Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kimmel Center's upcoming 2016-2017 Season

Smokey Robinson


FOR 2016-17 SEASON







The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts proudly announces programming for the 2016-17 season featuring internationally acclaimed superstars in rock, dance, comedy and jazz; family shows as part of the Family Discovery Series, returning favorites, the best of touring Broadway and more. On September 10, the Kimmel Center will host its 2nd annual Open House from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. during which the entire campus (Kimmel Center, Academy of Music and Merriam Theater) will be activated with free performances, activities, tours and more! Single tickets for most shows will go on sale during the Open House and patrons can purchase tickets fee-free at the box office during the hours of the event. In addition to all of the wonderful programs mentioned, there is a Jazz Season, an Organ Series, and Philly En  Vivo! Series and multiple individual entertainers such as Bill Maher, Joan Baez, and Rosanne Cash. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts has absolutely something for everyone’s enjoyment in the upcoming season.
Broadway Dreams Foundation



AUGUST 6-14, 2016

                       TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY
             SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2016 AT 3PM AND 8PM

 Broadway Dreams Foundation (BDF) will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with exciting new programming and expanded international destinations including Russia and Brazil. The 2016 Summer Tour, GENERAT10N, will make a stop at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts August 6-14, 2016.  In each location, the premier non-profit performing arts training program will present an incredible roster of Broadway directors, performers and industry insiders who will offer highly personalized musical theatre training and mentoring through unique week-long performing arts intensive workshops for students of all ages, skill levels and socio-economic backgrounds.  According to Executive Director Annette Tanner, “We have now landed roles for over 100 BDF students in Broadway shows or National Tours. If there is anyone who hasn’t heard of BDF yet, I guarantee they will if they are serious about this business.” BDF students can currently be seen in the 2016 Tony Award winning productions of Hamilton and Waitress.  Philadelphia students will have the unique opportunity to participate in BDF University, an exclusive workshop devoted to mastering the college audition process. The Broadway Dreams Foundation is a premier national performing arts education program with a faculty of Broadway stars, directors and agents committed to giving back to the community.  BDF provides invaluable training to anyone aspiring for a career in the performing arts, regardless of their ability to pay. To apply, please visit In Philadelphia, performances of GENERAT10N will take place on Saturday August 13 2016 at  3 p.m. and 8 p.m.  at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Perelman Center (300 South Broad Street) Tickets are available by calling 215-893-1999, visiting online at or by visiting the Kimmel Center box office, Broad and Spruce Streets (open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)The  performance will feature talented BDF students performing alongside Broadway stars.

Tommy and Me




             SPONSORED BY WIP 

Theatre Exile is presenting a special engagement production of Tommy and Me August 3 through August 14 at FringeArts. 140 North Columbus Blvd.  This autobiographical play recounts a pivotal time in Ray Didinger’s life as he helps his boyhood hero, Tommy McDonald reach his goal of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ray said ,”This play is a personal story about hero worship; it’s about my relationship with Tommy and all he evoked in me while I watched him as a child and got to know him over many years.”  Tommy and Me will feature performances by Theatre Exile’s Associate Artistic Director Matt Pfeiffer along with Tom Teti and Simon Kelly.  This world premiere will be directed by Founding Artistic Director Joe Canuso with Bruce Graham as script consultant. Ray Didinger is an award winning sports writer.  He has won six Emmy Awards as a producer and writer with NFL films. He is the author of eleven books on sports, including three recent best sellers, is currently a host on 610 WIP all-talk sports radio talk radio and is the primary analyst on ComcastSportsNet TV on the Eagles Post-Game Live. Tommy McDonald is a Hall of Fame football player who played for the Eagles from 1957-1964. He was instrumental in taking the Eagles to the 1960 NFL Championship game.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Don't Bother; Me I Can't Cope

One of many protest marches
Don’t Bother Me; I Can’t Cope is being presented at the New Freedom Theatre 1346 N. Broad Street through July 30, 2016. First performed in Washington D.C. in 1971 and on Broadway a year later, it will enjoy an off-Broadway revival next year.  This particular production is set in North Philadelphia and the various cast members, on a minimalistic set reminiscent of a demolition site, can’t cope with a neighborhood school being torn down in their gentrified neighborhood. Temple University is planning to tear down the local William Penn High School and use the land for an athletic field. The show opens with Tamara Anderson, dressed as homeless person, belting out ”I Gotta Keep Movin’ “  accompanied by 4 extremely talented dancers who dance to the African beat of a synthesizer. The seven other members of the cast enter carrying protest signs and take turns with small solo parts. The show is comprised of over 20 individual songs, some of which are reprised in the second act. There are a variety of flavors to the music including gospel, jazz, funk, soul, calypso and soft rock. There are also dance accompaniments for all of them. This is one talented cast! When Nicole Stacie sings “So Little Time” she is so lost in the lyrics that tears just roll down her face as she belts out each line. One song, “Time brings About Change,” must be newly added to this rendition. The song mentions President Barack Obama and then lists many of black lives lost in the last few years such as Treyvon Martin.  As each name is called out, it is followed by the sound of gunfire. The number ends with everyone walking off the stage shouting Black Lives Matter.  Every few songs end with cast members exiting the stage and shouting another slogan such as Philly’s Not For Sale or Stop Temple. The show is not only entertaining; it is gut-wrenching as well.  In one piece, 6 men line up and repeat in unison and then separately, “I am my own cause and my own effect”.   After the final one speaks there is the sound of gunshots and they all fall to a blackout. They then rise one at a time for a solo piece before exiting the stage chanting "Black Lives Matter."  The second act is a little more upbeat but displays just as much talent.  At one point when the entire cast is dancing in the “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope” reprise you can actually feel the floor vibrate.  It feels as if the Broad Street Subway is rumbling right underneath the stage. For tickets to this enlightening and very well performed show, call the box office at 888-802-8998 or view details and order online at               

