Thursday, March 30, 2017

You For Me For You

Justin Jain & Bi Jean Ngo
Mia Chung’s You For Me For You is presented by InterAct Theatre Company and will be performed in the Proscenium Theatre at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street, through April 16, 2017. This one-act play is brilliant in both its writing and its staging. Minhee ( Bi Jean Ngo) and Junhee ( Mina Kawahara) are two sisters in a quandary about escaping the horrors that await them in North Korea. The writing is  extraordinarily powerful and poignant. The acting is even more so. To hear Minhee’s torment as she cries out that she is hungry is to feel your own stomach rumble. Liz (Hillary Parker) has the difficult task of being both an American patient and later a nurse that Junhee works with. To demonstrate what the English language might sound like to a foreigner, Ms. Parker has to speak a convincing pidgin  which is barely intelligible, but draws laughs from the audience  When Junhee encounters her later as her nursing supervisor, her English is still broken, but not unintelligible.  The last time that the two meet their conversation is perfectly normal - a very ingenious piece of writing.  This fine ensemble cast is rounded out with outstanding performances by Justin Jain, who plays multiple roles, and Dwayne Thomas who plays a Man from the South. For more information or tickets, call 215-568-8079 or visit online at http://interacttheatre.org or boxoffice@interacttheatre.org. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

May Events at the Kimmel

Lea Michele, best known for her performance as “Rachel Barry” on the critically acclaimed Golden Globe, Grammy and SAG award-winning Fox television series Glee, is kicking off a limited North American tour May 1 at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia. She will reprise her successful Intimate Evening With series with music from her upcoming album, ‘Places’. Lea debuted her first album, ‘Louder’, in March of 2014; it was  no. 1 on itunes and in the top 5 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums. Tickets are on sale now at KimmelCenter.org, 215-893-1999 and at the Kimmel Center box office.  Every pair of tickets purchased online for Lea Michele’s tour includes a copy of her forthcoming album 'Places'. Visit www.leamichelemusic.com for all details. 
Jomama Jones will make her Kimmel Center debut in Black Light at the SEI Innovation Studio, Thursday May 4-6, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.  The show was developed as part of the Kimmel Center’s Theatre Residency program in partnership with Joe’s Pub at The Public. Portrayed by the versatile Daniel Alexander Jones,  Jomama will sing original songs from her album Flowering as well as brand new compositions. Accompanied by an exciting band, vocalists and some special guests, Jomama will explore those signs found in the darkest parts of the night. Daniel Alexander Jones is an accomplished actor, singer and creator of performance art.  His alter-ego Jomama Jones returned to the stage in 2010 following a 15 year hiatus. This is a designated BYOB performance, with a limit of one six-pack of beer and/or one 750 ml bottle of wine per two patrons.

Emmy and Tony Award®-winning actor Hal Holbrook brings his one-man play Mark Twain Tonight! to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts' Merriam Theater for one night only on Thursday May 4, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. Now 92 years old, Holbrook has performed Mark Twain Tonight! more than 2,200 times over 62 years, adjusting the material to stay relevant and topical. Holbrook portrays Mark Twin by reciting excerpts from many works from his career, including favorites like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hal Holbrook first received critical acclaim for Mark Twain Tonight! in 1954 after developing the show while in college. He won a Tony Award® for his portrayal of Twain in 1966. Mark Twain Tonight! was revived in 1977 and 2005 and continued to tour around the country with Holbrook reciting from his repertoire of over fifteen hours of memorized Twain material.

Following a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall as part of the New York Comedy Festival, his appearance on ‘Joe Swanberg’s acclaimed series Easy, and the announcement of his role on the forthcoming Netflix original GLOW, Marc Maron adds new dates to his current run of THE TOO REAL TOUR including a stop in Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater on Friday, May 12th. Tickets are currently on sale at Kimmelcenter.org, AEGLive.com and the Kimmel Center box office. Maron is best known for his podcast WTF with Marc Maron which averages over 6.5 million downloads on itunes each month. Marc has interviewed such people as President Barack Obama, Julia Louise Dreyfus, Jeff Goldblum and Keith Richards. His new show will include meditations on his family, his cats, relationships, music, the media, grocery stores, fashion and our current political climate.

