Martha Graham Cracker’s Newest Gig: Kimmel Center Leading Lady

Martha Crop

My chat with Dito started a few minutes early because he feared he’d face a long commute going to his gig at People’s Light: It was the day that a man shot at a police offer on 676, and then proceeded to ram his car into a school bus.

“This is why we need art,” I said.

“Exactly,” he replied. “There’s a Leonard Bernstein quote about this.”

I believe I found the quote after a little searching: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Ironically enough, that’s exactly what van Reigersberg will be doing during his new show playing the Kimmel Center’s SEI Studio in December. Read more »

In the Wings: Daniel Alexander Jones and Dito van Reigersberg

The Kimmel Center’s Theatre Residency Program features five talented artists who have collaborated with both the Center and New York City’s famed Joe’s Pub for a summer workshop. The goal: develop new works in the heart of the Kimmel’s creative incubator, the SEI Studio. We had a chance to chat with the artists, and this week, we’ll be sharing their answers to our rapid-fire Q&A. Today, we’re featuring artists Daniel Alexander Jones and Philly favorite Dito van Reigersberg.

Daniel Alexander Jones

Daniel Alexander Jones

My name is… Daniel Alexander Jones.

I am a… Boss Read more »

SEE THIS: Pig Iron’s I Promised Myself to Live Faster

pig iron I promised myself to live faster

Pig Iron Theatre Company has been at the avant-garde theater game for 20 years. For the first three-quarters of that run, the troupe could barely make a misstep, somehow producing theater that was both weird and experimental but also entertaining and crowd-pleasing. With its last two shows, however, they’ve run into trouble with theater- goers and critics, including Inquirer whiner Toby Zinman, who called them “rubbish” and “a waste,” respectively. So it’s good they’re going more, er, mainstream with their latest: I Promised Myself to Live Faster, an “intergalactic gay extravaganza featuring closeted extraterrestrials, high-stakes pursuits and nuns from outer space.”

But seriously, even Albert Einstein didn’t get the theory of relativity right until the eighth try, and with Pig Iron at the wheel, we’re happy to go along for the gay sci-fi ride, knowing full well that the destination is somewhere we’ve never been before. May 22nd to 31st, FringeArts, 140 North  Columbus Boulevard, Old City.

NO WIRE HANGERS: The Bearded Ladies and Dito van Reigersberg to Perform Mommie Dearest Pop-Opera

mommie Dearest Header

Don’t f*ck with me, fellas! This ain’t my first time at the rodeo!

I am willing to take bets that we’ll be hearing this line, plus many others, at the upcoming collaboration between The Bearded Ladies and Dito van Reigersberg. The dynamic duo will be camping it up for a two-performance-only special benefit aptly titled Mommie Queerest, where Bearded Ladies Artistic Director John Jarboe and van Reigersberg will fight to the finish (Bring me the axe!) to see who will star as Joan Crawford in their show within a show. Read more »

BUY THIS: 2015 Men of Mauckingbird Calendar

We’re finally down to the last page of our 2014 calendars, and it’s time to start thinking about what will fill that space on our walls in 2015.

We’ve already shared one sexy option, Philadoptables’ Hunks for Hounds calendar, but if you’re looking for something with a little more hunk and a lot less hound, you should check out the latest from Mauckinbird Theatre Company.

The 2015 Men of Mauckingbird calendar features fantastic images of some of its leading men over the years—from recent Barrymore winner James Ijames and Dito van Reigersberg to Evan Jonigkeit, who you may have seen on the big screen this summer in X-Men: Days of Future past.

Proceeds from the calendar will support Mauckingbird, a theater troupe that prides itself on staging theatrical works with a gay twist. Upcoming shows include Hot N Cole, a big ol’ gay celebration of all things Cole Porter.

Calendars are $20 each, and can be purchased here.


12 Things Dito Van Reigersberg Learned at Last Night’s Stevie Wonder Show at Wells Fargo Center

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I am awed as I sit down at my old-fangled typewriter to report on Stevie Wonder’s show last night at the Wells Fargo Center. It was tremendous.

Stevie played grand piano, upright piano (on “Ebony Eyes”), several harmonicas, and he sang with his effortless tenor. He was backed by a sumptuous array of world-class performers, including a killer horn section, six stunning backup singers, India.Arie as his beauteous and fashionable guest vocalist, and a terrific string section plucked from Philly (including my friend and violin whiz Erica Miller, who accompanied my alter ego Martha Graham Cracker at L’Etage for my all-string-quartet show last Thursday.)

Here are 12 things I learned during last night’s show that I thought you might find interesting, as well:

Read more »

Ladies and Gentlemen … Martha Graham Cracker!

Photograph by Chris Crisman

“Sometimes I feel like Martha’s more well-known than I am — she’s eclipsed me.” Photograph by Chris Crisman

Hard to say what Martha Graham Cracker noticed a few seconds ago as she left the band and the stage and slinked through the crowd. Hard to say why she picked out from the 100 people packed into this blackened room a certain middle-aged white guy in a white button-up shirt, but right now Martha has her legs wrapped around this guy’s neck.

The guy is standing next to a rectangular bar at the back of L’Étage, a nightclub and cabaret off South Street. Martha’s sitting on the bar and leaning back into the bartenders’ space, legs up in the air so that her calves are balanced on the guy’s shoulders, wireless microphone in her right hand. She’s singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” — like, really singing it, powerfully, seriously, an emotionally naked song about desperation and fear, singing it in her strong, lovely voice, a spotlight piercing the dark and illuminating her face.

And part of the comedy here, part of the reason that all 100 people are laughing and clapping in surprise and delight, is that Martha’s not even looking at the guy who is struggling between her legs. Smiling but struggling as a friend or partner films it on her smartphone. Almost certainly a new experience for the guy, being this close to a drag queen, much less a drag queen like Martha: six-foot-two and hairy-chested, hairy-armed, hairy-legged; not a man trying to pass as a woman but a defiantly unmown lawn of a man in a blond pixie wig and a blue dress and six-inch heels that are now crossed behind the dude’s neck in a hammerlock as Martha’s guitarist and bassist and keyboardist and drummer play the Whitney Houston song and Martha sings:
Read more »

21 #GayPhilly Instagrams You Need to See This Week: Mother Theresa, Father Dito, and an Enlightening Lesson On How to Wear a Speedo

DO THIS: Pig Iron Theatre’s
“Lights, Ham-eras, Action!”


Photo courtesy of Jauhien Sasnou.

In 1995, a group of Swarthmore grads decided to start a “dance-clown-theatre ensemble,” performing strange works in church basements. They called it Pig Iron Theatre Company. After nearly 20 years, the brainchild of Dan Rothenberg, Dito van Reigersberg and Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel (pictured, left to right) has become Philadelphia’s most prestigious independent theater group, helping put our theater scene on the map in a major way. (Take that, New York!)

Their annual benefit at the Troc is the biggest single-day theater event in the city, with an 800-plus crowd every time. This year’s punny theme: “Lights, Ham-eras, Action!” Expect drag queens, acrobatics, song-and-dance numbers worthy of an Oscars opening — oh, and pure genius. Fri., Jan. 24, 7 p.m., $25-$150, 1003 Arch St.