz.)
The Kimmel Center will host an Arts Education Fair on November 16th from 3:00 pm – 6:00pm.  This afternoon will include networking with the Kimmel Center Education Department and its Resident Companies as well as exploration of youth programs, and school visits. The event will feature prize packages, ticket giveaways and teaching demonstrations.