The staged production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage – will play the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater May 16-21 2017. The production is part of Broadway Philadelphia, presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization. Christopher Tierney of Broadway’s Spiderman will star as Johnny Castle alongside Bronwyn Reed as Frances “Baby” Houseman. The 26 member company will be belting out 36 numbers of live music and performing sensational dancing accompanied by an eight piece live band on stage.

Philadelphia native and University of Arts alumnus Norman Mackenzie will return to the Kimmel Center for a solo performance on the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ in Verizon Hall on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. A music  collaborator, conductor and renowned concert organist, Mackenzie made his first appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 12 and then again as an organist at the age of 20. He has been Director of Chorus for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 2000.  During his tenure with them he has made numerous tours and received several Grammy Awards®, including Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.
 
International Irish superstar Daniel O’Donnell celebrates the release of his new CD/DVD Back Home Again at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Academy of Music on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. O’Donnell has been featured in 12 PBS specials and has charted at least one new album every year since 1988, becoming the first artist in the history of the UK Artist Album Chart to do so. He has received various Lifetime Achievement and Entertainer of the Year Awards including an honorary MBE from Queen Elizabeth and is involved in philanthropic charitable causes.

Motown the Musical marked the best-selling two week engagement in Kimmel Center history during its 2015 run. Producers Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, Motown Founder Berry Gordy and Broadway Philadelphia announce the return engagement of Motown the Musical for a two week engagement May 30 - June 11, 2017 at the Academy of Music, presented collaboratively by The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown the Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Barry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye among others.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Coriolanus

Tina Packer &Mary Lee Bednarek
The Lantern Theater Company, located at 10th and Ludlow Streets, next to St. Stephens Church, is presenting William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus through April 16th, 2017. One of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, this production of Coriolanus is so well done that it should be required viewing for all theater-goers, Shakespeare fans and non-devotĂ©es alike. Scenic designer Meghan Jones and lighting designer Drew Billiau have designed an intricate set that surrounds the audience.  Actors, always on the move, are backlit as they move from one arena to the next.  Robert Lyons, an accomplished Shakespearean actor, is outstanding as Coriolanus, the superb warrior and patrician who has little empathy for the common man that elects him to counsel. Tina Packer is brilliant as his mother Volumnia. The depth of anguish she portrays seems to emanate from her toes and ebb throughout her body. In addition to the war scenes, there are several hand-to-hand battles. Fight director J. Alex Cordaro has choreographed the most outstanding combat sequences ever to hit the stage. Shakespeare was thinking of class unrest in England when he wrote this piece about class distinctions in the newly formed Republic near Ancient Rome. Keeping in mind the similarity of the polarization of the poor and rich in our society today, this production has war scenes taking place with contemporary weapons. The Lantern continues to uphold its tradition of producing incomparable Shakespearean productions. For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0495, visit online at www.lanterntheater.org, or visit the box office at 10th and Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia. Pa.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Importance of Being Earnest

Daniel Fredrick,Jake Blouch,
Alanna J. Smith & Lauren Sowa
Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is appearing on Walnut Street’s mainstage through April 30. Calling the settings of the first-act Victorian London flat and second-act Manor House garden magnificent may sound like a hyperbole, but when the curtain arose at the beginning of each act, the audience applauded wildly in appreciation. The audience is fully invested throughout the production. Oscar Wilde’s best known piece, this is a farce of epic proportions and the humor is not lost on the audience. Philadelphia favorites Mary Martello, Jake Blouch, and Ellie Mooney join the rest of the very talented ensemble cast to tell Oscar Wilde’s very funny tale of identity crisis and the powers of true love, albeit with a twist thrown in for good measure. Alanna J. Smith is excellent as the simpering Cecily Cardew, "Uncle Jack's" ward. Daniel Fredrick is every-so-silly as he pretends to be Earnest, "Uncle Jack's" brother while trying to woo Cecily. The Importance of Being Earnest may be a 19th Century piece of outrageousness, but it “holds up” today. Audiences appreciate the latest iteration as much as audiences did when the production was introduced in London in 1895. Don’t be left out.  For tickets or more information, call 215-574-3550, 800-892-2787, visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Broadway Philadelphia 2017-18 Season

