Orbiter 3 Welcomes Two New Playwrights

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Lauren Feldman and Sam Henderson are now orbiting.

It was announced this morning that the two acclaimed theater artists have joined the exciting Philadelphia playwriting collective Orbiter 3. Their dual appointment is something of a surprise, as the company was only supposed to add one additional member to their cohort. Now, the group has eight theater makers: Feldman and Henderson join Emily Acker, Emma Goidel, James Ijames, Maura Krause, Mary Tuomanen, and Douglas Williams.

Feldman, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, has been nominated for a number of writing awards, including the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award, Wendy Wasserstein Prize, and Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her works have been produced across the country.

Henderson, who has appeared at the Arden, Lantern, and Wilma, has been nominated for the Smith Prize for Political Theatre. His work has been produced in the FringeArts Festival and with Renegade Theatre Company.

A sustainable producing playwrights collective, Orbiter 3 has committed to producing eight new plays by Philadelphia-area writers between 2015 and 2017. Their first two works, Moon Man Walk by Ijames and A Knee That Can Bend by Goidel, opened in 2015 to critical acclaim. In 2016, the company will produce Acker’s I Am Not My Motherland and Williams’ Breathe Smoke. For tickets and more information, visit their website.

Society Hill Playhouse to Close

Society Hill Playhouse

Society Hill Playhouse

Society Hill Playhouse, a fixture on the Philadelphia theater scene since 1959, will close on April 1.

The theater company made the announcement on its website last Thursday; it sent out a press release on Tuesday.

In more than 50 years, the company “has produced hundreds of American and European premieres; developed many notable programs; trained countless artists and technicians and true to its mission, (and) remained unique in its dedication to contemporary theatre and the community,” the company said in a statement announcing the closure. Read more »

Temple Hosting Nationally-Recognized New Musical Fest

MainStreet Festival collaborators in rehearsal.

MainStreet Festival collaborators in rehearsal.

Philadelphia has made its name as a unique incubator for new theatrical works. It is a tradition that goes back to pre-Broadway try-outs, where shows tested their chops in the City of Brotherly Love before they headed to the shark tank of New York. That spirit of innovation continues today, and will be highlighted this weekend at Temple University, when the MainStreet Festival comes to town.

The nationally-recognized program features concert readings of three new American musicals and employs local “MainStreet Affiliates” who employ local artists to perform the works. Jordan Mann, one of the Philadelphia Affiliates, suggested that the process fosters a sense of community amongst all elements of process. Read more »

REVIEW: Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates

Lauren Hirte as Gretel.

Lauren Hirte as Gretel.

Luckily for audiences at the Arden, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, the world-premier production playing at the Old City theater, does something that many children’s theater shows fail to do: It speaks to children like they are humans — not watered-down beings unworthy of truthful entertainment. In fact, one might argue that good children’s theater, meaningful children’s theater, should lose the “children’s” identifier altogether.

Hans Brinker kept the audience, full of both young and the young-at-heart, entertained for nearly two hours at the Monday afternoon performance. Read more »

Field Guide: The 28 Concerts, Shows, and Events to Put On Your Calendar Now

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Living legends, world premieres, international talent and Justin Bieber: You’ll find all of these (and more) here in the City of Brotherly Love this winter and spring. It can actually be a little overwhelming, if you don’t know where to start. So here, we present a well-edited (but wildly diverse) list of the very best bets in music, theater and the arts this season. If you can’t find something to do here, we don’t know what to tell you.  Read more »

Best Things to Do in Philly in January

January 6

Sarah Gliko stars in Tom Stoppard's "The Hard Problem," opening January 6th at the Wilma Theater. | Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

Sarah Gliko stars in Tom Stoppard’s “The Hard Problem,” opening January 6th at the Wilma Theater. | Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

The Hard Problem at the Wilma Theater

For years, Philadelphia actress Sarah Gliko longed to perform at the renowned Wilma Theater under the directorship of its co-founder, the peerless Blanka Zizka. “But I was off of Blanka’s radar,” says the 36-year-old Point Breeze resident. “And then she saw me in Lantern’s production of The Liar, and things changed.” That was in 2013. Since then, Gliko has been cast in the Wilma’s critically acclaimed Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq in 2014 and last year as Ophelia in the theater’s intriguing adaptation of Hamlet. Then, for her third Wilma play in as many years, she landed the lead in Tom Stoppard’s first work in a decade, The Hard Problem, which opens January 6th. “This role is a real challenge,” she admits. “There’s so much material, and it’s loaded with some very heavy and heady ideas. I have to find the passion and movement underneath these big ideas and elevate the human story that is pulsing below. It’s not going to be easy.” Through February 6th. 

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REVIEW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Laura Helm (center) with the ensemble.

Laura Helm (center) with the ensemble.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has origins as early as 1968, when Andrew Lloyd Webber was asked to write a “pop cantata” for St. Paul’s Junior School. That first version of the now iconic musical was only 15 minutes long.

Needless to say, the show has become something of a feel-good staple for schools, community theaters, and, yes, a countless number of professional Broadway tours. The story is simple and ultimately uplifting, and the score is unquestionably that of early Andrew Lloyd Webber. With that said, I wasn’t expecting much out of the new production, which has planted itself here in Philly at the Merriam Theatre through the new year, but the dynamic direction and choreography by Broadway superstar Andy Blankenbuehler (responsible for the movement in the mega-hit Hamilton) breathe new, modern life into the musical. Read more »

15 Outstanding Philly Arts Moments in 2015

Ticket arts writers weigh in on what they think are the most important local arts moments of 2015. 

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Lisette Oropesa’s in Opera Philly’s “Traviata”

Brava, Diva!

It’s been a banner year generally for Opera Philadelphia, but Lisette Oropesa’s Violetta in Traviata (her first performance of the role) was special. The beautiful young soprano met every vocal demand — fiendishly difficult as they may have been – and acted it superbly. Opera lovers around the world pay attention to debuting Violettas – the great ones are so rare. Here in Philly, we found one. —David Fox

Philadelphia Film Society Saves the Prince

The gorgeous Prince Theater seemed to be in quite a bit of limbo: The resident production company had vacated a number of years ago, and their presentations were random at best. With PFS purchasing the building, the theater has becoming a bustling hub not only for movies (it’s now the only mainstream movie theater in Center City) but performing arts, and their Razz Room is hosting some of the hottest NYC cabaret acts around. —Bryan Buttler

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Obie-Winning Actress Nilaja Sun on the Dangers of “Restricting the Arts Flow”

Sun in "No Child."

Sun in “No Child.”

“Oh, honey, you got an actor out of bed before noon!”

Nilaja Sun and I both chuckle pretty loudly.

“You were an actor too, weren’t you?” she asks.

I was sort of stunned. I told her I was for about three years right after high school.

“Oh, I could tell,” she says. “That prolonged laugh and that voice of yours gave that away!”

That’s how we start our 9 am phone conversation about Sun’s work as a teaching artist and actress. Sun has a host of television credits to her name, everything from The Good Wife to Nurse Jackie to Madam Secretary, but in the theatre world, she’s best known for her award-winning solo show No Child, which took New York by storm in 2006. In some ways, that work—about a teaching artist in a Bronx school—is reflective of Sun’s own passion for helping others unlock their inner stories. She’s been teaching since 1997, when, to use her words, she was a “wee little thing.” Read more »

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