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 »

Philadelphia Orchestra Playing Two Free Concerts This Summer

PennsLanding02(JessicaGriffin)

Photo by Jessica Griffin

For the fifteenth year in a row Philadelphians can witness live performances by a world-renowned ensemble for free. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs two shows this summer at no cost: one at the Great Plaza on July 2nd and another at the Kimmel Center on July 30th.

For the first one, audiences can roll out their picnic blankets and enjoy a lineup of patriotic favorites for a pre-Independence Day celebration performed on the RiverStage at Penn’s Landing. In addition to the American classics, the Orchestra is presenting a collection of pieces from Michael Daugherty’s Reflections of the Mississippi. The show doesn’t end when the conductor drops his baton. Be sure to stick around for the landslide firework display that will light up the night sky after the show.

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Our Chat With Hello! Sadness! Star Mary Tuomanen

Mary Tuomanen

Mary Tuomanen

When you talk to Mary Tuomanen, you know are in the presence of a person who’s serious about taking art to the next level. Her theories and philosophies on creating theater are so new, so profound, that you can’t help but stand on pins and needles to see what she’s coming up with next. Currently, Tuomanen is tackling a monumental task: She’s staging her one-woman show Hello! Sadness! at the Kimmel Center after being awarded a Kimmel Center Theater Residency. We had the chance to catch up with the multi-talented writer and actor, who gave us the inside scoop of the process behind her new play.

How did the Kimmel Center’s Theater Residency program help you shape this piece?
The residency was so fruitful. I started this process with a good chunk of the play written—up until this very climactic moment. It’s a very personal and political piece, [so I had to consider my own beliefs] in order to finish what I was writing. I had outlined the problem, but I had to say what I believed about that problem. That was a difficult process, and luckily I’ve had people around me who have helped talk me through that.

I have such a great artistic team—my director has been amazing. It’s been intense. I’m used to devised processes, but it also leaves you very vulnerable—a lot of people who are on the creative team have worked together in the past. The four of us have been through this crucible of questioning our beliefs in a world as artists in a political way. We have a shared vocabulary of how how art can make the world better. This draft, this version of the show, is really close to what I believe now. It’s what I think. Read more »

Opera Philadelphia’s Yardbird Opens to a Standing Ovation

charlie-parker-yardbird-940x540

Friday night was opening night for Opera Philadelphia’s much-anticipated Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at the Kimmel Center. Tenor Lawrence Brownlee stars as Charlie Parker with soprano Angela Brown, who mesmerizes as his mother, Addie Parker. Baritone Will Liverman makes his debut as jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie. The opera is set in the famed NYC jazz club Birdland. About 100 Opera Philadelphia theatergoers attended the opening night party on the second tier of the Kimmel Center, including Ann Ziff from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, Mayor Michael Nutter, First Lady Lisa Nutter and several people from the Apollo Theater in NYC, where Yardbird will appear later this year. Guests dined on cuisine from Jose Garces Catering, walked the red carpet, posed for photos and relished in the evening’s show, which concluded with a standing ovation. I wish I could say go see it, but it’s completely sold out.
Photos after the jump »

6 Questions for Podcasting Sensation Sarah Koenig

Sarah Koenig | Courtesy of X

Sarah Koenig | Photo by Elise Bergerson

Serial was a riveting, record-breaking, 12-part podcast series that re-investigated the murder of Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of the crime, but he has always insisted he is innocent.

As a fan, I’m in awe of the show’s reporting, which revealed deep flaws in the criminal justice system, as well as its deft storytelling that hooked listeners.

As a journalist, I have questions: Has Serial changed podcasting forever? Does its success mean all the wonderful things I want it to mean for investigative reporting? And on the flip side, was it worth it to reexamine a murder case if it wasn’t obvious in the end whether Syed did it?

In advance of Serial creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder‘s live presentation Thursday night at the Kimmel Center (details here), I interviewed Koenig. Our questions have been paraphrased her responses have been edited lightly for clarity.

Ticket: Serial was the most popular podcast in the world. Now that some time has passed, why do you think it caught fire?