THE KIMMEL CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

AND THE SHUBERT ORGANIZATION PRESENT

BROADWAY PHILADELPHIA

2017-2018 BROADWAY PHILADELPHIA SEASON SHOWCASES

12 BLOCKBUSTER PRODUCTIONS WITH A COMBINED
31 TONY AWARD®WINS

 HAMILTON
ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2018-2019 SEASON

The upcoming season features productions with a combined 31 Tony Awards® and 18 Drama Desk Awards.  In addition, seven brand-new national touring shows will be making their Philadelphia premieres. Subscribers will not only receive priority access to the best seats for the 2017-18 season, but they will also be the first to access tickets when Hamilton arrives in Philadelphia during the following season when they renew their subscription for the 2018-19 season. Season ticket packages for the 2017-18 season are now on sale. The seven productions making their Philadelphia premieres include: Finding Neverland, Waitress, Something Rotten, School of Rock, On your Feet and Disney’s Aladdin. Returning favorites include Kinky Boots, The Color Purple, The Phantom of the Opera, STOMP, Les Miserables, and The Sound of Music.  In order to gain priority access to tickets for Hamilton’s Philadelphia run during Broadway Philadelphia’s 2018-19 Season, patrons must subscribe for the 2017-18 season and renew their tickets for the 2018-19 season. Tickets are available online at kimmelcenter.org/broadway17-18 or by calling 215-893-1955.  Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling (215)790-5883 or 866-276-2947, visiting online at kimmelcenter.com/groupsales or telecharge.com/groups. Single tickets for individual productions will go on sale at a later date.

Lashed but Not Leashed

Martha Graham Cracker
The SEI Innovation Studio in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is presenting its 5th World Premiere through March 18, 2017. Dito Van Reigersberg created LASHED BUT NOT LEASHED for his alter-ego, Martha Graham Cracker with collaboration from songwriters and performers Vince Fererici, Eliza Hardy Jones and David Sweeny. Once everyone  is comfortably seated in the intimate setting of the Innovation Studio, Martha Graham Cracker glides up to the stage in a modest skirt and vest, claiming that she has had it with show business and is on her way to study in the library. Shortly after her announcement to this effect, she receives a “special delivery” from the library - flat shoes  to demark her new life.  Members of the audience groan as she takes off her spiked heels, pleading with her not to change her shoes, but after the shoes change, so do her movements, both on stage and off. Once in flat shoes, this “tallest drag queen in the world” can really move. She even bounces off the stage to make moves on some of the men in the audience. She is joined on the stage by back-up singers Eliza Hardy Jones and David Sweeny, very talented in their own right, and a talented three piece band. Martha Graham Cracker is a consummate entertainer and the audience loves her. In a coquettish manner she admits that she has written all the songs herself. Many are filled with innuendo and the audience roars. The songs are entertaining and varied, from slow ballads to catchy, jovial tunes. Many audience members groove right along to the upbeat rhythms. The performance is more than a plethora of original music. It is filled with quotes (attributed to their source) and quips (attributed to herself…”I wrote that!”) and a myriad of laughter from the audience.The performances are BYOB (limited to a bottle of wine or six-pack per two people) so grab yours and contact www.kimmelcenter.org to see if there are any tickets available for the remaining performances.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Evil Dead The Musical

