11 Things to Do in Philly This Week

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15 Things to Do in Philly This Weekend

Why Everyone Hates Kate Gosselin, The Duggars, and All Those Other TLC “Stars”

From TLC's "Toddlers and Tiaras."

From TLC’s “Toddlers and Tiaras.”

On Monday, I reported that one lucky TLC viewer won a national contest to bring a huge block party to Philadelphia featuring the celebrities (cough, cough) of the popular cable network. Everyone from the Duggars to the stars of Say Yes To The Dress to the Cake Boss himself are slated to attend the festivities at Penn’s Landing. Read more »

Former Philly Artist Pens Grindr Opera

Photo via Facebook.

Erik Ransom | Photo via Facebook.

No, it’s not Verdi, but the plot of GRINDR: The Opera reads like something you’d find staged at Opera Philadelphia or The Met (and we think that iPhones would be allowed throughout the performance). From the synopsis:

We meet GRINDR, a mythical siren from remote antiquity who has been awoken from her millennial slumber by technology. Her power, which is derived from human lust, is exhibited as she manipulates her gay devotees in a soaring soprano…GRINDR: The Opera is entirely sung-through and intended to be staged with a cast of five actors: The four men and the Siren, GRINDR, who is intended to be a masked man in drag.

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Kimmel Center Announces PIFA 2016, Plus Collaboration with New York’s Joe’s Pub

Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

At this afternoon’s first ever Kimmel Center Presidential Address, CEO and President Anne Ewers presented several new initiatives that the performing arts center will launch over the next several months, and emphasized the success of the Kimmel Center as a cultural venue for the city of Philadelphia. Read more »

PHOTOS: OurNightOut at La Peg Brings Out Hundreds

It was a gorgeous spring night along the Delaware River as hundreds packed in to La Peg, the Fringe Arts bar and restaurant space on Columbus Boulevard, for OurNightOut. As usual, the event was thrown for a good cause: The Attic Youth Center was beneficiary of the evening’s festivities, which gave folks the chance to mingle indoors and out, and the opportunity to roam the Fringe Arts stage area. (Did we mention the fantastic Aperol margarita that was on special?) We captured some of the great folks who showed up to enjoy a fantastic night of networking, sipping, and socializing, all thanks to the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund.

A Tale of Two Verdis, a 100 Miles Apart

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky in the Met Opera's 'Un Ballo in Maschera.'

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky in the Met Opera’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera.’

The fact that two major opera companies within 100 miles of each other are concurrently staging Verdi’s Don Carlo has caught national attention: Opera Philadelphia’s production opened Friday night starring Eric Owens, who is regular Metropolitan Opera fare (and excellent in his role debut as King Philip II here at the Academy), while the Met’s production wrapped up this weekend, ironically featuring Philly’s own Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the work.

Leah Crocetto and Dimitri Pittas in Opera Philadelphia's 'Don Carlo'

Leah Crocetto and Dimitri Pittas in Opera Philadelphia’s ‘Don Carlo’

But just as serendipitous is the fact that last week, both companies opened two different dramatic Verdi operas—Un Ballo in Maschera at the Met and Carlo at Opera Philly—within a day of each other. Ironically, both productions have eerie similarities in their stagings, and yet, despite the sameness, they are as different as can possibly be.

Both productions take liberty by moving the opera’s plot out of the traditional era in which it is normally set and moving it into a nondescript time period. The Met’s Ballo, a revival of the 2012 production by David Alden, has the feel of a turn-of-the-century film noir, although some moments feel even more modern: The great ballroom scene is literally wall-to-wall mirrors, which causes nearly a blinding effect from the audience’s point of view. Carlo in Philly, staged by Tim Albery, employs a rather dystopian setting, part Spanish crusades, part post-apocalyptic war zone. The stage is highly raked with a giant dome upstage that seems to be some sort of portal to the outside world. It’s eerie.

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You Can Now Turn a Deceased Lover’s Ashes Into a Dildo

A picture of the dildo which is part of Mark Sturkenboom's "21 grams." Yes, that's a cremation urn.

A picture of the dildo which is part of Mark Sturkenboom’s “21 grams.” Yes, that’s a cremation urn.

This isn’t nearly as strange as it sounds: An artist from the Netherlands named Mark Sturkenboom has created a work of art that is meant to help ease the loss of a loved one. Titled “21 Grams,” the immersive piece allows a grieving partner to literally re-live their deceased lover through a variety of sensory experiences … including turning some of his or her ashes into a dildo. Read more »

What I Learned at The Women in the World Summit

Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit.

Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit.

Yeonmi Park was 13 when she and her mother escaped North Korea, but their battles were far from over: Once they reached China, her mother was repeatedly raped in front of her eyes, and both women endured brutal mental and physical anguish, ranging from having to submit to sexual encounters to hunger.

As Ms. Park eloquently told her story at the 2015 Women in the World Summit at New York City’s David Koch Theatre, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house—male or female—as she tearfully proclaimed, “For the first time in my life, I own me, I own myself.”

I received a last-minute invitation to attend the Thursday portion of the three-day summit as a seat filler from a casting agency. Sure, the list of headliners enticed me to take them up on their offer: Hillary Clinton, Ashley Judd, Barbra Streisand, and Katie Couric were all scheduled to speak. But still, the question remained: What would I, a young gay man, get out of attending a women’s conference? I quickly learned the answer: a lot. The issues and innovation discussed at the summit showed how gender and sexuality aside, we’ve all got a lot to learn about equality, and there are remarkable individuals making huge strides to help people across the globe. Read more »

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