2015 Barrymore Nominees Announced, Suburban Companies Lead the Pack

A scene from from "Into the Woods."

A scene from from “Into the Woods.”

It’s a story of outsiders … outside of Philly, that is.

The 2015 Barrymore Award nominees for Philadelphia Theatre Excellence were announced this afternoon. Norristown-based Theatre Horizon‘s staging of Sondheim’s Into the Woods received the most nominations this season, a total of 12. 11th Hour Theatre Company‘s Field Hockey Hot and Bristol Riverside Theatre‘s Ragtime received nine nominations each.

Overall, Theatre Horizon scored a total of 19 nominations, including nods for their productions of In the Blood and Into the Woods. People’s Light in Malvern came in second, with 14 nominations for their productions of FencesThe Cherry OrchardArthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, and Bach at Leipzig. Theatre Exile also racked up 14 nominations for their stagings of The Whale and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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Gender Transition to Unfold on Stage in Local Theater Series

Swift Shuker in a video promoting This Damned Body, which will premiere at this year's FringeArts Festival.

Swift Shuker in a video promoting This Damned Body, which will premiere at this year’s FringeArts Festival.

The [redacted] Theater Company will present the first in a series documenting one person’s gender transformation at the FringeArts Festival from August 28th to the 30th. This Damned Body Is Carved Out of Meat is one of three theatrical components to document the life of transgender performer Swift Shuker, who is currently in the beginning stages of transitioning from a male body to an androgynous one (hence our use of the pronoun “they”]. This Damned Body will document Shuker’s life in real-time and chronicle their transformation. “We’re trying to reveal what is happening with Shuker’s body and emotions, the way they are interacting with the world and the way the world interacts with them,” says co-director and website designer Josh McLucas.

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Arden Delays 2015-2016 Season Due to Pope Visit

arden theatre

The Arden Theatre Company announced today that it’s pushing back its 2015-2016 season due to Pope Francis’s visit at the end of September. But only by a little.

The first show of the season, Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, will now open a week later, on October 1st, when the Pope and all the World Meeting of Families events are a distant memory. “Our opening show promises to be an extraordinary and visually stunning production, says Arden Managing Director, Amy L. Murphy. “60 percent of the Arden’s ticket buyers live outside of Center City. We would hate for audience members to miss the show or face difficulties getting to and from the theatre during the week of the Pope’s visit.”

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Wilma Theater to Host the Urban Noir Project

Urban Noir

Photo courtesy of Urban Noir Productions

This weekend, on August 8th and 9th, Wilma Theater will host the Urban Noir Project, a show produced by Urban Noir Productions. It’s a series of vignettes that take audiences on a journey through the past several hundred years, bridging each era of African American history through song, dance and a powerful narrative.

The play is part docu-drama, part musical, incorporating everything from Civil War-era spirituals to James Brown and Public Enemy. “We use music and dance to talk about each era and move the story along,” explains Executive Producer Monica Moses. “For instance, we use hip-hop to take a look at Reaganomics and examine the economical impact on the African American community.” The performance begins with the slave trade and follows history all the way through to the election of the first African American president.

Urban Noir 3

Photo courtesy of Urban Noir Productions

The production remains true to history and takes audiences on an emotional roller coaster. “There are a couple really heavy intense pieces, but we balance them out with some comedy. We’re giving you everything here. It’s a really, really unique piece.” Moses says. The show is entertaining and comfortable enough for audiences to sit through.

Monica Moses is the writer, director and executive producer of the play. The idea originated as a series of short stories Moses wrote in college. She then attempted to turn her stories into a television series, but was convinced the script would be better suited for the stage. Once the show was up and running, Moses wanted to test the community’s reaction by holding a performance at a local community center. Audience feedback was overwhelming, which led Moses to move toward larger venues.

The Urban Noir Project is a response to the civic unrest and racial tensions that are still embedded within contemporary society. Moses produced the play as a way to address these issues and encourage a dialogue among diverse demographics. “I want people to understand that we are all included in the African American history.” Moses explains. Her play is an attempt to bridge a racial gap and artistically express that “we are all part of a system and we do as the system dictates.” Once we are able to understand each other’s backgrounds we can gain perspective and acceptance. Obama’s inauguration is one of the final acts of the play, intended to leave the crowd with a feeling of hope and accomplishment.

To purchase tickets for the next performance of the Urban Noir Project, click here.