Roxanne Daneman
Dominion Stage, Theatre on the Run in Arlington, VA is presenting Evil Dead: The Musical through March 25. It is  obvious  that the young ten-member ensemble cast has fun performing this high camp production which  is deliberately outrageous for humorous effect…and it works! Five friends plan to spend a weekend in the woods when the youngest of them gets attacked by trees in the forest. No sooner does she escape and head back to the cabin then she becomes a zombie, and an evil one at that. Colleen Robinson portrays Cheryl, the first demon, and proves to be a very good comedic actor. Nick Stone portrays Ash, the only member of the cast who is not turned into a demon but he is not Mr. goody-two-shoes.  He repeatedly tries to kills the demons with a gun or hacksaw as they become infected by each other, but to no avail. ( You can’t kill someone who is already dead). “Blood” frequently squirts into the audience.  To be fair, audience members are warned about the “splash zone” and asked to wear ponchos. Nick is on the stage for almost the entire production and presents himself very well. Roxanne Daneman portrays Linda, his love interest.  She has, far-and-away the strongest voice on the stage.  Whether singing a duet with Ash or in a group, the quality of her voice is wonderful to hear. She also makes a hysterical zombie head when her body is running around and her head is left on the table next to the chainsaw to make outragous faces.  There are some dance routines in the production as well, and Bonita Adams, who portrays Shelly, shines as an accomplished dancer. This show is not to be taken too seriously, but it is very funny and a joy to watch.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Art of Protest

      
                                                 &

                        The Kimmel Center

    ANNOUNCE NEW "ART OF THE PROTEST" SERIES


The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and Mural Arts Philadelphia will co-produce “The Art of the Protest" which will include a panel discussion and free sign-making workshops, exploring how artists and members of the public express themselves in times of political change. The Art of the Protest panel discussion will take place on March 21 and will feature artists and advocates who have been active participants in the current political climate. Artists Olek, Michelle Angela Ortiz and Liza Goodell will share their thoughts and experiences on how art plays a role in protest. The panel will be moderated by Drexel Professor Julie Hawkins and the event will be co-hosted by Conrad Benner of Streets Department and Young Involved Philadelphia. Seating is limited and tickets are required ($15). The panel discussion will take place between 6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m. in Hamilton Garden in the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St) The Art of Protest sign-making workshops will be held in the SEI Innovation Studio and are FREE. On Friday, March 24, 2017, Signs of Solidarity artists Sheldon Abba and Bruno Guerreiro will lead the workshop from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.  On Saturday. April 8, 2017 Signs of Solidarity artist Martha Rich will lead the workshop from 2:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m. and on Monday, May 1, 2017, Signs of Solidarity artist Alloyius McIlwaine will conduct the workshop from 6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m.  Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. Popular mural tours  offer a first-hand glimpse into the inspiring stories behind Mural Arts’ unparalleled  collection, which has earned Philadelphia worldwide recognition as the “City of Murals”. For more information, call 215-685-0750 or visit muralarts.org. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

TORUK- The First Flight

Tipani Clan of Pandora
TORUK- The First Flight, inspired by James Cameron’s movie AVATAR, is presented at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia through March 12, with an additional performance added on Friday, March 10 at 3:30 pm. With 20 scenes of spectacular imagery, this Cirque du Soleil presentation is unlike any of the 36 productions that have preceded it. Although most Cirque du Soleil creations have a theme, this phenomenal performance not only has a theme but an actual story-line as well.  The narrator tells the story throughout the piece and members of the tribe “speak” to each other in a language one can only interpret if not fully understand. In addition, the audience has an opportunity to participate by downloading an app and following directions during specific portions of the show. In order to save their “Tree of Souls” two young members of the Omatikaya clan must collect amulets from each of the five clans of Pandora as well as capture TORUK, the flying monster. Thus goes the storyline of TORUK- The First Flight. This production is so much more than the storyline. The athleticism of the troupe members is astounding. Each of the Na’vi acrobats do similar feats in their respective clans, but with unique apparatus, ranging from ropes, sticks, ribbons, a skeletal fulcrum and scarves on wires. Projections are unbelievably realistic as waterfalls appear to the flood the stage not once but twice and “wipe out” climbers and acrobats on the rocks. The audience gasps as three Na’vi paddle out in a canoe and travel in a circular path around the stage only to climb out and settle on some rocks.  Fire later seems to demolish everything in its path. At times, the audience is immersed in a star-lit sky as twinkling lights surround them 360 degrees. Colors are incredibly brilliant, almost iridescent, against a darkened set. This phenomenal production has one special effect after another; lava flows, an earthquake shakes and swarming wood sprites sprinkle the night sky. It is a feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul as the young Na’vi who fails his first rite of passage saves the entire world of Pandora. Please don’t waste another minute. For more information or tickets for this spectacular show, visit http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sh_theads

