Thursday, May 28, 2015

Passion

Jennie Eisenhower, Ben Michael
& Liz Filios
The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia is presenting Stephen Sondheim’s Passion on its F. Otto Haas Stage through June 28. A 1994 Tony Award winner of Best Musical, Passion is worth every bit of the acclaim it received 21 years ago. In the opening number, Clara, portrayed by Jennie Eisenhower and Giorgio portrayed by Ben Michael sing of a love so all-encompassing that it brings nothing but happiness to their lives. When Giorgio gets reassigned to a remote military post, he promises to write every day and much of their story is told in letters sung to each other. Thom Weaver, as lighting designer, displays his genius, as each character is highlighted when coming forward to sing in the spotlight and then fading out when done. Scenic and video designer Jorge Cousineau also displays his brilliance with his video projections and set designs behind moving panels. The frequent scene changes are seamless. The ensemble of military men break into song at the drop of a hat and the melodies that spill from their mouths are incredible. The harmonies they produce are riveting. Fosca, passionately portrayed by Liz Filios, is a cousin to one of officers of the post. Her obsession with Giorgio nearly drives him mad. His rage is palpable, yet his feelings for her are undeniably deep.  In a fantastic Sondheim moment, Fosca sings, the same lyrics to Giorgio near the end of the tale that Clara sang to him in the beginning. For more information or tickets to this incredible musical tale of desire, yearning, hunger, ache and heartache, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org or walk up to the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Respect: A Musical Celebration of Women

Hurry!  There is only one more week to catch the musical journey of women through the 20th century, written and developed by Dorothy Marcic.  RESPECT is a celebration of women through their good times and bad, their success and their devastation. While April Woodall acts as the narrator, the show begins with Marissa Barnathan, Lindsay Roberts and Lauren Rooney lamenting lost loves with such melodies as I Fall to Pieces and Johnny Angel. What follows is a simply delightful 2 hours jam-packed with Top 40 songs sung solo, in duets, by three women or.by four.  No matter who is singing a particular song, the total effect is exhilarating. The band is seated on the stage and is comprised of Jack Daniels as Music Director and on keyboard, Adam Bailey on drums, Larry Cohen on bass and Jake Hager on guitar. Pardon the pun, but they are certainly instrumental in giving this show its pizazz.  It is impossible to sit still in your seat while listening to the performance. (People seated behind me were singing along). From basic black to glitz, the production shows how women have come a long way in gaining self-respect as well as respect at home and in the business world. This musical revue closes May 31 so get your tickets now.  Tickets are available by calling 888-264-1788. The Playhouse is located at 211 S. Columbus Blvd. (at Walnut Street). The theatre is located inside the Independence Seaport Museum. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Disney's THE LION KING

Jelani Remy as Simba
Broadway Philadelphia, in collaboration with the Kimmel Center and the Shubert Organization, is presenting Disney’s THE LION KING through Sunday June 14 at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets.  The North American touring productions of THE LION KING have been seen by more than 15 million theatre-goers.  Having already played in more than 70 cities across North America, THE LION KING is joyfully leaping into its return engagement at the Academy of Music. Whether or not you have ever seen this stunning production, you must make plans to see it before it leaves the Academy of Music stage. The opening number, “Circle of Life” is nothing short of spectacular. As music comes from the orchestra pit and from percussion instruments in the mezzanine boxes, and the sun rises onstage while the animals parade down the aisles, you are not merely watching a show, you are in the Serengeti. Young children are fascinated by this production. Although based on Disney’s animated film, it definitely is not for children only. Younger audiences lack the sophistication and the eye to appreciate the incredible staging of the leaping impalas in the first act and the skeletal remains in the second. Nor do they have the ear to understand the subtle change of the female lionesses singing and dancing in a joyous manner in the first act which later turns to minor key laments during the time of famine under the rule of Scar. The score features a fusion of Elton John and Tom Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs they wrote for this production as well as additional South African music. The combined result is breathtaking. Whenever Tshidi Manye, portraying Rafiki the baboon, belts out an African chant, the audience is spellbound.  It is no small wonder that THE LION KING won six Tony Awards in 1998, among them Best Musical, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical. The show’s original director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show’s ongoing success. The mask designs are exquisite. L. Steven Taylor, portraying Mufasa and later Jelani Remy, portraying Simba has to “face off” against Patrick R. Brown, as Scar, the lion who would be king. As each lowers his head and twists his body, the mask lowers in an incredible manner. No matter how good the wordsmith, none could give this incomparable production justice.  You simply must come and see it for yourself.  Tickets are available at the Kimmel Center Box Office, Broad & Spruce Sts. (open daily 10 am to 6 pm) or at the Academy of Music box office, Broad & Locust Sts. (open during performances only), online at the kimmelcenter.org/broadway, or by calling 215-731-3333.  Orders for groups of 20 or more may be placed by calling 215-790-5883 or 866-276-2947.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN


            Returns to Philadelphia
   
         To Tickle Funny Bones And

       Make Peace Between The Sexes

    STARRING PHILADELPHIA NATIVE VINCE VALENTINE!

