Standup dramedian R. Eric Thomas is bringing his smash hit, one-man rom-com, Always the Bridesmaid, back to the stage. Thomas, known for hosting acclaimed storytelling series The Moth and for previous sell-out runs like Will You Accept This Friend Request?, gives his take on dating disasters, love, and the notion of marriage in an age and state where gay people can actually get married now. Delving into the religious and individual views on marriage and what it means to the gay community, Thomas’s show will make you think, yes, but most importantly it’ll make you LOL.
There’s a lot going on this first weekend of fall—from the start of FringeArts to LiCK’s latest Vixens & Vagabonds Queer & Kinky Cabaret to gay night at Six Flags Great Adventure. I round up all the notables below:
- The 2014 FringeArts festival kicks off with a performance by Martha Graham Cracker with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
- Here’s a guide to all the LGBT-centric shows playing this weekend at the FringeArts Festival, including a performance by the infinitely fascinating (and a little frightening) Christeene to Tribe of Fools’ gay-slanted take on Romeo and Juliet.
- Meet the 2014 Jonathan Lax Scholarship honorees, chosen because of their work to advance LGBT rights in our region.
- Celebrate back-to-school time with The Welcoming Committee’s latest Philly Guerrilla Queer Bar.
- It’s Bearlesque time again. As always, BYOBear.
- This month’s Sleepover. The Party is Sixteen Candles-themed. Break out your Molly Ringwald drag.
- CUTN PASTE gets down with a 2 Kewl 4 Skewl PJ Party featuring Bunny Michael.
- Bridgette Mayer gallery hosts a fundraising benefit for BalletX.
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Two Street by Tribe of Fools: The newest brainchild of the Philadelphia-based Tribe of Fools, the physical theater company has won critics over with its previous Fringe festival hits Heavy Metal Dance Fag and Antihero. The troupe, which consists of Terry Brennan, Zachary Chiero, Tim Popp and Peter Smith, welcomes Peter Andrew Danzig, Isa St. Clair, and Karina Balfour to the group for the FringeArts Festival take on Shakespeare’s classic tale, updated for queer contemporary audiences. More here. September 4-13, The Church of the Crucifixion, 620 South 8th Street. —Bryan Buttler
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:
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One of the best parts about the FringeArts festival is arguably the Festival Bar. I mean come on, with 120-plus shows, you need a place where you can pop a squat, order a cocktail and let your mind rest from taking in all that art—and trust me, some of that stuff can get pretty intense. Plus, it’s nice to have a place to congregate with other theater-goers, to get feedback about what shows you should see, and which ones you should miss.
For the first time in FringeArts history, the bar will take place in its new permanent home—Chef Peter Woolsey’s La Peg, a bar and restaurant in the barely year-old FringeArts building at 140 North Columbus Boulevard. Throughout the course of the three-week festival the bar will host some performances of its own, starting with a bang with the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret on September 5th. That show will feature the hairy, leggy drag queen (pictured) backed for the first time by members of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Should be quite the show.
Martha Graham Cracker’s world domination tour continues. It all started last year in New York, where she got rave reviews (and multiple invite-backs) performing at Joe’s Pub. This spring she turned the honky tonks on their heads in Austin, Texas. And now she’s making her biggest leap yet—across the proverbial pond and then some to sing in Lublin, Poland’s experimental arts festival “Confrontations” in October.
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Looking for something else? Visit our Philadelphia Event Listings page for a good rundown of local goings-on through June.
New York City critics — and Bill Murray — raved when Martha Graham Cracker made her Big Apple debut last year at Joe’s Pub, but that was kind of easy. New York loves its drag queens — even the ultra tall, very hairy variety. Martha likes a challenge, and that’s why she’s accepted an offer to head [way] below the Mason Dixon to put on her first-ever show in the South.