Harry Watermeirer &
Charlotte Northeast
Akuka Theatre, performing plays in the Proscenium Theatre of the Drake, 315 S. Hicks Street, is presenting  the world premiere of  Sh_theads through March 12, 2017. The ensemble cast of Akeem Davis, Charlotte Northeast, Harry Watermeier, and David Pica bring a lot of passion to their roles. Akeem, portraying Brandon and Charlotte, portraying Izzy, have “grown up” in the bike shop. Biking is a way of life  for them and sales and repair aren’t just jobs; it’s their passion as evidenced by their performances. Harry Watermeier portrays Bandon, a college-student newbie. His performance is convincing as someone who initially seems out of place  but adapts to the bike shop environment as the seasons pass. David Pica rounds out the cast as Spider, a frequent habituĂ© of the bike shop. Laugh lines are sprinkled throughout the play, but on the whole, the story is a bleak one; workers struggling to keep a business afloat against the odds of a more modern and updated shop across the street. Set Designer Apollo Mark Weaver, in partnership with Fairmount Bicycles, has done an excellent job of creating a down-and-out bike shop. For  reservations or information about Azuka’s “pay-what-you-decide” program, call 215-563-1100 or visit online at azukatheatre.org. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lost Girls

Amy Frear & Molly Ward
John Pollono’s Lost Girls is  being presented at Theatre Exile, 13th & Reed Streets, through March 12, 2017. The  talented and multi-award nominated  6-member cast depicts harsh life in a small blue-collar New England town. Struggling  to overcome the tough problems that occur in every-day living, the characters seem destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. Catherine Slusar portrays Linda, the oldest of three generations living in a small home with a too-large mortgage. Amy Frear, portraying Penny, Lou’s second wife, is the calming influence in the group.  Although originally at loggerheads with ex-wife Maggie (Molly Ward), Frear’s excellent presentation of tranquility serves as a pivotal point to the piece. This production is on a revolving stage which, during lights out, turns to present a new locale. It is in this second locale that the audience gets a glimpse of the third generation: Susanne Collins, portraying Girl and Trevor William Fayle, portraying Boy. Scenes are changed back and forth flawlessly when the house lights go off.  During a blizzard, the family’s worst nightmare is not realized, and the whole tenor of  family relationships change, leaving family members with a little hope in their lives for the first time in years. For more information or tickets, call (215)218-4022 or visit www.theatreexile.org.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time

Adam Landon -
Christopher's astronaut fantasy
Prepare to be wowed by the powerful production presented by Broadway Philadelphia in collaboration with the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is appearing at The Academy of Music through March 5. Adam Langdon is brilliant as Christopher Boone, an extremely bright teenager who has no internal mechanisms to relate to the world around him. Christopher takes everything literally and has no concept of nuance.   When asked to be quiet, he wants to know “for how long?” Unable to tolerate a human touch, and disoriented by bright lights or loud noises, Christopher frequently covers his head with his hands and groans if he finds something disturbing, a truly tortured soul. Conversely,having difficulty relating to others gives him time to plunge himself into worlds of fantasy. A narrator speaks his thoughts; a cacophony of sound effects and discordance accompanied by dazzling lights and flashing asymmetrical lines give us a peek into Christopher’s mind. And the peek is mind-boggling. In addition to the special effects, the set design is both functional and fantastic. Small doors open throughout the sides of the sometimes stark set to reveal access to props. Enraged by the killing of a neighbor’s dog and the fact that he was thought guilty, Christopher sets out to "detect" the guilty party.  The answer enables him to conquer many of his fears of the world around him and the audience is literally with him every step of the way. You will not find a more compelling tale told on the stage today nor one produced with more creativity. Tickets can be purchased by calling (215)893-3333, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org. or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. For groups of 10 or more, phone (215)790-5883.