The longest running solo play in Broadway history is back for a return engagement                         July 9 – August 30 at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse


Defending the Caveman mimes the common themes of relationships and goes right through the funny bone straight into the heart. Returning to Philadelphia on July 9 at Penn’s Landing Playhouse, Defending the Caveman will make audiences laugh at themselves for the ways that men and women fight, laugh and love. It is an insightful play about the ways that men and women relate.  It has played for two and a half years on Broadway, making it the longest running solo play in Broadway’s history. It is now a worldwide hit with productions in 45 countries and has played in more than 60 cities in North America.  Philadelphia native Vince Valentine has performed in Defending the Caveman since 2004 and has additionally appeared in several other comedic gigs. Tickets for the upcoming performance are available now by calling 855 HIT-SHOW (855-448-7469) visiting online at plplayhouse.com or at the Penn’s Landing box office. Orders for groups of 12 may be placed by calling 888-264-1788. Penn’s Landing Playhouse is located at 211 S. Columbus Blvd. (at Walnut Street). The theatre is inside the Independence Seaport Museum.  Discounted parking is available in the Open Air City of Phila. lot adjacent to the Seaport Museum. For more information, visit plplayhouse.com or defendingthecaveman.com/. Performances are Thursday evenings at 7:00pm: Friday & Saturday evenings at 8:00pm; and Sundays at 2:00pm.

Memphis

Christopher Sutton & Ensemble
Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting the Tony Award-Winning Musical Memphis on its mainstage through July 12.  Everything about this production screams success! Christopher Sutton is the recipient of multiple awards for acting and is on track for receiving another for his portrayal of Huey Calhoun, a young white boy who falls in love with the rhythm and blues music “from the dark side of town” in Memphis. He has a dream to bring the sound to middle of the radio dial so that everyone can share his experience. He is a whirling dervish as he sings dances and prances across the stage to “the music in your soul.” Kimber Sprawl, portraying Huey’s “discovery”, Felicia, belts out song after song that resounds throughout every corner of the theatre. There is purity to her voice that rings with pain, then hope and promise. The exuberant ensemble members are simply delightful to watch. Animated, spirited and lively, they have the audience tapping their feet and clapping their hands in their seats as individually and together they bop through their dance routines .Special attention must be paid to the electrifying and adrenaline-charged performance of Mary Martello portraying Mama as she raises the roof with her rendition of “Change Don’t Come Easy.” I saw this show on Broadway. You won’t find a better performance than the one that is playing at Walnut Street Theatre right now.  For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787.  Tickets are also available online by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.

Monday, May 18, 2015

An Enemy Of The People

The Bristol Riverside Theatre is presenting Henrik Ibsen’s classic AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE  through May 31. Along with a talented ensemble of 9 professional actors, the cast is comprised of 35 members of the local community. Most have had previous acting experience, but for some, it is their first time on a professional stage. Everyone’s performance is professional, however. The production is supported in part by a generous grant from Peco as well as an award from The National Endowment for the Arts. Brian Drillinger gives a first-rate performance as the stubborn and stodgy mayor of the town who would do anything to protect the town’s main industry….the baths as a source for tourism. It is Kevin Bergen’s portrayal as his brother, Doctor Thomas Stockmann, however, whose performance takes your breath away. Originally much admired and a pillar of the community, Doctor Stockman has discovered toxic properties in the baths and begins a campaign to inform the townspeople.  When his brother gets everyone to believe that he is acting against the town’s best interest, things get interesting. Bergen's performance is outstanding as he rattles off a series of soliloquys in his effort to remain true to himself; his reputation and livelihood be damned.  Also giving a stellar performance is Laura Giknis as Doctor Stockmann’s daughter Petra.  For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at Brtstage.org. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The MARVEL Experience

                   The

                    MARVEL

                     Experience

A FULLY IMMERSED ACTION ADVENTURE THAT IS
100% HANDS ON AND FUN FOR ALL AGES!
MARVEL SUPER HEROES TO OVERTAKE PHILADELPHIA 
THIS SUMMER
“THE MARVEL EXPERIENCE” WILL RUN JUNE 19 - JULY 5
AT LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD
Tickets go on sale Tuesday, May 12 at 10 AM

For Philadelphia Premier of First-of-its- Kind Attraction!

The Marvel Experience: The World’s First Hyper-Reality Tour brings fun and excitement in Philadelphia for two weeks beginning Friday June 19 and running through Sunday July 5 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Marvel Experience is an immersive, domed attraction that features the world’s first 360-degree 3D stereoscopic full-dome projection theatre.  This experience includes a state-of-the art electrifying motion ride and a “training center” that offers the opportunity for Marvel fans to become a part of the great adventure.  Comic book and movie fans join forces with some of the world’s most beloved Super Heroes in a place where the real world and the imagination are difficult to tell apart. Hero Ventures’ COO Doug Schaer and CEO Rick Licht have issued the following statement:  ”(The Marvel Experience)…is the perfect complement to the huge hit film Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron as well as to Marvel’s Ant-Man which will be released later this summer.” Tickets for The Marvel Experience are on sale now and are available exclusively through Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.  Tickets will also be available on site at the box office beginning June 19.  Hours of operation will depend upon the day.  For a complete schedule, visit The Marvel Experience website www.themarvelexperiencetour.com

Monday, May 11, 2015

JAMAICA FAREWELL

Debra Ehrhardt
AWARD-WINNING
JAMAICA FAREWELL
MAKES  PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
AT THE ANNENBERG CENTER ON JUNE 13
FOR TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY!