Caridad Svich on the Lack of Female-Written Works in Theater

Caridad Svich

Caridad Svich

“I can name a 100 female writers who are making incredible work, but where can it be seen?”

It’s a good question that Caridad Svich poses. The OBIE-winning playwright is brining her thought-provoking show The Hours of All Things to the first-ever Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, which she calls a powerful chance to examine what exactly “women’s theatre” is. Read more »

Shakespeare in Clark Park Starts Tomorrow With Five Free Shows Through Sunday

Actor1

Courtesy of Kyle Cassidy

To sit or to stand? That will be the question at the 10th anniversary of Shakespeare in Clark Park. Grab your checkered blankets and bottled (or boxed!) wine to attend a free showing of Shakespeare’s tragicomedy The Winter’s Tale. The story concerns Leontes and Polixenes, rulers of Sicilia and Bohemia, who are best friends until a love affair threatens their relationship and shatters the long-held bond between their families.

“It’s a play that lends itself to a feeling of fairytale and fables, which is particularly well-suited for the outdoor setting,” explains Director Kittson O’Neill. The malleable sets and talented actors will transport audiences through two different kingdoms and act out a tale of friendship ripped apart by jealousy. “Part of the fun of this show is having such a large space to play with,” O’Neill says. “We’ll have some performers walk around the entire Park and come back around to enter different scenes.”

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REVIEW: Divine/Intervention Is Just That

A scene from "Divine/Intervention"

A scene from “Divine/Intervention”

There’s drama on the stage of Voyeur Nightclub.

That isn’t anything new, until you realize it’s an actual drama, the Philadelphia premiere of Divine/Intervention, and that the play is actually really good. In short, even if the only thing you know about Divine is the utterly gross film Pink Flamingos, you should see this deliciously dark production that is superbly performed. Read more »

In the Wings: Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez of Lulu’s Golden Shoes

Flashpoint Theater Company is presenting the Philadelphia premiere of Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Lulu’s Golden Shoes, a dark coming-of-age satire that centers around a North Philly barrio girl, Ana, and her mystical neighbor, Rosie Lulu. We had a chance to chat with Ana herself, Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez, about how she uses some method acting to prepare for the show (including listening to Selena) and about the time she met sirs Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart.

Rachel In The Wings

My name is … Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez. It’s a mouthful, I know, but I love that I have both my mother and father’s last names. The name is truly one of a kind, since my brother dropped the O’Hanlon. I ain’t no quitter.

I am a … Carbon compound wandering this part of the Universe. I am also from North Jersey, so there’s that.

On opening night … I can’t wait to hear what people think. There’s an intense amount of storytelling going on and I’m excited to hear what people take from it. I, of course, can’t wait for a few post-show celebratory drinks and hugs. Read more »

In The Wings: Mercury Fur Star Joshua Tyler McLucas

This week, BrainSpunk Theater Company debuts the surreal and trippy Mercury Fur. Set in a post-apocalyptic London, it follows two brothers who make ends meet by trading objects stolen from places like the British Museum, and holding parties for wealthy clients “where their wildest horrific fantasies come to life.” It stars recent Swarthmore grad Joshua Tyler McLucas as one of the brothers. In anticipation, he chats with us about his multiple experiences with Mercury Fur, listening to terrible metal bands to get into character and why he wants to stay in Philly to pursue his theatrical endeavors.  

phillymagphoto

My name is … Joshua Tyler McLucas. Josh in person, Joshua in writing (for a small maturity boost). In middle school I really wanted to be JT, but I wasn’t brave enough to actually ask anyone to call me that. Please don’t start now.

I am … an actor, a director (most recently of Mercury Fur as my Swarthmore College thesis and soon to be assisting Joe Paprzycki on Charlie Victor Romeo at South Camden Theatre Company), co-artistic director of [redacted] Theater Company, a web designer/developer, a guitar player, and absolutely clueless about what I want out of the real world.

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PlayPenn New Play Conference Now In Full Swing

PlayPenn Crop

Philadelphia is a “new work” playground, so to speak, for theater. This isn’t news given that, back in the mid- to late-20th century, many Broadway producers would set up out-of-town tryouts right here in the City of Brotherly love before feeding their shows to the sharks of New York City. However, what we’re seeing lately is Philly as an incubator of sorts for new plays, and the annual PlayPenn Festival is yet another indication of how predominately the city is placed as a creative nest for artists. Read more »

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