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ring of Fire:The Music of Johnny Cash

Deb Lyons & David Lutken
People’s Light, located at 39 Conestoga Road in Malvern, Pa is presenting Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash through August 14 on its Leonard C. Haas Stage. The extraordinarily talented and multifaceted nine-member ensemble cast enraptures the audience whether or not they are Johnny Cash fans. The show is just a pure delight. Over 30 songs are divided into 7 categories, among them, The Grand Ol’ Opry, The Johnny Cash TV Show and Prison.  Some songs tell a story that involves the entire ensemble.  Others use duets, or groups of three or six to relate the tale. There are frequent costume changes that are very proficiently done. Every cast member can sing, dance, act and play instruments, While Nyssa Duchow’s command of the fiddle is nothing short of brilliant, she additionally  plays the mandolin and the accordion.  Although Helen Jean Russell begins the show playing the bass, two other members of the ensemble have a turn at it too. Helen also plays the autoharp or zither; others share the accordion; several members use percussive instruments; two cast members play the harmonica and a trumpet makes a short appearance. All nine cast members play a guitar as they line up in the number I’ve Been Everywhere. There are many humorous moments as well, such as the enactment of A Boy Named Sue and The Duck Sisters’ lackluster performance at The Grand Ol’ Opry. If you live in New Jersey, as I do, it’s an hour’s drive to the theatre but this production is worth every minute of the ride. Thursday evenings are Hootenanny nights and everyone is encouraged to bring an instrument and jam out with the cast after the performance. For more information or tickets, call the box office at 610-644-3500.  Groups of 10 or more can get a discount by calling 610-647-1900 x111.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Azuka Theatre

Nicholas Scheppard &
Hannah Parke in Moth



Azuka Theatre invites audiences to pay-what-you-decide for the entire 2016-2017 theater season with a new approach to ticketing.  Supported by a $55,000 grant from The Barra Foundation, the pay-what-you-decide program is designed to bring in new audience members and remove financial barriers to the theater. Audience members will make a reservation to see the show, see the production first, and then pay what they decide based on the value of the experience. Ticket payment can be made after each performance by cash, check or credit card. Patrons can also make payment after the show on the Azuka website.  All money collected will help pay Azuka artists and further support future productions. This approach was tried with an earlier production of Moth this year.   Azuka has scheduled three productions for the upcoming 2016-17 season.  The first is A Philadelphia Premiere by Idris Goodwin: How We Got It On. It will be presented September 21 – October 9, 2016. The second is A World Premiere by Philadelphia Playwright Douglas Williams: SH_THEADS which will be presented February 22 - March 12, 2017.  The third is another World Premiere by a Philadelphia Playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger: The Arsonists. It will be presented May 3 - 21, 2017.  For more information about the season or pay-what-you-decide, visit or phone 215-563-1100. 


The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts presented the incomparable Yanni July 19 and 20 at the Academy of Music. Yanni and his 11 member orchestra have toured the world over. This has not been his first visit to Philadelphia and he promised it wouldn’t be his last. If you didn’t attend his performance this tour, be sure to mark your calendars next time you hear that he is coming back to town. This is one show that no one should miss. His orchestra consists of two members on cellos, three on violins, a percussionist, a drummer, a keyboard player, a member on a trumpet, a member on a trombone, one on an electric guitar, and Yanni, who plays piano and multiple keyboards on adjoining stands (perhaps they are different octaves) while conducting the orchestra and soloists.  This a group of world class musicians presenting a world class show.  Most of the show is very high energy. While playing the multiple keyboards, Yanni was standing and sometimes jumping up and down. Not only was the music marvelous to hear; he was fascinating to watch. He sometimes played with two hands; sometimes played with one while conducting with the other. Other times he conducted with his fingers or with his head. Projections appeared on a screen behind the orchestra or on the beautiful ceiling of the Academy of Music. Strobe lights played an integral part of the show as different lighting with a variety of color and patterns accompanied diverse pieces. During a beautiful duet between Yanni and one of the violinists, Yanni amazingly conducted the violinist while he was playing the piano. Nearly every musician in the orchestra had a chance to shine with a solo. A very fast-paced piece that began and ended as a duet with Yanni and the drummer had the drummer with a several-minute long solo in the middle which earned him a standing ovation. Yanni brought the entire audience to its feet to dance along with his two singers, Lisa and Laurie. By making a face and miming sitting in a chair, he shamed anyone remaining in his seat to stand up and dance and the Academy was  shaking. Two and one half hours after the show had begun, with the audience clamoring for more, Yanni came back on stage for an encore set to brilliant special lighting effects.  It was an evening that will remain in the memories of the entire audience for days and months to come.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Maurice Hines Tappin' Thru Life



A Song and Dance Musical
Makes Philadelphia Premiere September 28
At Penn’s Landing Playhouse

Tickets on Sale Now!

Maurice Hines Tappin’ Thru Life is a song and dance musical that celebrates one of the last of the great tap dancers still working today. Co-starring are the tap dancing Manzari brothers and the all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra.  Performances begin September 28 and continue through November 20 at Penn’s Landing Playhouse. Maurice began working when he was five years old and his brother Gregory was three. He shares funny and heartbreaking experiences about his life with Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Judy Garland and others. The show is a tribute to his loving family both on stage and off. Tickets are available by visiting, calling 855 HIT SHOW (855-488-7469) or at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse Box Office. Group tickets are available by calling 888-264-1788. Penn’s Landing Playhouse is located at 211 S Columbus Blvd. (at Walnut St.) The theatre is inside the Independence Seaport Museum. For further information, visit