In honor of the first annual Immigrant Heritage month this June, Jamaica Cultural Alliance in association with Annenberg Center Live is excited to present the award-winning and internationally acclaimed play, FAREWELL JAMAICA, written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt and directed by Joel Zwick.  Based on true life events, Ehrhardt chronicles her escape from revolution-torn Jamaica in the 1970’s to fulfill her dream of coming to America. It was when she working as a secretary and met a handsome CIA agent over a lunch break that she saw her chance.  She began a dangerous adventure that only a single-minded driven teenager might pursue.  She agreed to smuggle a million US dollars into the US to a mysterious person somewhere in Miami; the smitten agent became her unknowing accomplice. JAMAICA FAREWELL is Debra Erhardt’s third one-woman show.  She is currently adapting it for the big screen.  Performances are scheduled for Saturday June 13th at 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm.  Tickets are available at AnnenbergCenter.org or by calling 215-898-3900.  The Annenberg Center is located at 3680 Walnut Street.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

brownsville song (b-side for tray)

Catrina Ganey & Curtiss Cook Jr.
Philadelphia Theatre Company, located in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets, is presenting brownsville song, (b-side for tray) through May 31. This powerful and uplifting story of redemption stars Curtiss Cook Jr. as Tray, Sung Yun Cho, as his step-mother, Merrell, Catrina Ganey as his Grandmother Lena, Kaatje Welsh as his half-sister Devine, and Anthony Martinez Briggs as Junior. Playwright Kimber Lee insists we identify with each of the characters as they find their way around the morass that has become their lives.  Thanks to the boundless set design of  Scott Bradley, the actors are able to move in and out of the Gram’s house, the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn, a Starbucks’ cafĂ© and other unnamed locations with great ease as well as pass in and out of the present and the past as effortlessly as a piece of thread goes through the eye of a needle.  This is a soul-searching tell-it-like-it-is drama.  It is the story of the streets; a brutal tale of how a young golden gloves boxer with college aspirations comes to the realization that people deserve a second chance, only to have his taken away. Superbly acted by Curtiss Cook Jr. and Catrina Ganey, the final moments of this tale cry out for a rewind, hoping, perhaps for a different outcome.  As Lena begins, “No, you cannot begin this story here, with me….”, so too, is the urge to cry, “No, please don’t end this tale like this.” For more information or tickets, call 215-985-0420 or visit online at PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts 2105-2016

Anne Ewers President & CEO
of  The Kimmel Center
Anne Ewers, President & CEO of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts gave an enlightening address on Thursday to an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 invited guests. A lovely luncheon followed.  In her address she clarified the “state of the Kimmel Center”, informed all about its strategic plan and forward looks for the future. Ms. Ewers stated, ”Transforming lives daily through the Arts…That  is the vision of the Kimmel Center.” The Center is comprised of The Kimmel, The Academy of Music and the Merriam Theater. Taken in tandem, it is the second largest performing arts center in the country, second only to Lincoln Center in New York. Ms. Ewers went on to discuss the four main aspects of the Center’s strategic plan. The first is to celebrate the sum of all its parts and maximize their potential.  There are nine resident companies which comprise the Kimmel; Center for the Performing Arts, among them the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philly Pops, the Ballet, Opera Philadelphia,  Broadway Philadelphia, and various other dance, music and arts  groups. The second aspect is reaching a broad and diverse audience by complementing what the resident companies are doing.  In 2014, new audiences increased by 50% thanks to diverse programming like Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin and community partnerships. The third aspect in the strategic plan is determining how to maximize resources - finding ways to partner with the media, having free events in the mall, making the center a business hub for events as well as a hub for weddings. The final feature of the plan is conducting experiments. This year The Kimmel has been one of the producers of American In Paris, which has just received 12 Tony Award nominations. Ms. Ewers said, “One word summarizes the Kimmel Center for this year…Momentum……”  Performances have seen an 18% increase over the past year…10 times more weddings have been booked this year than have been planned before the Hamilton Garden was renovated.  There are 11 Broadway Productions scheduled for the 2015-16 season.  There will be a cabaret residence, partnering with New York’s Joe’s Pub in which four artists will participate. Education continues to be an important aspect with a variety of programs including PNC Grow up Great for the younger child and Show Stoppers .for the high school students. The year ahead guarantees excitement for all. 90%of all income is earned through subscriptions but everyone is urged to donate a little piece of themselves to this wonderful organization to help the magic continue to roll into Philadelphia.