Koenig: We had no idea why, we had like no idea, and now with a little bit of time, we’ve kind of started to think about what just happened and why did that just happen. And I think it’s a bunch of things. It’s funny, none of the elements that we did are new, you know what I mean? To re-investigate a murder case is not a new idea. A serial is not a new idea. Podcasts are not new. But there was something about the combination of all the elements that we chose to put together in one medium that felt really new.

And I think people weren’t used to hearing journalism in that form, in a sort of serialized audio podcast where you had to stick with it week to week, where I was a very strong narrator, so I’m leading you through almost like a character. And I think all of that felt new and I think that’s what was interesting for people. And then crime stories are unfortunately very, very popular for people, which I also weirdly had not understood going in. I didn’t get that, oh, it’s a murder story and people are going to be interested. I didn’t foresee that. Because I’m an idiot [laughs]. Read more »

Win Tickets to See Serial Creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder at Merriam Theater

Serial creator/host Sarah Koenig in the studio.

Serial creator/host Sarah Koenig in the studio.

Veteran radio journalists and producers Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder will be in town on May 14th for a live presentation that delves into the creation of their binge-worthy NPR series, Serial, which made history by becoming the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads in iTunes history.

The ladies will use tape from the show to tell behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Serial, touching on how they constructed favorite episodes and sharing personal anecdotes about working with the podcast’s players, like Adnan Syed, Jay Wilds and more.

Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $35 to $99 a pop, but we have five pairs that we’re giving away for the price of zilch. The giveaway tickets are valued at $90 a pair, and the seats are located in the balcony section of Kimmel’s Merriam Theater. To win, just sign up for our weekly e-newsletter in the box below. The contest ends on Friday, May 8th at 4 pm, at which point we will draw five names at random. Winners will be notified by email.

Best of luck to you. If you don’t happen to win tickets, you can purchase some of your own here.

REVIEW: Bernstein’s MASS With The Philadelphia Orchestra an Otherworldly Delight

A scene from 'MASS.'

A scene from ‘MASS.’

If you missed The Philadelphia Orchestra’s staging of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, you didn’t miss a performance: You missed a major, major event.

How else can you describe the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall stage filled with not only the Philadelphia Orchestra, but the Westminster Symphonic Choir, the Temple University Concert Choir, The American Boychoir, members of the Rock School for Dance, and the Temple University Diamond Marching Band, plus nearly 20 Broadway actors and opera singers…all at once. Add the excitement of Yannick Nezet-Seguin at the podium, and you sort of wonder how the entire building didn’t shatter due the sheer insane sound and energy from this cast of hundreds (Fun fact: this production is the first time that Verizon Hall’s orchestra pit was used. There were so many people on the stage, they couldn’t fit everyone). Read more »

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 »

GIVEAWAY: Win a Pair of Tickets to Kinky Boots Worth $225

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Broadway sensation Kinky Boots is about to clip-clop into town for its big Philadelphia debut starting April 28th, and we’ve got a super-nice pair of tickets to give away.

The six-time Tony winner—featuring several tunes penned by gay icon Cynci Lauper—concerns Charlie Price, a down-on-his luck chap who’s having trouble keeping his inherited family business, a shoe factory called Price & Sons, afloat. Just as the clouds start rolling in, Lola, a sassy cabaret star/drag queen, comes in looking for a new pair of stilettos. The boots they create turn out to be the ticket that saves the business, and things just get all kinds of crazy fabulous from there.

The tickets we’re giving away are a pair worth $225. To win, sign up for our weekly enewsletter in the box below between now and next Thursday, April 23rd. At that point we’ll draw one of those names at random and voila, they’re going to see Kinky Boots. Good luck!

Kinky Boots runs April 28th through May 10th at the Forrest Theater. More information and tickets can be found here.

REVIEW: Indigo Girls With The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra—and a House Full of A-Gays

indigo girls

Last night at the Kimmel Center, the Indigo Girls performed alongside The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra—the first time they’d ever played with such an ensemble. If that wasn’t exciting enough, there was a wedding ceremony in the fifth row, and it was singer Amy Ray’s birthday.

It’s also worth noting that the house was packed to the brim with local A-gays—everyone from State Rep. Brian Sims and his boyfriend Brandon McMullin to William Way Executive Director Christopher Bartlett and Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. Check out this epic Oscar-like selfie they snapped during the performance:

Read more »

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